Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Charges against 10-year-old Florida girl are dropped

Felony weapons charges against a 5th grader in Ocala, who was caught cutting her lunch of leftover steak with a kitchen knife, have been dropped. It seems that everyone involved realizes just how utterly stupid the government run schools look in this ridiculous instance of one-size-fits-all zero-tolerance policy overkill. A court trail would have only focused further unwanted scrutiny on the imbecility that is the norm in public education here in the 21st century.

Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway was quoted as saying, "She has an excellent school history, no disciplinary problems, good grades and nothing whatsoever to suggest she was a troubled child." The same however cannot be said for the administrators of her local school board.

Now can we get back to our food fight?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oscar Peterson 1925 - 2007

The jazz world lost a true giant today with the passing of Oscar Peterson at his home in Canada. Along with Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Hank Jones he was one of the great pioneering jazz pianists of the 20th century.

This warm and friendly man will be missed by all of us who savored his highly polished technical skills and seemingly effortless improvisational style. I am grateful to own many of the wonderful recordings produced by this prolific artist that will keep his music and memory alive for many years to come. He's left behind a lot of joy.

Rest in peace Oscar, you've done well and have helped to make this a more happy and beautiful world. I know the angels will enjoy you as much as we did.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the Beach in December

Since the weather has been so balmy of late here on the Florida peninsula we decided to go frolic in the waves at New Smyrna Beach, one of my favorite coastal towns on the Atlantic shore. We spent the afternoon at the beautiful Smyrna Dunes County Park, which is located at the northern end of the barrier island where it juts into Ponce Inlet.

This spectacular park protects a large population of endangered gopher tortoises and preserves the last remaining chunk of undeveloped sand dune and coastal scrub ecosystem in Volusia County. It also includes extensive bay & river frontage as well as a magnificent strand of Atlantic beach. I must admit that I love wearing swim trunks in December.

A large gopher tortoise heading into its burrow.

Atlantic Ocean

A snowy egret in Ponce Inlet

New Smyrna lighthouse

Old Man of the Sea

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter solstice in Florida

Today is the winter solstice and I wanted to share a little taste of what it's like at our home here in the subtropical bliss that is December in Florida. So I took a hike with my camera out to "the island" (which all of you regular readers know is a Disney nature preserve located directly behind our house) to record what the first day of winter is like in the wilds of Osceola County.

I do hope y'all are enjoying this the shortest day of the year, wherever you may be, as much as I am. The amount of daylight starts to lengthen again next week, so hang in there all of you sun deprived Michiganders and Minnesotans out there in cyberspace. Help is on the way.

Merry Christmas!

Winter light in the Reedy Creek Swamp

A gigantic two-striped walking stick (Anisomorpha buprestoides)

Tropical clouds hover lazily over the island.

Moonrise over the swamp

Green grass in December? That's a new one for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another typical afternoon in Amerika

The following article appeared in this morning's Orlando Sentinel and fully encapsulates what daily life has become in the land of the free and the home of the brave:

10-year-old student arrested after using knife on steak

OCALA - A 10-year-old girl could face a felony weapons charge after she brought a kitchen knife to school with her steak lunch, the child's uncle said Saturday.

Marion County deputies arrested the girl Thursday at Sunrise Elementary School and took her to the Juvenile Assessment Center. School faculty had seen her cutting the steak with the knife at lunch. They took the knife away from her before calling the Sheriff's Office and her uncle.

Her uncle, Kenneth Thomas, said the child was distraught by the arrest.

I'll be closely following this case and will make sure to keep y'all apprised of developments in the prosecution of this 5th grade girl. I'm thinking of establishing a legal aid fund on her behalf. Any thoughts for a name I could use?

Oh the horror!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December in Florida

So far, here in the subtropical splendor of the Florida peninsula, the average daily temperatures this month have been warmer than they were in November. I have never experienced a December this balmy in my life, with daytime highs averaging about 83 degrees and overnight lows of 60. While it's certainly not something that I've been accustomed to, I wish to assure you that I intend to endure it with all of the dignity and grace at my disposal.

"Honey would you please pass the sunscreen."

Christmas tree in downtown Celebration

I hope that December in your neck o' the woods is chugging along just fine and that your holiday shopping is pretty well wrapped up. If anyone else wants to join us for Christmas on the beach please drop me a line and state your preference for either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, as we're equidistant to both. Also, to my Jewish friends I'd like to wish you all a very Happy Hanukkah!

December skies in Florida

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My neighbor's house

I guess I'm just not the suburban type. For some odd reason I simply can't work up much enthusiasm for block parties, soccer moms, endless rows of similarly styled houses sitting atop manicured lawns or otherwise humble abodes overdone in brightly lit holiday ornamentation. Lord knows I've tried to fit in but can now totally understand why I spent 16 years in the windswept wastes of the Great Basin desert. Jackrabbits don't dress up like elves and cactus definitely ain't no fun to decorate.

I guess the final indignity came sometime after dusk this evening when my neighbor's house came alive for the first time this season with a garishly gleaming barrage of holiday lights and decorations which includes a mechanical Santa Claus that emerges every few minutes from an inflated chimney, powered by its own motor with which to levitate him up and down and up and down and up and down until dawn's early light breaks across the swampy stillness.

I sort of feel like Charlie Brown after he sees the Las Vegas style decorations adorning Snoopy's doghouse. My home, in comparison to my neighbors, is like the drooping twig straining under the weight of a single Christmas ornament.

It's definitely going to be a long holiday season for Beamis.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!!!!!

Did I mention that my neighbor is a Hindu?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

SEC Championship Game 2007

Louisiana State University Cheer Squad

Today's championship game, being played in Atlanta, between #7 LSU and #15 Tennessee is the culmination of a very exciting and memorable season of college football in the Southeastern Conference. Ten out of the twelve teams in the league are bowl eligible (with Ole Miss & Vanderbilt being left out) and the top ranked team (#4 Georgia) is not even eligible to play for the title.

The incredible performance of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was fun to watch and his statistics are historic. I'm rooting for him to win the Heisman Trophy but won't be surprised if it goes to another SEC standout, Arkansas running-back Darren McFadden. I wish good luck to them both.

Some definite highlights of the season would have to include the LSU-Kentucky game (actually watching it with friends while visiting Kentucky a lucky bonus), Alabama-Georgia, Florida-Georgia, Arkansas-LSU, and Kentucky-Tennessee. These games were entertaining and very well coached. I truly believe this is the best sports league in America. Eat your heart out NFL, you should be so lucky to have this many thrills in ten years worth of games.

The current LSU mascot Mike IV

The book makers in Las Vegas have LSU as a 7 point favorite over Tennessee but I beg to differ and think there will be a big upset in Hotlanta today.

My prediction: Tennessee over LSU 37 -35.

University of Tennessee mascot Smokey


Saturday, November 24, 2007

College basketball game

Last night a friend invited me to attend a college basketball game at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex which was a part of the Old Spice Classic being televised on ESPN. We watched Kansas State (#20) versus Central Florida in an exciting and close game that went into overtime.

It goes without saying that college basketball is a much better entertainment product than the NBA and so much more affordable. The games are shorter, more exciting and played with real passion. I had a great time and encourage y'all to go see a college game in a neighborhood near you.

I took some pictures that I think summarize the essential elements of the NCAA basketball experience. A good time was had by all.

The Milk House at Disney Wide World of Sports

Cheers for Central Florida

Lay up

Time out

Foul shot


Final score

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

West Coast road trip

We spent yesterday, our first wedding anniversary, taking a road trip down the west coast of Florida to collect shells on Honeymoon Island and have dinner in Tampa.

We're getting pretty good at this road trip thing.

Thought I'd share some highlights of our journey with y'all on the day before Thanksgiving. Be safe and make sure to tell Grandma I said hey.

Antebellum mansion
Brooksville, Florida

Confederate monument
Broooksville, FL

Gopher tortoise
Hernando County, FL

Mermaid statues
Weeki Wachee, FL

Wall Spring
Palm Harbor, FL

Boggy Creek
Pinellas County, FL

Honeymoon Island State Park

Wood storks
Honeymoon Island State Park

Gulf shore
Honeymoon Island State Park

Connie's haul of sand dollars
Honeymoon Island State Park

Rush hour in Tampa

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kentucky vs. Georgia

Sanford Stadium

The Kentucky Wildcats (#20) will journey south to Athens this coming Saturday to take on the resurgent Georgia Bulldogs (#9) in Sanford Stadium. The current mess that is the SEC East standings has the lower ranked Tennessee Volunteers (#19) in the drivers seat for claiming the division crown due to the tie-breaking advantage of having beat the stuffing out of Georgia in Knoxville back in October. Oh the trials and tribulations of life in the SEC!

Andre Woodson

Truth be told, I really like this Kentucky football team and think that their coach Rich Brooks has done a wonderful job reviving a moribund program from oblivion. Andre Woodson is a great quarterback and the Wildcats stunning defeat of LSU was a highlight of the NCAA season. Having said that, the Dawgs must defeat the Cats and hope for a Tennessee loss in the next two weeks to get a shot at LSU in the SEC championship game and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. The Las Vegas odds makers have Georgia favored by 8 points and I think that this will be borne out by the final score: 35 - 21.

Next week I'll be rooting for Kentucky to kill the Vols!

UGA in his new black jersey

This game will air on ESPN at 12:30 PM Eastern time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Auburn vs. Georgia

The oldest football rivalry in the South commences for the 111th time this Saturday in Athens, GA when the Auburn Tigers (#17) take on the Georgia Bulldogs (#10) between the hedges in Sanford Stadium.

2006-07 Auburn Cheer Group

The boys in Las Vegas have Georgia favored by one-point, which pretty much translates into even odds in my book. If Georgia can come away with a win this Saturday and another the following week against Kentucky it is not too much of a stretch to speculate that they could win the SEC East and meet LSU in the championship game later this month in Atlanta.

I pick the Dawgs to win this one 37 - 24.

Downtown Athens, GA on game day

This game can be seen on CBS at 3:30 PM Eastern. I'll be serving BBQ & slaw with pecan pie. Y'all come down now, ya heah?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wilco performs on Austin City Limits

Wilco on stage at Austin City Limits

I had the great privilege to catch Wilco perform on the wonderful PBS show Austin City Limits. The band was in great form and played songs from their most recent album Blue Sky Blue. Lead guitarist Nels Cline was featured more than usual and boy oh boy did he wail. I just loved hearing that battered old Fender Jazzmaster ringing in my ears once again, even though it was just coming out of TV speakers instead of through a stack of Marshall amps live and on stage.

It may seem a bit hyperbolic to say but I'll state it anyway, this is the best damn band in the land! They are astute artists that incorporate a wide range of influences and are able synthesize it into music that is fun, refreshing and intelligent.

Keep an eye out for this show in your local listings. Nels Cline alone is worth the price of admission.

Nels Cline

Friday, November 02, 2007

LSU vs. Alabama

The long awaited clash between the Cajun Tigers of LSU against the Crimson Tide of Alabama will finally occur tomorrow in Tuscaloosa. The newfound, and quite intense, enmity of Tiger fans towards the Tide is due to the perceived traitorous nature of their former coach Nick Saban who took the head coaching job at Alabama without the blessing and permission of football fans in Louisiana. They are especially upset because he decided to coach a rival team in their own division (the SEC West). That he coached the Tigers to the 2003 national championship title seems to matter not a whit in their low estimation of his tainted character and honor.

A popular shirt in Baton Rouge

LSU is currently ranked #3 in the nation, with a good shot at the national title, yet Tiger fans are still harboring a boatload of venom towards their former coach Nick Saban. It must be very disheartening to their current coach Les Miles, who is rumored to be considering a move back north to coach his alma mater (the Michigan Wolverines) next season. I think all of this Cajun fanaticism is beginning to wear on him more than a little, because in Ann Arbor they're quite happy if all you do every year is beat Ohio State.

Of course, in Alabama the arrival of Nick Saban is viewed quite differently.

The odds makers in Las Vegas have picked LSU as a 7.5 point favorite but I think emotions will be running high in Bryant-Denny Stadium and the Tide will emerge victorious 31 - 27.

This wonderful spectacle of SEC football will air on CBS at 5:00 PM Eastern time. I'll be grilling chicken served up with homemade slaw and home fries. Y'all come on down!