Posted by: bkivey | 25 October 2010

Short Takes

World Series

I was happy to see Texas and San Francisco make the Series, although the Giants seem to find a way to make games more interesting than perhaps is strictly necessary. Because the Rangers play in the AL West I’ve had ample opportunity to watch them, usually as they are beating the Mariners. Year in and year out the Rangers seem to give the Mariners the most trouble.

If that’s not reason enough to root for the Giants, I have a personal connection to the city as I lived in San Francisco for a couple of years. It should be an entertaining Series.

Florida Redux

I moved to Panama City, FL last week for a job opportunity and find that even though I moved away from St. Petersburg 14 years ago and haven’t set foot in the state in a decade, it’s much as I remember it: warm, humid, sandy, and flat. The Sun is bright enough to make me squint and walking outside is like getting hit with a warm, wet blanket. Ironically, I won’t be seeing much of Florida, as my job keeps me on the road six weeks out of every eight.

I’ve spent the last few days driving around the Panama City environs and am reminded of Chevy Chase’s line from National Lampoon’s Vacation: “Look at all that plight, kids.” Florida’s unemployment rate is above 11% and probably much higher locally. There are a lot of empty lots and storefronts with ‘For Lease’ signs in the windows. There are also a number of closed BP gas stations and every time I see one I think “There’s another 8 – 10 people unemployed because of public perception.” I wonder if any of the people that boycotted BP because they thought they were sticking it to Big Oil ever thought about who was really getting hurt.

The Squares Are Hip

Because my job requires a security clearance I’ve had to fill out a lengthy form for a Federal background check. For those who’ve never had the pleasure this form takes about 4 – 6 hours to complete, depending on your personal history. The Feds are very particular about how the form answers are worded; the last time I did this I had to revise it three times, and the current effort has already been returned once.

The first section deals with personal descriptive information, and under the question for ‘Hair Color’ the drop-down box has the following choices in addition to the usual suspects:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Unspecified/unknown

While the list includes hair colors not found in nature, I was wondering how your own hair color could be ‘unknown’. Perhaps this is a stand-in for bald, as there is no choice for ‘none’.

I also noticed that there is no question asking for identifying features such as scars or tattoos.

The Smell of Money

Panama City and adjacent Panama City Beach is a major Spring Break destination, but nowhere in the Chamber of Commerce literature will you find mention of one of the town’s largest employers, the Smurfit-Stone paper mill situated right on the water in the town of Millville immediately southeast of Panama City proper.

When the wind is out of the north the smell is blown out to the Gulf, but more often the wind blows from the south and the pungent smell of paper product manufacture permeates the air for a couple of miles around the mill, including the entire town of Millville. I’d be willing to bet that, given the state of the local economy,  the locals would say that’s the smell of jobs.

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