Tuesday, April 26, 2011

White Street

Cheyenne takes it all in stride but I find Key West bicycles to be objects, if not always of beauty they are frequently objects of curiosity. I love to see two wheelers decked out for practical purposes.

This one had a cup holder (with a coke inside) and a plastic shopping bag doubling as a seat cover. I read a story in the Citizen some time ago about a woman in a dispute with a builder and left in the lurch she was living underneath her half repair home, which was suffering from severe hurricane damage from years ago. It was the strangest story about how she slept under the house at night and spent her days hanging in the park as the structure was essentially unsafe. Seeing this half built home reminded me of that story for some reason.

Perhaps it was the homely touch of the bicycle leaning up against the front of the house. One thing that does tend to get a bit annoying is the cluster of wires always drooping overhead across the city. Some people photo shop the wires out of their pictures but I don't know how to photo shop and I don't really want to learn. This is Key West as it is: From time to time people suggest burying the wires but in our current state of anti public spending that doesn't seem like a very practical idea. These days the county has no idea where to find the money to build the mandated sewage system for the Keys that don't have it. Never mind something as esoteric as burying unsightly wires so we continue to "treat" sewage in septic tanks built into porous rock. School cut backs are all over the place except in the ongoing debate over the height of the new old school. With all the kerfuffle about the extra tall building at Horace O'Bryant School one tends to notice taller than average buildings anywhere these days. But in the end we see what we want to see on the streets of the city.
It's true there are wires overhead but the buildings and the trees make up for it with their own historic beauty. I enjoy having electricity and I suppose wires are the price we pay.

Lower Keys Toll Booth

It's called the toll booth not because there is a toll booth on Highway One at east end of West Summerland Key, just before you get on the "new" (1982) Bahia Honda Bridge. It's because there isn't actually a toll booth at all. These guys are, I believe, sandpipers and they run up and down the beach most endearingly, avoiding the waves and pecking at the sand on the extensive mainland beaches of Florida. In the keys where the beaches are puny and not always very sandy they have to make do with what they can find. In this instance they were huddling on the wall built to protect the old (1942) water pipe built to supply Key West during World War Two. This place is scenic enough passing tourists like to stop and take the pictures they need to fill the album at home.When they get back in their cars the tourists had better be careful if they decide to head into Key West at speed. Coming off the four lane Bahia Honda Bridge the tendency is to take it at much more than the indicated 55 miles per hour. Unfortunately this is where Sheriffs or Highway patrol cars or even Fish and Wildlife patrols tend to congregate to do some traffic control.Locals call this spot the Lower Keys Toll Booth for the numbers of tickets issued around here.If you are not a local and you think passing a dawdling local around here is a good idea you might want to think again. Not many drivers are smart enough to ask themselves why the Florida registered Triumph Bonneville that was speeding so fervently earlier has now decided to slow down and come to Jesus. That's when the blue lights come on to the sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Pay attention out there!

Peary Court Neighborhood

Let's Go Pens! I have no idea what that means or why someone would deface a vehicle with those words. At first glance I thought it read Lets Go Penis! which seemed considerably worse.I guess it has some sporting theme to which I am not privy. I saw the boat in the driveway and thought it merited a picture, which on closer inspection makes it look like the frontispiece for a very disorganized yard.There are a million convenience stores in Key West and many of them have been around since Methuselah was knee high to a grasshopper, so one has to assume they make money but how they do it when there is a competing store a block away I'm sure I have no idea.I like to call them inconvenience stores because, inconveniently they have to charge a fair bit more for their stuff. I read recently that the Navy homes at Peary Court are going to be sold. They are currently rented for around $2,000 a month for the former Navy Housing managed by Balfour Beatty contractors. They make pleasant enough suburban homes in a wide open, yet gated community. http://www.naskeywesthomes.com/subpage.aspx?cid=41&k=pearyI wrote a full essay about the place when it was opened to civilians. http://www.naskeywesthomes.com/subpage.aspx?cid=41&k=peary They are selling the 157 homes owned by the contractor and the land owned by the Navy but they are selling it all as one unit which will exclude ordinary mortals from purchasing anything. One wag in the Citizen's Voice suggested buying back the 23 acres, razing the homes and restoring a park to name it after Harry Powell, the city commissioner who threatened to blow himself up when the Navy started proceedings to take back the open space and build on it. Taking the long view Commissioner Powell had a point.

A Serious Profession

We sat around and talked late into the night a couple of nights ago and as I listened with some amusement to the latest school district drama I snapped a few photos. To be a teacher is to be a target these days. The people in charge announce piously that they want to streamline administration and do better by the teachers but they never do. The people that set budgets never cut their own salaries and they like to add burdens to the teaching staff. This next year classes have been restructured to require more teaching time and no overtime pay will be allowed. Lisa teaches at Key West High School and as smart as she is it takes plenty of work to put together teaching plans. The Key West school district needs to shave something like 10 million dollars form an 80 million dollar budget and the cuts are going to cause widespread headaches. Cheyenne was unmoved by the plight of the schools. Josh is a science teacher and he too runs a tight ship. He is teaching kids all about bio fuels http://kwaec.blogspot.com/ and their blog is worth a look.At last report the School Board is working on approval for teacher cuts and program cuts and along the way some education cuts and morale cuts. As I sat there and listened to my wife and her teacher colleagues discussing their futures, protected by seniority, I wondered who it is that will benefit by an even less well educated future generation. Perhaps all our kids can be drone operators blowing up other countries.