Sea Oats

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A hidden gem

Airports. Most are pretty generic. Some are terrible. But Ft. Lauderdale International, in addition to being a pretty great airport, has a hidden gem at the end of its runway area. The Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station Museum.
An actual trainer used to help train pilots of the TBM Avenger planes.

In an unassuming building at the edge of the airport is a treasure trove of information, displays, plaques, models and more.

What really makes this museum special is the people. Not your usual docents, but people who not only know their stuff, but who are also some of the nicest people you'll run into in any display like this.

Not like a regular museum which can be cool and a little distant, the people here make you feel like you've stepped into their living room and they just happen to have hundreds of models of planes and ships and they know every detail about them. They share their info like they are talking to a friend, not a visitor.

There is so much to see, you can spend an hour or two without a problem, but you won't feel overwhelmed. Not just cold facts, but personal experiences are related.
Mr. Gary Adams explains some of the items in the vast display to visitors.

I've watched my fair share of programs on TV about World War Two, but there is nothing that brings home the facts as realistically as someone standing front of you and saying "I was there" or "I worked on that aircraft."

No matter what your political views are, you will probably be impressed by the tales of George H.W. Bush's experiences and his bravery. Very heroic. A complete room with info about the future President with photos, clothing and personal memorabilia. And Mr. Bush has visited here and signed many items.

Magazine cover showing George H. W. Bush.
For those of you who are into the mysterious and strange, there is the tale of Flight 19, which was the designation of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle on December 5, 1945 during a United States Navy over water navigation training flight from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Not a physically huge building, but a truly
impressive display with hundreds of models and a research library that is jam packed with books and other reference documents that the staff will help you look through. If you need to research anything about Naval Air, this is your place. When we were there, there was a gentleman indexing all the materials in the library on a computer. They called him a "volunteer," but I suspect he was being held captive as this is a very difficult job. I'll go back next month to see if he's broken free.

There is no charge for all this, but donations are greatly appreciated. Don't be shy.
For a truly entertaining and informative look at Naval Aviation history, you really owe it to yourself to tour this museum. Truly an insightful and enjoyable look at Naval aviation and history.

Visit their site here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kennedy Space Center

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T. S. Eliot

Shuttle Atlantis with bay doors open.
It's been over 20 years since I've been to the Space Center and they have made some wonderful changes. There are so many exhibits and things to see and do, it will really keep you busy. They are very accessible, even to walking along a real space shuttle (the Atlantis) and it's open cargo bay.

That can be a bit of downside to things. There are so many things to see and do you may have a hard time choosing what to do first. I would do the two IMax theaters first. They are each about an hour long. One is in 3D and the other is not. They are really well done. Then you can move into the park to see other exhibits and displays.

The whole place is accessible to those with mobility and other issues. Ramps and handheld electronic guides smooth your way. Even some of the buses have special lifts with wheelchair lifts. The drivers have a sense of humor and ours was so funny he got a rousing round of applause after the ride to launch pad 39A.
Taking a stroll in space.

Several movies and space shots have highlighted our striving to reach the stars and the Center really brings it all home. From the Rocket Garden to a real Saturn rocket (really big!), everything draws you into the narrative about man's efforts to play among the stars. Elan Musk's SpaceX is already at the launch center, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon has recently announced that he hopes to put people into low Earth orbit by 2020 and it would probably be available to Prime Members first. And of course, Richard Branson has already built space planes to carry people into space in the next few years.

The Shuttle Experience is pretty dramatic and may be a little too much for really young children. Just explain to them they will be completely safe and I'm sure they will have a great time. It's very realistic according the the astronauts who have been to space. Don't skip it. There is a viewing area for those who just can't bring themselves to get thrust into space at 17,500 miles per hour! Adults and children were coming out with smiles and bubbling enthusiastically about the experience.
Giant Saturn rocket engines.

This Center is great for all ages. Teens, youngsters and adults all seem to enjoy themselves. If you have young ones, you may want to opt for a Multi-day pass. The Center is not cheap, but less expensive than the other theme parks up the road. One of the nice things is that you can upgrade your regular admission to a Multi-day pass on the same day while you are in the park. So if you find you can't do everything and see all the exhibits in one day, head over early to the ticket booth and pay half price for another day. The Visitor Center is not supported by your tax dollars, so it is a pretty good deal.

Kids and others will want to stop for lunch and restroom breaks and to do justice to seeing all the exhibits, you really should allow two days.

Included with General Admission:  
• Space Shuttle Atlantis℠ • Twin IMAX® Theater 3D Films
• Shuttle Launch Experience® • Special Viewing for Rocket Launches
• Meet an astronaut • Numerous Shows and Exhibits
• General Bus Tour

• FREE 2-day admission to Astronaut Hall of Fame® (if used within seven days)

Parking is $10 for cars and goes up from there. Check the web site ( )for complete details. In fact, I would go the site and look around to pre-plan your visit. It will at least give you an idea of what there is to see.

The Center will fill you with an unexpected sense of pride. Not to be missed.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Genius of Mediocrity

The Genius of Mediocrity

Genius. A very powerful word. It bestows on the recipient a mantle of respectability and usually, admiration.

We all can probably name at least one genius. Many would go with Einstein. Some with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Perhaps Emmy Noether, mathematical genius. Einstein wrote her obituary, calling her "the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began." Or perhaps Marie-Curie. Not so easy is it? 

Try this now. Given that the aforementioned people are truly geniuses, what did they do? Tell me one thing they did in a way that I, an average couch potato, can understand. Well, I am waiting! Not so easy is it? Can’t tell me a single thing in your own words without looking them up on Wikipedia or some other source. 

What is it that seems to compel us to admire genius?  Is it the perceived ability of the person so named  to understand things beyond what we would consider normal? Is it the grasp of a concept so obtuse, that ordinary souls can probably understand the idea exists, but have no way of fully comprehending what it means? Look at the show the "Big Bang Theory." All the male leads are considered to be geniuses or nearly so. Yet what is never pointed out, is that they are high functioning sociopaths. And they don't learn. They've been doing the same thing for over 8 years and have learned less than a fourth grader would in one year at school. If that's genius, they can have it.Well, don’t ask me, because I’m not genius. Some people have, in fact, made the argument in quite the other direction.

Take a second or two to untwist your brain and let us look at the alternative.
There are so many examples of idiocy it’s hard to chose.

So how did we get to this point?

It started with Robert Downey Sr., Phil Donahue and Sarah Jesse Raphael. Under the guise of being interested parties, they went further and further into the pool of human stupidity. Now, there are so many people who will sell their friends, their spouses and even their children down the river for 15 minutes of fame, it’s hard to keep track.

Daytime TV is so crowded with these slime ball hosts vying for your eyes that you’re head will hurt trying to figure out which generation of stupid we are involved with. The “producers” will do anything to get these people to say and do stupid stuff on camera.

”Reality” shows are anything but. They are about as real as wrestling and just as well rehearsed . But they are so cheap to produce and if there is anything they love is cheap. And the dumber the cheap participants are, the better. 

The real problem as I see it, is that this culture of stupid is good has leaked over into other areas. Areas that were at one time sacrosanct against in the incursion of stupid people, has now fallen victim to the lowest common denominator.  It’s easy to be ignorant. It takes a little work to try and be even mediocre.

One area that has been invaded by the truly dumb is the news. Stations can’t put up the correct graphics, the correct titles and it seems none of the news writers (the people who actually write the stories the talking heads read) don’t know what a quote is. If it is a quote, you don’t get to change the words. The graphics showing what was said rarely match what the pretty face is saying. The pretty face doesn’t have time to be bothered checking a story before it goes on the air, so all kinds  of stupidity makes its way to the screen.

One traffic reporter, who was showing an accident that was filmed by a local helicopter news team said, “As you can see the black SUV ran head on into the white car on the other side of the road.” Unfortunately, the white car hit the black SUV broadside. She said all this while looking right at the video on the screen.

Some friends came over wanted to play a drinking game. Every time a news anchor made a mistake, they had to take a drink. Since I don’t drink, I was elected to keep track. In twelve minutes, the two local anchors had made so many obvious mistakes that everyone passed out! In twelve minutes on the 6 o’clock news!

I am by no stretch of the imagination a genius. Nowhere near it. In fact, I struggle to be around the middle of mediocrity. But it's so much easier than having to think every day. Every other or even every third day, puts enough of a strain on my brain trying to be average.

That may just be my version of genius.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Islamorada Fish Company in Dania Beach Florida

I used to live in the Keys, so fresh seafood and it's kin are almost second nature to me. The restaurant is attached to the Outdoor World store which makes it convenient for shopping and for parking.

The restaurant is decorated in typical fish house kitsch, stuffed fish, lanterns, life buoys and the such. There is also a large saltwater aquarium on premises.

The menu is varied enough to cover most tastes including a small sushi section, if you're so inclined.

I ordered the dolphin with teriyaki sauce, bread, and the choice of home made potato salad.

As I waited, a couple with two small children came in and though there had to be at least 100 other places to seat them, one of the hostesses seated them directly behind me. Every restaurant I've been to has this really annoying habit of piling everyone on top of each other. The only place that didn't was the Bonefish Grill. I understand when it gets busy, they may not have any choice, but don't put them at the next table just because it's convenient. Some of us like a little peace and quite while we eat.Fortunately, the children were well behaved and we all ate in peace.

The dolphin arrived and looked very good and tasted even better. The teriyaki sauce was a little much, but I bet you could order it on the side. The fish was cooked to perfection, the potato salad was tasty and the bread loaf was wonderful.

Service was provided by a young man named Jeffery and he was great, there when I needed him but not intrusive and he had a sense of humor when I made suggestions about what we could do with the children, who, like I said, were very well behaved, unlike me most times.

I ordered the key lime pie, which came in a bowl. A well sized portion to be sure, but slightly disappointing. The whipped cream topping was light and flavorful, the crust nice but the custard filling, the part that is supposed to be the key lime part, had hardly any key lime taste at all. The custard was creamy and smooth and if it had been more flavorful, it would have been perfect.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience. I arrived at 11:45 AM and the place filled with the lunch crowd before I finished, but I didn't see anyone waiting long for their orders.

Good food, great service and overall, a very satisfying experience

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Doing videos now

I've moved into the world of HD videos. It's much harder than I thought, but I really like it. I've never owned a video camera before so it's quite a learning experience. If you'd like to see my fledgling efforts, you can do so by going here: Videos and photos.

As always your comments are welcome. I hope to post many more soon.

In addition to learning how to use tha canera and how to pick subjects, I am aslo learning all the new software.

To say the least, it's been a busy three weeks. Love my camera, the Canon HF Vixia M500. Amazing camera in such a small package. Hope I'm up to the challenge.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Secret Spot

I follow a trail in the sand, so little used that grass has grown over it in most places. The mangroves and hardwood trees form a canopy that lets the sunlight ripple shadows across low growing plants edging the path.

Above me the slightest breeze rustles the leaves, but the breeze never reaches me. I expect more bugs, no- see- ums and other biting nasties, but except for the occasionally flitting butterfly, bugs are remarkably absent.

The smell of hot sand reaches me and just above the rustle of the leaves, the soft rolling sound of waves lays an undercurrent around me. I can see a glimpse of the beach ahead. The soft green of the undergrowth gives way to crisp white.

I step out onto the sand and immediately regret not even wearing flip flops. Man, is that hot! I run almost on my toes to keep the soles of my feet from catching fire. Finally, the Gulf.

Crystal water runs around my ankles. I look out to where the sky folds into the sea. If I had a job, I’d buy a boat and be out there, and  pelicans, who, if they were a more aggressive species, go by in what would be called a strafing run formation. Bet the sand is too hot for them too. 

I climb back up the sandy shore line and find a place not to far from the water’s edge. As I throw my backpack down in relief, and I don’t carry much, I glance around. What’s that about a half mile off? Is that a person? I glance at the sand with accusation, but there are no foot prints in the area, so I don’t feel betrayed by my secret spot.

There are no buildings here. No stands selling beach fare or Mylar balloons or even suntan lotion. No man made intrusions.

A gull flies low overhead. She was obviously trained by tourists that anyone who stands upright is a lunch wagon. Sorry to disappoint. She yells at me as she wheels up the beach towards the intruder.

Two hours later, crispy from the sun, but not caring about aging skin, I break out some watermelon I brought. That and a stick of Juicy Fruit gum are all I have in my back pack to eat. My girlfriend says I should lose weight, until she needs something heavy lifted, then it’s you’re so big and strong.

Three and a half hours and no one has disrupted my view of the Gulf.

My secret spot still is.

For those of you who have to know, yes this a real place on the Gulf Coast of Florida between Sarasota and Cedar Key.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Travel for the less than stupid.

Travel is fun. You go new places, have new experiences, visit old favorites and just chill out. It can be reasonable in its costs or it can be as extravagant as you want. I just read short piece in a well-known travel magazine about skin care. As many of you know, I have been a boat captain for over 45 years. On the water usually for ten to twelve hours a day and I never, ever, never ever used lip balm thatcost eighteen dollars a tube! How stupid do have to be to fall for that kind of crap? Are you kiddingme? It’s frigging beeswax and maybe lanolin or some other tiny amount of another ingredient. Askany of the girls I’ve kissed over the years and I would bet that not one of them ever thought, “I don’tthink I’ll kiss him anymore. His lips are so rough. I wish he’d use that really stupid expensive lip balm.” Get yourself some Blistex Lip Balm and be done with it. Works great and it’s not very expensive. Or the next bit in the article that said to use skin cleanser to get the sand out of your skin. Out of your      skin? How big are your pores?

Plus you cannot believe everything you read in high end magazines. They quite often get their facts wrong and they don’t take kindly to being corrected. Example, one recent article said that they only way to get to the Dry Tortugas off the Florida Keys was by boat. Not true, there are several airplanes that fly out to the Fort on a regular basis. Such as this service: Seaplane
Fancy rooms are nice, such as those at the Breakers in Palm Beach. But I’ve spent many a quality night in La Quinta Inns at very good rate. I rather have the money to go out and run around and do stuff. Yes, I know that are certain unidentifiable “perks” of staying a high end hotel, but if you want to travel a lot and you have to work for a living, you can expand your horizons by staying in a lower priced room.
I’m going to add to this article as I go along in the next few weeks.
So unless you overloaded with cash, use your head. The front of the plane actually gets on the ground seconds after the regular seats do. Save some bucks, unless you vacation involves staying the plane at your destination.