Saturday, October 29, 2005

This Old Neighborhood...

Pictured below is an aerial view of the neighborhood we lived in 25 years ago on Racoon Key, near Key West.
This high resolution photo was taken by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in the past few days as a service to help identify damage from Hurricane Wilma. Usually our old neighborhood which is the one immediately on the right of the "highway" is not visible in detail on products like "Google Earth" because it sits roughly 2 1/2 miles from the runways of Boca Chica Naval Air Station. The picture can be enlarged here twice by clicking on it.
I don't know for certain if the area called "Key Haven" had serious flooding or not.
I do know from reading local papers that the area across the highway which is mostly mobile homes had about three feet of flooding. My downloaded version of this picture can be magnified to the point where one can see boats at a marina in that area piled up on each other.
Approximately 70 % of Key West was flooded when Wilma passed by and newspapers report that thousands of automobiles on the Island were ruined beyond repair by those flood waters.
Key West City Manager Julio Avael is estimating $ 100 million damage to the city from the storm.
Power and water have been restored to all but about 500 customers in the Florida Keys.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kentucky Perking...

Justice (Random Thoughts of a Weary Traveler) has an interesting post this morning about a $36,300 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to a State of Kentucky Agency concerned with monitoring “Bingo Operations” in that State.
It brought to mind my brief brush with the State of Kentucky over thirty years ago as a meeting planner for an Ohio State University Research Project gathering information on how State Education Policy was made in different states.
My part of the project was to set up 5 one day regional meetings around the USA involving 10 states each for key players within those states to give feed back on certain governance models the project was developing.
As part of my duties I would pre research within each of the fifty states who the key people in each state making such decisions were and then prepare a list of invitees to the conference. My formula for choosing the invitees always started with 2 people from the Governor’s staff, two from the department of education, then various legislators and lobbyists based on local informants. On a certain date the invitations would go out for a meeting five weeks away.
The plan for the meeting was simple. It would be held at a Hotel at a regional airport so that it was possible that the participants could fly in early in the morning and fly out later the same day if need be. The meeting would start around 10:00 AM and end around 3:30 PM. For the convenience of the participants we would arrange with the hotel for a special room rate the night before (always a Wednesday ) and the night after (always a Thursday). There was no charge for the meeting itself although participants were responsible for their own costs including their own lunch for which the conference took a 1 ½ hour break.
When the meeting was actually held approximately five pre registered key people from each state would show up (around fifty altogether) and we would get the input from them we desired.
About ten days before our “Southern State Meeting” I received a phone call from the “Sheraton Atlanta Airport” wanting to know if I cared if our special rate was extended into the weekend for some participants. I replied that the Hotel could do whatever it wanted with its rates as long as it honored the prearranged one we had for the night before and after of the meeting. Then I asked them why?
The hotel representative then informed me they had received a $1,300 check from the Department of Education, State of Kentucky for 10 rooms for 4 nights each ($ 35 per/ Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). I said "Oh".
The next day in the mail I received pre registration forms in one envelope for 10 Kentucky Department of Education employees ( 9 of whom were not on the invitation list). I pointed this out to my boss who simply said “The more the merrier..”
Fortunately for us on the day of the meeting the “ten” signed in then all but the one we had invited promptly disappeared. I hope they all had a nice Atlanta weekend on their “taxpayers’ nickel”.
Maybe they suddenly decided it was time for a retreat..

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Martin and Lewis...

Tomorrow hitting the bookstores is a new book by Jerry Lewis entitled “Dean and Me” A Love Story. The book details the nine year successful comedy partnership of the late Dean Martin and the author Comedian Jerry Lewis.
As partners together in the early fifties Martin and Lewis played an astounding 8 live shows a day, 7 days a week at the Paramount Theater on Broadway year round when not playing on the road, netting each nearly a million dollars a enormous amount of money back then…and that’s not counting the movies.
One of the great mysteries of my childhood was the sudden breakup of the two funny guys on black and white TV. The explanation I always heard was that each went his own way to develop his own career. The split made it easier for me to accept the breakup of some of my favorate musical groups as I got older. Fortunately, both continued to be successful as solo artists in music, movies, and TV.
Jerry looked a lot better this evening in an appearance on Letterman than the last time I saw him when his neck was swelled from a reaction to a life saving medication he had been taking. He didn’t sound that well, however, leading me to believe this book is part of a larger effort to make peace with the loose ends of his life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lookout Key West...Wilma is Coming..

I’ve gently commented on other people’s sites before on the topic of Key West’s real vulnerability to a severe hurricane. All hurricanes are dangerous monsters but some are worse than others.
I was fortunate that during a roughly twelve year stay no hurricane came sufficiently close to disrupt life on the island.
Key West has some natural defenses that protect it from the most dangerous portion of most hurricanes, the storm surge. The island is surrounded on the South and Eastern sides by “flats”…relatively shallow water 3 to 12 feet deep which extends outward to a “reef” 7 to 12 miles offshore. The reef and the flats neutralize wave activity because you need 3 and ½ feet of water depth for each foot of above the surface wave action. It’s also the reason people don’t go to the Keys to surf…there isn’t any. Please note that this doesn’t mean that water can’t rise and flood, it still can but it isn’t the same thing. The other natural defense that protects Key West from the South and East is the island of Cuba which has mountainous peaks on it which are notorious for breaking up the organization of the storms.
That said, Key West is very vulnerable to a hurricane that strikes the Island coming from the Southwest side. (pictured below).
This is the side the deepwater harbor is on, that people go to see the sunset everyday. It is one of the main reasons Key West grew and developed commercially. The US Navy operated a Naval Base here in the 19th and 20th Century. Caribbean cruise ships dock there nowadays as well as many other ocean going vessels.
Hurricane Wilma is currently a category 5 storm.
A late weekend arrival close to Key West coming from its current projected path could bring a 20 to 28 foot storm surge rolling right up the “main ship channel” and literally wipe the city of Key West off the face of the earth (The highest land point on the 3 ½ by 1 mile island “Solarus Hill” is a whole 12 feet above sea level). It happened once before, in 1846, when a powerful hurricane swept over Key West and left only three manmade structures standing. The inhabitants who survived were swept into the “mangroves” and held on until the storm was over.
I’m praying that this killer hurricane significantly weakens down to a puff of wind between now and a weekend Florida landfall.
(The Wilma Track Chart is being updated as it changes.)

Addendum: 10-22 2:30 PM It's 71 hours since this post was originally written. Wilma is still hanging around Cancun and its winds have dropped down to 110 mph. The forecasted track of the storm hasn't changed for over 4 days although the time line keeps lengthening. As presently projected even if Wilma goes directly over the Keys it will be similar to "Floyd" in 1987 which blew a few poles over and lifted off a roof or two, that is assuming the storm doesn't strengthen again and undergoes the additional weakening most forecasters are predicting.

Addendum: 10-23 11:50 PM The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Wilma to a category 3 with 115 mph winds + it is moving in at 18 MPH toward Key West coming from the worst angle possible. Things could get very nasty overnight on the island where approximately 20,000 people have chosen not to leave...I would expect major flooding of a type Key West has not seen from a hurricane since 1919.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Life Imitates Art...

Do you all remember 21 years ago when Farrah Fawcett appeared in a made for TV movie called “The Burning Bed”? in Western Pennsylvania this past month we had our own version of that story.
Bethel Park School Superintendent Dr. Ronald Grimm was severely injured in an apartment fire in Monroeville back on September 9. At the time the circumstances surrounding the fire were vague..ten persons had to abandon their apartments then due to the blaze.
Today the real story became clear when Beverly Coon, a school board member in the Baldwin Whitehall School District was arrested for attempted murder and arson.
Grimm had recently broken off a two year affair with Ms. Coon. She responded by spiking some “ladylocks pastry” she had made for him with a tranquilizer called Temazepam and then after he was asleep set his bed on fire.
Grimm was fortunate that his next door neighbor Jason Beatty and apartment manager Karen Klee were able to rescue him.
Ms. Coon was spotted on the property during the fire leading Allegheny County detectives to be suspicious. She is being held on $ 100,000 bond.
Dr. Grimm has yet to return to his school duties.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Jipzeecab--The Lost Episodes..

Those of you have been reading this for a while may have noted that around August 19 most of this blog "disappeared" due to a "technical accident".
Inititially we were able to restore some of the past posts to reflect the period we had been operating since late May.
Thursday and Friday I spent quite a bit of time restoring as much of the original blog as I could.
Today there are 9 additional posts from May, June and July that some of you haven't seen before, sadly with the comments lost forever.
Also still missing and gone permanently are at least two posts, one about the new Japanese robots and a second "Daily Trebekking" from the evening mom won "our end game"of Jeopardy.
I have taken the liberty of posting "new images" on some of the old posts that weren't there originally since all I had to work from were original drafts. Thank you for your patience.
All posts are currently displayed on this page which has been temporarily lengthened so you won't have to go into the archives.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

PDA ing...

Yesterday I purchased probably the last “palm pda” I will ever buy. I have now owned 5 of them in 4 ½ years.
The first I think was a “Palm III” which I got in March of 2001. I broke the screen on it that July and immediately purchased an m100 to save the data. The m100 still works as good as new. It just needs some batteries.
In June of 2002 I bought a “color m130. This lasted only 6 months because the “digitizer” was damaged when I dropped it.
In January of 2003 I got an m515 to replace the m130. It has served me fine until recently. It still works very well. Unfortunately besides keeping appointment records and fitness records in it I use it mainly to play a child’s game called “placer racer”. After playing this game for about ten minutes the “digitizer” starts freezing up and causes me to “lose”.
I confess that I am addicted to this game. I started playing it a little over two years ago as an activity which I pursue while listening to the radio. This past April I finally won…it ends at level “255”. I haven’t gotten past level “140” since.
My new “Zire 72” comes with all kinds of bells and whistles the M515 didn’t a built in video camera and mp3 capability, bluetooth etc. I got it really cheap because it is being discontinued…the Palm OS operating platform will soon be history.
Jim Meredith a Pittsburgh area investment guru predicted several years ago that eventually each of us will have an all purpose handheld which will combine computing,tv and communications all in one.
The Sony Treo, the last palm OS device, is an already obsolete step in that direction.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Getting Tagged...

I've been "tagged" by Rhiannon in some internet chain game I confess to not understanding.
I'm tagging the following bloggers before someone else does:

Bridget Jones

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Follow these instuctions....
1. go into your archive
2. Find your 23rd post
3. Find the 5th sentence (or close to it)
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog with these instructions
5. Tag five other people to do the same

I don't have 23 posts showing because of a technical accident and I haven't completely restored some of the original posts so you will have to trust me that this is the 23rd post:

"Popcorn Anyone"

"Personal information has always been something the media has wanted to know about nominees. "

Good luck gang!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Legal Thinking...

I've nominated these two great legal minds for my Supreme Court..

Confirmation is a done deal...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Soups On....

I’ve noticed as I’ve grown older I make more obvious careless mistakes. I made one this past week which my mom noticed right away.
I do all of our shopping and on my list for Giant Eagle was 4 cans of “Cream of Mushroom Soup” something which I eat about 99 % of our family’s supply (about one can a week as an evening meal).
Mom saw on the store receipt “tomato soup” and asked if I had gotten the wrong soup.. Before I checked I knew she was right..those UPC codes have long worked exactly the way they were intended. Sure enough I had already stuck a four pack of “tomato soup’ behind a leftover 4 pack of Cream of Mushroom in our pantry.
For lunch today Mom had determined she was going to cut up some leftover pork and warm it up in some Mushroom soup for her lunch which she did before I cooked it for her in the soup. Somehow I managed to cut my right index finger on this particular soup can.
This was not intended to be a post paying homage to Andy Warhol, who coincidentally is buried within ten minutes walking distance from our home. I was surprised to discover that most of the Campbell soup “images” have some sort of Warhol connection..evidently for a profit making venture he painted the different varieties in addition to the famous tomato one.
Mom and I had a brief discussion about how several of the Campbell Soups (specifically tomato, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken) served as quick sauces for various recipes. She then told me she had two different “Campbell Soup Cookbooks".
Few know (other than immediate family) that my mother has an extensive cookbook collection. In fact her collection rivals the size of the offerings available at a bookstore like Borders filling up over two standard size home book cases. Most of the famous ones are there in several different editions, Betty Crocker, Better Homes and Gardens etc. She also has a bunch of ethnic ones she has collected over the years.
For her 80th birthday the family got her two huge volumes, a culinary reference dictionary and an interntional cookbook..both the ‘gold standards’ of the cooking industry. Of course she stopped cooking anything but short order stuff for herself about 10 years ago. I do most of our cooking now with her guidance.

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