On a Return Home

Greetings from my home in Cincinnati. We recently returned from a 6-week stay as snowbirds on the Alabama coast, the place where I kept my little corner of the world in full swing. Travel time returning home (Friday and Saturday) is the reason for not having a weekend concert and for my absence – but Aretha is still schedule for this coming weekend … and the opening song is set!

That my walking beach to the west (and 2 miles/3.2 km to the rocks)

 

The weather during our stay wasn’t the best – but as I always say, no matter how cold it is in Alabama during our stay, it’s warmer than home! January had cold, but that was when Cincinnati (and many of you) were gripped by bitter cold. Plus, the only snow we saw was on news reports. Of the three years in Alabama, this year was probably the worst – and the first year without a good streak of sunshine – but hey – the overall weather was better than home.

Glad I captured the storm cloud

 

I always say these 6-weeks are for my alter ego – a time with minimal obligations – a time away from normal routines – a time when I can focus on walking the beach as much as possible. How much did I walk during the 43 full days? Here’s the tale of the tape:

  • 911,867 steps covering an estimated 405.3 miles (652.3 km)
  • 21,206 steps averaged per day
  • 17 of 43 days over 10,000 (but less than 20K); 24 of 43 days over 20,000 steps (but less than 30K), and 2 days of 43 over 30,000 steps

 

I was hoping to lose some weight during the 6-weeks south. Then again, I know we will go out 2-3 times per week. Good news is that we were able to limit the snacks that my wife’s father enjoys. Bottom line is 8 pounds lost and my waist feels smaller.

Walking also means composing more beach walks. I don’t have a final count on the number of drafts, but it may be the most ever. I think over 40.

I love sunrises, but given the weather, I didn’t see many achieving the wow factor.

 

On the worst weather days, we like to go to a theater. This year we saw Vice, The Upside, and The Wife.

TIP: When at the beach, if you see something interesting, take a picture and then send it to a marine biology department at a local university.

Outside cylinders of tube worms

 

My wife is a prolific reader – but I read two books this time: both by diplomat Madeleine Albright – The Mighty and the Almighty and Fascism: A Warning. Reviews in the future. I’ll post reviews in the future.

On one of the questionable weather days, we visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It’s very well done – and free. Compared to the US Air Force Museum in Ohio, it’s much smaller.

For the record, we only dance a few dances one evening – so it will take some time to regain ballroom form.

Outside our front door looking to the north at the intercoastal waterway

 

We were pleased with the gas mileage of our Subaru Outback. Over the 2800+ miles (4510+ km) covering 6 weeks, the Outback’s gas mileage was 31.4 miles per gallon.

As after arriving at home Saturday afternoon, Sunday provided a small dose of snow, Monday deliver the first of a two-day punch of frigid, plus I ordered my first hearing aids, AND began prep for Tuesday’s colonoscopy. Such a great way to return home! Hooray – no polyps! Next colonoscopy in seven years!!! – but a busy return has slowed my blogging presence.

We enjoy the Flora-Bama – truly a regional institution with national acclaim. (past post) The bios of some of the musicians are impressive. For instance, the only way we know Neil Dover is that he proceeded our favorite duo – so we typically only heard 15-30 minutes each time. Interestingly, his degree is in opera! He’s written a great song about this quirky musical palace. The lyrics and the video are perfect. Enjoy Neil Dover with FloraBama Time.

On a Slice about Americana

florabamabeach

There it is … sitting along a beautiful beach sandwiched between a high-rise condominium to its right and a parking garage of another high-rise condo to its left. A place where friends meet. A place where others become friends. A place for good times and good music.

It’s a local legend, yet a place well-known throughout the South. A place that northerners in the condos as vacationers or snowbirds came to know. The place actually straddling the Florida-Alabama state line – although it is mainly in Florida. A place that was a very short walk from where we stayed in January.

There it is – A place displaying a weathered look while sitting along the beach since 1964. A weathered look of normal wear and tear that beach side brings, plus the occasional hammering by storms and hurricanes.

The Flora-Bama -a colorful place with a colorful past that includes a long list of colorful characters.

The Flora-Bama – a place featuring music seven days a week by local and regional musicians songwriters. Some who made it to the national stage of hits and awards while others maintain their local craft.

The Flora-Bama – with its more than eclectic collection of artifacts adorning its walls and ceilings – plus walls with names of patrons written in permanent markers – let alone the framed signed pictures of visitors and performers – and yes, even there is even more to see.

The Flora-Bama – an institution to many, no wonder country music star Kenny Chesney wrote a song about it. No wonder he performed his only concert of 2014 along its beach to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Before I tell you more in another post, I’ll let his lyrics and his music video introduce you to this slice of Americana – the place its documentary called The Last Great American Roadhouse. Welcome to the Flora-Bama Lounge Oyster Bar and Package Store.

On a Month Without

For us, January 2017 started with change questions. What would a month be like without ballroom dance, without handbells, without volunteering, without our friends, and without our normal routine?

Jan 1: We left Cincinnati on a cool, foggy morning for a day of driving, which included a light rain that occasionally became more – but not a constant rain. We noted the slow increase in the temperature.

Jan 2: The final 4.5 hour drive, again with intermittent rains of varying strength. Dry at the time of arrival, but the view of the surf while unpacking told a different story – the dangers of a nearby tornado – so down to the lower lobby we went. The evening storms off the coast provided an extraordinary light show that was worth watching – but the next morning would be a positive omen.

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Jan 3-5: Cool but comfortable days. Sometimes shorts, sometimes jeans, but always long sleeves and usually a jacket. Good enough to find our routine of breakfast, lounge, walk, lounge, lunch, lounge, walk, lounge, shower, dinner, cards/television, and sleep.

Jan 6: A stormy day that also brought falling temperatures – a good day for a movie (La La Land).

Jan 7-9: The northerly winds delivered quite the chill, yet no matter how cold, it was warmer than home. Walkable days, but shorter distances.

Jan 10-19: After the initial transition day, a string of days of sunshine and 15-20 degrees F (13-24 C) above normal. Perfect days to continue the routine. Days that would treat us to glorious sunrises, colorful sunsets, and brilliant nightly moons.

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Jan 20-21: Although temperatures remained above normal, unstable air delivered an angry sea and occasional storms – even tornado watches and warning severe enough to interrupt normal television. Good days for movies (Hidden Figures and The Founder).

Jan 22-25: The normal routine returns as storms are gone, but the above normal temperatures remain. It’s been quite a streak of warmth.

Jan 26-27: Normal temperatures finally arrive – 60 F (15 C) by day – 40 (4 C) at night. The breezes are cool. Sweatshirts and jackets are the order of the day. Some people in shorts, others not.

Jan 28-29: Noticing the temperature decrease during our return drive home – a home not along the sand and waves, but one of wonderful sunsets when the sky is right. Home – the permanent one, not the temporary. A home with colder temperatures and light snow in the air. Home – the place (while we were gone) that had 1 sunny day, 6 partly sunny/party cloudy days, and only 7 precipitation-free days in January (although overall temperatures were above normal). Home – the place for ballroom dance, handbells, volunteering, friends, and normal routines – just not the routine of January 2017.

That was our January in Orange Beach, Alabama. A time when we had a different routine – one of first-time snowbirds. A time when I drafted over 20 posts the old-fashioned way – on paper – so I now face the daunting task of getting them ready.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 321

La La Land was the big winner at the Golden Globes. We saw it several days before the awards. Fun movie. Thumbs up! I hope to see Hidden Fences next.

Meryl Streep caused much stir at the Golden Globes. To me, wrong time, wrong place – especially because she got the stage for lifetime achievement.

Different things on my plate at the moment that is standing in the way of my visits. 😦

I continue to read about the interrelationship between science and religion. I’m enjoy examining the bibliographies to see if they list authors I’ve read. A smile verifies that I selected the right people in my self-guided journey.

College football’s national championship game was quite the encounter. Congratulations Clemson!

Embed from Getty Images

Countdown is on toward Inauguration Day, and I am confident the partisans are thrilled.

David Brooks made the statement below in early September. In light of the election results and the post-election analysis of who voted for whom, Brooks was spot on.

Politics is catching up to social reality. The crucial social divide today is between those who feel the core trends of the global, information-age economy as tailwinds at their backs and those who feel them as headwinds in their face.

I’m against the waiver for James Mattis for Secretary of Defense. I see 3 Democrats were against granting the waiver. The difference between me and them is that they would vote for the waiver if it involved one of their own while I would stay the same.

Confirmation hearings of Cabinet members are predictably more about partisanship rather than fitness.

Some wonder how long will it take for Democrats today to adopt the behaviors of Republicans of yesterday. Others say one doesn’t have to wait because they already have.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
My Bengals not making the NFL playoffs
Snow when you don’t want it
The Dow not breaking 20,000
Alabama losing to Clemson
Trump-Putin bromance

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists the 2017 agenda for Congressional Republicans.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man Not Accepting Any More Television Recommendations At This Time
Exciting New App Allows Users To Be Pawns In 26-Year-Old CEO’s Little Game
5-Year-Old Stares Longingly Down Garbage Chute
Darkness Engulfs Man Who Brightened Touch Lamp One Tap Too Far
Pumpkin Seeds Saved, Dried, Roasted, Salted, Offered, Refused, Tossed
Fisher-Price release new utero fetal activity gym

Interesting Reads
Growing crops in cities
Hospital-borne infections
Chickens are smart
Camera technology and film-making
Fossils in the trees
The largest maritime evacuation ever (much larger than the Titanic)

Last week’s song received many kind words, so here’s one more from Al Stewart to send you into the weekend. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Final Week College Football Tidbits

On the BCS Series
Sure the BCS Championship committee is licking their chops for Texas vs. Alabama/Florida. Think they will lose sleep if Nebraska beats Texas this weekend? Would they be stuck selecting a team they really don’t want to pick? Would a Nebraska win bump a worthy non-BCS conference school? What if Cincinnati loses to Pitt? What UC be out of the big BCS bowls? Whoa! What if both Nebraska and Pitt win? Bottom line – It’s more about the dollars instead of determining a champion.

On the Notre Dame Job
Coaching the Fighting Irish is one of the most prestigious jobs in the game. Here are a few interesting facts to keep in mind:

  • ND has one of the highest graduation rates in the country; thus academically marginal play elsewhere.
  • ND seldom redshirts players.
  • The last three ND coaches fired had an overall winning record.
  • Coaching ND is pressure packed, but lucrative.

On Brian Kelly
The national media has made it seem that UC football wasn’t on the map until he arrived. Wow – what a misconception! Sure he has taken the Bearcats to the next level, but the program was already moving forward.

Last season the defense had 10 seniors – many of in the NFL. By the way, Brian Kelly didn’t recruit any of them – nor did he recruit any of this year’s seniors. As a matter of fact, his first recruiting class would be juniors without a redshirt – thus most likely sophomores. And how many of his recruits are currently impact players?

There’s no question he can win with Mark Dantonio’s recruits – but the unanswered question is can he win with his own recruits? Time will only tell if he stays at UC – thus why I think he’s bound for South Bend.

On the Bama Bonehead
There’s no doubt in my mind that Alabama is one of the better teams in the country. But the fact they played a nonD1 so late in the season is an insult to the game – simply down-right pathetic!

They’ve Earned it Rankings: Week 8 ’09

Although a several teams received a scare, Clemson beating Miami led the way for another week of college football. Then again, next week has set the stage for some sorting.

Movement

  • Up: Iowa, USC, Oregon, LSU
  • Down: Alabama, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati
  • Out: Houston, Miami (FL)
  • New: TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas

They’ve Earned It Top 10

  1. Iowa (8-0) Next: Indiana
  2. Alabama (8-0) Next: Bye
  3. USC (6-1) Next: @ Oregon
  4. Georgia Tech (6-1) Next: @ Vanderbilt
  5. Oregon (6-1) Next: USC
  6. Florida (7-0) Next: vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
  7. LSU (6-1) Next: Tulane
  8. Cincinnati (7-0) Next: @ Syracuse
  9. TCU (7-0) Next: UNLV
  10. Oklahoma State (6-1) & Texas (7-0) Next: Each other in Stillwater

Next Week’s Games of Interest

  • North Carolina @ Virginia Tech
  • West Virginia @ South Florida
  • Mississippi @ Auburn
  • Central Michigan @ Boston College

They’ve Earned It Rankings: Week 5 ’09

This was a week when Cinderella Houston fell, Cal continues its tailspin, and Miami shows they belong. We wonder what’s happened to Florida State, ache for Georgia while praising LSU, and yet monitoring the Buckeyes, Gators, Longhorns, and Trojans in the background.

These are the rankings based on results, not speculations and predictions. I know it’s different, but that’s why this is called They’ve Earned It. For those needing more explanation, read this post about PreSeason Rankings.

Up- Virginia Tech, Auburn,
Down- Cincinnati
New – Miami, Georgia Tech, Notre dame, Wisconsin
Out- Georgia, Iowa, Houston, South Carolina

They’ve Earned It Top 10

  1. LSU (5-0) Next: Florida
  2. Alabama (5-0) Next: @ Mississippi
  3. Auburn (5-0) Next: @ Arkansas
  4. Va. Tech (4-1) Next: Boston College
  5. Miami (3-1) Next: nonD1
  6. Georgia Tech (4-1) Next: @ Florida State
  7. Oregon (4-1) Next: @ UCLA
  8. Cincinnati (5-0) Next: Bye
  9. Notre Dame (4-1) Next: Bye
  10. Wisconsin (5-0) Next: @ Ohio State

Besides games involving the top 10 teams, here are the potential ranking-impact games.

  • UConn @ Pitt
  • Nebraska @ Missouri
  • Stanford @ Oregon State
  • TCU @ Air Force
  • Michigan @ Iowa
  • Oklahoma State @ Texas A&M