Green Drinks and Aquaponics

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Every month around the world in various cities, people interested in ecological and environmental issues get together informally to talk and learn about different topics over cocktails.

These groups meet everywhere from Albania to Vietnam and everywhere in between, INCLUDING right here in Key West.

Dr. Bill Irwin, photo courtesy FKCC

Dr. Bill Irwin, photo courtesy FKCC

“Green Drinks Key West” meets monthly at Muse, the upstairs bar at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery at 301 Whitehead Street, and this past week we were treated to a presentation by Dr Bill Irwin of KFCC on AQUAPONICS.

We have long been interested in aquaponics and possibly even implementing a system on a larger plot of land – but where to begin?!  We never liked Chemistry in college, and even biology was not our thing, so we worried this might be a very complicated endeavor.

Dr. Bill made it all so simple – and you can build this all yourself as he did in his back yard!  Our layman’s description as to HOW TO follows: Continue reading

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Boulevard Post-DeMoya

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State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/99707 McDonald, Dale M, 1966-67.

The main joy from the completion of our 850 Days of Hell is like the wonderful feeling when you stop beating your head against the wall. We now mostly have back what we had before, which is a relief after suffering pointless deprivation for so long.

The main improvement we can see is the drainage. I asked how they did it, and it was simple math. You see how they elevated the road in the former underwater areas, leaving sloping asphalt down to several businesses. I asked what went wrong on the recent work on South Roosevelt, where the repaving left larger lakes in front of La Brisa and east. They said DeMoya had not done the work that far down, but was engaged to do a future project on that stretch, so we can hope for some improvement. Continue reading

Clueless Ambivalence…

August 28, 2014 Editor:

What is happening in Ferguson, MO is just the most recent symptom of the cancer of America’s soul. We are long past the delusion of “the Greatest-Country-In-The-World” and rapidly descending to violent third world status. After reading Naja and Arnaud Girard’s piece, Friday, August 22, in The Blue Paper on KWPD’s brutal and dehumanizing treatment of the people it is charged to serve and protect right here in our little city, I have no choice but to protest. As an American citizen it is my civic duty to protest. As a human being I am compelled to protest.

Of any city or town in the US, Key West is in the envious position to be a living, shining example of our One Human Family credo and show the rest of the country how it’s done. Key West is a unique blend of international culture, multi-generational locals with ties to Cuba and the Bahamas, a creative and vibrant gay community and US military history and an on-going military presence. We are a microcosm of the US in a beautiful tropical setting. It is a tragedy our leadership doesn’t have the political will or the imagination to celebrate and promote our diversity, but instead plods along shrugging its shoulders in clueless ambivalence as our police behave in such brutal fashion.

I’m getting worn out repeating the standard excuse for police brutality, “The majority of cops are great people, it’s just a few bad apples misbehaving, etc, etc, etc…” I’m sorry, but that isn’t working for me anymore. In truth, the “blue wall of silence” screams culpability. The archaic tradition of looking the other way and protecting psychopaths in uniform needs to end. Now. This goes for the tacit approval of the same by the city commissioners, the mayor, the city manager and the Chief of Police, Donnie Lee.

Please, let us be the city to emulate. We are so close, but until we cull those few bad apples we will be no better than those killer cops in Ferguson and St Louis.

Alex Symington

Key West

An Extremely Modest Proposal

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Don’t Have a Cow, Herc!
(Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus, CC0)

So imagine you’re a fire-breathing giant, son of the Roman god of fire Vulcan. You live in a cave on a hill that eventually becomes part of Rome. You hang out, eat human flesh, and nail human heads to the doors of your hillside abode (caves have doors?). Then you see some nice fat cattle grazing below and decide to drag eight of them into your subterranean crib. They were right there for the taking after all and the people you like to snack on have somehow figured out it’s in their better interest to vacate the neighborhood. So no big deal, right? Wrong. Continue reading

Libertarian Party of the Florida Keys Endorses No Candidates for August’s Elections

Ahead of August 26th’s local elections for many non-partisan offices in Key West and Monroe County, Libertarian Party of the Florida Keys Chairman Mike Kane released the following statement:

After much discussion and review, the Libertarian Party of the Florida Keys has decided not to endorse any candidates for Augusts’ elections. It was a consensus among all members that no candidate took the Libertarian approach to solving today’s societal woes: reducing the size and scope of government.

Rather than addressing important Libertarian issues, such as ending the failed war on drugs, reducing property and sales taxes, marriage equality until government is out of marriage licensing altogether, advocating for jury nullification, and the eventual privatizing of schools, most candidates are incredibly vague with their campaign slogans such as “increasing transparency in government”, “restoring trust in city hall”, and “setting high standards”. Continue reading

Grinder Pumps, Will They Mean the End of Key Deer?

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Commisioner George Neugent states that a pressure sewage system, with grinder pumps, is the optimum sewage collection system for Big Pine Key.  He says grinder pumps require less excavation and have a smaller footprint.  While these may or may not be immediate benefits of a pressure sewage system, we need to consider the impact of alternative systems, long term environmental issues and the unintended consequences of this political decision.  You may or may not agree with my hypothesis, but it needs serious analysis, debate and input from independent professionals before long term, permanent and potentially disastrous decisions are made. Continue reading

Kessler and Jones, Yes; Neugent, No

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Rick BoettgerIt’s political season, and I’m limiting my picks to the three I feel most strongly and knowledgeable about. I understand the financial accounting in the School District for their board race, the law for Mark Jones’ re-election, and George Neugent’s numerous ethical flaws.

Stu Kessler is probably the most expert candidate for his position we have had run for anything in the 18 years I have been in Key West. His qualifications are both general and specific. He has degrees in law, accounting, and business, and a long background of not only being on a school board, but of being so respected he was their president for 11 years.

Locally, he has been on our district’s Audit and Finance Committee, and is currently their chair. Stu is one of the two AFC members who actually used their position to audit the district’s finances. He has had in particular a good effect on correcting the errors in the HOB project. Continue reading

Trial By Ambush And Other Hometown PAC Mayoral Candidate Forum Quirks

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First out of the chute in the mayoral candidates part of Hometown PAC’s August 4 forum, US 1 Radio News Coordinator Bill Becker said he called the Alabama Bar Association and they said they had no record of Sloan Bashinsky ever having practiced law in Alabama. You can watch and hear that and my answer by opening Hometown’s link, starting a little after the 1 hour and 10 minutes mark.

The next day, I called the Alabama Bar and got the same news from Cathy Sue McCurry – 334-269-1515 (phone). Continue reading

Neugent Breaks Oath

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On June 14th this year George Neugent wrote his notarized signature on an “OATH. I the person whose name appears at the beginning of this form, do depose on oath or affirmation and say that the information disclosed on this form . . . is true, accurate, and complete.” It is his Form 6, “Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interest.” All declared candidates for office must file it. It is a public record, created for all the world to read and judge.

Neugent’s is rife with errors. One would think anyone running for a position commanding a billion dollar budget would be able to fill out simple financial forms, a form designed to describe himself to the world. What he discloses is, I believe, “true,” but makes no attempt to be “accurate and complete.” Continue reading

Standing Up For ‘Stand Up For Animals’

Stand Up For Animals

Note: The following article, published on December 3, 2010, was the first in a series of articles about Stand Up For Animals [SUFA] [the group that once handled animal control services for the Middle Keys] written by Rick Boettger for the original Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper].  As it turns out Rick’s article was amazingly prescient — and effective. As Rick included in his formal complaint to the State’s Ethics Commission, just four days after publication, SHARK [the newly formed group that eventually became the replacement contractor] dropped its leader Gwen Hatoff and the two friends of George Neugent who had given him false dirt on SUFA from their board. [The Monroe County Commission voted last month to end the four-year-old lawsuit with SUFA, offering the nonprofit $ 45,000 to settle the case. SUFA accepted.] 

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Rick BoettgerOriginally printed on December 3, 2010 in Dennis Reeves Coopers’ Key West The Newspaper:

Have you read the heart-warming story about the two cold-weather dogs, Chachi and  Eva, who were suffering from our heat in the Keys, and were shipped from our local shelter to an affiliated shelter in Michigan? The happy ending is that they were adopted out within two weeks of their arrival, and now are both healthy and happy on northern farms.

Unfortunately, you probably read only about the costs of sending them up north, in the context of a critical “audit” of that local shelter, Stand Up For Animals (SUFA).  This highly successful and much-lauded organization has been destroyed by Monroe County’s Clerk Danny Kolhage.  He, illegally in my considered opinion, trumped up false charges to freeze their bank account, containing a quarter million dollars of SUFA’s independently saved donations and grant moneys.  This forced SUFA to close, because they could not pay their bills and employees. Continue reading

Moving Out of the Comfort Zone

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It’s Way Past Time to Mix Things Up.
(Mr. Nobody, Freeport [No. 005], Michael Lin, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

I came across a word recently and stuck it in a draft post to save for a later blog. I’ve just returned to it now. I can’t remember where I saw it but it still seems worthy of a post. The word is “homophily.” It translates to “love of the same” or “the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others.” Although the word encompasses homosexuality of course, it’s the much broader scope of it that I find interesting.

In a 2006 New York Times article, author Aaron Retica notes that sociologists coined the term “homophily” in the 1950s. “The term didn’t catch on,” he writes, “but the concept is now enjoying a renaissance, in part because it has been repeatedly invoked to explain the American electorate’s apparent polarization into equally self-regarding camps.” Retica mentions a 2001 study titled “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks.” In it, the authors sum up the nature and the harm of this tendency in their abstract: Continue reading

ZOMBIE SWIMMING POOLS…

CaptainLyndaHeadSelfieThere is a crisis in Florida right now and it has nothing to do with politics, immigration, fires or sink-holes. It’s “zombie swimming pools.”

According to an article in “Florida Today” as quoted in the “Huffington Post” Florida leads the nation in  “naked real estate” from foreclosed homes and those where the owners have ‘walked away,’ still owning the property. “Thousands upon thousands” of these properties have swimming pools and, “the sheer number of mosquitoes breeding in these pools is daunting.”

Although the article mentioned trying to combat the larvae with mosquito eating fish, which died, and pesticides, which were marginally effective, it never did mention the use of larvicides, a tool that our own mosquito control uses rather effectively. Continue reading

Today’s World

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There is so much darkness in my mind,

one never knows what one will find.

There is so much trouble in our life,

we live in a world so much strife.

*

Senseless wars for money to be made,

all at the expense of the lower pay grade.

Chemical weapons and IED’s,

soldiers returning with “soul disease” Continue reading

GUEST COLUMN: Grinder Pumps For Dummies – Or Why I Don’t Want To Be A Loser

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If you live in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System area, you need to read the “Dummies Guide To Grinder Pumps”.  If you are a “loser” as our County Commisioner has called all who are getting grinder pumps, you should read it very slowly.

DESCRIPTION OF A GRINDER PUMP

Dummy Version – The greatest invention since ice cream.  To quote our Mayor, “when you flush it goes away”, what else can you ask for?

Real Version – A system in which sewage flows from gravity into a heavy duty plastic tank.  The tank is about 180 gallons just over one day of waste for a typical family.  It has a one horsepower motor that turns grinder blades similar to a garbage disposal in your sink.  A progressive cavity pump then forces the sewage into a 1 1/4” pipe which leads to master stations or the treatment plant on Cudjoe Key. Continue reading

We All Want A Good System and Good Water Quality, As Promised…

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Some may try painting Dump The Pumps, Inc as being “against sewers”; that the group is simply trying to be disruptive and aims to bring all sewer construction to a stop.

Wrong!  We all want a good system and good water quality, as promised when we passed the one cent infrastructure sales tax.

Anyone that has attended the various meetings, followed the chatter, asked questions, donated money, signed the petitions knows that the fight is simple.  A substandard sewer system, mandated by politicians rather than engineers, putting grinder pumps in our yards, threatening our nearshore waters, is the fight.  Do not forget the original system, designed by engineers, was a gravity system.  It was not until the politicians got involved that we saw sewer money diverted to pet projects and a cheapened system thrust upon us. Continue reading

Reef Relief Urges Keys-Wide Wastewater Reuse Plan / Adamant That Laws Be Obeyed During Planning, Permitting, and Construction

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Reef Relief continues our work of using the best available science to educate the public and policymakers to achieve conservation, protection, and restoration of coral reef ecosystems.

The most critical issue facing all of us today is water quality. We fight to combat pollution in our oceans and negative effects of climate change, but without clean water, all of our work with regard to restoration and conservation are only delaying the loss of our coral reef ecosystems.

This is why Reef Relief, along with many other local, state, federal and private entities, have worked so hard toward creating a Keys-wide sewer system. We should all be proud of the work we have accomplished in this matter. Reef Relief would like to thank everyone involved in the implementation of the Keys-wide sewer system. It is imperative that our inefficient septic tanks are no longer allowed to leach human waste into our near shore waters. We would also like to thank all homeowners for cooperating with this process, as we are well aware of the financial burden. Continue reading

LAST STAND CALLS FOR DEEP INJECTION WELL AT CUDJOE WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT

 

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Last Stand announced on Wednesday that it is strongly opposed to disposal of treated sewage into shallow wells at the as yet unfinished Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In letters to DEP, FKAA and each Monroe County Commissioner, the Keyswide environmental group cited state regulations, insufficient treatment and danger to sealife as reasons why the plant should be required to pump its waste 2,500-3,000 feet below the surface into the Boulder Zone.

“DEP requires sewage plants that have the potential to treat one million gallons a day to use deep well disposal,” said Naja Girard, president of Last Stand, a watch-dog group which has operated in the Keys for over 25 years.  “Deep wells receive the partially treated waste water and retain it below solid barriers, while shallow wells allow the fresh water to rise to the surface and move into the nearshore waters,” she added. Continue reading

DO YOU THINK WE MIGHT HAVE A HOUSING CRISIS?

Affordable Housing Crises

942765_444707312315462_900435827_nIt is becoming very alarming how few rental properties there are, and how high priced they are. Landlords are becoming very unreliable, houses are going into foreclosure in high amounts. I know my landlord defaulted on 10 in the last two months. I know of at least 3-4 more that friends live in houses facing foreclosure. Now banks own a ton of properties. Then banks sell them to people, and those people tend to turn them into vacation rentals. Florida Keys have a housing CRISIS on their hands. What is going to happen when more Key West residents move out for lack of housing? Or way to expensive housing? People can barely live down here unless they have many roommates. I’m a mother, so I really can’t have roommates. Who can really afford to live here without roomates? People who own their house, military workers, those in low income housing where the state pays their bills and rent, people on vacation, and people who really don’t need to work. Key west needs people to work, not moving out because they can’t afford the first, last, and security totaling $ 6,000 -$ 10,000 just to move in and rent a place. At least most tourist destinations have worker housing that is truly affordable. Without workers, you have no tourist destination … Also speaking of tourist destinations, I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice, the economy is not the same as it was in 2005-2007. The money is slowing down quite a bit. Tourists are spending a lot more for rooms in hotels, and vacation houses like Truman Annex and such. They’re  staying and relaxing in their hotels more, spending less money on Duval St. and other fun activities. People are starting to take their vacations to other cheaper places. I hear it all the time. Last year’s Fantasy Fest had to be the worst ever. Just like Bike Week and this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. Key west is not getting what it used to in tourism. So if our wages are not as good as they used to be, and rent is getting higher, what is next? Exactly, people are leaving… What is Key West going to do?? Huge Crisis. I have put this on Facebook and have had a huge amount of responses.

Do you think Monica hit a chord?  Well, she sure did.  Have a look at the flood of Facebook responses (get comfy): Continue reading

Water Water Neverywhere

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Miss Me Yet?
(Image CC-by-NC-3.0, GFDL-1.2)

You don’t often see an online headline like “Thirsty West: Why Californians Will Soon Be Drinking Their Own Pee.” Okay, you probably would never have seen it had Slate not explored the topic a couple of day’s ago. The article focuses on the California drought and how the state is attempting to cope with it. In San Diego, for example, which gets almost all of its water from snow melt and the much-contended-for Colorado River, they are now building a $1 billion dollar desal plant. If and when finished, it will supply just seven percent of the area’s water needs. That seems ridiculous, opines author Eric Holthaus. He goes on to note that recycling wastewater is a much more efficient way of increasing available potable water. Continue reading

Ambush Poetry: Conduct Unbecoming

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Sunday before last, I wondered off and on during the day if a new poem would come to me for the Key West Poetry Guild’s first Sunday meeting in the upstairs room of Blue Heaven Restaurant in Bahama Village?

As the day passed, nothing seemed to come, and around 5 p.m. I pedaled my bicycle to Jack Flats on Duval Street to watch the end of that week’s professional golf tournament, which was played at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial County Club in Ohio. En route to Jack Flats, “conduct unbecoming” came to me, and I felt that might be the poem’s theme, if not also its title. I had my writing notebook with me, just in case. Continue reading

Betrayed!

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At any other time, it would probably have slipped quietly past us all.  But timing and circumstances were such that members and sympathizers of the grassroots organization Dump the Pumps, Inc. (DTPI) were on high alert, watching for still more sneaky and generally dishonorable Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) activity.

For years, FKAA had residents of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) region believing the agency’s project to connect their homes to a centralized sewage treatment plant would consist primarily of a gravity fed system with only a minor amount of outliers, out of necessity and due to their remote location, slated to be connected via less reliable low-pressure grinder pump [LPS] systems. Continue reading

The Case for a Sortition Chapeau

Leadership Lottery
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The odds probably weren’t any better back then.
(1758 Massachusetts lottery ticket to fund the French and Indian War, US-PD)

As I was checking my losing (as usual) MassLottery tickets this morning, I wondered where it all began, the lottery revenue to fund government projects idea, that is. China, it seems, is the answer to this question. There are keno slips from the Han Dynasty dated between 205 and 187 BC. The revenues were supposedly used to finance the Great Wall of China among other projects. Queen Elizabeth I employed lotteries to raise money for the “reparation of the havens and strength of the Realme, and towardes such other publique good workes.” So lotto goings-on haven’t changed much since those days. Continue reading

Outshining the Monkeys

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We’re the Ones with the Smaller Brains, Remember?
(Bonobo, Cincinnati Zoo, 2005, Photo by Kabir Bakie, CC Some Rights Reserved)

A while back someone on Facebook posted a link to the Cracked article by David Wong titled “What Is the Monkeysphere?” Wong informs us that, given the size of their brains, monkeys can recognize and interact sociably with about 50 other monkeys and that, not surprisingly, is the normal size for their troupes. Any animal not in the group is outside the “monkeysphere” of those particular animals and thus can be ignored or abused with equanimity by all the “in crowd” monkeys.

Human beings have a little bit larger brain so our “monkeysphere” expands to about 150 people (which seems like way too many to me since I often can’t remember who the bleary-eyed person in the mirror is every day). Still, this is a limitation, one that “allows” us, Wong observes, to do things that harm other people, often unthinkingly, because they are outside of our monkeysphere. On the “front page” of The Washington Post web site on May 6th was a story titled “3 Shot Near Ballou High in the Southeast.” Do most people even notice or care? No, the two 17-year-olds and the one 20-year-old are outside our monkeysphere. Continue reading

GUEST COLUMN: Commissioner George Neugent / My Justification for Supporting Contract Extension

NeugentsmallCounty staff was dealing with a total of six contracts in the solid waste negotiations. Most of which expired at different times. Three objectives to be achieved which was by direction from the board 1. get all contracts to expire at same time, 2. maintain annual assessment to residents, 3. maintain present level of service. * a side note to remember, while negotiations were on-going the recycle contract automatically renewed for five years – now, another contract out of sync.

Another important issue to note, there were (28) twenty eight months left on the “haul out” contract with Waste Management (Oct 2016). This meant without a contract extension all eighteen months of negotiations would be for naught. Extension negotiation direction was given to staff by the Board of County Commission, supported transparently by vote by FOUR commissioners – Kolhage, Rice, Murphy and Neugent. County Administrator Gastesi then directed Rhonda Haag to head-up the effort, our Sustainability Coordinator. Continue reading

‘It Started With a Drill’

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I learned early on what little is accomplished waiting for someone to do something for you, or even to help you. Consider this one of the gleaming pros to not having your parents around, and I do stress one. Now that I’m a mother myself, I can’t imagine my children grocery shopping for the family or taking taxis by themselves when they were nine years old. Not only did I do these things, but I also created my own income because my mother’s money never seemed to make it down to me.

This lifestyle brought forth my signature feistiness which kept me afloat throughout my youth. Even heavy decisions, such as taking a Greyhound bus from Florida to Indiana to attend college, weren’t an issue for me. Although my best childhood friend and I planned on attending the same school, she decided that she wanted to move to Florida at the last minute. I still went because, like her, I needed a change. Continue reading

More Open Debate On Free Roaming Cats In Refuge Areas

Free Roaming Cat

Dear John,

Here are my responses to your latest letter. I think there are several issues here we can agree on and find ways to insure that those issues are adequately addressed. I share your concern that all animals, both wild and domestic, be treated humanely. But I reiterate the need for all responsible pet owners to keep their pets, particularly cats, indoors.

John Donnelly wrote on May 24, 2014 at 6:58 am

(1) Michael, thank you for your well-thought out submission. I consider you a dedicated and respected friend. As you know, just because you make statements in your article, it does not make them true or accurate.

I believe my statements to be accurate, and supported both by my own personal experience, and reports from other responsible observers. I invite anyone with evidence to the contrary to present it. I will gladly change any statement to make it more accurate, but I believe what I have presented is supported by the facts.

(2) The government is overreaching in its cat trapping practices. Cat hunters were caught, by several individuals, placing their cages on private property, with the intent to snare family pets that lived there.

“Overreaching” is a vague and undefined term. Particularly when you haven’t spelled out what the Continue reading

Coffee Shops

Coffee Plantation

Why are some coffee shops so successful? Yes, good coffee makes a difference, but there is another element that is often overlooked – they provide an atmosphere that is conducive to reading and comfortable conversation. This concept is particularly notable in Europe where coffee shops are sprinkled throughout cities and villages.

Italy is a notable exception where the coffee “bars” are set up to deliver the quick caffeine pop to be inhaled on one’s way to and from somewhere. In fact, since this ritual is accomplished while standing, there is little emphasis on comfort – the kind that is needed if one were to settle in for an hour or two.

In the USA, much of the success of various franchises is due to their ability to lure people in with comfy chairs and clever allotment of space which is friendly to casual discourse, and other stores, especially independent shops, have followed suit in even comfier fashion. Quite simply, this atmosphere can be an important catalyst for productive thought, friendship and, on occasion, mental therapy. Continue reading

About The “Cat Indoors” Program And Trapping Free-Roaming Cats in Refuge Areas

Key Largo Woodrat, photo USFWS

Key Largo Woodrat, photo USFWS

Regarding “Cats Indoors” program and trapping free-roaming cats in the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park:

There have been several highly emotional expressions of concern from Key Largo resident John Donnelly recently published about the cat-trapping program in the protected areas of North Key Largo. The whole discussion has gone on for months, and has generally been a waste of time for all concerned.  Mr. Donnelly’s criticisms, at their heart, boil down to undeserved ad hominem attacks on Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge manager Jeremy Dixon, who is a dedicated public servant, doing his job in a careful, diplomatic and measured way, better than did his predecessor, who was also highly regarded.

For the record, Mr. Donnelly is a personal friend and a valued member of our organization, as is the manager of the USFWS Crocodile Refuge, but Mr. Donnelly is misinformed on this issue and his claims of government overreaching are incorrect. The Florida Keys IWLA chapter recently directly considered his concerns at a chapter meeting, and there was no support for his position. Continue reading

Bobbi, (an eulogy)

I drank to me when we first got together.
I drank to us when we got engaged.
I drank to us when we got married.
I drank to us when you told me you were pregnant.
I drank to us when Kirsten was born.
I drank to us when you told me you were pregnant.
I drank to us when Kate was born.
I drank with myself when we separated.
I drank to us when we divorced.
I had a drink when you remarried, revealing the truth.
I drank a lot when you took away my daughters.
I drink to you, and me now, as you have died today.
I drink to celebrate living the wonderful life I do.
To Life.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Obese Children Grow To Be Obese Adults

Obese children grow to be obese adults. According to recent studies this is a serious concern.  In fact, the Florida State Surgeon General last year, launched an initiative targeting this issue.  Through the Healthiest Weight initiative, the Department of Health is partnering with community groups and other partners including early education providers to implement programs that focus on:

  • Increasing the initiation, duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
  • Promoting improved nutrition and physical activity in early care and education.
  • Encouraging improved nutrition in schools.
  • Increasing the physical activity for students during the school day and after school programs.
  • Increasing access to high-quality, affordable foods in communities.
  • Increasing physical activity by improving the built environment in communities.
  • Promoting health professional awareness and counseling of patient body mass index

Children who are overweight or obese at two to five years old are five times more likely to become obese adults.  Many factors contribute to childhood obesity.  To solve this problem, we must first identify it.  Lack of physical exercise, snack time all the time, etc.  The increasing popularity of fast foods is a problem.  Water consumption as a basic need rather than merely an alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks is another. Continue reading

A Different Kind of Reefer Madness

Last night I caught the “420″ episode of Family Guy in which the debonair and back from the dead dog Brian goes on a campaign to legalize marijuana in his town of Quahog. Brian isn’t having much success getting people’s attention until baby Stewie informs the dog that he’s going about it all wrong. Rather than deliver rational arguments, he needs to provide a sound-byte spectacle. The two of them then stage a hilarious production number called “Bag o’ Weed” that convinces everyone in town that pot is a necessary part of their life.

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“Anything That Threatens My Bottom Line Must Be Evil!”

(Words not said but probably thought by William Randolph Hearst, 1906 photo, US-PD)

That’s all good fun of course. Before he starts singing and dancing, however, Brian tries to convey the message that pot was first made illegal not because Reefer Madness would run rampant worldwide but because hemp (to which family of plants marijuana belongs) was threatening the timber and paper business of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Hearst ran a smear campaign emphasizing the “connection” between cannabis and violent crime. This appears to be true. The DuPonts were also anti-hemp, as was Andrew Mellon. The reason the 1930s version of the 1% were so virulently opposed to pot was that hemp pulp could replace wood pulp very cheaply in the paper-making business and it also threatened the success of the DuPonts’ new synthetic nylon, which Mellon had invested heavily in. (Does all this sound familiar? The more things change…etc.) Continue reading

Rick Dostal of the 36th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll Presents Funding to Local Non-Profits

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On behalf of the participating bars and bar strollers, Rick Dostal, of the 36th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll, presents a check for $ 5,000 to the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys .

Accepting the check is, Lanny Skelly and Eileen Masiello (not pictured Yvonnie Ametin).

Rick Dostal also presented a $5,000 check to The Boys and Girls Club.

Bezoar Bezoar

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Nothing in My Stomach You Would Want. Really!
(CC 3.0, Some Rights Reserved.)

Odd things happen all the time. I just read on the AP wire via Zite about a man who c-sectioned a dead porcupine to save a live baby porcupine. Okay, that’s not what really went on, and if this already isn’t weird enough, here is where it gets stranger. This happened near Lisbon, Maine. The guy in question was out looking for wild mushrooms, and saw, sadly, a porcupine get hit by a car. The man had heard somewhere somehow that there is a valuable mineral deposit that forms in the stomachs of porcupines that practitioners of Chinese medicine crave. (If this is so, then goodbye porcupines, which will soon follow elephants, rhinos, sharks, and whatever other unfortunate animals are on the list for bizarre Asian medical ingredients on the road to extinction.)

So you’ve guessed it by now. The man cut open the porcupine hoping to find this mineral. Instead, he found a baby porcupine. It wasn’t breathing but, and here’s the really good part, he cut the umbilical cord and massaged it and it came alive. He and his family now are caring for it at home and plan to give the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Good for them!

The ABC News story about this incident provides a really cute “awwww” moment with a picture of the baby. It also explains about the bezoar stone or “date” that can indeed form in animal stomachs. The stone is a tightly packed lump of undigested mineral deposits from fruits, hair, vegetables, and other things. In Chinese herbal medicine (sigh!), these stones are thought to cure everything from diabetes to cancer.

I think we need to start a movement to convince those who believe in such herbal remedies that the real secret to health lies not in various animal parts but in used chewing gum deposits. Think of the benefits this would have. Many creatures would be saved and all those unsightly gum spots on sidewalks would be scraped off and sold. If anything needs to disappear from our lives, these do. Definitely a win/win here. Who’s with me on this?

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Kim Pederson

Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings

The Frisbee King Throws to the Future

frisbee king

Getting old requires adapting to changed circumstances. I dislike this as much as anyone, both the getting and the adapting.

In our late 60s, we have more time, but less money, energy and strength. Parts that were once just fine now hurt. Some need to be repaired or replaced. Some things can’t be fixed.

Our horizon narrows with age.

Retirement redefines what we do and how we see ourselves. It’s tough when it’s forced on you.

I spent a few days last week in Key West, Fla., where three high-school classmates visited a fourth who has lived in the Conch Republic for 42 years.

Key West is a community that is upscaling itself by its own sunglasses. Continue reading

I Am Playing Badminton In My Soul

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When I was a kid, my mom and I used to play badminton in the yard. Badminton, as it turns out, is not only a terrifically fun word to spell and say, but it is also a hilarious sport, especially when you are completely lacking many things that “other” people may consider crucial to the “sport” of badminton like a net, badminton skills of any kind, and a flat surface upon which to play. We had some tennis rackets, a birdie and a portion of the yard that wasn’t quite flat, nor really very large, but that would do for what we reckoned as our Olympic version of the sport. And, if you consider peals of laughter as points, we were, like, really, really, really good at badminton. Also my friends and I were quite excellent at tennis, s’long as there weren’t any other people on any of the three courts and we could have free reign of the entire arena. Continue reading

The Battle of the Bulge

I’m going back a bit in time here to revisit the first episode of Cosmos from a couple of weeks ago. At one point in that show, host Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned that the earth and moon were much closer to each other when they were cutting their planetary baby teeth. Then he said something about the moon being pushed away from the earth by tidal friction and LEFT IT AT THAT! No explanation. No computer animation. Nothing. The thought must not have crossed his mind that millions of viewers out there in TV land would be left tossing and turning through sleepless nights wondering, What the heck is tidal friction? (Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it was just me tossing and turning and maybe it was only seven minutes before I fell asleep.)

A diagram of the Earth–Moon system showing how the tidal bulge
is pushed ahead by Earth’s rotation. This offset bulge exerts a net torque
on the Moon, boosting it while slowing Earth’s rotation.
(And if you can decipher any of this for me, please do. Gnu 1.2, CC 2.5)
Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica explains tidal friction (or tidal acceleration): Continue reading

Pancake Penance

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(Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559, US-PD)
Nary a flapjack in sight.

I missed Pancake Day on Tuesday [March 4th]. I missed it because I didn’t know it was synonymous with Shrove Tuesday, the last day for many to party down before they begin six weeks of self-denial (Lent) on Ash Wednesday (which is probably what the inside of your mouth feels like, ash that is, after going wild the night before). Missing Pancake Day is a sad admission from someone who has received pancake griddles for birthday presents on more than one occasion (beginning with one from my grandfather when I was twelve or so), someone who loves to try out crazy recipes like pancakes made with granola and smothered in whiskey bacon maple syrup. But miss it I did.

Shrove Tuesday equals Pancake Day because Continue reading

The Frisbee King Returns To High School

Some people have a blast at their high-school reunions, while others refuse to attend. I like ‘em.

At my 50th this weekend in Pittsburgh, we looked older. Some of us looked old. Several now use canes. I heard a lot of talk about cancer and hearts, along with the usual wear-and-tear stories about knees and backs.

Whatever sexual, semi-sexual or pseudo-sexual vibes might have been slinking around at earlier gatherings were not in evidence this time. Or maybe my vibesight is not as good as it once was.

More than one person observed that we looked like our grandparents.

One, however, didn’t. One stood out. Continue reading

Notes on the Truman Waterfront Plan

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At the February 24, 2014 HARC meeting, I mentioned several concerns regarding the approval of the Truman Waterfront Major Development Plan:

  1. Continued discussion of Building 103 as a “Restaurant.”
  2. Planned walkways should reserve paving to incorporate “Cowpath” concept.
  3. Plan does not accommodate Outer Mole transportation solutions.

1.  I am not sure where the idea originated that Building 103 will be a Design-Build restaurant, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own, to the point that the City Planner now mentions it as a given. The notion that the park needs a revenue source to pay for itself is hogwash. Bayview Park doesn’t pay for itself, Smathers Beach doesn’t pay for itself and the Clayton Sterling Baseball Complex certainly doesn’t pay for itself. Continue reading

THE FRISBEE KING SERIES PART I: Life is a Frisbee, Thrown

Youtube Video Credit:  William Austin

Humans are the only species I can think of that show appreciation for the achievement of others. It can be expressed as a private word of praise, public acknowledgement, round of applause or people chanting your name.

Some children these days, though not all, are brought up in a cocoon of positive reinforcement. They are praised for participating. Effort does get more reward, and genuine achievement earns genuine commendation. But most children are not good at everything despite pro forma reinforcement. Speaking truth to children is increasingly avoided, even frowned on.

Sports stratify kids, ranking those who are good from those who aren’t. When kids pick up sides, they follow the pecking order from top to bottom that they all know. Judgment is not cushioned. The best are always picked  first; the worst always last. The kid who can’t catch plays right field where he develops an interest in geology from kicking pebbles out of boredom. Continue reading

A Brief History of Truman Annex / Part II

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State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/90697 (1965/66)

In the February 28 issue of The Blue Paper the editors/publishers asked if Bahama Village is being dispossessed of its 6.6 acres at Truman Waterfront.  The answer to that question is clearly “YES”!  I first took notice of plans for the Waterfront in 2005.  We, my wife and I, had just returned to the Conch Republic after a two-year absence.  We lived at the corner of Truman Avenue and Thomas Street and the City Commission was taking up the question of traffic flow into and out of the nascent development that was to be built on the 33 acres that was given to the City by the Navy three years before.

What follows is my attempt to chronicle much that happened between 2002 and now.  I will show when and how the City undertook to gain control over the 6.6 acres that were always supposed to be a significant part of the development and that were to benefit Bahama Village and its inhabitants economically and socially.

It’s not a pretty story.  There is still time to rectify the mistakes that were made, but the City is on a path to steamroll the original plans into oblivion.

Robert Kelly, Key West

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF TRUMAN ANNEX

PART II

Following a 1995 U.S. Department of Defense decision to shut down and dispose of fifty acres of waterfront property that was once known as the Naval Operating Base in Key West, Continue reading

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TRUMAN ANNEX

cm0433

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/90697 (1965/66)

PART I

The United States Navy came to Key West in 1823.  At the time, Key West was a remote outpost in Florida, at first a Territory of the United States established in 1822, and in 1845 admitted as the 27th state of the U.S.

During the period from 1823 until the beginning of the United States Civil War in 1860, the Navy maintained a continuous presence in Key West, pursuing marauding pirates and maintaining control over shipping lanes between ports on the Atlantic seaboard and in the Gulf of Mexico.  Although Florida seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America for the duration of the war, the Union government continued to control ports and sea lanes. Continue reading

March 5, 2014…SPECIAL REPORT to the BLUE PAPER

pandas redux

People were not the only ones that were evicted when the Simonton Street Trailer Park was sold to developers….living in close harmony for generations with the park occupants was a colony of Pandas. In this photo from my archives that I shot for Solares Hill Newspaper in 1987, you can see two adults in the foreground (one up a tree) and several babies frolicking in the background.

They lived happily on the Bamboo stands that were scattered through the park, and the little ones would often lie down with cranky Park babies until they fell asleep.

But here is the Park today… Continue reading

What’s Cody Romano Up To These Days?

Cody headshot BEST

Cody Romano was one of the presenters at “frank,” an annual gathering in Gainesville for social change communicators and public relations specialists. Cody, who went to Gerald Adams Elementary School and graduated from UF, is a developer for Mobiquity, a mobile software company in Boston. He works with various clients such as Biogen developing apps for patients with neurological disorders, and Hasbro, creating video games that kill exploding aliens and adding technology to their game “Life.”  Romano spoke about his side project, “Geopackages,”  an app that promotes social change through location-based storytelling. Cody is the son of Womankind executive director Kim Romano.

Check out Cody’s website http://codyromano.com/  [Kudos to Cody .... and Gerald Adams Elementary!!]

Inevitable Harm

Today’s headlines are full of stories highlighting the fallout of masterful con men.  This epidemic comes in a myriad of degrees and forms and each of them is sure to leave a wake of destruction in the lives of those who cross paths with such dangerous men.

Good Morning Florida Keys’ Jenna Stauffer and co-producer Paul Hardt have spent the past couple of months working on a documentary entitled Inevitable Harm. It’s a powerful story that is based on the utter destruction a con artist can cause and even when initially perceived to be his accomplice, the strength one woman has to overcome it.

To find out more and to support the making of Inevitable Harm, the documentary click here.

The expert guest featured in the documentary is Sandra L. Brown from The Institute of Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education.  She will be in Key West for filming in April and during her visit, the team will be hosting a community lecture entitled “How to Spot a Dangerous Man,” as well as an agency training for professionals which will highlight the hallmark disorders and dynamics in relationships of impending inevitable harm.  As Sandra says, pathology has always existed and it always will therefore, the most any of us can to is educate.

Got a Second?

We’ve all heard it a million times: “This will just take a second.” Or “I’ll call you back in a second.” Or “give me a second, will you?” Usually we answer “yeah, sure” without thinking about it and then, depending on how truthful the second taker is being, start a slow burn process as that second turns into a minute or five minutes or, like, forEVer.

 120px-Flashingsecond

 This Is How Long a Second Is

(Approximately one flash per second; US-PD)

But how many of us ever take a second, literally, to think about how long a second is exactly. To find out, we have to break the second down into units, just as we break a minute into sixty seconds and an hour into sixty minutes. (Hmm, now I’m also wondering why we don’t, just to be consistent, have 60 hours in a day and 60 days in a month and 60 months in a year?) But which unit? We have milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, picoseconds, all the way down to the yoctosecond. Continue reading

4,563 Miles on a Fixed Gear Bicycle…

Southern Most Point

I asked myself one day, “How can I, a coach from Colorado Springs with so many inspirational athletes and coaches, make a difference in thousands if not millions of people’s lives?” December 30th, I set out to fulfill a few goals for what is to be an outstanding year in using my life to shape others. The following represents a short synopsis of my bike ride across the Southern United States during one of the worst winters in decades.

End of December finally arrived, but my journey was only beginning. I packed up my bike, affectionately named Hidalgo, and headed to San Diego, CA where I planned to start my quest. I wrote out a list of goals I wanted to accomplish on this short adventure: Continue reading

Give Me a Head with Hair

Back when I used to go to high school reunions, one of the main reasons for attending was the jealous looks and remarks I would get from former male classmates (former classmates who are male, that is, not former males who are classmates). I received these envious glances because these guys were mostly sans hair while I was the opposite. I was reminded of this yesterday while watching American Hustle. This forgettable film (so much for all the hype) opens with an unforgettable scene: Christian Bale’s character Irving affixing his rug and then arranging his comb-over on top of it. If anyone or anything in the movie should get an Oscar, I vote for the comb-over.

Yeah, Go Ahead. Make Some Remark, Hockey Puck. I Dare You. (Don Rickles Publicity Photo, 1973, US-PD)

Yeah, Go Ahead. Make Some Remark, Hockey Puck. I Dare You.
(Don Rickles Publicity Photo, 1973, US-PD)

Writing this makes me wonder where this incredibly vain/gauche/desperate habit originated. (I know. Who am I to talk before taking a walk in their shoes, right? But what the heck.) In doing my normal “research” I did not find much on the history. (As far as I can tell, the Roman emperor Constantine may have been the one to start this madness.) Still, along the way I stumbled on some interesting comb-over flotsam and jetsam. First, individuals with comb-overs in Japan are called “bar code men” because the striations in the hair strands resemble the scanner bar codes on retail consumer products. Continue reading

BIRD MATING DAY

Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, that special day of the year when many people celebrate their romantic relationships and school kids across this country and probably many others exchange Valentine’s Day cards in a sort of popularity contest where whoever gets the most cards wins. (I never did, which I’m sure has scarred me for life in countless Freudian ways.)

Valentines used to be handmade and handwritten (I know some people who still do this) but have been massed produced like the one below as greeting cards since the 19th century.

Antique_Valentine_1909_01

It’s likely that not many know or think of the fact that the celebration of February 14 began with a totally opposite sentiment. This day started as the Feast of Saint Valentine, a commemoration of a martyr who died on this date some time in the third century. (Is it just me or is it odd that they seem to know the day on which he was killed but not the year?) Continue reading

How I Became an Instant Millionaire


A friend did me a significant favor. When I asked what the cost would be, he said “A million dollars.”

I  promptly  whipped-out  my  checkbook  and   wrote  him a  check,   on-the-spot,     for      $ 1,000,000.00.

He laughed, walking away with the check saying he was going to have it framed and put on his wall so he could tell people he was a millionaire.

A week later, the Head Teller from my bank called me.  The conversation went a little something like this…

Teller: “Mr. Fraser, we have a check drawn on your account for one-million-dollars.  We’ve checked the signature and it seems to match yours.”

I started laughing, realizing my friend had joked my joke, by depositing the check I’d written him.

Me: “Yes… the signature matches because I did indeed sign that check.”

Teller:  “Mr. Fraser, do you have any idea what your current checking account balance is?” Continue reading

Saving the Grimal Grove

Big Pine Key native Travis Livengood recalls sneaking in to Old Man Grimal’s yard as a kid to shimmy up his mango trees and snag a few delectable fruits for himself and his friends.

“One day he caught me, and made me work in the yard to earn the mangoes,” Livengood recalled one afternoon recently as his daughters peered around the freshly cleared property while harp music lulled in the background. “He was a mean old man!”

Livengood was among the dozens of Lower Keys and Key West residents who dropped by one recent sunny Sunday afternoon to enjoy some music, food and tour the property that held handfuls of mischievous childhood memories.

Since 2011, Marathon resident Patrick Garvey and a handful of hopeful cohorts from up and down the East Coast have endeavored to save the former crown jewel of tropical fruit cultivation in the Keys.

“It is a lost piece of paradise and deserves to be brought back to life,” said Garvey, the Executive Director of the Growing Hope Initiative.

After a bit of research, Garvey and his Growing Hope Initiative sought means to save the precious piece of property from future real estate development and revitalize the dream that died with inventor Adolf Grimal at his passing in 1997.

But funding for the purchase of 1.76 acres wasn’t the only obstacle the group had to overcome. Continue reading

OUR Truman Waterfront Park. What happened?

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TRUMAN WATERFRONT ADVISORY BOARD meeting TUESDAY 1/21 5:30PM

If you have followed the park planning process as I have for the past 10 years or more, you understand what a convoluted mess our “park” has become.  Lack of progress has not been any one’s particular fault.  I, in part, attribute the lack of progress to special interests.  “Special” people insisting they get their way.  “Special” people who wanted much needed senior housing to be at the waterfront park and NOWHERE other than the waterfront park.   There were also “special” people wanting a marina.   And there was the 6.6 acres originally set aside for the BCCLT.  Each of those special projects has been shot down over the years – for various reasons.

At the most recent City Commission meeting there were two agenda items relating to our yet to be realized park – both items were postponed:

Item #16 was for Approval of a $347,924 parking lot for 46 cars and 14 scooters ostensibly to “serve the Bahama Village neighborhood and the future Truman Waterfront park.  More on that item later.  (The vote on that item was postponed at the request of the Navy.)

Item #24  WAVING the FORMAL BID PROCEDURES  for critical path components in order to facilitate development of Phase 1A of the Truman Waterfront  was also postponed.

As much as I hate to say this thirteen years later, those postponements are a good thing. Continue reading

Chaos is a Friend of Mine

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I should like to speak about the mess.

The general messes we make–the piles of christmas paper exploding across the living room floor, the pens and pencils strewn across the bedspread, the wood chips and the remnants from underneath the couch–the record, the dust bunnies, the bones, in this case, that are used to keep rhythm. The realm of our emotional train wrecks, derailments and unexpected track switches, the hot messes of our psychological underpinnings, our curious and delectable romantic disasters.

I think that’s what we do, here, is make messes. Create piles of things in one place and move them to another, pick up sticks in our yard and throw them in the woods, move piles of dirt from point a to point b to dig basements and transform the broken hulls of boats into flower pots, leave pools of sweat on the gym equipment, paint stains on our fingertips, imprints of banjos on our inner arms, callouses, wine stains, ashes where our cigarettes had burned. Perhaps the glory and the salvation lie in that mess, somewhere, as scattered and misplaced as the rest of it.

We’d like to think that our lives make some degree of sense–that we’re tapped into something that will lead us forward with invisible reins, the bit in our mouth chiding but not disagreeable. I’m going to venture to guess that none of that is true. Consider the reins eviscerated, the leather corroded by age, use and weather, the horse is lame in his back foot and nobody ever taught me how to ride a horse so what the hell am I doing up here, anyway? What have you got  when the horse dies, when the baby is born, when your heart is broken and your mascara runs down your face in black, blurry lines, by god, you’ve got a glorious mess! Destruction and creation are as bound together as black and white, the mess is unavoidable, beautiful, marvelous…messy.

Here’s a story. Continue reading

Ignorant, Education Deficient, or Just Plain Lazy?

The conversation following a posting on FaceBook; a link to an article posted on WesternJournalism.com called “In 2014, The Obama Dictatorship Will Be Complete”.

(Un-named facebook poster#1)  OH LOL ! More conspiracy horseshit huh ? The next article I expect to see is how Obama is the anti-christ…..that will be a hoot ! ….but in all seriousness, this website is called ”western journalism”…..sorry, i don’t see any ”journalism” here……how about ”western conspiracy theories” or ”chicken little the sky is falling”……..just about had it with the nonsense people. you are telling me that you read an article entitled ”in 2014 the Obama dictatorship will be complete” and not realize at the least there is a political agenda here, …..more fairly this is just TRASH, RUBBISH…….The facts are spun, things are out of context……the usual…..people, use your brains please…I promise you e will all live to see tomorrow, the next week, month, year, decade. Political scare tactics and nonsense. sorry, no offense personally (Un-Named facebook poster#2)

The following reply was posted by RLC:  (Un-named facebook poster#1), first of all, here is the definition of the word you questioned as copied from Dictionary.com:

jour·nal·ism [jur-nl-iz-uhm] Show IPA noun
1.  the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
2.  press1 ( def 31 ) .
3.  a course of study preparing students for careers in reporting, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines.
4.  writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing: He calls himself a historian, but his books are mere journalism.

“Now as I read the article it seems to fit the definition of “journalism” quite well.  It is journalism, especially if you take the fourth definition.  It seems that the “news” media takes this fourth meaning to heart as what I read in the news, and see on the several news programs I view is reported, for the most part is “hurried composition” reflecting “superficial thought and research” to satisfy the “popular slant”.  Sadly, if you follow the “popular slant” of wanting something for nothing, unearned entitlement, and searching for a free ride, you will find the majority of the populous standing in line with their hand out to whatever political power seeker offers the greatest amount of free cookies and circuses.  This lazy majority is exactly the people that will give away the freedom and liberty we have enjoyed for over 200 years for a government welfare check and a seemingly free trip to the hospital.  It is just possible that someone who might attack an article with phrases like “conspiracy horseshit”, or emotionally charged statements like “Obama is the anti-christ”, might do well to partake of some thought and research before spewing unsubstantiated opinion.  Try doing a little research.  Obtain some facts before talking of spun facts, and political agenda.  Show me some reliable sources before shouting “TRASH or RUBBISH”.  In other words look up the word you intend to attack, cite your references, and stop spinning your own agenda.  Cut the strings puppet.  Get the facts then tell us how it really is.”

Now, I am not new to arguments, I have no problem voicing my opinion, and I rarely, if ever, back down from confrontation.  I am however new to higher education.  Way back in the olden times, when I attended high school, education was something “those people” tried to cram down my throat while I concentrated on social events, playing guitar, and stealing kisses from cute girls.  My memory of this education is as such; music and art were enjoyable endeavors, foreign language (German) was either fun, or torture depending on the teacher, math classes were like solving puzzles and I like solving puzzles, and English class was a complete waste of time as I learned to speak it at home, and that’s all I needed. Continue reading

A Moment of Revery, I Beg of You

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I am weeping tears of golden syrup. Sticky and tempting, they drift slowly down my barren, dry and broken cheeks. Chiding the miserable ache in my heart, the hunger pains subsist, clawing at my now hollow interior. Where once there were biscuits, now there is darkness, where once there were free refills, now the subtle echo of the sticky tear, breaking free of my chin so languidly and falling, lone and stoic, to the tile floor, mocks the freight train of tragedy burrowing through my soul. I call out into the darkness, into the void, fists hurled toward the sky, a single dollar bill crushed in the white-knuckled confines of my clenched fingers, where, where the fuck, has the Waffle House gone? Continue reading

City Commissioner Teri Johnston Weighs In On Key West’s New Homeless Shelter

City Commissioner Teri Johnston

City Commissioner Teri Johnston

When I opened this past Wednesday’s Key West Citizen online (www.keysnews.com), I saw an article on the night before’s city commission meeting, which I either spaced out or did not know was happening. I probably had a lot more fun at Kelley’s Caribbean MUSE open mike, and then at The Bull listening to Wanda Wilder belting out one song after another.

A major agenda item reported in the Citizen was a city planner report on where might a new homeless shelter go. Heaps of suggestions, many ridiculous.

The last paragraph of the Citizen article really caught my eye:

“It’s not just a city of Key West problem,” said City Commissioner Billy Wardlow. “It’s everybody’s problem. It’s a city, county, state and federal problem. Everything is negotiable.” Continue reading

Key West High School Academic Challenge Team Needs Your Help

Academic Challenge Team members pictured are (L-R from back) Alexandra Mercurio, Katie Upshaw, Sam Kearney, sean Barber, Humberto dos Santos, Alexis girard d'Albissin, with team sponsor Elizabeth Ford [not pictured: Edgar Romero, sherman Kaplitz]

Academic Challenge Team members (L-R from back) Alexandra Mercurio, Katie Upshaw, Sam Kearney, Sean Barber, Humberto dos Santos, Alexis Girard d’Albissin, with team Faculty Sponsor Elizabeth Ford [not pictured: Edgar Romero, Sherman Kaplitz]

Two years ago six Key West High School students brought home the state title in the Academic Challenge Tournament in Orlando. But, they almost didn’t make the trip. School budget cuts had stripped the team of its funding and the situation was not looking too promising. When the students made a public appeal for help, the community responded and within 24 hours the team was fully funded!

This year the school district is still struggling and the team has no funding for participation in competitive events – even at the County level.   The KWHS Academic Challenge Team needs our help once again.

Here is a note from team captain, Key West High School Senior, Sherman Kaplitz:

Due to a lack of funding, the Key West High School Academic Challenge Team, which has placed within the top three teams in the state of Florida for the past four years, may not be able to compete on the county or state level this year. Continue reading

BOOM OR BUST? New Event Proposed for Key West

City officials were surprised by the application from the International Noise Exposition Professional Team for Key West to become a stop on their international competitive noise circuit beginning in 2014.  Planned for mid-March, 2014, the Key West Noise Exposition would bring competitors from around the world for a week long series of noise events.

The application indicated that, based on attendance at similar competitions held in 2013, Key West can expect between 20-25,000 in-city visitors, with as many as additional 20,000 within 50 miles of the island city. “We can certainly guarantee 100% occupancy in all hotels and inns in town,” sponsor Jack Wooddimple explained. “This is the kind of event that generates its own publicity so no TDC money would be needed. Worldwide there is a large fan base ready to attend.”

A Noise Exposition is a series of contests between various noise producing “creations” in different categories: mechanical, internal combustion, external combustion/explosion, electronic amplification, and personal performance.  The winners from each of the categories compete against each other in the Grand Finale for overall prizes in three areas: total noise, annoyance, and people’s choice. Continue reading

Frankenfood

photo:  canstockphoto

photo: canstockphoto

I was talking with a good friend the other day and it struck me that our conversation would have been unnecessary just a few decades ago. It reminded me of the joke, “Eat Organic Food, or as our grandparents called it, ‘Food’!” We were discussing how to avoid Genetically Modified foods and the difficulty of that goal, given that the United States government has embraced this “industry” and all its lobbyist’s generous campaign contributions. “Industry” is an apt title for food produced with the same loving care and respect for consumers as that of a cardboard box factory.

The biggest player in this perversion of food is the Monsanto Corporation that manufactures a unique witch’s brew of plastics, poisons, pesticides, herbicides and genetically engineered seed. Despite Monsanto’s promises of increased yield, drought tolerance and enhanced nutrition, just the opposite has happened. Pesticide/herbicide tolerant GMO corn, soy and other crops have increased indiscriminate use of these toxic chemicals, Monsanto’s of course, by drenching what we eat with poisons and at the same time creating herbicide resistant weeds, requiring more and more toxic poison usage. This is yet one more example of man attempting and failing miserably to outsmart Mother Nature. Continue reading

Saving Our Reefs

Coral Reef southeast Florida showing diseased Sea Fan

Coral Reef southeast Florida showing diseased Sea Fan

AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO OUR REEFS THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CRUISE SHIPS OR DREDGING…

Years ago Dr. Brian LaPointe was the primary scientist instrumental in forcing our Federal and State governments to admit that land based pollutants affect marine ecosystems and can kill corals… it’s a no brainer but it took years for our local and national governments to admit this and to stop flooding Florida Bay with dirty water…

As a result of this flooding, we saw a proliferation of coral diseases (Black-band, Red-band, Dark Spots, White-band, White Plague, White Pox, Yellow Blotch — just to name a few) that devastated corals on reefs throughout the Keys … Since the flow was reduced, our corals have recovered somewhat. The ugly point about the articles linked below is that there is a huge push to have the dirty water that has polluted and decimated Indian River Lagoon re-released into, you guessed it, Florida Bay. The sad fact is, the resultant flows, if they are allowed, will make any damage that would have been done by widening our shipping channel and resultant harm by increased shipping and larger cruise ships seem like child’s play in comparison.

Continue reading

School District Watchdog Files Complaint With Inspector General

Dr. Larry Murray, 2012 Candidate for School Board District 3

Dr. Larry Murray

WAS SCHOOL PRINCIPAL CHRISTINA MCPHERSON’s SALARY HIKE A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW?

On Sunday, October 6, 2013, I filed a complaint with the Inspector General’s Office of the State Department of Education.  The subject of the complaint is the procedure whereby Ms. Christina McPherson, Director of Assessment & Accountability and principal at Poinciana School was given a substantial salary increase.

As you may know, when I recently filed suit against the School District for failing to comply with three Public Records Requests (PRR’s), two PRR’s concerned the salary and supplements, if any, that Ms. McPherson was receiving.  After I received the documents from the District, someone in the media asked if I had found a “smoking gun”.  My initial response was “No”, though that proved to be premature.

Because of information provided to me by several sources, I went back to the School Board meeting, the minutes and video, of August 15, 2013.  That was the meeting at which Superintendent Porter announced Continue reading

The Short Circuit on Solares Hill

A couple of boys were proofing the captions back in the composing room

While the gal out front who handled the phones was humming a Buffett tune.

Back in his cave, eyes locked on his screen, sat Marvelous Mark McCann.

And at his side sat his partner in crime, the lady that’s known as Nan.

 

Their office was cramped and lit by the glare of a bulb all lonely and spare.

It hung from a thread so tattered and red that to touch it was taking a dare.

It was the kind of a room you expect to have when you work on a small town rag,

A light and a desk and a creaky old chair with a seat that’s beginning to sag. Continue reading

Homeless Shelter Referendum?

At the October 3rd City Commission Meeting I said, during citizen comments, that I had received an email inquiry from someone who has a home in the golf course community, asking if the new homeless shelter could be put out to referendum? I paused, taking in the somber looks on the dais, said, that was meant as comic relief, of course that was not a good idea. Some smiles. Continue reading

Polar-Axis Shift – Key West Homeless Miseries and Beyond

homeless-terroristI wish everyone I know had been with me when I bumped into two remarkable people the other day and got caught up with them, as their rich lives and deep experiences and senses of humor and wisdom flowed out of them like manna from heaven. The man is probably the most educated person I have ever known. You could sit him down in any conversation on just about anything, and in short order he would demonstrate just how educated he really is. Yet, he is content to be homeless, read all the books he still needs to read, mind his own business, and serve the homeless in his own way, every day, by helping others enable homeless people to eat and not starve.

When I asked them, facetiously, if they will stay in the new homeless rehab shelter, if it ever gets built?, they snorted, laughed. Continue reading

NEVER STOP RUNNING, NAPALM GIRL!!!

Napalm GirlThe Sea was mild and soothing as I sailed alone in the western reaches of the Caribbean.  It had been four days since my last human contact.  Such exile does not disturb me – it comforts me.  The wind was light, and the waves were small and melodious – like the cello phrase in a string quartet.

Although quite relaxed, I was also vigilant, because my position was near the busy shipping lanes between the Panama Canal and the Yucatan Channel.  Suddenly, I sensed a nearby hazard.  My first scan of the horizon revealed nothing.  On my second, more careful sweep, I saw her – a gray smudge of a ship, still half below the undulating cusp of the Earth.  I took my binoculars from their rack and focused them.  What I saw slammed me backwards – both physically and emotionally.   She was one of them – a gray, military transport vessel that was all too familiar to me.  I had served aboard one – a U.S. Navy ammunition ship in Vietnam. Continue reading

LOW PRESSURE SEWERS AND THEIR HDPE PIPE – AN ENVIRONMENTAL NIGHTMARE?

The Low Pressure section of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) will have over 100 miles of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Pipe, ranging in size from 2” to 8” that will be buried 2’ to 4’ under the surface. It will be under pressures of 15psi to 60psi. The Low Pressure System is asserted to be a low cost, reliable, wastewater collection system that will save money on initial sewer system installation. But what are its long term costs? Could it be an environmental disaster in the future due to pipe failures? Or perhaps a financial disaster if the piping needs replacement in a few years?

The Florida Keys are a series of coral (limestone) islands. In most areas of the lower Keys, there is salt water flowing only a few feet below the surface. Limestone, with a high water table, is naturally unstable. Sink holes, dips, settling of buildings and shifting roadbeds occur over time. Idiots dig and drill without checking. Each home with a grinder pump (projected to be 2,800) will pump into a series of headers and ultimately into an 8” plastic line that runs over 20 miles from Big Pine to Lower Sugarloaf. In addition, 275 lift stations that consist of large concrete tanks with up to 5 grinder pumps will take the gravity feeds and pump them into the same lines.

The problem, in general, is that HDPE pipe has a tendency to become brittle and crack over time. It is inevitable that failures will occur at some time in the future. Our specific problem is that when cracks occur and effluent leaks, it is very likely that it will go right into our porous limestone aquifer. Eventually the effluent will reach our pristine waters, but this could be some distance away. Complicating things is that there is no way to monitor for leaks in a pressure system. With gravity, when there is a leak, salt water will leak into the pipe and be detected at the waste treatment plant and looked for in the manholes it flows through. A vacuum system line failure is noticed immediately and can be found through simple diagnostic troubleshooting. A leak in a pressurized sewer system might go undetected for months or longer. We may discover that the incremental improvement in sewage treatment we seek is lost through a collection system that is ill designed for our environment.

There is an excellent web site at http://hdpefailures.com/ that provides numerous examples of failures and should have been read by our County Engineer before this system was signed approved. For other ways the LPS/grinder system costs more, go to www.newtoncoalition.com or contact us at info@newtoncoalition.com.

Walt Drabinski

Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

——————————-

See also Rebuttal by Camille George Rubeiz, the Director of Engineering (M&I) for the Plastics Pipe Institute.

This Could Be The Start of A Bad Habit…

This could be the start of a bad habit.  I tuned into Bill Becker’s morning show on Labor Day and once again encountered the Chamber of Commerce PAC spokesperson, Jennifer Hulse make gobbledygook out of figures taken from the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) Reconnaissance Report on the proposed channel dredging of Cut B.

Bill Becker was left sputtering and nearly speechless while Hulse claimed that widening the channel could create 1200 new jobs in Key West.

Becker asked, “You mean, another possible 1200 jobs if the channel is widened, versus if it is not?

Hules: “Correct.”

Becker: “Where would these jobs come from?”

Hulse: “If we can bring in a higher class of passenger that generates more money to the city – that’s jobs created for the city.”

Becker: “So, widening the channel would give us more jobs — I mean — it would just trigger that?” Continue reading

Mixed Messages

Some of you long-time KWTN readers may remember this story by Richard Watherwax…

A few weeks ago I read in the police blotter that someone had found some pictures of a naked woman in a parking lot, so they called the police!!!  I can hear the tires squealing, see the lights flashing, and there are the CRIME SCENE tapes going up, to protect the public..  That’s a bit of exaggeration, but the perception of a nude body in America has me confused.  So here are a few random thoughts on the subject.

I want all of you men to close your eyes and picture yourself buck naked.  You can’t see a thing, and suddenly a hand wearing a rubber glove slaps you hard across your ass.  As you open your mouth to protest, a woman’s nipple is thrust into your mouth!  A kinky S and M scene?  No… you’re just being born.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this scene… in fact, it’s a beautiful moment.  There we are at Mother’s breast, being nurtured, bonding with only woman that will love us unconditionally the rest of our lives (probably), and drinking life giving milk.  This is a moment that we file away forever, and from that moment on try to recreate every chance we get.  But that’s another story.  The point I want to make is this… a couple of years go by, and one day we toddle into Mommy’s bedroom just as she’s taken off her brassiere, and as she dives for the closet she shrieks “No, Johnny, don’t look!  Bad!  DIRTY!”  And we put that thought into our mental suitcase with a sprinkle of confusion, and start working out on the jungle gym, because, believe me, that baggage is going to get a lot heavier as we roll down the highway.

Now to illustrate the mixed messages that are presented to us daily, I’ve taken some photographs.  Continue reading

Conversations Between a Psychiatrist and a Mystic

The psychiatrist, Jerry Weinstock, M.D.,

psychiatrist-interviews

told me … He has lived, fished, dived and swam in and around Key West for decades. For a long time, he was Key West’s only psychiatrist. He had a full practice, no blank spots on his calendar. He probably treated every writer in Key West, when he was still in private practice. As far as he knows, the only people who ever got mad at him were people he could not give appointments when they wanted to get in to see him. He consulted at May Sands School’s challenged kids program. He was the School District’s psychiatrist on call. As a second calling, he became an ardent student and advocate for protecting the sea and the reef. Continue reading

In Response To: ‘The Gentrification of Simonton Street Trailer Park’

RE: The Gentrification of Simonton Street Trailer Park  (Issue #24, August 23, 2013)

A persuasively written article, but it includes a noteworthy mis-statement, i.e,   “The Reach …[was] built on land sold by the Catholic Church.”

Not [exactly].  The Reach was built on an assemblage of parcels, the major parcel having been owned by David Wolkowsky, who built the wonderfully whimsical but short-lived Sands Beach Club there.  David later sold the property to Reach developer Austin Laber, a New York lawyer.   Laber acquired the contiguous parking lot parcel from the Larranaga family, bought some individually-owned parcels along Vernon Ave., tore down The Sands, and built a monstrosity that he named The Reach.  Laber’s tactics were so over-the-top that I withdrew from representing the project.

I spoke today with Key West’s iconic nonagenarian, David Wolkowsky, who confirmed that sometime in the Pleistocene era he purchased the waterfront parcel at the upper end of Simonton St. from the Catholic Church, and that he later purchased the contiguous parking lot parcel from Larranaga. David subsequently sold both of those parcels to Austin Laber.

Laber set out to acquire individually-owned house parcels on Vernon Ave., to expand the footprint of what would become The Reach.  Although he succeeded in acquiring some contiguous lots, his aggressive tactics enraged many of the neighbors, who put signs in their yards that read:  “This house will NEVER be sold to The Reach.”   Vernon Ave. residents Gordon and Marge Smith (owners of The Bike Shop) were among the leaders of the opposition, which incorporated as Save Our Neighborhoods, Inc.

The brief history of David’s “The Sands Beach Club” is worth recalling.  David pulled a building permit that authorized him to “restore old boat shed” at an estimated cost of a few thousand dollars.  Continue reading

Homeless America – mainstream’s shadow, the Key West homeless laboratory might be different from the mainland laboratory

Some days, I wonder why I ever get out of bed in the morning?

 Sloan Bashinsky

Sloan Bashinsky

Father Steve Braddock of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition replied to yesterday’s post:

Steve-Braddock

Sloan:

The gentleman whose photo leads your post today “Duval Street repeat offender”

Duval-drunk

exited the FKOC program clean and sober in October 2011 after 20+ years on the street. He is doing very well and in stable veteran’s housing on the mainland. He is a very kind and gentle man who I feel blessed to have crossed paths with. Continue reading

Assisted Living For Seniors: More Questions Arise

canstockphoto6180035The Key West Housing Authority Board is made up of 5 members, but  a question has now arisen as to whether this Board currently has the required number of valid members to meet and vote on Housing Authority issues.

One issue that I’ve been following for many years and that is currently before the KWHA Board is Senior Housing.  I am slowly approaching the status of ‘senior’, some ‘kids’ may look at me and think I’m already there.  Interested citizens have been following the efforts of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition, and many questions have arisen along the way – now that the Key west Housing Authority and their Board has become involved there are even more questions. Continue reading

The Trash Blog Comes To Key West: The Outdated Topography of Margaritaville

southernmost-point

At a whopping 18 feet above sea level, Solares Hill is said to be the highest point on Key West. In general, 18 feet is the highest point attributed to any of the Florida Keys, and the little known Windley Key is said to be the 18 feet that is highest. In an article about the Keys on Wikipedia it says “No area of the Keys is more than 20 feet above sea level.”

There’s a humorous review of the Mariott Beachside Hotel in Key West, where someone who was staying in the Presidential Suite discusses the tainted view: apparently they stepped out onto their balcony to cast their gaze across the aquamarine Gulf waters only to spy the squat, looming hill that is the Stock Island Landfill. Continue reading

A Somewhat Different Perspective on the N Roosevelt Blvd SNAFU

 Sloan Bashinsky

Sloan Bashinsky

Maybe six weeks ago, I ran into former Key West city commissioner Barry Gibson, who told me his one regret as a city commissioner was he did not hold out for a faster work schedule on N Roosevelt Blvd. He said he would have been only one vote, but he wished he had held out.

When I later shared that conversation with other people in Key West, including an assistant city manager, they said that was the first they’d heard the city had any say in how fast the N Roosevelt Blvd work could have been done. Hold that thought. Continue reading

Channel Dredging: It’s Not Just A Study

dredging vesselOn Wednesday, I listened to Jennifer Hulse, spokesperson for the KW Chamber of Commerce PAC on  Bill Becker’s morning show and would like to challenge her on a couple of points.

1. Hulse states, “the modern ships” — the type we want”, all have advanced wastewater treatment.

I would like to point out that the Carnival Magic which has only been in service for two years, is over 1,000 feet long and carries over 4,000 passengers and has no advanced wastewater treatment.

There is nothing in the agreement that states if we dredge the channel, we will stop getting the type that we don’t want. The cruise lines will continue to run the ships that are servicing the Caribbean Market until they decide that they no longer wish to. It has virtually nothing to do with whether our port expands to facilitate the largest ships. For the Carnival Magic, that is likely to be for at least another 15 to 20 years. What we will get is everything that we currently get PLUS the biggest ships that are now or soon coming on the market.

2. Hulse states that “Modern Ships don’t carry more passengers…”

Than what? Continue reading

What A Difference A Year Makes

Issue 21 school canstockphoto14143019This time a year ago, we were in the midst of two hotly contested School Board races.  In District 2, two challengers came forward in an effort to unseat a five term incumbent.  Further up the Keys in District 3, the incumbent stepped aside and five candidates slugged it out for that open seat.

Week in and week out, the candidates appeared at forums from Key West to Key Largo and back.  In one and two minute increments, the challengers attempted to both answer questions and lay out their vision for the future of the School District.

What I find most interesting about that campaign is how all of the issues so important last August were somehow ignored or forgotten after the election.  What was so critical in August quickly evaporated.

For example, Continue reading

Dear Beauty

butterfly photoDear Beauty,

Hello, allow me to introduce myself.

I am shame. I am loneliness. I am anger, I am despair, I am frailty and error and pain and sadness and capacity for evil. I am sin, I am hate, I am error and I am greed. I am, I have and I will.

I write because there is someone sobbing, in the other room, only drywall between us. This human is naked, the flesh of his body in a shallow puddle of his own tears. IN A PUDDLE OF HIS OWN TEARS IN A BATHTUB, there is a giant man, sobbing in the bathtub. Why is he crying? The ceramic is cold. The choices were wrong. The past is stalking us. The body has failed. The future has us by the throat against the wall. There will be costs and there will be lies and there will be pain. He cannot cope with this truth. And So. Tears of great sorrow. Don’t look at me, but never, ever leave me.

The man pleads with me to join him in the bathtub, if I don’t hide in the bathtub with him the house will cave in and, if I don’t pick him up on my back and carry him across town he will not be able to make it. Its his mother’s fault. Manbody childmind, I have made my choice. Continue reading

DORIAN

This is a work of fiction… not about me… I was never married, or divorced, and I’ve never lived with anyone named Dorian…  r. watherwax

~~~~

After 25 years of marriage, my wife divorced me… she took a bunch of money and left me with this big house. A friend told me I was rattling around, not in a big house, but in a well of depression and loneliness… and he was right. It went on for months, but one day my pastor said to me that it was time to get back into a real life, and he wanted me to meet someone named Dorian. On the way there, he raved how beautiful she was… but very quiet, rather mysterious, and with eyes that unsettled some people.

When we got there, I saw what he meant…. beautiful face… but her eyes had no pigment… black as coal. “Maybe she’s possessed”, he joked. Anyway, to keep this story short, let me say that not long after meeting her, she came to live  with me. And it was wonderful not being alone… but I felt a little unsure how she felt about me.

The first day after she moved in, I came home from work, unlocked the front door, and called out her name…”Dorie?… I’m here.”

Silence.

I went through the living room, dining room, kitchen, calling out her name…. nothing.

I went up to the second floor… 2 bedrooms, bathroom.. “Dorie… where are you?”

Still nothing.

Had she left me?

Up to the third floor… looked in the bathroom, still calling her name… and finally, in the guest bedroom, there she was, sitting in a chair looking out the window at the street below.

“There you are… didn’t you hear me?”

She turned her head, looked at me with those dead eyes for 5 seconds, then turned back to watching the street.

That hurt!

BUT….the following day, Continue reading

What To Do, What To Do About Key West’s Homeless Population (Former Homeless Man Shares His Views)

I used to be your neighborAfter the Roosevelt Boulevard townhall meeting last Tuesday came a regular city commission meeting. Dr. Robert Marbut led off with a lengthy presentation of his view of Key West’s homeless situation, which was followed by questions and comments from the mayor and city commissioners. Citizens were not allowed to comment or ask questions at that time.

Marbut said he conservatively placed the city’s homeless population at 1,422 and growing, more than twice the number of homeless previously reported in local surveys, as reported a few days prior in the Key West Citizen. Marbut said he did not include in that number 1,000 people who had stayed only one night at KOTS, which statistic any other city would have included in its homeless count. After Marbut spoke, I congratulated Gwen Filsoa for making those numbers public.

Marbut said the fair weather is the main reason homeless come to Key West to live. Nothing can be done about that. Marbut said the next reason homeless come to Key West is because Key West offers homeless so many amenities: plenty of food, medical services, booze, etc. He said all that needs to stop around Key West. Offer those services only at the new homeless shelter, which will force homeless to go there. That’s been his working model in other cities, which he said gets most homeless off the street. He said there are three kinds of homeless in Key West. New arrivals, who need to be told up front the difficulty of living in Key West with its high cost of living, the free ride in Key West is over, and they need to turn around and go back where they came from. The fairly new homeless, who can be turned around with the proper help and returned to mainstream. And the unreachable homeless, about twenty-five percent of the total homeless population; the homeless Mayor Cates and the city commissioners most want off the street.

Commissioner Billy Wardlow seemed to be the only one against the new homeless shelter being on Stock Island at the Easter Seals and Mosquito Control buildings. Continue reading

Burning Questions Remain For Big Pine Key Refuge

canstockphoto4097221On the morning of September 15, 2011, a short time after 10:00 a.m., a crew from the National Key Deer Refuge lit a fire a mile north of Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. The intended burn was 21 acres in size, despite the fact that it included a two and a half acre hammock containing rare Liguus tree snails.

By 11:00 a.m., the fire was already out of control, jumping the fire lines, and rushing south at a high rate of speed toward the Pine Heights subdivision of 43 homes. A forestry official from the Florida Dept. of Forestry was being transported to the hospital for heat exhaustion and the local fire departments were being contacted. Continue reading

Jerk…ey

Issue 20 Scott Fraser canstockphoto12316841Among the letters in my mailbox were two sample packs of beef jerky.  Great… I love beef jerky.  If a new company is giving out free samples these ought to be good.

The first bite was a bit tough.  The second bite had big knotty gobs of hard dried fat.  I could barely chew off a piece.

“That was pretty horrible,” I said.  “Maybe it was just that one.  I’ll try the other.”

The second was equally as bad as the first.

“You know,” I said to a friend, “if you’re going to give out free samples, give out your best product, not this junk,” I rhetorically exclaimed.

Rummaging through the trash bucket, I sought to identify the company to fire off a letter of disgust.

Retrieving the torn plastic wrapper from the trash, was when I first noticed the company logo with a happy tongue-wagging dog holding up his front paws as if begging for a treat.

Under this logo were the words…

“BEEF JERKY’

for dogs

 

Show and Tell: Reef Relief, Cruise Ship Relief, Money Talks…

Cruise Ship Leaves Outer Mole

Cruise Ship Leaves Outer Mole

The photo above of a cruise ship leaving Key West’s outer mole pier which I have been posting a lot generated conversation with a naval officer, Jim Brooks, who was stationed at Naval Air Station Key West for many years.

Jim Brooks:  Sloan, that’s one old photo in your blog. It was taken before the harbor was dredged in 2004-2005. Do you know if cruise ships are still kicking up that much sand and dirt? Continue reading

Party At The Top

Photo by Rebecca Rankin

Photo by Rebecca Rankin

 

PECKIN’

The saddest thing I ever did see

Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.

He looks at me, and “Friend,” says he,

“Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.”

- Shel Silverstein

Since the 1950′s, at the least, the roof of the tallest building in Key West has been open to the public, providing a majestic vantage point to watch the setting, or rising, or ever presently beautiful sun gently caress the surrounding buildings, the hustle and bustle of Duval street reduced to a dimension of ant-like encouragement. Many old adages inflect that,  when your problems seem large, imagine them viewed from a tall building, from an airplane, from the atmosphere, and the hard lines surrounding your daily concerns and conflicts, your trivialities if you will, will blur into a much gentler, and approachable, broad perspective. It was in fact popular 90′s singer Jewel who mused, “I wanna pilot a plane with you, so all our problems look small, too.” Hit the nail right on the head, Jewel. Continue reading