Tuesday, August 28


Let me establish this pertinent fact: "I despise cell phones." If it were up to me we'd all go back to smoke signals to send messages. A cell phone to me is nothing less than an electronic handcuff. And when it enunciates (to my knowledge none of them just "ring" any more) while I am driving, it is nothing less than a prelude to an increase in my automobile insurance. As much as I intensely dislike these instruments, I nevertheless have no choice but to utilize same in my profession. My particular phone has the added feature of a two-way radio. This provides my employer with the added benefit of contacting me instantly whenever some random though crosses his mind that he is convinced requires my immediate response. Driving in metropolitan Tampa and St. Petersburg has enough life and limb challenges without the additional requirement to simultaneously carry on an intelligent conversation. I turn on my cell phone at 8 a.m. and off promptly at 5 p.m. Anyone who wants to contact me other than those hours can either leave a voice message or wait until the following day. I probably don't want to talk to them anyway.

Daughter Megan has a cell phone that apparently is capable of doing any number of tasks that stops just short of boiling eggs. "Texting" seems to be the craze de jour, and despite mine and her mother's admonishments to refrain from doing so while operating her automobile, she nevertheless seems bent on carrying on entire conversations in a shorthand that rivals CIA code. Wife Judi, on the other hand, has yet to purchase a phone that did not come embedded with some obscure variety of poltergeist. Her exasperation in attempting to manipulate successfully the features of her latest phone becomes a daily diatribe of utter frustration. Megan is convinced that there is nothing wrong with the device, but can be ascribed to "operator error." I stay well shy of that fruitless debate.

If there is one saving grace of cell phone proliferation, at least in the state of Florida, is that our senior citizens have yet to widely embrace their utilization. Clutching the steering wheel in a death grip leaves no opportunity to be otherwise occupied; their radios still tuned to the same a.m. station as the day they purchased their automobiles new thirty years ago. I am comfortable with their prudent lack of embracing the newest communication electronics, as daily I witness any number of instances where younger individuals on their cell phones are immersed in animated conversations to the detriment of paying attention to operating their motor vehicles. From failing away with both hands or slipping into a hypnotic haze at a traffic signal, these individuals slip into a cocoon of isolation from the world immediately outside their automobiles. Horns blare and the driver accelerates their vehicle in a jerk and casts a look into their rear view mirrors of total annoyance that anyone would dare interrupt their conversation.

The bumper sticker reads, "Hang up and drive!" I would only add, "Please!!"

Friday, August 24

So Far...So Good...

As a general rule I'm not a superstitious individual. Neither black cats or ladders along my path give me any pause. I believe that events generally transpire as they naturally unravel in the due course of time. That having been said I am not one to unnecessarily tempt fate and I am not above occasionally whistling in the dark just to hedge my bets. As tropical storm Dean gathered ever increasing strength on his western journey toward undetermined landfall, not only was I whistling a breathless melody I could faintly detect similar tunes being sent heavenward among thousands of wary residents along our nations southern coastlines.

According to the weather prognosticators, we are entering the statistical height of the hurricane season. Thus far we've had two hurricanes of note, Barry and Dean. Barry was a welcomed "rain maker" for drought stricken Florida, and Dean, an eventual category 5 monster, remained far to our south. The whistling has stopped...for now. Still we have then entire months of September, October and November to keep an ever watchful eye turned toward the outer fringes of the eastern Caribbean. September is the month of most concern for we Floridians. Come October and November we are pretty much out of the woods for another year. So, I am a little reluctant to celebrate our good fortune thus far knowing that Mother Nature can turn an otherwise uneventful hurricane season into a calamity of devastating proportions. The old saying, "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" applies here. We have approximately ninety days to go in the current season and none of us living astride the 1,197 miles of highly vulnerable Florida coastlines are willing to look over our shoulders to see what may be looming on the horizon.

Come to think of it, I have again developed a sudden urge to whistle. Won't you join me? What can it hurt?