Tuesday, July 31, 2012

. . .an interesting factoid

I somehow, very much by accident, learned that yesterday (July 30th) was the 47th anniversary of Medicare.

I thought, "that's cool. A government program that really does work to help people."
And maybe, if I live long enough, in another half dozen years I'll get some too.

But that's not the interesting part.
In the picture, LBJ is signing Medicare into law and at the table with him is former president Harry S. Truman.

The "interesting factoid" is that once LBJ had signed Medicare into law, he gave Truman the first ever
Medicare card.

I just thought that was cool.

Monday, July 30, 2012

sittin' pretty

Every once in a while, I get my head out of my day-to-day, smell the cornflowers, look around and remember where I'm sittin'.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

dog bight

One of the ingredients necessary for living a laid back life in Key West is acceptance of it's quirky diversity.
Spend a few hours at Schooner Wharf Bar and you'd never know if the person on the stool beside you is a millionaire or a working stiff. Whether the guy at the juke box is a circuit judge or a sea captain or if that good looking girl, winking at you from across the bar, is really a female or a drag queen.

Just outside, the bight is an eclectic collection of historic sailing ships, luxury yachts, forty year old fishing boats and carolina skiffs. The yachts are guided to their overpriced slips by the Harbor Pilot but for the smaller boats, "Sparkie", the family dog will do.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"today's the day"

On this day (July 20) in 1985, diver and treasure hunter,
Mel Fisher found what he had been looking for for 16 years.

The Spanish galleon, Nuestra Senora de Atocha sank some 34 miles west-southwest off the coast of Key West during a hurricane in 1622.

On it's annual return sail from Havana, Cuba to Cadiz, Spain the Atocha went down in the storm along with 260 passengers and crew, more than 40 tons of silver and gold, 100,000 "pieces of eight" (Spanish coins), Columbian emeralds, silver and gold artifacts and over 1000 silver bars.
A combined treasure estimated at $450 million dollars.

Mel Fisher and his wife Deo

 That, after all those years of searching, "The Atocha Motherlode," is some of what Mel Fisher found. And still, it was only half of what went down with the Atocha.
The wealthiest part of the ship, the stern castle, still hasn't been found.
The ginormity of the Atocha's treasure was staggering and the Fisher crew named the site of the wreck, "The Bank of Spain".

Still, those rich rewards did not come without a price.
Those 16 years of diving excursions cost Mel over $20 million dollars and the life of his eldest son.
That had to hurt. (parents are not supposed to outlive their children).
Still, Mel Fisher soldiered on somehow, starting every day with his now famous rallying cry,
"Today's the Day!"

Then finally on July 20, 1985 Mel got the call from another of his sons on marine radio,  
"Dad, put away the charts. We've got the Mother Lode!"
Had Mel Fisher's dream come true and had he just become a very wealthy man?

Not so much. . .

Just after the Atocha find, the governments of the United States and State of Florida laid claim to the wreck (the pricks) and it was looking like the treasure Mel and his family had hoped and dreamed and worked so hard to find would never be theirs.
And so began another 8 years and $4 million in legal battles until the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, finally granted Mel and his family complete ownership of the Atocha wreck and its treasures.

Mel Fisher became known as the "World's Greatest 
Treasure Hunter."

Mel Fisher (Aug. 21, 1922 – Dec. 19, 1998)

Mel Fisher had a dream that took him damned near 25 years to realize.
Somehow we've got to admire his perseverance and optimism.

We all have dreams.
Sometimes they're cloudy, sometimes they're crystal clear.
Sometimes they seem just within reach and sometimes they seem hopeless.

The thing to do is take a page from Mel Fisher's book.
Keep an eye on the prize, soldier on and wake up every morning thinking, "Today's the Day".

Monday, July 16, 2012

thought for food

 Before I get into todays rant, a shout out for good friend, soul brother and saxophonist extrodinairé, Marty Stonely who was hit by a car while walking a dog last week.

By all reports he's suffered a concussion but other than that (as if that isn't enough) he's got no broken bones and will recover nicely.

My prayers are out there for you my friend.

Thought for Food. . .
Some people live to eat, I eat to live.

For the most part, I keep a pretty short leash on my diet.
It's not and never has been a weight thing, I've been 160 lbs. since I was in high school.
(back when we wrote on stone tablets)

It's just that I've learned, over the years, more about nutrition and, more personally, what this mortal coil will enjoy and digest without any grief.

For example, I limit myself to only two cups of coffee in the morning (which, if you knew me when I was younger, it would be an "are you kidding, no way!!")

I make one hell of a green smoothie from
blueberries, bananas and spinach and a vegetable stew that, I've heard from friends I've shared it with, is to die for.
(yeah, I cook - sue me)
 There's not a lot of meat in my diet but for fish, usually Grouper or Snapper, I eat a garden salad every day and I do love my oatmeal.

I know not to eat greasy stuff (I learned that one the hard way a lot of years ago).
And like I said, it's never been about weight, it's all about feelin' alright.

I do the best I can but I'm the first to admit, that as good as I try to keep at it, I ain't no saint.

Every few months I'll stray from the nutritional path, and go over to Willie T's for a bacon cheeseburger.

  A couple of years ago I got on a kick for Cheetos.  . .

Last year it was Pepperige Farm cookies. . .

 . . .and just recently it was the all time favorite breakfast cereal of my childhood, CocoaPuffs.

 In every instance my body says, "what the hell is wrong with you man?"
Then, after the immediate gratification, there are several days of intestinal grief.

You'd think I'd know better by now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

friends in high places

 Show me a high place and I'm goin' up there!

In New York. . .
The Empire State Building, the World Trade Center,
the Statue of Liberty.

In Key West, (where stuff isn't half that high). . .
the look-out tower over the shipwreck museum, the lighthouse and the La Concha Hotel.

I don't have a problem with heights (although before I start moving up, my progressive lens glasses have to come off - somehow they scramble my sense of balance).
And I don't have a fear of falling but it's that sudden stop at the bottom that bugs me a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, I was coming away from a lunch date at Finnegan's Wake Irish Pub (really good eats) on the corner of James Street and Grinnell and the multi-level parking lot across the street grabbed my eye. I don't remember how many levels it is (maybe 4 or 5) and it's surely not the highest height in Key West but, the top lot was "up there" and I had to go have a look; so off came my glasses, I hung 'em over the collar of the Green Parrot T-shirt I was wearing and I started climbing stairs.

What I found when I got up top of that high place were my two old friends; the broad blue sky and a view of the horizon.

 Looking East

Looking West

Thursday, July 5, 2012

two for the price of one

I thought, for sure, that last night's July 4th fireworks display would be rained out.
I mean, from late yesterday afternoon until probably well after I went to bed around midnight, it was raining like holy hell.
But I was wrong.

 Right around 9pm came the boom boom - flash flash of fireworks. I'd again underestimated the indefatigable spirit of my fellow Key Westers.

So true to form and being still young enough at heart to be lured by colourful events, I was compelled to break out my umbrella and troddle out to the middle of my street in the pouring rain (wearing my flip flops and cargo shorts but naked from the waist up) to watch the goings on.
My thought as I walked out from under the roof of my bone porch was, "you knucklehead, you're gonna get soaked!"

. . .And I did. But as I saw, so did neighbors  Tonya, Annie, Nick, and the new couple up the street whom I haven't yet.

The fireworks display was first rate and many of us, around town, chipped in to help make sure it would be. But as I stood out there in the rain watching the show, in between the impressive "rockets red glare" and "bombs bursting in air" were the booms of thunder and flashes of lightening that lit the sky like no man-made contrivance can.

It was like mother nature was asking, "yo dudes, is that all you've got?"
Another example that nothing man-kind does, trumps nature.

 But for those of us who helped feed the kitty for the fireworks display, I thought, "we got two fireworks displays for the price of one". 

*By the way, these are not my pictures, I picked them up off the internet to help make my point.