Sunday, June 30, 2013

Deep Thoughts: Vacation

Your humble Captain and his always lovely First Mate just returned from a wonderful vacation, taking in a couple days at Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola Beach, FL, then on to Orlando, from where we toured around the area. 

No, we did not go to Disney, and only took in dinner one night at Universal City Walk.

The purpose of this trip was to relax, recharge, and drink a little lot. And during this week-long getaway, we were able to relax, recharge, and drink a little lot. And we learned some things in the process.

For example:

All other drivers on the road are idiots! 
--When you slow down to gawk at a wreck on the other side of the interstate or at an unfortunate traveler changing a flat tire or at a hapless motorist pulled over by the highway patrol, you set up a chain reaction that will back up highway traffic for anywhere from 2 to 5 miles.
--When you are already driving below the posted speed limit and you spot a highway patrol car on the side of the road, you don't have to slow down farther... especially if he is already engaged in writing someone a ticket.

People are slobs!
--The ocean is neither your trash can nor your toilet! Throwing your trash into the ocean will NOT make it magically disappear! [NOTE: This includes cigarette butts!] Please dispose of your trash properly! Otherwise, our beaches will not be beautiful anymore! Then where will we go to get away from it all?

Men, especially, are slobs!
--We logged more than 30 hours driving time, and stopped at several gas stations/truck stops/visitors centers along the way. Many of the bathrooms were simply disgusting. The rest made me long for the disgusting ones!
--Guys, a word please: Is it too much to ask to flush the toilet once you've committed your particular crime against humanity?
--And please consider a little more fiber in your diet. Thank you.
--That is all on that subject.

Smoking is a serious addiction!
--Florida seems to have more smokers per capita than even Kentucky! What is up with that? As if skin cancer is not enough for you folks!! Sheesh!
--Margaritaville Beach Hotel is a non-smoking resort - one of the reasons we chose it. In fact, we had to sign a statement promising we would not smoke in our room; there was a "$250 cleaning fee if caught" notice posted in the room; and a sticker on the door to our balcony (looking out onto the Gulf) reminded guests this applied to the balcony as well as the room. As a non-smoker, this was greatly appreciated.
--The first night out on our balcony (did I mention it overlooked the Gulf?), we smelled pot smoke, possibly wafting up from the beach. This is Jimmy Buffett's place after all, so... Cool!
--At 6:30 the next morning, someone on a neighboring balcony was already sitting out having what was presumably his first cigarette of the day. Over the next two days, many more followed... as did our futile calls of complaint to the front desk.
--Seriously? You need a cigarette at 6:30 in the morning? The Captain has some bad habits of his own, but we don't feel the need to express them at 6:30 in the morning!

Orlando is a great place to visit!
--Wouldn't want to live there.

When spending the day at the beach, apply sunscreen liberally... and often!
--Nothing says "I had a great time at the beach!" like a second degree burn... or skin cancer.
--And be sure to have a TRUSTED friend do the same for your back.

Tattoos are taking over the world!
Your Captain may be the last remaining male over 18 to not have his body inked!

Bottled water is good stuff!
--But do you know where it comes from?
--For example, Zephyrhills Spring Water comes from the Three Sisters Springs  that feed into Crystal Lake. These three underground springs combine to create a beautiful, clear lagoon, and because the water comes from underground it remains at a constant 72 degrees year-round. It is a big tourist attraction for the area during the summer months.
--Not coincidentally, each winter almost 600 hundred manatees crowd into the lagoon at Three Sisters Springs, some weighing in at close to 3,000 pounds!
--The water temperature is just right for all their baby-making shenanigans... not to mention the other bodily functions that occur in the water while these gentle giants winter there.
--I swam there on Friday. I promise I did not pee in the water! Can't say the same for some others in my company though.
--Did I mention that Zephyrhills Spring Water comes from that very spring?

Don't judge a bar by its cover!
--We sought a lunch recommendation from a local boat captain, who sent us to a place called "The Freezer". We almost drove past it, and then argued whether this was really the place or not. It was.
--"The Freezer" is an old ice house, formerly used by fishermen to keep their catch cold until they could get it to market. The walls are still the same steel of the original freezer, with a tiki bar attached to the water side of the building.
--The menu is simple, delicious, and cheap.
--And they have integrity. The bartender wouldn't let the First Mate order the blue crab because she had never had one before and didn't know how to eat it properly! Fair enough! Next time, we take lessons first!

I finally found my Margaritaville!
--I have been to beaches in California, Hawaii, Mississippi, Florida (including Key West) and Cancun, Mexico, searching for my Margaritaville.
--I have finally found it. It is located at Pensacola Beach.
--Unfortunately, living the laid-back, Margaritaville lifestyle ('Fly fast! Live slow!') is very expensive! Bring your Mastercard!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rules and Regulations

In the news this week, an outcry has arisen (once again) about the use of racist names and stereotypes among sports teams. The latest target is the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Those who are complaining this time are likening the name to the use of the “N-word” toward African-Americans.

Since it’s always good to be just a little bit informed before picking a fight, here’s just a little bit of history, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Washington Redskins team hails back to 1932, when it was the “Boston Braves”. Boston had a baseball team of the same name, now playing in Atlanta. When the football team moved to Fenway Park the next year – where the Boston Red Sox play – the team name was changed to Redskins. It relocated to Washington in 1937, keeping the “Redskins” name.

The team logo – depicting a Native American brave – has changed very little since 1961.

Various attempts by activists to force the renaming of the team have all failed. In 2002, Sports Illustrated conducted a poll in which they found that 75% of Native Americans surveyed were not offended by the football team’s mascot. When those results were questioned, the Annenburg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a similar poll (2004) and found that 91% of Native Americans surveyed were not offended. But that hasn’t stopped a few activists from pushing the issue. In 2009, a case made its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court refused to hear it.

Allow me to interject my opinion here; it is my blog after all. Unless you are Native American, your opinion doesn’t really count. If you are Caucasian (or of any other descent), you have not been grieved here. And to say that you (the white guy) need to speak up on behalf of Native Americans is a little patronizing, don’t you think?

The team ownership has faced racial controversy before. By 1961, the team was still not integrated – a totally different issue. Then-Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall threatened action if black players were not hired. The Redskins were also threatened with the withdrawal of the use of their stadium in Washington D.C., which was public property. The team integrated the very next year.

But now, the owner of the team is digging in, saying the name will never be changed. He claims the name honors Native American heritage.

So his opponents want Congress to get involved and make some sort of law that will require a change. In fact, ten Congressmen (yes, “men”) have appealed to the team owner to make the change.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of the naming of a sports team, I question whether this is really an issue for Congress. Do we really want our elected leaders wasting their time micro-managing our lives like this?

What next? Should Congress also determine what color the uniforms should be? Or how long the hot dogs sold in the concession stands should be?

Speaking of which, the Subway Sandwich chain was just this year sued because their “foot-long” sandwiches were actually only eleven inches long. The public is outraged.

Why wasn’t there a law?

But wait a minute… Someone really measured their sandwich?

Where does it end?

On one side, we get “offended” every time someone farts, and we demand a new law to prevent people from breaking wind in public.

Anyone remember Steve Martin’s stand-up routine?

But rather than demanding a law, couldn’t we just accept that our neighbor has a gastric disorder and open a window?

Can we not sit down together – yes, upwind of our flatulent friend – and settle our problems without needing an act of Congress?

Why is using a Native American image as the inspiration for a football team degrading to Native Americans? I am not Native American, so I don't understand what the problem is.

But apparently 91% of Native Americans surveyed (see above) also do not understand what the problem is.

Would I object to a team using a mascot called “Cracker” or “Honkie”?

Probably not.

Can’t say I would proudly wear that team’s jersey either though.

But then, I don't have to.

And what group will be next to complain?

The Irish?

The obese?

Banana Slugs?


Do we really need another law?

Or do we just need to stop playing the victim all the time and address the more pressing problems facing our world?