Monday, August 31, 2009

Cold? Wind? Rain? Hey, it's Ireland!

I will never complain about how hot and humid it gets during our summers.

I usually joke that this is our penance for not having to deal with winters up north.

Now I have another reason to say Florida summers are fine by me.

Summers in Ireland.

Or at least this one, on my seventh visit to the land of my ancestors.

Cold, windy and damp doesn't begin to describe what was actually an otherwise enjoyable trip.

Take our last day there.

You should've seen my fiancee, Sherri Manring, and I at the starkly beautiful Cliffs of Moher early last Thursday afternoon, trying to stay on our feet in the gale that blew off the Atlanic Ocean.

The temperature was in the 50s with wind gusts that felt the same.

It was blowing so hard, water that usually streams down the crevaces in the cliff face was spraying up into the air and raining on tourists like us.

What an appropriately Irish summer sendoff.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let us count 'joys' of hurricane season

Now that hurricane season is ramping up and we're surrounded by Ana, Bill and Claudette, folks up north are probably shaking their heads and saying. "That's why we don't live in Florida."

They don't know what they're missing.

Only a Floridian can appreciate what hurricane season means in our lives.

To wit:
  • "Crackhouse Chic" is back in vogue, our homes boarded up in plywood.

  • We bond with neighbors we haven’t talked to since the 2004 hurricane season.

  • Being "under water" in one's homes has taken on a dual meaning.

  • Those old 2-for-1 coupons might still work.

  • You want bottled water? We've got bottled water.

  • You've got only the only street in the neighborhood with a No Wake sign.

  • The need for your dog to go out and take care of business is inversely proportional to the severity of the storm.

  • AA, C and D are all the letters of the alphabet we need.

  • You can eat Chinese takeout by candlelight in your underwear.

  • No more visits from family members in summertime.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Island bridge battle? Here we go again

How predictable.

The Florida Department of Transportation officially announced the other day it wants to build a high-level fixed span to replace the old, low-level Anna Maria Island drawbridge.

And Save Anna Maria, long-time opponents of anthing to do with a high-rise bridge, promised to fight it.

It figures.

See Mannix about Manatee Sunday for more at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hurricane site must viewing in the fall

After I arrive at work, my routine is usually the same.

Check phone messages and e-mails and confer with my editor.

Then I go over my favorite sports Websites: ESPN. SI.Com. Fox.

There a few others I've got on the list, but it's usually the same drill every morning.

Except this time of year.

These days the first Website I spool up shortly after I sit down is that of the National Hurricane Center.

And I call it up every few hours for updates.

After the beating we took in 2004, the NHC site has become must viewing.

So, like others, I've kept an eye on Tropical Depression 2, as well as the system right behind it that just came off the coast of West Africa.

Better than a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, the NHC said about the latter.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

'Keep singing, Kenny! Keep singing!'

Went to see Kenny Chesney last Saturday night at Ford Amphitheater.

What a show. What an entertainer.

I know the "hardest working" sobriquet is overused, but Chesney is that.

By the third song, his trademark sleeveless T-shirt was drenched in sweat.

Of course, the dampness from the rain downpour probably had something to do with it.

Which brings up another point.

Next time we go to Ford, we'll try for the reserved seating.

We got lawn seat tickets at the last minute when a friend's daughter couldn't go, but Saturday evening's downpour turned our area into slop.

People traipsing through our vicinity much of the night didn't help.

We stayed a long time, but given the size of that crowd we figured it'd be Tuesday before we got home.

So we took our lawn chairs down by the concession area, sat there for a few more songs and then split.

"Keep singing, Kenny! Keep singing!" I said, hoping for as big a head start as possible while we navigated our way back to the car.

I could still hear him as we drove off.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Friday Night Lights trump concert

That Aerosmith's Steven Tyler fell off a stage in South Dakota Wednesday night, suffering head, neck and shoulder injuries, makes me wonder if we'll ever see a re-scheduled concert at Ford Amphitheater.

Their July 11 gig was postponed because of some other physical mishap by the aging rock icon.

What ticked off four of us older rock fans set for the show was we were more interested in seeing ZZ Top, the opening act.

Judge Doug Henderson and I had said years ago, if the Texas rockers ever came to our area, we're there.

We couldn't have cared less about Aerosmith.

Who knows what's going to happen now if Tyler is laid up?

It might be a moot point, come to think of it.

When the judge said he heard the re-scheduled concert might be in October, we agreed it might be a better idea to get refunds and move on.

Especially if it's on a Friday or Saturday night.

That's football season.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taking a pass on 'Cash for Clunkers'

Cash for Clunkers?

Looks like the special deal is over by Friday unless the U.S. Senate ponies up another $2 million to keep the program going until September.

Two-million dollars of our tax money, that is.

My pickup isn't exactly a clunker, nor a gas guzzler, but I wonder what it would fetch if I took it back to the dealership.

It's a 10-year-old Chevy Silverado that's gone 106,000 miles.

There were times when the dealership tried to entice me into a trade-up, but I always said no thanks.

Once I got it paid off, I didn't feel like getting behind new payments again.

That was five years ago.

It may be a bucket of bolts, but it's my bucket of bolts and I'll drive it 'til it drops.