Monday, March 27, 2023

Monday Musings - March 27, 2023


1. The last Monday of March 2023 has arrived. By this time next week it will be April. For those counting, there are 39 Mondays remaining in the year which is steadily approaching the second quarter (or third quarter for using the Federal fiscal calendar).

2. The NCAA Men's Final Four is set. There are no seeds higher than 4 remaining and three of the teams are making their first Final Four appearance. What a tournament. I am still cheering on FAU and Miami!

3. Chris and I attended a Rodney Atkins concert in a field at the Stuart Airport last evening. We had a great time and the weather was almost perfect. It was a good show. I even enjoyed the opening act as she sang a lot of oldies that I knew. The event was the Tacos, Beer, and Dogs concert supporting the Farm Dog Rescue of Martin county. It has been a while since I attended a concert where the adult beverages (beer and wine) were priced at $5 and $7. We enjoyed dinner from local food trucks which were positioned on site.

4. Traffic appears easing here as people learn to deal with the US-1 bridge closure and I also believe that the winter-only residents (a/k/a/ Snow Birds) are returning to their permanent nests. 

5. Baseball begins its regular season on Thursday. I am excited for the games to begin and here's hoping that the Orioles have a great year. My prediction is that they finish with 84 wins and a wild card playoff spot.

6. Today in HistoryMarch 27, 1912: In Washington, D.C., Helen Taft, wife of President William Taft, and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, plant two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac River, near the Jefferson Memorial. The event was held in celebration of a gift, by the Japanese government, of 3,020 cherry trees to the U.S. government.

The planting of Japanese cherry trees along the Potomac was first proposed by socialite Eliza Scidmore, who raised money for the endeavor. Helen Taft had lived in Japan while her husband was president of the Philippine Commission, and knowing the beauty of cherry blossoms she embraced Scidmore’s idea. After learning of the first lady’s interest, the Japanese consul in New York suggested making a gift of the trees to the U.S. government from the city of Tokyo.

Pressure on Netanyahu as union calls 'historic' strike - CNN

Race left out of Rosa Parks story in revised weekly lesson text for Florida schools highlights confusion with state law - CNN

Delta passenger opens door, deploys emergency exit slide on plane at LA airport - CNN

Largest strike in decades brings Germany to a standstill - Reuters

NATO slams Putin plan for nukes in Belarus; Russia pounds Avdiivka - Reuters

North Korea fires ballistic missile off its east coast, South Korea's military says - Reuters

Trump casts 2024 contest in apocalyptic terms, slams prosecutors - Reuters

Trump Grand Jury to Reconvene Amid Mounting Expectations, Rhetoric - The Wall Street Journal

U.S. Pulls Back From Values That Once Defined It - The Wall Street Journal

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sleepy Saturday

Looking West Across the Loxahatchee River
Tequesta, FL
March 25, 2023

 Saturday was a relaxing day. 

There was the obligatory 15.6 mile ride to get the blood moving after a 1.5 mile dog walk, but the rest of the day was devoted to relaxation, followed by a dinner with friends to cap off the evening. 

Turning to sports, I am excited that FAU arrived into the Final Four of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. I am hoping that Miami makes it through tonight. 

Sadly, we did not make it to the ocean yesterday to fully enjoy the 85 degree temperatures we experienced. I am not entirely sure why.

I noted, with some concern, that a particular presidential candidate chose Waco, Texas, for a rally on the 30th anniversary of the Branch Davidian compound fire which ended a 51-day siege. I read somewhere that this particular candidate is adept at using "dog whistles" to energize his base. 

And so it was Saturday.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Memories and Images and US-1

Patrick Early in the Morning
Marathon, Florida


In retrospect I was smart, a few years ago, when I started saving all of the images from my various cameras onto CDs. I still actually possess an external CD/DVD reader that is compatible with my new Mac. I used it yesterday to begin to cull through the thousands of images that I have stored on CDs. I also have many more stored on a backup drive. 

Some of the images are just funny--like this one which was taken early in the morning when I think Patrick and I were in Marathon, FL, and heading out on one of our first dives after being certified. 

Patrick and Chris US-1 Beginning
Key West, FL
Patrick was always funny with cameras and video equipment. Chris and I were reviewing some of our old videos and found his commentary priceless; making boring subjects like Roman ruins seem exciting.

One thing I discovered, however, is that the date of the images from the older cameras  changes each time I move it across media. Very frustrating. I am glad that I included the year on most of the folders in which I stored the images.

I don't know if it is a good thing or not, but I have been on both ends of US-1. I much prefer the Florida terminus to that in Maine. This image documents one instance of being at the beginning of US-1. I think it humorous that both Key West, FL, and Fort Kent, ME, call themselves the beginning of US-1. I guess US-1 South begins in Fort Kent while US-1 North begins in Key West. I drive on some part of US-1 nearly every day. And I also drove on US-1 nearly every day when I lived in Maryland. It is a highway that connects us.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Rolling Along the Streets

Looking North on the Loxahatchee River
Tequesta, FL
March 23, 2023

 After our mid-week adventure on the golf course, yesterday was a biking day. Chris set a new personal record of over 17 miles. She bested her previous personal best by almost a mile-and-a-half. I was excited for her as we toured some different areas and pushed her endurance. I am hoping to get her over 20 miles soon and possibly begin some long distance and day rides. 

It was another perfect South Florida morning for riding. We rode along some undeveloped areas and enjoyed seeing the natural setting of wild palms and scrub. We looked for larger animals, but did not see any. I have seen deer along the route during past rides. Although the ride is along a well traveled road, the sidewalks are wide and smooth providing protection from the traffic. 

I always enjoy rides that take me across the Loxahatchee River Bridge in Tequesta and this route crossed the bridge near the end of the ride. Whether I look to the north or the south the view is always wide and open and inviting. Yesterday we were on the north side of the bridge heading into Tequesta and the river was flat and inviting. I sometimes wish that I had a boat so that I could explore the many areas along the rivers and channels. 

Maybe, in the future.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Golf to Beach


It was the almost perfect day. 

Chris on Hole 12
Jupiter dunes, Jupiter, FL
March 22, 2023
After our obligatory 1.5 mile morning dog walk, Chris and I managed a round of golf at a local course. The weather was fantastic, as it usually has been lately, and we enjoyed whacking the little ball with our clubs. Chris is doing much better hitting the ball for distance, although her accuracy has suffered a bit--but then that is the same problem for all golfers, the longer the ball is hit, the harder it is to get it to go where intended. Now if I can just get her to complete her follow through she will really see some distance improvement. We took pleasure in being together for the time we spent walking the course. I had an OK round with a few pars, but too many double bogeys. 

Sargassum on the Beach
Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL
March 22, 2023
For the evening, or rather Happy Hour, we headed off to one of our favorite beaches, Carlin Park. The beach was a mess. The advance portion of the massive sargassum belt may be arriving and the beach was definitely in need of some maintenance. Despite the sargassum, the beach was very enjoyable for Happy Hour and we enjoyed quite a show as the rough Atlantic waters hosted a large number of surfers.

Surfer on a Wave
Carlin Park Beach, Jupiter, FL
March 22, 2023
The beach was alive between the surfers and the birds. There seemed to be many more birds than normal. We saw the usual ospreys, seagulls, and sanderlings, but were also treated to pelican overflights and more terns than usual. There were at least 20 surfers catching waves all through the late afternoon and into the sunset. It was fun to watch them and some of them were very experienced. They had to be experienced to survive the rough surf and contend with conditions which resulted in the red flag for highly hazardous conditions.

It was, in short, a great day.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Tuesday Blues and Bikes


Although the day started very cool, it developed into one of those breathtakingly enjoyable South Florida days. 

Ride Around Tequesta
March 21, 2023
We did not do much except to enjoy the day. Chris and I managed an almost 16-mile bike ride to start the day. We are watching a number of houses being constructed and we enjoy noting the progress. We also have had our eyes on one particular house that has been for sale for an umber of months that apparently has sold since the "for sale" sign was removed yesterday. It was a very nice house on a canal with a pool and a $1.9M price tag. Way out of my league!

The Loxahatchee River was very turbid yesterday, I think we caught it as the tide and the river flow were meeting. 

We enjoyed the ride and I told Chris I am going to expand her distance on the next ride. I checked out an 18 mile route last week that I plan on introducing to her.

Traffic seems to be very light this week. It is Spring Break in Palm Beach County and the kids have the week off and I sense that the "Snow Birds" have begun to head north for the season. Both of these may have contributed to much lighter than normal traffic. I will have to wait and see if vehicular traffic remains lighter than it has been. Alternatively, people may be avoiding the US-1 bridge closure by staying away from the area entirely.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

What Happened Yesterday?


The cold, windy weather kept me inside for most of the day and I wound up spending too much time watching the continuing drama that seems to be paralyzing the Republican-controlled House regarding a former president. 

Too much was written and too much was spoken. It is a criminal case moving through the system and no one, as yet, has actually been charged with any illegal behavior. The posturing is amazing, probably because everyone knows the "smoking gun was found in the room."

But here is some other information that was reported yesterday that could easily have been missed:

American citizen held hostage for 6 years in West Africa has been freed


An American aid worker who was kidnapped in Niger more than six years ago and held hostage by terrorists has been released, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted on Monday.

“I’m gratified & relieved to see the release of U.S. hostage Jeff Woodke after over 6 years in captivity. The U.S. thanks Niger for its help in bringing him home to all who miss & love him. I thank so many across our government who’ve worked tirelessly toward securing his freedom,” Sullivan tweeted. 

Jeffery Woodke is now being offered support and transport. He was released outside of Niger in the Mali-Burkina Faso area, the official said. 

Biden to designate area sacred to tribes as largest national monument of his presidency

Spirit Mountain is seen across the southern California and Nevada desert


President Joe Biden on Tuesday will officially designate a new national monument in Southern Nevada at a conservation event, according to a White House official. 

At more than 506,000 acres, the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument will be one of the largest tracts of land to come under federal protection so far during Biden’s presidency, and will act to preserve Nevada’s Spirit Mountain and the desert around it.

Biden’s proclamation will mark a major victory for the surrounding Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, which has been advocating for the monument’s creation for around three decades. 

There is some very positive and uplifting things happening, we need to be careful not to get too mired in the continuing dramas. 

What happened yesterday? A lot of things that have nothing to do with a former president.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, March 20, 2023

Monday Musings - March 20, 2023


1. We are in the last half of the month of March and this is the third Monday. There remain 40 Mondays in the year. 

2. Happy First Day of Spring. At 5:24 PM EDT today, the equinox occurs and Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere, for the southern half of the world it marks the first day of Autumn.

3. March Madness is in full swing. I watched more college basketball during the past four days than I had all year. The team remaining in the Sweet 16 that I am most excited about are the Owls of FAU. The Princeton Tigers are a close second!

4. And writing of sports, how about Team USA in the World Baseball Classic? Wow! In the championship game for the second straight time as the defending champions!

5. Even though temperatures were in the mid-60s yesterday here in South Florida, Chris and I completed a 12.5 mile ride through a state park near Port Salerno. We shook off the cold and rode undeterred. 

6. If you are looking for something new to enjoy this Springtime, an article titled, 9 Ways to Celebrate the Spring Equinox might provide some ideas. 

7. Today in HistoryOn March 20, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson notifies Alabama’s Governor George Wallace that he will use federal authority to call up the Alabama National Guard in order to supervise a planned civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

Intimidation and discrimination had earlier prevented Selma’s Black population—over half the city—from registering and voting. On Sunday, March 7, 1965, a group of 600 demonstrators marched on the capital city of Montgomery to protest this disenfranchisement and the earlier killing of a Black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper. 

In brutal scenes that were later broadcast on television, state and local police attacked the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. TV viewers far and wide were outraged by the images, and a protest march was organized just two days after “Bloody Sunday” by Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). King turned the marchers around, however, rather than carry out the march without federal judicial approval.

At the China-Russia Border, the Xi-Putin Partnership Shows Signs of Fraying - The Wall Street Journal

Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow - CNN

Credit Suisse shares plunge after UBS takeover - CNN

Why the US is beating Russia in the Black Sea without firing a shot - CNN

Russian court freezes all Volkswagen assets in Russia - Reuters

Former US Marine may have been 'lured' from China before arrest, lawyer says - Reuters

North Korea's Kim oversees simulated nuclear counterattack against US, South Korea - Reuters

North Korea's use of missile silo could mean less warning of launches - Reuters

Covid changed parents’ view of schools — and ignited the education culture wars - The Washington Post

Why white Christian nationalists are in such a panic - The Washington Post

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Tumultuous Times

 I listened to CNN while driving home from Florida's Gulf Coast yesterday. The three-hour late-afternoon drive passed by quickly as I was confronted with the news that just does not seem to end in its ability to be unbelievable. 

Some of what I heard during the drive follows.

There is the continuing saga of the disgraced former president who does not know when to quit and accept that he committed crimes and like any other American is going to be held accountable. 

Truth is truly stranger than fiction

In the United States, MAGA Republicans have been faced with evidence released in the Dominion Voting Systems defamation case against the Fox News Corporation that shows Fox News Channel personalities lied to them. Now those who have cleaved to Trump have to face that he is asking them to risk their freedom to oppose his arrest for paying $130,000 to an adult film actress to keep quiet about their sexual encounter, hardly a noble cause. And the last time he asked people to defend him, more than 1,000 of them—so far—faced arrest and conviction, while he went back to playing golf and asking people for money.  (Letters from an American)

And then, while Russia continues its illegal invasion of Ukraine and China is planning to likely provide additional aid to Russia, the most important thing on the plate of House Republicans is:

House Oversight Republicans said in a new memo issued Thursday that members of President Joe Biden’s family received just over $1 million indirectly from a Chinese company – the committee’s latest disclosure in its investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings.

The memo, which representatives for the White House and Hunter Biden’s legal team quickly dismissed, does not provide any evidence tying the payments directly to President Joe Biden, which Republicans have said is the purpose of their investigation. (CNN)

I firmly believe there are a lot more important issues facing the Congress right now that looking into the finances of private Americans who, apparently, did nothing wrong.

Congress continues to amaze and confound, while the news entertains and frightens. 

My drive seemed to pass quickly.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Spring Training Continues

Lecom Park
Bradenton, FL
March 17, 2023

 I drove across Florida to attend a Spring Training game at the Pittsburgh Pirates facility in Bradenton, Florida, yesterday. The drive across Florida for three hours on a two lane road is very interesting. My route, since I'm going to the Sarasota/Bradenton area, takes me just north of Lake Okeechobee and then straight across the state to Bradenton. The landscape is very flat. I passed cattle farms, palm tree nurseries, a turf farm, and lots of just open space. I note that the road is a two lane road. And the road in places is just straight and flat. 

I enjoyed the game. The Pirates defeated the Rays 6-2, but it was almost more about being in the sunlight, the warmth, and with my friends from Maryland.

View Across the 5th Fairway
Bobcat Course, The Plantation
Venice, FL
March 18, 2023

This morning I awoke in a condo on a golf course. I ams sitting here watching the sun come up and wondering when the first group will pass by. I can remember being one of the first groups on the course heading out into the dew covered grass watching the ball kick up a rooster tail when it rolled over the green. I am told this course hosts an LPGA qualifying event. 

I am looking forward to some fun this morning and then a drive home later tonight.

-- Bob Doan, Venice, FL

Friday, March 17, 2023

Smacking the White Ball

Jupiter Dunes Golf Course Hole 6
Jupiter, FL
March 16, 2023
Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

Do not forget to wear the green!!

 Chris and I actually made it to the golf course, Jupiter Dunes, yesterday for a round of golf. It was a beautiful weather day and Chris had a great time. She made some stunning shots. I, on the other hand, did not play well and so was mostly frustrated. I had two holes, one of them is pictured, where I landed my shot on the green and the ball rolled off into the water! Ugh! I hate that. Elevated greens can be miserable.

Today, I am off for the Florida Gulf Coast for some Spring Training baseball and enjoying time with the Maryland crew which are visiting Florida to escape the Winter. It is the annual Spring Training baseball, golf, and beer trip. I am distressed that they decided not to play golf this year, but instead decided to watch the NCAA tournament--but I like the tournament as well so that will be fine. I sometimes get too frustrated trying to whack the little white ball, anyway. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Rainy and cold


Finnegan in his St Patrick's Day Shirt
Tequesta, FL
March 15, 2023

Yesterday's weather, rainy and cold, put a damper on our planned outdoors activities. I had the car loaded with our golf bags and push carts only to realize that a major cold front was moving in at exactly the time we were preparing to depart for the golf course. 

So what did we do? 

We went to the PGA Superstore in Palm Beach Gardens and spent money on golf stuff! If you can't play, then buy! Chris needed new golfing shoes and a few wardrobe items. I found a really great looking shirt with palm trees on it! I am excited about wearing it today if we can manage a round of golf. 

So I did not manage a bike ride--the winds were too strong and the misting rain made cycling more pain that it was worth. The weather remained difficult until about 5 PM when the skies cleared and the temperature rose into the 70s.

One funny thing did happen during the day. Chris dressed Finnegan in a St Patrick's Day shirt and he struck a pose in one of our chairs. I thought it was a great pose and a good image. Cute dog. 

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Ides Arrives

 The Ides of March have arrived. But in the good news department, there is less than a week until Spring begins (Monday, March 20th) and I am sure that those experiencing the Nor'easter are thrilled about the prospect of Spring arriving. 

Apparently Punxsutawney Phil had the forecast for six more weeks of Winter correct, sadly. I have been enjoying endless summer here in Florida where we set a record the Monday at 94 degrees, although yesterday the temperatures failed to get out of the mid-70s. 

I would like to say that I have been outside enjoying the great weather, and during the morning hours I have been. I managed a 21.5 mile bike ride yesterday, but during the afternoons I have been mired in tax preparation--the annual "render unto Caesar" exercise which is eminently appropriate on this day of infamy.  

In other news, Happy 203rd birthday to the State of Maine! I read a very interesting article this morning on the struggle for Maine's statehood and the Missouri Compromise. And we thought times were tough now.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Watcher

Riordin On Guard
Tequesta, FL
March 10, 2023

 Riordin, our cat, loves spending time in the garage. He goes there alone and in the dark. He watches for unsuspecting small lizards to run under a crack in the garage door seal. 

I believe, totally anthropomorphism, that he believes he is protecting the homestead from invaders. I am amazed at the amount of time he spends in the garage. To date, I can only confirm one kill--but since I hate cleaning them up, I am happy that there are not more. 

I will soon replace the garage door seal, but I am sure Riordin will continue to stand watch protecting the homestead from the lizard hordes. 

BTW, I really like the low light feature on my iPhone!

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, March 13, 2023

Monday Musings - March 13, 2023


1. Welcome to the second Monday of March. I hope you are adjusting to DST--Daylight Saving Time. There are 41 Mondays remaining in the year. 

2. St Patrick's Day is celebrated on Friday! Wear the Green.

Jupiter Irish Fest
Abacoa, FL
March 12, 2023
3. While St Patrick's Day is not until Friday, Chris and I attended the annual Jupiter Irish Fest on Sunday. We enjoyed Irish music, food and drink. The Fest was well attended; however, parking in Abacoa was tough because a MLB Spring Training game was occurring across the street at Roger Dean Stadium at the same time. 

4. On Friday, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failed in the largest bank failure since 2008. At the end of December 2022, SVB appears to have had about $209 billion in total assets and about $175 billion in deposits. This made SVB the sixteenth largest bank in the U.S., big in its sector but small compared with the more than $3 trillion JPMorgan Chase. This is the first bank failure of the Biden presidency (while Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that he had not heard of any bank failures during his father’s presidency, there were sixteen, eight of which happened before the pandemic). In fact, generally, a few banks fail every year; it is an oddity that none failed in 2021 or 2022. (Letters from an American)

5. Snowbird season is coming to a close here in Florida even as Spring Break begins. I expect many of the annual visitors will begin the journey north as Easter nears. That should, hopefully, help clear some of the traffic and open up the restaurants. 

6. US 1 is closing! Yes, right here in Jupiter, as of today, US 1 is closed for at least 20 months where it crosses the Loxahatchee River. The drawbridge is being replaced. While this is not a sudden thing, we have known about it for over a year, it will definitely cause transportation issues. There is only one viable detour and I expect traffic to be totally snarled for the next few days until the system gets the bugs worked out. 

7. For some interesting and potentially scary reading, check out, It happened there: how democracy died in Hungary. The article documents how democracy has slipped away and been replaced by authoritarianism. 

8. Today in History. Czar Alexander II, the ruler of Russia since 1855, is killed in the streets of St. Petersburg by a bomb thrown by a member of the revolutionary “People’s Will” group. The People’s Will, organized in 1879, employed terrorism and assassination in their attempt to overthrow Russia’s czarist autocracy. They murdered officials and made several attempts on the czar’s life before finally assassinating him on March 13, 1881.

As czar, Alexander did much to liberalize and modernize Russia, including the abolishment of serfdom in 1861. However, when his authority was challenged, he turned repressive, and he vehemently opposed movements for political reform. Ironically, on the very day he was killed, he signed a proclamation—the so-called Loris-Melikov constitution—that would have created two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives.

US regulators bail out SVB customers as second bank fails - CNN

Russian air defenses shoot down four missiles over Belgorod, governor says - CNN

Prosecutors refute claims Tucker Carlson's airing of security footage exonerates January 6 defendants - CNN

Exclusive: UK approves increased submarine-related exports to Taiwan, risking angering China - Reuters

Analysis: Declining U.S. bank reserves add wrinkle to contentious debt ceiling issue - Reuters

Ukraine, Russia locked in brutal battle in Bakhmut, casualties mount - Reuters

Biden Declares U.S. Arctic Ocean Off Limits to New Oil and Gas Leasing - The Wall Street Journal

Xi Jinping Brings China’s Reform Era to an End - The Wall Street Journal

North Korea Launches Two Cruise Missiles From Experimental Submarine - The Wall Street journal

Ukraine live briefing: Russia suffering heavy losses in Bakhmut, Zelensky says  - The Washington Post

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, Fl

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Biking through the Park

 Saturday's make for interesting activities. Chris and I have friends who work and so it is on the weekends that we get to enjoy daytime activities with them. 

Yesterday, Chris and I rode with a friend on a bike outing from Jimmy Graham Park through Sebranch Preserve State Park and then to Cove Road Park in Port Salerno, FL, returning via the same path. It was a short ride, just over 12 miles, but it was a beautiful day with a strong wind from the northwest. That wind made the return trip far easier than heading out. On the image at the right, we began at the dot near the bottom and rode Northwest until making a right turn to the Northeast where it ends at Cove Road Park. Then returned via the reverse route.

Cove Road Park, Port Salerno, FL
March 11, 2022
The highlight of the day was seeing dolphins in the Intracoastal Waterway from Cove Road Park. Just as we arrived a dolphin was just offshore and then we spied another somewhat further out in the navigational channel. I actually managed an image of that dolphin. It was something different as we do not see dolphins often. Aside from the dolphins we also saw some gopher tortoises and a lot of red headed agama lizards racing around. The lizards are an invasive species and their numbers seem to be increasing rapidly as I do not recall seeing as many of them as I have this year.

I have been doing a lot of biking and I am hopeful of riding the 150 mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail from Pittsburgh, PA, to Cumberland, MD, this summer and maybe following on to the C&O Canal Towpath from Cumberland to Washington, DC. Time will tell!

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Surf's Up

Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL
March 10, 2023

 It does not happen often, but yesterday the ocean waves were pounding the beach providing perfect waves for surfing.

I am not sure, but there must be some kind of surfer alerting network that identifies where the best waves are on any given day because there were more than 20 surfers out on the ocean by 8:30 AM in a place where there are normally none. And they were having fun. Some of the waves were rolling in at least 6 feet tall. 

Surfing to Start the Day
Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL
March 10, 2023

The morning was another great South Florida morning and the water is getting warmer with each passing day. As we walked the beach with Finnegan, we enjoyed a cooling breeze, a hot sun, and stood for a long while to watch the surfers in the waves. 

I sometimes wonder why I never learned to surf. Maybe because I lived so far from the ocean for most of my life. But I wish . . . 

It was a perfect dat which day began at the ocean and ended along the Intracoastal with Happy Hour at a new watering hole, Tiki 52, which had great seating and a solid band playing well into the evening. 

It was a great Friday.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Friday, March 10, 2023

Unfit for Public Office

There seem to be more than a few candidates for public office that meet the qualifications for the label: unfit for public office. Unfortunately, there are those in the current congress who likewise meet the qualifications.

Let me focus on two candidates for the presidency,: Trump and DeSantis. 

We know a lot about Trump and despite his bluster, and promises of doing great things, arguably he actually made some positive accomplishments during his term. That written, however,  I believe Tucker Carlson has the best assessment of the former President as published in a Washington Post article:

Carlson, who had shared private meetings with the president and defended him on-air, added in a text: “I hate him passionately. … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.” - The Washington Post

The aptitude for destroying things seems to be the position of the Republican Party. Look at the current Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The Republicans seemingly have no platform except to destroy the United States by forcing a default on the national debt. 

Turning to DeSantis. He meets the definition of forcing his narrow vision onto people while telling them he is making them free. It is a classic bait and switch. He is making Floridians free; free from choice. 

I quote from Letters from an American about how DeSantis is imposing his draconian view of society onto Floridians:

When Florida governor Ron DeSantis last March signed the law commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he justified it by its title: the “Parental Rights in Education” law. It restricted the ability of schoolteachers to mention sexual orientation or gender identity through grade 3, and opponents noted that its vagueness would lead teachers to self-censor.

Under the guise of protecting children, DeSantis echoed authoritarians like Hungary’s Victor Orb├ín and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who claim that democracy’s principle that all people are equal—including sexual minorities—proves that democracy is incompatible with traditional religious values. Promising to take away LGBTQ Americans’ rights offered a way to consolidate a following to undermine democracy.

DeSantis sought to shore up his position by mandating a whitewashed version of a mythic past. At his request, in March the Florida legislature approved a law banning public schools or private businesses from teaching people to feel guilty for historical events in which members of their race behaved poorly, the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (Stop WOKE) Act.

In July the Florida legislature passed a law mandating that the books in Florida’s public school cannot be pornographic and must be suited to “student needs”; a state media specialist would be responsible for approving classroom materials. An older law makes distributing obscene or pornographic materials to minors a felony that could lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Unsure what books are acceptable and worried about penalties, school officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, directed teachers to remove books from their classrooms or cover them until they can be reviewed. 

In January, DeSantis set out to remake the New College of Florida, a public institution known for its progressive values and inclusion of LGBTQ students, into an activist Christian school. He replaced six of the college’s thirteen trustees with far-right allies and forced out the college president in favor of a political ally, giving him a salary of $699,000, more than double what his predecessor made.

On February 28, right-wing activist Christopher Rufo, the man behind the furor over Critical Race Theory and one of DeSantis’s appointees to the New School board, tweeted: “We will be shutting down low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments and hiring new faculty. The student body will be recomposed over time: some current students will self-select out, others will graduate; we’ll recruit new students who are mission-aligned.” 

Then, this Tuesday, the board voted to abolish diversity, equity and inclusion programs at the school. DeSantis has promised to defund all DEI programs at public colleges and universities in Florida.  

The attempt to take over schools and reject the equality that lies at the foundation of liberal democracy is now moving toward the more general tenets of authoritarianism. This week, one Republican state senator proposed a bill that would require bloggers who write about DeSantis, his Cabinet officers, or members of the Florida legislature, to register with the state; another proposed outlawing the Democratic Party.

DeSantis and those like him are trying to falsify our history. They claim that the Founders established a nation based on traditional hierarchies, one in which traditional Christian rules were paramount. They insist that their increasingly draconian laws to privilege people like themselves are simply reestablishing our past values.

Be careful for whom you vote. There are wolves seeking to destroy democracy. The promise of "Making America Great Again" just may result in disaster.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

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