One Year In Florida

ducks for blog

THE DUCKS THINK THIS BRIDGE WILL TAKE THEM ACROSS THE BORDER TO CANADA. 

As of Aug. 1, I’ve been a Florida resident for one full year! Driver’s license, car registration, voter registration, all accomplished within the first couple of months. Survived my first hurricane, too. Last week, I signed a lease renewal. Small rent increase, now will pay $699 a month. And my typical electric bill is around $46. Zero commuting time and distance.

Won’t try to write a full account of the year, but if I did, it wouldn’t be long. Compared with the first nine months of 2017, which included putting my financial house in order and removing myself from Maryland to Florida, the past 12 months have been a walk in the park.

I met the neighbors in the other three apartments on my floor. Three lone individuals, like me. I speak to one of them nearly every day. Big improvement over the $900 basement apartment in wealthy Montgomery County, where my neighbors were the storage room, the trash room, and the laundry room.

I soon discovered two excellent public libraries and one big bookstore with excellent discounts. And I tried a few churches. Like everyone else, I shop at Publix supermarket and Walmart. Four cheap restaurants are nearby. They meet my need for simple food and ambiance. But I eat in the apartment a lot. I know where to recycle newspapers and aluminum cans, but not plastic bottles.

Each apartment has its own air conditioner outside. My unit died in early July. No problem. Apartment management installed a window unit to tide me over two days while a new outside air conditioner was installed. It is powerful and efficient. Inside air temperature is NOT a problem, I can assure you! The outdoor temperature, humidity and rain in summer, that’s another story. Don’t even want to talk about it.

You have not seen lightning until you’ve lived in the Tampa Bay region.

Full disclosure requires me to report that I turned 70 in June. I’ve been aging at an alarming rate the past few years. Sleep too much. I accomplished the move to Florida on adrenaline fumes. Did it in the nick of time; not sure I’d be able to manage such a feat five years hence.

Truth is, I’m well on the way to becoming a cynical old man. Possibly I’ve already arrived. If a man isn’t cynical at this point, he just hasn’t been paying attention.

The move to Florida was necessary, and possibly life-saving. I escaped the nasty winter cold and the impoverishing Montgomery County cost of living. I haven’t had bronchitis since departing Maryland. Here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I survive nicely and balance my budget. And that’s enough honesty for one blog post.

— John

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God Has A Tiger By The Tail

It’s as if God has a tiger by the tail.

Do you feel like the world is spinning out of control? That the center cannot hold? Or that the universe is spinning so fast it will self-destruct by centrifugal force? Or some other, as yet unidentified, force? 

The scary thoughts I’m having at the end of one bad year and the start of an unknowable New Year were sparked by seeing the movie, “Star Wars.” However, this witches’ brew has been bubbling in my brain for some time.

Change comes fast and furious, and I wonder if we are near a convergence of forces that could bring on catastrophic change. I’m flashing on the Age of Aquarius, but this is not what hippies and free thinkers were hoping for in 1967-1969.

Think about it. All Black Swan scenarios are on the table.

War.

Global warming.

Technology off the leash.

Government. Or worse, the absence of government.

Economic collapse.

Social upheaval.

Mass migration(s).

Epidemics or pandemic.

Water scarcity.

Starvation.

Revolution.

Fascism.

Anarchy.

Chaos.

“Star Wars” is a brilliant, futuristic story of the battle between Good and Evil. The Light side and the Dark side.

(Aside: Does Star Wars glamorize war?  Don’t worry, this won’t be on the final exam.)

Back to the battle. Is it a battle between Good and Evil, or between God and Satan? I suppose it depends on whether you have a religious point of view, or a secular point of view.

Maybe it’s not a battle so much between Good and Evil, but rather, a battle between Truth and Lie. Or Truth and Illusion?

In 21st century political discourse, we have difficulty agreeing on facts. Maybe it’s a battle between Fact and Falsehood? Or Fact and Ignorance? Love and Fear?  These are some of my disorderly thoughts at the turn of the year, questions sparked by Star Wars. I should not wade too far into philosophy or theology, lest I be in over my head.

That’s enough uncensored thinking for the first day of the year.

What say you? A tiger by the tail? Spinning out of control?

— John Hayden

December Sunshine @ The Beach

pine tree on bdwk

Seventy degrees in December! It’s not unheard of in Maryland, although normal temps would be in the 40s during the day, maybe 30s at night.

But throughout the northern U.S.? Seventy degrees in December in Chicago? Temperature records are being broken in some places. Winter’s off to a mild start. (Reality check: Don’t get too excited. Winter doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 21.)  I’m trying not to be complacent. A blizzard might slap us in the face when we least expect it.

December is always a variable month here in Maryland. We rarely get snow before Christmas. But we don’t often enjoy 70 degrees, either. The photo above was taken a few days ago at the south end of the Ocean City boardwalk. Too bad there’s not many people here to enjoy it, except us year-rounders.

Seventy in December. Global warming? You think?

— John Hayden