The Week After

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It’s now been a week removed from that beast of a woman payed us a visit. I was very fortunate to get power back within 16 hours. Many of my friends on social media didn’t get theirs back until as late as Sunday, which kind of gave me a bit of social media survivors remorse in a sense. Some still don’t have power even now, or had it and subsequently lost it.

While I was running around the house to shelter in place a week ago and moving things into closets, I injured my left leg, picking up something heavy the wrong way or so I self-speculate. I felt it at first Sunday night when we here in Pinellas County were getting the higher winds, so I thought it had something to do with the lower barometric pressures you get in hurricanes. By Wednesday morning, it felt like a Charley horse in my left calf. Correction: it felt more like a Charley Kentucky Derby. I got to Walmart the next day to get some Bengay and, unfortunately for the rest of you, I’m doing fine again. My calf is still a bit swollen, but I can now walk around with normal mobility as before.

Seeing all of these power without power for the days has to make one wonder about how our area would handle a bigger hurricane threat, and whether or not those who believe in global warming are correct, those are longer term questions that will need a closer look. I really don’t want to move to another part of the country, but after Irma, it might not be a bad long-term goal.

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Aircheck: Goodfellas, 1990

With the passing of Frank Vincent on Thursday, I thought I’d do something just a bit different on this week’s Aircheck and show you one of the best scenes I think I’ve ever seen in the movies.

In the scene from Goodfellas, Vincent plays Billy Batts, a mobster from the Gambino crime family who’s returned to society from prison. Batts keeps needling Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci’s character) about how he shined shoes as a kid, much to Tommy’s embarrassment. Well, you’ll see how the scene plays out. Personally, I can’t think of a worse fate than getting beaten to death. (Or so we think. Batts was actually beaten into unconsciousness. When Batts regains consciousness and starts beating against the trunk of the car, then DeVito and his buddies kill him.)

DeVito is of course whacked himself later in the movie, because he violates a clear cut mob rule: a made man killing other made men isn’t usually permitted without the sanction of a capo or someone higher up in the chain of command. Violating that rule put the perpetrator at risk for his own death, which was exactly what wound up happening.

RIP, Frank. His book is on my Amazon Wish List, so I’ll have to get around to that in his honor.

Flashback: “Circle In The Sand” by Belinda Carlisle

This single from the former Go-Go’s singer went to #7 on the Billboard charts in 1988. It got stuck in my head thanks to our mutual friend Irma.

In the summer of 1988, I spent a week up in Charlotte, North Carolina to visit relatives. You’d hear the various radio station markets going up Interstate 4, 95, 26, 20, and then 77 up there, and I swore on the trip up an back a week later I must have heard the song about a dozen times. Didn’t get bored with it though.

The New York Rays

One of the things that came from Hurricane Irma was that the sports calendar and map got shuffled around. That’s quite understandable of course, because you don’t want to risk the health and safety of fans, players, or the structure of these facilities hosting the events.

Tropicana Field hosted a three game series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers while Houston was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. When it looked like our area was going to get Irma, MLB moved the series where the Rays were going to host the New York Yankees.

I understand the logistical nightmares moving games around can be, and I don’t think that’s an easy operation by any means. But having the Rays host games at Citi Field where the Mets play is embarrassing. It’s basically giving the Yankees three more home games where their fans will come out in droves.

I get that there are times that games can’t always be played at neutral facilities, but come on. Baseball could have made something positive out of all of this, but instead chose to gave one of its prized teams an advantage that could make the difference as to whether or not they make the playoffs.

As The Infrastructure Turns

Good to be back with you so soon. Leading up to Irma’s approach, the media speculated that the power would be out for days. For me, it was out 16 hours, roughly. Congrats to Duke Energy on a job well done. Many of my friends in Pinellas are still without power as I post this on Tuesday morning, and I hope for a swift restoration for them.

Sunday morning, those computer models were thinking the eye of Irma would go right over me as a Category 3 storm. Much like Charley in 2004, jogs to the right kept that from happening, and Lakeland wound up getting the brunt of it, 50 miles to my east or so. Many areas in Florida not all that close to the eye took huge hits from the storm, a testament to its size and force.

I don’t consider myself an environmentalist by any means. However, we now had a pair of Cat 4 hurricanes hit the United States 16 days apart. I don’t know if that’s some kind of record (I’m thinking possibly yes) but usually it is years between fours.

After Irma, I’m just hoping for a quiet remainder of the season. Considering yesterday was the peak of the hurricane year, there’s probably more work ahead.

The Day Is Here

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And here we go, folks. If Irma stays on track, I’ll be in the middle of my first hurricane sometime around 9pm tonight for about nine hours. The storm is closing in on Key West this morning as I type this, looking like it will pass just to the east of there, staying to the west of Ft. Myers, Sarasota, and then getting here.

Some of my social media friends asked why I didn’t evacuate, and won’t be evacuating, and that’s a fair question. The main reason was where I live, we weren’t told to. Secondly, there was an ill wind about supplies being available in light of Hurricane Harvey, plus a general uncertainty about where to go due to Irma’s size. You also have to keep in mind Tampa Bay’s last major hurricane was October 25, 1921. Before that, the last major to hit here was back in 1848. The odds were, and still might be, in our favor.

There is still hope, like the day Charley threatened on August 13, 2004, of an 11th hour miracle. Because of the way Florida’s peninsula juts out northwestward, any wobble the storm makes one way or the other could mean a few miles in either direction one way or the other. That’s why we get hurricanes so rarely, because it would need a storm going west to east or the perfect angle to get us. Even though the storm is over warm water, it looked ragged on Sunday morning. The meteorologists are also suggesting it’s fighting wind shear, which might keep it stable or maybe even weaken it.

The track keeps shifting west, so maybe it can shift about 50-60 miles so we can miss the brunt of it. Stranger things have happened, and always seem to, with hurricanes around here. If we run out of luck, we were overdue. If we dodge another bullet, we just get more prepared for the next threat, whenever that is.

The next blog entry depends on what our friend Irma decides to do. I’m not afraid of her.

The Day Before

Hurricane Irma should hit our area tomorrow night going into Monday. The local stations began continuous commercial free coverage, preempting the menagerie of college football games.

A brief primer on Tampa Bay TV might be in order, considering these outlets might get national attention: 8 is NBC, 10 is CBS, 13 is FOX, and 28 is ABC. In my personal opinion, 28 (with the ABC Action News branding) has the best meteorologist in Denis Phillips, he of the suspenders over his dress shirts like Larry King. He wore suspenders on August 13, 2004, the day Tampa Bay nearly got a direct hit from Hurricane Charley, but made a hard right six hours left before impact. For the most part, he’s been wearing them ever since as a good luck charm of sorts.

Channel 13 has the best team and the best technology traditionally, the deeper bench to borrow a sports term. Roy Leep was the long time weatherman guru here, retiring in the late 90’s. Paul Dellegatto took over for Roy and has been their ever since.

Not much happened so far today with the track of Irma, and it still looks like a Tampa Bay hit. I’m in the third of five evacuation zones, with the lower two having been told to evacuate. It is unlikely my zone will have to flee despite the forecast, mainly because there won’t be sufficient time or gas.

Most of the stores have closed or will soon, like Walmart and Publix. Very little left to do but hunker down or go to the shelters. Back with a last pre-Irma post sometime tomorrow.