As the great passions concerning the passage of health care reform roiled the country - indeed, stirred unkind comments to this blog - I was in Pompano Beach, Florida, drinking mango daiquiris and other balms to the brain.
My wife and her sisters, plus a brother-in-law, a niece and her friend, were staying in a condo, right on the intercontinental waterway. It was a great spot for a boat watcher like myself. The boats passed in never ending parade, huge vessels and scruffy little outboards both, making it a Parkway East of the water. Most were going too fast and were a danger to the manatees, which just goes to show that being fat in America gets no respect anymore, no matter what species you are.
But I confess I don't get the appeal of Florida all that much. The weather is fine - for the most past (we had some rain), sunny with blue skies, a welcome change from Pittsburgh. I like the sub-tropical plants, the palms and hibiscus; they remind me of Brisbane, Australia, where I grew up. The problem is the people.
There's way too many of them down there. That many also tend to be fat (even the non-manatees), overly tattooed, old and derelict did not add to the charm. Yes, yes, I am old and somewhat plump amidships myself, but I try not to look too derelict - Mrs. H helpfully lectures me if I begin to look too down on my luck.
Pompano Beach also appears to be the nation's capital for women who shouldn't be wearing bikinis wearing bikinis. I did see one grizzled man who shouldn't be wearing a thong wearing a thong, and a horrible sight it was too.
A consequence of there being too many people (of all sorts) is that the car is king and traffic jams are frequent. So, overall, I don't get it. Maybe the west coast of Florida is better, but the east coast seems just a long line of high-rise condos and people in cars, all honking at each other. The overall effect is of a paradise lost.
That said, I had a wonderful time - thanks to the company, the boats, the weather and the daiquiris - and I return sort of glad I missed much of the craziness over health care reform, a shameful admission for a newsman, but there you have it.
So what shall we talk about? I see President Obama made a quick trip to Afghanistan and the front-page picture in the paper this morning suggests that the troops were glad to see him - it was sort of a Bush-like reception, which somewhat refutes the idea that the military is always lockstep right wing.
I am still conflicted about Afghanistan, thinking that the effort is ultimately doomed while at the same time glad a last effort is being made to defeat the Taliban, that rigid, madly religious, ideologically enslaved, puritanical and vengeful crew, in short, the ultimate conservatives (ah, there's a phrase to get some of you going).
Sorry to see that Letsplay18 won't be here to share the fun. I note that he has taken his keyboard and gone home - and just when I had grown to like him. Still, it's a free country - despite what they say. Fare thee well, matie.