Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hurricane season over? Hoooooray!

Hurricane season is over.


Florida went unscathed for the sixth straight year and that's terrific.

Although I don't get the idea meteorologists -- our own Bob "Hurricane" Harrigan being the exception -- share that good feeling.

Watching some of them discuss the relatively peaceful passing of the 2011 hurricane season, one almost gets the impression they're disappointed.

All those dire forecasts by the weather experts about another dangerous season and nothing happened in our corner of the hemisphere.

Sure, there were 18 names storms, but most stayed out at sea, thank goodness.

Then there was Hurricane Irene, which flooded a lot of folks in the Northeast.

How weird was it for us Floridians to be calling family up that way to check on them?

Usually it's them calling us to find how we made out.

With the beating we took in 2004 and 2005, none of us takes hurricane season lightly.

So when we reach Dec. 1 without incident, that is definitely something to be happy about.

For another six months, anyway.

Or until we find that our homeowner's insurance has gone up again.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christma$ pre$ent arrive$ early

Dropped off my pickup truck at the local garage Saturday morning for an oil change.

Ask them to rotate the tires, too, please.

Nothing to it.

Matter of fact, by the time we got back home -- 15 minutes tops -- the garage was calling.

The truck was ready.

But ...

Uh, oh.

You're going to need new tires, they said.

I had a hunch that was coming.

Seemed like I just got new tires a couples of years ago, too.

You'd think I was a long distance driver.

Anyway, I bit the bullet and told them to go ahead with the new tires.

So much for getting away cheap.

After what those tires cost, they'd better last me a long, long time.

"Merry Christmas," Sherri said.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meaningful Thanksgiving for my family

An intensive care unit is the last place any of us would want to spend Thanksgiving Day.
Yet it was at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore., my sister, Maureen, and her family gave heartfelt thanks.
A week ago last Friday, Brendan Haddon, my 19-year-old nephew, was seriously injured. He was a passenger in a one-car accident when a friend spun out in snowy conditions and hit a guard rail near Oregon’s scenic Mount Hood, where the Haddons have lived for 30 years.
He lost his left foot and almost lost the other.
Five procedures in six days saved it.
The last, hopefully, was Thanksgiving Day.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Do Black Friday? Don't think so

Black Friday?

I've been inundated with emails about this deal and that bonanza for the past 10 days and I'm almost half-tempted to join the masses, who will flock to the malls to begin their pre-holiday hauls Thursday night.


I have several friends for whom Black Friday is almost a Holy Day of Obligation and I'm always amused by the tales of their adventures going from store to store in the wee hours.

That's as far as it goes for me.

Same for my wife.

Sherri loves to shop as much as anyone, but as for doing the Black Friday deal?

Not her.

Not me.

By the time those folks are gearing up for the late night shopping spree, yours truly will probably be half-asleep in front of the TV, trying to stay awake for the 49ers-Ravens game between the Brothers Harbaugh.

And digesting a big Thanksgiving dinner.


Henry Lawrence won some big fans

When former Oakland Raider Henry Lawrence sang our national anthem prior to his old team’s Oct. 16 game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, he impressed many people with his poignant performance during pre-game ceremonies honoring the late Al Davis.
Among them was the wife of John Madden, the NFL Hall of Fame coach and icon.
Virginia Madden told her husband’s former right offensive tackle and three-time Super Bowl champion it was the finest rendition of the national anthem she had ever heard.

Faye Blackstone’s posthumous induction into the county’s Agricultural Hall of Fame generated fond memories for all who knew and loved her.
Take Buddy Keen, a rancher whose family owns orange groves in Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties.
"One morning we were saddling horses in the barn and I accidentally hit her," he recalled. "She came around and said, ‘Son, let me show you how to saddle a horse.’"
No fooling.
This was a woman who rode a horse for more than 90 years, was the featured act in Gene Autry’s Wild West Rodeo, and is enshrined in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.

Go-kart racer Morgan Healey’s recent success would’ve made Dan Wheldon proud.
The Saint Stephen’s School freshman, who was mentored by the late British racing driver at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, took second in the Rotax Junior Florida Karting Championship Series and was also voted Most Improved out of 200 drivers.
Wheldon, who had a home in St. Petersburg, was killed in last month’s Las Vegas IndyCar 300.

Read more Friday in Vin's People at

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving looking good already

Thanksgiving is still a couple of days away and already it's looking good.

Thanks to my mother-in-law.

Sherri and I hosted the family for the traditional feast last year and we're doing the honors again.

Maybe it's because we have a pool.

Anyway, my mother-in-law is taking care of the turkey while we're handling the sides and dessert.

But Sue Manring dropped off a little something ahead of time.

A case of Coors Light.

It was on the kitchen floor when Sherri and I got home Monday evening.

We looked at each other.

"Mom," my wife said.

Usually, when the family comes over for an afternoon at the pool and a barbecue, we spring for the beverages, too.

This time my mother-in-law beat us to it.

Don't misunderstand though.

Sue usually has a couple of beers and that's it.

Regardless, when Sherri called her mom to say thanks for the nice surprise, Sue gave explicit instructions for yours truly about getting those Silver Bullets cold ASAP.

"Make sure the mountains are blue," she said.

Gotta love my mother-in-law.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Save commissioners' prayers for Sunday

Pray or don’t pray.

That’s a vexing issue facing the Manatee County Commission.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation from Madison, Wis., has requested our esteemed commissioners cease prayers before their weekly commission meetings.

Unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive.

That’s what a foundation attorney called the practice.

Expensive, too, he might’ve added.

If this turns into a lawsuit, that will not go over well with Manatee County taxpayers.

The commissioners want to fight to pray?

Don’t do it on our dime.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Playoffs already? Where'd season go?

That our high school football playoffs start Friday night makes me wonder about one thing:


Seems like just last week I was at Palmetto's kickoff classic against visiting Venice that was postponed due to lightning, then drove down to Manatee to catch its preseason tuneup against visiting American Heritage of Delray Beach.

Ditto for Southeast's kickoff classic against visiting Fort Myers and the Noles' subsequent season opener against Largo.

Boy, the regular season sure flies by, all right.

It happens every year.

You get psyched for those Friday night lights -- or Thursday night lights -- and, whoosh! it's over before you know it.

So we get to savor it a few more weeks.

The pre-game pageantry and marching bands at halftime.

Reveling in big plays and high-fiving friends after our team scores.

Going out after the game for beer and wings.

Those Friday night lights sure are fun.

Here's hoping the home teams who are in the dance keep it going.

All the way to Orlando.

Props for Southeast High's FFA chapter

Big ups to Mike Buckley and Southeast High School’s FFA Chapter.

Out of more than 650 programs nationwide, SEHS was selected as the three-star winner in the National FFA Chapter Award program at the 84th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis last month.
Southeast FFA president Andrew Merrill and VP Wyatt Fulghum (pictured with Buckley, l-r) were also on hand to accept the honor — the highest level of accomplishment a chapter may achieve.

"This is a big deal," said Buckley, the school's FFA advisor for 17 years. "It shows the high level of proficiency these kids attained. They aim for it every year. It’s like getting to the Final Four."

Formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, the National FFA Organization has more than 500,000 student members in nearly 7,500 chapters preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.

Those are the sounds of wedding bells Saturday for Ballard Elementary fifth-grade teacher Amber Whirtley and Jessee Hatch, who will marry Saturday at Bishop Planetarium. Her late grandmother, Norma Lloyd, will be there in spirit.

Speaking of wedding bells, former Manatee Sugar ‘Cane Lindsay Smith and former Marching ‘Cane drum major Steven Hussey say “I do” Saturday in Venice.

John and Jacquelyn Flinn are bragging on son, Colby, who won first in the Florida BASS Federation Nation non-boater category at Kissimmee's Lake Toho. The 17-year-old caught nine live bass for a winning total of 25.07 pounds, topping a field of 54 anglers.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wanted: Local dogs for Guinness record try

Phoenix is one handy dog, said owner Trisha Antonelli.

The 2-year-old Red Heeler/German Shepherd mix picks up trash.

He gathers recyclables.

He retrieves his PVC agility equipment and loads it into her car.

He doesn’t drive, though.

“But he thinks he can,” said the 31-year-old trainer.

Phoenix will be asked to do something simple yet significant on Nov. 19.

Community dog owners are invited to the Animal Network’s Canine Christmas Festival 2011 on the Bishop SPCA Animal Shelter grounds. There they will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for Most Dogs Doing Sit/Stay.

The record is 100.

They want 101 — or more.

Read more Tuesday on

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thank PETA for Mullet Smoke-Off publicity

Got an idea for the Terra Ceia Village Improvement Association membership.

Send a thank you note to Dave Byer, manager of corporate affairs with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for the free publicity.

Wrap it around a smoked mullet, too.

After the crazy flap over the traditional mullet toss at its annual Mullet Smoke-Off, the Terra Ceia fundraiser is bound to enjoy a boffo turnout next Saturday.

Smoke that, PETA!

Though a lifelong animal lover, I’m usually ambivalent about the animal rights organization.

The issue they raised years ago about wearing fur had a major influence on our society.

I get that.

But not this.

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Score one for ex-Hurricane in Afghanistan

Marine Capt. Doug Schofield, a 1991 Manatee High grad and former Hurricane, made a friendly wager in Afghanistan with Matt Hick, a 2004 Venice High alum and hospital corpsman second class.
When the Hurricanes and Indians squared off in their Class 7A-District 10 showdown Oct. 21 at Hawkins Stadium, the grad from the losing school had to wear the other’s school T-shirt.
Manatee won 52-19 and clinched the district title.
So Hick wore the shirt.
It reads “Manatee Special Forces.”

Good to hear Bill Crusselle is back as general manager at River Wilderness Golf and Country Club. Bill was GM from 1996 to 1999, then held similar posts at clubs and resorts in Florida and Arizona.
A graduate of FSU’s school of hospitality and a devoted Seminole fan, Bill liked to joke, “All I learned at FSU was the Seminole chop — and I don’t mean sirloin.”
He and wife Mary Jane moved back to their home in Parrish.

A camera crew was on hand the other morning filming Pastor Joe Connolly while he celebrated Mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs.
It’s for TV so shut-ins can observe Mass at home if they’re unable to attend church during Advent.
How convenient, I told the good padre.
Especially if they fast forward through his homily and cut their Mass time in half.
Father Joe gave me a look I remember well from all those times I spent in the principal’s office during parochial school.

Read more Friday in Vin's People on

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's showtime for new Sugar 'Canes director

Vicky Duquette’s day is like that of so many working moms.

Up at 5 a.m., work by 7 a.m., driving kids to soccer practice, making dinner, helping with homework, etc.

“Busy, busy, busy,” said the 38-year-old physical therapist assistant and married mother of three. “It’s non-stop.”

Yet at that moment Duquette was involved in something that made her day wholly unique.

Fine tuning a dance number by 24 Manatee High School Sugar ‘Canes practicing for Saturday night’s Mr. Sugar ‘Cane Show at the school’s new Davis Building Performing Arts Theater.

“Linda Boone said it’s almost like putting on a wedding, but I’m up for the challenge,” Duquette said.

Boone would know, having done 25 of the fashion and dance shows as Sugar ‘Canes director.

Lori O’Leary, her successor, did four.

Now it’s Duquette’s turn.

Read more Thursday in