The Current Situation

Russia pays Taliban-friendly militants to kill U.S. troops; Trump administration hasn’t done anything yet

Tap the screenshot to read the New York Times story.

For months, the Trump administration has known about it: Russian military intelligence had secretly been offering bounties to Taliban-related militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan, including American troops. They paid out rewards for successful attacks that took place last year.

The administration’s response is summarized in this paragraph from the New York Times:

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

…and later on in the article:

The disclosure comes at a time when Mr. Trump has said he would invite Mr. Putin to an expanded meeting of the Group of 7 nations, but tensions between American and Russian militaries are running high.

If you’re eligible, remember to vote this November. And get it right this time!

Tampa Bay

The Fast and the Spurious (or: Why does the school board need a car like this?)

Tap the photo to see the excessive vehicularity at full size.

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorI snapped this photo during my bike ride this morning. I don’t know how many high-speed chases the local county school board gets into, but they are READY!

(Seriously, are Dom and the rest of the Fast and Furious gang skipping school?)

It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

On my bike route: Lake Roberta

Tap the photo to see it at full size.

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorSince I’ve been avoiding the gym since March due to the coronavirus, a good chunk of my regular exercise has revolved around a 10K bike ride that I try to do at least five days a week.

While Florida provides a fantastic climate for year-round cycling, Florida drivers provide a hostile environment for cyclists. The state is still number one in cycling deaths, and I have no intention of adding to that record. Luckily for me, my stomping grounds of Seminole Heights is a lovely residential neighborhood with plenty of quiet tree-lined streets with classic bungalows, “pocket parks”,  gorgeous tropical foliage and other things to see that provide miles and miles of great cycling.

I take a different route every day, but at least half the time, I include Lake Roberta on that route.

Tap the photo to see it at full size.

The word “lake” is a little bit of a stretch — it’s actually a pond surrounded by a residential street, Roberta Circle:

Lake Roberta is home to all sorts of life forms, from the humans who live in the houses on Roberta Circle, to the creatures that live in or near the water. Those include an assortment of different kinds of ducks, a number of ill-tempered geese, ibises, turtles, lizards, squirrels, and possums. I don’t think that there’s a gator in there — with all the houses in the area, I can’t see the people who live nearby not calling wildlife control if they ever see one.

Roberta Circle provides a great way to help collect my 10K. By luck or design, each lap around the “lake” is a quarter mile, and the asphalt is nice and smooth. 4 laps around the lake adds an easy mile to my minimum goal of 6, and I get pretty scenery as a bonus.

Tap the photo to see it at full size.
The Current Situation

It’s the same old story


Thanks to Ramon Grajo for the find!

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay deal of the day: Set of 3 “Rat Pack” resin statues for $200

I don’t have the room for them; otherwise I’d already have bought this set of 3 statues of “Rat Pack” members: Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra for $200. They come with stools to seat them on (pictured) and cocktail glasses for them to hold (not pictured).

If you’re interested in picking these up, here are the details, courtesy of the seller:

Rat Pack Set of 3 Statues Retro 50’s Three Singers 3ft Prop Man Cave Fiberglass Resin Display – The Rat Pack. A set of 3 statues Sammy, Dean and Frank. 3 ft tall Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra Rat Pack Statues some of the titans of television and music sitting on steel + wood barstools + each has a drink glass they hold( not pictured). $200.00 cash ( all three – one price) ( excellent condition) Great for restaurant, bar, music studio, arcade or gameroom, music instruments band store, mancave, home decor or ?

The seller’s based in Palm Harbor. If you’re interested, visit the Facebook page for the sale and contact them!

It Happened to Me

My “Dad” story for 2020

My move from Toronto to Florida — a little over six years ago now — forced me to really apply a rule I try to follow: If you’ve been hanging onto something and never use it, let it go. Sell it, give it to someone who really needs it, or toss it. I’ve had to use this rule more since moving from Toronto to Tampa, as the move required me to take only what I could fit in my old car, and because I didn’t want to treat my mother’s basement in Toronto like a free storage place forever.

In spite of this rule, I’ve hung on to one piece of clothing that I’ve had since the very last days 1999 and that I almost never wear. It’s a grey zippered sweatshirt, a photo of which you’ll see later on in this article. There’s nothing terribly bad about it; I like the color, but the cut’s all wrong, it’s a little too big, it has ridiculous snap-straps all over (in the photo, you can see one of them around the neck). While it’s perfectly serviceable, I don’t like it enough to keep it under normal circumstances. It would’ve ended up at the drop-off of a Goodwill or some other charity ages ago. Still, I keep it, and I only get it dry-cleaned by professionals. Why? Because it’s a special gift from my dad.

Late December, 1999

In 1999, my former high school classmate André Fenton was doing neuroscience research at the Czech Academy of Sciences and decided that he wanted to ring in the year 2000 by throwing a big New Year’s Eve party in the nicest place that he could rent somewhere near Prague.

He found a great place — Zamek Roztěž (although these days, it’s marketed as Casa Serena Chateau and Gold Resort). It’s a “hunting castle” originally built in the late 1600s in the village of Roztěž, located in the Kutna Hora district, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Prague. I was invited to the party, and while there, had a grand old time:

Upon hearing that I would be staying at a castle somewhere in the central European woods in the dead of winter, Dad decided to surprise me by buying me something to keep me warm. That thing was the zippered sweatshirt, and he gave it to me just as he dropped me off at the airport to catch my flight to Amsterdam, and then Prague.

“I got this for you. I don’t want you to be cold when you’re in that castle.”

I thanked him for the sweatshirt, gave him a big hug, wished him a happy new year in advance, and told him that I’d send photos that I’d take with my still-newish digital camera (1024 by 768 pixels in super-fine mode!) to mom via email (he never had an email address).

It’s not really what I would’ve bought, but it’s big and warm, I thought, and it served me well on the flight, in the castle (which wasn’t all that cold — they’d been doing a fair bit of renovating), and especially well on a hike around the castle grounds with some lovely company on the night of January 1st, 2000:

Twenty years later

Because I am a big ol’ sentimental softie, not only have I kept this sweatshirt that I don’t really like all these years, but I take it with me whenever I travel far to someplace cold, as a sort of comforting tradition. I wore it walking through the streets of Prague, while shivering on the slopes at Whistler while trying to figure out how snowboarding worked. I wore it when I was conducting mobile technology assessments in the bitter cold of Athabasca’s oil sands. As I drove through the snow-covered hills of West Virginia on those chilly days of March 2014 as I moved to Tampa to be with Anitra, I had it on. I bring it with me on our trips to Toronto in winter. I last wore it during the handful of days that Tampa gets close to freezing, when the office’s heating just wasn’t keeping up. It keeps me warm, not only in the physical sense, but also in the way that it reminds me of his kindness and generosity.

Me, in the “Dad sweatshirt”.

Dad died at the end of February 2006. But thanks to this sweatshirt that I normally wouldn’t be all that crazy about, I have a little bit of him that I can take with me when I’m cold and far from home. That’s why I’ll never part with it.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

The Current Situation

Video of the day: Trump’s post-rally walk of shame

Andrew “@AmoneyResists” Wortman posted this on Twitter:

Over the next couple of days, you’ll hear attempts to reframe the Tulsa rally as a success. When you do, and should you start believing the propaganda, come back here. Watch the video and see the truth about how it really went, as evidenced by the body language of utter defeat (and let’s face it, a complete lack of grit).

It tells you everything you need to know without a single word from Team Trump or “Vanilla ISIS”and hence, without a single lie.