Friday, April 30, 2010

Offshore drilling backers almost had us

They almost had us.

The "Drill, baby, drill" faction had us thinking maybe we were wrong about offshore drilling in Florida’s waters, especially the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

It will provide jobs.

It will mean much needed state revenue.

It will lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

Even more important to Floridians concerned about our pristine beaches and fragile ecosystem, it will be safe, they said.

So safe, thanks to state-of-the-art technology, they could drill three miles off our shores.

Which is what Florida legislators like incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, would’ve had us believe.

Not anymore.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee

Thursday, April 29, 2010

'Your flight has left the gate ... '

That Uncle Sam told the airlines no more “Flightmares” -- those rare but horrific tarmac waits -- reminds me of a not-so-funny story.

My wife and I were returning to Tampa from Philadelphia two summers ago.

It was a Sunday flight set for a 2 p.m. takeoff.

Anyway, a bad thunderstorm swept along the east coast, delaying everybody and everything.

Our flight was coming out of Providence, R.I., so we cooled our heels while the airline folks gave us periodic updates as the afternoon wore on.

Eventually, the weather began to clear and it was announced our flight had "left the gate" at Providence.

Well, another hour or more went by and we were still stuck in Philly.

It was getting on toward 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., by now.

Finally, I went up to the airline counter and wanted to know -- what is up?

Didn't you tell us some time ago the flight our "left the gate," I asked the guy?

Yes, he said, your flight has left the gate.

But it hasn't left the ground.


By the time that Providence did arrive, the crew had been aboard beyond its mandated time limit, so the airline had to bring in another crew from Raleigh, N.C.

We did not leave Philly until 11 p.m.

What time did we make it home?

Don't ask.

But we each received one-way tickets because of the inconvenience.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Annoying wait for arrow to turn green

Has this happened to you?

You're in the left turn lane at the light on First Street and Manatee Avenue waiting for the arrow to go green while traffic to your right flies by toward Palmetto.

You wait and wait and wait.

But the light remains red, instead, and you have to sit through another cycle waiting for the left turn arrow to go green.

Make that hoping it turns green.

It's happened to me many times.

That includes Monday. And today.

What was an occasional annoyance has become a regular aggravation, usually on my mid-afternoon soda run to Race Trac.

I'm not the only one.

I've made eye contact with other exasperated motorists, who throw up their hands as if to say -- What are you going to do?

I know what I do.

When I drive to work in the morning, I come down Ninth Street East off US 301.

I started doing it originally to avoid the Tropicana train that ties up First Street.

Now I do it to avoid that doggone traffic light.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anybody out there want any beads?

Anybody want beads?

We've got a bunch at the house after Saturday night's 71st annual DeSoto Grand Parade.

Didn't have to do much to get them, either.

After going to this Bradenton bash for 13 years, I found out something new.

You can catch beads with your face.

Well, almost.

During the daylight portion of the parade, my wife and I were standing with friends in the crowd in front of Smitty's.

When the beads came flying, naturally, we all reached up or jumped for them without trying to kill anybody.

Namely ourselves.

Yet when it got dark, we could see folks tossing the beads from the floats, but we couldn't see the beads after they'd left the thrower's hand.

So we just stood there and --- whap!

You'd get hit in the head, your nose, you name it.

Then you'd feel around your feet for the beads.

I was able to pick up a lot that way, then give them to my wife and friends.

Moments later, they'd drape them around us.

So like I said, we took home a lot of beads, more than we know what to do with.

Any takers?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Save religion for church, not school

The high school football game is over, victors and vanquished shake hands, and the coach gathers his players for the Lord’s Prayer.

Whether it was Joe Kinnan, Paul Maechtle or Raymond Woodie, it’s a postgame ritual I respect.

Now if principals Bob Gagnon or Jim Pauley or Willie Clark proselytized at a school assembly, that is a problem.

What’s the difference?

The first is an association by choice.

The other is not.

Although I wouldn’t blame principals who seek divine intervention from the Florida Legislature.

Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spoiled by jolly stateroom attendant

My wife left her towels on the bathroom floor this morning.

Sherri doesn't do that normally.

It was a gag.

Our honeymoon cruise was officially over.

Every day last week, Monday through Saturday, we'd leave our damp towels on the floor of our stateroom's bathroom aboard Royal Caribbean's luxurious Freedom of the Seas.

And when we returned, fresh towels were stacked and hanging for us.

It was one of the cool things we enjoyed on our trip through some of the eastern Caribbean, visiting islands like St. Thomas and St. Martin. Or is that St. Maarten?

I'd never done a cruise before and everyone I spoke to before the honeymoon said I would absolutely love it.

They were right.

The entertainment, the scenery, the sunshine, you name it.

Oh, yeah. The food.

Got five extra pounds to prove it.

The service was terrific, too. Always with a smile.

That went especially for our stateroom attendant, a jolly Venezuelan named Al, who looked after us.

And our towels.

When Sherri got home from work, her towels were right where she left them this morning.

We miss Al.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Consolidation answer for Bradenton?

Welcome to the City of Bradenton Central Fire Station, the sign reads as you enter the parking lot.

Might it be changed one day to: Manatee County Central Fire Station?

Bradenton City Councilman Gene Gallo, for whom the building is dedicated, probably says perish the thought.

Yet given the bleak city budget discussion Wednesday, it’s something to contemplate.

Gallo said the work session was as gloomy as he can recall in 50 years with the city, including 31 with the fire department.

Yet when Councilman Pat Roff spoke of examining a special assessment for fire department services, the former Bradenton fire chief said no.

“When people move into a municipality, they expect specific services — fire, police and water,” Gallo said. “If there’s a need to generate revenue, we need to have the guts to do what’s necessary.”

It got me thinking about a hot button word:


Read more in Sunday's Mannix About Manatee

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Senior burial insurance offer now?

So there I was, newly wed, going through the mail.

Tucked among the wedding congratulations, magazines and what not was a business reply mail card for this:

Burial insurance.

Somebody out there has a dark sense of humor.

It read: "Dear Mr. Mannix, We are proud to announce a Senior Burial Insurance Program to help you pay for your final expenses. ... "

Final expenses?

OK. I am 60 and, though I don't feel senior, I won't hesitate to take advantage of any price breaks for which that age qualifies me.

Except burial insurance.

Not yet, thank you.

I'll admit I've gone through those phases over the last few months where an ache in a vital location wouldn't go away, I think uh, oh!, run to the doctor and it turned out to be stress.


Maybe it was caused by waiting for our nuptials.

No matter.

I'm feeling renewed these days and more interested in living.

Not dying.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome to Bradenton's newest folks

One by one they got up, gave their names, their position, where they're from, and sat down.

Some spoke loud and clear.

Others were hard to hear.

No big deal.

When you're surrounded by a roomful of strangers, some guys prefer to let their hitting, glovework or pitching do the talking.

Which is what the community is waiting to see from our new Bradenton Marauders.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Florida State League ballclub held a luncheon Monday at Pirate City, another warmup for Thursday night's FSL season opener at McKechnie Field.

When one club official said the team is a melting pot, he wasn't kidding.

The Marauders come from 14 states and Puerto Rico, as well as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Canada, too.

Pitcher Tom Boleska is from Burlington, Ontario.

Florida's got two players on the Marauders --- pitcher Michael Felix of Panama City and catcher Tony Sanchez of Miami.

We've even got an outfielder, Quincy Latimore, from Apex, N.C., and another outfielder, Robbie Grossman, from Cypress, Texas, both cool-sounding places of origin.

They all represent Bradenton now.

Welcome, fellas.