Tag Archives: florida

Man, A Tee Sure Would Be Nice Or See Cows

There’s something to be said for ugly.

Mostly that something sounds like, “Eeeeewwwwwww!”

manatees_mother_calf_brandon_coleHowever, there also is something that goes along the lines of so ugly it’s cute. For exhibit 1 in this category, may I present the West Indian Manatee, a resident of many places, including Florida.

Yes, these are the manatees. They are slow moving, ugly and yet graceful in a ponderous roly-poly sense.

Because of their lassitude when it comes to motion (they sometimes will float in the same place for hours, barely moving) and their camouflage that allows them to fade into the water, many manatees are covered in scars all up and down their backs.

These scars come from boat propellers. Captains who aren’t looking out for manatees or who speed through manatee slow zones can zoom right over one of the peaceful sea cows, doing little damage to the boat, but severely hurting the peaceful creature.

Because they are a threatened species, manatee sightings are a rare and precious thing along the Intercoastal Waterway south of St. Augustine, FL, where my family vacations.

Bela Mar manateeWhich makes our latest two sightings all the more exciting.

I saw and photographed a manatee and her calf floating peacefully amongst the shore reeds at a local marina. Then, the next day, my dad caught a snap of this sea cow.

Apparently it has taken up residence beneath a boat dock near where my dad lives and has been seen swimming around in the river shallows several days running.

What a wonderful animal to have nearby.

One of the most-retold stories concerning the Intercoastal Waterway in our family is the time I and my brother-in-law The Teaching Dutchman took my young dudes, Sarcasmo and Zippy the Travelin’ Boy, fishing on the river in a small john boat.

We didn’t catch anything other than a small oyster (long story full of ineptitude), but we did have an amazing manatee sighting. As we were sitting in the boat, a large manatee surfaced less than ten feet away from us. We stopped all activity and watched as the manatee floated there and watched us.

The four of us must have been especially boring because it soon blinked and then drifted below the surface. Only to continue swimming closer, going directly under the boat, its backside bumping into the bottom of the hull, and then surfacing on the other side of the boat. It turned around for one last look and I swear it was smirking at us before it dropped below the surface again and swam away.

Getting an up-close look at the manatee, I came to a rather quick conclusion. If these things really were the basis for mermaid sighting, then either the old-time sailors were appallingly nearsighted or pleasantly size-diverse in their physical appreciation spectrum.

Share on Facebook

Educated In The U.S.A.

I grew up and went to school in Texas.

My young dudes have grown up and gone to school in North Carolina. My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting A Bit Fed Up With This, grew up and went to school in Florida.

If the rankings of these respective states is to be believed, and I do, then it’s an astonishing miracle-like happening that any of the young dudes in our family can tie their shoelaces without drooling all over their shoes and forgetting what they’re supposed to be doing halfway through.

Education, in North Carolina, Texas and Florida is, to put it bluntly, being run on the cheap. Don’t believe me?

Here, check out this compelling infographic.


Produced By Best Education Degrees

Florida is the highest ranked of the three and it’s up there in the heady heights of 39th place, which is crappy at the very best.

I realize that not everything comes down to how much money gets spent on education, but it doesn’t help when our state government won’t put out the money to make a better school system. If we paid teachers more money, we could more easily retain the best teachers, those who would actually motivate students to learn and achieve more.

The results speak for themselves, I’m thinking. Money can’t buy you success, but it can sure make it easier for you to get there.

Talk to your state and local representatives today, dudes. Get on their case until they start spending enough to give our kids a real, first-class education.

For those of you interested in the provenance of the data, go ahead and click on the more button just down there.

Continue reading Educated In The U.S.A.

Share on Facebook

The Most Important Job

I still haven’t figured out how to answer the question.

When we meet someone for the first time, one of the initial questions of the getting-to-know-you phase is this: What do you do?

By that, we’re asking what the other person does for a living. What is their job? Strangely, we, as a society, tend to define people by what they do, rather than what they enjoy, or who they are. While I’m sure there’s another whole post in this somewhere, I’m more focused this time around on what the answer to that question really is when it’s directed at me or people like me.

See, as might have been obvious sometime in the last six years, I’m a stay-at-home dad. For the past 14 years, I stayed home being the principal caregiver to our three boys while my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Bringing Home The Bacon Etc., worked outside the house.

For us, it wasn’t even a question what would be happening when we had kids. We both believed that kids would benefit from having a parent at home. She’s a doctor, which meant her first paycheck as the lowliest of doctors (an intern) was far more than what I was making at the top of my pay grade as an information specialist for the state of Florida. Yeah, no question I was staying home.

Now, I’m pretty cool with the idea of a woman making more money than I do. Just like it doesn’t matter that she beats me at H.O.R.S.E. every time we play. (Of course, in a real one-on-one game, I thrash her without hesitation.) She’s just a better set shooter than I am. I’ve been beaten by girls in races and never worried but for one thing: A person was faster than me. The gender of the victor didn’t matter. Same thing here.

But, apparently, it does matter to some people.

When I’m meeting people for the first time and I tell them that I’m a stay-at-home dad, I get responses that vary in the specifics, but all contain the same condescension.

“Oh, that’s so wonderful.”

“You’re so lucky to stay at home.”

“That’s such a hard job and so important.”

“I don’t know how you do it.”

And, worst of all, “Good for you. You should be proud of that.”

It’s a good thing none of these people are playing poker for a living, or are actors, because, dudes, they just can’t pull it off. In their eyes, in the tone of their voice, in the way they subtly lean back away from me as if they’re afraid stay-at-home-itis is catching. . .

In their eyes, there’s something deeply wrong with what I’ve done for the past 14 years. In their eyes, it’s easy to read what they’re thinking: “Thank God it’s not me.”

I realize that moms in my position also are getting something similar from other women. Staying at home, either for a man or a woman, can be a controversial choice to some people.

Men, I think, might get it a bit worse. Because we’re supposed to be the breadwinners, the ones who work outside the house. I’ve even been asked, “Doesn’t it bother you being the woman?” and “Does she let you wear shoes and leave the kitchen?”

Okay, yes, those were extreme examples and they might have said they were kidding, but there is that old saying about there being more truth in jest.

Over the years, just to avoid arguments in a pleasant setting, I’ve begun telling people I work from home instead of stay home. And, yes, that won’t be a problem much longer as I’m moving back into the outside work force as Hyper Lad grows older.

But, still, shouldn’t staying at home — whether because of a money issue or that you’re just more at ease taking care of kids — be a valid choice for any person, male or female?

There were a (very) few times in the beginning when I felt resentful that I wasn’t working every day at a newspaper, which had been my dream. But then I would look on my napping sons, or hear them laugh, and realize it’s possible to have more than one dream, to find and follow a new dream.

A man or woman choosing to stay at home to rear a child is a valid choice, dudes and dudettes. Respect that.

Share on Facebook