Thursday, June 26

"Over The Horizon..."

I don't know what you are paying for a gallon of gasoline where you live, but here in metropolitan Tampa and St. Petersburg the cost is hovering right at $4.00 per gallon for the regular blend. It is costing me weekly an average of $60.00 to fill up my truck. That is $3,328.00 yearly...if the prices hold steady. It is rapidly approaching the point where it is costing me more and more of my take home pay just so I can continue working. Talk about a classic case of diminishing returns and that pretty much sums up what our country is going through on a daily basis just to keep our heads above water. And what do we hear regarding this critical matter from our elected leaders in Washington? "Well, there's not a whole lot we can do in the short term." Apparently there is not a whole lot of consensus about what we can do in the long term either, so divided and ineffectual is our nation's leadership.

Time is currently being wasted by the talking heads and politicians in pointing fingers rearward at decisions that were made previously that quite frankly could have mitigated if not eliminated the current energy crisis we are enduring. We are the only nation in the world that has made a concerted policy decision to forgo the exploration and utilization of its own natural resources of which we have an ample, untapped supply. Our affection and unwavering devotion to protecting our environment has brought us to the brink of near total dependency upon foreign powers who have little regard for our nation's struggling economy as long as our wealth keeps flowing uninterrupted and ever escalating into their coffers in return for their precious oil. We are literally bankrolling those entities to the tune of millions of dollars annually, and these windfall profits are too often continuing to be utilized to underwrite the cost to inflict terrorism on those innocents who fail to embrace their radical religious ideology.

Listen, I am all in favor of promoting the ideal of clean air and water. However, when I am told that we cannot explore for a natural resource that could bring economic stability to the greater number of my fellow citizens because it may infringe upon the fragile habitat of an indigenous Titmouse, then there is something terribly out of balance between common sense and irrational, over zealous protectionism. God instructed mankind to take charge of the earth and to subdue it. With that directive comes the tacit admonishment that we are to do so in a responsible manner. Granted there have been far too many historic instances where mankind has literally raped and pillaged the land with little regard for the enduring consequence that, as a rule, were too often inflicted for the sake of greed. Yet the mistakes of our forefathers cannot dictate the continuing mindset that we shall again repeat the same atrocities. To do so would be to selfishly tie the hands of modern-day developed technologies that can garner the wealth of our nation's existing energy resources along with a well learned determination to do no harm to our environment. We should have a high confidence that the harvesting of our resources would result in no catastrophic consequence. We fly back and forth from the most hostile environment in the we can't put together a comprehensive package of soutions to our energy requirements? The answer is "Yes." I just question if we have the "want to."

Approximately 150 miles off the Gulf Coast of Florida lies oil and natural gas deposits that could significantly address our nation's energy needs for decades, but the environmentalist from Congress to Tallahassee are adamantly opposed to having oil rigs just over the horizon of our state's pristine beaches. Said one state politician, "Our Florida beaches are the life blood of our tourist economy. We cannot run the risk of having them fouled by an oil spill." Here's the deal...if gas continues to rise in price, the only tourist that will populate our Florida beaches will be the seagulls and brown Pelicans! It is time that our state's and national politicians get their heads out of the sand and realize that people with decreasing take home paychecks and who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to put gasoline in their cars make very poor candidates to lie on any beach, but make excellent candidates to stand in the unemployment line. People with no jobs, who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage or rent payments, who must decide what available money may be at their disposal is to be spent on escalating cost of health care, home owner's insurance, medicine or groceries, then it should come as no surprise that these same people are not going to have an extra dime to spend on leisure activities. Another classic case of our politicians cutting off our noses to spite their face.

Granted, we cannot "drill our way" out of this energy crisis. But to do nothing but argue that point is to forfeit our country's future to those who have no personal stake in any future but their own. We cannot long endure this impasse. We as a nation must act. To not act decisively is to make a choice for which this country may never recover. We must, as part of a comprehensive national energy policy, explore and drill with every available opportunity to capture our nation's resources, and always to do so in a prudent and responsible manner. I am convinced that at as a nation, as a people, we can accomplish this goal of becoming energy self-sufficient and still live in harmony with the Titmouse.

Wednesday, June 25


Shyness, when suffered in the extreme, is a debilitating problem for many people. A person lacking self confidence may find refuge from social interaction by literally locking themselves away for the world at large, hiding within the confines of their own self imposed prison of solitude. Most medical professionals have attributed this malady to learned behavior stemming from early childhood that may be minimized or completely eradicated through a regiment of prescription stimuli and/or professional counseling. But their may be on the horizon an alternative method of treatment.

It was reported this week in London's EVENING STANDARD that scientist have discovered a natural occurring chemical in the human body that has the potential to overcome shyness. Euphemistically called the "Love Drug," the natural hormone oxytocin is produced by the female during childbirth and is believed to aid in the mother's ability to bond with her newborn. Women aren't the only members of the human species that have the ability to produce this chemical. We males do also...during sex. (It's nice to know that we are being chemically assisted in being able to actually like the person with whom we are making love.)

I don't have the problem of being shy. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am one of the most gregarious individuals they have ever met...and probably a few other adjectives that are less flattering to describe my personally. Reserved yes, but never shy. Put me in a room full of strangers, especially at some type of social function where everyone is dressed to impress and the last thing I want to do is place myself in the spot light. I usually hang back and observe the differing personalities in the room, waiting until I target an individual or two who are comfortable and confident in who they are. Who are free from the need to have the world carefully observe every little move they make or to have their attentive listeners slobbering uncontrollably in rapt attention at every pronouncement that comes gushing forth from their self-absorbed little corner of humanity. The person who is constantly working over time to have everyone "Look at me!" bores the crap out of me.

I am also not a particular fan of small talk. Just standing around to shoot the breeze is for me a waste of time. I struggle with this personal dislike during my weekly phone call to my Mother in North Carolina. Before calling her I sit myself down at my computer and entertain myself with Tiger Woods 2008 golf game and virtually play hole after hole as she, bless her heart, drones on and on about the weather, her neighbors, her doctor's appointments, my brother, etc., with each subject concluded with her favorite (and for me) irritating phrase, "I just don't know." Thirty minutes later I have heard again all the same news that she had relayed to me the previous week. I realize that it is therapeutic for her, but it nevertheless grates on my nerves. Being a typical male, I require and thrive on substance. Get to the point so that we can all get on with our lives. Being the dutiful son, I understand her need for conversation, repetitive as it may be, and, as a side benefit, I have become quite proficient atTiger's golf game.

No, shyness is not a condition with which I am afflicted. Reserved yes, to a conceited degree I readily admit, believing in the old adage that is if far better to keep one's mouth closed and let others assume I lack social graces than to open it and remove all doubt. Given the proper stimulus I can hold my own in any coversation. But to talk just to, as my Dad use to say, hear my head roar, I'll take a pass. I trust that I am producing sufficient personal quantities of oxytocin to keep me comfortably navigating in polite society, thank you very much. Any more and I'd probably bore the crap out of myself!

You were saying?

Friday, June 20

"It's Friday And I Need A Good Laugh..."

Dateline: Los Angles, California. (Wouldn't you just know it!?!) 52 year old Marrida Patterson (We're not talking about a Paris Hilton lookalike here) was trying on a tong undergarment from Victoria's Secrets' "sexy little thing" line when allegedly while doing so a small metal heart-shaped embellishment became disengaged from the garment and subsequently reengaged one of her eyes, damaging the cornea. The law suit filed on the ninth of this month specifies that Ms. Patterson's missed several days of work and, according to her attorney, the results of the mishap will be "affecting her the rest of her life." The law suit does not specify the amount of monetary compensatory damages that will be sought, which leads me to assume that Ms. Patterson and her attorney-in-tow are hoping the suit will be settled out of court long before it ever has a chance to reach the courthouse steps. Pity. I'm guessing that would make for some interesting and entertaining courtroom drama...

"Your Honor, the defense would like to call to the stand the plaintiff, Ms. Patterson."
"Now Ms. Patterson, have you on previous occasions purchased merchandise from Victoria's Secret."


"Did you find the products purchased to be satisfactory?"


"Have you ever had an occasion where you determined that a Victoria's Secret product purchased by you for your own personal use was defective in any way?"


"Is this the undergarment you purchased which you allegedly claimed was the cause of your eye injury, previously introduced to the court as Exhibit A?"


"Is this type of garment an article of underclothing that is typical to your wardrobe?"

The plaintiff's attorney jumps to his feet and objects. "Your Honor, I see no relevance in asking Ms. Patterson what type of undergarments she chooses to wear as a rule. It is a blatant invasion of her privacy."

"You're Honor," replies the defense attorney, "I'm only trying to establish if Ms. Patterson has some working knowledge of and, therefore, an established familiarity on the proper application of this type of garment."

"I'll allow it," responds the presiding judge, "but let's be careful where this line of questioning may eventually lead."

"Yes, your Honor. Ms. Patterson, would you be so kind as to answer my question?"

"Well, I have all types of undergarments of all varieties. My husband likes different kinds and I do too. So, yes, I have a few pairs of this type of underwear."

"How many is a 'few?'''

"Your Honor!" The plaintiff's attorney is on his feet again. "Is it absolutely necessary that the defense attorney badger the witness into stating for the record that she has x-amount of a particular type of pantie in her underwear drawer?"

"Your Honor...I am merely trying to firmly establish that Ms. Patterson has more or less of a rudimentary understanding over an measurable period of time of how to properly put on and wear this type of garment."

"I must sustain the plaintiff's objection, as we can assume that the plaintiff has lived long enough on this earth to figure out how to put on a pair of panties."

"Yes, your Honor. Thank you. Ms. Patterson, have you ever experienced any type of difficulty with any of your other types of underwear?"

"I'm sorry. I don't understand the question.

While putting on any of these other types of underwear that you claim you possess, has there ever been an occasion when anything unexpectedly detached itself from the garment? "

"Not that I can recollect. Perhaps my husband could better answer that question."

"No, no. The court will accept your 'No' answer as being sufficient."

"Now to continue Ms. Patterson, may I assume that you were in a private dressing room when you tried on this garment."

"Was there plenty of room in the dressing room for you to be able to freely try on the garment without any encumbrances?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Did you remove all of your clothing when you tired on the garment?"

"You Honor!! (He's up again). "Do we need to go so far as to establish in what state of attire Ms. Patterson was in at the time she was trying on the article of clothing in question. My God!!"

"Your Honor, please allow me a little leeway on this line of questioning, as it is important to know if she was trying on the garment as she would in her own home, which, as I have observed my own dear wife to do so, is prior to her putting on her coat and hat."

"Answer the question, Ms. Patterson."

"Well...I kept on my bra, but I was naked everywhere else."

"Thank you, Ms. Patterson. Now, would you be so kind as to demonstrate to the court the exact manner in which you attempted to try on the garment?"



"I withdraw the question. One final inquiry, Ms. Paterson. You previously stated that you were alone in the dressing room when this incident you allege took place. Is that correct?"


"So, there was no one in the dressing room itself or, to your knowledge, immediately outside of that area?

"Asked and answered, " interjects the plaintiff's attorney.

"So, your claim that a piece of decorative jewelry affixed to the garment just 'flew off" and struck your eye cannot, in fact, be substantiated by any other person? Is that your story?"

"He's badgering the witness again, your Honor."

"It just seems too overly convenient to me that a piece of jewelry that is affixed to thousands of pairs of this manufacturer's type of garment with no prior reported incidents of the decorative adornment ever coming detached, but just happened to do so on Ms. Patterson's pair, and, by her own testimony, no one present at the time of the alleged incident to confirm yea or nay that the incident did in fact occur. Well, I just find it conveniently curious that what Ms. Paterson would have us believe defines all the laws of probability."
"Your Honor, he's giving his closing summation!"

"No more questions."

Me either. I'll stay turned for the final verdict and report back to you...if it ever reaches that point. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 18

"Too Soon A Requiem..."

Death takes no holidays. Neither is it a respecter of age, circumstance or station. There is no bargaining for more time to journey forward yet one more step along life's path that had but a short while ago been filled with tasks and plans yet to be fulfilled. The journey ends and the final chapter concludes with a public postscript.

Yesterday afternoon a memorial service was conducted for my employer's 29 year old daughter, Jennifer, who succumbed to her six month battle with brain cancer. From all reports the battle was lost before it really began, so advanced was the cancer when initially detected. So quickly Jennifer was mercilessly transposed from a vibrant and beautiful woman into a mere hollow shell of her former self. Her passing brought the prayed for release from her relentless pain. The enviable had at last arrived and for those left behind there remained relief that the suffering was at an end. But the hearts of her loved ones understandably remained heavy with sorrow at her passing.

I didn't know Jennifer that well. On occasion she would stop by the office in search of her father, usually in need again of his financial assistance to sustain her through yet another personal misstep. As a child she was reported to be happy-go-lucky, tomboyish, and mischievously precocious. As a teen and young adult that latter character trait evolved into rebelliousness and a stubbornness to conform to social norms that lead her down a number of paths for which redemption was repeatedly required. She embraced many varieties of fleeting pleasures that visited strife upon herself and many sleepless nights of anxiety and marital conflict for her parents. She wed and birthed a son. She divorced and abdicated her parental responsibilities. Jennifer's Mother's decision to adopt the child resulted in further fueling her parent's irreconcilable differences and soon there after their eventual divorce. Jennifer's short adult life was one of turmoil and a constant struggle to try and find her way in a world in which she seemed to be in constant conflict.

The memorial service was a tribute to her total life replete with a pictorial slide show that showed her happier, smiling broadly, childhood years and glimpses of her as the truly radiant adult beauty that she was. The minister requested that those wishing to pay personal tribute to Jennifer to come forward to do so. Two did. Both testimonies spoke endearingly of how Jennifer had touched and changed their lives for the better. The many tears being shed in the sanctuary attested that there were more testimonies in the hearts of her many friends that no words at those moments could convey. She was a troubled young lady who was forever searching for personal direction in her life and a joy, which she so obviously and lavishly envoked in others, to no longer be elusive to her.

She's at peace now. Her struggles at an end. Her story written. I pray that the joy and contentment she could not find here on earth is now her's in abundance in heaven, and that even now a new and happier chapter is being written that shall never end.

Monday, June 16

"Leaving A Fatherhood Legacy..."

This past Friday an icon in television broadcasting died suddenly of a hearth attack. Tim Russert, the sixteen year host of the weekly Sunday morning Meet The Press, was only 58. His affable personality and unbiased approach to seeking and explaining the truth in the topsy-turfy arena of no-holds barred politics won him a wide and appreciative audience among a wide cross section of the American viewing public. He exuded integrity, a quiet confidence, and an obvious passion for politics without flaunting his superior intellect; rare commodities in a ratings driven industry populated by super-sized egos.

I, like many other Americans, paid homage to this man by watching the many tributes to his life and work that were presented by NBC News over the weekend. It didn't take long to learn that the man behind the smile was a genuine and transparent individual whose mind was dedicated to his profession, but his heart was dedicated to his family...especially to his son, Luke, and his Dad, Big Russ. He was and is a role model for what a father can and needs be. And as I was watching the tributes to Mr. Russert, I asked myself that if I were to pass away tomorrow would the friends who know me best, but more importantly would my 23 year old daughter Megan, speak tribute of me for having been a "good Father." Her Father's Day card presented to me yesterday gave me my answer.

"Daddy... If every little girl had a Daddy like you they would never doubt themselves or let people talk down to them or wonder what they're worth. Thank you for raising me to be strong and thank you for loving me and Momma so much and teaching me just how I deserve to be treated and loved. I am so thankful to have a Father who is such a great role model, friend, support and teacher! I Love You. Meg."

I received a number of very appreciated gifts to commemorate the day, but none were as equal in value or as priceless as Megan's words written so lovingly on my Father's Day card. It has been said that leaving behind one's worldly goods may be easily tabulated and quickly forgotten, but the legacy one leaves behind for having touched genuinely others in a meaningful, caring and loving manner shall live on for generations. Tim Russert leaves behind that type of legacy. I may not be his equal in intellect or charisma, but as a Father we are peers. For this one accomplishment I take humble pride and am thankful.

Friday, June 13

"Just Like You And Me..."

These are folks just like you and me. Good and decent human beings wishing only to live their quiet, unassuming lives in quest of America's long-standing promises of life, liberty and happiness. Countless thousands of these nameless and faceless individuals have this spring and early summer been devastatingly disrupted throughout the heartland of our nation.

The news reports are filled with the tragic stories of dozens of communities that have been pillaged by indiscriminate tornadoes that in mere seconds of unquenchable fury have unleashed their massive whirlwinds of total destruction that many of the truly unfortunate souls along their departed paths may never fully recover from. Even now the otherwise postcard rivers are spilling relentlessly out of their banks, silently sending their unstoppable mud drenched flood waters to consume in their murky depths a life time of accumulated possessions and personal treasures soon to be forever relegated to fading memories. My heart weeps for these good people.

Early in Abraham Lincoln's presidency there was assembled an august collection of the best minds in the country to determine an answer to the question, "What the one thing that could be determined to be forever constant?" An interesting philosophical exercise that captured the imagination of each of the gentlemen given the task to decide that issue. After months of careful and arduous deliberations, the answer was presented to Mr. Lincoln. "Change," they declared, was the only thing that must be determined as constant. Thus it is true as it applies to the world's and our nation's weather. We may count with some certainty on the predictability of regional weather patterns that reintroduce themselves seasonally. Here in central Florida it is anticipated that by late May and certainly by early June the "rainy season" will arrive and we can expect daily thunderstorms. What remains unpredictable is the severity of each of theses storms. From June through November the Atlantic is sure to produce tropical disturbances that have the unpredictable potential to evolve into monster storms that have the further potential to become cataclysmic should they come ashore. But where?

We each and all are captives to the predictable unpredictability of so many issues that effect our daily lives...our economy, our jobs, our health, even the weather. For the doomsayers to declare that each and every weather phenomena that does not fall within the the parameters of predictability is the result of mankind's adverse effect on the global climate is disingenuous at best and fear mongering at worse. Nature is going to do what nature wants, and the best we can do is to hopefully prepare as best we can and then hang on. "For there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." In this life there are no guarantees.

What must change, however, is our ever increasing propensity to be dependent upon government to be the captains of our fate whenever storm clouds appear on the horizon. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina proved that government is incapable of extracting people from harm's way either before or after a natural disaster. What must never change is the resiliency of our fellow countrymen and women to stare squarely in the face the aftermath of devastation and bind together in mutual compassion to lift each other up to begin anew. The tradition of a community barn raising may be a thing of the nostalgic past, but that spirit of fellow man helping their fellow man is a live and well in our land. We must not lose that sense of being our brother's keeper in times of plenty and especially in times of need. We are a self-reliant people whose continued success as a nation of people remains intertwined in the fate of our neighbors.

Sandbags are being filled today in Iowa as the flood water continue to rise. A destroyed home is being searched for the missing as the storm clouds roll away across Kansas. Today in middle America our fellow citizens are asking sorrowful questions that have no answers, but even now they are beginning to pick up the pieces to journey forward once again. Our earnest and heartfelt prayers need be with them. For one day in our unpredictable futures, we may ourselves need their prayers.

Tuesday, June 10

"Not Everyone's Concerned About The Price Of Gas..."

Winter is fast approaching at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The final sunset is just days away and the arduous task of supplying the station for the sunless months are in their final stages. Since the next sunrise heralding the slow arrival of summer will not peak the horizon until August 20th, copious amounts of basic sustaining staples have been arriving daily at the station. Aside from the milk and cookies that will be consumed by the skeleton crew of 125 scientists and support staff that are assigned to man the station in the coming months, a very special order is to be shipped on one of the final airplanes scheduled to land on the icy runway: 16,500 prophylactics. (And here I thought that the most pressing issue of the last few days was getting that toilet repaired on the International Space Station.)

According to the Reuters news release, this shipment of condoms represents a full year's supply and will be distributed "free of charge" upon request in order to reduce personal embarrassment from having to purchase them since, according to Station Manager, Bill Henriksen, "...everybody knows everyone and it becomes a little bit uncomfortable." With 16,500 condoms at the ready, I dare say that the level of interpersonal relationships has risen to a point decidedly above being merely passing acquaintances.

Let's do the math, shall we? Assuming that there is perhaps close to an equal number of males and females wintering at the station, that works out to 62.5 males and 62.5 females. Since that's an uneven number, there is going to be some poor male or female soul who will need to work extra hard on developing their relationship skills or else be prepared to spend a great deal of the coming sunless winter days in the library. Now, if we make an assumption that there are 63 males verse 62 females, then each male has an allotment of approximately 262 condoms! It should be noted, to be fair and accurate, that the population of the station swells (pardon the pun) to approximately 1000 personnel. If half of those folks are of the male persuasion, then the 500 males have at their disposal 33 condoms. A more reasonable number, unless one has been married for more than five years...then 33 condoms becomes a lifetime supply. Whether the number is 33 or 262, it is safe to assume that more is going on in the frozen wastelands of McMurdo Station than scientific experimentation. If that's what it takes to keep up the morale of those good folks confined by the bitter cold and the prolonged period of darkness, then have at it. It would certainly lift my spirits to know that I had something to look forward to than just labeling test tubes.

No mention was made in the news article that along with the condoms there was also a shipment of "little blue pills." I always heard that cold had an adverse effect on male performance. Perhaps the environment at McMurdo Station precludes that particular short-coming. Let's hope so. Otherwise, that's a lot of prophylactics going to waste.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. I just proved it.

Monday, June 9

"Her Just Due..."

Personally...I'm glad that she failed to capture her party's nomination for President. Honestly, I am over joyed. Still I must give her her just due for her persistence in making the attempt.

I do not believe that the question throughout the recently concluded Democrat primaries ever should have been "Is our country ready for a female as Commander-in-Chief?" I think our country has matured enough and, in all candor, yearns for a candidate that embodies true forthright leadership, that rises above partisan politics and seeks non-compromising solutions to the compounding problems that face our nation, and would, therefore, embrace any candidate that exemplifies those qualities regardless of gender or race. For me, she failed to exemplify those necessary qualities that would sway me to cast my vote in her direction. I honor her quest and would applaud her for perhaps throwing open the door even wider to future female candidates who would vie for elected government service at every level. We need more voices to enter the dialogue of seeking solutions, not fewer.

That having been said, I am glad that the possibility of Hillary standing as the head of state has at long last been quashed. It is also my hope that Mr. Obama will have the wisdom to refrain from considering Hillary as his choice for Vice President. When compared to her husband's abysmal presidency, Mrs. Clinton could hardly deliver an administration that would purposefully rival Bill's reckless eight year performance as duface-in-chief, as I would wager that she would at least manage to keep the zipper on her pants suit in the fully closed position. Still, when one owns a horse one must contend with the accompany flies. Placing Hillary on the ticket invites the ever present unnerving buzzing about of Bill Clinton. You can shoo him away persistently, but persistently he keeps returning. His renewed presence in the administration would prove to be a distraction that no President needs and our country can no longer tolerate. It is time for the Clintons to resign themselves to the footnotes of history.

I abhor your politics, Hillary, but I applaud your heretofore unwavering and steadfast quest to achieve the highest political prize our nation can offer, as misguided and groundless as your base motivations were. No one in this country is "entitled" to anything. Entitlement breeds victimization. The American people, the people you rightfully labeled the blue-collar workers, earn by the sweat of the brows daily their right to choose which leaders shall maintain the open doors of honest and rewarded hard work...and they reject forthrightly all those who would lay claim to the spoils not of their own creation. You brought little to the table of debate but a sense of self-importance and an attitude that you know better than those people in America that for generations have made this country a nation to be emulated. Thanks for run along like a good little girl. There are others waiting in the wings that can see well beyond the tip of their noses. And take that husband of yours with you.

"Hot...Ain't It!?!"

Tampa tied a record for the high temperature for the day on this past Thursday. The high temperature record for the day was also tied on Friday and then again on Saturday. Kind of begs the question, "Hot, ain't it?" Apparently summer has settled in with a vengeance in this neck of the woods. The weather lady on one of the local television stations made that same insight this evening and followed up with a most profound observation, "Well, it is Florida, after all." Thank you very much for clarifying that rather obvious fact.

The instrument station utilized to determine the high and low temperatures for the metropolitan Tampa Bay area is located at the Tampa International Airport. T.I.A. for short. I am always skeptical of those readings, as there are acres and acres of concrete stretching in all directions away from where the thermometer is located. I'm no weather expert, but I'm just guessing if you put a thermometer above a concrete tarmac there is a better than even chance that the heat being given off by that substance just might adversely skew the actual temperature. Give me any reliable thermometer and let me stand in full sunlight on a paved concrete parking lot for 15 minutes and then go stand in a grassy field that is in close proximity to the first location, and I'm willing to bet you a buck the temperature gauge will read five or more degrees cooler than were I still standing on the concrete. Another government conspiracy, no doubt.

Here's the bottom line... This area of Florida ties the high temperature record three days in a row and all of the global warming proponents come pouring out into public view like water over a dam. Remember that Thursday's high temperature tied a previously recorded high of 97 degrees. Want to know what year the record was first established? 1907. 101 years ago some dude established that the record high temperature for that particular date in Tampa was 107 degrees. Maybe it's just me, but when there are approximately 31,000 scientist in the world who dispute the notion that mankind is presently having any significant adverse effects of global climate, that it is arrogantly preposterous to think that we have that capability (ruling out global nuclear annihilation, of course) and I tend to think that Al Gore is the latest incarnation of the boogieman, or at least the reincarnation of the panic-stricken chicken who declared with equal conviction that the sky was falling. Hardly...

It is even remotely possible and perhaps probable than mankind could be adding detrimental and compounding effects upon the global climate? Yes. Let's not be so naive as to think that the human race cannot and should not be keenly aware that for every action there is indeed an equal if not proportionately greater reaction. All of mankind should be personally aware and be devoted to making inroads into reducing our consumption of energy, being smarter as consumers of all of our manufactured products. Conservation is not a dirty word. The world does not have a finite supply of natural resources. What we may require in the future to fuel our lifestyle requires today that we limit ourselves to that which we need to sustain our basic requirements for existence. Gluttony is a self-fulling prophecy. A little intentional self-restraint is a good thing.

So, it was 97 degrees in Tampa on Thursday. 101 years ago it was also 97 degrees in Tampa. Pardon me, but I don't detect a cataclysmic trend here. "Well, it is Florida after all." Someone should take the time to break that news to hapless Al.

Tuesday, June 3

"The ABCs Of Complacency..."

June 1st marks the commencement of another six month long hurricane season. Apparently not wishing to miss even a single day of the 183 allotted to this weather phenomena, Mother Nature has already introduced "Arthur" as Act One as a pretense of what may herald a very active storm season to come.

Next on the list of names to be tagged to future 2008 hurricanes is a lady named Bertha. There are just some names which inadvertently invoke mental images of the person with that moniker. Bertha is such a name. I have yet to meet and associate with a female with that particular name. In my mind I see a noticeably large woman bordering on obese who is wearing an embarrassingly loose fitting housecoat lounging sloppily on a shopworn couch painting her toenails a hideous iridescent shade of pink, slugging down hand fulls of chocolates while gazing blankly at the latest episodes of the daily television soaps. Not a pretty picture. When Bertha is birthed as the next named storm, I prefer that she not lumber across the Caribbean, but flit like a ballerina and dance off stage left without so much as a fare-the-well.

Next in line is a gentleman named Cristobal. Probably a nod to ethnic political correctness. Fourth is Dolly. I envision two images when I hear the name Dolly (pun inadvertent, but humorously appreciated nevertheless). One is the genetically engineered lamb of recent years and Dolly Parton, who looks like she has two lambs vying for dominance beneath the ample folds of her blouse. Dolly Parton is a sweet lady. I hope her namesake storm immolates that same exact personality.

And so the list progresses with Edouard next in line, followed by Fay, then Gustav, Hanna, Ike, etc., until the list winds up with Wilfred, a bookworm with a retiring personality. If you, like me, live anywhere close to a sub-tropical coastline that has a notoriety of being frequented by these ladies and gentlemen of destruction, you are hoping that you never have the opportunity to make their up close and personal acquaintance. The possibility that none of theses future named storms will pose a threat of some imminent danger is a bet that no gambler would even consider placing a wager on. Nothing would please me more, as well as the thousands upon thousands of my fellow Floridians, than to have a repeat of last summer's hurricane season...ending up well below the initial season-opening predictions. But it only takes one to ruin one's day and all one's earthly possessions. Once again we are keeping a wary eye to the east through the end of November, hoping, if not fervently praying, that this year's hurricane storm alphabet will expend all of their pent up fury well out to sea. I'll take my Dolly in the soft and voluptuous variety, thank you very much.

Monday, June 2

"Romancing A Lie..."

The St. Petersburg TIMES reported in today's edition that a group calling themselves The Sons of Confederate Veterans have acquired a building permit to erect a 139 foot tall flag pole on privately owned land from which they intend to fly a 30 by 50 foot Confederate flag, touting it to be the "world's largest." The flag shall unfurl just west of downtown Tampa at the confluence of Interstates 4 and 75, two major traffic arteries on which thousands of vehicles transverse daily. This group is currently soliciting private donations to secure the remaining $30,000 in order that the flag may be fabricated. Good luck.

I spent the majority of my earlier youth growing up and going to school in a rural North Carolina crossroads identified by the locals as Scotts. Scotts School provided education for students from grades one through the twelfth. Most grade classes numbered little more than a couple dozen students. To suggest that the predominate mindset of 99% of the local attendees of this institution in the 50's was anything other than extremely bigoted and prejudicial toward blacks is to grossly understate the true facts. My grade school classmates as a rule hated "niggers'" and anyone who either dared speak even suggestively favorably of that race or, sin of all social sins, chose to associate with them. I learned very quickly as a transplanted northern (which too was a highly detrimental strike against my person) these unwavering hard and fast guidelines for being accepted by my peers. While in the fifth grade I narrowly escaped being hurled from the top of four story fire escape by a particularly narrow-minded bullying classmate because I had dared to call into question his basis for condemning blacks based merely on the color of their skin. My early demise was averted when our teacher intervened and suggested with evident disdain that I should perhaps keep my opinions to myself. My "opinions" were for the most part secretly sequestered until my sophomore high school year when my family moved to Winston-Salem and the atmosphere of racial intolerance was personally gauged to be far less severe.

Throughout those early formative years I held close to the personal belief, as taught to me by my Father, that a man's character holds far greater value than the pigment assigned to his particular race. I was, however, unable to escape being ensnared in the romantic belief that the "South" had some how gotten a raw deal in the American Civil War. The notion that I should at minimum hoard my Dixie cups in the advent of the south's return to antebellum prominence held sway in my view that the states of the confederacy had embarked upon a noble cause to preserve a way of life that required no outside interference to preserve. Histories of that conflict for the greatest part concentrate primarily on the battles that were waged to decide the final outcome, that the population of the south were overwhelming sold out to task of protecting hearth and home. The 2005 scholarly book, A People's History of The Civil War by David Williams, lays waste to that notion. The 594 page volume documents on page after page that this war was promoted by the rich elite on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for riches to be gained and fought by the poor who had nothing to be gained and, in the final analysis, everything to be lost. Most assuredly it must be recognized that the Caucasians of every stripe both in the North and the South entertained no love lost for the Southern blacks, believing egregiously that this race of man was beneath them in all aspect of human equality and were set upon this earth to serve no other purpose than to line the pockets of the wealthy landowners of the South and the commanders of manufacturing in the North with even greater riches by the sweat of their brows and the stripes of their whip beaten backs. Yet it must be recognized historically that prejudice aside the greatest majority of the lower economic classes would have preferred to abstain from any personal involvement in the conflict. Again the notion that the South's population of all economic stratum marched lock step into bloody conflict in quest of a lofty patriotic ideal is just a highly varnished and romanticized misstatement of fact.

Which brings me back to the proposed raising of the giant Confederate flag in Tampa. Said John W. Adams, co-chair of the Confederate Veteran's Flags Across Florida, that the flag isn't about racism or slavery. "It's about honoring our ancestors and about celebrating our heritage. It's a historical thing to us." With personal dubiousness that their stated motives are purely void of detectable animosity toward our fellow black citizens, I take abject exception to notion that they have knowledge of any measurable depth of the actual history that plunged this nation into cataclysmic division. Although many acts of valor and heroism were most certainly performed by the men and women in both armies, they pale in comparison to the atrocities of greed and neglect that were perpetrated by the monied elite upon the downtrodden poor, weak and voiceless who were starving on the fields of battle or left to eek out a hand to mouth existence toiling the soil poor plots of land throughout the south. Such a heritage leaves little to celebrate.

The pride of the South lies not in the apologetic years of slavery, nor in the misguided attempts through mortal conflict to preserve this despicable institution, nor in the post Civil War era that stretched into the civil right sixties wherein the blacks were continued to be regarded immorally as second class citizens. No, the pride of the South and this nation as a whole is in its many enlightened and caring citizens who have come to recognize and embrace the truth that God indeed created all men as equals...nothing more and certainly nothing less. My heartfelt prayer is that the proposed Confederate flag shall never see a ray of sunshine or unfurl to a freshening breeze. The era of the Confederacy is dead. It is best left buried.