Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hmm, so this year...

After having "Looking Back on 2006" themes stuffed in our face for the past week or two...It seems appropriate for me to add to it :-D. This year has certainly had its ups and downs, but, heck, life's good. You may not be interested in reading about my life, but...well...I need to post something for the new year. Keep in mind I did not start my blog till June.

My dad and I kicked off 2006 with our first big trip on our Pelican kayak, an 8-mile trip on Durbin Creek and Julington Creek on New Years Day.

I made my annual camping trip (7th year there, I believe) at the Battle of Olustee Reenactment in February. My dad and I drove into Lake City on Saturday night to eat at the Cracker Barrell restaurant. I intentionally wore my period dress, because I knew that Cracker Barrells in north Florida are always filled with culturally clueless tourists passing through to Disney World. Seeing the place filled with men dressed in uniforms, they must have thought They really DO think The War's still being fought! (and it is...just not with weapons.)

June brought a new chapter in my life, as I got into the whole blogger craze with the creation of The Minorcan Factor. I have discovered that there really are other people outside of my family who care about true Florida...however, I have yet to find another person my age who cares...but there's got to be one out there somewhere. It really has been, and still is, a great experience to (sort of) come into the lives of a few bloggers.

June also brought castnet knitting into my life. Though I have yet to post on this yet (darnit, no pictures), I have been slowly learning the traditional technique to create these tools that were so vitally important to my ancestors. One of my favorite old fools, Mr. Stuart Pacetti, has welcomed me into his life and home (well he is a distant cousin, I guess), to learn this valuable skill. I have been told by many that he is the master castnet knitter in Florida (he ties EVERY knot himself, unlike others who just knit together pieces of machine-made mesh.) It is an honor learning from the best. Not to mention the fact that his is one of the best story tellers I have ever met. A true Cracker, indeed.

July brought Camp Hope, which is always a great experience.

June, July, August, September, October, and November brought an unusually inactive hurricane season. Bummer. Unfortunately, it has not quieted down all this global warming *&%& like I had hoped it would.

August brought my birthday and a very memorable trip on Juniper Creek.

December brought my brother Andy back down from Chicago. When I turned the country music station on the night he got home, he asked me to turn it off...Too much of a culture shock. I fear he has been Yankeeized. (And now he'll quit griping about how I have not mentioned him on here yet.)

Well, I have rambled enough for tonight...only about 2 and a half hours till 2007. I will miss 2006, but I know 2007 has a lot to offer me too (such as my sister-in-law coming down from Chicago.) :-D

Have a good night, everyone...I don't really have a sly way to end off this post as I usually do, so I will have to resort to my Bag of Randomness (see below.)Hopefully the new year will bring back my dry humor...and take away this dry weather.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Editorial

This is the editorial I wrote that was printed by the Florida Times-Union last Thursday, for those of you who do not subscribe to that paper. I know almost all of you who read my blog will be saying "amen" to pretty much everything in here. You're true Floridians :-D.

As a ninth-generation native Floridian, I have an indescribable love for the state in which we live. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful parts of this nation in many different ways. But what I look around my homeland, I see my beloved native soil being torn apart before my very eyes. The greedy pillaging of our land, commonly known as "progress" or "development," has wreaked permanent destruction upon Florida's land and culture. It is vital that, as responsible representatives, the leaders of our community take a step back and look at what is being lost as we develop our land. Pick up a kayak paddle, lace on a pair of hiking boots, attend the Florida Folk Festival, and go see what true Florida is about. I am sure you will all be horrified by the destruction, too, after you seee what is out there being destroyed. If we do not implement tighter controls on development now, the Floridian heritage will be relegated to history books by the time my children attend school. I am sure you do not want to be remembered as the generation that destroyed Florida.

Just an update

I suppose I have been lazy lately...well, lazy when it comes to blogging at least! I really have a hard time sitting myself down in front of the computer long enough to write a post, and sometimes when I do, Blogger decides to screw things up by not allowing me to post pictures, closing unexpectedly, not publishing my work even though I clicked "publish," etc., etc. However, in other senses I have been far from lazy. I have had 2 walks in the swamp (more on those later,) a couple kayak trips, two trips down to St. Augustine for castnet weaving lessons, and the usual working and tending to my citrus (which is DELICIOUS this year) and datil peppers (more on those later, too!)

I had plans to go back out into the swamp and into the swamp with a couple of friends this week, but a cold has just come onto me tonight, and I feel like that sludge that mysteriously forms underneath large items lying on the ground for a long period of time. I have started to feel a little bit better now that I have taken some medicine to tend to it, but it seems that I will be relegated to the house tomorrow...and the weather's supposed to be so beautiful!! Well, at least this hit me after Christ's birthday and not before. I wouldn't want to be sick for that party!!

I really should be getting my rest if I want to fight of this sickness effectively, so I guess I must go try to get some sleep. I would expect updates tomorrow, however, as I will be inside pretty much all day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

News Bulletin...

If you get the Florida Times-Union, read today's editorial section :-D

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Own Poetry...

I have posted a couple Wendell Berry poems on here lately, and there is even more to come in the future. However, I wanted to share one with you that I wrote at around 2 in the morning, during one of those nights when I just couldn't fall asleep due to my continuous thoughts of Florida. My "Uncle" Stuart put it very well when he told Coastal Living, "I've laid in my bed at night and literally cried at the devastation." Those of you with Florida coarsing through your veins know what we are talking about. Anyway, I am usually apprehensive about sharing poetry, especially works like this that sound like what my generation calls "emo." Nonetheless, I want to share this one with you, and I may decide to post more. We'll see :-D.

An Untitled Poem
By: HurricaneTeen

O what this tree
has been through
over the years
of its life.
From age to age
it's had little
to weather.

But the termites
have crept into
its sprawling limbs.
It is torn,
not fallen,
but falling.

And every limb
felled from its
majestic trunk
is a limb
torn from ours,
never to be

The destruction
is wrought
before our very eyes,
but we are blind.
The termites work
within the tree,
while we plunge
our heads into the sand.

They feed off
off of the tree,
and they feed off of us;
feed off our ignorance.
We allow them to eat
our bodies and souls.

We look to the Lord
with a heart
aching, seeking
to find what is lost,
in futility,
and our souls
will never again
be complete.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pictures from the Phantom Ruins Hike

These are the pictures that go along with the swamp hike I took last month with my dad and history teacher. If you haven't read the written post about this, you can scroll down (it should still be on the front page) or go to my Archives section under November.

Durbin Creek: Dark brown water and lots of logs. Your typical Floridian swamp run.

This is the fanned-out cypress tree I noted in my story. This is much more impressive to see in real life than in a picture.

The swamp was completely dry except for a few sloughs that still held slippery muck. This is unusual, and we can thank the recent dry weather for the easy hike.

Okay, the brush we went through was a lot thicker than this picture makes it seem. It was interesting trying to maneuver myself through all the vines while holding a 6-foot kayak paddle and snapping pictures at the same time. Fortunately, though, Mr. Sarcasm pointed out, we did not run into any briars. Ow.

This is the open grassy area I was expecting to reach, and where Mr. Sarcasm is standing is nearly exactly where the ruins were supposed to stand.

We walked the entire area, but there was nothing to be found but knee-high brush. It was an enjoyable walk, though.

This is the HUGE cypres tree I have been talking about forever, but have never been able to get a picture with (thanks to that water moccasin that one time :-D). And I still didn't...I let Mr. Sarcasm be the perspective-giver in this one. We estimate this thing to have a diameter of 9 FEET, which makes it about 28 FEET around the entire trunk. Wow. This thing is easily thousands of years old. Do ya'll have any age estimates? Cypress trees grow very slowly, and it would take a LONG time for it to get this big. Do ya'll have any age estimates?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sixmile Creek

I only took one picture at Sixmile Creek today (well, the picture's really of a part of Palmo Cove on the St. Johns River) because of the bad lighting conditions, but I thought I would post it tonight while Blogger was actually letting my post pictures. I have a story about this coming soon, but right now I need to finish up my studying and go to bed.

Learning Is Fun!!

Wow, surprisingly, on a very busy day, I landed 3 posts here on the Minorcan Factor. My friend, Phil, and I have been studying for a Precalculus test all weekend...literally...and, as a result, we have not really had lives (though I did make a nice trip on Sixmile Creek today.) To put into persective how large this test is, we have been working on the same chapter since October 16th. Not fun, but I think all of the studying will pay off tomorrow. Here's some pictures of us studying, because I have noticed that there is an irreprehensible lack of pictures on the front page right now. Enjoy.

Hmm, so that's...
3 Precalculus books
2 Very Expensive Graphing Calculators
2 Binders
Innumerable Amounts of Jumbled Papers
2 Gatorades
1 Publix Orange Soda
1 Cell Phone
and, last but not least...
2 Nerds/Geeks

This is what everybody's favorite Ukranian, Phil, thinks of Precalculus. Umm, turn your head 90 degrees to the right...I took the picture vertically, and I don't feel like taking the time to rotate it in Photoshop.

Dark With Power

By Wendell Berry

Dark with power, we remain
the invaders of our land, leaving
deserts where forests were,
scars where there were hills.

On the mountains, on the rivers,
on the cities, on the farmlands
we lay weighted hands, our breath
potent with the death of all things.

Pray to us, farmers and villagers
of Vietnam. Pray to us, mothers
and children of helpless countries.
Ask for nothing.

We are carried in the belly
of what we have become
toward the shambles of our triumph,
far from the quiet houses.

Fed with dying, we gaze
on our might's monuments of fire.
The world dangles from us
While we gaze.

Hmmmm...A Factual Error

On my way home from church today, I got to thinking about my geneology once again. It turns out that it was my great, great, great, great, (gasp), great, great grandfather who came to Florida in 1768. This makes me a 9th generation native Floridian instead of the 7th generation I have been telling people all this time. Wow. My little nephew is the 10th generation of Floridians in my family. Hopefully, he will care about that extraordinary fact when he grows up.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Porch over the River

My English teacher lent me a book of poetry by Wendell Berry today, and over the next week or so, you can expect daily posts of poems I find outstanding. So, here is the first, and they will progressively get better until we reach my favorite.

In the dust of the river, the wind
gone, the trees grow still--
the beautiful poise of lightness,
the heavy world pushing toward it.

Beyond, on the face of the water,
lies the reflection of another tree,
inverted, pulsing with the short strokes
of waves the wind has stopped driving.

In a time when men no longer
can imagine the lives of their sons
this is still the world--
the world of my time, the grind

of engines marking the country
like an audible map, the high dark
marked by the flight of me,
light stranger than stars.

The phoebes cross and re-cross
the openings, alert
for what may still be earned
from the light. The whippoorwills

begin, and the frogs. And the dark
falls, again, as it must.
The look of the world withdraws
into the vein of memory.

The mirrored tree, darkening, stirs
with the water's inward life. What has
made it so?--a quietness in it
no question can be asked in.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Piece of Florida Gone...But This Time, It's Personal

I was in St. Augustine with my parents yesterday taking pictures of parts of the Old City for my brother, who is writing his Bachelor's thesis on the Minorcans of Florida. We stopped by The Mission (It's called something else, but we've always just called it "The Mission") to take some pictures there, and I figured this would be a good time to visit the grave of my great, great, great grandfather, who is buried in Tolomato Cemetery, which surrounds The Mission. After taking some pictures and stopping for a moment at the Knights of Columbus memorial to the victims of abortion, we began looking for the gravesite of Pvt. Domingo Pacetti and his wife Antonia. We believed that they were somewhere near the abortion memorial, taking off of the memory from many past visits by my mom and dad. But neither he or she were anywhere to be found. We scoured the entire cemetery...twice...seeing familiar names such as Mickler, Andreu, and Pellicer, but there were no Pacettis to be found anywhere. Our ancestor's graves were gone. They simply disappeared. They've been there for over a century, and they are simply gone. Maybe somebody in the family relocated them, maybe they feel victim to vandalism (the cemetery has been vandalized many times in the past,) and...I would be disappointed if this is the case...maybe the abortion memorial took their gravesite. The memorial is nice, but I would be (expletive) (expletive) if it stood over the gravesite of my ancestors. There for years and years, and simply gone. Sound familiar?

I may go over to Mill Creek Cemetery, where a lot of our family is buried, and just see if they are there. It would make sense, because Domingo and Antonia did live (and die) on his father's land grant in Mill Creek (around what is now Bakersville.) But, still, what happened to the Pacettis at Tolomato Cemetery?

Please, if anybody knows there wherabouts of Private Domingo Pedro Pacetti and Mrs. Antonia Hernandez Pacetti, tell me. Both my mother and I are deeply hurt, and we want to know what happened. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Sense of Exploration

Note: So Blogger is being stubborn once again, and I cannot post the photos that go along with this story. I will soon, though. Also, this story has a really negative twist at the end. I did not mean for it to turn out that way, but it just did. I just stated what was on my mind. Thanks for reading!

I wrote a while back about my intentions to take a hike through the woods to see about some ruins I had spotted on a topographical map. And I told you I would post about it....And I never did...But here it is! I actually wrote this post a while back , but I just never got around to posting it......

Note: I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures...I just snapped them while I was walking, and didn't pay much attention to them. More pictures will be coming soon from my father, who is a professional photographer. Needless to say, those pictures will be considerably better. Now, sit back and enjoy the story.

A couple months ago, while studying a map of the northern St. Johns County area, I took a close look at what my loyal readers now know as one of my favorite kayaking spots (Durbin Creek.) I was very surprised when I found the mark "ruins" back in the woods off the creek. I did some research and found....absolutely nothing. So I did the only thing a true Florida boy could do: go and see for myself...After all, what's better than spending a day out in the swamp?! After months of continuous nagging aimed at my dad, I finally convinced him to go trudgin' with me. You see, he was raised in Steeltown USA (Pittsburgh,) and he did not have many up close natural encounters when he was younger. As a result, he is not too big on the idea of walking around in a muddy, wild, smelly, nasty swamp that harbors many poisonous snakes and gators. (It's funny because all of those reasons that he hates the swamp are the exact reasons why I love it!!)
I rounded up two other people, my friend Ben and my history teacher Mr. Sarcasm (no, that's not his real name :-D) both of whom seemed very eager to go on a little discovery mission. Unfortunately, Ben had to drop out due to other commitments, so it was left up to me, my dad, and Mr. Sarcasm.
We met Mr. Sarcasm at the Racetrack Road bridge over Durbin Creek at 12:30, and set up all our gear and other accessories, whether necessary or not. My dad and I set off in the kayak to scout out a good place to start our walk, and found it...only about 100-200 yards downstream...We would have been better off walking across the creek.

No matter, the plan was already underway, so we decided not to deviate from it. I dropped my dad off on the bank (well, really just a muddy quagmire between two snags at the water's edge,) and paddled back upstream to pick up Mr. Sarcasm.

After tying the 'yak to a tree, we set off into the deep, dark cypress swamp.

The walk was easier and much drier than usual due to the lack of rainfall this year, and I believe we were all thankful for that. We blew right through that swamp with no problems at all.

On our way to the ruins site, we came across this very interesting "fanned-out" cypress tree. It is hard to see in this picture, but the tree is at least 5 feet (maybe closer to 6) at the base. What could cause this? Current? When would there have been a current sustained long enough to cause this? I think we're all "stumped" by it :-D.

Soon after passing Fanny the Cypress, we came upon a noticeable rise in the land, along with a noticeable increase in the density of the vegetation. We pushed ourselves through branches and vines for about 50-100 yards or so, and came upon a piece of cleared land.

I know this land has been cleared within the last couple of years, because not long ago, it was heavily forested. There was evidence of tractors...but no evidence of ruins. We were all disappointed. After a good walk around, we decided that there was no way anything standing there would have remained after the tractors had destroyed the land. Who knows what could have been there? Maybe it wasn't that old...but what if it was? No matter what, it was just another piece of Florida history gone. And the land in much of these pictures you see here will be permanently disturbed or destroyed by the great "progress" of the Bartram Park development that is overtaking much of southern Duval county as we speak. I find it laughable that many of these developers like to name their wildlife-destroying business ventures after naturalists (William Bartram) and places in natural literarure (Walden Pond.) William Bartram and Henry David Thoreau are rolling over in their graves. And I will be too, when I die surrounded by yankees and condos, remembering what this state used to be like. Oh well, just another disappointment from South New York.

The Evidence

These pictures are the evidence from the little critter(s) that has been paying us a visit every night. We're not sure whether he's a coon, armadillo, or possum, but whatever he is, he sure has an appetite for citrus. Maybe there's more than one...Or just one very gluttonous animal. He's taken even more since these pictures were taken and the current satsuma harvest count comes in as follows:

Critter: 14
Me: 2

As you can see, my furry friends have been enjoying my citrus more than I have been. Oh well, I guess I can share. You can also see, though, how great the fruit on the higher branches looks! These pictures were taken at night, by the way, in case you didn't notice!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just Another Reminder

Well, I am ending my long, self-imposed rest from blogger. I look forward to writing posts, and I really do feel bad about leaving my few loyal readers hanging, just waiting for me to post. I have lots to write about! I have pictures that go along with this post...I hope to post them tomorrow morning.

Well, tonight is going to be a cold one down here in The Sunshine State. We're looking at lows all the way down into the high 30s (stop laughing, counterparts in the north) with a possibility of frost in the morning. After reading the Hazardous Weather Outlook posted by the National Weather Service Jacksonville, I decided that it would be best to bring in my young Datils just to be sure they will be okay. I don't mind this little bit of work, especially considering it was cold outside and it was 11 PM (the only time around here when you get a little quiet.) So as I walked into our bakyard, through a few spider webs (sorry for ruining your night's work, my web-weaving friends), and out toward where I keep the Datils. This path takes me by the citrus trees, and I smelled a strong scent of fresh-opened satsuma...

FLASHBACK - Earlier tonight, I heard my dog, Kendall, chasing some critter in the back, but I figured it was just a squirrel (boy do I have a squirrel story to tell you!) I let her inside after giving her a scolding to share her territory with the animals around her. She gave me this look of "Yeah, right."

BACK TO THE STORY - Intrigued and concerned about the unusually stong smell, I looked down and saw opened and partially eaten satsumas strewn across the ground. "Ah dangit!" I said. My first reaction was of anger and frustration, as I saw 12 of our precious satsumas wasted. "Looks like we've had some raccoon visitors," I told my parents. As I went back outside and looked once again at the massacred fruits, I had a sudden sense of wisdom...
You know, these animals need to eat. They sense it getting cold, and, heck, who would turn down free satsumas! Now I really don't feel so angry at the little guys who feasted on my fruit tonight. Perhaps it was their thanksgiving dinner...a little early, but the holidays seem to be getting earlier every year, anyway. This little experience serves as a reminder to me (and now to those of you reading) that we humans are not the only ones living on this Earth. There are others we are sharing this land with - living creatures who have been here longer than we have...Creatures who want to live, too. Though I'm disappointed about the trivial loss of a few pieces of food, those satsumas may have helped some animals survive winter. And that, in my book, is worth all the satsumas in the world.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Am I going to post? AM I?!

Nope. I'm being lazy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Go Away

Well it looks like I have just about finished all of my work that I missed while in Wisconsin last week. I will begin working on a post about it soon, but I have a LOT of emails to write...And those people take precedence over all of you...Now go away.

Here's a teaser fresh from Williams Bay, WI to all of you Floridians who feel season-starved like I do:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Gone Up North

Just in case you were wondering, I am in fact not dead. I was only up in Wisconsin for a Catholic youth retreat that my brother runs. How extraordinary it turned out to be. I'll be sure to write about it, but right now I am really tired and I have an unbelievable amount of make-up work to do for school.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Datil and Citrus Update!

This year has been a rough growing year. It's been so dry that we have needed to water nearly every day to keep the trees producing and to just keep the Datils alive. But, through all the roughness and frustration (ahem, Datils), it looks like we're going to make out okay.

The Satsumas are looking beautiful, as usual. I took these pictures just after a fresh morning rainfall (the same morning rainfall that made me sleep in until 9:00...explanation later), and they were dripping with dewey goodness. They are COVERED with yellow-turning-to-orange fruit! I sure would love to get my mouth...on one of these now.

The Tangerines are still green, but I am noticing some slight hints of yellow in some of the fruit. I find it unfortunate that the tangerines come in after the Satsumas, because quite frankly, they are not nearly as good, and after stuffing my face with Satsumas for a few weeks, tangerines just seem too dry. Nonetheless, they are a delicious Florida fruit.

One nice thing about the tangerines is that they often drop partially ripened fruit for about the first 2 months before harvest time begins. If you can get at the dropped fruit before the bugs (or your mischevious dog) do, it is a nice taste of the great things to come. Some people find this early fruit a little too tart, but I love it! The fruit you see in the picture below is just one of those droppings, and it is currently being eaten as I write this.

Now on to the Datils! They are looking good for the most part, and I do believe I will get many pods off of them next year. But just in case, I plan to plant another 20-30 seeds or so this January to hopefully raise my plant count to about 7 or 8 for next year. That many plants should bear enough of these little green demons to make 100 pilaus and gallons upon gallons of datil pepper sauce. It's always good to have lots of leftovers for the family...Especially in my family.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Signs of Autumn

Those of you in the north know autumn is on its way when you see those beautiful yellow, red, and orange leaves begin to fall off your trees. This is your signal to break out the winter coats once again and begin scrounging money for heating oil. Down here in the Sunshine State (well, really the Partly Cloudy State), we do not have this distinct change of seasons, but we have our own little ways of telling us that fall's on its way and that we need to begin making our own preparations for the change of seasons we have here. And contrary to popular belief, we here in the "Land of Eternal Happines" (pfft) do experience four seasons: Hot Summer (Summer), Warm Summer (Fall), Almost Summer (Winter), Summer Again (Spring) Yes, my snowbird friends, you may be laughing, but this seemingly small meteorological change into the Dry Summer brings about big changes in the environment of the Land of Disney (pffffffffffffffff*gag*cough*gag*gag*). Just this past week I have noticed two of these changes, and I will share them with you today. As the Warm Summer season progresses into Almost Summer, I will continue to highlight the changes as I see them.

One of the first signs of Warm Summer is the change that takes place on the citrus trees. Depending on the kind of citrus (depicted here are Satsumas growing in my backyard,) noticeable changes in color begin appearing as the weather cools and the days get shorter. Within about a month's time this delicious fruit will turn from a deep green to yellow to bright orange until they are ripe for the picking just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. The tangerines lag a couple weeks behind, and are not ready for harvest until around the middle of December. I will be sure to share the fresh, sweet, juicy, sunshine-filled experience I will have when I open up the first Satsuma of the season as ya'll are scraping the snow off your windshield in the morning :-D.

The second sign of Warm Summer I have seen this year is the increasing prominence of a phenomenon popularly known as the "dog box." This past weekend I was at my grandma's house participating in our annual Halloween taco party (I believe we are the only family on this earth that has such a party) and it hit me: Dog boxes...everywhere. You may be asking yourself What exactly is this "dog box?". You see, some people here in TRUE Florida take great pleasure in spending their Warm Summer in a tree stand waiting for a single shot at one animal. It just so happens that much of my family participates in the sport. Quite apparently, when a deer is shot, they do not lie down easy and die. They enjoy running around the woods, leading the hunters on a wild, through the woods. Fortunately for the hunter, he has his faithful companions by his side just waiting to sniff out their prize. Once the deer is found, the dogs, fresh off their successful hunt, happily climb into their boxes in their master's pickup and enjoy sniffing the fresh Warm Summer air on their way home. I would like to make it a point here to say that I do not hunt, and I could never shoot an animal...though I will never turn down a nice venison steak or burger if it is offered to me :-D.

So there are the typical first signs of the beginning Warm Summer here in Florida...And there's a lot more to come. Enjoy your snow!! Guess what! Blogger's being stubborn again (what a dang surprise!!!!) I will post these pictures tomorrow morning before I head off to school.

I'm Still Alive

I had taken a brief break from Blogger for a while, but I am back. I have some good stuff to post (maybe tonight...possibly tomorrow morning) about my trip down Silver River and other assorted anecdotes I may feel like rambling on about. I am planning a hike in the swamp (I may or may not tell you where) to see some old ruins that have come to my attention (I may or may not tell you how.) It will be me, my dad, and my history teacher enjoying a nice tromp through the mud and muck, not even knowing what we will find. So you may once again expect daily posts from The Minorcan Factor as I get back into the gist of things. Now I may begin writing my Silver River post......

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Home for the Day

So here's the deal. I have come down with a little "bug" and I will be home for the day. So much for my perfect attendance at school this year. Due to the fact that I will be sitting around doing essentially nothing all day, I will have a lot of time on my hands. And, according to the HurricaneTeen Postulate of Blogging, Time=Posts, you will likely have the joy of reading my endless ramblings throughout this beautiful, cloudless, 65-degree morning.

Proof that it actually dipped down into the mid 60's at the HurricaneTeen household this morning. Believe it or not, it got down into the 50s yesterday! But back up the the 80s for today. Oh well, it is Florida. Oh, and yes, you know you like that hot pink thermometer receiver. (It was the only one on sale, okay?!)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

By A Black American...

I read this today, and I found it to be an exceptionally well-written statement of a few of my beliefs on the Confederate Battle Flag.

"The Confederate Flag:Should We get Rid of It? J.J. Johnson
- Posted: 02.20.00
Okay, so what’s wrong with me? In celebration of slain Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King’s day (week?) if I watch enough news, I should be out there with my black brethren yelling, screaming and looking to burn every free waving Southern Cross I run across. So what’s wrong? Shouldn’t I be offended as well?In a way, yes. I am. And here’s why:I had ancestors who fought on both sides of that war – which was anything but civil.Surprised?Yes, in Northern Mississippi in fact. Cousin against cousin. One man trying to protect what was his, and one who escaped slavery only to be drafted into taking his cousin’s land away. This little fact, along with all the arguments about Southern Heritage, Southern Pride and Remembering the Gentlemen who in died war gets lost in all the noise about why it’s so “insensitive.”…And I am just fed up with it.More than that, I’m fed up with the yellow-bellied, white guys who don’t have the guts to fight back on the issue. I know, no one wants to get labeled the “R” word. To politicians, it’s a label that’s worse than being called a liar, an adultorer or a draft dodger. And heaven knows, you white guys in the public sector better not even bring it up at work or in public. There’s a civil rights lawsuit with your name on it. Yet, I know how many of you – especially you folks south of the Mason-Dixon line must feel right now.Wanna fight back?Hold my coat for a minute…Where were these protests against OUR Confederate battle flag for the last 135 years? Why are these black people allowing themselves to be manipulated by the media and their left-wing, so-called "black leadership?" Whenever I hear a black person talk about this flag issue, I ask them the same questions. Do you know how long that flag has been flying over those state capitals? Haven’t you seen them there before? The answer from most blacks I talk to out west is, “who cares?”Not good enough for the National Association for the Advancement of Career Politicians (NAACP). Not good enough for these modern-day “Plantation Pimps” who can’t find any other juvenile criminals to fight for so now they retaliate by “dissing” a great hunk of American culture. This is ONLY being done to pander to black voters this political season. You see, back in 1992, folks just decided to burn down Los Angeles while liberal politicians mailed gasoline to the rioters. This time, let’s burn down a heritage instead.I hope some black person is reading this right now and fuming. You should be. If you think the Confederate flag is insulting to you, you are being used, or as we say it in the hood, you bein’ played – for a fool. By who? Not by those evil conservatives, but by the liberal white man. The ones who’ll take your votes, then tell you you’re not good enough to make it on your own.But there is no sense giving you the same argument many of the Southern Ladies and Gentleman are trying to give now. You don’t want to hear them, anyway.Let’s talk about “insensitivity,” shall we?If you don’t mind, some of us with southern roots are going to find every Vietnamese American citizen in this country, bus them to Washington, D.C. and protest to have the Vietnam Memorial removed from the park. Why stop there? On the way to Washington, we might as well grab every citizen with German or Japanese ancestors. With enough noise, we can get rid of that World War II Memorial, too. After all, These people all had relatives who were killed by the men and women America honors at those Memorials. You liberal, nothing-else-better-to-do black folks wouldn’t mind, would you?Yes. Let that sink in real good. That’s what you’re doing to these good people of the South. You are DESECRATING THEIR MEMORIAL… Check that – Our Memorial.What ever happened to Diversity? Tolerance? Must be a one sided thing.Don’t give me that “Symbol of Slavery” bull****. If that were the case, turn in all those 1, 20, 50, and 100 dollar bills. The faces on these bills were men who were leaders when many blacks were slaves. But let’s get down and dirty, shall we?The worst riot in American history was not in Los Angeles. It was in New York, back in 1863. You see, there were a bunch of people who, like during Vietnam, didn’t want be conscripted (read: drafted) to serve in an unjust war. Talk to your President about that. Over 1200 people died in just two days. Most when President Lincoln sent federal troops in to put down the “rebellion.” Oh, by the way, 83 blacks were lynched in those two days – right there in The Big Apple. So, which flag do you really want taken down?But since we’re all told to boycott, will those leftist, black elected leaders in South Carolina boycott the Statehouse while its in session? I doubt it. Will they avoid buying goods in their own state? Doubt it. Our forefathers who wrote the Constitution gave all of us a way to deal with a state’s policies we didn’t like. That’s what the South was fighting for. It was not about slavery. If that were the case, we’d be bombing China right now, and we would not accept license plates made with prison labor right here in the good ol’ USA.Oh…What’s the black population percentage in prison these days, anyway?The multicultural extremists can’t call me racist, but in the black socialist community, they have even uglier words for people who refuse to live on that “plantation,” such as me. Just ask Clarence Thomas.So let that flag wave proudly as a monument to the last Army in this country that actually fought for the Constitution. I am proud to have ancestors who fought with them. And for those people who don’t want their state to fly the Southern Cross, here a solution that’s much easier that protesting……leave.There’s a term for it. Its called “white flight.”
J.J. Johnson –
Proud Black American
Come and Join Southern Patriotism at under groups

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More Pictures of Julington Creek

These are some more pictures from my Julington Creek trip a week or two ago.

This is the log that used to harbor a rope swing that everone who paddles this creek used to take a picture of. Apparently somebody thought it was too much of a hazard to boaters, so they took the liberty to cut it out.

It was a great day for paddling and the clear skies and calm water made for perfect reflections.

They've ripped out some trees at the St. Augustine Road bridge to widen the road in order to accomodate all the snowbirds relocating to paradise.


Dark and mysterious...This picture represents what most backwater creeks of north Florida look like.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pictures that Blogger Wouldn't Let Me Post

These are a few pictures that I was not able to post on my Julington and Juniper Creek trip reports for a number or reasons (mainly because Blogger is stubborn.) These were supposed to go on here yesterday, but, you guessed it...It decided not to work again. Oh well, here they are. (Photos taken by my dad, by the way.)

This run is filled to the brim with turtles.
Around every bend, you are likely to see a
turtle sitting on a log or swimming in the
crystal clear water. We managed to snap a
picture of these three before two of them
rolled off the log with a splash.

This one tried to be Mr. Tough Turtle, but
when we got too close, he too splashed into
the water and glided underneath us.
This is a little 6- or 7-foot gator that was
nice enough to pose for a few pictures. For
some reason, my dad aligned the frame wrong
and cut off his snout. Probably because of his
shaky hands due to his irrational fear of gators.
Still a nice picture nonetheless.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What Do You Want to See?

Laura at VitaminSea has come up with another great idea that I would love to take part in. I will quote from her blog because I have homework to finish:

"Sometimes we take our hometowns for granted. For example, right now the leaves are starting to turn up north, and I would LOVE to see that, but I can't get up there. I'd like to see YOUR hometown or neighborhood or other scenic areas at this time of the year. How does the scenery differ from NC to Virginia or California or Texas? what about the different parts of Florida?
Would you all like to join me in a photographic meme of sorts? I know it's been done on other blogs, but it would be fun to do it again.Ask me in the comment section what you would like to see photos of in my area. Taking into account the driving distances, and other factors, I'll oblige within reason."

So drop me a comment and tell me what you want to see of my homeland (if you haven't figured it out yet, I live in North Florida) and I will post the pictures NEXT weekend! While you're at it, go ahead and visit Laura's blog (linked above) for a nice list of links to other blogs participating in the game. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Computer, You're In For a Major Additude Adjustment

My computer's been having a bad additude lately, and this weekend I am going to give him a major additude adjustment. i.e. I'm going to perform a system restore on him (GASP!) So I'm down to work saving all the files I want to keep on CDs and getting ready to...uh...commence the adjustment. I believe poor Boniface (named after Boniface Wimmer, the founder of my brother's school, St. Vincent College) has been recruited into a Bot Farm, and he is not very happy about it. He has been running slowly lately and been taking great pleasure in freezing when I am in the middle of writing a Blogspot post (this has bappened three times now.) Out with the bad Boniface and in with the good.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What is this thing???

I found this...thing...on one of my citrus trees a week or two ago. I have absolutely no idea what it is or where it came from. It appears to be some form of insect larva...or some kind of worm?? I have no idea. If you look closely, it has distinct eye and mouth features, and when I touched it, it reacted very slowly. Does anyone know what this thing could be?


There is a picture I really want to post on here with a question for those of you who read, but Blogger is being stubbord and won't let me upload it onto its server. Do any of you know any good photo hosting websites I could try out besides PhotoBucket? Thanks.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I'm a rebel soldier...and not too far from my home

So this is me in my period dress. Notice that I do not have the re-encator's infantry coat...I'm just having a hard time justifying spending $200 on something that I will only wear a few times a year. And just to clear things up, I don't usually have that smirk on my face. I just put that on when I am dressed up as such. I've got a couple interesting stories from today, but I am going to leave you hanging for now because I need to go take a shower. Trust me, after spending a hot, dusty day like today in thick wool pants and a wool hat can really get you feeling dirty. Goodnight.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Olustee NOT "Old Lusty"

This Saturday is the Battle of Olustee Exposition (not the re-enactment, which is in February). I've been going out there for some time now (7 years?) and I love it! It occurs at the Olustee Battlefield State Park between the cities of Lake City and Macclenny, Florida. You can go and see lectures and demonstrations, some guns (maybe cannons) being fired, and, if you're lucky, me decked out in my period uniform. And for those of you who love nature, it is located right in the middle of Osceola National Forest, which contains beautiful Longleaf Pine ecosystems. I look forward to seeing you out there (whoever you may be :-D. ) You will have a great time, guaranteed. This was supposed to be posted last night, but I got up to do something and forgot about it. How loyal I am. Oh well.

OH and about the title...My father is the treasurer of the Olustee Battlefield CSO, and one time he was talking to a bank representative on the phone to register some kind of bank account. When he received the first bank statement the name on it was "Old Lusty Battlefield CSO." Wow. I wonder what the people who we did business with in the meantime thought.....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Have You Ever Heard of Olustee?

This Saturday is the Battle of Olustee Exposition (not the re-enactment, which is in February). I've been going out there for some time now (7 years?) and I love it! It occurs at the Olustee Battlefield State Park between the cities of Lake City and Macclenny, Florida. You can go and see lectures and demonstrations, some guns (maybe cannons) being fired, and, if you're lucky, me decked out in my period uniform. And for those of you who love nature, it is located right in the middle of Osceola National Forest, which contains beautiful Longleaf Pine ecosystems. I look forward to seeing you out there (whoever you may be :-D. ) You will have a great time, guaranteed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Julington Creek: "This ain't gonna last long"

I've posted so much about kayaking on this blog that it would probably be more accurate to title it with a name pertaining to paddling rather than my heritage. However, I believe it is in part my heritage that makes me enjoy kayaking and nature so much. Therefore, HurricaneTeen's blog will still be called "The Minorcan Factor" :-D

I've written about Julington Creek briefly in my previous posts about Durbin Creek. It is similar to Durbin Creek, but has more development (you can thank Duval County for that) on its banks. It remains a very beautiful and relaxing trip, though, and I always look forward to wetting a paddle in its dark brown, tannin-stained water. We set off from the Hood Landing Boat Ramp near Clark's Fish Camp (I referred to the alligator feed vending machines here, and they still remain. I need to get in contact with the game department and ask some questions.) It was early in the morning (about 7:15, I think) and it was relatively cool for the Florida summer, which made for some nice steam wafting from the glassy surface of the water.
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Paddling downstream, the creek narrowed out and the houses on the noth bank gradually disappeared.

After a while, we came upon a house that caught my eye. This was a beautiful house that I thought looked like an old fish camp from the looks of the architecture and layout. A man was feeding some fish in the creek and we stopped and talked for about 5 minutes. As we spoke, the distinctive rapping of a Pileated Woodpecker echoed through the swamp. He told us that he had just retired from the military and was getting his life back together back at home. He spoke of how much the area has changed in the time he was gone (trust me, I noticed) and about his website, When I commented on how nice his house was, he informed me that it was in fact an old fish camp that he had bought for a very low price a while back. He said that he loved it, too, but unfortunately he was going to take it out and build something higher off the creek, because if a flood were to come, he would suffer great losses. I can understand his concern and can't blame him for protecting his property, but I view it as yet another sign of old Florida being destroyed. As we said our goodbyes, he invited us to come back and visit him again. Next time I make this paddle I will be sure to do so, and also to get some pictures of his beautiful house.
As we passed by some other nice backwoods-looking homes (a rarity in this part of town) a couple of men sat and played banjo and fiddle in a bluegrass tune I could listen to for hours. Soon after, we passed under the St. Augustine Road bridge and continued on until a log blocked our path.
Here's some more pictures of this beautiful creek:

Blogger's being stubborn again and it won't let me post pictures. I'll post the rest of the pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Juniper Creek: "Now that was unexpected"

Due to fact that I have not posted in a while and that I have recently made FC's front page, I feel obligated to begin posting more often. We'll see how that goes.

I recently turned 16-years-old - apparently one of the most significant birthdays up there with 18, 21, and the over the hill 40 - and I was pestered constantly (by my older sister mainly) about what I wanted to do on that special day. Being the simple person I am, I told her "The family and a cake." And, due to the fact that I am one of the few people in the modern world who prefers peacefulness and solitude over large social gatherings, I tend to shy away from big parties.

I woke up Saturday the 26th, a couple days before my birthday, expecting a simple kayak trip down Juniper Creek that I had planned with my dad. This honestly would have been enough of a birthday "party" for me...especially considering how much of an experience it turned out to be.......

Driving down to the Ocala National Forest and to the Juniper Springs Recreation Area, we were both looking forward to what we thought would be a nice enjoyable paddle down Juniper Creek. The creek starts at Juniper Springs and snakes through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, an area largely untouched by man. It is a perfect place to spot many different kinds of subtropical flora and fauna, and to "get in touch" with much of it. We had thought that since this is a fairly large tourist attraction that the trip should be a simple drift for us without any significant obstacles. We were the first ones in the park, and looked forward to a day of relaxation........

We set off from the very nice canoe/kayak launch just a little downstream of the main spring. The water is only a few inches deep, scarcely deep enough to float a boat. The white sandy bottom is speckled by little boiling circles of sand, from which water bubbles up from the Floridian Aquifer. We ducked under some palm fronds and into a vast subtropical jungle, floating down a clear stream so narrow that the kayak would not be able to turn around if necessary......
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting This is the very nice launch at Juniper Springs Recreational Area. You can see how shallow and narrow the creek is when it enters the jungle toward the left of the picture.

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Our kayak and soaked gear after pulling out. Notice the palm tree in the background to the left. This is the only place I've seen palm trees grow in such a wet place, and I actually saw one growing in the MIDDLE of the creek farther downstream. Palms usually like high, dry land areas. It's unusual seeing them right against the water like this.

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This is a water hyacinth. Though non-native to the area, it is still a nice looking flower nonetheless.

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This is Cardinal Flower. This stuff can grow in big clumps in swamps and I have heard that it can grow up to 5 feet in height. Notice how thick the jungle is in the background...There was a constant sound of wild animals moving about back there. One quite loud and powerful we assumed to be a black bear.

Let me tell you that every single part of this creek is worth a picture. If I took a picture of everything I thought was outstandingly beautiful I would have to upload 1000 pictures onto here. However, the trip was not a easy as we had expected...3 things on the way downstream combined to make our day quite a challenge:

  1. The stream for the first mile or so if only about 10-20 feet wide. Our kayak is 13 feet long. It's hard to maneuver with that little room.
  2. The current is quite strong (I'd say around 3 knots), and it wants to push you into obstacles and overhanging branches.
  3. The branches and brush. We are used to dealing with branches and brush because of our extensive experience with swamp kayaking. However, the current and the fact that there were palm fronds EVERYWHERE did not help us much. We really got up close and personal with the trees and the wildlife that lives in them (i.e. spiders, ticks, and maybe even some snakes)

I regret the fact that I did not take more pictues, but I was so focused on not ramming into the next log that I did not have enough time to pull out the camera and snap pictures for you. However, I did manage to get these:

After heading downstream about 4 miles, we came to a screeching halt. A log, freshly fallen, blocked the ENTIRE stream, and a plethora of brush and trees blocked off any portage route. We had 3 options:

  1. Get out of the kayak onto the log and pull it over while sitting on the log, and get back into the kayak and continue downstream.
  2. Get out of the kayaking into the fast-flowing waist-deep water and attempt the pull the kayak over.
  3. Turn around and go back against the current, and make it all the way back or make friends with a man who happened to have a chainsaw.

While trying option 1, we got rammed into the brush that was piled against the log and turned sideways to the current. Spiders crawled all over us and the current began to spill water into the kayak...a very bad situation. After what seemed like an eternity of maneuvering, untangling branches, and swatting huge spiders, we paddled upstream about 20 or 30 feet and held onto a branch as we considered the next 2 options. The fear of losing our footing in the swift water and getting sucked under the log eliminated option 2. And for all we knew there could be another obstacle like this one farther downsteam. We opted to turn back.

On the way back, we had a few more worries on our hands:

  1. Paddling against the current was not an easy task.
  2. Breaking the bad news to all the other paddlers.
  3. Having no way of contacting my mother, she would be worried sick about us returning a couple hours late from the wildnerness.
  4. I knew t-storms would develop later in the afternoon.

The first problem was un-avoidable; we just did what we had to do. The second was the same as the first; we just told them plain out that we could not pass and that we recommended them turn around unless they had a chainsaw. Some of these people were families who had never experienced this before. God bless them. We were lucky in the 3rd regard in that, somehow, we managed to get a cell phone signal in a wilderness area where there was no cell phone tower to be seen. We called my mom and told her "uh...we're gonna be a couple hours late" just before I lost signal. And as for the 4th problem.....It rained on us once....and absolutely POURED on us you know what? Not a single rumble of thunder could be heard. And we were very lucky.....And a good thing happened on the way back: We passed by a good 7-8 foot alligator who was nice enough to allow us to get close enough for a couple good pictures before slipping into the water and swimming by us. I'll upload those later.

We arrived back at the canoe launch cold, wet, tired, carrying a few ticks, and ready to go home. On the drive home I looked forward to getting a nice warm shower and taking a nap. We pulled into a driveway full of cars. I walked into the house to a call of "surprise" by my family and friends. My response: "Ugh, it's so nice to see you all...but...I need a shower." The rest of my night consisted of food, friends, and laughs. Wow, what a day. I loved it.

I would like you to meet my friend Chris:
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just Stopping In

I just wanted to stop in and say I am still thinking about whoever may be reading (1 person?) and, yes, I have a burning desire in my heart to post. Unfortunately, school takes up most of my life and then the rest is taken up by stuff that I have set a date to have finished by (I want to finish my 6-foot mullet net by Christmas and I want an 8-foot shrimp net by the time the shrimp run next summer.) Thank the Good Lord I decided not to take AP classes this year.
I got my interim report card yesterday and I got 3 A's and a C. The C being in Pre-Calculus...that's the hardest dang class I've ever taken. Guess what I'm doing after I finish writing this post? Going back to study for Pre-calc. Oh well. You lose your life when you decide to study higher-level math courses...but I will need it for meteorology, so I better get used to it.
And my Steelers play the Miami Dolphins tonight in the absense of Big Ben Roethlisberger, who had an emergency appendectomy a few days ago...that poor guy has been really down on his luck this off-season.
I've got a couple kayak trip reports to post, and whenever I find time, I will do just that.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why isn't there ever any good news???

This is going to be a really long, emotional rant. So brace yourself.

I was riding home with my parents after visiting my family in St. Augustine, when my dad and I got into yet another discussion about Florida...Naturally this led to depression and a little anger with me, as it always does. My mom cut in and said, "You two are always so pessimistic." And I couldn't help but say "Mom, what's there to be optimistic about? Florida's gone.....It's dying." There was no response from her, and I know that she feels overwhelmed by the destruction also. And the last couple days has been just full of emotional depression for me, because I am seeing something I truly love being destroyed by outsiders....and even some of our own fellow Floridians. How can they do this to our land?? I just don't see how our leaders, specifically at the county level where I live, can allow this devestation to happen. I have recently read the Durbin DRI and Isles at Bartram Park DRI submissions, two developments that hit particularly close to home for me, as it will promote further destruction of my favorite place in the world, Durbin Creek. Not to mention the fact the William Bartram, a naturalist, would be horrified by the fact that a devlopment was being named after him. Florida's gone forever. Forever. And I never even got to see the half of it.
Thanks for reading my rant.

Now, for the lighter side, I'm going down to Ocala tomorrow to kayak Juniper Creek, a place I've wanted to go for a long time now. It looks like it will be extrememly nice, as it passes through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. I'll have some pictures and a story, I'm sure.

Well thank you for reading, and I hope to post tomorrow with my creek pictures.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

You Might NOT Be a Floridian If...

This is a list I compiled in about a half hour tonight based on the popular "You might be a redneck if..." jokes. In case you were wondering, this is all my own original thoughts, and they are all based on things I have observed non-Floridians doing or saying. Some are funny, some are serious, but all Floridians can relate :-D I'll add to this list later, but I figured since I haven't written a real post in a really long time, I would post it today. Enjoy.

  • You don't know what Chitlins are.
  • You cry foul over the sight of a gator in the wild. Even if it's just a 3 or 4 foot baby.
  • The sight of a brown patch on your front lawn depresses you.
  • You feel uncomfortable telling redneck jokes, thinking that they are "politically incorrect."
  • You don't know what the Bonnie Blue Flag is.
  • You jump on the table at the sight of a lizard in your living room.
  • You were sunglasses in the wintertime.
  • You look at a river and see nothing more than a boat highway.
  • You put sugar or honey in our grits.
  • You don't know what grits are.
  • You recoil at the sight of a "racist" Confederate Battle Flag.
  • You're afraid to get your shoes muddy.
  • You think a Gopher is only a mammal.
  • You think "Cracker" is only a derogatory term.
  • You build your fancy mansion on an eroding sandbar and then demand compensation when it gets washed away by a hurricane.
  • You can't tell a rattlesnake from a cottonmouth.
  • You think the word "drawers" refers only to a part of a dresser or desk.
  • You think tea is supposed to be served hot.
  • You think a Florida Cracker is a baked good.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My Sowwy...

Wow, it's been over a week since I've posted. I feel bad for any of those phantom readers who have lost their source of reading pleasure. School's back in and this little thing called spare time that I used for blogging over the summer is now non-existant. I want to post really bad about a couple things, but I just haven't found the time. Hopefully I can start up with my daily blogging routine once I get into the gist of things at school. And the water level on Durbin Creek should be rising slowly and steadily as these afternoon t-storms dump their rain into its watershed. I might be able to get the kayak back out there in October or Nobember; we'll just have to wait and see. By the way, FC. That cypress tree you were talking about does have very noticeable protrustions growing in an obvious pattern. They do look like those railroad spikes you were talking about, but have just been covered naturally by the wood of the tree. Now, I wonder what caused those three big protrusions you can see in that picture on here.
Oh well, I have a test or a quiz in ever class today, so I need to get back to studying. I hope to post later; we'll see how much homework I will have to eat up valuable time that I could be using on better things :-D. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

"We Hate You"...Even though we just gave you a standing ovation

I usually try to keep politics off of my blog (and out of my life) because it can really strike some enemies from people who otherwise would be completely good friends to you. But this I cannot ignore.
Last night was the summer graduation of the University of North Florida, and my mom was getting her master's degree in rehabilitation counseling. Don't know why she needed it; apparently for more money. Frankly, I don't think we need any more money, I think we need to get rid of some of it. But I digress. After all 806 normal graduates received their diplomas, about 6 or 7 ROTC graduates marched to the front of the arena to receive their commissioning as officers in the U.S. Navy. The leader of the NROTC of UNF began a short speech on their sacrifices that they have given to get where they were. When he read the words "These men and women endured the academic and phycical challenges of their training to defend the constitution of the United States...." applause erupted from almost everyone in attendance, and everyone stood and applauded them...Something they deserve greatly. When the leader attempted to continue his speech above the crown, nobody stopped. The applause got louder. This lasted for about 2 minutes until it finally calmed and everyone took their seat. How encouaging it was to see so many people appreciate our servicemen and women. After their commission was read, they began marching off as officers of the US Navy. From the silence there was a yell. "We hate you!" To this I have to say three things:

1. Whoever you are, you are lucky you were not sitting next to me because my first reflex would be to give you a nice little sucker punch. Even though you were a woman. I don't know if I would have actually done it (likely I wouldn't), but you WOULD have gonnen an earful from my grandma and me.
2. Speak for yourself. 98% of the people in the building just gave these men and women a standing ovation. Quite obviously, WE don't hate them. You do.
3. These men and women will put their lives on the line, just as all of our servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan do every day, to protect your right to say that. They risk their lives to give you the right to insult them. Whethere you agree with the wars we are currently involved in or not, they do not deserve to be insulted because of them

Well there ya go. I am going to try to stay out of politics, but I really thought that this needed to be written.

The Death of a Storm

Being the "Manic Meteorologist" that I am, I find myself actually getting depressed when I watch the destruction of a tropical storm or hurricane. I love these storms in almost the same way I love Florida (i.e.: I hate to see its destruction and I often go into true depression when I see it). I guess you could call me a Meteophile (and a Floridaphile, thanks to FC for the new vocabulary word.). Anyway, this partly explains why I have not posted as of late. I have been watching a storm get itself shredded apart, and I have a very intereting picture with some captions I have added for you viewing and learning pleasure. The picture still depresses me, and Chris has dissipated and looks like it has no chance at regeneration. Oh well, there will be a Debby very, very soon.
I'd like to make a note here...I love these storms and think they are among the most beautiful and awesome things on this earth. BUT I hate to see extremely strong storms make landfall and cause destruction and death. I add this because there have been times that I have been criticized by people who say I love to see storms make landfall and that I love to see the destruction (people said this to me multiple times after Katrina). Another story for another time.

The yellow arrows represent wind shear, which was extremely strong (40+ knots) and there is also a pink circle just below the arrows on the right. That pink circle encloses the center of circulation. As you can see, those upper level winds just blew that deep convection (high clouds) right off the circulation. I'll explain why this happens in a later post. This picture is a lot better when it is viewed in full-size, but Blogger likes to reduce the size of images when you add them, so this is the biggest I could get it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Busy...Very Busy...

With school starting up tomorrow and a poor tropical storm that is getting itself ripped up by wind shear like a squirrel vs. a pitt bull, I am quite busy...From organizing my school stuff to reading RECON reports, I'm keeping myself pretty busy...and I have a fantasy football draft in an hour. So I'm not posting...I know you're devastated...You phantom reader that never leaves any comments...I want to know who you are. And I swear I'm gonna post that seabreeze post soon, as soon as I get over the frustration of losing it. Anyway, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes and a picture of our poor tropical storm...Scratch that picture of the tropical storm. I'll post it tomorrow.
"Those of us with even a scintilla of Florida Cracker in our heart will see poignant similarities between us and the gophers (referring to Florida's endangered Gopher Turtle). We are both close to this sandy, old land and we may both be a dying breed. With the passing of either group, Florida will be the poorer." -Reid F. Tillery

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pulling My Hair Out!!!!

Currently, I am pulling my hair out over 3 things:

1. My Datil Pepper plants took an unbelievable turn for the worst while I was in Chicago this past week. I'll post about that later.

2. I have to go back to school Friday. Not dreading it, but summer flew by.

3. I was just finishing up this huge post explaining seabreeze collision and how it affects thunderstorm activity when my internet explorer shut down. I'll have to write about it again and post in a few minutes...


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Gone For A Week

Well I'm gonna ba in Chicago till next saturday working at a camp my brother started there for persons with disabilities. I'm extremely tired right now and I need to get up early tomorrow to get to Jacksonville International, I'll write about it when I get back, but for now, here's the website. Good night...and have a good week.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Some More Durbin Creek Pictues

These are some pictures of Durbin Creek that I just uncovered. They were taken Easter Sunday. Very interesting pictures that I though I had lost.

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These are the bridge pilings I wrote about in my prior post about Durbin Creek. I'm not sure how old these are, but it seems that these are leftovers from the old wooden bride that used to cross here a good long time ago. There is also some wood planking leading up to the water that cannot be seen in the picture. These posts are usually completely submerged (which would explain why they are so well preserved and why we have never seen them before this year), which gives an example of how bad the drought is right now. Since this picture was taken, the water level has dropped another few inches, and is showing no signs of rising.
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If we were to take this picture at normal water level from this spot, we would be up to our knees in the creek. It has been completely impassible since March. It's a shame that nobody can get back there and enjoy it this summer.

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This is the smaller of the two huge cypress trees that sit within a stone's throw of the creek. This one is set a little bit back into the woods and is visible from the canoe launch. It is 6 feet in diameter, which we estimate would make it at least 1000 years old...Amazing. Unfortunately, this one has graffiti written on the side facing the road, undoubtedly done by somebody who doesn't have the least care about Florida or its wild. Sick...And of yes, about the larger of the two huge cypress trees...there is one farther downstream that we estimate to be 9 feet in diameter (haven't measured it, but it looks about like 9 feet). That one has no graffiti on it because it's set back in the woods where no suburbanite would dare to go...except us. A perfect example of how isolation helps to preserve old-growth trees. It's amazing to see such huge trees back here, and it amazes me even more how they escaped the logging that swept through Florida in the 18 and 1900s. BTW...yes this is the first picture you've seen of me. And it's a horrible one at that. My sincerest apologies :-D.

Hope ya'll are enjoying the blog...And um...*grunts*...feel free to leave some comments.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hey! Where'd the creek go??

My father and I had planned a trip out into Kendall's Prairie for yesterday...unfortunately, our schedule (about 7-10 AM) had corresponded with low tide (about 8:30 AM)...which, on a salt marsh creek, usually means NO KAYAKING. It is not wise to go into a marsh when the tide is going out, because you may go into an area that WAS covered by water, but is later only very soft mud. As a result, you would get stuck in the mud without having anywhere to go until the tide comes up (the stuff is so soft that if you try to walk, you will just sink right into it.) So we didn't go back into the salt marsh as planned, but we did still take a good 8-mile trip on the Intracoastal Waterway. Here's some pictures of our trip:
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This is a Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), characterized by its pink-colored hind quarters and spoon-shaped bill. I wish I could have gotten closer for a better picture, but he was way up in the mud along with numerous egrets and herons. They are common in south Florida, but the populations in north Florida are spotty at the best. These poor guys have gone through some rough times in the past; they were prized in the 1800s for their wings, which were harvested and used for fans, and their plumage was also a favorite in the feather hat craze of the early 1900s. A threatened species, they seem to be recovering, and have populations on the eastern coast of Florida and the Gulf Coast of Texas.

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This is two trips in a row we have been greeted by dolphins! These guys showed up on our way downstream, a couple miles from the boat ramp, and surfaced again on our way back a couple hours later. Gotta love dolphins, they just love to play around humans.

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Well, you don't see that everyday. These are two Army Corps of Engineers barges that are filled wish trash (some of which is labeled "waste oil"...nice to know it's just sitting there in our waterway) just south of the bridge. They are a part of the dredging effort that is ongoing in the Intracoastal. Normally, there are floating in the water, but at low tide, they just sit on the mud like this. Interesting site to see.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Brief Evening on Julington Creek

My mom has never been out on our kayak before, and, thinking that she would enjoy it, we decided to go out to Julington Creek for a short trip along the bank. Julington Creek is a tributary to the St. Johns that I mentioned in my Durbin Creek trip report, and it is generally a very nice creek. I had planned to cast a few plastic lures into the cyress on the bank to try my luck with the bass...which, I am not afraid to admit, is never usually very good. After shoving my mom and dad off on their way, I tromped through some knee-deep grass in shorts and sandals....Stop right here....I never recommend doing this, because you can easily step on a rattlesnake or water moccasin and be in baaad shape. Not to mention the fact that you're probably going to end up picking tics out of your legs...and some other undesirable places...that night. Please don't be stupid like me. Wear boots and jeans, and snake leggings are recommended too. I found a nice mud flat up on the creek with a lot of cypress knees and snags, and was just fixing to set up my gear when I saw my mom and dad floating back up toward the launch site. Apparently, my mom had not enjoyed it quite as much as she though we would and wanted out. For some reason the same water that she waded out waist deep into when she was a kid just struck a nervous chord in her today. I did, however, have the time to snap a couple pictures...

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I found this plant growing alone set back on the high tide mark...Some kind of orchid maybe?? I have no idea.
UPDATE: Thanks to FloridaCracker, I now know that this plant is Swamp Lily. I feel kind of stupid living here all my life and not knowing what type of flower this is. But thanks, FC.

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This storm was brewing across the river as the sun set. Didn't bring anything but a little thunder to us.

Well, we're taking another trip out to Kendall's Prairie tomorrow, so be on the lookout for a story and pictures.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I've been doing some major cleaning/remodeling the past few days, so I really didn't have the time to post. Honest! But after a week of hard work, this was our treat...

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A big pot of Pilau, complements of my mom and a family "technique" that has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. This popular Minorcan dish is delicious if it's made right...and it's pretty hard to make it wrong. There really is no recipe for this, more like a technique...Some rice, some tomatoes, some shrimp or sausage, some onion, some datil pepper, some water, and cook until it looks right. Delicious. Now it's made me hungry...I need to go get myself some of them leftovers.

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