Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Powers Out - Time to Loot

CNN, who has seemingly partnered with YouTube and the makers of Jackass, has assured that the revolution will be witnessed via cell phone video in 2 minute increments right after this 15 second message from Chevy.

When power came back on here in Fort Myers after plunging us into...sunlight for the last 3 hours, I quickly checked the Fox News online crawl to see if an Osama, Hussein or Barak was to blame for 4 million powerless Floridians. I then hoped over to CNN's website where the headline read "Massive Power Outages in Florida" followed by the I-Report banner asking "Are you there? Send us your photos!". This is CNN's method of creating community among the nation's gawkers, bystanders and slackers. Take a picture of the shooting rampage/plane wreckage/burning orphanage and upload it for free to CNN! Your grainy phone-cam footage of you fleeing the scene of the latest catastrophe can be right up there with other news like "Naomi Campbell hospitalized" and "Lindsay Lohan in rehab". News is fun!

But really how much fun would pictures of a blackout in Florida be? And should you be wasting battery life when the juice is running out? It's stupid when you think about it. Even when you don't.

When the power went out I had a funny feeling. After 10 minutes of no Internet, radio or TV, I called my sister Tiff and asked if anything was on the news. She accessed the Internet with her Palm at the Panera (which I wanted to say mostly for anyone who has recently been thawed from a block of ice they have been frozen in since the 40's - like Captain America - and will be blown away by the technological advances we have made). Tiff said nothing was reported online yet so I went back to sitting around doing nothing.

After an hour I figured I'd check out what post-apocalyptic Florida looks like and drove to the bank for reasons I will leave mysterious. The roads were jammed and police directed traffic at most major intersections since the lights were still out. I gave the less reasoned sister a call and this time Mandy surfed the web at work (Captain America is freaking out! What's a web?!?) and this time got the report I wanted. Major power outages in Florida. Mandy suggested I return home immediately as the looting would start shortly. I didn't have the energy to loot but I was headed home anyway - mostly because I wanted to eat the ice cream in the freezer before it melted. It's a traditional blackout event.

A call here and there revealed that the rumor mill does not run on electricity. A few suggestions as to the cause of the massive power outage included:
  • Terrorism
  • Severe thunderstorms
  • Too many people playing War Craft at the same time
  • Liberals
  • A dump truck backing into a power pole in Juno, FL
  • Fidel's final revenge

Honestly I thought I had caused it from running the dishwasher and the Tivo at the same time.

Which brings me to my last comment. My shows aren't going to be recorded on Tivo

I can survive a few hours. But what happens when the power stays out. For days.

My cell phone was on one bar. My laptop was useless. We just got back from Fort Lauderdale last night and the fridge is empty. Truck's gas tank is half full. The banks were closed. The grocery stores were closed. It wouldn't take long before things descended into chaos. We're trained to be prepared for hurricanes. We usually have time to procrastinate and forget the things we need to survive days after a hurricane. But something like this is so sudden. We are so used to flipping the cell open and making a call. Opening the fridge and having cold food. Turning on the computer and accessing the Internet. For all the technology we have developed to make our lives more convenient. In a flip of a switch it can be anything but.

Friday, February 22, 2008


My Computer crashed. (Did I capitalize computer or did it? That concerns me) I'm now in the process of doing what I do every time I panic and worry about losing everything stored in this mysterious little box - I backup.

I'm basically copying files to an 80 GB backup hardrive and I'm currently watching it scan through 37 years of photos. It's freaking me out. The files are flying by and the computer is counting down. "214 minutes remaining". A file from a trip out to Montana just zipped by. That was almost 7 years ago? The Grand Canyon from 2002. The computer shuffles through several dozen files from the Vermont Butterfly Survey in Manchester with Kent in 2003 and the numbered files topple like dominoes. Here comes 2004 and the 2 trips to see Ma-Le in Ecuador. 1200 photos and they rocket past so fast. 2005 - new pictures of baby Peyton, my sister Mandy's wedding, Ash & Kate's wedding, Christmas with the family at Disney and the last picture of my mother - the moment is gone. "42 minutes remaining". The blur and pain of 2006 tears by with digitized moments that seem too quickly forgotten. I did that? Lost in a fog of coping. "19 minutes remaining". I'm watching the last of the photos and my mind hears the sound of driving on the rumble strip that separates the highway from the side of the road. DSCN3384, DSCN3385, DSCN3386 - no time to change the file name. The moment is here and gone. "2 minutes remaining". Does my computer know something I don't?

When I was a kid days seemed endless - now they go by too quickly. I've been back in Florida for a year now. It's been a great year for the most part but I can't help feeling like I'm driving downhill in a fog sometimes. Gotta keep going forward. Have to enjoy every bit of every day that I can. I never know when the ground is going to drop out under me. I can look back - I just can't backup. "finished"

Monday, February 18, 2008

How To Kick A Rabbit

Rabbits are fast and hard to kick. They're food for just about everything including alligators, bobcats, panthers, rednecks, snakes, coyotes and goats. Like most prey species they have exceptional range of sight and with eyeballs that protrude from their skull they can see a swift foot coming. They can see on the left and on the right but their vision overlaps for only 30 degrees to the front where they have a minimal amount of depth of field. They also have a 10 degree blind spot and this is the key to kicking one if you can't sneak up from behind. You can also wait outside a den but who knows when they'll creep out. You can always count on a rabbit to dart one way and then dart back the opposite way, but if you don't anticipate correctly, a quick change in direction and an errant punt can lead to a torn ACL.

When you do connect it's important to get the firm spot underneath. Remember - you're not trying to harm the bunny. You're just hoping for good distance.

What to wear? Fabulous colors. Rabbits seem to have only two types of cones in their eyes that allow them to see greens and blues so you can camouflage yourself by wearing spectacular pinks, reds and oranges. This may backfire by drawing fire from locals.

Don't blink because rabbits don't blink often - maybe 10-12 times an hour.

Threats abound for rabbits so they are well adapted to avoid the casual rabbit-kicker. For the well-trained bunny punter, all of these adaptations will be accounted for and one should find great success when patient.

Of course I don't condone such behavior. But it seems to be hardwired into boys brains. Tonight I watched a boy run up to a Muscovey Duck and kick it. His older brother followed and his father laughed. How is that not a punishable offense to wildlife!

While hiking with friends on Sunday I had hoped to see some wildlife and the thought popped into my head. If a rabbit were to run out - I'd kick it. I could have kept the thought to myself, but it came out and the lesson you've read above followed.

I love animals. I don't wish to harm them and I feel bad that I eat some of them, but why do we think this way. As far as I can tell - most women don't have these thoughts. If a deer prances along most women would think "awww" and many men would think "shoot it!". If a toad hops by many women would think it warty and gross and most men would want to lick it.

It could simply be that everyone thinks crazy thoughts and most don't express them. If I didn't there wouldn't be much of a blog.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Resurrection of the Zombie

It's never really dead - so Resurrection Fern is a misnomer. Call it Zombie Fern. Even that would be a sensationalist's attempt at sprucing up botany, as Zombies are neither alive nor dead. But this little fern has the amazing ability to go from a lifeless, desiccated appearance to a vibrant healthy green with just a little rainfall. They can in fact go years without water but how often does that happen?

I mention this because it just rained. The hyperbolists - not to be confused with the herbalists have suggested we're in the worst drought in 50 years. We've had 3+ inches of rain in the last 36 hours - equaling the accumulated amount of rain since October. The Resurrection Fern will therefore be splayed out in all of its verdant glory. The picture above - taken on Sunday, is a fallen cypress tree covered with dried up fronds. The picture below is the same tree looking fantastic after just a little rain.
During the drought we've been necessarily shackled with serious water restrictions, but when hyperbolists and sensationalists collide, the ensuing media frenzy over a rare winter rain storm can only mean that an uneducated public will feel emboldened to get out there a wash their cars and water their lawns even before the last raindrops have fallen.
3 inches of rain means we're now only 5 inches below average. So Floridians - put the hose down and step away from the slip and slide. And bathroom bullies do not in fact have the go ahead to give that swirly.
The Resurrection Fern can tough out this drought, but until we're flush with freshwater in our aquifers we need to maintain a descent level of water-use moderation.
As a wise child once suggested to me - "Save water - drink more soda."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Turn Over a New Bush

First Lady Laura Bush visited the Everglades today during part of an effort to help kids "turn over a new leaf" regarding the environment. Presumably she thinks kids are to blame and need to change their wasteful, destructive ways.

Dozens of local school children aged 9-12 were gathered with the First Lady at the Everglades National Park for the announcement of the 2008 Junior Ranger Program and to learn about native and exotic plants in the area.

"Children will be asked to submit an essay that asks them individually on how they can improve our environment."

One submission suggested to wait 6-9 years, time travel back to 2000 and vote for Al Gore.

Another was to preemptively bulldoze places where exotic plants may be in the future.

One precocious 11 year old laid out a comprehensive 20 year plan to systematically remove all man-made water control devices, eliminate all exotic plant and wildlife species and cut back significantly on agriculture uses on Everglades lands - all of which would be supported by a state/federal budget. But ironically, just hours before, the President had submitted a federal budget that underfunded a similar plan by hundreds of millions rendering the plan essentially useless.

This may be why Laura was out mobilizing the coalition of the pre-pubescent. If biologists, civil engineers, botanists, environmentalists, politicians and land managers can't solve the problem, burden the children.

The winner of the essay contest gets a trip to the Everglades - which they were already gathered in. And more importantly a shopping spree. Most likely at one of the Wal-Marts, Targets, or K-marts that have been built in the Everglades.

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