First in line for takeoff..

Pull those seatbelts tight, we are first in line for takeoff.  The flight attendant on our Southwest flight announced to the relief of all of my fellow passengers.   Florida beckons, once again.  Escaping the cold for some fun in South Florida.  Fourteen days to pretend we made it.  Six days in the Keys, the rest in Weston where I play in a 45 year and older lacrosse tournament at this time each year.
As I write this the sun is rising above the Virginia Capes.  I like the window seat.  The sunshine feels good on my face.  Along for this adventure are my DW, DS1 and DS3. The middle child is house sitting.   Look for more posts this week from our trip

Back in November I worked as a poll worker during the most recent election.  The day was boring due to low voter turn out. One funny (maybe not, if you give this story any thought)  happened late in the afternoon.   A women came in to vote carrying one small child and guiding another slightly older child by the hand. Neither child wanted to be there.  Cranky would best describe their behavior.  The mother signs in and takes her voting slip over to the voting booth.   She handed me her slip and I tried to smile as the children got louder.  The older one says in a loud voice “NOT THE CLOSET MOMMY!  NOT THE CLOSET!”
Hmmm. I just kept a neutral face while everyone in the polling place looked on.
That statement comes up now and then in conversation. Seemingly at the oddest of times.

Some psychiatrist will put their child though college with that child.

Namaste

Lunch at Keys Fisheries, Marathon, FL

Lunch at Keys Fisheries, Marathon, FL

 

Passing the time..

Life seems to have settled down during the last two weeks from the go – go -go last few months.  Vacation season for us is mostly over and the spring gardening season is trying it’s best to not arrive.  Last weekend it rained for three days with our northern neighbors getting snow. Maybe we can ship some of this excess water to California.  They have quite the drought going on out there.

I have been back to playing lacrosse on Monday and some Wednesday nights. Monday nights are far more competitive than Wednesday nights. The real attraction to playing on Wednesday is that DS1 also plays. Sometimes we are on the same team, some times not. Playing against him makes my game better.  This past Monday night I scored three goals in the last fifteen minutes of the game. I spent the first 45 minutes trying to catch the ball and not succeeding. Something clicked during the last fifteen minutes and I caught the ball and scored three times. The rest of the “older crowd” was excited for my success.

I have been visiting my deceased MIL’s house about once a week for the last few months.  I start her car, walk around the house making sure that the doors and windows are all intact.  So far so good.  Visiting there is like living through a post apocalyptic movie. By that I mean on December 23, the world stopped at her house. The calendars all say December. The towels in the bathroom are of the Christmas motif. The decorations, such that they are, Christmas. On her dresser is a birthday card for one of her grandsons. He would have received that card on Christmas.   Next to that card are several cards that the daughters would have received at Christmas.  The car sits in the driveway. It has not been off the street where she lived since at least December 3. The clocks are all on Eastern Standard time, Daylight Savings time never arrived.   The whole scene is just plain eerie.

This weekend we are on the road again. DS2 has his last Wind Ensemble concert as a Marywood University undergraduate.  Graduation is on Mothers Day. It is hard to believe how fast time passed since I took him to the university to audition for a spot at the school.

Pictures, I have a few.. (sung to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody)..

Namaste

 

Tampa trip wrap up..

I think I have covered the entire five days in various blogs. As I look back I have missed a few things that may be of interest.  Missing from the Clearwater, Florida is a video that I shot of a street performer.  Here is that video

Monday we traveled home from Tampa to Philadelphia. When we landed in Raleigh – Durham Airport we found out that our flight from RDU to PHL was cancelled. We learned this as we stood on the jet way waiting for our  gate checked luggage to arrive. We flew on one of those regional jets that have no overhead space. While we are waiting one of the passengers that had flown first class was complaining that his bag did not come up in the first group. He said, I’m flying first class!  The gate attendant was not impressed.

Seems he was traveling to PHL as well. I said my flight to PHL is cancelled, he said same here. Then a college age girl came up the jet way and asked about the flight. Cancelled I said. She said why?  I told her that I don’t know why. And really, what difference does it make? You won’t be able to convince someone to un-cancel the flight. The most important thing at that point is to find the next flight before your fellow passengers do. There are not an unlimited number of seats.

I called the Delta 1 800 number and went into a queue, call me back in 10 minutes. I looked over at the counter and saw the attendant finish up with all the customers that had been standing there. I walked over and explained my problem. She took care of my re-booking and gave both of us 20 dollars for lunch and dinner since we were going to be stuck for a while.  We went to a white table-cloth restaurant and ate good on Delta’s dime.

The flight home was uneventful as was the drive to the shore.  I hope you enjoyed the trip, we sure did!

Namaste

 

Tampa/Sarasota Saturday afternoon..

Saturday morning we spent in Tampa at the Flan Festival and the Ybor City Farmer’s market. You can read about that here. Saturday afternoon we drove south to Sarasota, Florida to visit the distillery at Drum Circle Distilling. This is the company that makes Siesta Key Rum. Their website can be found here.

The distillery has a tasting room and also gives tours. What could be better than free rum and a tour?  Nothing that day for sure.  While we were there they had a camera man video taping the tour to be used in a promotional video.  My DW and I are in the video which I will post below. We are in the video in seconds 20 -23, in the tasting room talking to the owners.

The rum was good. I wish it were available in New Jersey near us. The only liquor store that carries the rum is in Union, NJ which is about 80 miles from home. The best rum was the spiced rum. The aged rum needs a few more years to age.  Here is the video.

 

http://youtu.be/7d7Bgcy8nr0

 

The crazy part of the afternoon was that the rental car would not start.  The battery was dead while we were in Sarasota. I called Allstate Roadside (we have with our cars at home) and they came out and jumped the car for free. The car, which we rented from Dollar Rent A Car, was a 2012 Altima with 41,000 miles. The tires were beat and the body showed the miles. When we picked it up at the airport there were not many cars to choose from. Next time I will walk back inside and get something nicer. Really, 41,000 miles at a major US airport in your rental fleet?

When the mechanic opened the hood we discovered that the positive terminal on the battery was corroded. I have never, ever, had a battery that corroded on any of the cars that I have owned over the years.  The mechanic removed the negative terminal and cleaned that (it wasn’t too bad). He went to take the positive terminal off and the connector started to bend. Then next stop after bend is break. He stopped working on the terminal and just jumped the car. He advised that we don’t shut it off and return it ASAP! Nice, huh?

We drove the car back to Dollar after talking to them on the phone. We picked up a 2013 Impala with 7000 miles. That is the kind of mileage I would expect at a major US airport from a major car rental. Shame on you Dollar Rental!

Here is a picture of the battery terminal on that car

2014-02-22 14.58.46

Here is a link to the Drop Box containing the pictures from the distillery tour.

Here are few distillery pictures.

Enjoy and Thanks for Reading!

Namaste

Tampa Saturday..

The current (one of the) joke around our home is to say to the other person “How about we go to the Farmer’s Market in Ybor City on Saturday?” This is a good line to make the other person smile if they are having a particularly bad day.  Just don’t over use it! So you can guess that the Saturday when we were in Tampa we went to the Farmer’s Market in Ybor City. It is like most farmer’s markets, except that this one is in Florida.

We headed out of our room into the fog (second day in a row) and headed across Tampa to Ybor City. Ybor City is the Cuban and Latin quarter of Tampa. They used to have factories producing cigars in Ybor City. Then most of the industry left and the area went to hell. Over the last ten or 20 years the area has been revitalized.

This particular Saturday also was the Annul Ybor City Flan Festival. In addition to the farmer’s market they closed the streets and the food vendors and such came out to hawk their wares. We happened upon the Flan Festival last year. This year we planned to be in Tampa the same weekend as the Flan Festival. What is Flan?  Here is a Wiki link that should explain it.  We skipped the flan but we collected beads and some of the local foods.  It rained for about ten minutes. Typical Florida weather, the rain starts and stops whenever.

Here is a link to the Drop Box folder containing all the pictures from Ybor City.

Here are a few highlights from the morning

Thanks for reading

Namaste

 

 

Small steps..

The accepted wisdom is that all journey’s start with one small step.  I have often found that a good kick in the seat of your pants is another way to get a journey started. So far, this journey has been of the small step variety.  What journey is this that we am embarking on?  If you have been a constant or an intermittent reader, you won’t be surprised by the next few sentences.  Last month we (DW and I) went to Tampa for five days to escape New Jersey and this colder than normal winter. While we were in Tampa, we bought a Sun Pass for our rental car.

Oh, big deal, a Sun Pass. What is a Sun Pass? It is like an EZ here in the North East except it only works in Florida (I think). Basically you can go through the toll plaza without stopping and the electronic tag is recorded and your account is debited for the toll. Nice and easy.  How many times have we been in Florida and not had a Sun Pass? Without it, the car rental agency helps themselves to your credit card to pay the tolls. With an “administrative fee” attached.  No more of that fee for me.

The next step was having my DW looking into what she would have to do to get a Florida nursing license. All they want is money (surprised?)  Send in you fee, provide proof of a valid nursing license from another state and a copy of your finger prints and you too could have a Florida nursing license.  Small steps.

The final step for the last two weeks was to look at a few hospital websites for job openings. We have also spent a few hours looking at real estate listings near the hospitals. Next week we will speak with a builder in the neighborhood and get an idea of upgrades and fixes that will allow us to sell our current house.

There you go, a plan in action. This blog will be a forum for the journey.

Pictures?  Sure, here are a few from Clearwater Beach, sunset time.

Here is a link to all the Clearwater Beach Pictures via Drop Box

Thanks for reading

Namaste

Climbing back in..

Hopefully. I have been thinking a lot lately about blogging, or actually my lack of blogging.  I just have not been motivated. We came back from vacation and I seem to be trying to get back into that easy rhythm of life.  It has been cold here in New Jersey and just today we had another snow storm forecast.  We have pretty much missed the heavy snow down the shore. But if you travel 35 miles north to where I work, the snow piles are abundant. And I guess when I get back to the office on Monday, there will be even more.

Our vacation ended on Monday, January 27 instead of Sunday, January 26. I guess I did not look to closely back in August when I booked the trip. The reason we had (really, had to) stay was that our flight from Florida to Philadelphia was scheduled to stop in Chicago. And Chicago was closed due to weather. Who in their right mind decides to layover in Chicago in late January?  We tried and failed.

We spent the last night in Fort Lauderdale at the Riverside Hotel on East Los Olas Ave.  This is one of the trendy, hip areas of Fort Lauderdale.  We got a decent deal on Hotwire. The hotel was of the art deco style. The lobby was beautiful. They had a heated pool on the New River so you could lounge in the pool and watch the boats go by. The pool of course had table service.  What else would you expect?

We walked around the Las Olas Ave area window shopping and eating brunch at a restaurant called Vodka. Expensive, but good. Dinner after an afternoon by the pool was at a street side table at the hotel. The food was excellent, but expensive.  We were a little out of our league.  The only downer of the night in Fort Lauderdale was that I left a cash tip for dinner and the next day when I checked the charge, a tip had been added to the credit card charge.  It took two or three emails to resolve that. But the restaurant reduced the charge back to the correct amount.

Since coming home I have worked, and I mean worked. Everything that would have been done if I had not gone away was waiting when I came back. I played lacrosse several times. Each time I have scored a goal or two. Tuesday and Thursday night yoga with my DW has pretty much rounded out the week. Last Saturday I drove to Scranton to have dinner with DS2 and DS3.  My DW was on call for work and could not attend. She enjoyed a quiet evening of Olympics and her blanket.

Here are a few pictures from the last day in Florida and the last three weeks in New Jersey.

And, we head back to Florida next week for some more sunshine..

Namaste

 

US A1A..

Thursday morning we dropped the kids off at the airport and then went to Grandpa’s Bakery for breakfast. This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  The food is excellent. You get a few samples of some baked good to eat while looking at the menu. After we ate the plane had taken off towards Philadelphia and we were free to explore.  We wanted to stay near the airport in case something went wrong and we had to go back and get them.

We drove to Hollywood Beach and walked the boardwalk. Two miles each way, no hills or snow!  We walked some of the walk on the beach near the water until my DW’s pant legs got wet from several waves. As you can imagine, I took some pictures. The Margaritaville Resort was under construction this year. Last winter the lots were vacant with a sign announcing the arrival of the building. Maybe by next January, the construction will be completed. I don’t image that we can afford to stay there, but we certainly can walk the grounds and have a cocktail.

After our walk we continued down A1A into Miami. We found Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant. This is another place we certainly can’t afford. We can buy our own stone crab claws and the mustard sauce recipe is on the internet, so why should we go there? To rub elbows with the rich and famous, I guess.  We stopped for gas near the American Airlines Arena where the Heat play. In the gas station we saw filling up, a matte black Lamborghini. Talk about awesome. And when the driver was done fueling up, he gunned the engine for all of us who were watching.

We drove around Miami some more and found our way behind the airport where we discovered the Lala Seafood Market. I will admit to being a fish market groupie. My DW will attest that I will stop in random fish markets to see what is for sale. I did spend the first 20 years of my working years in the seafood business. We purchased a fresh Hog Fish and some fresh white shrimp. The lady working the market did a good job filleting and skinning my fish. The entire transaction was done by us in english and her in spanish. Neither of us spoke the other’s langauge. I don’t know if she enjoyed our visit, but we did.

The fish got marinated in the juice of a fresh lemon and some fresh garlic. After an hour I added the fish to a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil.  I used a cajun seasoning to give the meal a little bang. The fish and shrimp turned out good, no leftovers.

Thanks for reading and here are some pictures from the day.

Namaste

 

 

Blowing off a little steam, Chicago style..

We were in Chicago for the Columbia College of Chicago’s Graduate Open House.  The trip to and the actual open house can be found at http://limeguy50.com  This blog is about DS2 and I being tourists for a few hours before crashing at the hotel and flying home on Sunday.

The first stop after we left the school was the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. They have restaurants, bars, boats and in the warm weather, they have an amusement park with rides. Saturday was not a warm day. It was windy (Windy City) and chilly. I think we saw some snow flakes even. We parked the car, called my DW and gave her the lowdown on the open house. Then DS2 and I walked the pier and took pictures. I wanted to stop for a beer but it was cold and that beer would have gone in and right back out.  And, we had an early dinner, late lunch stop planned and I wanted to save my appetite for the next stop.

We walked and played tourist. Then we paid 25 dollars for parking at the pier. One price fits all. Park for an hour or a day, all the same price. When you see the pictures from the pier, enjoy them, they were expensive.  I never got to stick my foot in Lake Michigan. That was one of the goals, but the pier was way to high above the water to reach down and stick something into the water. And, I did mention that it was cold.

After the pier we drove through a GPS blind spot in the city. The GPS had us going in circles. Just as we would come to the next turn, the GPS would grey out like we were in a tunnel then the picture would start to spin in random directions. DS2 loaded the address into his phone and between them, we found our way. How silly.

Our destination was Shaw’s Crab House. One side of the business is a very upscale steak and seafood restaurant. The other side is the Oyster Bar. That was our destination. We sat down and enjoyed oysters, sushi and fried calamari. We did appetizers for dinner.  The table next to us ordered the two most expensive appetizers on the menu. She had the Florida Stone Crab claws (64 dollars a pound) and he had the fresh Red King Crab served chilled with a mustard sauce (65 dollars a pound). Add the a martini for each and tip and you are in the 175 dollar neighborhood and you have not yet eaten dinner. Yikes!  Our oysters and sushi were outstanding.  One of the sushi we had was called a Godzilla roll. At Shaw’s that sushi comes with BBQ Smoked Eel.  Just a little slice like an archive. You could pick it off the top but then you miss a unique and delicious flavor.

I had couple of local brewed beers, DS2 drank water. I think he was pretty beat at that point in the day.  When you ask where the bathroom was, the standard answer was make a right, walk past “death row” and you will see the doors on the right. “Death row” was the four tanks of live lobsters that were waiting for the chance to grace some bodies plate.  The bathrooms were upscale, everything was upscale.  Dinner, eat here is you can afford it. If not, try the Oyster Bar. Not cheap by any means, but less expensive than the main restaurant.

After we ate we followed that same GPS back to our hotel.  At that point we were both beat. DS2 had some reading to do for school, so I went down to the bar for a drink and to watch some college football. 

Here is a link to all the picture from our trip. I will include a few below. Thanks for reading!

Namaste

 

Columbia College of Chicago, open house..

We traveled Saturday morning from Newark, NJ to Chicago for the Columbia College of Chicago Graduate Open House.  The trip to Chicago is detailed in this blog and in this blog.  With a slight stage whisper, I might ask how the trip out could merit two blogs?  If you write, then you know that you write when the spirit moves you.  Enough said.

The open house was held in several of the buildings. The campus in set in the City of Chicago and as such, when they need to expand the school, they can’t just cut down some trees and build another building.  The school has to get creative and buy building as they become available then repurpose them for classes. The school has 10,000 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students.   After an opening coffee and informal meet and greet with the “Student Ambassadors” we went off to a room to meet with the instructors for the Music Composition for the Screen masters program.  The other students went with their guides to wherever their “breakout session” was being held.

We walked into a small lecture hall and the guide asked up to sit in the field of view of the web cam that was sitting on his desk. Hmm, unusual for sure. There were about ten people in the room for the presentation. The student ambassador had each person introduce themself to the group then the video conference started. The main instructor was in Los Angels tending to some family health issues (not his) and the second in command instructor was at a wedding in West Virgina.  Both were phoning it in. I understand that things come up,  especially when it comes to family and health, but we (DS2 and I) made quite the effort and expense to be there.  Maybe we could have done the meet and greet via a webcam here in NJ and at his school in Scranton.

The meet and greet went well. The program looks interesting. I think that DS2 would benefit from the education and the skills that they will be teaching the students are marketable post university.  Like that phrase?  After the meet and greet we went for a tour to see the game lab where they work on music for video games. Then we went to the classroom where most of the teaching is done. Each year they admit 12 students into the program out of 55 applicants (2013).  In the last two graduating classes, they started with 12 and graduated 10. Not bad numbers.

Part of the program is a 6 month internship in Los Angeles doing what you have studied for the past two years.  The lead instructor is based in Los Angeles and has 30 plus years of experience in the music for the screen business in Los Angeles. He has the contacts that helps the students land the internship jobs.

After the tour we had lunch and then additional opportunities to meet with the student ambassadors and the heads of various department at the college.

 

Here are a few more pictures from the open house.  The next blog will cover the late afternoon and evening.  Thanks for reading!

Namaste

 

 

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