Showing 1 - 10 of 11 posts found matching keyword: florida

One week ago today, a small wildfire approached my father's house in Fountain, Florida. (It's an ironic name in hindsight.) The fire ignited several bales of hay he had just that morning stored in his pole barn. The barn stood no more than 20 yards from his house and no more than 100 yards from the entrance to his cattle pen. Naturally, Dad called the fire department then jumped into action with a garden hose.

How's that for the start of a dramatic story? I'll go ahead and tell you up front that the fire department put out the fire, and the house was saved. That's not what this blog post is about.

I wasn't there at the time, but as I hear it, armed agents of the Bay County Emergency Department arrived before the fire trucks did. And the officers, rather than jump in and help, ordered Dad to put down his hose and let the fire burn. I'll give them the benefit of doubt and assume that they wanted to "protect" Dad, not "serve" the fire. Dad didn't see it that way. He had called for help to extinguish the flames not for a group of spectators to the destruction of his property. So he refused to comply.

You can see where this is going now, can't you?

When father, who moved to middle-of-nowhere Florida to get away from authority figures, said he wouldn't put his hose down until the firemen arrived, the police attempted to arrest him. Note the use of the word "attempted" in the previous sentence. Dad didn't make it easy for them. For what it's worth, I'm led to believe no actual punches were thrown, but there was certainly something of a scuffle as the police tried to drag a 72-year-old man away from a fire.

Personally, I think Dad's reaction was understandable. After all, he believed his property and his livelihood was being threatened. Understandable, I say, but also unwise. Sometimes your best option is to let the world burn.

When the Bay County fire department finally arrived, Dad was unable to see it. He was sitting far away, handcuffed, in the back of a police cruiser. And he stayed in the back of that police cruiser for the five or so hours it took them to put the fire out. (I should say put it *mostly* out. It would flare up again the next day on the neighbor's property and the fire department would be called back to complete the job.)

As I already said, the house was fine. The animals were fine. And Dad was released from the police car eventually and allowed to go home where he was now, presumably, safe. An inconvenience, sure, but at least a happy ending. Right? Wrong.

Four days later, the Bay County Sheriff's Department returned and served a warrant their fellow officer had sworn out against my father for the crimes of Preventing or Obstructing Extinguishment of Fire (Florida Code Chapter 806.10) and Resisting Arrest with Violence (843.01), both Third Degree Felonies. They served the warrant one hour after court closed for the day, ensuring he would spend at least one night in jail until bond could be set the next afternoon. What nice guys, I say sarcastically.

Dad is now home — again — after paying a non-refundable 10% of the $6,500 bond to a bail bondsman. He's facing considerably more in lawyers fees to argue against a 10 year prison sentence. All because he panicked when the cops he didn't call demanded that he not try to save his own house from a wildfire.

If there's a lesson here, it's don't ask for help in Bay County, Florida. Either way, you're going to get burned.

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In general, I've never been a big music fan. In specific, I've never really cared for Prince, who died yesterday at 57. However, I do want to go on record as saying that I think Prince might have been one of the best performers in the history of pop music.

I saw him in concert only once. That once was nine years ago, at the halftime performance of Superbowl XLI on February 5, 2007. In addition to being Peyton Manning's first championship, it was also the first Super Bowl played in the rain.

Conditions were miserable. There was no warmth in Miami that evening. The rain was cold and steady, penetrating the ponchos that most of the crowd were wearing. The wind cut straight to the bone. Honestly, it was the least comfortable I'd ever been in a football stadium. I suspect that most of the nearly 75,000 people in attendance shared my opinion.

Of course, it didn't help that there wasn't much entertainment to take our attention away from the foul weather. Cirque Du Soleil was a terrible pregame act, bringing out some acrobats to do whatever acrobats do. Two note to future programmers: 1) it's impossible to see what a single acrobat is doing on the 20 yard line, and 2) football fans don't care about acrobats.

The game, when we got to it, wasn't much better. The Chicago Bears — and especially their hapless quarterback, Rex Grossman — were terribly outclassed by Manning's Indianapolis Colts. The Bears took an early lead, but then ran out of gas. Though it took a while for the score board to catch up, the game was a rout.

Honestly, by halftime, I was considering walking out of the stadium and calling it a night. When the public address announcer asked the fans to reach under their seats and light the small LED flashlights we were given, I said no. Enough was enough. Then Prince came to my rescue.

They assembled the stage at midfield and poof! Prince appeared in a cloud of smoke with his electric guitar — in the rain! He proceeded to put on one hell of an invigorating performance. He demanded that we clap, and we clapped. He told us to sing along, and we sang along. He closed, fittingly, with Purple Rain, and it rained. It was exactly what we needed to hear. It turned a disasterous outing into a night to remember.

So, while I've never owned a Prince album or seen Graffiti Bridge, I do recognize that the world lost someone special yesterday. Thanks, Prince.

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To reach my father's house in Florida, I have to drive past several tourist traps advertising a myriad of Florida-related specialties like orange juice, boiled peanuts, and pornography. The advertisement that keeps catching my eye is the sign for alligator jerky. On my latest trip to Dad's house, I could resist it no more.

I suppose Alligator Al barbecues a mean buffalo

I knew I'd been suckered almost as soon as I walked inside the little country store and asked for the advertised jerky. "It's right there beside the kangaroo and ostrich jerky," the clerk explained helpfully. I'm not intimately familiar with all parts of Florida, but I don't think they have many kangaroo farms. However, I was already in the store, so I bought the jerky anyway.

I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got didn't taste anything like chicken. It tasted like spicy barbecued beef. If you could read that label, you'd see why: it's alligator "and beef" with barbecue flavor. To be fair, alligator is listed as the first ingredient, but if you can taste the gator over the spicy barbecue sauce, you're a better gourmand than me.

The label held another surprise. The jerky was manufactured by a company in Michigan, Zick's Specialty Meats. Michigan is nowhere near Florida, and though I've never been there, I don't recall hearing that Michigan was overflowing with kangaroos either. I wonder what types of jerky their roadside signs advertise?

So I learned my lesson. The next time I fall for one of those roadside Florida signs, it'll be for something I'm already familiar with: the pornography.

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While working, I tend to have the television on but the sound off. Occasionally, I look up and read the closed captioning to see if I'm missing anything. On Saturday night, I looked up and saw this:

It's a better name than Happy Feet

That's Atlanta's "11 Alive" 11PM newscast referencing the Georgia Bulldogs' basketball opponents. It's a good things the Bulldogs won. It'd be embarrassing to lose to a bunch of "Florida Gay Toes" in Athens.

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Georgia lost to Florida, putting the Bulldog's chance of winning the SEC East into jeopardy. To soothe my troubled psyche, I traveled deep into the soul of my tormentor. By which I mean that I went to the beach.

View from my balcony on the 7th floor of the Beachcomber By The Sea

Panama City Beach, to be specific. It's the beginning of the off-season in PCB. That means no crowds, great rates, and cold weather. Brr.

Mom doesn't like having her picture taken

The weather was so bad — cold and windy — the annual Ironman triathlon canceled its swimming portion. So you can look, but don't touch that beautiful blue water. It's iced over.

My sunset doesn't look like this back home

Of course, all this natural beauty didn't do much to make me forget about UGA's loss. But it did make sorrow easier on my eyes.

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Fifty years ago, Florida was ranked #9 headed into the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. UGA would go on to win 14-7, and more importantly, Steve Spurrier was publicly embarrassed.

The above picture ran in the November 10, 1964, issue of UGA's Red and Black newspaper. Reading the old newspapers, you get the impression that the students of UGA were more concerned about football players cutting in line at the cafeteria, drunks at Sanford Stadium, and supporting Barry Goldwater than they were interested in new coach Vince Dooley leading the Bulldogs to their first winning season in four years. It seems that there's more to life on campus than just football. Who knew?

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Woo-hoo! Dolphins start the 2014 season with a come-from-behind win againt the Patriots. I'm giving the credit to Knowshon Mareno, a Georgia Dawg making his debut with Miami. He was every bit as good today as he was in Athens. Good Dawg!

I watched the game from my father's new house in Fountain, Florida. It's the first time I've seen the Dolphins win in their native state. It's a nice change of pace.

I had previously predicted that the Dolphins wouldn't reach 8 wins this season. Hopefully, they'll prove me wrong. Given that they've already beaten their division rival that has won the AFC East each year for most of the past decade, it's a promising start.

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Kicking off 2014 in style:

Nebraska 24, UGA 19

Georgia saved their worst for last, playing terribly in the 2014 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl against Nebraska. We beat the Cornhuskers 45-31 last year. This year, our offense could barely manage a single touchdown amid a flurry of field goals, losing 24-19 after a series of blown defensive plays and dropped passes. A Florida fan took pity on me in a Winn-Dixie after the game, and that's pretty bad considering that his team finished 4-8.

Walter sat here

This was the first bowl game I'd ever been to, but like most of my trips to Florida, it rained the whole time. The fans from both teams were in a great mood, and the people in Jacksonville were very welcoming. Despite the weather and the play on the field, I had a pretty good time and remain willing to go to another bowl game sometime in the future.

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Earlier this year, my father bought something like 40 acres in Fountain, Florida. He bought a camper so that he could sleep on the land while he worked on cleaning it up. Yesterday, his carefully laid plains went up in smoke.

It seems that Dad was clearing some brush with Prometheus' good friend, fire, when things got a little out of control. Soon his camper and his van were burnt to ruin, along with everything inside of them. By 5PM, the only things still intact were Dad and a rake.

I want to be a Fire Marshall for Halloween

A good Samaritan named Al lent Dad his cell phone so that Dad could call me to rush out on a 484-mile round trip to recover him to Georgia. It was my first trip to Dad's property. Too bad it was all in the dark.

I arrived in Fountain shortly after 11PM EST (10PM local time) to find the Fire Marshall still on the scene, looking for evidence to prove his theory that Dad had been cooking crystal meth. I'm sorry I wasn't there earlier, I could have saved that man a lot of trouble. Dad might do a lot of crazy things, but he's far too lazy to cook crystal meth.

This is the worst episode of Breaking Bad yet

Dad was a little worked up over being accused of making drugs in his electricity-free trailer in the woods that had just burnt up in a mysterious fire. He insisted that we drive straight back to Georgia once the Marshall let us go. I hadn't eaten anything since 2PM, so I stopped at a 24-hour McDonald's in Eufaula, Alabama. If a McDonald's hamburger doesn't taste great after you've fasted for 14 hours, it isn't ever going to taste great. Therefore, I can definitively say that a McDonald's hamburger is never going to taste great.

All in all, it could have been much worse. Dad's alive and I don't have to hear about how awesome it's going to be for him to camp out on his land in Florida anymore. I'll consider that a fair trade for my time.

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried a report yesterday about a Florida woman who wants to change her 4-year-old son's name, currently Spurrier Urban Wiley, now that former University of Florida coach Urban Meyer is the coach for Ohio State University. Everything about this story can and should be used as an argument for why no one should ever let their friends attend the University of Florida.

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To be continued...

 

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