Vaccine Blues

Like many folks who fall into the age categories that are open to receiving the COVID vaccine, I have been trying to get an available appointment. Crashed systems, unavailability, lack of a simple implementation have all added up to a frustrating time for many of us.

Here in Florida, right now you have to be 65 and older to qualify, and yes I’m in that age bracket. Since the vaccines became available, there have been outcries about poor planning; website crashing, being disconnected on the phone after waiting for hours. Appointments filled up fast. Only the other day on the news I heard that in one county here in Florida they had 1,000 vaccines available and all were gone in three minutes.

Where are the vaccines people cry out? The state blames the feds, and the feds blame the states.


Here in Florida, selected Publix Supermarkets are now giving out the vaccine. This past Saturday morning the website opened, enabling folks to register for an appointment beginning at 6 AM. My wife and I were up and on our computer. After a 40 minute wait, my wife managed to schedule an appointment. After she was all set up, they asked if another household member wanted to register and I got an appointment. She was scheduled for Sunday, the next day, and I had my appointment for Tuesday.

We were ecstatic and grateful.

Both appointments went smoothly. They were quick, efficient, and we were in and out in 35 minutes, including the 15 minutes after you receive your shot.

There are many snags with the rollout of the vaccine. One of the key problems is the confusion because of a lack of a federal mandate on how to distribute the vaccine. Everyone knew the vaccines were coming. There was plenty of time for the federal government, the state, and counties to be better prepared.

Here in Florida, each county is doing their own thing from having to register by computer and/or telephone. County websites are all different, requirements are inconsistent including a few counties that are not doing by appointment only, but are on a first-come, first-serve basis until we run out. This situation has resulted in having a senior population standing in long lines or parked in long lines overnight, hoping to get a vaccine. Sadly, there won’t be enough for all and at some point, they will run out of doses and there will be folks who waited in line for eight hours or more and will go home still searching for vaccine relief. 

It’s a frustrating experience, hours are spent online or on the phone attempting to get an appointment only to receive a message that there are no more appointments available at this time or are disconnected. That said, please don’t give up. Keep pushing on and on and there will be that one time when you will scream out YES!    

Stay safe !and keep on pushing!

Capturing the Moment

Since COVID arrived on the scene my photography has been limited, mostly to my two cats. They are an endless joy of activity and opportunity. Still, all other photography has been on hold. Both my wife and I have underlying conditions so we are super careful where we go. Let’s just say the supermarket and doctors are not very photographic.

This brings me to the other day. My wife was preparing dinner and I was setting up the table and closing the blinds. That’s when I spotted the sky. Florida is known, when the conditions are right, for spectacular sunsets. This night it was perfect. I grabbed my cellphone and told my wife, I’ll be right back. I fortunately hit the right moment. The sky was a spectacular orange, and I had a panoramic view right outside my house. I snapped two pictures and felt the rush I always do when I capture the perfect moment in time. That’s a feeling I had not felt in a long time.

The photo here I thought was the better of the two. Nothing was photo shopped. It was nature at its best.     

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Mission Nombre de Dios – St. Augustine

 

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The Great Cross and Statue of Father Francisco Lopez, the First Parish Priest of St. Augustine, FL. 

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Chapel of Our Lady of Le Leche (St. Augustine, FL.)

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The Great Cross and one of The Seven Sorrows of Mary ( The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross)

Recent Read: A Florida State of Mind

Florida stateFlorida! The land of sunshine, beaches, Mickey Mouse, and Disney World; it’s the happiest place on earth, or so it likes to bill itself. Florida is also the land of hanging chads, gator wrestling, 17-foot pythons, uncontrolled urban sprawl, low paying jobs, a history of violent colonization, and real estate con men; land swindles were so common, Hollywood satirized it in the Marx Brothers film, Coconuts.  Florida is the land where the Outback Steak House is considered the best place to eat, and Fried Gator Tail is a delicacy.

Florida was weird from its early beginnings. Spain was the first to try and colonize Florida but found the unfriendly hot and humid weather as well as the hostile Native Americans overwhelming. The Spanish government gave way to the Government of the United States which after multiple wars and battles forced most of the Native American population to move west.

Florida does have its good side too; the winters are mild, if non-existent. Many beaches are pristine, that is if you don’t mind seasonal red tide, and you can thank Floridian born John Gorrie for air-conditioning. You can also thank Florida for Faye Dunaway, Tom Petty, Jim Morrison, Wesley Snipes, authors Carl Hiassen, Judy Blume, Lisa Unger, and many others.

While other states can try and claim the number one spot for strangeness (California?), Florida consistently ranks number one. The most recent stories about weird Florida alone since I read this book involves the Mayor of New Port Richey, and his immediate replacement both were arrested within a month of each other, and then there was the woman crossing  I-95 naked, dodging cars as she attempted to retrieve her dog,

Author James D. Wright explains the good and the bad in his new book A Florida State of Mind. As Wright points out, Florida likes to bill itself as the happiest state in the country. In truth, depending on the survey you look at it ranks between twelfth and twenty-fourth. Wright lays out an entertaining history of the weirdest state from its earliest days right up until the 21st century. The book is nicely laid out in chapters dealing with its history, growth, politics, tourism, and the environment. An entertaining read on a subject that is never boring.

Note: I received an ARC from St. Martin Publishing.

 

 

Images From Lake Apopka

Lake Apopka is approximately 30 miles northwest of Orlando. It’s the 4th largest lake in Florida and has a fantastic 11 mile drive around the lake to view and enjoy the state’s natural wildlife. One note to keep in mind is the wildlife scenic drive is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival

Just the other day my wife and I went to The Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival at Pier 60. I believe this was the third year we attended this event. Every year there is a different theme. Last year was a Celebration of Musicians which you can see here. This year’s theme is  Celebrating America. The eleven sculptors come from all over the world. The artists do not use molds. It’s all done using brushes, utilities tools and other instruments.

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Mount Rushmore

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Salty Fishermen

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Wall Street

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Edgar Allan Poe

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Abraham Lincoln

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Louis Armstrong and Charley Patton

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Holiday Road

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Lighthouse

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Route 66

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Monroe and Chaplin

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Casey at the Bat

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America’s National Parks

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Recent Read: The Deep Blue Good-by

The DeepThe master of Florida noir, John D. MacDonald was admired by writers like Stephen King, Lee Child and Dean Koontz among many others. MacDonald’s most famous character was Florida’s dark-knight Travis McGee.  In his first adventure, there were 21 books in the series, McGee willingly helps out, he called himself a “salvage consultant,” a young woman recover illegal funds her father stole and smuggled back home during the war.  His fee is fifty percent of what he recovers.

Travis’ methods of getting information are not always, I guess you can say legal. In this book, he strips one drunk guy, ties him up in a shower, hits him with cold water to sober him up, and then with hot scorching water to get him to talk. That said, McGee can be introspective, philosophical, sometimes cynical, and does have his moments of charm with women. Florida isn’t all fun in the sun.

 

Pelicans at Sanibel’s J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR

Earlier this week my wife and I took a short trip to the Naples area  of Southwest Florida. Included was a short day trip to the Ding Darling WLR on Sanibel Island where we were greeted by a small pod of Pelicans. Here are a few of my photographs.

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