Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paradise In Suspension

I was in CVS picking up my wife's prescriptions, one of those complex orders that require fifteen minutes by a highly trained pharmacist to put thirty pills in a bottle, when my eye fell on the magazine rack.


It's the fantasy isn't it? I can't wait for my porch remodel to be finished so I can join the ranks of the magazine dreamers. However every Paradise has it's serpent. Up the street at the fine community bank that hordes my wife's money there was a dork who couldn't park to save his life. I felt like sliding the Bonneville into the half spot next to the driver's door but he's the kind of dimwit who calls 9-1-1 for such huge problems.



All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thee's a little odd.

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Coming and Gone

I am off Cuban con leché and cheese bread for the time being as I recover from the excesses of my Italian trip but it's nice to see the relatively new Cuban Coffee Queen doing well.








Simplicity is a great virtue and I have no doubt when starting a business It is a heat help too. Tis place has it down, reasonable prices, a minimal foot print and decent grub. I miss it.





And their cheerful sign is long since completed.








This sad story remains shuttered and dusty. Waterfront Market is long since gone and the hopeless chain that took their place never looked like a winner.








There was talk of a bowling alley or a brew pub occupying this city owned space but so far the city seems to prefer to keep it empty for some reason. Bowling is a humiliation for me and I can't score to save my life but if I can't have a brew pub that's better than nothing.








Still, if I'm off Cuban coffee for the time being I don't think my wife would cheer me on at a brew pub opening. The market might as well remain as an unsightly monument to lack to of municipal ambition. Besides the city has it's hands full trying to figure out how to widen the ship channel to bring in more waves of cruise ship visitors.

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Around Packer Street

I am not fond of the streets that run south from Truman. They lack sidewalks, and doubtlessdon't rssidents want them for fear of loss of parking in a place where cars crowd the already narrow streets...


...and oh dear, I do sound like a boring straight laced suburbanite. But Packer and Varela and Watson have their own charms.


According to J. Wills Burke's 'Streets of Key West' Packer Street was named for the doyenne of a New England trading family which owned property in the area. This home, shown below looks like a bank owned abandoned property. What a drag.


Burke speculates that the name 'Packer' is actually a corruption of 'Parker' spoken with a Boston accent. I like the idea but I don't know how Josephine Packer/Parker would feel about it.


Like I said, awkward walking on a city street:


But a streak of sunlight makes everything look better.


I've seen these plastic owls used on boats to scare away shitting seagulls. They don't work but seen on a porch they look mildly cute I suppose. Dustcatchers everywhere.


Yellow flower, yellow house, yellow dog.


Happiness all round.

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Keys Pix 8

Rainy season is a summer wonderland for Cheyenne. She turns her nose up at the fresh clean water I carry in the car for her. We don't need no stinkin' water bowls...


This is a household recycling bin. Imagine how many brown bottles they throw in the trash on Lower Duval each night. A couple of years ago the paper ran an article about a $5,000 glass crusher designed to fit under a bar and reduce bottles to powder on the spot suitable for recycling. Well, that was a nice idea.


This next photo is in response to all the people who ask what I do when it rains and I am riding the Bonneville. I get a wet bottom if I don't put my waterproofs on first. I rarely die of rain.


This cheerful looking Scarabeo is just one of several such Aprilias around town. They are very practical large scooters but I always wonder why the Italian factory hired a former East German motorcycle engineer to design these bikes.


Practical, capable and agricultural. And to enhance practicality a cup holder in case the long distance ride across town threatens the rider's caffeine levels.


Back to school. I am happily child-free so the only way I know school is opening is because my wife the teacher shows signs of stress and the big yellow farm sheds start reappearing on the roads.


One can only imagine how delightful a barbecue with (not of) friends would be on this terrace. The only question is how did they get it up there? Sheer brute force is the only answer in my experience.


A puddle unruffled by a thirsty Labrador.


Big cars are not easy to park for some people. A modest Honda Del Sol (convertible Civic two seater) was in the space in front with room to spare.


Food to spare for a hungry malnourished Labrador. People prefer to forget how much our "companion animals" are related to the call of the wild. I like to see Cheyenne expressing her full nature.


Grrr! Yum yum! Woof woof. End of story.

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Bowling For Key Deer

Imagine my surprise when I opened the newspaper and found our County Commissioner suggesting a speed limit INCREASE on Highway One. How very cool.


The thing is that every time a stretch gets repaved we lose a few more chances to legally pass dawdlers as they tend to replace dotted yellow lines with solid double yellow lines. And now here we have a powerful voice suggesting the speed limit be raised. Extraordinary!


The stretch in question is just north of Big Pine Key where the limit is 45mph by day and 35mph by night. The idea behind the restriction is to stop cars from killing Key Deer. Which sounds reasonable enough except for one thing. Or rather eight million things.


The state decided that with a death toll of about 30 dead deer a year it was time to do something. They built an elaborate overpass and fenced it all in at a cost of eight million dollars.


Access to the overpass is protected by cattle grids and the sides are covered by deer proof fences which have all been very effective at keeping out the deer. All of which has also created a secure passage for vehicles.


Motorcyclists Up North worry all the time about deer in the roadway at night but on this overpass such deer have been banished.


The deer, whose reserve has been split by the Overseas Highway, have two underpasses connecting both sides.


The overpass itself is a magnificent roadway with clear sight lines.


And yet already one voice raised itself in anguished anonymous protest in the paper when the idea of increased speed limits was aired. The protest made it sound as though increasing the limit to 55mph would lead to wholesale deer slaughter.


Then of course the protest concluded with the time worn question: what's the hurry? As though everyone driving the Overseas Highway is retired or on vacation. I wish people who dawdle spent their time dawdling and paying attention while behind the wheel. Well, as they say we can't get everything. You either drive the limit and pay attention, or you dawdle and fiddle with your phone and admire the view. God forbid you should pull over and let those with a deadline go by!


I suppose this speed limit idea will die a death, as most common sense ideas do.


I also read in the paper that feral cats have been photographed ravaging marsh rabbits and traps are scheduled to be set to catch the wild moggies. That idea has raised a shit storm because the untrusting folk who feed the cats suspect they won't go to a retirement home when caught.


It turns out trust is in short supply where wild animals are concerned, one way and another.


However when you look at Big Pine Key full of deer and fence-free, where speed limits aren't going to be raised, and then you look at the elaborate barricades built just north of this section you have to wonder how it is the two sections merit the same speed limits. But that sort of common sense question is better never asked.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Man Purse

I have found that having a bag, known these days as a man purse is a useful thing in my life. Some men get by with a wallet in their pocket but I haul too much crap around for that.



I used to use a back pack but I found it was heavy even when empty and I mostly carried it on one shoulder strap and when riding it was hot on my back and difficult to access. So when we were planning our motorcycle trip in Italy I thought perhaps a bag that I could carry comfortably at my side while riding might work better.



http://www.aerostich.com/aerostich-courier-bag.html



I bought the $97 courier bag in the 18 inch model. The bag material is waterproof even though heavy rain they say will penetrate the ends so wrapping stuff in plastic is a good idea if wet weather riding is forecast.



The $27 organizer bag I find invaluable. At first I worried that the Velcro attachment might not work but as usual Aerostich meets and exceeds all expectations. They ride and they use the stuff they sell and it shows. The bag closes with Velcro and also comes with strs and clips if you need to make sure it will stay closed tight.



I carry everything I need in this bag, including my camera, iPad and a book and magazine or two. The organizer works perfectly, and between that and the built-in pocket I have everything where I need it.



Aerostich makes these bags in several sizes including a smaller version that actually resembles a man purse. I know that for many men a murse is an object t be feared and that's their loss. This bag folds and fits in my top case for commuting, or with an extra fold it will also fit in my Pelican case 1430 panniers so it is a rare time that I have to wear it on the open road. Around town it is far too convenient to be able to carry the bag over your shoulder and hop on and off the bike as you need to with everything to hand, wallet, checks, pens and notebook etc...



I like this bag a great deal and if you are afraid to be seen with a murse be advised these things are becoming fashionable. My pink iPad case may take longer to catch on.


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Signs With No Point

I disagree with this sign. The are no bad dogs, just bad owners. I dislike people who expect their dogs to be vicious. I also expect dogs to be obedient. People? Not so much.


And just to prove my point I saw this box on a Key West street. Anyone who needs written instructions and diagrams to explain how to pick up dog shit with a plastic bag probably has bigger, more inexplicable conundrums in their life.


I justify receiving a tree killing newspaper every day by reusing the plastic bag it comes in. More or less in the manner of the drawings above, and I figured it out all by myself.

At first sight this sign seems discriminatory, "No Motorcycles!"


Anyone who would pay $13 a day to park a motorcycle in the city garage on Grinnell is probably the kind of person who needs to carry instructions on how to pick up dog turds. Free street parking is everywhere and in Key West you may park a motorcycle in a car space if all else fails. And get a ticket for each machine in the space if the meter expires.


This last sign mentioned a woman by first and last name. Urban Dictionary to the rescue! To be long winded doesn't seem the kind of offense that merits it's own bumper sticker but I am going to guess the female pig mentioned declined to offer refreshment to assuage the hurt feelings of the author. I believe even bloviating sows have the right to refuse sex if they feel like it. So much drama from a small bumper sticker!

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Repairing Caroline

THe city of Key West is seeking public comment on proposals to revamp Caroline Street between Grinnell and Elizabeth Streets.


Caroline is the street that introduces arrivals on the Fort Myers ferry to downtown Key West and it is in a sorry state all things considered.


Naturally commuters want the Tax Increment Funds, a dedicated taxing mechanism, to be spent resurfacing the street and they have a point because it is in terrible shape but one would like to hope there might be more to be prettified than just asphalt.


When the city bored out the storm drains which used to flood regularly under a light misting of rain they also put nice cut outs at the corner of Caroline and William. I'd like to suppose maybe we could see native fruit trees and the like lining the street that runs alongside the waterfront.


One day Key West will put on it's big girl's blouse and wonder if perhaps one way streets and -gasp!- pedestrian malls might not make for a more shopper friendly downtown. Not in my lifetime, I know, so I avoid this area in winter when you can't move for people.


Solar power, pedestrian malls, public recycling, dedicated bike paths, all that can wait as long as the city remains in the black and the tourists keep coming anyway. How nice it is to have well funded public budgets. Pity the poor school district and the clowns that lead it.

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