Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Florida!

These will be my homes for the next five weeks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heading South! - Day 2

I made good time today. Actually had to turn on Air Conditioning in the car! Staying in Ocala FL tonight. Should be at destination in Port St. Lucie by noon tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Heading South!

On my way to Florida. 400 miles down and 600 miles to go!

Note: "EconoLodge" and "Low Rates" may go together. However, as I found out tonight, neither goes with "High Speed Wireless Internet". I guess you get what you pay for.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Constable Update

It has been two months since my last update, however I have not written the first parking citation! In order to write a citation you must have someone "run the plate" for you so that you can know the registered owner's (RO in police talk) name, address, etc. I found this out in December and after calling several people, I found that our county dispatch could do this, however I needed to be approved by their "board" which was not scheduled to meet until March (they had meet 3 days before). In early February, I got a call from the Director of Dispatch. Some how I had gotten approved, but needed to sign a "User Agreement". It took another week to get the agreement signed, then of course it had to go to Frankfort (state capital) so I would be approved by them, and "put in" the computer system. Yesterday I got word that I as now able to run plates.

I had to go to the county court house today to renew the plates on my wife's auto. There were two cars without the proper credentials (hang tags or plates) parked in Handicapped spots. But it was much too cold today to write any citations, so they lucked out--for today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chicken Sh*t or Chicken Soup?

For the past seven years I have been going to Port St. Lucie, FL to watch NY Mets spring training baseball games. For the last five years I have spent about 5 weeks there. I have rented several different condos, first on Hutchinson Island and more recently in PGA Village. (I found most rentals on Craigslist.) This year, I thought I had found a "good deal", a unit similar to the one I have rented the past two years, but at 2/3 the price. I got an ID from the person (Josh) offering the rental and in November sent a deposit of $300.

Late last week, I sent an email asking a few details, discussing arrival time, etc. By Sunday, I still had not received a response, so I called the cell number I had called him on before. I got a message that the number was not in service! On Monday, starting to panic, I sent an overnight letter via UPS. (Who knew UPS worked on President's day?)

About noon today, I got a call from Josh. Did I not get the email he sent on Friday? I quickly found that he sent it to an email address that I only use on my laptop. Bottom line: the unit has been sold and I would not be able to rent it. He has sent a money order with my deposit. However, he found a house for rent nearby. He would send the Friday email to my home email address.

I called the owner of the house: a two-year old three bedroom, 2 baths, tile and hardwood floors, a patio, a garage, fully furnished. The price was only $100 more than the condo. I agreed to rent it and sent another deposit.

I guess when I arrive there on February 25, I'll know if I made soup or more sh*t!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fires in Australia - 1st Person Account - Chapter 4

By Guest Blogger Adrianne Newman who lives in the south of Australia, in the Australian state of Victoria. This is near Melbourne. Ms. Newman is an American who has lived in Australia for about 30 years. Glenys and Ms. Newman are partners.

This was date marked 2/14/09 at 8:39 PM

Things are on the mend, although some folks are still doing vigilent
alerts because 19 fires are still burning but in National Parks and
not near towns.

We got some birdseed from down where Tanya used to work and have put
water and seed out for the increasing number of birds that are coming
back to the neighbourhood. I don't know where they went for safety.
It is nice to hear them in the morning again considering that we live
on Bird Street!!

Deaths still at 181, and ~7,000 homeless but lots of telethons, and
ways to give your cash to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross who
seem to be heading up this relief situation. Kinglake and communities
have had volunteers descend and give them generators, food, clothes,
you name it and lots of folks there to do counselling, which in some
ways, I reckon we all need..

More 'facts' are coming to light in that the powelines went down
around Kilmore and evidently that is what set the initial fires north
of us that were swept south in the gale force winds. We were right in
that the wind change that was bringing the fire towards us wound up
turing around in a northeast direction destroying Kinglake and those
other areas.

Healsville is still on alert and the army and firefighters from the US
and distant places are working feveriously to create huge firebreaks
around Melbourne's water supply. Evidently the trees up that way are
Mountain Ash and will die if fire strikes....the bloody Eucalypts just
resprout and so does the bracken. Evidently to recreate trees in the
water catchments will use far more water than the older trees so much
of the state's resources are being used for that.

Talked to my Mom who asked, "where did they get the water" and Glenys
heard a story of kids frolicking in their swimming pool only to have
Elvis, the water bearing helicopter, descend on them. They flew out
of the pool, Elvis took all the water, and off he went. And a friend
of mine from work has a really groovy photo on her phone of Big Elvis
and 2 little Elvis's hovering behind to take their turn, taking the
water out of the dam on her dairy farm. So in answer to Mom's
question....wherever they could.

Glenys also heard of a story about a guy who has a hobby farm up the
bush. He was there before the fires struck and he brought his 15 head
of cattle across the street to a vacant paddock and then went to fight
the fires. They battled all night and he heard the most awful noises
but they saved the house. Next morning he went across the street and
all the cattle were in the dam, not even burned, and since he has
brought them back they are very affectionate and want cuddles and to
not be far from him.

We have that many helicopters flying over head to and fro, Glenys and
I are using the MASH line....'incoming' and run out to see if we can
see who they are. Elvis flies slow and is very whump, whump, whump so
you know when they are overhead. He flew over this morning so things
are 'still crook in Tootgarook' as the saying goes.

After hearing about the financial crisis and all the gluttony it is
lovely to see all the generosity and goodness that still is out there
in our communities.

We'll get through this but it will take a while and much goodwill on
the part of all of us to make it happen. And I wait with much
anticipation for the first green shoots, as after all, this is what
regenerates the flora of Australia. Will be interesting to see what
weed seeds that have been laying dormant in the soil and actually need
fire to germinate, pop their heads up.....they will be most welcome!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fires in Australia - 1st Person Account - Chapter 3

By Guest Blogger Adrianne Newman who lives in the south of Australia, in the Australian state of Victoria. This is near Melbourne. Ms. Newman is an American who has lived in Australia for about 30 years. Glenys and Ms. Newman are partners.

This was date marked 2/13/09 at 4:51 PM

Hi Everyone,
This photo of fire fighter and the Koala was splashed all over our
newspapers this week and I thought it was such a lovely image - at
least one little koala survived the horror - god only knows how many
animals perished.

I thought it was my turn just to say hi and thank you all for your
kind thoughts and well wishes as we have battled on through this very
long week.
I had a good sleep last night - actually slept through the night
without waking to the sound of helicopters buzzing overhead and in the
as I think things are pretty much under control for now.

We woke this morning to a very red sun and smoke haze all around and
there is a definite smell of smoke in the air. I have to admit I am
very drained today and still very teary as I reflect back over the week.

It was very hard to lose Tanya, her death notice is in the paper
today, she was such a lovely person. Clint absolutley loved Tanya. He
could be such a little horror of a dog when he was around other dogs
but Tanya knew how to keep him under controll. He would race up to her
and lick her to death and she would just smile and say "yes I love
you too Clint" then he would bark at all the other dogs and there was
a tremendous racket.

She liked to get all the dogs in together then close the door and get
cutting so the first fifteen minutes were pretty noisy as 10 or so
dogs sorted themselves out - our Clint being one of the worst I have
to admit.

Chloe is the exact opposite. She headed straight for the corner under
the desk as she wasn't into all the action. Tanya said she was so good
groom as she just stood there and let Tanya do her thing. Chloe will
miss her to and who knows what will happen now but we will let things
before we think of that.

Today I am going to clean the house it is so dusty and I am very
grateful that I have a house to clean. There are 7,000 homeless people
and it will
be a long time before their life can get back to normal.

Chloe is sitting at my feet with a pleading look - isn't it walk time
yet? so we had better get it done as it is going to be 28 today and
she's a bit like me and likes to hide from the sun if it gets anywhere
near 30.

Thank you again for thinking of us - it is comforting to know we are
cared about.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fires in Australia - 1st Person Account - Chapter 2

By Guest Blogger Adrianne Newman who lives in the south of Australia, in the Australian state of Victoria. This is near Melbourne. Ms. Newman is an American who has lived in Australia for about 30 years. Glenys and Ms. Newman are partners.

This was date marked 2/12/09 at 2:15 am

If there is one thing I've learned from all this it is to stay in
contact with folks...regularly because people care and worry....and I
know because I've been doing it myself lots lately.

I keep calling my other girlfriend Sally, who job shares with me and
lives in Seville, which is near the funky bit they are trying
furiously to back burn and put down containment lines near, because if
the Bunyip and Kinglake-Maroondah complex fires merge they are then on
track to take out Melbourne's water and gas supplies. [Sally calls me
her personal stalker because I ring her each day to see how her family
is and to remind her that there are beds here if it all goes to the

Been cooler the last few days so the fireys have been at warp speed,
with the help of the Army, to try and get these Mother fires under
control. Right now there are 61 fires across the state but none are
endangering homes or 'assets'....there must be some bloody economist
type nerd in the fireys to come up with that term. There was some
rain in the east which helped overnight damp down some of the action
but it didn't happen here. I now think we're up to about 35 days
without any rain and after 12 years of drought it is very easy to see
in hindsight why the whole place lit up like a whorehouse on a
Saturday night when it was set alight!

I had a conversation with a guy who works at the hospital who lives in
Coldstream. Said he was watching the fire proceed into Kinglake and
then all of a sudden it was like the instantaneous combustion you get
when the barbeque goes 'whoooof' and lights up, and that was the end
of Kinglake.

Heard second hand from the guy who lived across the street from Tanya
in Kinglake that they were inside, the fire came up the slope at a
billion miles an hour...actually was travelling at 100 plus
kph.....hit the house and it exploded at the same time the substation
they lived near exploded so the only thing that consoles me is that
they never saw it coming and that it was quick. She was with Jim and
the animals, and in her favourite place on Earth.....3 out of 3 ain't
a bad way to go.

The thing that is really odd is that we were told that Tanya and Jim
were 'confirmed dead but that it wasn't official' , so this is going
to play havoc with a lot of people's heads. After all it is stressful
enough to lose someone and have a funeral and bury them usually within
a week, and then you do the grieving thing for however long it takes.
With this, the 'bodies' are being trucked into the city and being
placed in a knocked up morgue outside the real city morgue because it
was already full. We had 40 die from the heat the week before, mostly
older folks, so 'there was no room at the inn' if you get my drift.
Evidently there is a world's best practice protocol of how to build a
morgue, if your morgue is already full, so we have one of those in the
city now.

What they want to be able to do is identify everyone properly, so that
Mary Lou is really Mary Lou and not Betty.... because burying Mary Lou
in with Harry instead of her husband Nick...well you see how
complicated this is for the forensic folks, and they definately want
to do the very best job possible with IDs. So not sure when Tanya's
funeral will be and everyone else is in the same boat.

The Police are about 95% sure that the fire at Marysville, that little
hamlet of 500 folks that is no longer on the face of the planet, was
deliberately lit. 100 people died and those in the know say that the
direction of the fire, and subsequent area fires, weren't according to
the Book of Fire in anyway and reek of arson. I find absolutely no
comfort in the fact that I share the same DNA as these murders but God
forbid if the general public gets a hold of them as there won't be a
hair left to analyse.

I have been smelling smoke since I got home at 5 and have just heard
on the radio that there was a grass fire in Ivanhoe, which is 2 towns
over West of us. It is out now and being watched but who knows how
that started? And you can drive home and still see the lowlifes who
smoke throwing the butts out the window as they hurtle

Over 400,000 hectares have burned so far and 1 hectare equals 2.47
acres so you Yanks do the's massive and not yet done.

More than 1000 houses are toast and perhaps 5,000 homeless....homeless
figures rubbery as not all have put themselves on lists yet. They
have set up army tents on the ovals in towns and this is where folks
are hanging until they can get other accommodation sorted. There
already was a rental crisis with very little stock before the fires so
Heaven knows where they are all going to go. Perhaps on the MCG?

So the weather is warming up slowly as we head towards the
weekend...back to 28 (82) on Sunday and they reckon there will be a
wind change that will go Northerly again, which puts us back in the

It's very interesting the new phobia I seem to have developed....each
time I hear to wind whip through the trees since Saturday I get this
fear in my stomach. Other people have the same thing I've found out,
so the wind's up now and I'm smelling smoke and I'm supposed to feel
ok because the fires are contained. I think everyone's nerves are
going to be rattled for quite a while.

Glenys lost it on Tuesday because the boss's phone went off and she
was told to engage her fire plan, even though there appeared to be no
alert on the radio. Janette lives about 20 minnies away in a
Southwest direction at Warrandyte, and Glenys was sobbing and pleading
for me to go home and get Chloe. Well it was a false alarm, thank
goodness, but we're all getting to the end of our tether I have to say
and then I had to tell her about Tanya last night. For a woman with
nerves of steel, or the appearance of, she's as wired as I am.

THANKS for all the good wishes and prayers....keep 'em coming because
it's a comfort to know that we aren't in this alone.

And to the Kiwi's - congrats on the cricket you have been playing and
may you come up with the best game you've ever played tomorrow and
really crush the hopes of this country! [The Oz one day team visited
some of the fire affected folks in Whittlesea yesterday and wound up
taking off their shoes and socks and jackets, etc to give the folks
with nothing....must say the boys were rather buff in the y-fronts if
I do say so myself!!!

Fires in Australia - 1st Person Account - Chapter 1

By Guest Blogger Adrianne Newman who lives in the south of Australia, in the Australian state of Victoria. This is near Melbourne. Ms. Newman is an American who has lived in Australia for about 30 years. Glenys and Ms. Newman are partners.

This was date marked as 2/10 @ 4:30 am.:


We haven't quite been ourselves and should have reported in before
this as I can see many of you are concerned. But we've been glued to
the ABC Emergency Services radio listening vigilently for alert
warnings to leave.

Saturday was a day out of was 47 degrees here, 117 degrees
F, and there were gale force winds blowing. I made a comment in an
email to someone that if you lit a match today and dropped it, it
would burn all the way to the coast. Little did I realise how
prescient that statement would be.

Glenys worked until 1 pm but then came home and we walked out back and
saw these huge smoke columns that were on the distant hills that
seemed to be coming towards us. [Stupid me had been sitting in the
house with the aircon on and the blinds drawn and wasn't monitoring
events.] We went in and through the house and got the essentials and
packed the cars and got the dog ready to leave. If you have never
done that, it is a very interesting exercise about what doesn't matter
in your life. [And if you have never felt 117 degree heat in gale
force, I can't explain that to you either.]

Went back out as we heard that it was spotting in Doreen, which is
about 20 minnies from where we live, and Glenys said "can you feel it
- I feel the cool change." I told her she was having a menopause
moment and that it was evaporation but then I felt it as well. So the
wind had swapped from North, which brings the hot air down from
Central Australia..[.and who the fuck would live there, I ask you, if
that's their weather], to Southerly and dropped about 10 degrees C in
5 minutes.

We turned to look at the smoke clouds to see them now drifting in the
opposite direction and then looked at each other, started crying and
realised that our fortune was someone elses misfortune. And God what
misfortune that has turned out to be.

If you go to you can see and read about what has
happened since then.

I'm going to work just to be with people because I'm not coping with
the fact that a wonderful woman who has groomed Chloe for the last 11
years, and who I could always depend on for a natter before and after
the drop off, is listed as missing and presumed dead. I keep going
down to the shop to see if there is any word but we all just stand
there shell shocked, crying and shaking because even her Mother has
given her up for dead. She last spoke to her on Saturday at 4 pm and
Tanya was oblivious to the fact that there was a wasn't on
the internet. Tanya has put a face to this devastation for us.

Eye witnesses who were in Kinglake, where Tanya lived, said they went
out to a ridge to look at a fire that was 20 kilometres away and all
of a sudden were burned by the trees that erupted into flame beside
them. Fireballs travelled 14 to 20 kilometres before the fires on the
winds, setting new ones, so it is no wonder that survivors are saying
that they had no warning. Only consolation for me is that it
evidently was a quick kill so says a man who managed to survive from a
drain pipe because the fire rolled over the houses, they exploded, the
roofs came down and entombed the people. Whole towns are like that
now and 181 people are dead tonight.

And the fires have only waxed and waned since then although the
temperatures have gotten way was 21C, or 70 F, and
Glenys and I are cold after all the warm weather. [We had had 3 days
of 43,44 and 45 the week before.]

Firefighters are trying to get blazes under control in this cooler
weather but they must be absolutely exhausted. Go the fireys, we're
all saying, and we're putting them ALL up for Queen's Honours next
year....well I am!

However we were warned tonight that February is our worst fire month
and that it is only the 10th so don't think that this is over by any

And the thing that I cannot get my head around is that some of these
fires were deliberately lit on Saturday. I want them caught,
handcuffed, put against a wall and shot on national television because
they are no different from terrorists, or as the Prime Minister called
them, mass murderers. Not only of people but of flora and fauna.

However if you do the prayer thing, can you please remember us over
here.....all of us.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Town Monday - a Church Now United

The Old:

Kynett Church was part of the Central Jurisdiction (Ky. Tenn. Conference) which in reality was the Methodist Church for Black Americans. Shortly after the Civil War, the Kynett Church was established and named for Alpha Jefferson Kynett, a leading executive for Church Extension of Methodism.

In 1844, as a prelude to our tragic American Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church was divided over the issue of slavery and the local church here in La Grange became part of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Sadly, this branch of Methodism in America approved of the wicked institution of slavery, and fostered racism.

The New:

Beginning in 1968 both churches shared the same pastor. Because of tremendous population growth in Oldham County (which doubled in population from 14,000 to 28,000 people between 1970 to 1980), the La Grange UMC experienced tremendous growth and simply ran out of room. The church voted in November, 1993 to relocate. New land (10.7 acres) was purchased in November, 1994 at a total cost of $150,000 and the land was fully paid for by December, 1995.

Early in 1995, a study was made by both churches and by a uniting committee to pursue the possibility of uniting the two local congregations in La Grange. After much research, prayer, study, sharing and dialogue, both churches voted in October, 1995 to unite to form the Covenant United Methodist Church and to build together our new church for the new century. In January, 1996, the Covenant United Methodist Church was born!

More information on these churches can be found here.

Both of the older buildings are still in use. The side of the Kynett Church, shown above, is used as a dance studio. The back of the former Kynett Church houses the thrift shop where Junosmom and I volunteer. The other older church now houses county offices, as well as an office of our Congressman.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Just the Engineer in Me!

Tonight we ate a local pizza establishment. Not a national chain but I guess what could be called a regional chain. Amber colored adult beverages were offered. The "draft" beverages were offered in 16 0z. and 23 oz. sizes. From experience I know that at my rate of drinking the heat transfer from the room air through the glass to 23 oz. of liquid beverage would be such that the beverage would become warmer than I care to drink before I finished it. So I ordered the 16 oz. size which came in a plastic "mug".

Upon delivery of the beverage, I told my fellow diners of my suspicion that the mug could not possibly hold 16 oz. Of course my contentions were firmly dismissed by dw. My son, the chemist, thought that I could be right. Luckily the chemist was drinking the beverage from a 12 oz. bottle.

Near the end of the meal, I excused my self to the rest room and took an empty 12 oz. bottle with me. The diner to my left was assigned the task of guarding the mug. When I returned to the table I had a 12 0z. bottle filled to the crown (sorry that's the technical term for the cap).

Now the experiment (or demonstration) of the night took place! The water in the bottle was poured into what was supposed to be a 16 oz. mug. When the mug was full, I still had at least 2 oz. of water left in the bottle.

The manager was summoned and admitted that the server used the wrong mug! She had used a 10 oz. mug that is normally served with pitchers of this beverage!

I had two supposedly 16 oz.servings at $3.00 each. This should be $0.094 per oz. However I actually got 20 oz. which represented a cost of $0.30/ oz. more that triple the advertised price!

In the end the manager gave me a $3.00 credit, apologizing that the server grabbed the wrong mug. But the real satisfaction was with my dining companions when they were forced to admit that the old engineer was correct!