Friday, June 30, 2006

Stuart Pacetti's "Cracker Wisdom"

Here's a couple of my "Uncle" Stuart Pacetti's songs about Florida. He is a gifted songwriter in my opinion, and his songs about Florida and the St. Johns River really do touch a chord in my heart, and in all the hearts of those with even a scintilla of Florida Cracker in them. You can read an article about him and listen to a few of his songs here at CoastalLiving Magazine's website.

This Land I Love

Dear Lord,
What has happened
To this land I love?

No finer place
That I think of
Oh Florida has changed
That is for certain
And the ache in my heart
Will never quit hurting

My younger years
I roamed this whole state
The hunting and fishing
Were nothin' but great
The mighty St. Johns
Was loaded with bass
Millions of fishes
Were found in eel grass
Docks and boathouses
Now cover the shore
The natural beauty
Is changed evermore
We could fish all we wanted
Without any trouble
Now the numbers of boats
Have but tripled and doubled
Litter and trash
Cover the banks
The fish and the wildlife
Can offer no thanks
Dear Lord,
What has happened
To this land I love?

Well the woodland is crowded
With homes and golf courses
The scene that it makes is
Completely atrocious
When the woodland is cut down
The wildlife must scatter
To the greedy developers
This doesn't matter
Turkeys and deer
Have to fight for survival
They give up their woodland
To these new arrivals

Yes Florida has changed
That is for certain
And the ache in my heart
Will never quit hurting

Dear Lord,
What has happened
To this land I love?

Well the beaches
Are covered
With condos, you know
No longer can
The poor cracker man go
To cast his net
There in the surf
The newcomers think
That it's only their turf
They complain about this
And complain about that
I hear it so much that
I just have to shout
Don't move to my homeland
Please stay in some city
What's happened to Florida
Is really a pity

Yes Florida has changed
That if for certain
And the ache in my heart
Will never quit hurting

Dear Lord,
What has happened
To this land I love?
Dear Lord,
What has happened
To this land I love?

River Song
I see the water flowing slow
In the memories of my mind
Can hear the mullet when they jump
You can see them any time
I can feel that soft warm summer breeze
Flowing through cypress trees
Sight of gators and manatees
My mind if filled with these

Sights and sounds of that old St. Johns
They're with me all the time
To keep its water pure and good
Should be on all our minds

I can see a flock of egrets soar
Along that river shore
Watch an osprey when he dives
To catch his meal once more

Oh I can see that water flowing slow
In the memories of my mind
Sights and sounds of that old St. Johns
They're with me all the time

Well I have fished that river since I was a lad
With my grandpa and my dad
I've had some wonderful times out there
A few a little bad
I got a fishing buddy named Dwight McGee
He's just like a brother to me
When we're out there casting our nets
We're as happy as we can be
Catching shrimp in the summertime
Is a favorite thing of mine
Hope I can pass this tradition along
To that little grandson of mine
The golden sunsets that are seen
Are a sight to behold
Was put there by the master's hand
A million years ago

Oh I can see that water flowing slow
In the memories of my mind
Sights and sounds of that old St. Johns
Are with me all the time
Yeah sights and sound of that old St. Johns
Are always on my mind

Back To Suburbia

So I'm back to suburbia after being at my grandma's house in St. Augustine since Sunday. So let's see...I've eaten this week.....
1. Fried Eggs
2. Fried Shrimp
3. Fried Chicken
4. Fried Gizzards
5. French Fries (2 kinds)
And not to mention the butter-drowned grits, that heavenly bread pudding, and that single little fruit salad I had at Schooners....I love grandma's house.

And the past month or so...for a reason so strange I cannot explain why....but I am questioning myself........Would I give up my dream job for my dream home? Would I rather be Director of the National Hurricane Center and live in suburban Miami or have some other job and live in a trailor in the woods.....and increasingly, I choose the trailor. Wow, what a change of priorities. My mom would kill me.

I'll probably post later today and enlighten you all with some of Stuart Pacetti's "Cracker Wisdom"...but I have some pepper plants crying for water and sun right now...gotta run.


Monday, June 26, 2006

"I'm gonna stick my neck out..."

Sorry about the absences lately, but I've been one of the following:
1. Being Lazy (Mostly this)
2. Being at work (some of this)
3. Being at my grandma's house in St. Augustine (for the next couple days)

The following was posted by Florida Cracker on my favorite blog, Pure Florida. It pretty much sums up exactly what I believe on the issue...though I do admit to having a "Heritage Not Hate" Confederate flag bumper sticker on my car...

Yesterday, I rode into town and there in the parking lot of the Megalomart was a pickup truck festooned with signs and bumper stickers. It was the professionally produced magnetic signs on either door that caught my eye. They read: "Florida Cracker, an endangered species" I smiled. I know what this guy is feeling. When a thousand people a day are moving into your state, they bring their own cultures and most don't really give a damn about what was there before. Sound historically familiar? Anyway...I glanced up at the rear window of the pickup truck. I don't know how this guy could drive safely with every inch of the rear window plastered with the Confederate battle flag...the stars and bars. My smile vanished.Back in April, I thought long and hard before choosing my "nomme de plume". If you travel back to my very first post, deep in the archives, you will see that I was concerned that "cracker" was a loaded term and wrote a little disclaimer. My concern was that I would be judged by my pen name.A little history. I grew up in the town Martin Luther King called, "The most racist town in America". Our sheriff, L.O. Davis threw him in jail. I met L.O. as a teenager, his nephew was my fishing buddy. As a small child in the early '60's, I saw the Klan with their robes, signs, and pipe sections outside Sears and Woolworths constantly (HurricaneTeen note: My mom grew up directly next door to the Grand Dragon of the St. Augustine KKK, Holstead Manucy and my grandfather was a part of the me...that is a NASTY and HORRIBLE organization that we have had plenty of run-ins with...and my mom has experienced just what Florida Cracker is explaining here). When you're little, you don't understand the big picture, but the impressions, like black and white snapshots linger.I started school in 1964 in a pure white public school, the black kids had their own school across town. By the time I made it to 5th grade we had 3 brave, scared black kids in our school. Bare compliance with the desegregation laws.In the 7th grade, (69-70) they got serious about integration and created a 7th grade school the whole county. We would be bussed to what had been the all black high school and we would mix.We mixed, we fussed some as we got to know each other, and then we went through the ensuing school years together and nothing would ever be the same.Although I grew up with it, I let go of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of my southerness many years ago. You may be surprised to know that I wrestled with that decision. The war was stupid (as are most) and the cause was wrong, but the boys that fought it did so out of love of their home. The average soldier was a poor dirt farmer's son, not a slave holding plantation owner.There is a reason we send the young to war, they are impressionable and idealistic and not prone to question the big picture. It was true then, it is true today.Most of us hold the beliefs we have simply due to the way we were raised. If you are christian, jew, moslem , or's a good chance you are because your parents are the same. Those southern boys probably never questioned their cause. Hindsight really is 20/20.I have a family member listed among the dead on the confederate war memorial in downtown St. Augustine. So I wrestled. I did not want to dishonor this boy's sacrifice. In the end I let it go. I don't even whistle Dixie any more.For decades I have only seen the battle flag as a symbol of hate and ignorance, with the exception of those historical reenactments that would look pretty silly with the rebel reenactors flying some politically correct pseudoflag. It is okay to study history, it is not okay to change it.So I have some history with race and racial attitudes in the south.Today, I work with kids, mostly 7th graders. They are a wonderful patchwork of race and ethnicity. They are we were back in 1970. They don't realize or appreciate how far we've come, because they are young. They tease each other, but disputes are mostly over girls, boys, ...normal, non racial things. They can't imagine a world of separate water fountains and restrooms, etc. I can, I was there. Change did not happen overnight with the passing of a took years before those things were all gone.GET TO THE POINT FC!Point is, this guy with his Florida Cracker signs and his battle flag stickers is ticking me off by promoting a stereotype that I will just have to do battle with forever I guess. Guilt by association. I will just set the example and let you be the judge.I'm really stubborn. I'm really Floridian. I'm really not letting go of this label.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kelvin-Helmholtz: Waves in the Sky

I can't guarantee too many things, but I can pretty much guarantee this...Unless you are a studied meteorologist, you have probably never heard of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability and the clouds that result from that instability. One of my favorite weather phenomena (up there with ball lightning and St. Elmo's Fire), it is an extremely rare find, and you are very lucky if you ever see them. Often found near mountain ranges, they are formed by vertical wind shear, meaning that two layers of air are moving in opposite directions at different speeds. Just like what happens with waves at the beach, the lower layer of air slows due to friction with the earth, but the upper layer of air still moves at the same speed. This causes the upper layer of air to move out ahead of the lower layer and fall in front of it, creating a wave-like appearance.

Note: Blogger is being stubborn again and it won't let me upload a photo of these awesome cloud the mean time, you can always do a google images search and see for youself :-D

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kendall's Prairie

So my dad and I finally got the old kayak out yesterday after about a week and a half without paddling. We put in the Intracoastal Waterway at the new boat ramp off of (St. Johns) CR210 where the old drawbridge used to be (there is now a towering 60 foot tall bridge there...but that's another story I'd like to tell). It was such a refreshing day with overcast skies and a couple light rainshowers. We paddled south toward a salt marsh that we knew of (you can see it from the bridge) that looked like a nice paddle through some typical Florida grassland. We took a short pit-stop at a nice little beach (and i do mean little) with black mangroves, prickly-pear cactus, and short yellow wildflowers(do you know what those could be FloridaCracker?). We found signs of some campers there...tent stakes, a piece of mysterious metal, and trash...lots of trash. It's so disgusting that people would camp in such a pristine area and throw trash everywhere. So I picked my way through the plants, throwing water bottles, coke cans, and styrofoam plates into the kayak. Once I got everything picked back up, we sat down onto and into other people's trash and continued south toward our destination. We reached the mouth of a creek that led into the salt marsh and followed it along an easterly to northerly path. The current was surprisingly strong (about 3 MPH) and the submerged grasses bent over like you would expect to see in a mountain stream of spring run. As we looked around, we were amazed by the expansiveness of the grassland around us, and we noticed that parts might actually be a kikeable prairie...something we'll have to look into soon as we get snake leggings. All that could be seen for miles was grass, punctuated by hardwood hammocks full of sable and cabbage palms and live oaks, along with the omnipresent palmettos and other underbrush. We paddled until the creek got so narrow we couldn't go any further, after which we headed back to the boat ramp, with our memories of what I have since named Kendall's Prairie...named for my dog Kendall...the prairie and marsh were both unnamed on all the maps I looked at, so I decided to do as I always do and give it my own name for future reference. Looking back, there was surprisingly little wildlife...just some egrets, an osprey, and LOTS AND LOTS of jumping mullet and plentiful insects. There was a surprising absense of reptiles, but maybe they were just under cover because it was so cloudy outside...maybe we'll see more on sunny days. Anyway, this trip was 300% more fulfilling than I thought it would be, and I can't wait to go back to that wonderfully quiet and pristine place I call Kendall's Prairie.

Update: I feel like a fool. Alligators don't live in salt water.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


My dad and I were planning to kayak Juniper Creek today, but my mom came down with an illness last night and we had to stay home today to take care of her...We're hoping that maybe we can get out to Guana River for a short trip this evening, depending on how she feels. But as a result, I will be home all day without anything planned to do, so I've got a lot of time on my hands...And in accordance with the HurricaneTeen Postulate of Blogging Time=Posts, I will probably have quite a few posts today. Well I've got pepper plants that need to be moved out of the garage, citrus trees that need a little TLC, some branches that need to be trimmed, and a backyard of a true redneck (trash, etc.), so at least I'll be busy out there for a few hours. Chao for now.

Darius: The Immortal Fish

Last July my friend gave me some fish, a Tootie-Frootie Tetra and two Neon Tetra, when he moved out of town. The Neon Tetra killed themselves within a couple weeks, but the Tootie-Frootie Tetra, Darius, has survived for nearly a year with me and for over a year with my friend...So I would estimate him to be 2-3 years old, ancient for a fish of his kind. For this reason, he has earned the tag "The Immortal Fish" from myself and my friends, and he still lives happily and healthily in the 5-gallon fish tank on my desk. As I type he swims back and forth eyeing my and thinking Is it time to eat yet? But one of the most remarkable things about Darius is he liking to play dead and scare the daylights out of me. Three times in the past few months, I have come into my room to find a limp Darius laying on the bottom of the tank...And all three times when I came back with the net to scoop him out, I would find him swimming quickly back and forth and looking me straight in the eye. A victory swim. I can't believe it. Who says fish aren't exciting pets?
Caption: The blur of Darius as he swims back and forth...And yes, that is an Ichiro Suzuki bobble-head doll on the bottom.

Tropical Storm Alberto: A Recap from Hilton Head Island, SC

As you can see from my earlier posts, I was not happy that I was going to be in South Carolina when Tropical Storm Alberto was set to pass directly over my hometown. But as it turns out, there was no better place I could be on the Atlantic Coast to experience this storm...On Monday, I went to Folly Beach on Hilton Head Island as I always do this time of year. Going down to see how the Atlantic was reacting to the storm, I found myself getting sandblasted by about 15-20 MPH sustained winds with gusts to around 30 (all estimated because I didn't bring my anemometer...but I do estimate windspeed pretty accurately). Beach erosion was noticeable, but overall it was just a minor reshifting of the sand from South to North. Wave action was still small, as we still had winds paralleling the coast from South to North.
Tuesday was the day we really felt the affects of Alberto. We were greeted with squally weather with driving rain, high winds, and isolated weak tornadoes. Going down to the beach, the sandblasting was all but over as the winds backed to the East, directly onshore. There was a slight water rise and an increase in the turbulence of the waters as the 25-35 MPH sustained winds pushed it toward the beach. Fortunately for normal people but unfortunately for meteorologists/surfers, the island has a good system of sandbars offshore that reduce any wave action to just two or three feet and only a slight storm surge with a storm as weak as Alberto.
Meanwhile, back at home we had about 3-4 inches of rain and only a 17 MPH wind gust recorded by my rooftop anemometer. I guess God worked and allowed my retreat to work out better than I could have hoped for. In more ways that one this week I was reminded why I love God...and why He loves me...So here's the estimated statistics/observations from Hilton Head...

Maximum Temperature: About 85-90 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday
Minimum Temperature: 70-75 degrees throughout the week
Rainfall: 2-3 inches over Monday and Tuesday
Maximum Windspeed: 30 MPH, gusts to 40
Maximum Wave Height: 3-4 Feet
Water rise: Less that 1 Foot
Beach Erosion: Minor
Observations: Cloudy with heavy squalls Monday/Tuesday, sunny and warm Wednesday/Thursday

Back From Hilton Head...And Already Back To My Kayak

I just wanted to write and let ya'll know that I returned from Hilton Head Island today after a weeklong Christian high school youth conference...I need to hit the hay though because I need to be up at 6:00 tomorrow morning for a trip down to Ocala...Planning on taking the Juniper Spring Run from Juniper Springs to Juniper Wayside on the kayak tomorrow...I'm tired and I have a lot of writing to do on here tomorrow :-D

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Excuses, Excuses...

Here's a note from my mom:

Please excuse HurricaneTeen from his asbsense from Blogger yesterday, 6/10. He was out sick with the broken AC blues and was unable to post.
-Mrs. HurricaneTeen's Mom

There it is, straight from the horse's mouth. It got unbearably hot yesterday (our only portable fan was being utilized by my mom and I do not have a ceiling fan in my room) so we decided to go stay in a hotel (honestly, I would have prefered camping behind the house). We actually ended up staying in The Omni, a really fancy hotel in downtown Jacksonville.

The Omni

So I'm writing this from my grandparents' house and I will later go over to my sister's and stay the night there while babysitting my nephew. From there, I'm off to Hilton Head Island until Friday...So I guess I'll "see" ya'll Friday, and I'll update you on how everything went...

Ladies And Gentlemen...I would like you to meet Tropical Storm Alberto

So it looks like we've got a new tropical storm on our hands and I'm got mixed emotions about it. I'm really disappointed about it because it's forecasted to be DIRECTLY over my house this coming week, but I will be gone until Friday at a retreat in Hilton Head Island. So I'm going to miss the first tropical storm of the year as it hits my house directly...assuming it maintains vertical structure and is pulled northeast by the trough over the midatlantic. But I'm also really happy because it will do a lot to help relieve our drought here and it will raise the river and creek levels so I can once again kayak in some of my favorite streams. Oh, well, I am kinda sick about it so believe it or not I'm not even going to talk about it. You can see the satellite pics of it below and you can go to for official forecast discussions.

Friday, June 09, 2006

TD-1A Soon To Form in the Caribbean?

So it looks like we might be having a tropical depression forming in the Atlantic soon...I'll let the NHC take care of this one cause it's now 84.2 degrees in my room and I really need to turn the computer off and get out of here...

KNHC 091524T
1130 AM EDT FRI JUN 09 2006

AC Still Broken and I finally get boots

So our air conditioning is still broken and the outside temperature is 96.3 over grass and 103.7 over concrete. Ow. The temp in my room right now is 83.7 degrees, which would feel good if it was outside, but for some reason 84 degrees is MISERABLE inside a house. It was so hot I seriously considered setting out a blanket and sleeping in the yard last night because it was actually cooler outside than it was inside the house...I may do that tonight because I didn't get ANY sleep last night and I was really tired at work. So the repairman came and said we had a freon leak UNDER OUR HOUSE and out air handler is completely rusted. He'll have to replace both the air handler and the freon line that runs under our house....for a measly cost of....$2,885....YACH!!! THAT'S MORE THAN I MAKE IN A YEAR!!! And worst of all, he can't replace it until Monday and the forecast high tomorrow is 99 degrees...well at least I can have a slight appreciation for what my ancestors had to go through 230 years, I'll never feel the misery they felt......but at least I feel the heat.

Oh yes...About the boots...
So I was walking around the parking lot taking in carts at Publix this morning when I came across a good looking pair of boots just lying there in the back of the lot. I've been looking for a good pair of boots to kayak and hike in and to do some of the more interesting lawn work at home (I.E. tromp into the snake-infested corner of our property and cut down tree limbs and ferns....but that's a different story). So I broght them in and set them in the associate lounge until I got off at 1:00. The soles are a little torn up so I'm just gonna have to get some rubber and patch them up with Gorilla Glue and maybe a few tacks...THROWING AWAY GOOD BOOTS JUST CAUSE THE SOLES ARE A LITTLE TORN UP!? One man's trash is another man's treasure.

I know the picture stinks...I took it with my crappy webcam.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

45-Acre Wildfire and Broken AC

I wrote this yesterday and I was going to post it directly afterward, but was being stubborn and it wouldn't let me sign in...

My sister called me a few minutes ago and told me that she was seeing a huge plume of smoke off of US1, only a mile away from her home. My brother-in-law was actually driving through it and was stopped by police, who told him that there was a fire in the area (nah, really??). I logged on to and read that the fire was near US1 and Pine Island Road, very near my sister's house. I have also learned that US1 has been closed from CR210 south to International Golf Parkway (Nine Mile Road). I am currently tracking the smoke plume on radar and watching it advance toward my house along with the seabreeze. I can see some smoke on the horizon and it should be here within an hour. All I can say is I hope this isn't another 1998, and I sure hope it misses my sister's neighborhood. On top of all this, the air conditioning just broke in my house...well actually it's BEEN broken for 10 years with intermittent periods of working condition...and it's getting really hot. I'll update later.

Update: Forestry officials say the fire is now contained, but it still has the possibility of flaring up today...hopefully the seabreeze won't fan the flames and cause it to spread out of control again. I could still smell smoke this morning, but that is now gone for the most part, and US1 has been re-opened. St. Johns County, along with many other Florida counties, is still under a burn ban, so don't burn anything!!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Memories of 1998

Everybody who lived in north Florida in 1998 must remember the drought and huge wildfire that swept through parts of St. Johns County near St. Augustine. It got national news coverage and wildfire crews came from all parts of the country to help put out the blaze. I was staying at my grandma's house that day, and we had went to a family-owned restaurant, Schooners, for lunch. When we walked out the door, our stomachs full of fried shrimp and Datil pepper sauce, we spotted a HUGE plume of smoke off to the west...right near my grandma's house. We drove home, a little worried about what the situation may be in her heavily forested neighborhood. When we stepped out of the car and onto her driveway, we choked as smoke filled our lungs. The fire was only a mile away. We sprayed down her house with water just to be safe and my parents came to pick me up, afraid of what may happen. Fortunately for us, this fire stayed away from my grandma's 60-year-old house and no harm was done to our own property. Others were not so lucky...

In many ways, this year reminds me very much of 1998. Hot, extrememly dry weather, with the very little rainfall always accompanied by lightning. Not good news when it comes to wildfire danger. Hopefully we won't have anything like that this year, but the conditions seem right for it.

My First Day!

This is my first day on blogspot and I am excited to be able to share my thoughts with all of you in CyberSpace. First I'd like to give you a few of the factoids about me I am most proud of...

I'm an 11th generation native Floridian.
My family settled New Smyrna in 1768 and, after 5 years of an indenture and 4 years of practical slavery under the now hated Andrew Turnbull, they escaped in 1777 to St. Augustine, where we have been ever since.
I still carry on much of Minorcan tradition
I have 26 documented ancestors (probably more that I haven't found yet) who bravely fought for the Confederate States of America in the War Between the States
I grow Datil Peppers, Tangerines, and Satsumas...I wish I grew more...I guess you could say I have a green thumb
I truly love the REAL Florida (not Disney World, Florida's wild) and I hate to see it get pillaged by overdevelopement
I love kayaking and cycling...especially because it allows me to see parts of this beautiful state that so few people get to see
I am an aspiring meteorolgist and I plan to go into the field of tropical meteorology
I am a devout Roman Catholic
Like many southernors, I'm a Democrat for the most part, but the immorality of some of their beliefs drives me to consistently support Republicans
Okay and I'll admit it before you find out some other way....sigh....I'm half dad's from Pitsburgh....consequently, I love Pittsburgh sports.

So those are the topics I will probably talk about most often on here, mixed in with some random stuff I may come up with. I am going to try my best to post on here every day, but this can get hard, especially during the school year, when I am busy. I am also working on getting a digital camera so I can post pictures on here. I hope ya'll enjoy it...and I hope I can keep up with it.