Saturday, February 26, 2011



The weather in Florida was so bad last year that the pool heating at the condo we were renting collapsed with exhaustion.
We exchanged horror stories about cold weather with our friends, and they were in Florida.  Some vowed they would never return. And they didn't. I hope the weather now is good in Mexico too.
I am ecstatic to report that the 2011 February in Florida has been the best in years. It helped that not only was the new heating equipment for our condo pool working well, even on a few crappy days the pool was 86 F.
 When a pool is that warm, I can handle even a cold front from Canada. I remember as a kid editor working in the Yukon when we went to hot springs outside Whitehorse. The air was freezing. Your hair froze between strokes in the pool. It was a grand experience, made grander perhaps by the over-proof rum.
The contingent of Canadians at our condo flop around in the sun like beached dolphins. And then we all phone home to taunt relatives and friends with the temperatures here.
Unfortunately, there is a new curse to blight our day and to be the new big topic of conversation, the price of gasoline. Usually the conversation around the pool peters out after questions about where you're from and how long it took you to drive down, and what was your route. The location of the best happy hour and early bird special is still topic number one, and will be even if gasoline goes as high as the scare predictions.
All I want to know is why my oil stocks aren't going up at the same rate.
We spent some time anticipating the shuttle launch, and then on the scheduled day, Mary and I and our friends the Garricks made sure we were peering into the eastern sky at precisely the right time hoping to catch a glimpse of the tower of flame even across the peninsula.
 No luck. Guess that is pay back for the time when I saw the shuttle launch without the slightest planning on March 22, 2009.
Thanks to my son Mark, I have paid far more attention in recent years to the shuttle than I expected. I wrote about all his trouble to see one launch on Feb. 7, 2010 in a blog "Chasing the Shuttle".
Then we went in January to the Kennedy Space Centre along with many other Canadians. It was much more interesting than I remembered, and I wrote about it on Feb. 4 in a blog titled SIDE TRIPS FOR SNOW BIRDS.
I wonder if it's just Mark's influence on me but I sense more interest, and a growing nostalgia, in the space program as it winds down. The TV anchors talked wisfully about how it was all going to end. They were as sad as if they were reporting on the cancellation of their favourite hair product.
Everyone seems to be paying more attention. The launches are not just humdrum routine but are back as major events, complete to count-downs.
I'm sure that NASA is feeding this gleefully. And the White House will be paying close attention. Heaven knows that the world needs more good news, even if it costs billions, just as Canadians fleeing from winter need it to be sunny and clear and warm with all the cold fronts staying north of the Great Lakes.

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