July 2017

Dr. Eileen de Villa, outside her office building.

My sister, Dr. Eileen deVilla, is Toronto’s new Medical Officer of Health, making her responsible for the well-being of 3 million Torontonians. In her role, she’s in charge of 1,800 people and an operating budget of $245 million, all with the mission of managing Toronto’s health issues, which range from restaurant food safety to disease outbreaks to infrastructure to social issues that have an impact on people’s health. It’s a big job, but she’s up to it; I put more faith in her guesses than many other people’s sure things.

In today’s Toronto Star, she has a glowing writeup in an article titled How Toronto’s chief medical officer became The People’s Doctor. If you’re in the Toronto area, you’ll be pleased to know that public health there is in excellent hands.

Dad and Eileen, a little while back.

As an added bonus, you’ll learn a little bit about our parents, and why my sister and I get involved in our communities: it because it’s a value that our parents instilled in us. So kudos to Mom, Dad, and Eileen — I salute you all with a filet mignion on a flaming sword!

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In an announcement made earlier today, the coding school The Iron Yard announced that they were closing all of their campuses, which includes our very own Tampa Bay branch in St. Petersburg and another branch in Orlando.

In their announcement, The Iron Yard’s communications director Leila King wrote:

In considering the current environment, the board of The Iron Yard has made the difficult decision to cease operations at all campuses after teaching out remaining summer cohorts. We will finish out summer classes completely, including career support.

Located in a converted warehouse building on St. Pete’s 1st Avenue South, The Iron Yard was where a lot of local techies devoted 12 intense weeks (and more than $12,000 for the opportunity) to learn how to program. It’s meant for people who are staking their future on a career in software development, and it’s not for the faint of heart or dilettantes. In my three years here, I’ve met the instructors and a good number of Iron Yard graduates, and I’ve even been a guest lecturer a couple of times. I’ve been impressed by what the instructors have accomplished, what the students have learned, and most importantly, where their learning has taken them.

The Iron Yard is more than just a coding school. It’s also a beautiful, comfortable space that serves as a hub for developers and techies on the St. Pete side of the Bay, as it’s the home of a number of meetups and other gatherings. It’s the social heart and soul of the tech scene on the St. Pete side of the Bay.

When I moved here in 2014, The Iron Yard was one of the first places I frequented. It’s where I got to know a lot of people in the local tech community and made some of my first friends here. It’s a key part of the Tampa Bay Tech scene and a big contributor to the local economy and culture, and we’re all be missing something once they close their doors.

So what do we, as members of the Tampa Bay tech and entrepreneurial community, do in light of The Iron Yard’s imminent closing?

First and foremost, let’s recognize the amazing work that the Iron Yard Tampa Bay’s team have done. To Toni Warren, Katherine Trammell, Holly Valenty, Mark Dewey, Angel Murchison, Jason Perry, Gavin Stark, and all the other folks at The Iron Yard: thank you for everything you’ve done. Through the students you’ve educated, the community you served and supported, the friendships you’ve helped make, and the space you created, you’ve made Tampa Bay a better, smarter place.

The Iron Yard crew: Gavin Stark, Holly Valenty, Jason Perry, Angel Murchison, Katherine Trammel, Toni Warren, and Mark Dewey.

Second, let’s make sure that all the people whose livelihoods come from working at The Iron Yard get new jobs! If you’re even only slightly involved in the Tampa Bay tech scene, you know they’re not just high-caliber techies, but also pillars of the community and great people in general. I’m sure that the closing of The Iron Yard has thrown a wrench in their lives and plans, and we as a community owe it to them to help smooth the path for them. If you’re hiring, hire them!

Third — and this is a tricky one — we’ll have to figure out where local aspiring developers will go. How do we fill the need for a place like The Iron Yard when it’s gone? What options will there be for someone who wants a concentrated, structured environment in which to learn how to code and learn how to look for development work?

And finally, the closing of The Iron Yard means that we all need to pitch in and try to create new homes for the meetups and other gatherings that took place there. I’m going to use my newly-minted position at Sourcetoad to see if it can become home for a couple of meetups that have been displaced, but what we really need is a venue on the St. Pete side.

And because it can’t be said enough, I’ll close with this: Thank you, Iron Yard Tampa Bay (and all the Iron Yard locations) for everything you’ve done.

Recommended reading

I’ll leave it to the Gentle Reader to find all the reports about The Iron Yard’s closing. I’d much rather point you to stories about The Iron Yard’s impact on Tampa and St. Pete:

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

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OJ Simpson’s next home could be…Accordion Bay?

by Joey deVilla on July 21, 2017

Two of his kids live in the Tampa Bay area, and he could move here to be close to them (and presumably continue the search for Nicole Brown’s and Ron Goldman’s real killer).

In statements that I assume were meant to be reassuring, OJ said that he’s benefited from anger management classes he took in prison, and his former manager says that Tampa’s probably a better place for him than Miami since it doesn’t have Miami’s nightlife or South Beach’s drugs:

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Rabbit season? In Florida, it’s TRUCK season!

by Joey deVilla on July 21, 2017

By now, you’ve probably seen the video of the guy in Hileah (a suburb of Miami) who expressed his displeasure with AT&T maintenance trucks parked in front of his house by calmly fetching his revolver and shooting out their tires and engines, reloading several times:

Let’s face it, given the lousy service and way telcos rip us off, who hasn’t wanted to shoot up their stuff? (I know a lot of Canadians who’d happily fire a grenade launcher into a Rogers or Bell Canada truck.)

The Miami Herald reports that the shooter in question is retired firefighter Jorge Jove. They write:

Jorge Jove didn’t like the AT&T work trucks in front of his Hialeah home Wednesday morning. So, he retrieved his revolver and began shooting out the tires and the engine, police said.

Though Jove began firing to kill only a vehicle, a Hialeah sergeant says he saw Jove fire at an AT&T worker in a raised bucket lift. Hialeah police arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm and criminal mischief. He posted $30,000 bond. Police seized the handgun from Jove, who doesn’t have a concealed weapons permit, according to the arrest affidavit.

Here’s a longer video, which opens with the AT&T worker saying a bleeped-out “Oooohhh shit”. This longer clip includes the bit where the worker tells the 911 operator that he’s got a co-worker who’s trapped in the “bucket” and can’t get down because Jove’s still shooting at the truck.

Here’s a follow-up story from local news, in which they report that Jove has no prior offenses on his record (but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere):

You might think that shooting out a truck’s tires and engine may be the exact opposite of what to do when you want them to leave, and you’d be right. It turns out that Jove, while unhappy with their presence, didn’t want the trucks to leave until the cops arrived, which is why he shot them.

It’s all here in a follow-up article titled The man who shot at parked AT&T trucks told police he went ‘bananas’:

According to Jove’s report, Jove was upset “because the trucks were parked in front of his driveway, and he feared damage to his pavers.”

About an hour after “having words” with one of the workers, Jove came out with his .357 revolver and caused over $1,000 of damage to the trucks, an officer wrote in the report.

A Hialeah sergeant who responded to the shooting said he saw Jove fire at an AT&T worker in a raised bucket lift. After being told to put his weapon down, Jove dropped it on the swale, according to the report.

“After waiving his Miranda Rights the defendant furnished a statement stating he went ‘bananas’ and wanted to stop them from leaving,” the officer wrote in the report. “He shot at tires and truck to [get] the AT&T workers from leaving prior to police arrival.”

Thanks to Rob Schneider for the find!

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Sunday, July 2: A beautiful day to join the guided walking tour of South Beach’s art deco buildings, courtesy of the Miami Design Preservation League. It ran 90 minutes, during which time we got to see South Beach’s predominant architectural styles: Art decoMediterranean revival, and MiMo.

Art Deco is short for the French term arts decoratifs (decorative art), which in turn was derived from a 1925 expo called Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International exposition of decorative and modern industrial art), where the style was popularized.

The Miami Design Preservation League says that art deco designs feature the following:

Over-all symmetry, ziggurat (stepped) rooflines, glass block, decorative sculptural panels, eyebrows, round porthole windows, terrazzo floors, curved edges and corners, elements in groups of three, neon lighting (used in both exteriors as well as interior spaces).

Many of South Beach’s buildings were built in the 1930s, when a later variant of art deco architecture called Streamline Moderne, a.k.a. Art Moderne, came into being. According to Wikipedia, “Its architectural style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements.”

Carlyle

You may recognize the Carlyle (construction started in 1939, and was completed in 1941) from a number of films. It was the gay nightclub in The Birdcage, and also appeared in Scarface and Bad Boys II.

Leslie

The Leslie hotel was designed and built in 1937 by Albert Anis, who designed a number of hotels in Miami Beach. It’s one of the newer renos, having been renovated in 2014.

Breakwater

Anton Skislewicz designed the Breakwater, which was built in 1939. Its roof was used as the backdrop for this famous ad for Calvin Klein Obsession from 1987:

Congress

The Congress was built in 1936 and now is functions as vacation condos. Its owners also own the two buildings to its right, and painted all three buildings with the same white and light blue color scheme.

Victor

On the next block north of the Congress is Hotel Victor.

Tides

At 12 stories, the Tides towers above its Ocean Drive neighbors. It was the tallest art deco building of the mid-1930s and was designed by Lawrence Murray Dixon.

The tour took us inside the Tides, which has a beautiful lobby, from which you can see the “Turtle Room”…

The story is that many years ago, one of the Tides’ guests left five large tortoise shells in their room. It’s presumed that the guest was a smuggler, but for some reason decided that the shells were too “hot” and simply ditched them. The hotel had several duplicates of the original shells made, and both originals and copies hang on the wall today, and it’s said that no one at the hotel knows which are which.

Essex

They’ve plugged up the porthole windows on the Essex, but kept the other art deco features, such as the tower, eyebrows, and the font. It was built in 1938 and designed by Henry Hohauser.

Webster

The Webster was also designed by Henry Hohauser, and its art deco pedigree was enhanced by the classic cars parked in front of it that day. It started out as a hotel, but is now a three-story boutique for designer clothes.

Kent

The Kent hotel first opened in 1939.

Fairwind

Originally named the Fairmont and constructed in 1936, the Fairwind is another 2014 reno.

Crescent

The Crescent was built in 1941, and yet another Henry Hohauser design.

Winter Haven

Completed in 1939, the Winter Haven was designed by Albert Anis.

Edison

Another Henry Hohauser hotel: the Edison, built in 1935.

Señor Frogs

Yet another Henry Hohauser design: Señor Frogs, which was once Jerry’s Famous Deli:

McAlpin/Ocean Plaza

The McAlpin and Ocean Plaza are side by side on Ocean Drive and are now Hilton properties.

Penguin

Did Henry Hohauser design everything in South Beach? The Penguin (originally the Golden Dawn) is another of his works.

Commodore

The answer to my question about Henry Hohauser above appears to be “Yes. Yes he did.” The Commodore is another one of his designs, this one dating from 1939.

Other buildings we saw

End of the tour

We returned to Miami Design Preservation League’s Art Deco Welcome Center at the end of the tour. We decided to close it out with photos of ourselves by the Miami Beach clock/thermometer, and then head to lunch.

Recommended reading

Previous articles in this series

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The teaser trailer for The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s movie about the making of The Room takes one of the most iconic scenes from that terrible movie, and turns it into pure cinematic gold. Let’s hope the rest of the film is as good.

If you’ve never seen The Room, here’s the “Oh hi, Mark!” scene referenced in the trailer:

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Star Trek / electronics joke of the day

by Joey deVilla on July 18, 2017

I’m laughing and groaning at the same time.

In case you don’t get the joke:

Thanks to Douglas King for the find!

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