It Happened to Me

Six years ago today…

Joey deVilla and Anitra Pavka make their entrance at their wedding reception.

Happy anniversary, Sweetie!

Joey deVilla and Anitra Pavka make their entrance at their wedding reception.

Joey deVilla and Anitra Pavka make their entrance at their wedding reception.

Joey deVilla and Anitra Pavka welcome the guests to their wedding reception.

It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

The best grocery store sign ever

Joey deVilla, at Tampa’s Philippine Grocery, posing beside a sign that read “KEEP CALM: WE GOT RICE!”.
Seen at Philippine Grocery in Tampa. Tap to view at full size.

Well, it’s the best grocery store sign ever in my opinion, anyway.

It Happened to Me Tampa Bay The Current Situation

Half-time was the best time to go plague shopping

Trader Joe’s Tampa last night at 8:24 p.m.. Tap to view at full size.

My hunch that Trader Joe’s Tampa would be a ghost town last night during Super Bowl LV’s half-time paid off. It was the perfect time to make a quick but important grocery run, as you can see from the photo I took while at the cashier (see above).

This run was important because there are better-than-even odds that we’ll experience a COVID-19 spike, thanks to Super Bowl superspreader gatherings like the one in the picture below, taken in Ybor City on Saturday night…

…and covered in the following articles:

My advice: Be particularly careful over the next couple of weeks, because a lot of people were careless over the past couple of days.

It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Tap to view at full size.

It was a great morning for a bike ride in Tampa, what with temperatures of 24°C/75°F and plenty of sunshine. Here’s what I saw as I biked past the our yard and got today’s workout.

It Happened to Me

It’s Burns Night!

Image by david tollmie from Pixabay. Tap to view the source.

Tonight — the evening of January 25th — is Burns Night, a celebration of the life and works of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. While I have no traceable Scots heritage in my family (it’s Irish, thankyeverramuch), Anitra does, and I’m never going to turn down a celebration where scotch whisky is involved.

You probably know at least one of Burns’ works, whether you realize it or not. He’s behind such classics as:

  • Auld Lang Syne, which was originally meant to be sung at Hogmanay, the last day of the year, and eventually became the unofficial song of New Year’s.
  • (My Love is Like) A Red Red Rose, one of the standards of romantic poetry.
  • Tam O’Shanter, the poem from which the cap gets it name.
  • To a Mouse, an actual poem written after Burns was ploughing his field and unintentionally destroyed a mouse nest, which the mice would have needed to survive the winter. This poem contains the line “The best-laid schemes of mice and men /
    Go oft awry,” which became the figure of speech we know today.
  • Address to a Haggis, because if a food ever deserved a poem, it’s that most ugly-delicious of Scots dishes:

Even though we’re still in the middle of a plague and can’t host a Burns Supper tonight, we’ll still celebrate: I’ve got a lamb loin roasting in the turbo broiler…

Tap to view the meaty goodness at full size.

…and I have some scotch handy. As for poetry — well, I have to write some code tonight, and when done well, code is poetry: Rich, expressive, and saying so much with an economy of language.

Have a great Burns Night, everyone!

America It Happened to Me

Today feels like that moment

October 3, 2016: It’s my first day at the job as the developer evangelist for an RFID company with an office in Asheville, North Carolina, so I’m flying there for my first face-to-face with my new boss.

I’m deep in thought, going over what I’m going to talk about with my boss during dinner, when my train of thought gets interrupted.

Someone’s yelling at me.

I look over to see if the yelling is actually directed at me, and not just someone else nearby. I look.

The yelling came from the end of the line at Carolina Pit BBQ. It’s coming from a guy with sandy brown hair, plaid shirt, mom jeans, and one of those then-new “Make America Great Again” caps. He looks more basic and dead inside than a Bob Evans menu, and more “economically anxious” than a first-timer at a Vegas poker game who’s realizing that every other player at the table is a shark or shill.

It’s clear to him that I didn’t quite hear him the first time, so he repeats himself.

“I said: You with the big backpack! Go back to China!”

He’s mistaken my accordion for a backpack, and me for Chinese.

“I bet you heard this time, chink!

From both my media training and my hobby as a street musician on the streets of downtown Toronto, I learned a couple of tricks for dealing with insults from passers-by and hecklers. One of them is to approach them and ask them to repeat what they just said and explain what they meant by it. This is effective if there’s a crowd around and you think they might be more sympathetic to you.

“Would you mind repeating that?” I ask loudly and clearly using my radio announcer voice, as I approach, taking strides as if I were a club bouncer in “business mode”.

As I get closer, it becomes more apparent that I’m almost a head taller than he is. Also, with the accordion slung on my back, my shoulders appear even wider. He’s getting an object lesson that the stereotype of Asian men being short and meek doesn’t always apply.

“Did you not hear me?” I ask. My “scratch a bully, find a coward” gamble is paying off.

I’m now five or six strides away and closing in fast. I repeat my question: “Would you mind —”

And that’s when the little shit high-tailed out of the line, straight for the departure gates.

I look at the spot he just vacated and take it.

Today feels like that moment.

Florida It Happened to Me Tampa Bay

Every year, my conversations with my neighbors become more “Florida”

Seminole Heights’ seal, which depicts a two-headed alligatorLast year, we had a problem with a household who in addition to keeping chickens in their yard, also kept a rooster. I have no problems with neighbors keeping chickens, but the rooster was a big problem at the crack of dawn, for reasons that should be obvious if you’ve ever been to a farm or rural town. That problem was solved by identifying the household and going through the appropriate City of Tampa code enforcement channels. Urban chickens are legal, but a roosters aren’t.

Over the past few days, we’ve been woken by a rooster again, and this time, we think it’s a free roamer, which isn’t uncommon here in the Sunshine State, and part of the scene in Ybor City, just a couple of miles south of our neighborhood.

Anyhow, all this had led to the most “Florida” conversation I’ve ever had on Facebook chat with my neighbor Jennifer, as pictured above.