The Question of Evacuation……

Back to the point of us believing we would evacuate for a really bad storm of Cat 3 or higher.As it turns out, this is a more difficult choice than we expected. Not for us as we have no children at home, pets to take into account, or lack of places to go. As the mayor of Houston discovered, there are very real issues with trying to evacuate tens of thousands of people in a short time frame. And there are special issues in trying to evacuate people who are older. We had not clearly understood this part until this past week and discussions swirled around choices people were making. I won’t go into all of them because I need to see what the ultimate outcome is of Irma and her impact. I can speculate, but would rather have the definitive answers before I say more.

Aside from the importance of proper construction and things like hurricane shutters is the ability to have adequate supplies to remain off the streets for at least 3 days – 4 is better. You may risk going stir crazy with no power, TV, etc., but the first responders and repair crews need to be able to move about as well as people who have to check on others such as older relatives/friends. The aftermath of people who don’t really need to trying to get gas and groceries can cause serious problems. Once traffic can flow, supplies can also flow, but it can take up to a week for that to happen.

Okay, I need to do a few more things in prep, but wanted to post this because I don’t know when we will lose power and connectivity.

The Importance of Hurricane Clips/Straps…..

With Irma heading this direction, whether to stay or go is a difficult choice in many cases. There are those who have neither the resources nor the physical ability to evacuate and having pets complicates the situation. In looking at people who do have a choice, several things come into play, but let me focus on hurricane clips, also known as straps.

One of the good things to come from the terrible destruction of Hurricane Andrew was an in-depth study of what went wrong from a building code perspective (enforcement is a different issue). The Army Corps of Engineers was very much involved in the study and since I’m not an engineer, I’ll put this in simple terms. If a house is built so the walls and roof can remain intact as a “unit”, the odds of severe damage are greatly lessened. Some seemingly innocuous pieces of metal were developed called hurricane clips or straps and these are installed every so many inches on roofs in order to provide this “remain as a unit” effect. When we moved into our current house, the covered terrace was across two-thirds of the back and we wanted to extend that across the entire back. The company we used at the time had an architect who drew the plan to where you really couldn’t tell it was an addition. However, since it included a section of roof and especially because it tied into the existing roof, it had to pass code inspection. The inspector who came invited Hubby to come up on the roof with him and he showed him how the hurricane clips were installed (properly). Our house, like so many in South Florida, is of concrete construction with steel beams specifically chosen to meet the revised building codes for this environment.

Another important issue is storm shutters and I’ll save that for a future post.

Why I Love Entrepreneurs….

When I retired and it became painfully obvious I was not going to make an income from writing, I did what most retired military officers do in the D.C. area and went to work for a company involved in Department of Defense contracting. Since we were in a position to where I just had to make a respectable salary rather than as much as I possibly could, I had the flexibility to go with a small, nimble company founded by an entrepreneur whom I grew to greatly admire. Actually, two of them since the company started with either five or seven individuals (I don’t recall the exact number). I’m sure the other founding members were also great, but I mostly dealt with the two. Anyway, even though I chose not to move up much in the company, I was fascinated with how things came about and listened carefully as they expanded literally to the point where they had to sell because they were, “too big to be small and too small to be big”. In essence, in the world of government contracting, there are a lot of “set-asides” for smaller companies. Once you reach a certain size though, you no longer qualify for those contracts and you are thrust into competition with the really big guys. The genuine ability to compete against them is extremely difficult and so the most practical option is hold tight until one or more of them take notice of you and make an offer to buy you out. There are all sorts of considerations, but it’s something that happens all the time.

Anyway, that was a very interesting lesson in the real world of business. Coming closer to home, we had lunch today at the Redlander Restaurant at Schnebly’s  (https://www.schneblywinery.com). They are a fantastic example of starting small with a niche market and expanding in a reasoned fashion. For those who may not be familiar with them they make wine from our local tropical/exotic fruits. They began with what was basically a modular building as their tasting and sales room. They grew to a beautifully landscaped property with a wonderful large room that added a restaurant. During the process they also branched out to brew beer on the property and opened “The Tap Room” which is quite large and serves 18 beers. They are an event place as well and are always coming up with new ideas. They are family run and it’s a pleasure to watch each new venture.

What A Difference Roasting Makes….

Well, grilling, too. I’m one of these women who doesn’t grill although I admire those women who have mastered the ability. For this post, the point is about vegetables, especially asparagus. My husband, and several friends for that matter, despair of the many vegetables I don’t care for. Asparagus used to be one of them as I wold only manage to choke some down in polite settings when they were presented to me in a steamed fashion. Yes, the seasonings helped, and if it was the tiny ones, I could manage them okay. I don’t actually recall the first time I had roasted or grilled. It may have been in watching one of the cooking shows with the explanation that this is a time when a cooking method really does alter the taste and we tried them at home. It might have been in a restaurant instead. Whatever the occasion, I was instantly converted.

The other night when we were at Chefs on the Run in Homestead, and yes that is their website, I decided to trust Chef’s ability with Brussels sprouts. I was fully prepared to be disappointed and yet, while I won’t declare them to be my favorite, they were  quite good. (http://chefsontheruninhomestead.com) I’m not sure we can replicate, but when he came out and chatted with us, he explained he uses the leaves and not the centers. He pan roasts and then adds the particular sauce depending on the dish he is serving them with. Mine happened to be ginger coconut with the Captain Morgan rum shrimp. I do plan to experiment and we’ll see what happens. Oh, Hubby and I have a slight difference of opinion on oven roasting. I go with 400 degrees for a little shorter time – generally 16-20 minutes. Grilling of course I leave to him.

Scuba Related…..

A modular design for an artificial reef created and provided by Walter Marine of AL

Thursday, Sept 14th, I’ll be doing a presentation on Artificial Reefs in Key Largo based on my book, Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the USA

Since the book came out in 2009, I needed to update a few things for the PowerPoint show. One of which was to check on a guy, David Walter of Walter Marine. I’ll explain. First, artificial reefs for those who might not be as familiar are a variety of items that rest in the water and attract marine life which take up residence and create a reef complete with coral, sponges, fish, etc. The marine creatures don’t mind that it isn’t a natural rock formation – it provides shelter and over time, marine growth increases. The most spectacular artificial reefs tend to be shipwrecks, but there are lots of others. Many are underwater by accident, but the planned ones are the focus of the book. Again, taking a massive ship like the 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove, prepping her and sending her to the bottom is a huge effort that takes years of planning/work and lots of money. There are, however, way cool and smaller options.

Every other year, the big scuba trade show is in Orlando and the year I was doing intense research for the book coincided with the DEMA show. I was able to talk with several people involved with artificial reef work, one of whom was David. I have previously posted about Reefball (TM) that is a non-profit organization. They create modules that can be deployed to create a reef based on what size and shape is desired.

David, who as he explained always liked to figure things out for himself, did a few projects with them and then decided to establish his own business. (www.reefmaker.net)  (Note: not sure why, but the website wasn’t loading when I wrote this. It was fine the other day.)

Anyway, back to David. He played around with designs and materials and it was fascinating to talk to him. I popped onto his website the other day to see how he was doing and he quickly responded. His business has expanded and he sent me the photo here. The uses for his products have also expanded and it’s nice to see. (I will acknowledge there are opponents to artificial reef work and they are certainly entitled to their opinion.) I love the entrepreneurial spirit and I love a good artificial reef, so I hope Walter Marine continues to thrive. By the way, the lovey fish along with the jelllyfish in the photo is a type of triggerfish.

Stories To Be Told….

For those who don’t live in the area, “Hurricane Andrew” is often referred to as, “Oh right, the hurricane that wiped out Homestead.” Yesterday was the 25th year since the massive destruction and as was to be expected, there has been a run-up to, and lots of coverage of, events as people looked back to that time. We were not here. In fact we were overseas, and unlike today, there was no Facebook, Twitter, streaming news, etc. We also did not have friends or family in the area.Our information was limited and by the time we did relocate, the housing boom was in full swing. (I’m not going into the subsequent housing bust in this post).

When I began to write for the local community weekly paper, my focus then (as now) was business, community, and the military. Not surprisingly, in speaking with business owners, those who had been through Andrew meant they had survived both personally and professionally. What I learned in talking with them was how so many people made the decision not to rebuild and relocated instead with Georgia and the Carolinas as mostly the states of choice. The destruction of Homestead Air Force Base was a huge blow to the economy as well, a secondary effect rarely understood by those who didn’t experience it. In knowing what we do of how these issues work, we can appreciate the fight it took to keep the base even as a “shadow” of it’s former self with the conversion to an Air Reserve Base. There was a historical parallel with the Hurricane of 1945 when with the end of WW II, there was the usual draw down of military forces and posts, and the severe hurricane damage to Homestead Army Airfield made it an easy choice for closure. A decade passed before it re-opened. Although converting from active Air Force into Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) meant it was much smaller, retaining it was vital. That struggle paid off and today, there are multiple military units and federal  agencies such as U.S. Border Protection on the grounds. Among all the other efforts to recover which can be seen throughout the area, this is a example of holding on to what was a foundation in order to rebuild.

Back in the Water….

Yellow Head Jawfish out of it’s hole.

For two consecutive years, I allowed all sorts of things to interfere with my diving. This year, I made a commitment to do better and get out once a month. January was the exception because of weather and other things. I also managed to let July get past me, although again, weather did play a part. The simple fact is, between my writing and other things I am involved with, I work essentially every day. That is not to say I work eight hours a day, but it is usually at least three. Much of it is unstructured in the traditional sense, although anyone who works deadlines and has meetings knows “unstructured” doesn’t equal “laid back”. Anyway, the point to the above is I genuinely have to schedule time to go dive and it can be tricky.

Friday meant sending out some early morning emails and having a wonderful husband who was going to take care of my dive gear after we returned to the dock so I could dash home, grab a quick lunch and get cleaned up for a mid-afternoon meeting. However, it all worked out and while we didn’t see any of the “big” stuff – correction – I missed the two sharks; the fish I like to watch were plentiful. Actually, I don’t mind not seeing sharks as long as Hubby gets to. There was a nice stingray and the reason I missed the shark on the first dive was I did have a special treat only I was able to enjoy. I’ll explain. Visibility was down more than I expected with it about forty feet. Hubby had a delightful young lady as a student and as I was swimming off to the side of them, I saw movement in the sand to my left. I wasn’t certain of what it was and swam closer, which put me to where the others were barely in sight. I realized what I was looking at was a pair of juvenile flounders, each about the size of a silver dollar. The flounder we get here are small and with their camouflage coloration, they’re very difficult to see unless they move. When they do move, they “flit” fairly rapidly across the sand. I glanced over to Hubby and the young lady to get their attention, but there was no way in that vis for them to see my gesture. If I tried to go get them and bring them back, the little flounders would have been long gone. So, I followed the fish for a few seconds, enjoying the sight and no, I don’t carry a camera.

We did also see a nice large green moray and some big snooks came through, plus I got to see my rock beauties among other of my favorites. Now all I have to do is try to squeeze in one more day in August to make up for not going in July. Oh yes, and we did get dolphins as we were returning to the dock.

Trust Me, Little Gecko…

There are those things in ordinary life that can be viewed metaphorically. Geckos are of course commonplace here and they will inevitably show up in the house occasionally. In general, you can manage to scoot them back out the door. The other night, I noticed one that had emerged from under the sideboard in the kitchen. I tried to get him up on a folded piece of paper, but he was too quick and darted back under the furniture. I said at the time, “I wish you would let me rescue you.” Hubby said, “Don’t worry, he can probably get enough to eat,” or something to that effect. Okay, the next day, the gecko emerged again and my second attempt to corral him was no more effective as he disappeared quite quickly. Still not being able to speak gecko, I assured him I only had his best interest at heart. Day three, I came downstairs and he had moved from the kitchen into the front room where he was on a clear, although long path to the front door if only I could keep him moving forward. Rather than try the scooping up (which hadn’t worked), I got the broom hoping to gently “herd” him out. The first few “sweeps” were working and then it became obvious, he was weakening. By the time I did get him to the front door and what I perceived as safety, he was obviously not in good shape. He basically collapsed on the welcome mat outside and keeled over.

In all fairness to the gecko, his response to me was normal. I was a great big thing and he had every reason to believe I intended him harm. It was exactly the opposite, but there was no way to convey that. Was he already ill and therefore would have expired no matter what? I don’t know. Was my good intention completely misplaced? Had I left him alone, would he have survived in the house and eventually made his way outside? I don’t know. Should I continue with the metaphor and delve more deeply into it? No, but anyone else is welcome to do so.

By the way, if you’ve never had a chance to roam through my short story collection on the website, please do. “A Gecko in the Umbrella” is a fun one. http://charliehudson.net/stories/story200604.html

Following Up In All Fairness…..

I can see why everyone has been raving about “Hairspray” at the Seminole Theatre. The talent of the large cast was terrific. I’d had one of my terrible bouts of insomnia in the wee hours of Saturday and left last night at intermission, but there was no question as to the quality of he production. As it was the first go-round for the Seminole Players, it has certainly set a high bar for Community Theater.

Last night was a sell-out crowd as have been a couple of other performances. This was the first time there have been as many dates set and all were well-attended. I don’t know if they can capture the data, but I heard several people in the lobby mention it was their first time to be in the Seminole. I went into my pitch of course and one gentlemen gave me his card and asked me to email him with more information.

What If Works Theater and Film, one of the longstanding members of Homestead Center for the Arts, will be doing “Driving Miss Daisy” Oct 20th and 21st and although WIW is a separate entity from the Seminole, this play is also cast with community members. A nice trailer was recently posted to http://www.whatifworks.com

With this being the third season of programming, there is at least more data about what people are responding to and that is helpful. There have been surprises both ways with shows that didn’t resonate that were expected to and others that were very popular that hadn’t seemed as if they would draw much of an audience. There is no doubt as to the hard work that goes into the Seminole and I do hope this is the year it hits its stride so to speak.

 

 

Part of Why Newcomers Get Confused…..

I’ve mentioned this briefly before, but when people first move here, driving around can be confusing. Everyone assumes with GPS tech, you just pop an address in and be all set. In some cases, that is correct. The first thing though is there are two sets of street designations; one is the county and the other is the municipal. Since we are south of the main part of the County, their numbering is quite different. For example, NE 8th Street is the local designation and SW 312th is the county. That also happens to be Campbell Drive, so when you get an address from someone, it will depend on which numbering system they are accustomed to using. Now, let’s say you are given the county number which is what most of the GPS systems are programmed with. You are going along and suddenly the street deadends into a field. This is because we still have a lot of agricultural lands and the street may very well pick up again on the other side of the large multi-acre field. The GPS system doesn’t realize that more-or-less straight line doesn’t actually exist as a road.

The other problem is you may have a  19th Ave, 19th Drive, 19th Place, 19th Street,19th Terrace and 19th Road. This is why when someone gives you an address, you have to be certain of the full address. If you are casually told, “Oh, we’re on 19th”, you’re likely to be in the wrong place. As you can imagine, delivery people can become quite frustrated.

Trying to manage all this in the dark is especially challenging and there are stories to be told by even people who have lived here for a while. In the agricultural community, streetlights tends to be limited and you often cannot read a street sign without literally getting out of the vehicle and using a flashlight. These are all things you get used to, but it does take time.