Key West New Year’s Eve

Like a pearl at the end of the chain,

Not a nasty lady, but a sleepy refuge for the believers,

Tempting the willing with a feeble sense of time,

Sodden revelers awash in sensory devoid pleasure,

Some for the first time – for others just more of every time,

Living for the day, the last day, any day, soaked in party clothes,

Shelter from last year’s treasure lost, and locked,

In memories soon to be swept from view in a green flash,

Of briefest measure, green light from the last day,

In a flash over Sunset Island, like sunsets of glorious days past,

Sometimes seen, sometimes appreciated and remembered,

Other times best watched through an upside down glass,

An old timer, very pickled – at a polished bar had a vision,

He saw Papa, once – walking quickly up Duval –  too quickly,

Up past Sloppy Joe’s – he pays attention to no one,

Long night, hat pulled low, heading home to Whitehead Street,

Before day totters in on a Seabreeze, living for the last one,

Seeking one more before the rum soaked night pecks away at you,

Stop to see the Duval trannies, in high heel shoes, clothes too tight,

Watch them blow overblown kisses to strangers waiting for the end,

For that last day, at twelve it begins anew,

For the pleasure of those who come to trumpet, see it in,

Some dangerous consequences down here at the end,

Socked away and forgotten.

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Thoughts on today’s tragedy in Connecticut

Earlier today, as I was having my first cup of coffee, I came across some inspiring words written by my favorite theologian, Huston Smith. Smith’s words appeared in the banner of my daily planner for today, December 14th, 2012. So inspired was I, by Smith’s uplifting words, that I abandoned the post I was currently working on, a post calling for federal government restrictions on certain types of firearms. So thinking this ‘gun post’ would keep for awhile, I began work on a post in which I intended to impart some  great words of wisdom from H. Smith…

…both posts now lie on the hard drive of my laptop, incomplete and unlikely to be finished any time soon. The tragic events of today have seen to that.

After the senseless shootings in Connecticut, even the most well crafted words of the world’s greatest theologian ring hollow, and any discussion of gun control would be akin to a discussion of life-boat safety in the wake of the Titanic sinking.

So, unable to post either, I will post this one:

In the upcoming days we will hear a call for change. If you attend movies, shop in a mall, send your children to schools, or drive on a freeway, you should listen closely to this call, because if you don’t you may not hear again for a very, very long time.

And don’t worry:

This call will not be a call for sportsmen to turn over their shotguns to jack-booted thugs. Nor will it involve any of you folks (who by the friggin’ gazillions), have applied for, and have received, concealed weapons permits – your weaponry is safe.

There will be a call for some common sense in what kind of weapons we allow people to possess.

And by the way, now that I think of it I think they did begin to discuss life-boat safety issues very soon after the Titanic sank.

Thoughts on Winter Storm Caesar

I felt bad about the way I’d left things with Rita. The last time we talked, I found out that she’d taken a job at the Thief River Falls  ____ Mart, a place she’d vowed to never enter, let alone work — under any condition.

Anyway, I was a little abrupt with her the last time we spoke, because she had in fact, taken a job at the aforementioned super-store, at least until after the holidays, and later on, I felt bad about being so judgmental, so I wanted to apologize. Besides, earlier in the day, I’d gotten a tweet from The Weather Channel telling me that Winter Storm Caesar was bearing down on the Northern Plains, and I was worried about her and J.L.

When I called her cell, J.L. answered. “Rita leaves her phone at home now when she goes to work,” he told me. “She was getting into too much trouble for making calls on the job.”

“That’s a shame,” I said, “especially with Caesar heading your way?”

“Who?”

“Caesar…you know about Caesar don’t you.”

“Sure,” he said, “the pizza guy.”

“No, not Little Caesar – Winter Storm Caesar.”

I then had to explain to J.L that The Weather Channel is now naming winter storms in much the same way North American hurricanes are named. No wimpy names for these storms either – if you haven’t been paying attention, prior to Caesar we’ve had Winter Storm Athena and Winter Storm Brutus. And Winter Storm Draco is next (I think that’s the Latin word for ‘dragon’)…yikes…these winter storm names are intended to scare the bejeezus out of you.

So the first time I heard of winter storm naming, I thought it was just exactly that – scare tactics designed to alarm the public. Damn that National Weather Service I said to myself. Then I found out that the NWS wasn’t behind this at all. In fact, it was The Weather Channel (TWC) – that stalwart bastion of cable distributed meteorological information. It seems that in order to make things easier for us online geeks, TWC came up with the idea of naming winter storms to help make them easier for us to track. They know  that most of us are too consumed by our Twitter feed and our Facebook pages on our iPad or smart-phone to actually tune into a local weather broadcast to get the skinny on any upcoming disasters. Apparently notifying the general public that a blizzard is descending upon them from the northern reaches of Canada, and within 24 hours they may well be buried under 47 inches of snow, driven by blinding hurricane force winds is not dramatic enough content for the TWC.

From TWC website:

“The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation.”

To this I can only add an emphatic: Huh?

Let us begin our search for the Truth, by taking a quick look at the assigned names for the remaining winter storms this season:

Euclid

Freyr

Gandolf

Helen

Iago

Jove

Khan

Luna

Magnus

Nemo

Orko

Plato

Q (yes, just plain Q)

Rocky

Saturn

Triton

Ukko

Virgil

Walda

Xerxes

Yogi

Zeus (My personal favorite – this one is destined to bury half of North American under a glacier)

Think about these names and what they imply when you hear them over the course of the next few weeks and months. Couple these threatening names with the fact that TWC embarked upon this winter storm naming program without consulting any other private or public weather forecasting organization and things begin to sound mighty fishy. This was evidenced by the fact that as the massive nor’easter, dubbed “Winter Storm Athena” threatened New England the National Weather Service issued a directive to all of its personnel to NOT use this name in any of its bulletins and broadcasts.

Now I know some of my more weather savvy readers will say, “ha, ha  Trop, don’t you know they’ve been naming winter storms in Europe for the past fifty years?”

And I’ll say right back, “Yes, I know that o’ Weather Savvy Reader. But this isn’t Europe. We do things kinda different over here in the U. S. of A.”

Normally, I am not one to jump on every conspiracy theory bandwagon,  but I think something is going on here with this storm naming business, and I don’t like it. Insurance companies are increasingly using the “named storm” clause in insurance policies for all kinds of things, including when new policies can be written and what damages are covered.

So a few years hence, when you’re speaking to your insurance agent regarding a claim you’d like to file, as on Friday of last, while on your way home from work in a blinding snowstorm, your classic 1953 Austin Healy roadster skidded off the roadway, cleanly shearing down to stumps, six poplar saplings and removing fifty yards of rail fencing, before both you and a piping hot cup of Starbucks cappuccino were propelled into the windscreen, doing calamitous damage to both classic vehicle, your dental work, and your finest Holland Cooper tweed jacket, don’t be surprised when your agent tells you:

“Tisk tisk. Sorry Dr. Gravestares, but I’m afraid you’re not covered.”

“Not covered,” you’ll retort, sitting bolt upright in your hospital bed.

“I’m afraid claims filed for accidents that occurred during Winter Storm Dracula are not covered under your policy. Good heavens man, didn’t you get the Tweet?”

Just sayin…

Mahalo

Trop

Does Obama want my guns?? I mean, does he really??

A few days after The Election, I ran into a friend of mine at the Deerfield Mall. My friend (I’ll call him Jason – not his real name), was a Romney supporter, and although I vowed not to mention The Election to him (or any other Romney supporters), purely out of respect, he was obviously still upset about the outcome and he didn’t waste any time telling me how much.

“So how are things, Jason,” I said, suddenly realizing my faux pas in these emotionally charged post-election days.

He shook his head. “Not good Trop. Not since the other day.”

“Yes, about the other day…”

“I’m mighty upset about the election.”

“I see.”

“This is Obama’s second term and he’s got nothing to lose now,” he said that staring at the sidewalk.

“Nothing to lose? How so?”

“He’s coming for our guns Trop, that’s what. I give it a year…maybe two years, tops, before this country busts out in an all out shootout to defend our second amendment rights.”

“You think Obama wants that antique blunderbuss you have hanging over your mantle,” I said. “You should pay HIM to take it. It probably hasn’t been fired since President Grant was in the White House.”

“That’s why I’m buying an AR-15.”

“An AR-15! You really think…”

“And 500 rounds to start with.”

So that’s how the conversation went. I went away shaking my head, and I soon forgot our conversation until the other day, when I ran across an article about an Arizona gunstore that had banned from the premises, anyone who voted for Obama. For those who are too busy to click the link, Cope Reynolds, owner of Southwest Shooting Authority in Pinecrest, Arizona also posted a sign in his store that reads:

“If you voted for Obama, please turn around and leave! You have proven you are not responsible enough to own a firearm. Thank you, The Management”

Could we be talking about the same Obama? Is this the same Obama who received ‘failing grades’ on the gun control issue from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence? Could this be the same Obama who signed legislation that now allows people to pack their shootin’ iron not only in National Parks, but on an Amtrak train as well!

Dang, I don’t know. Does the Prez really want our guns?  It seems as if there are just as many guns as ever, at least here in South Florida, even after all of these Obama years. And mind you, I’m not anti-gun at all. I’m a supporter of the second amendment – always have been and always will be. But I can’t for the life of me (no pun intended), understand why the need for the really high power weaponry?

Need a fully automatic weapon? Drop me a line in the comments and let’s discuss.

Mahalo

Trop

Countdown to the END on December 21?

The other morning, I watched with great interest a news report on the upcoming, much hyped, “End of the World”. Of course, I have played into the hype in my own miniscule way – note the countdown clock on the right hand side of your screen. The date in question, December 21st, 2012, is the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. Some say the world will end that day in some sort of global cataclysm. According to the news report, NASA is besieged with inquiries. People want the down-low on the END, and who best to answer that question than the space guys themselves. Assuming the END will come from out of the sky with our little planet taking it head-on with an asteroid or comet, then the NASA guys are the ones who ought to know. The Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) team, under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force has been tracking nearby asteroids and comets for years. The last time I checked, the only civilization altering object in our neighborhood, an asteroid scheduled for a flyby in 2028, has now been re-categorized by NEAT, and now poses no danger at all to us.

According to the news reports though, some folks are not convinced. They’re stocking up on provisions – food, medical supplies, and most importantly ammunition. Some people don’t want to be caught under a five hundred foot tidal-wave unless they are well armed.

Besides creating a group of paranoid adults, the December 21st date is causing countless school-children (much more understandably), to lie awake nights worrying about the END, instead of focusing on Christmas 4 days later.

Perhaps the children would feel better about things if they were told that the Mayan Long Count Calendar consists of a timekeeping system started (roughly) around 3114 B.C.E. Since we know that it is impossible that the earth was formed at this early date we must ask ourselves if these Mayans are all that reliable in the first place. They seem to know when it all ends, but they have no idea when it started – no creditability I say.

The Mayan Calendar is divided into 394 year periods called baktuns. On, or around, December 21st of this year, the calendar will have completed its 13th baktun. While the number 13 held special significance to the Mayans, there is still little evidence that the calendar ends on December 21st  because after that time we shall have no more need for calendars!

Listen to the Mayans themselves. Present day Mayan priest, Miguel Angel Vergara, says the December 21st date is not to be feared. Instead he says, we should welcome the end of the Mayan calendar. According to Mr. Vergara, on or somewhere around, December 21st, we will be entering a time of great spiritual transition as mankind throws off the shackles of “greed and darkness”. Ah…so that’s what all this hokey-pokey is all about.

So you see…it may not be that bad.

Personally, I’m not so sure that I buy into the fact that shaking the shackles of greed and darkness is any more likely than getting struck by an errant comet.

Still, you never know. On November 26, New York City reported, for the first time in as long as police can recall, no one was murdered, shot, or stabbed during a 24 hour period. There was, as I understand, some sporadic gunfire but apparently nobody was hit.

It is a start.