Saturday, October 21, 2017

Working past time

Yesterday's post regarding the "C+" grade of the keyboard is primarily my own doing. It has nothing to do with the functionality of the keyboard but has everything to do with me learning it. I've never argued that I'm solely a Windows person; I've just not had all the experience in the world with regards to an Apple environment. Especially within the past 20 years. So my undoing and not knowing enough to make completely understand all the ins and outs of 🍎shortcuts makes matters a little hard. I'm not making any apologies for it; I just need time to sort it all out. 

The history lessons I was referencing is the true reason for the post right now. I had been emailing a friend about the cost of living and minimum wage here in Florida, and decided to Google the correct figures before I went and blabbered all the wrong points of fact. 

Part of the reasoning behind researching everything was because I knew the US was involved in the Great Depression in the 1920s and ended with the Great Recession in the 1930s. I just needed more particulars, date wise. 


I found out (Do you always believe what the Internet tells you???) that the Federal Government, in all their infinite wisdom, decided to make October 24, 1938 the day for federally mandated minimum wage. Thus making allowing people (to) earn $0.25 an hour, all across the nation (source: History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 - 2009). Exactly one year later, it rose 5 cents to a whopping $0.30 and I bet people were ecstatic. Although, according to The People History, things were "relatively" inexpensive (by today's standards / comparatively speaking). Truth be told, 25 - 30 cents is nothing to sneeze at, considering the times and it was probably a hard sell to those who must have been living a working life then. Monthly rent was $27, while the cost of a new house was $3,900 (which would take a little over 2 and a half years to accumulate those quarters, if my math is correct). A new car costs less than a new house ($763), as well as the price per year to keep your car full would be cheaper too ($0.10 a gallon). 

It's so weird to see the prices "of yesterday" in comparison to today. My parents and their parents always say they "remember when X cost Y". We look at our lives now and wonder how we got to such inflation in our daily necessities, and then I look at the technology we're using. I'm typing on a laptop and using cable internet. Yesterday I was using a smart phone to blog. What's tomorrow going to bring? 

We take a lot of things for granted...

Although I would like to say "I want to take a pause for a sponsor break" here but I can't. So I'll say "if you are a Netflix subscriber, look for Dana Carvey's comedy special. There's a bit about Macca talking to John that's a laugh riot". As I type this, I'm looking to see if Amazon has the video. Unfortunately, it's not available on DVD yet, but I found the Netflix page:  Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60: A Netflix Original. What it is, is relevant to how we use technology these days. It's supposed to be Paul McCartney on Earth, having a conversation with John Lennon in Heaven. It deals with musicians these days thinking they're bigger than the Beatles and ends with the use of smartphones. I don't want to give away the whole bit or the punch line, but if you have to watch a few stand ups this year, this one should be on the list. 

Check out the links, see if you can find Dana's stand up, be good to yourselves..


See Also:

Main page of The People History

U.S. Timeline - The 1930s via "America's Best History"

Google keyword "us history 1938"

Friday, October 20, 2017

“Trying it out”

A couple months ago, I wrote about purchasing an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard for my iPhone and that I had yet to fully try it. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this blog post has been brought to you by the $10.63 keyboard! The only challenge is I now need a projector or monitor to hook up to my phone, as the screen is so tiny that it is hard to keep track of what I’m writing. It seems like I've got to zoom in to each sentence to see what’s going on. But then it doesn’t follow what I’m doing, so normal zoom makes me want a magnifier on this thing.

 I know there are shortcuts to learn to make things easier, and I’ve actually got another webpage open telling me what to use the “Command” button for. Like I’ve said before, I haven’t used an Apple product this in depth since Oregon Trail blazed a way for Carmen Sandiego to find hidden objects.

Linking is sure going to be interesting...

In other news, I had my laptop all set up to write a post this morning about some “interesting” history I read this morning, but I got wrapped up in other things and now my laptop is off and in another room because we have company over that has taken over the dining room table. All because my house is a little bit of a mess right now, I can’t use my room like I usually do. My routine has been picked up and shaken a bit, so it makes life a little hard to do things. Hence me using my “new” keyboard to write this. There’s nothing wrong with the house because of the hurricane last month, trust me. We just had a little baby flood from an upstairs condo. Long story short, the immediate upstairs unit is bank owned & some vendor had come in at one point, turned the water on, used the toilet, and disappeared. No one knows how long the water was running for, but it destroyed the immediate downstairs unit (the owners are seasonal owners). We’re talking a whole half of their unit is stripped... gutted... right down to the studs. How do I fit into this? The walls my unit share with the downstairs unit got the end of the running water. So that means a big part of my kitchen, a tiny piece of the dining room and then two and a half walls of my bedroom have been stripped down to the cement blocks and studs. It’s chaos enthralled around here lately, but I guess it’s a lot better than places in the rest of the world...

Back on track: I learned a few things today about the history of the United States, but can’t do the linking I want to because of this screen challenge. Therefore, I think I’m going to call this test of a post, a solid C+ and end on a “good” note. I’ll post within the next couple days of the information I wanted to share, and research some information about phone projections.

Until next time...


See also (aka how I’m testing a way to link with the keyboard):
Amazon has raised its’ price of the keyboard I’m using; It was ~$79 when I wrote about it:

I’ve got a new little Bluetooth speaker that came in the mail the other day:
Linkte mini Bluetooth speaker
(It is interesting that Amazon doesn’t supply them unless it’s being resold. But you get the idea of what it looks like. It works rather well, surprisingly, but I’ve yet to test out an actual phone call with it)

I’m listening to Jana Kramer as I struggle to type everything out.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Don't speak its name" vol. 3 *

I was in Connecticut over Columbus Day weekend. There was a point where I was at my uncle's house and my aunt comes over to where I was sitting. She stands in front of a floor lamp next to me and asks a command that it be turned on. In a matter of a blink, it turned on.


Let me back track for a minute and set the scene. I was visiting family because there is a wedding in a few months. This particular weekend was the bridal luncheon and we were in the groom's parents house (my aunt and uncle), celebrating the weekend as well as having the bride open presents. The place that made the most sense to do this was in the living room. I happened to be sitting on the couch, and between me and the wall was a decent floor lamp. Next to the floor lamp and against the other wall is a book case with an unnoticeable device (hidden due to the height of the lamp and its shade).


When it came time to need more light, my aunt walks over to where I was sitting, looks at the lamp and says "Alexa, turn on the lamp in the living room". On it went... like magic.

Come to find out, my aunt and uncle own an Echo. Through out the weekend, someone would say "Alexa, play..." and mentioned an artist. Again, magically there was music. I asked my uncle how the light turned on, and instead of giving me some fluff of an answer, he plainly stated "there's a wall switch attached to the Echo and each electronic. You just tell it what item you want on or off and it does it". He proceeded to give me the example of the light, but instead of saying "living room", he said "outlet 2" or whatever it was attached to. On the lamp went.

What I didn't see was where the hub was plugged in to. I guess from what my uncle told me (among other things) all you need is a smart outlet to plug your furnishings in to, let Alexa know what it is, and when you're ready to use it, she can turn it on.

There is a lot I don't understand about this and I can admit to it. I know I'm missing some information somewhere, as I went looking for the hub and I don't really know if my uncle paid for the Echo Plus (which sells for $149.99) or the basic Echo that costs $99.99.

One of the things I wonder is the simple fact that if you buy the Echo, do you have to buy the hubs separately and let Alexa find each device? What happens if you have multiple rooms - do you need multiple Echos and multiple hubs? I keyword searched "smart hubs compatible with alexa" and a list of items came up. Since they range in price, the question becomes "what did my uncle buy to make it all work?". I know I should have gone into more detail with specifics, but it was a whirlwind of a weekend and I wasn't paying too much attention to those details.

It's nice that if you buy into the whole hub situation, you can tell a device (that always seems to be listening) to unlock your front door or turn on a light. Maybe even your TV if you're so inclined.

We're turning into a society wanting to rely on ever changing technology. I keep saying "I'm saving for Prime" but won't get Alexa. I don't have that much of a need, truthfully. I'll get Prime to stream the original content and get the shipping rate, but outside of that, maybe the $99 for the year is a waste? I don't know yet because I'm still trying to talk to people about it.

I do know that the smarter our houses become, the more it reminds me of Ray Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains. No spoilers, but it's an open concept of an interpretation and I challenge people to read it.

Until the next device peaks my interest...


See Also:
* I skipped a "volume" specifically because I wanted a crazy reference to the following albums ("just because"):

See also (aka music in my head, outside of the above references):
I have a very specific memory of this song from when I worked in Boston. Thanks, "T", for making our job more fun!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Don't speak its name"

... "unless you want it to answer you".

Last weekend when I was visiting people in Kissimmee, the family got a technological package in the mail. It was a present for their house that they felt would make their lives a little easier. I don't know much about the "why" or the "how", but a small item arrived the same day I did.

I have to point out this family is just a man and a woman, both older than 75.

An Amazon Prime box was sitting on their kitchen counter, waiting to be opened. Once every one had unpacked and done their various business, the box was opened.

Out comes a small speaker, the size of a hockey puck. Maybe a puck high as well. It's got a power cord that is about a foot - foot and a half in length, as well as a manual.

Once this thing was plugged in, the guy that ordered it started asking questions. "Alexa, what's the weather for tomorrow?" the first thing out of his mouth was. "The weather for tomorrow is...." Alexa answered with the exact degree. I guess I now know what he ordered - an Amazon Echo Dot. I didn't see him install any apps on his phone or tablet, so I don't know what he planned on connecting it to. I did notice it took all of 5 minutes to set up. The set up literally was "plug in", "power on" and say "Alexa" to make her listen to your conversation. The scary part is the fact that the second you say her name, she's listening to your entire conversation and can report back on key words.

Just like the Samsung Smart TV debacle.

However, all the "don't say her name!! Shhh!!!" over the weekend didn't stop us from having fun with the Dot. It's a pretty neat little gadget, if I must admit to it. I'm not interested in getting one for myself, but to see it work right from unpacking is pretty amazing. Considering the fiasco I had when setting up Chromecast, I'm glad Amazon is doing something right by users and making their devices a literal plug and play. Maybe down the road I'll get a talking smart device, but since I've got my Roku still handy, do I really need something else? I can already use the voice aspect on the remote (which is a physical button instead of talking to thin air like everything else) so finding a TV show or movie the lazy way out is something that can be done. The second I read a report that my Roku is listening to me, I'll stop using it.

Until then, I've got my tin foil ready...


See Also:
Google keyword search "samsung smart tv listening"

Amazon keyword "samsung smart tv"

Amazon keyword "conspiracy theory tin foil"

Friday, September 29, 2017

"We were born" | "It's in our blood"

Last weekend I had the opportunity to drive 3 hours north and visit people in Kissimmee, Florida. The spot I stayed in, is "just" 45 minutes to Orlando and the magical world of make believe.

No, I didn't visit Jim Henson's magical world of make believe, although I think I'd have more fun visiting radish eating cave dwellers than walking around an oceanic world of fish.

Yes, I went to SeaWorld | Orlando. And for the second to last weekend in September, it was unseasonably hot. It hit 100 degrees with humidity at one point and we spent about 8 hours walking around a crowded park on Saturday. For the threat of rain, it rained for all of 20 minutes. Maybe 15 of that was a full rain, but primarily it was a dry day.

I wasn't too thrilled in going, truth be told. I think going to Disney is a waste of time, money, energy and everything else in between. For a Florida resident, it's not that great of a price difference, even if you're a seasonal pass member. Sure, I got ~$50 off my ticket, but when it cost me $49.50 to get in, it's just the start of a paying domino spread. * The cost was due to the people I went with... they're season pass holders. And yes, I'm grateful they allowed me to tag along and play, but I just feel it's a waste. *

I know, I know; $49.50 is cheap compared to the price I could have paid, since I'm not a seasonal pass holder and I just shlepped across the entire state (so it felt) to see penguins and dolphins. However, these parks aren't my thing. I'd rather spend the money and time on something more useful than being the team photographer and snapping still photos of sharks and manatees. It wasn't even that fun to people watch, and that's usually the highlight of my day. Truth be told, I think I'm getting too old for this kid stuff, even though I went with 4 adults over 60 (well, one was close to 65 and the rest were over 70).

Side note: parking costs $10-40 depending on level of passholder / resident. I can't recall if the passholders I went with paid anything, due to their level of ticket, but it was interesting to see the prices to park.

One thing I had that didn't help matters of "fun!!!" was my 19 year old Hot Topic blue lightning wallet chain... it's considered a weapon.

Damn ... I can't believe I've had the wallet for 19 years... And yet it's in relatively good condition. I've sewn an inch on the bottom because there was a gaping hole, but other than that, it's still in pretty good condition.

But anyway, the chain was what makes the wallet a weapon and security gave me two options: Take the chain off the wallet and get rid of it, or put the entire wallet and chain in my pocket so no one can see it. Do not take it out of my pocket for any reason, do not pass go. When the guy got down to looking at it, he saw how the chain can't come un-clipped from the wallet, so he gave me a third option: put it in my backpack and don't take it out. For any reason. Guess which chapter I chose in this adventure....

So in my backpack the wallet goes and accepted to the park I am. That's not to say I didn't witness anything else lacking in the security department. Although, the group in front of me was told to throw out their home made breads they were bringing into the park. Each member had one of those gallon Ziploc bags that was chock full of rolls. Guess that salami on rye should have been eaten before you parked? I don't want to delve into other challenges I saw, as I don't know who reads this and what type of feedback I will get from it, but buyer beware: if you are of the ilk who have wallet chains (for whatever reason), make sure it stays home or unseen to every eye.

Once my party got into the park, it was off to see the animal rescue league perform stunts about finding true love. We made our first stop the Pets Ahoy show, and it was nothing like anyone thought. First and foremost, it's got nothing to do with anything aquatic. Sinking battleships or otherwise. It's all rescued / adopted pets that perform various tricks to music. Not so cheesy though; we're talking about a mouse weaving around barrels and being chased by a couple cats up ladders, down chutes and through holes in the makeshift walls. There were dogs driving cars, birds flying, and a pig that thought he owned the joint. The crew I rolled with thought it was the best show they've seen since their favorite Vegas act retired. No one could understand how the animals behaved so well and performed so flawlessly.

Except the poor little kitty who absofreakinglutely refused to run up a ramp that went from the stage and over people's heads to the back wall. The cat was scared out of its mind and froze. Can't blame 'im... I'd be worried about the humans watching me as well. The whole act lasted all of 30 minutes. Which turns out to be a standard show time round these parts.

Once we got our bearings of the park (via the handy map), we decided to start with one of the coldest places known to man: Antarctica.

The oldest person in our group decided to sit out on the penguin escapades and opted to find his way into the gift shop. This was the option for him as he'd seen the show before and didn't feel like helping a tuxedo'd bird named Puck find his way through the frozen desert. * Note: Puck is a CGI effect for the ride portion *

There are three versions of the Empire Of The Penguin exhibit / ride: "Non Riders", "Mild Riders", and "Wild Riders". The people choosing to not partake in the ride get a first class walking ticket straight into the penguin arena. The mild riders and the wild riders have a similar boat of a bumper car ride, but they vary in the sense the wild ride does some more frantic movements.

Due to the ride being a trackless carriage, there's no "chk", "chk", "chk" of a coaster sound. Instead, you're seated 4 in a row, 8  people in total, in a bowl of a small pod. It's actually comfortable bucket seating that you must get belted in to. This pod sits in a bigger bowled pod that is similar to bumper cars. It glides over a surface like an air hockey play, and you swerve and tilt and think you're about to jump into a 15 degree bath, but you're not; you're staying dry and solid in this machine. The mild ride doesn't have the crazy movements like the wild ride, I must point out. One the ride is over and Puck finds his way into the habitat, you're greeted by a plethora of different types of Penguins - Emperor, Rock Hopper, Gentoo and a few more species known to the cold southern country.

I know I've stated I'm not a park person and am not so interested in the aquatic life of Walt Disney, but I do have to admit the ride for Antarctica was good, solely based on it being "the first of its kind" in getting riders from Point A to Point B using no standard track system. Plus, the snow loving waddlers are pretty cool.

A science station of sorts within the Antarctica hills

In a pod, inside the icebergs! (part of the ride)

Swimmy swimmy

Jump, you show off!

To the right, to the right...

Party people

Dude's in the corner, talking to the wall...

His buddies are like "wtf, guy! There ain't no one there! You're trippin on bad fish!"

After deciding we had enough of the cold (geez, the New Englanders shoulda been used to it.. Guess we've been in Florida too long), we all agreed it's lunch time; our tummies were hungry. Off to a hot dog kiosk and a round of fries. With the New York style beef in a bun digesting in our bellies, we went off to the dolphin show.

Dollar Dolphin Days are upon us... or not. Depends on who you ask. But there was no way in hell I wanted to be in one of the first 5 rows of the swim meet. Considered the "splash zone" by park personnel and guests alike, I thought of better plans to break my Canon Camera than with water thrown at me by Flipper reincarnate. I know I need an upgrade, but not today, Satan; this isn't how my DSLR goes down. Thankyouverymuch. Up to row 15 we go, where we have center view of an expansive display and a semi circle of a pool. More thought was put into the structure and design for the water mammals than what they get to roam and play in. It's all good; I learned that each one of the 8 or so animals have their own names and tricks, as one does something better than the other. Did you know the trainers use ice cubes to direct the dolphin's attention so they know where to go? This was yet another fairly decent show that took all of 30 minutes to watch. There were brightly colored macaw (birds) involved in this pageant of fins. Again, another version of "how'd the birds get trained to fly where they were supposed to??" from my group and a lot of "oohs" and "aahs" as the dolphins waved the crowd hello, goodbye, and flew trainers in the air. It was nice to sit for a few minutes but it was hard to keep up in taking photos of fast moving objects.

The last show we caught before heading into the shark tank ("Shark Encounters"... think Jaws 3) was the sea lion show. It was called "Sea Lion High" or something like that. Now this was the cheesiest of the cheesy shows. It's like a rip on the 1950s / 1960s TV shows, but stars 2 sea lions and a handful of humans. The basis is that everyone is ready to graduate high school and it's their last day of school. There are some jocks ready to get their scholarships to college, and this includes the two sea lions, however, the animals didn't complete all the mandatory classes in order to graduate. So in a span of 30 minutes (surprise!), the two beach combers have to figure out a way to pass 2 classes each. Spoiler Alert: there's another splash zone. This show was honestly a time waster to me. Comparatively speaking, the other shows we saw were far and beyond much more entertaining and fun.

Last thing we did was Shark Encounters and sadly, the moving sidewalk was dead, so people had to hoof it down the tunnel while they looked above their heads at the sharks looking for food. With plenty of other fish in this sea, it's amazing how the tunnel hasn't broken yet or the fish haven't been fried. This is the one exhibit I remember from being young, and no, it's not from seeing the man eating great white. The drawback was the moving sidewalk, but things happen. No pictures were taken in the tunnel as the glare of the plexiglass made the picture look horrible. Plus, stopping every couple feet in a closed space irks people.

What did I buy and did I enjoy it? (aka the takeaway):

I bought no tourist gift. It was offered to me in a few of the shops we walked in to, but do I really need another mug coffee mug? Do I need a t-shirt or magnet saying I caught some big wave on a ride? No, not really. I'd have the sunnies on for all of 5 minutes before they get forgotten about and I loose interest in keeping them around to wear outside. I am not so quick to go back, as it honestly proved to me that I've outgrown Walter and his mouse house. I'm a kid at heart for some things, but this isn't one of them. Having only visited the parks a (now) total of 3 times in my life, I can seal this chapter in the book of "I've gone and tried it" and can look for something else to do in my future that I can then say "zomg, I wanna go back!! Can we please go back again?!".

Be good to yourselves. Behave, be nice, and see you soon.


See Also (aka music I'm jamming to while writing):

See Also ((aka reference material):

Seaworld Orlando website

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin information

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The beginning stages of chaos

Only the man with the devil's haircut, singing about having two turntables and a microphone, can turn a David Bowie song into a "beyond creepy" fiasco.

I happened to YouTube Sound & Vision because it popped in my head. One of the first videos on the feed was "Beck Reimagines David Bowie's 'Sound and Vision'" and was uploaded by a user named "daniel jimenez martinez". I don't know where this user got the video from, so I can't tell you anything besides the video has 461,418 views and 296  (seems to be mostly positive) comments. It also hits the run time of 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Which is typically normal for a Bowie song of yore.

The "re imagining" isn't completely horrible once you get into it (round the 3:05 mark). It's just that beginning part that sounds like Beck is trying to pull teeth during some Gregorian Chant festival masquerading as the second coming to the Omen soundtrack. I have nothing against the guy who stated he was a loser baby, and asked why don't you kill me. But the yodeling around 5:30 kills the buzz the same way the chanting and thumping drums did for the beginning of the adventure.

I know everyone is entitled to their opinion and remake of songs, so I give Beck a hell of a lot of credit, but that first three minutes seriously made me want to turn my tablet off and go away. It got me wondering who really allowed this to happen and why (I question the Lincoln car people that put their stamp on the head and tail of the video for instance. Did they want Beck to do it?). The garage band noise somehow smoothly mashed into a nice rendition of the song, but truly, that noise was all thump and no cohesion. I feel like they spent 3 minutes trying to warm up the choir and orchestra and once they got the kinks out, the song fares very well. I do like it; it's that beginning part that makes me disgusted. There's no way to really explain the why and how I feel... it's respectable Beck did the song to the extent he did it. It just feels unpracticed in places, and I'm sure Beck isn't one of those "we never practice; we just do it" people. He's been around too long at this point in time to really have a screw up.

I can't make excuses for this. I just wanted to post something I stumbled upon and wanted to share, good or bad. Hopefully the people that read this blog and see the video have other things to say...


See Also:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hidden in "plane" "site"

Irma has been gone for a few days, and I've got enough local photos to beat a horse.

The news stations are still reporting how it's going to take years for some locations to regain some semblance of normalcy (see the Caribbean, St Martin, other "tourist hot spots" that got hit). With the Keys the "closest" part of the world to me that got torn up, it's hard to comprehend how bad the devastation really is. I understand what has happened and I know it's not good. I've seen the pictures on the Internet and TV, I've seen what Fort Myers even looks like, but to really grasp the context of the situation is hard. I'm not there living through it. None of my friends and family are. My complex may have lost power for a couple days, but the worst part of our devastation was a ton of down trees and a lot of debris. Yes, they are still working on regaining power and having sewerage challenges in one of the parcels, but essentially my community is unscathed (for looking like a war zone with vegetation debris). So that being said, considering the only place I've been out of the United States is England, knowing the Bahamas won't be next on my list to visit for a while isn't something I can honestly say I'm looking forward to. I know it sounds wrong to say it, but that's not an area I have currently planned to visit as it is. My country bucket list is a little different than others.

If I were to actually have a bucket list, my plan of attack is going to specific major cities for soccer games. It's petty, I know, but there are double edged reasons for it. I get to travel to another country, see the sights and see a sports game that I half ass attempt to follow. But my main deal is to go visit places I have a slight interest in, and "touristy island" places aren't part of it. Although the countries I'd be visiting are well enough considered "islands" by most people. However, we all live on an island if you really want to get in to it...

Anyway, back on track.

My mom and I were out walking the complex the day before last, and I happened to have my camera with me. I took some photos, which I will upload to this post, but last night I wish I had my camera (and zoom lens). I think one of the NOAA planes came over my area of the city, as there was some Cessna looking aluminum bird flying way too low to be a normal 747 heading to RSW. But what do I know; I'm not a airplane person to tell you the exact model of the bird. I know there is a Hurricane Irma Imagery page that is being run by "NOAA Remote Sensing Division to support NOAA homeland security and emergency response requirements". The map just so happens to stop short of my area. So maybe there will be a new update tomorrow of areas closer to me. It'll be real interesting once all the pictures are uploaded so people can see damage from all over the state, should the planes go everywhere. It's already really cool to see how technology has progressed in our world and we are able to see the damage to communities. I mean, it's a shitty thing to see the Keys under water and what's not floating is full of sand, broken trees, broken houses... The houses are a wreck, at least those still standing. You're going to have to zoom in on areas to see the mess. Boats are everywhere on the small islands of the Keys. Instead of having swimming pools in the backyard, some people have boats. It's so odd the way the current took people's ocean possessions.

That's about it for today's check in. I really can't think of anything to add as I've been trying to multitask this afternoon and things are acting up on my laptop right now...


Pictures or this post didn't happen (the only "major" editing I did to these photos was add my name to them. WYSIWYG):

In da hot tub!

Kiddie pool

See Also (aka music I'm jamming to while writing this):

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"It's like we're moving again"

I don't even know where to begin; it's been quite the hectic ride the past week. I am home, I am safe, but I can't say the same about everyone else.

Yes, I survived the Great Floridian Hurricane of (September) 2017. Irma has come and went, and she was a real piece of work while visiting.

What turned out to be "we're gonna stay in our shuttered house and ride it out" turned into "fahk. We gotta go". Friday the 8th was spent getting Emergency Management / Emergency Alert texts on our phones and we sat in the living room like "let's hope it'll be okay". Some of our neighbors were planning on riding it out and we all seemed to band together in agreement: the downstairs people get water, they can figure out a way to go upstairs to the upstairs neighbors. The upstairs neighbors have a problem, come downstairs. Well, by 9pm Friday night, when the second Emergency Management phone call came, stating that it's too late to evacuate the state and this is the last warning to find shelter. We decided we need to find higher ground.

Where I am in Fort Myers, it's considered Zone A, a flood zone.

My mom called a cousin (Ellen) who lives in the area, and she too, is considered Zone A and needed to evacuate. After making some calls, Ellen was in contact with her snowbird neighbor, Joe. During season, Joe lives with his woman friend in the house next to Ellen. The woman owns the unit they live in, while Joe owns a house across the city, out of the flood zone and had shatter proof / hurricane proof windows. Since Ellen has a key and the house is empty, Joe was a life saver and said "get to my house as soon as you can". With a go bag packed, furniture moved and stuff piled in high places on Friday, it was too late to run across the city. Saturday morning we were picked up and drove over to Joe's.

Side note about packing: There is very little you think about packing in emergencies. What can you do? There are no basements or attics in these houses, so there's no place to store anything at a high level. All we could do was hope and pray we wouldn't get flooded out. They say you should pack at least 3 days worth of stuff, although there are conflicting comments, saying pack a minimal 7 days. You just never know. But whatever you pack for, you're going to need clothes and necessities (food, water, batteries, candles, matches / lighters, lanterns, radios, etc). See suggested links on the bottom of this blog post.

Once we got to Joe's on Saturday, we unloaded the car. Three adults and two little doggies (one happened to be Joe's step-granddog. The dog's parents were getting married up north this past weekend... a whole different story, not for blog use). After looking around the house, we were shocked to see the windows weren't covered up. Joe assured us over the phone that his windows were hurricane / shatter proof so there was no need to put shutters up. It wasn't until later that day we noticed the aluminum shutters in the garage. By then, it was too little too late because we didn't know a lot of the neighbors and who would actually be home, to be able to help us out. Shutters can take 2 or more hours to put up and with this being a decent size house, there was no way we could do anything. So, we had to stick it out and really hope the windows and doors wouldn't give out.

Since Joe is a snowbird, he shut his cable off (TV, Internet) for the duration of him staying up north (as well as when he is living with his woman friend next to Ellen during season). This means we had no access to the news or computers while we had power. With the grace of quick thinking, I had packed my Roku 3 in my backpack, just because I figured we'd want to watch something besides the fear mongering news outlets.

Yes, the news was getting scary and telling people not to listen to social media or other news casts. It was like we were going to war with this invisible force. It was crazy.

The power of technology and the ability to find a neighbor's semi - fair - bordering - poor XfinityWifi spray, I was able to connect my Roku to the wireless signal and get us online to watch something. We alternated between ABCNews, NBCNews and CBSNews until we got sick of them streaming clips and I was able to download a local Fox affiliate app. At least we could get local talk for as long as the internet came through and the power was on. Very little "news" apps have a 'Watch Live' link in the app, come to find out.

As the rain came and drenched the lanai on Saturday, there wasn't much going on. We knew the main highways and roads were becoming closed and the last of the "get out of dodge" people were trying to leave (when they shouldn't have been), we wondered what else we could do. Storm was coming through the island countries and destroying them in its wake. It was a matter of time before it hit the Florida Keys and made its way to us.

The day progressed and we were able to keep an eye out on the world and went to bed Saturday night wondering what we'd wake up to.

Sunday was the same; rain, dreary, but we knew we were in for the long haul for the day. By noon the man made lake in Joe's back yard, had crept up significantly and we thought it would only be a matter of time before we'd see it in the lanai (which it never happened). The power had flickered for a brief moment and we knew it was a sign things were coming. The news was reporting there were parts of the Keys that had been demolished and Irma was on her way to Marco island. She had turned from being mainly an east coast storm to a west coast storm, but still threw down from Jupiter to Miami and points in between. By two pm, Irma dumped her eye on Marco and Naples and was moving more towards Fort Myers. I know those two Collier County cities aren't looking to great right now, as part of the Naples Grande Hotel had their roof collapse (I had heard this on the radio).

By 6pm Sunday, the category 5 hurricane had been turned into a category 4 and was upon us. We watched in awe as there was a complete white out over the lake. Water was misting everywhere and the wind was strong. 40 minutes later, it was dead silent as the eye had hit us and we got to see the extent of any damage for the first part of the storm. The screens on the lanai cage had popped, but the cage remained unscathed. The water stayed where it was in the backyard, but now Joe had front lake side property; there was a river running down his street. The water ran halfway up the driveways and not into the house. We couldn't believe the amount of water surging down the street. My cousin attempted to take the dogs out, but they wouldn't do their business because of the water. After they got brought inside, she asked me to go out and look at the street with her. She ended up walking to the middle of the street where the water was just below her knees (like a foot and a half high). She wanted me to walk in the middle of the road with her, but I had my camera and I didn't want to get it ruined. It was drizzling at this moment too. So I took pictures and we went back inside. Not 15 minutes later, the power surged and shut off, and we were stuck with just our battery powered radio as company. We lit candles and by 7:40, it was getting dark and the waters were moving again. The second half of the storm was starting. By this time there was not more we could do, as far as watching life around us, so we decided to pretend we were living in "old times" and amused ourselves by listening to radio news. I kept saying "The Shadow is better! Why can't we be listening to that??".

There came a time during the night where we were all so tired from sitting around worrying, that we all went to bed. By dawn the next morning, things had cleared up and Irma was far away from us. The river in front of Joe's had left around 7 and we were able to see what the street looked like. A couple big trees had fallen and people had screens everywhere. There was debris all over the place but it looked like no one had damage to their houses. Joe's lanai was filthy with debris and popped screens, but no harm done to his house or the lanai cage.

Once it was safe to venture out into the world, we slowly made our way to our respective communities. Between Joe's house and my complex, there are a lot of big intersections. All of which had no power, a lot of flooding and fallen trees. Everyone seemed to have the same idea by being on the road, so it was tough to get around. Unfortunately, there were no traffic details around (police directing traffic) so people were on their own trying to get through the roads. Once we got to my community, it looked like a war zone. No damage to buildings, but all the landscaping was destroyed. My friend in England had visited a few years ago, and she said that the main boulevard looked like a Hollywood Studio movie because of the palm trees. Well, Ray, it's no longer that pretty! All the trees were down, ripped right from their roots. Palm fronds are everywhere, if the entire tree hasn't collapsed.

We drove around the complex to find many people out and about. Our friends houses fared well and had no outside damage. People were fine, but there was no electricity. Power had been out since Sunday afternoon. We were able to run into our house to make sure things were okay, so with phones in hand (flashlight!), we took a quick look around, grabbed more supplies (clothes and food that was in the midst of defrosting) and made like Tigger and bounced to our cousin's community to check her place. Surprisingly, the frozen food was still frozen, which as a great sign, but we took stuff anyway because we didn't want to risk it. Joe is on the fire department grid, so we only lost power in his house for 5 hours. The house was lit as of midnight Sunday.

Going from my house to my cousin's, the same thing happened with the intersections - be mindful of where you're driving! Her community looked pristine compared to ours, as we only saw 2 big trees down, and one had uprooted the sidewalk. Her house was dry, and her community out of power. As of this post, it's still dark, so she is at Joe's. We luckily have our power restored (finally) because we are on the hospital grid. Why it took two days longer than Joe's fire department, we don't know.

Once everything was checked, we made our way back to Joe's. Since no one had power, we had no reason to stay. We very well could have moved back in, but for what? We had lights, we had clean clothes, we were lucky to have a friend like him. Our neighbors that sat it out were the ones truly in the dark - we could watch the storm pass us and they only heard it because they had their shutters up. They didn't know what was going on... they had no idea what type of world they would see once they opened their front door. But all in all, everyone we talked to is extremely lucky. It could have been worse for our little corner of the city, but it wasn't.

Since our friends in the community called us Tuesday afternoon saying they had power, my mom and I came home. She said "it's like we are moving all over again" because we had to move our furniture back to where it all was, put the things away we scattered through out the house, refill cabinets... it's chaos inside because you're trying to make life the way it was before you had to run out and worry about things being damaged. Again, we are so grateful everything is fine, but just driving 5 minutes down the main road, it's a different story. A preschool is under water. A little fruit stand is under water, but the next block has all new Habitat For Humanity houses and they are unscathed. Still areas of the city are without power and under water. News reports say the east coast and some parts of Florida will see power on by tomorrow. The rest of the state could be delayed until the 22nd. So it's fair game as to who will see what and when, and what people can do to fix their communities.

North Fort Myers and Lehigh are the two local areas that got destroyed, so I'm told. Collier County has Naples and Marco Island. Cape Coral is completely fine, as I saw someone today. He said his major damage was his car port but that hit nothing. His community is clean. It all depends on where you are and how bad it was hit.

It's so crazy how this all happened. We all learned a valuable lesson in this and everyone is taking it differently. Normally Southwest Florida isn't affected by these types of storms, or at least it's not as bad. I heard on the radio that there are Cracker Houses that were built in the 1920s and withstood a major hurricane in the 1930s, are still standing. But the mobile homes near the beach are swimming in water and the once in Immokalee have completely collapsed. You just don't know.

Something interesting I found out and posted on a social network site:

  • In the (beach) communities that have bridge access (Fort Myers Beach, the Keys, Sanibel / Captiva), you have to have gone to your local government office and get a special hurricane resident pass if you are a resident. This is to be used when you get evacuated. You have to get one every time something like this happens; it's not a "get it once and keep it forever" deal because it has to be updated constantly. People move, things happen. So you need to bring a utility bill, state issued ID, passport, and one other thing (I forget what) to prove you live in that city / area. You then get a pass to show a guard at the entrance of the bridge that you live there. Or if any government agent (police, etc) stops you to ask what you are doing, you can prove you are a resident. It is to prevent looting and rioting in the city and try to make clean up easier for the people to live there. I know it sounds like some sort of thing worse than Martial Law, but it's to protect the neighbourhoods. It's not meant to be a bad thing because the cities want their people to be able to get home to a safe place and be able to see what they need to work on / clean up, rather than worry about someone nicking their stuff.
A friend of mine said that they will probably reclassify hurricanes now after this because a category 5 is no longer a category 5. The last big cat 5 that had devastated parts of Florida, was Andrew in 1992. Prior to that was Donna in 1960. Charley in 2004 was a category 4, although devastating, there was no big comparison. There still isn't any comparisons because Irma outclassed every single Florida hit hurricane. 

I know I haven't covered every single event that happened in the state with this hurricane, but I wanted to cover what I experienced. Everyone has gone through their own version of the story and I know the news outlets have beaten this to death, but it's all something we need to know. It's now a piece of our history. I hope the places that got destroyed are able to get some help by the local governments and state governments (including country government, depending on where it is), and that something like this doesn't happen again for a very long time.

Take care of yourselves and be good!


Pictures or it didn't happen (Plus a video uploaded to YouTube):
* Note: All photos and video are taken on a Canon EOS Rebel T3 Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens and edited either with Photoshop (for the photos) or Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate [Download] (Old Version) (for the video)

Joe's house during the storm:

Walking outside during the eye of the storm:

The day after:

Driving around:

The orange got halved! @ Sun Harvest Citrus

The boulevard in my community
 The preschool near my house is under water:

And so is the little neighborhood citrus stand:

More driving around:

No coffee for you!

Back at Joe's:

Driving around Tuesday:

At least Sprint and T Mobile are open...

Someone broke into Game Stop?

Check out the bird!

Over 24 hours in in under 24 minutes (video):

See also: