awesome chorus performance

At this summer’s Barbershop Harmony Society convention and contest, the Missouri-based Ambassadors of Harmony mounted this incredible interpretation of “76 Trombones” and walked away with the contest!   As friend Seth described:

The performance includes about 5 key changes,  concealed foam rubber
instruments whipped out mid-song, and two on-stage costume changes.  The
tag lasts about 16 bars.  Fun stuff.  Be sure and watch through the
enthusiastic ovation to see the stomp which punctuates the whole thing
nicely.  Makes me want to sing in a chorus.

trip report

0722092042a.jpgSmall photo set here.  Since I had scheduled time off work, I took a break from helping Linda set up her practice and reserved 5 nights at Long Point park.  I booked Sun-Fri hoping to avoid the weekend crowds.  I’ve never camped down there in the dead of summer, but  I used a window AC with my smaller tent, which meant sleeping on the ground.  The bigger tent in which I can fit a cot is designed with massive ventilation which makes the AC less effective.    The campground was surprisingly crowded and I had RV neighbors on either side of me in the latter part of the week.

My eye problem flared up the morning of my departure and bothered me most of the day, but it got real bad around late afternoon when I think some sunblock leaked  into the eye.  It was really bad after that and I spent a miserable Sunday night and endured two violent storms.  My RV neighbor had internet service and warned me about the second storm line coming our way, and I rode that one out in the car and then finally turned in to the tent about midnight.  My eye problem kept me up most of the night.   I went home on Monday to nurse the eye and left my tent and boat at the campsite.   I took a pain pill Monday night, and slept through, then saw a doctor Tuesday.  He said “It is what it is” .   I was able to complete a lot of business chores for Linda, and went to a quartet rehearsal Tuesday night.  I was better Wednesday and returned to camping.

I found outstanding bites Wed at dusk and again Thu at dawn.  Lots of bluefish, ladyfish, with some trout mixed in   Caught numerous slot sized trout, and lost some tackle to the cutting teeth of the bluefish.   Love me that topwater lure action!   Outboard motor conked out late Thu morning, so I pulled the boat and took it to a mechanic in Melbourne.  They quickly diagnosed water mixed in with the fuel.  They drained 2 gallons of gas, charged me a half hour of shop time and sent me on my way.  I can recommend Boathouse Discount Marine.

Had a bluefish for dinner Wed eve and it was not very good.   I prepared trout Thu eve that turned out really well!   I drenched the fillets in salad dressing, then coated with ground pistachio nuts, wrapped in oiled foil and cooked over the campfire for about 15 minutes.  It was delicious, and I wolfed down all the fish with a white wine and cheese on the side.

Packed up and came home Friday.


We watched the Michael Moore documentary the other night, and it is sticking with me.   I’m not a Moore fan, and I have all sorts of advice for him to improve his films (like, don’t appear on camera!), but this 2007 release is perhaps his most subdued and effective yet.

Its strong and memorable aspect is how it lays out the big picture arguments against our current health care system, and highlights the absurdity of perpetuating it.    Just about everyone agrees that it is a flawed system that is failing to provide minimal, not even adequate, health care for Americans.   But it is not being changed and the prognosis for change is poor indeed.   My take from the films POV is that the big giant reasons our system persists is  1) the entrenched financial interests that benefit from the system have way too much control over our political leadership, and 2) there is lingering national paranoia about the spectre of “socialized medicine”.

Neither I nor Michael Moore can offer any solutions to number 1 other than to somehow find the political will.  But Moore easily refutes obstacle number 2 by pointing out that Americans already benefit from a lot of socialized services.  Like for example, libraries, and schools, and firefighting and rescue, and postal service.  Why the f*ck not Health Care?    It is clearly working better than our system in the other countries profiled by Moore in the film.

To find the origin or our current mess, Moore singles out Nixon for endorsing the prototypical HMO in private and in public back in the 60’s, but I blame the red scare and the subsequent cold war as more culpable.

new building in research park

groundbreaking Last Friday local and state dignitaries descended onto our property in UCF’s research park to break ground on a new $20M building entirely funded by the state of Florida, and intended for military research, and UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training. This is the third ‘partnership’ building, but the previous ones were built with both federal and state money. Curious. Is that why so many dignitaries showed up for the groundbreaking?

Here’s an article in the Central Florida Future, with a great photo by Caitlin Bush. Another curiosity: not a single mention of this event in the Orlando Sentinel.

border patrol

Went fishing yesterday with a new acquaintance from Sebastian, FL.  He’s got a go-fast off shore boat, and we went about 25 miles out looking for dolphin and kingfish.   Didn’t find any, and while hightailing it back to the inlet, we were pulled over, boarded and searched by federal agents with the Dept. of Homeland Security.   I was totally on edge because I forgot to bring my fishing license, but these guys didn’t care.  They were looking for drugs or weapons.    After calling in our ID’s and finding smelly bait on board, they gave us a cursory lookover and bid us on our way.  We saw them later in the day checking other boats, so it wasn’t just us.

Their vessel was an incredibly hot chase boat with 4 large mercury outboards mounted on the stern.   I asked permission to take pictures, and they said ok to take photos of the boat, but not of the agents.

Border Patrol

Here’s the agent who asked not to take photos of his face:
Border Patrol 2

Here’s a photo-worthy shark we caught later in the inlet:
0707091442a copy


I totally get “non-refundable” airfares. A boon for consumers. But when it comes to the “change fees” and post-911 non-transferable rules, the airlines are heartless pirate bastards.  Here’s some of the bullshit I got when trying over the weekend to change our vacation plans.

“No sir, you don’t have to use your credits within 12 months, you only have to BOOK your future travel within 12 months, the travel itself can be for several months later”.

“Sir, it is impossible for us to waive the change fees. Since you booked your travel through an agent (, I suggest you appeal to them. …. yes sir, we will charge the change fees to expedia.”

“No sir, you are not left with only $70 for future travel. The entire amount of $220 is credited to your name and can be booked within 12 months. The $150 change fee that is assessed at the time of rebooking is completely separate”.

“Sir, all my calls are recorded, and I have advised you what we can do, and there is no one else you can talk to. I am now advising you that I will disconnect this call”. [click]