A Short Post

When this is published there will be 38 days until the first day of Autumn. Contrary to excessive advertising bombarding us with all things fall, and considering there are 3 months or approximately 90 days in each of the 4 seasons, I do not think that summer is almost over.

Need calendar proof? If you’d like to countdown with me, there’s a website for that. Check out https://yourcountdown.to/autumn-fall

Living in Florida, I know that summer is far from over, and that’s why something has gotten on my nerves lately.

No, it’s not the great sales on summer clothing and swimsuits. It’s not the heat either. I look at hot days as opportunities to go swimming or to the beach.

It’s a little bit of the back to school hype. Even thought it’s been a long time since I’ve sent kids off to school, I don’t like to be reminded that summer is coming to a close – BECAUSE IT’S NOT! Even when we lived up north, summer was allowed to be in charge until after Labor Day. Autumn had to fall (so to speak) in behind it.

But that’s not the thing that has my dander up today. It’s shorts.

I’m right in there with all you people who like to make fun of pairs of shorts and pairs of pants when you’re talking about a single piece of clothing. It’s all clean fun. And it has been explained why those articles of clothing are referred to in the plural when they are singular in function. That’s fine.

I was in my beloved Costco a few days ago checking out the clothes, when I noticed they did not have any shorts. They had short(s). I don’t even know how to write this, because if I say they had shorts you will fail to understand fully this weird occurrence. Here’s a picture, that should explain it to you.

Shocking! Isn’t it?

I immediately searched the women’s and men’s tables for the historically correct and accepted word “shorts.” I came up short.

My next task was to ask Merriam-Webster. There is no shortage of definitions for the word “short.” A long way down in his definitions it is stated that shorts are knee-length or less trousers – usually in plural. Short drawers.

Whew, I felt better. Until…

 

Yep. All the tags come up short. I mean they are selling short, which of course means we are now dealing with the stock market and I’ll have to ask my financial advisor son to give me a short explanation of this.

I’m going to end this now just in case your attention span is short.

 

Boom, There It is (x 3)

Sometimes forgetting something is the best, and so it was the night of June 24. SpaceX was due to launch another of its Falcon Heavy Rockets at 11:30 PM. More accurately, that was when the launch window would open. Launch windows are tricky and no two seem to be alike. Sometimes there is no window, they must launch exactly at that moment or wait until another day. That is rare, though, usually they have a span of a couple of hours.

I don’t live on the Space Coast. I live 45.24 miles from the Kennedy Space Center as the crow flies (thanks, Alexa). Our living room faces east, so I only have to step outside and I can see the rocket’s red and yellow glare above the tree line seconds after lift-off. It’s a great view and if a launch gets scrubbed, I just go back inside.

No photo description available.

Photo Credit: Fox35 WOFL

I really wanted to watch the June 24 launch. It has been unbelievably hot down here but the humidity hasn’t been too bad, so clear skies were expected. But I forgot all about it and was asleep before 11. At approximately 2:45 AM, Bob and I were jolted awake by the familiar sonic booms – only unlike the space shuttle’s double booms, this time there were three.

falcon heavy launch

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

I jumped out of bed and ran to the front door as Bob reminded me that, by the time we hear the booms, the event is over. Not to be deterred and also not fully awake, I maneuvered through the dark (why didn’t I turn on a light?) and beheld a great view of a very dark sky.

At this point I was fully awake and experienced a mixed bag of thankfulness and regret that I didn’t stay up waiting for the 2:30 AM launch as several of our friends did. After all, some of us (Bob) have to work the next day, and that is precisely why I didn’t engage Bob in conversation as we tried to get back to sleep.

My obstacle was that the house was making weird, creaking noises, which I verified with Bob before I let him off the hook of getting to the why of those noises. I’m nice like that. Why are house sounds so loud in the still of the night?

We live in a 35-year-old wood-frame house. I have noticed it creaks more than our former block home did. This is especially evident on colder nights, but this wasn’t a cold night – far from it. Perhaps some dynamic process is at work changing our house by degrees. I’m assuming that kind of dynamic is thermal.

Real-Life Men Of Science Who Made

Real Scientists Who’ve Been on The Big Bang Theory, Photo Credit: http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory/photos/page/9/

All I’ve learned about thermal dynamics could be contained in a very tiny book. I’ve picked up a few things by osmosis because my hubby is a mechanical engineer and also because I like to watch The Big Bang Theory. It’s a very educational show. Or is it? If you don’t know for sure, then it could be classified as Schrodinger’s TV show. It could be a good show or a bad one, but until you turn it on and see for yourself, it must be classified as both – or neither. (I learned all about Schrodinger’s Cat from the Big Bang Theory. It has proved to be valuable information. Or has it?)

You can now understand how kind and merciful I was to my husband by not starting up this type of conversation with him at 3 o’clock in the morning. After dinner, no such mercy was extended. We had a stimulating conversation about whether or not the sonic booms from the 2 side boosters and the center core booster, which crashed, could have been responsible for the increase in creakiness of our house that night.

I wondered if sound waves could have gone out in concentric circles and had an effect on our house. Could this be related to the sonic booms? Also, the more we talked about it, the more my mind wandered to Sonic Drive-In Restaurants, even though I have never been to one. I kind of got in the mood for a milkshake but it was too late so I settled for a dish of ice cream and an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Bob, tired from the night before, just went to bed.

Invasion of Midges

When from the next room I heard a television reporter talking about the invasion of Midges in the Sanford, Florida, waterfront area, my first thought was – what took them so long.

Poor Midge, Barbie’s not-so-glamorous best friend, has been in Barbie’s shadow forever. To make things worse for her, she has mostly been out of production since the late 1960s. They just pull her out for anniversary editions or whenever Barbie needs a side-kick. It was just a matter of time before all those jilted Midges joined forces and attacked. I’m sure they hold a lot of angst. In my mind I pictured droves of the dolls, some headless, some naked, coming out of the water and attaching themselves to whatever they could find. I’m sure they were driven to it.

 

 

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Midge’s hair never achieved symmetry and her bangs were always too short. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

 

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I believe this looks like a mug shot. Notice once again how Midge’s hair just wouldn’t do what Barbie’s does, i.e. achieve perfection. (Photo Credit: RubyLane)

 

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Barbie from around the same era. Even though her hair is pulled back and she’s clearly going swimming, she looks perfectly coiffed. (Photo Credit: Mattel)

 

As I moved to view the television, I learned that these Midges are not the Midges besieging Sanford. The Sanford Midges are often known as Blind Mosquitoes and are not manufactured by Mattel. They are also not as easy to get rid of as Mattel’s Midge. You just can’t discontinue the manufacture of these pests (again, I’m talking about the insect).

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

 

 

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

I want to encourage people in Sanford and everywhere else where Midges are a nuisance to hang in there. At least these guys don’t bite or carry disease. I guess they have that in common with Mattel’s version.

What Brings You to your Knees?

There are moments when there’s nothing to do but be silent, watch, and pray. As Notre Dame was burning and firefighters were valiantly fighting the flames, the world watched in sadness.

 

Prayers and tears from Parisians and visitors alike from the banks of the Seine as flames pour from Notre Dame (Photo Credit: Yoan Valat/EPA)

 

I visited Paris in 2013 and we toured Notre Dame. She was more magnificent than I could have imagined. Yes, she – Notre Dame is referred to as Our Lady of Paris. She reminded me of an anchor for the city. She sat in silent beauty beckoning us to come. Her outer beauty was astonishing – her inner beauty even more so. The history of the church was everywhere inside of her. She begged us to worship God.

I’ve been in cathedrals all over Europe. Some felt more like a museum. Some felt empty. Some brought me to my knees.

During this Holy Week, I will be reflecting on what brings me to my knees. On what makes me stop and worship God or stop to pray. On what makes me thankful for all He has done. On the church and how it is not simply a building. And I’ll remember the people in Paris who call Notre Dame their church. I’ll remember that to them she is more than an amazing cathedral – she is their home church.

The word today is that Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Many artifacts and relics have been saved. Nobody was hurt. There is much to be thankful for. Jesus has been in the process of building his church since he went to the cross. I’ll reflect on that, too. Won’t you join me?

 

Notre Dame – photo taken in 2013

 

This is Post #16 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Another Public Service Announcement for Fans of Florida

It’s a little bit safer to traipse around in the swamps in South Florida today. A 17-foot python was hunted and killed down in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades a few days ago. I try to keep abreast of things that can squeeze the life out of you, like The I-4 Ultimate Project, phone solicitors, and big snakes. I know how you depend on me for just such information!

The problem with this invasive species is huge, like the snakes themselves. Interestingly, the increase in this snake’s population in South Florida is linked to Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992. Along its path were several exotic pet stores. When they were leveled, the pets found a suitable home in the swampy jungles of South Florida and have continued to devastate our native species while increasing their presence in the way that birds and bees and snakes do.

Florida is aggressively fighting this problem. There are even Python Elimination Programs, but in case you’re wondering SFWMD (South Florida Water Management Department) is not currently accepting applications for new participants.

They are getting very scientific in their battle against the Burmese Pythons. Tracking devices are implanted in male pythons (another job I wouldn’t want) to lead the trackers to breeding females. This 17-foot mama had 73 developing eggs inside of her.

 

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Photo credit: Big Cypress National Preserve/FaceBook

Despite the possibility of being strangled by a python, attacked by an alligator, injured by venomous toads, swarmed by mosquitoes, or literally driven crazy on I-4, I still find Florida a pleasant place to live. As they say though, I live in Florida under one condition. Air condition. If you come to visit, please leave your exotic reptiles at home and enjoy your stay.

 

This is Post #10 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Killer Toads Invade Florida

I have a love/hate relationship with things that hop. I like rabbits and bunnies, but the Easter Bunny at the mall is a little freaky. I think kangaroos are fascinating, though I never have encountered one in the wild; and I think I would be mildly terrified if I did. I like a good sock hop, even though my dancing skills are rusty. What I don’t like are frogs and toads. They give me the creeps. I never know where they are going to hop, and it always seems like they like to torture me and come my way. Yes, I think it’s personal.

So you can understand why I was attentive to a recent news story about killer toads. April showers may bring May flowers, but this year they are bringing killer toads to parts of Florida. We always welcome a lot of visitors during Spring Break, but these guys are definitely not helping our economy and their plan is to linger way past April.

It’s quite serious actually. They start out tiny, but they can grow to be a half pound. That’s a lot of toad. They were introduced to Florida to control insects in the sugarcane fields years ago, hence the name cane toad. Well, that didn’t work out too well as they are very poisonous. They can shut down the nervous system of a pet. The venom shoots from the back of their neck, so people need to be aware. The major outbreak is in the Palm Beach area where swarms of them are invading neighborhoods, but these toads are found all over Florida.

This is not the first amphibian that I have addressed on my blog. This post from six years ago covers many of our invasive species. So please, don’t pet the toads, frogs, or alligators (yes, I know this is a reptile but they do hang out in the same areas). You learn a lot of respect for nature down here.

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A large army of small cane toads, but they won’t stay small for long. Photo Credit: Fox 35 News

 

This is Post #5 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Garfield Invades the Coast of France

I’m always on the lookout for things washed up on the beach. I’ve lived in Florida for decades and the most interesting things that I’ve found are sharks’ teeth and seashells. I’ve found baby diapers and sunglasses, too, but I’ve never found a vintage 1980s Garfield telephone.

I’m fairly certain if Jim Davis’ Garfield could be coaxed to comment on the thirty-year-old problem of plastic Garfield phones washing up on the coast of France, he would blame it on Odie. You probably would have to bribe him with lasagna to get an answer out of him, too.

(image found on multiple sources)

Perhaps if there is a French equivalent to American-born Garfield, he would be better bribed with a croissant or possibly a quiche rather than bow to the Italian palate we Americans relish. Or maybe he’d prefer one of those yummy crepes you can purchase along the streets of Paris.

Regardless, I’m pretty sure Garfield wouldn’t care a crumb about this kind of litter, which has been showing up for three decades in France. He’d likely roll over and continue his nap with complete indifference to the people pouring over the sandy, rocky French coast cleaning up the Garfield mess.

If I were strolling along Daytona Beach, I should think I’d be rather shocked to dig at a little piece of orange plastic protruding from the sand and come face to face with Garfield. But to my knowledge no shipping crate full of the phones was ever lost on our shores like crashed onto the rocky coast of France. Yes, the mystery is solved. It only took thirty years.

I was amused at the serious comment made by Fabien Boileau, the Director of Ironise Marine Nature Park – “We will go there to recover the remains of the phones.”

Perhaps this is a matter of being lost in translation, but it sounds like a funeral will ensue after all remains are accounted for. I think it’s more likely that eBay will blow up with the famous feline-face phone. Again, if Garfield were to comment, I think it would be with nothing more than a yawn. As for me, I’m heading to the kitchen for a piece of lasagna.

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You’ll be hearing from me a lot in April as I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge – a challenge to post every day for the 30 days of April. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.

The Polar Vortex – What To Do While You’re Stuck Inside

I’m in Florida, so the cold weather we are experiencing pales in comparison to what our friends up north are going through. I am thinking of you all though, so today I’m offering six things to do while you’re stuck inside during the Polar Vortex:

  1. Look up the meaning of vortex.
  2. Play a drinking game. Whenever someone says “polar vortex” they have to take a shot of hot chocolate.
  3. Read. Something by Robert Frost would be appropriate.
  4. Watch movies, maybe something with a tropical theme or even The Polar Express might feel warmer than your current circumstances.
  5. Text Ashton Kutcher.

I caught this on the news this morning.

 

Ashton, you’re killing me. You want us to be real with each other. You want connections. But your last line tells it all: You want to share your latest and greatest with us. Sounds a little one-way, if you ask me.

Anyway, Ashton, thanks for the chuckle. After I started writing this, I contemplated texting you, but I was afraid you’d text me back. So, I checked with Google and it looks like you have taken your number down or changed it or something equally non-communicative as far as your community goes. Silly boy.

FINALLY:

Number 6 – Get excited about my post for tomorrow’s blog. I’m doing a give-away.

On a serious note, I have family who are in Michigan, so I am praying that this dangerous cold weather passes through quickly and that people will be safe. Until tomorrow.

 

 

You Otter Read This

Once again, I am providing a view of the other side of Central Florida. It’s not all the happiest place on earth down here. I’m not talking about Costco, one of my happy places on earth. I’ve never felt the danger of being attacked by an angry otter at Costco. I can’t say as much about Lake Lily in nearby Maitland.

Central Florida wildlife

It has been nearly a year since an ornery otter has made the headlines here. It was in March of last year that an aggressive otter jumped into a kayak in Manatee County and leaped onto its unsuspecting paddlers resulting in an overturned kayak and one terrifying and terrific story for the pair trying to take a leisurely trip down the river. He went on to attack other boaters and injure four people.

Daily I-4 Warnings

Daily I-4 Warnings are necessary during the I-4 Ultimate Project

I don’t know how that story was resolved regarding the capture of the wanted otter, but now I fear that he may have made his way to our fair community, though that would be unlikely because the most direct route from Manatee County, which is south of the Tampa/St. Pete area, to the Orlando area is via I-4. I-4 is deadlier than an angry otter and you would be smart to avoid it while in our area. An otter, angry or otherwise, can weigh between 10 and 33 pounds. You’d fare better with it then you would with an 18-wheeler trying to figure out where the lanes have shifted on I-4. The truck could weigh up to 40 tons. I think if given the choice, I’ll take my chances with the otter.

Seriously, though, whether on the interstate or near our beautiful lakes, I’m cautious. Lovely Lake Lily in the nearby town of Maitland is a favorite place for locals to take a stroll. I myself have walked there. I might have considered doing it again, that is until otters began stalking innocent walkers. At this point, they are only concerned about one otter. They are working on a Single-Otter Theory. I think this is their way of avoiding conspiracies of groups of otters banding together with a common cause of destroying our state or making a statement about our inconsistencies in counting votes down here in Florida.

All this begs a question. These are river otters and Lake Lily is, well, a lake. I think that the otters are confused, like the vote counters in Broward County last year. Perhaps they thought their votes were not counted in the last election.

Another question: Are the sightings and incidents involving the dangerous otter at Lake Lily really the work of a renegade weasel (otters are in the weasel family) or maybe even the Russians?

For now, we will have to hope that it was a Lone Otter. The latest word is the Otter Wanted-Posters have been successful. The squirrelly otter is off the streets, lakes, rivers, and swamps. I guess I’ll have to come up with a better reason to avoid taking a walk.

 

Danger in Central Florida!

Wild animals and poor spellers are everywhere. Be on alert!

Now that I have your attention, let me highlight some of the stuff we Floridians have to put up with that is going way beyond reptiles and sharks. I’ve mentioned before (for those of you who don’t live here) that we essentially live in a subtropical swamp. Therefore, it’s often humid and hot. Really hot, accompanied by alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. But that only lasts for six months, after which we return to just plain hot with occasional warm spells and alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. (more…)