spooky fact

Found via Porkbones’ Facebook account. Click to see the source.

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Erika downgraded, but still may cause flooding

accordion bay flood watches

Erika, which has caused death and destruction in Dominica, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, has weakened from a tropical storm to a “low pressure trough” over the weekend, but it still means heavy rain in the area. Once again, Accordion Bay avoids another hurricane thanks to its fortunate locationA flood watch for central Florida is in effect today, and you should expect that traffic will be worse than usual today. With this summer’s wet weather, we’re poised to break some records.

It’s okay to fail

okay to fail

Sanders Memorial Elementary is a new magnet school in Land O’Lakes (where Edward Scissorhands was filmed!), and it has four core principles:

  1. Students first
  2. Learners have voice and choice
  3. Positive relationships lead to positive outcomes
  4. Failing forward

That last one may have jumped out at you, and not just because I put it in bold text. It also jumped out at district communication director Linda Cobbe when Sanders Memorial Elemntary’s principal Jason Petry announced them, but to his credit, he stuck to his guns.

embrace failure

Click the image to see it at full size.

The idea of embracing failure is a popular one the world of tech startups that I come from, where the risk of failure is high. While failure is unpleasant, we also know that it’s a good teacher. That’s why the startup world has slogans like “Fail fast!” and events like FailCamp. The idea is to deal with failure, take whatever lessons you can from the experience and try again, armed with that new knowledge.

If you take the opposite task and teach outright fear of failure, you get lessons like this classic one from Homer Simpson:

“Kids, you tried your best…and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.

Public works admin behind the St. Pete “Poonami” retires to “spend more time with the wife and family”

mike connors - st petersburg pwa

When someone decides to suddenly leave or retire from a job to “spend more time with the family,” you know that they’ve been “voluntold” to vamoose in the wake of a royal screw-up. This is most likely the case with suddenly-retiring Mike Connors, now former public works admin for St. Pete. A series of literally shitty decisions to discharge untreated sewage into places where it should not go, including Clam Bayou and Frenchman’s Creek, places where people boat and swim, is the most probably cause of Connors’ sudden surplus of free time.

As the folks at local paper Creative Loafing put it: “We’d also like to wish Connors well in whatever he does next, just as long as he doesn’t have any control over human waste or its final destination.”

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Here you go: it’s the video from my Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need presentation at Ignite Tampa Bay 2015!

My fantastic wife Anitra shot the video at the event, which took place at the Cuban Club in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood on Thursday, August 27. I was one of 20 speakers to make a presentation in the Ignite format, where you have only 5 minutes to get your point across, and you’re backed by a 20-slide presentation where the slides advance automatically every 15 seconds. It’s challenging, and for someone like me, who feeds off speaking to crowds, it’s a thrill!

Slide01

We speakers didn’t know our order of appearance until 5:00 that evening, and that’s when I’d discovered I’d been scheduled to be second last. I took this as a great compliment — at a long public speaking event, you want a strong finish and should save a couple of really engaging speakers for the end. My thanks to organizers Sean Davis and Joy Randels for believing in me!

For the super-curious, I’ve posted my slides and notes in an earlier article on this blog.

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joey devilla at ignite tampa 2015

Last night, I gave the second-last presentation at the 2015 edition of Ignite Tampa Bay, an annual gathering where people in Accordion Bay come to see locals take on the challenge of giving an Ignite presentation.

ignite tampa bayAn Ignite presentation is 5 minutes long, with 20 slides, each slide advancing automatically every 15 seconds. The format has been described as “the presentation equivalent of a haiku or sonnet.” They’re more challenging than your typical presentation, and require more rehearsal — and they’re also more thrilling to give!

My presentation was titled Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need! Here’s the one-paragraph abstract:

“Florida Man” and “Florida Woman”, those staples of slow news days and internet memes are this state’s most valuable resource. They’re the products of Truth™, Justice™, and the American Way™, and the surest signs of a better tomorrow. I’ll explain how this can be, complete with Florida Man logic and a closing accordion number.

I’ve posted the presentation on SlideShare…

…and I’ve also posted a transcript, complete with reference links, below (they’re copied straight from my slide notes). Enjoy!

Anitra shot video of my presentation, and I’ll post it soon!

Slide 1

Slide01

I’m going to come right out and say it: Florida Man and Florida Woman are NOT embarrassments to the state. They’re superheroes, and they can inspire us to make make the 21st century the Floridian century.

References:

  • Wikipedia entry for “Florida Man”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Man

Slide 2

Slide02

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “superhero” was coined in 1917. That’s the same year that the United States entered World War I, a major step in its becoming…a superpower. This is not a coincidence.

References:

  • “Superhero” definition on Merriam-Webster.com from November 5, 2014: https://web.archive.org/web/20141105205405/http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superhero
  • Wikipedia entry for “American entry into World War I”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_entry_into_World_War_I

Slide 3

Slide03

In 2013, the “Florida Man” Twitter account was created, highlighting the wacky antics of Floridians. The account’s description calls Florida Man “the world’s worst superhero”. I don’t believe in the “worst” part, but I can argue in favor of “superhero”.

References:

  • “Florida Man” Twitter account: https://twitter.com/_FloridaMan

Slide 4

Slide04

Florida Man has already done one great thing for us: he single-handedly changed Florida’s reputation from a sleepy retirement state – “God’s waiting room” – to “America’s drainpipe for weirdos”. A little later on, I’ll explain why this is a good thing.

References:

  • Slate article, “Oh, #Florida!”, where I found the phrase “America’s drainpipe”: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/florida/features/2013/oh_florida/what_makes_florida_weird_weather_people_tourists_foliage_greed.html

Slide 5

Slide05

Consider the first superhero, Superman. He’s not from here. He came from somewhere else on a rocketship for a fresh start. Florida Man and Woman are no different – most of them also aren’t from here. They likely came on a Greyhound bus.

References:

  • [Video] WatchMojo’s “Superhero Origins: Superman (REDUX)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Lpa1Njzo0
  • Orlando Sentinel article, “They’re preserving a special breed: The Florida native”, a 1998 article that says that even back then, native-born Floridians were outnumbered by more than 2 to 1 by people who migrated to Florida:
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1998-04-12/news/9804120131_1_floridians-native-born-heitler

Slide 6

Slide06
Superman’s journey to Earth is a small representation of The Hero’s Journey, and we get to see all of it: the origin and promise, the challenges and despair, then the triumph and promise fulfilled. Unlike Superman, we only see a tiny part of Florida Man and Woman’s journey in the news stories: the worst part.

References:

  • The Writer’s Journey: “The Hero’s Journey”: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm
  • Wikipedia entry for “Monomyth”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth

Slide 7

Slide07

According to this book, whose influence you can see in way too many movies, Florida Man and Woman are in the “long dark night of the soul” part of their story. But you know what comes after that part? Hope and redemption.

References:

  • Amazon page for Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need: http://www.amazon.com/Save-Last-Book-Screenwriting-Youll/dp/1932907009
  • Slate article, “Save the Movie!”, which explains why a lot of movies “feel” the same: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/07/hollywood_and_blake_snyder_s_screenwriting_book_save_the_cat.html
  • [Video] On story structure and how Save the Cat ruined Hollywood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4UiUckSmLE

Slide 8

Slide08

Superman isn’t Superman without Earth. It’s our yellow sun and lower gravity that give him his amazing powers.

References:

  • Superman Wiki entry on his powers and abilities: http://superman.wikia.com/wiki/Superman’s_Powers_and_Abilities

Slide 9

Slide09

Like Superman, Florida Man and Woman get their powers from their environment and the sun. Florida’s sub-tropical and tropical climates mean that there isn’t winter, giving them an extra few months in which to cause mischief (and because it’s warm, nudity is often involved). Just as Superman takes advantage of Earth’s low gravity, Florida Man and Woman benefit from Florida’s lack of hills, which is useful when you’re pushing around a shopping cart full of all your belongings.

References:

  • Wikipedia entry for “Climate of Florida”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Florida
  • National Geographic: “The Flattest US States? Not What You Think”: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140314-flattest-states-geography-topography-science/

Slide 10

Slide10

That same climate and topography also works for us, making this a pretty nice place to live, work, and play. The eternal spring/summer means we can get out more often, and have things like open air markets, resorts, amusement parks, and general outdoor fun. It also allows for places like small beach towns and quirky spots like St. Augustine. No winter means shorter construction times for megaprojects ranging from Downtown Disney to Jeff Vinik’s Channelside project.

References:

  • Tampa Bay Times – Jeff Vinik hires urban planners to start designing $1 billion downtown Tampa project: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/jeff-vinik-hires-two-architects-to-start-designing-1-billion-downtown/2221695

Slide 11

Slide11

Florida Man and Woman are also powered by a different kind of sunshine: sunshine laws! Since 1909, Florida’s been governed by the principle that
government business is public business, and therefore should be public knowledge.

This includes arrest reports, which are posted promptly and made widely available, which makes us the news reporter’s best friend on a slow news day,
and are the motherlode of “someone in Florida did something weird again” stories.

References:

  • Miami New Times – How Florida’s proud open government laws lead to the shame of “Florida Man” news stories: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/how-floridas-proud-open-government-laws-lead-to-the-shame-of-florida-man-news-stories-7608595

Slide 12

Slide12

These sunshine laws also mean that records created by public agencies need to be generally available to the public, and any meetings where public business is discussed – even unofficial ones, like over lunch – need to be open to the public. Other states wish they had our sunshine laws, and would even put up with exposing embarrassing locals as a side effect.

References:

  • Miami New Times – How Florida’s proud open government laws lead to the shame of “Florida Man” news stories: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/how-floridas-proud-open-government-laws-lead-to-the-shame-of-florida-man-news-stories-7608595
  • Wikipedia entry for Controversy and criticism of Jersey Shore: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversy_and_criticism_of_Jersey_Shore

Slide 13

Slide13

Speaking of other states, consider California, long considered to be one of the most successful states. It’s got a lot in common with Florida:

  • Warm climate
  • Orange groves
  • Disney presence
  • Major military bases
  • Aerospace industry

And an important natural resource…

References:

  • Yahoo! Answers – “What are some similarities between California and Florida?”: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091115110712AAFTAVG

Slide 14

Slide14

Weirdos! From the Gold Rush to Hollywood to rock and roll to Silicon Valley, California has been a destination for weirdos, and they’ve used their “weird power” to great effect, making the state the creative and economic powerhouse that it is today. It’s where the iPhone, Google, and Tesla come from!

References:

  • Peter G McDermott – Why Weirdos Rule the World: http://petergmcdermott.com/blog/2014/03/23/why-weirdos-rule-the-world/

Slide 15

Slide15

Lots of other places know this, which is why they have campaigns to attract weirdos. They know that weirdos are a key part of the Creative Class, a concept created by one Richard Florida. See what I did there?

References:

  • Wikipedia entry for “Keep Portland Weird”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Portland_Weird
  • Wikipedia entry for “Keep Austin Weird”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Austin_Weird
  • [Video] Keep Asheville Weird (Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KODPIArDsrI
  • Wikipedia entry for “Creative Class”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_class
  • Wikipedia entry for “Richard Florida”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Florida

Slide 16

Slide16

These places have learned the lesson that swim coaches have been teaching for years: Winning isn’t normal. It’s a lesson that Florida needs to embrace.

References:

  • Amazon page for Winning Isn’t Normal: http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Isnt-Normal-Keith-Bell/dp/0945609019

Here’s the key excerpt from Dr. Keith Bell’s Winning Isn’t Normal:

Winning Isn’t Normal

Winning isn’t normal. that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with winning. It just isn’t the norm. It is highly unusual.

Every race only has one winner. No Matter how many people are entered (not to mention all those who tried and failed to make the cuts), only one person (or one relay) wins each event.

Winning is unusual. As such, it requires unusual action.

In order to win, you must do extraordinary things. You can’t just be one of the crowd. The crow doesn’t win. You have to be willing to stand out and act differently.

Your actions need to reflect unusual values and priorities. You have to value success more than others do. You have to want it more. (Now take note! Wanting it more is a decision you make and act upon – not some inherent quality or burning inner drive or inspiration!) And you have to make that value a priority.

You can’t train like everyone else. You have to train more and train better.

You can’t talk like everyone else. You can’t think like everyone else. You can’t be too willing to join the crow, to do what is expected, to act in a socially accepted manner, to do what’s “in”. You need to be willing to stand out in the crowd and consistently take exceptional action. If you want to win, you need to accept the risks and perhaps the loneliness… because winning isn’t normal!

Slide 17

Slide17

Superheroes attract supervillains. The funny thing is that the best superheroes have villains just like them. Thor’s enemies are other Norse mythic figures. Captain America fights other nationalistic super-soldiers. And Iron Man, Tony Stark? His bad guys are other rich white egomaniac nerds. Superheroes and supervillains are often two sides of the same coin; they just made different life choices.

References:

  • Thor: In his movies, he fights Loki, the Destroyer (an Asgardian automaton), and Malekith the Dark Elf
  • Captain America: In the first movie, the bad guy is the Red Skull, in the second movie, it’s the Winter Soldier (Bucky, who’s been brainwashed and super-soldierized by the Russians)
  • Iron Man: In the first movie it’s Iron Monger (business partner Obadiah Stane in a suit). In the second, industrialist rival Justin Hammer is pulling the strings. In the third, it’s humiliated and out-for-revenge Aldrich Killian.

Slide 18

Slide18

So who are Florida Man and Woman’s supervillains? They’re also weirdos in Florida, but they made different life choices. Better, more productive life choices.

Slide 19

Slide19

And now we come to the true purpose of this talk: it’s a recruiting call for supervillains for Florida Man. As Ignite attendees, you’re the perfect candidates. You embrace weird, and you can make better life choices. “Normal” is staying at home and watching TV. “Weird” is getting involved in creative community events like this one, and making change as a result. Go out and be the best damned Floridian supervillains to Florida Man and Woman that you can be!

Slide 20

Slide20

And now, the song (sung to the tune of the original Spider-Man theme):

Florida Woman
And Florida Man
Do whatever a Florida can
Are they weird?
Listen, bud:
They’ve got greatness in their blood
Look out!
There goes the Florida Man (and Woman)!

References:

  • [Video] The original theme song for Spider-Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUtziaZlDeE
  • [Video] The Ramones’ version of the Spider-Man theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5P8lrgBtcU
  • [Video] Timbaland featuring Missy Elliott and Magoo’s Here We Come, which takes the Spider-Man theme to weird and awesome new hip-hop heights: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1rwvn_timbaland-missy-magoo-here-we-come_music

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That’s a sweet deal

by Joey deVilla on August 28, 2015

sweet deal

I’ll take the 2014 Dodge Ram, and because I’m in a generous mood, I’ll even throw in a couple hundred extra bucks above the asking price!

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This is my kind of first aid

by Joey deVilla on August 27, 2015

outside wound inside wound alcohol

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In response to recent campaign statements by Jeb Bush on Asians and “anchor babies”

(which seems to be a turn-around from an earlier statement in a Fox News appearance a couple of years ago, when he said that the Republicans’ problem is that they’re effective telling Asians “We want your vote, but we don’t want you on our team”)

…and by Donald Trump pulling a “ching chong”

…the Asian-American/Pacific Islander PAC CAPA21 has published this article, which they encourage people to pass along.

8 ways

Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump this week unleashed a string of racist insults against Asian Americans and Latinos.

Trump pulled a “ching chong” at a rally and earlier called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. He then threw out a renowned Latino journalist from a press conference just for asking questions. Bush said “anchor babies” was an immigration problem caused by the “Asian people” and then said today he would “quadruple down” on his position.

We just got a terrific preview of how a President Bush III and President Trump would treat Americans who are not White. In a more perfect Union, these idiots would have been forced to end their candidacies by Americans of all colors who believe that our President should at least be a decent person.

What to do? For one thing, forget about apologies. Genuine contrition by candidates and elected officials can only be proven by actions. In the context of a high stakes political battle, a well-crafted apology is often used simply to counter a news cycle, and not reflect the person’s true feelings.

Here’s eight suggestions on what Asian Americans can do to hold Bush and Trump accountable.

  1. Strengthen alliances with Latinos and other people of color. These candidates don’t discriminate when it comes to racism against Americans. They’re equal opportunity racists. Asian Americans are in the same boat as Latinos. Bush and Trump see us as The Other, not as Americans. Let’s stand up for our Brown and Black brothers and sisters, because we’re all in this together. Don’t know where to start? Here you go: latinovictory.us and #BlackLivesMatter.
  2. Find pressure points and make them hurt. Asian Americans may not have the largest numbers, but we have buying power. Let’s identify a Trump business that depends on Asian Americans and boycott the hell out of it. With Bush, we can comb through his FEC records and identify his Asian American donors to contact and ask them to hold their candidate accountable.
  3. Ask our organizations to step up. Many Asian American groups quickly responded to the racist insults. Other organizations have yet to respond. Understandably, many 501(c)(3) organizations are leery about weighing in to political situations because of IRS restrictions. But certain groups, like the Asian American Journalists Association, have watchdog roles that would be helpful in this situation. Let’s nudge them into action.
  4. Join in ongoing actions. The most notable response to this situation has been a hashtag campaign by Jason Fong, a 15-year-old student in the Los Angeles area.#MyAsianAmericanStory was started on Monday evening and has been used more than 6,500 times.
  5. Share your voice in the media. Write a letter to the editor, or an opinion piece. Write a blog post. Throw something up on social media. Staying silent is the worst thing we can do. Search for your favorite ethnic media or mainstream media outlet; most have easily accessible information on how to submit letters or opinion pieces.
  6. Ask the political parties and other candidates to weigh in. The Republican and Democratic parties seem to be watching this from the sidelines. If they oppose racist rhetoric in campaigns, we need to hear from them. We need the other candidates to demonstrate their opposition as well. Here’s contact info for the Democratic and Republican parties and a website listing the variouspresidential campaigns.
  7. Share this blog post. This one is pretty easy, right? The share buttons are below!
  8. Do the one real and tangible action to influence this election. If you’re not registered to vote or if you don’t vote, you’re giving up the one essential tool you have to ensure that we elect a President who can advance this country by caring about all Americans, not just some. Register today.

Let’s elect a President who is, well, not racist.

We’d love to hear your ideas on how we can respond to these racist candidates.Share your comments on Facebook or email keith@capa21.com.

Found via Angry Asian Man.

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