Sunday, May 1, 2016

Front Street

For the last week of April, and as far as I know the last week of access to my preferred photo storage at Picasaweb here are a few of some black and white pictures I took playing around Wall Street and Front Street near Mallory Square.
Google is transitioning photo storage to Google Pics and I have been trying to figure out a work around to the closing of Picasa. I think I may be able to avoid switching to the Wordpress page I have set up. In my opinion Wordpress tries to offer too many options and choices and as a result I find it labor intensive and slow to import pictures and set up self publishing of essays and so forth. Also I am not fond of the page layout, you can see my back up HERE but for now it is just a place holder. I think I have found a way to get pictures out of my phone and onto this page without Picasa. I am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing has to change.
Dust catchers galore:
Fitpatrick Street, where they sell Kino sandals.
The Custom House on Front Street is built in the Federal style (think snowy Canadian border) and was nearly demolished after it fell into disrepair. Had the guardians of Old Town Beauty been in charge at the Historic Architecture Review Commission it would probably have been replaced with something in concrete and glass. As it is it flourishes as a very worthy and enjoyable art and history depository for the city. Well worth a visit.
I am over Seward Johnson's larger than life statues in front of the building but young Rusty was quite put off by the presence of an immobile elderly woman loaded down with groceries. He was having nothing to do with her.
The people kissing are clearly a little over sized but the shopper looks quite natural in this picture:
Picturesque Key West, Wall Street next to Mallory Square.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Moon Set Over Ramrod

It was a fantastic opportunity to enjoy what may be one of the last cool fronts of the winter. Rusty was delighted to enjoy the cool north breeze blowing over the islands. 

The crisp air cleared the skies and we got the benefit of a sunrise to the east with an almost full moon setting to the west ( obviously). 

It's these moments that transition me from a night at work to my reward asleep in bed.

The transition starts when I leave the 911 center and enjoy a half ride home in the dark. Rusty's greeting is always over the top. He waits for me at the top of the stairs and ambushes me with leaps and kisses and toothy rubs on my cheeks while he desperately paws my chest. Then we get in the car and look for a place to walk. 

Like this. 







An excellent way to end the day. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

You Aren't What You Eat

I've been forced to spend much of my life arguing Nature versus Nurture. I grew up in a family where I was the odd child out. It turned out only half my genes came from that family unit. The other half from who-knows-who, a man, a name, a shadowy memory. Perhaps he was the wanderer filled with curiosity because I was born into a family of people who never moved from home. Why was I born a wanderer? 

I moved to a country where self-realization is the key to a happy life. If you are poor or unhappy or lost in America, it's all your fault. You do the unthinkable here, you pull yourself up by your bootstraps; even if my Crocs had bootstraps I know not how to pull myself up by my shoes. I imagine impoverished Hungarian immigrants in a jerky black and white movie hopping around the Bowery bent double clutching their bootstraps in an effort to get ahead. But like all the myths the image only makes sense Shen you know what was behind it. 

To imagine that our Fate lies in the stars is a popular form of myth and people study horoscopes with the intensity they should bring to studying politics of how to drive a car with panache. A horoscope makes sense to a human overwhelmed by the world but in daily living it makes no sense at all, but it makes life seem easier, so... And yet it seems to me the people who tell us they want to live a long life, thus they ponder what they eat find themselves in the territory of that other myth, the one that says you are what you eat. This one too seeks to make sense of a world out of control. 

An acquaintance, an angry atheist called Doug, once asked a religious person in a debate among travelers (we were sailing through Mexico) why is there a God if we have genes? The question seems odd at first glance but the more I thought about it the more profound became the implications. Faced with a physical trainer who espouses wheat juice and raw food for longevity and health I find the question of genetics even more profound. 

None of us wants to be helpless even though in large measure we are, but once you accept the role of genetics the idea Fate plays a role in your life becomes impossible to ignore. When I watched my mother die of a powerful brain tumor I was certain I would not outlive her 49 years by much if at all. Generations of her family died young. Yet here I am much to my surprise pushing sixty without a care in the world. I have a little arthritis in my left thumb, which being left handed comes as no surprise to the doctor who diagnosed it. Wear and tear he said to the man who spent a lifetime holding a pen, shifting motorcycle levers and pushing back against life with his left hand. 

That I have genes does not preclude me from taking a hand in maintaining myself for the long haul. I have health insurance so I follow preventative health care protocols, I have taken to exercising fiercely with a man whose view of life involves very little science apparently. A belief in eating well is balanced by a belief in psychic nonsense, a man who has no curiosity about the world outside Old Town but who cares deeply how he is viewed in Facebook, that random window on the world outside. He hates my politics and loves my determination to do the exercises exactly as prescribed. He is a paradox, he is human. 

I don't think exercise will help me necessarily to live longer but I think it will make the time left better. I will ride a motorcycle longer and I will keep my bones stronger and I will be able I hope to keep my mind engaged. But I don't think that whatever is preparing to kill me will be put off by a diet of celery and kale. 

Moderation helps I think, and common sense combined with curiosity and the ability to tamp down fear. Fear is at the heart of our irrational selves and that in the end trumps nature and nurture. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Boca Chica Bridge

Men in high visibility clothing have been seen for more than a year shuffling around on Highway One between the Keys called  Big Coppitt and Stock Island and they have finally completed a bunch of paving so the roadway is smooth and flat and black, with all new striping and reflectors. Very nice it is too.
Overseas Highway
They have also created a walkway under the four lane bridge to allow anglers access to the waters on both sides of the Overseas Highway. It's been here for a while but it was only on a recent lunch break that I made the time to ride the Bonneville to the bridge and take a walk.
Overseas Highway
The walkway is lined with stout aluminum railing to make it difficult if not impossible to topple into the water whether you are on foot or on a bicycle.
US Highway One, Florida
I passed a bicycle underneath the bridge parked next to a supine body on a blanket. I wonder at the boredom and misery and loneliness of homeless-ness. I don't think I would survive on the streets. 
Other than the sleeper and a couple of small boats anchored while fishing I was alone with my camera.
Boca Chica Bridge, Key West
I have downloaded a two dollar application for my iPhone to clean up pictures and I used it to removed glare and background lights for the picture below. It was simple enough yet an interesting process. I may use it again, and again. The false promise of photography: it looks like an accurate reproduction of a scene but the photograph is easily manipulated.
Boca Chica Bridge, Key West
The lights in the background in the picture below are from the Boca Chica Navy Base across the water:
The road is well traveled and the four lanes help move traffic into and out of the city. Most drivers have very little skill passing on two lane roads so the drive from Big Coppitt to Bahia Honda offers no easy passing. As a result this stretch is an important place for people get to past the slow pokes. 
US Highway 1
Underneath the bridge the rumble of cars was unbearably loud. How the homeless guy slept I don't know. perhaps her didn't but it was too dark to tell.
US Overseas Highway
I'm glad I finally got out here and took a walk. I'll come back during daylight before too long. Perhaps there won't be people sleeping then. Under bridges...in the richest country in the world...and the most religious. Humanity is paradox.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Frita's

I've wanted to try this place for a while and the word is that it's good. For some time I have been enjoying the cheaper end of the dining scene in Key West and I think it's better value, often than the all-frills-included eateries. In short: I had high hopes.
Complete lack of pretension on Southard Street between Duval and Whitehead. Frita's Cuban Burgers Note the menu page I've linked to is rather oddly laid out but continuous scrolling will get you to the good stuff at the bottom of the page.
I met my main man JW, a former dispatcher now working elsewhere for the city in some amorphous department that gives him evenings and weekends off. When he worked with me on nights in dispatch we used to joke about how night shift was Sparta! but now the joke's on him as he is some day shift bugger. 
When we decided to have lunch we both suggested Frita's as the place. JW is a Conch so he had his Frita Burger traditional style while I pursued my goal of eating eggs with my burgers while trying not to make a mess. I did pretty well. These things are absurd. They are a patty of pork and beef mixed and there is chorizo in there with additional spices, so they may be Cuban burgers but they are far from bland. I like Cuban food but generally its very Caribbean and not at all Mexican, which is to say food is served at face value with no sauces or much spiciness. These things are very different. If I call them burgers you won't get the right idea at all. Inaddition to the spices and tangy  sauce they come with shoe string fries made  in the shop and they taste remarkably good. 
I should have ordered some fried yucca which I love or plantains or something but there was a lot of food to digest here while we talked about stuff. Catching up with JW was fun as there is always something going on in his life beyond keeping up with his daughters and coaching and all that other Conch stuff that he loves. He has a funny story or two in his back pocket and not always do they show people up to best advantage. 
I forgot to ask the cheerful lady her name but judging by some web sleuthing I did this should be the owner of this splendid establishment Marcia. She also brought me lemonade to drink which I was told was good and it was. JW pronounced it done properly. 
There is a ton of tat on the walls giving the place a lively colorful air, including the rather absurd police calendar which sold out in a  hurry (for a good cause) proving once again I have no taste as there is a pent up demand apparently for pictures of shirtless cops in assorted poses.

Frita's, worth a visit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Waterfront Night

I wanted to wander Key West Bight on a lunch break recently.
So I did. 
It was a lovely breezy night, just a few people on the docks,boats rocking in their berths, and me.