I realize that activity on Pleonast is not what it once was. I understand that Facebook is the currently popular social medial outlet and yes, I have a page on Facebook. But I don't like Facebook. Maybe I don't understand how to operate it properly, but I see pages with a lot of single sentence entries. Not paragraphs with thought out prose. I see advertisements galore and annoying emails telling me I haven't been on Facebook in a while. So if no one reads this, so what. I enjoy writing it.
In other news.....
We started two major Everglades restoration projects at the Mitigation Bank south of Turkey Point. Up until May the weather has been perfect for completing the work. Very little rain, nice wind and mild temperatures. All of which means very few mosquitoes and flying insects. About 4 weeks ago the rainy season started, which is great for the new plants but tends to hamper excavation work. An the mosquitoes are now vicious. I actually wore the head netting that covers one's head and face.
The two contracts underway include removal of rock access roads that were put in place about 40 years ago. One one project we have installed over 9 miles of silt fence, excavated over 22,000 cubic yards of lime rock. Dump trucks drive about 2 miles from the excavation area to the stockpile area on property by the time we complete hauling of all of the excavated material the trucks will travel over 6,000 miles. And we will have planted over 22,000 red mangrove plants. The second project involves removing a roadway and filling in an adjacent canal then planting over 1/2 million sawgrass plants.
I put a mobile field office in the area and operate out of it each day. I like being in the middle of nowhere, very little traffic at rush hour. Nice scenery and once in a while animals in the wild. So far this month we have sightings of 3 water moccasins, 2 eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, several crocodiles, a juvenile alligator in one of the work zones as well as tracks of what appears to be a rather large bobcat.
We went to Tampa last weekend. On Saturday we had the first, possibly annual, science & invention symposium and cook out. I have a couple of electronics projects that I started last month and need some assistance, dialogue, second opinions, or whatever. Caleb came over early in the day and we got one of them to work. It is actually two components. A transmitter and a receiver except that instead of using radio waves it uses a laser to transmit the sound. Naturally it is dependent on a line of sight transmission. I was thrilled that it actually worked. The second project is an electromagnetic levitation device. The circuitry is not that complicated but it does include an Arduino control board. The control board is programmable and is suppose to control the power input to the electromagnet, but we could not get it to function correctly.
Troy showed up later in the afternoon and joined us for the cookout and later we set up the projector and shared You Tube videos. I think it is a fun way to spend time with a group because many people have certain videos on line that they have found and want to share with others. Kelton is going to try to get a job and plans on staying in Lutz for the summer. I will miss our nightly conversations.
We had a visitor at bible class on Wednesday night in Key Largo who has set out to hike from Key West to Maine on the scenic trails like the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. His plan is to do this ultra light with a minimum of weight. He spent the night with William, the preacher, in Key Largo and walked from there up to Homestead the following day. It is about a 26 mile hike along the highway. William gave him my phone number and he called to find a place to spend the night. We were happy to help out, his original plan was to just find a secluded area and sleep for the night. Unfortunately his bivouac tarp was left behind in Texas, so he would just be sleeping out on the ground. On a primitive trail this is not unusual, but in an urban area like Miami, it is not safe. He had developed some painful blisters on his trek from Key Largo as well and needed to recoup so he spent the day at our place on Friday, planning to head out on Saturday. After talking with him further we learned he had no experience on long treks. He had never prepared food on the trail and his cooking gear consisted of a small alcohol stove, a large aluminum can and a bandana. Very minimalist but with no experience, and no food, yet.
Well Friday night was training night for food prep while on the trail. We took him to the store and picked up packages of noodle mixes, chicken and albacore in the foil bags, instant mashed potatoes, individual brownie mix and some Jello cheesecake pie mix. We also picked up some alcohol for his stove. It was a fun evening, we had the Parmesan noodle mix with chicken, a cheddar cheese noodle mix with chicken, and heated up the albacore in the foil pouch holding it over the flames from the alcohol stove. The instant mashed potatoes were good too. His aluminum can worked to cook the noodles in but cleaning was very difficult because it was tall and narrow. We also showed him how to prepare the food using Ziploc freezer bags, hot water and an insulated pouch, called a "cozy". Kim made some several years ago and gave him one to take with him. Using this method, there is no cleanup, only water is boiled in the container. All of the food is prepared in and eaten from the bag. We also took him to the sports store to get a stainless steel mug with a handle to use instead of the aluminum can. We learned, in a rather eventful way, that picking the can up off of the stove using the bandana results in a flaming bandana, so the handle on the mug was a good thing.
He did not have a traditional mess kit, so we fixed the brownie in an old tuna can using a foil cup (cut from a cup cake pan) and about 1/2" of water. We covered it with aluminum foil and put it over the alcohol burner for just under 10 minutes. The alcohol stove doesn't simmer so I thought it might not work but the brownie baked perfectly. Kelton showed him how to mix the cheesecake filling in a Ziploc bag and then squeeze it out to eat. We call it cheesecake goop.
It was a fun and he learned how to prepare some basic foods and how to use his stove safely.
The distance to the trail head at Big Cypress National Park is about 50 miles and I tried to talk him into letting me drive him to the trail head but he was determined to hike the whole way and not skip any part. My concern is that he could not make it all the way in one day and he would still be on the outskirts of the Miami urban area and there is no safe place to stay en route. He agreed to call me if he did not find anyplace to overnight safely. By the end of the day he had gone about 26 miles and did call. I picked him up and he spent Saturday night and Sunday with us. He was still having problems with the blisters and a rash. We procured some ointment and showed him how to use mole skin. I took him back to the point I picked him up on Saturday early this morning. He had about 30 miles to hike to the national park so he should be okay tonight. He knows to call us if he needs help anywhere along the way.
On another note, I set the DVR to record the Denver / Pittsburgh game while we were at services and when we came home did not watch the end of the game but went straight to the recording to see it from the beginning. I learned that I need to record not only the game but whatever show is after the game. The game went into overtime but the DVR stopped recording when the allotted time slot for the game was over so we did not get to see the overtime portion. I'm glad Denver won.
Took the Mariner out today sailing in Florida Bay. For those not familiar with the Florida Keys, this is the are between the Keys and the Everglades on the mainland. In the Keys one lives either on the "Ocean Side" or the "Bay Side" of Highway US-1. We have sailed on the Ocean side for the last couple of years but I have the boats at the sailing club which is on the Bay side and this is new territory. I like it better in that there are a lot of small keys or islands dotting the bay. The water is also not as deep. It varies between 1 ft. deep in some areas to 6-8 ft. deep. The small keys, some no more than mangrove groups dot the area and all look alike. It would be easy to get lost without a chart or GPS.
I had some new crew join me on the boat. One of the staff at Starbuck's in Homestead, Ariel. He had a friend who recently inherited a large catamaran which they tried to take out sailing. It appears the boat had not been maintained very well and had a thick layer of barnacles on the bottom of the hulls. It sank last week so it is no more, but Ariel got the sailing bug and wanted to go out. I am always looking for someone who wants to sail. Ariel is also an aspiring artist he likes to paint surrealism pieces. I need to get him a Pirates of the Caribbean bandana though. He would look just like Capt. Jack Sparrow.
The paradigm was the distance we covered. We sailed north just short of the Everglades and our total round trip distance was just under 30 miles. We left the dock at about 10:00 am and got back around 5:00 pm. That is the longest single day sail that I have ever done to date. Good wind, not too much not too little, mild seas and lots of sun. Ariel really enjoyed it so a good time was had by all.
During the recent consolidation of offices in the Miami are for the company I work for, the Legal Department was moved to another facility and left their law library behind. It seems that everything is digital now days and they don't need all of these law books anymore. So we were left with the task of clearing them out (aka throwing them away.) However, on the shelves I found the published law books dating back to 1846 up to 1919. These are the original law publications issued by the Florida legislature, not reprints. One of them even has a signature in it that is clearly of a time period when penmanship was a practiced art.
While a lot of it is boring reading, this is history unfiltered. That is to say, one can interpret the mindset of the people of the day by the laws that are enacted and the wording used. For instance, the governor is referred to as "His Excellency, the Governor of the State of Florida". I doubt any governor today would allow such an introduction for fear of alienating the populace.
It is also interesting to see the change of tone between the pre-civil war legislation and post-civil war legislation. In fact the laws after the civil war are very progressive for their day. I believe that Florida was actually the first state to put for articles of succession formally, 15 years before the Civil War. But the article did not take effect until other states succedded. I have the publication of the Constitutional convention held after the Civil War. It seems that the Federal Government insisted on Federal Control of the state immediately after the Civil War, but ultimately allowed the state to resume it's independence under a new state constitution.
I have only been able to glimpse the State convention of 1865. It is printed on very cheap paper, like newsprint and some of the pages are not even properly cut so that they can be opened fully. The paper is decaying and very fragile, after all it is 145 year old. From the little I have been able to read, Florida was clearly in dire straits after the war and the legislation has a much more humbler tone than in the years before the Civil War.
For the last 4 weeks I have had to work out of the General Office in Miami helping to consolidate offices because the building is being sold. This is a 600k sq. ft., 6 story, facility that is a labyrinth of offices. As part of the sale, we have to relocate most of the operations on the 1st, 5th and 6th floors to other buildings or into the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the building. It is a rather hectic and chaotic operation with lots of left over furniture. Some of the areas that we have had to vacate have had storage cabinets sitting in the same place since the building was first built in the mid-1970's. How do I know this? The carpet under the cabinets is the lime green that was popular in that era, along with, what I believe was called, "burnt orange". We found some of that too.
But, yesterday I got a call inviting me to "assist" in the aerial survey of the mitigation bank. This means flying around in a helicopter that has the doors removed and taking pictures. I, of course, accepted the invitation, rescheduled other appointments and rode around in a helicopter for about 3 hours. It was really cool. And yes it was educational as well. I got to see first hand areas of the mitigation bank that I have only been able to view previously using Google Earth.
In other news.....
- Joined the Upper Keys Sailing Club last week. Looking forward to opportunities to sail with others and participate in races.
- Kelton is signed up to take his SAT test in May. I told him that if he made a perfect score, Mom will not bug him about his geometry workbook. Kim told him that if he makes a perfect score he will be interrogated by educational experts on how he cheated. Hmmmm. Kelton being interrogated by education experts....that would be fun to watch. We could probably sell tickets or maybe even "pay-per-view cable".
- We visited a local "geological park" last Saturday. Interesting but not really exciting. I found that I like latin names for plants however. "Wild Coffee" is "psychotria nervosa".
- We celebrated our anniversary on Tuesday 4/19. In the past I have arranged to spend the weekend at some place on or near the water. Such plans now seem rather anti-climatic seeing we live now on the water. So we went to the Cheesecake Factory in the Coconut Grove area of Miami. Then walked along the pier front at Dinner Key Marina. Weather was perfect and of course dinner, and desert, were delicious.