Life in Florida

Looks Like Arson

Okay, I was being way too jocular yesterday. The brush fires are serious business, and tons of people in our little town have been evacuated. As of this writing, 51 homes have been destroyed or damaged by the fires. The Interstate is closed for a good 25 miles.

Here’s a video of one of the fires, about eight miles away from our home:

The worst news: Continue reading

Categories: Life in Florida | 1 Comment


It’s spring in Florida, which means temperatures in the 90s, high winds, and no rain whatsoever. And that, dear reader, means wildfires.

Tonight, Interstate 95 is closed from Malabar, the town immediately east of us, all the way down to Vero Beach, some twenty-seven miles to the south, because smoke from the wildfires is making driving too hazardous. At least 100 homes were evacuated in Palm Bay and Malabar. More fires are burning up near Cocoa.

I watched the 11 p.m. news with interest, though not concern, since the fires really weren’t nearby. There was some really dramatic footage, though. The firefighters were praised for their heroism; I roll my eyes just the teeniest little bit when people who are simply doing jobs that are occasionally dangerous are called American Heroes with the kind of awe usually reserved for people who liberate people from slavery or spend their life in service to the poor or invent the light bulb.

Then our local newscaster got emotional. “These guys,” he said (and apparently no women have ever served as firefighters), “these guys have been working all day long! They have literally worked their fingers to the bone!”

I quickly glanced at the screen, hoping for some extra-special dramatic footage, or at least a photo of a bandaged hand, but they went on to a story about a local politician in trouble over something or other.

It could be worse, I guess. When Senator Clinton was in Iowa for the January primaries there, she praised the tenacity of the people who came to hear her speak. “We had 300 people outside literally freezing to death,” she said. (In fact, no deaths were reported. I smell a government cover-up.)

Categories: Life in Florida | 6 Comments

Hogwarts, Florida

A substitute teacher in the town of Land-O-Lakes, Florida (just east of Tampa on the west coast, and one of the shooting locations for Edward Scissorhands), is out of a job this week. He’s accused of teaching his students . . . wizardry.

Yup, wizardry.

According to the Tampa Tribune, teacher Jim Piculas made a toothpick disappear and then re-appear in front of a classroom full of rapt fifth-graders.

About a week after that bit of legerdemain, Piculas was summoned to the phone. The call was from Pat Sinclair, who oversees substitute teachers in the Pasco County School District. She told Piculas there had been a complaint about his performance at Rushe Middle School.

“I get a call the middle of the day. ‘Jim, we have a huge issue,’ she said. ‘You can’t take any more assignments. You need to come in right away.’

“I said, ‘Well, Pat, can you explain this to me?’

“‘I really don’t know how to put this, Jim, except to say that you’ve been accused of wizardry.’

“‘Wizardry?’ I said. ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.'” He thought the statement seemed bizarre, “like something out of Harry Potter.” When she clarified that it was the sleight-of-hand demonstration, he told her, “It’s not black magic. It’s a toothpick.” Continue reading

Categories: Humor, Life in Florida, Psychology | 4 Comments

What’s for Dinner?

You say “central Florida” to most people, and they think of Orlando. Say “Orlando” and people think “Disney.” Fair enough. But most of the fun happens on the two coasts. Well, not that much fun. It’s generally the cultural equivalent of Wal-Mart around here.

I take solace in the abundant bird life. Northern Mockingbirds sing almost year-round, even at night. Black Vultures, those amazingly graceful fliers, soar on warm thermals. A Red-shouldered Hawk comes to visit fairly often. Water birds are everywhere: White Ibis, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Great Blue Heron, Sandhill Crane, Anhinga, Wood Stork. I’ve even seen a Red-footed Booby or two. They make the nine-month long summer a tad more bearable.

Not all of the wildlife is as much fun, however. Continue reading

Categories: Animals, Life in Florida | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at