Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Rain Arrives

So after I whined about a non-rainy rainy season, we got dumped with over 3" in less than an hour later that night. It rained a little last night, and we thought we were going to get some tonight, but it all somehow missed us. At least all the plants got some good water instead of chlorinated hose water. Everyone has their fingers crossed that this is the beginning of normal (15-20 minute thunderstorms every afternoon) and we won't go back to the hot and dry we've had the last month or so.

Today I stumbled across an article listing the 10 deadliest cities for pedestrians. In what will shock exactly no one who has spent more than five minutes driving in Florida, the four worst cities were Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami. The article puts all the blame on badly engineered roads, which is completely true, and not just for pedestrians. Every place we've been in this state has at least one intersection or stretch of road that was intentionally engineered to cause accidents. Maybe the road engineers are getting bribes from the 1,001 law firms that endlessly advertise on TV, billboards, etc. It cannot be accidental. For one, it's far too common, and two, it's so damn obvious. When we lived in Sanford, there was one intersection where there were two left-turn lanes turning onto a side street. No big deal until you are halfway around the corner and you realize there is only a single lane for the two solid lines of cars to turn into. I went through that intersection on my way to work. I never remember there not being fresh broken glass there. Narrow, twisty residential roads where little kids are getting on and off school buses have 35 mph speed limits. Every city loves to block sightlines at intersections with trees and bushes. And on and on forever. So sure, the morons in charge of the roads are part of the problem. But certainly not all of it.

When we first moved to Sanford, there was some big deal on the news about all the Orlando school kids getting hit by cars on the way to school. A dozen or so in the first few days of the school year, if I recall. There was all the usual hand-wringing about poorly-marked crosswalks and careless drivers not keeping an eye out for children. However, the real problem was that the parents didn't want to wait at the light to turn into the school, then wait in line to drop them at the "safety zone" at the door. So the kids were bailing out of the cars in the middle of an 8-lane highway and making a run for it. All the fancy crosswalks in the world can't fix that level of stupid.

Another big stink was made about a rash of bicyclists being found dead on the side of the road every morning from hit-and-runs. Now yes, hitting someone with your car and not even slowing down is pretty bad. But I've encountered these bicyclists both in Sanford and here in Zephyrhills. First, they insist on riding into traffic, even on highways. They ride between lanes. If they see someone they know on the other side of the road, they just make a hard left and start riding across the traffic. They ride around at night in dark clothing and not even a reflector let alone any lights. They run stop signs and red lights. Again, all the bike lanes and PSA's urging motorists to "share the road" can't fix that kind of stupid.

And of course, the same stupid people who shove their own kids out of the car in the middle of a highway and ride their bicycle after dark without any lights also drive cars. The Florida driving test must be, "Can you fog this mirror?" The completely idiotic things I see people do down here every time I get in the car would fill volumes. I would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than drive anywhere. It's that bad.

So yea. Have at the piss-poor job the road engineers have done and are still doing. But a lot of other people need to be fish slapped.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Busy Weekend

We were busy little persons this weekend. We kicked things off early with a bunch of planting on Thursday and Friday. One of the couples here in the park gave us a ton of plants and cuttings, and another couple gave us some starts from their plumeria bush. They are all in the ground now except the plumeria. I'm leaving that in the pot until its roots develop a bit more, and to give me time to make a spot for it. They get pretty big, so I want to make sure it has some room. Here is how things look so far:

Nothing really new up here, just rosemary going crazy trying to eat the porch. The thyme is doing anything from good to poor, depending on which plant. I may have to give up on the sage. It doesn't ever do anything except sit there not growing for a few months, then gradually dies.

Hard to see the new stuff with the crazy purple-flowered plant in the way, but we have a couple plants that we're not sure what they are (probably some sort of begonia), gardenia, philodendron, and some sort of miniature iris that seems to volunteer all over the park. 

We stuck in a spider plant and some aloe back here. The aloe is supposed to put up a spike with bunches of small orange blossoms in spring/summer. We'll see what happens. The big, green spiky thing in the center is another plant that likes to take over anyplace in the park not being routinely mowed. We got this one from my parents, but it will be relocated to the fence to make room for the plumeria currently rooting in a pot tucked into a shady spot. We'll leave the small suckers for now, but we'll need to keep them in check. Every one of those leaves has a needle-sharp spike on the end, and I swear it jumps out of the bed and stabs your leg when you walk by. 

A rose bush of some sort, geraniums and ginger (which is just a root and hasn't poked its head up yet). And some other kind of plant that my mother always grew as an annual in our Michigan back yard, but I can't find a name for.

On Saturday, we headed downtown for the Zephyrhills Music and Motorcycles event:

I've owned cars that were smaller than this beast.

For the economy biker.

The latest in biker fashion.

Another monster three-wheeler, with a rag top.

We lived down the street from a place that did custom work similar to this when we were out in Prescott AZ. Serious eye candy.

Phoenix crankin' out the tunes.

The band, Phoenix, was awesome. It's probably the first event we've been to with a band that plays "our" music (late 1970's and early 1980's rock). Nice change from really old oldies and country/western.

Sunday, I spent the morning watering all the new plants. The weather has been rather odd for the last six months or so. We had a dry season that wasn't, followed by a rainy season that wasn't either. And we're trying to get plants in the ground. We had clouds and even thunder in the afternoon and evening, but not a drop of rain. But if the summer rains are late, the summer heat and humidity have arrived in full force, so once the watering was done,  it was indoor projects instead of melting outside:

We took the small window out between the kitchen and Florida room. Because of how the AC was put in, the hole is sorta necessary for the air circulation to work correctly. We'll eventually trim out the hole and have a narrow shelf there.

The new hole from the kitchen side, plus the monster pile of dirty dishes. Probably ought to get on that....

We had to rip out the carpet a while back because the wax seal crapped out on the old toilet. This is just a coat of primer to make it easier to clean and help preserve the wood until we redo all the floors.

Monday was the park Memorial Day potluck. The weather was sunny with a few clouds all day:

Intense sports...

Intense conversation...

Intense floating...

Intense eating.

We did finally get a small shower in the afternoon, but what we really need right now is a good ol' fashioned Florida summer gully-washer. Today is supposed to be a possibility of our afternoon rains, but the chances are not that high. At least we seem to be hanging onto our morning cloud cover, so I may get a break from dragging the hose all over the place.

Debbie has today off because she will be working this Saturday, so we're going to canvas the park for a truck we can steal long enough to run down to Home Depot and load up on enough stuff to knock a couple more bits off the to-do list over the next several weeks.

Well, gotta get at it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Well, summer appears to be over. Woke up this morning to temps in the low 60's. Everyone in the park is digging the sweaters and winter coats back out and complaining about how cold it is. It never dawns on the whiners that they were complaining a few days ago about how hot it was. I'm sure this is temporary, so I will be outside today taking full advantage of it to get as much work done in the yard as I possibly can. We had some rain, so the grass and weeds are growing so fast you can hear 'em at night. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration. But it's jumping up there fast.

I also have to go digging around and see why water isn't getting down to the end of the soaker hose. I expected it to clog up with roots eventually, but not less than six months after I laid the thing out. But this is Florida, so it could have gotten blocked already. I don't like how I routed it anyway, so maybe I'll take this as a sign to rearrange things.

And we are going to try to make some progress on the interior of this dump. We've been completely focused on exterior work for the last 18 months, but now it's time to start making the place livable. The first step will be to build the coat closet next to the front door so we can get all the coats out of the hall closet, which will become my clothes closet. I also need to get the caulking gun back out and finish up ant-proofing the Florida room. We've already had two serious invasions, mainly due to the dry weather we've been having. It's really weird; lines of ants walking right by dirty plates to get to a drop of water in the kitchen sink. Usually, I run the soaker hose in the beds around the trailer and they go away, but with the soaker hose not working, it didn't have much effect. The rain we got Thursday night did the trick, but with the expectation of another dry summer, I really need to get that soaker hose working.

At least I now have plenty of time; the bastards in the park bitching about me working finally got what they wanted. I was fired on Monday. Congratulations, bastards. As for Carefree and its Nancy No-Nuts CEO, the less said the better.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Well, summer has definitely arrived in Florida. Most of last week, we had temps in the 90's with humidity to match. And me outside right in the thick of it slaving away. I had thought that spending the last two summers working on the trailer would have gotten me acclimated, but I don't think it worked. I start at 7am, and most days I look like I've been playing in the sprinklers by 8am.

So, this cruise thing we did a couple weeks ago:

The Carnival Sunshine is a refurbished ship. Everything was redone and a couple new decks added, making it comparable with some of the newer ships tonnage-wise. Our stateroom was quite unexpected:

I've been in hotel rooms that were smaller. We had an ocean-view room on the lowest passenger deck. We tried to steal a peek into the inside rooms across the hall, but never managed to see if they were as large as ours. I'm pretty sure this is the largest stateroom we've ever had other than the suite we got because Debbie booked my entire extended family for my parents 50th wedding anniversary. I didn't get a good picture of it, but even the bathroom had a full-sized shower and a sink with actual counter space.

The waterfall and pool was part of the Serenity Area. I think whomever named it that needs to buy a new dictionary. Opposite the waterfall are the 30-foot speakers on either side of the drive-in-movie-sized TV screen that blasted music from early morning until midnight. Not sure how that is in any way "serene". However, the furniture was comfortable enough, and most of the music was at least something that we didn't hate.

Debbie found a hammock to relax in, and I "relaxed" the same way I always do on one of those death traps. When we retire to our beach in St. Kitts, Debbie can have the hammock. I'll take a chair thank you very much.

We did find some weird pod-type thing that seemed comfortable at first, but got annoying after a while. We stayed in it long enough for a selfie, then went looking for more comfortable place to sit.

Great place to eat if you don't mind listening to your arteries harden. The food on the ship was good, but we were a little disappointed in the selections both on the buffet and in some of the restaurants. I counted what was on the buffet our first night; if I included all three kinds of bread as separate items, there were exactly ten items on the buffet. It also seemed like there wasn't the usual number of crew, and what there was seemed like the second string. Everything got done, but sometimes an area would look neglected for a substantial time before things would be tidied up. We've never been on a two-night before, so maybe this is normal on the short cruises? Anyway, it seemed odd to us.

Some blah, blah, blah about a red frog. Live Thirsty.

In any case, it was a good couple days away from here and jobs and drama.

And that's all for now: 5am comes early.

Saturday, May 03, 2014


(Apologies to those long-time readers who have no idea what I'm going to be talking about for the first little bit. Let's just say that some people really need to get a life.)

So if you are wondering why you landed here when you were trying to get to the Blog That Shan't Be Named, well here's the story. Debbie and I live in a senior RV park. We're not seniors, but we're here by special dispensation, mostly to keep my parents from getting into too much trouble when they are down here in Florida. You've all heard the wild stories. That seems to be a big problem with a certain other non-senior who also lives here. We'll call him Dorothy Dickhead. He cannot stand the thought of not being the center of attention, so every spring, when all his adoring fans fly back north, is a tough time for ol' DD. He usually responds by kicking up some sort of fuss here in the park, usually dragging the park's corporate owners into it. This year, he was absolutely beside himself that an asshole like me would be working for his park and demanded to know why the owner of that horrible Blog That Shan't Be Named was employed by the park's corporate overlords. Well, the CEO of said corporation, we'll call him Nancy No-Nuts, responded just as you would expect the CEO of a large corporation that owns close to 100 properties across the country as well as in Canada to respond to such a minor kerfluffle kicked up by a nobody living on one of said properties; throw his management team under the bus.

So to keep the story short, the deal is this: in order for me to have a seasonal job here in the park and not dump more shit on people who have already had more than enough dumped on them over the last year, the Blog That Shan't Be Named, with its hundred or so readers (it was only a dozen until DD sent a link to it to every e-mail address he could find), had to go. So now you are here. And in case Nancy No-Nuts is reading this: If you think I'm making any other accommodations for you, your corporation or Dorothy Dickhead, you can take that and your job, fold them until they are all points, and shove them straight up your ass.

Oh, and one last note to Dorothy Dickhead: Once again, thank you for proving again to everyone here that you are a... well... a dickhead. And one more thing; you ever, ever, EVER call, or even speak to my parents again, it will not end well for you. You have been warned.


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

We seem to be past the worst of our computer issues. Debbie is working on her new Win7 computer with no more than the expected issues, and sharing things between two like versions of Windows is a dream compared to getting and keeping a Win7 and a WinXP machine on speaking terms. Our main machine is back from the shop with a new, properly-sized power supply and seems to be running much cooler and quieter than before. While it was there, I had the guy do a deep clean on everything. He found a bit of adware hiding out in some dark corners, but nothing like I expected. He installed a bunch of new anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-adware, anti-everything software. I'm not sure I approve. A lot of it may end up in the dumpster. It turned a screaming-fast quad-core system into a dog. There is a full-minute lag between clicking on a program icon and when there is any indication that the system intends to even start to load the program. Internet pages now load slower in Chrome than they used to in IE. Some software won't run at all. And for some reason I cannot fathom, all the drive mappings for my external drives were changed. Understand that I do not store anything on my local drives. Every program had to be brought up and redirected to the new drive letter mappings. Every. Single. Program. The fun ones were the programs that wouldn't load because the drive they were expecting to be there wasn't and instead of giving an error and allowing me to correct the problem, they would just give up and shut themselves back down. I love crapware.

Anyway, as of a couple hours ago, everything seems to be more or less back to normal, whatever that means.

So as I may have mentioned, I have this new job working here in the park. Basically I walk for eight hours a day either lugging a weed wacker, a pump-up sprayer full of Roundup, or a leaf blower. Mindless doesn't begin to describe it. Eventually, I think I will be doing more of the minor fix-it type of maintenance and maybe checking on the pool every day, but for now, yeah. I need to find an unabridged version of Toynbee's A Study of History on tape. Oh, and two separate people tried (unsuccessfully thus far) to get me fired in my first two days on the job. The above drama was all on day one. Then on day two, some asshat comes out and grabs me while I'm running the weed wacker and starts giving me a bunch of crap. So I gave it right back to him. After spending twenty minutes screaming on his phone loud enough I could hear him two lots away with the weed wacker running, precisely nothing happened. And now he smiles and waves and says, "Hi!" every time he sees me around the park. Just. Plain. Weird.

And because of work, I've yet to get the cruise pictures off the camera. Any day now. At least the bottom of the to-do pile is in site. I've had all kinds of bizarre time-sucks over the last month; find missing people, help sell used cars, help pack up people who are moving, running for office at the Moose Lodge, etc. But I've managed to either do most of it or at least shove the problem off on someone else. Sheesh. I had hoped to do some work on our trailer tomorrow, assuming it ever stops raining, but I may need to keep chipping away on the pile here next to my computer.

Debbie is still cranking out cruises like it's peak season. I'm not sure what the story is with that. Everyone trying to get in one last hurrah before the floor drops out of the world again? Whatever the reason, we ain't complainin'. Da green be rollin' in and dat's all dat matters.

So yeah. That's our life.

Anecdote for the week:

I could so do that....