Friday, February 22, 2013

Old World Service


All too often we feel that modern life denies us the chance to repair things. The truism that we live in a throwaway society only rarely gets stood on it's head. In this case Keys Technology in Kennedy Plaza manages to do just that. They actually repair stuff. How old fashioned.

There's a phone store on Duval that advertises screen replacements for iPhones and I stopped off to see if they also replace glass screens for Androids. My HTC Incredible (silly name for a good phone) got dropped somehow and the screen formed some interesting cracks, but the iPhone store doesn't do Androids and directed me to Kennedy Plaza in New Town. That was where Peter the owner said "...not worth it," after he found out a new screen installed would be $200. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping my phone stays whole until my contract expires in November... Meanwhile he also took a look at our defunct laptop.

The laptop died months ago, the little man inside went on strike and it stopped working. We kind of gave up on the thing and there it sat while we soldiered on with our iPads, my wife and I. I love my iPad, for instance I do all my blogging these days with my phone camera, Picasa and Blogpress through my first generation iPad. However we felt the need for a laptop for certain jobs like printing and desk top publishing and stuff especially for my wife's teaching job so we were casting round considering what to do.


I really wanted a Mac as I like working with the iPad, and I am sick watching the little Windows Icon whirling around while the stupid laptop tells me to please wait. Instant start up and no viruses and ease of use have finally turned me to the dark side of computing. Naturally there is a price to pay, around $1300 if I remember correctly while a PC was about half that. We hemmed and hawed and my wife finally said we were going to Best Buy next weekend and getting a PC. Blech!


Suddenly my wife had one of those brilliant insights and on a whim we ended up carting along the laptop, long dead, when we stopped by the store in search of the phone screen repair. We didn't hope for much, one never doestheses days when looking for a repair but it went swimmingly well. We were amazed. Never mind the phone can't be repaired economically, the laptop came back within 24 hours with anew hard drive for $214 installed, including taxes. Brilliant.

In these cases of helpful local businesses I worry mostly that the business might close or the owner may get tired of the Keys and seek more remunerative fields elsewhere. So when I find a solid business I hold onto it, tight. In this case he told me with a big grin that business is great after six years in town and he is as busy as he can be and not to worry he has no plans to leave Key West. Yay! I guess the weather must be a factor, for he has a Slavic accent and nowhere east of Eden is as warm and sunny as Key West! That's a good reason to stay, and I am glad business is good for him. He deserves it.


For Pity's Sake!

I originally published this essay in October 2009, but it remains valid this winter when we find the Overseas Highway badly clogged by amazingly slow and inconsiderate traffic, which seems to delight in traveling ten miles under the speed limit and erratically to boot. In Louisiana last year I noticed their signs read "Keep Right Except to Pass" which I think is a clearer sign but Florida's efforts to keep traffic moving also send a simple message. I guess in the end, most drivers' mothers didn't raise their offspring to be considerate, judging by what we see on the four lane stretch of US One just north of Key West...

The wording is pretty simple and you'd think it would be easy enough to understand but this sign gets plenty of noisy criticism the pages of the Citizen's Voice where people think keeping left is a Constituional Right..Obviously it's a sign that comes into play in those areas of Highway One that split into four lanes, two in each direction. This is just south of Big Coppitt. And away stretch the four lanes across the light industrial suburb of Rockland Key, leading to Boca Chica and ultimately Key West. And that's the hump of the exit to the Naval Air Station on Boca Chica.
With the intrepid cyclist pushing on toward Key West:
These signs are everywhere along this stretch of Highway One and are largely ignored.
Traffic joins the highway just like any major freeway intersection on the mainland. And it requires traffic to merge from the right which is another complication for people with lane change phobias...
The thing about "slower traffic keep right" is that the wording doesn't say anything about speed limits or having private citizens enforce traffic laws. Some people like to sit in the passing lane and block people going faster than them which is a superb recipe for road rage. One gets to start envying the able cyclist pedaling along smoothly out of the traffic flow:I spent a fair bit of time hanging out on the shoulder taking pictures: Not everyone gets the concept of staying on the right until you need to pass:I get bored with clusters of cars piled up behind someone passing at one mile per hour faster than the vehicles being passed:

The bridge over Boca Chica Channel into Stock Island has some nice views over the water but it also has unmistakable instructions about keeping right, not that many people pay attention:And even into the area of construction on Stock Island we see the same message repeated.
Funnily enough what works for me is when the slowpokes are ambling along in the passing lane they open up the right lane for passing. I learned years ago in traffic school that 70% of tickets are issued to vehicles in the number one lane (the one nearest the median). I don't know if it still holds true, but I ride like it does. With cars trundling along in the fast lane I get to stay out of sight I hope.By the time I got to Stock Island, taking pictures as I went, the intrepid cyclist was already there.Right lane all the way, from Mile Marker 9 to Stock Island:And here too the signs request that slower traffic....keep right, but It doesn't happen much. At this stage I figure i might as well sit in the right lane and take my time getting to North Roosevelt Boulevard,the main business route into the city:
You've got to figure the Florida Department of Transportation believes in this concept:And in a state that has a law that says if you drive up to five miles per hour over the limit you can't get anything more than a written warning, you could be surprised by the seriousness with which they take the keep right rule:

As far as I'm concerned by all means trundle along in the left lane, all the more room for me where I am harder to spot...