Saturday, August 20, 2011

The End of a Child's Summer

Last weekend we went to the beach like we normally do, but now that I am working at a school, this visit took on a totally different meaning. The calendar may say that Summer is still upon us but for a child the approach of the return to school signals the unofficial end of Summer as they officially know it. As usual click each photo for a better view.

I like to visit the beach in the cool of the evening when the Florida sun is not so oppressive and the beach itself is a lot less crowded. There were still a few kids playing around. For them it was another fun day in a long list of fun days at the beach.

Vilano Beach allows dogs on the beach after 6pm and as you can see, Sunny-Girl was doing her part to look around. She really liked playing in the water as kids came up to pet her. There were belly rubs up and down the beach.

The beach at night takes on a whole new perspective. There is less to distract you, and so the sounds around you, like the lap of each wave, become important. I saw this young girl gazing off into the distance and this vision was what prompted the thoughts of return to school. As I sat there watching her, I had to wonder what thoughts were going through her head that would cause her to be so deep in thought?

It was then that it came to me: the march of each new day brings a child one day closer to the end of the carefree, unstructured, days of Summer. A sad thought, but the piper must be paid. And so, as we watched the slow rise of the moon behind overhanging clouds I gave a salute to the end of a child's Summer.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Men Who Run Toward Fires

I always love when I stumble upon something amazing and today's blog is a perfect example. During my visit to the World of Nations Celebration I happened to see a sign that mentioned the Fire Museum. I made a mental note and with some free time one day, it offered the opportunity to visit the museum. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

Have you ever wondered what makes a person run toward a fire? Fire is one of those things that automatically generates a fear response in most humans. Take a good look at the picture to the left of an oil tanker fire that was started in 1984 by a lightening strike. We are talking tremendous smoke, fire, and heat; and yet you can see the fireman in the picture up close and personal as they attempt to extinguish the fire.

As I walked through the museum I realized it is a testament to the brave men and now women who resist the most basic of human urges and run toward fire!

The next picture illustrates the march of firefighters through time. To the left is the age old concept of the firefighter saving a child. On the right is the new technology that is sometimes employed.

I found it particularly exciting to view the turn of the century fire engines that cover the main floor. This shiny model makes you almost hear the clanging of the fire bell as you imagine it rolling through some town ages ago.

And, another treat is a couple of antique fire alarm systems on display. The Gamewell Repeater alarm system was created in the 1880's and was a show piece of technological marvel for the age. The automatic repeater was an essential and central part of the fire alarm systems installed in many cities during the era. The repeater was connected to a number of telegraph station boxes scattered throughout the city. Activation of the switches in these boxes would broadcast a signal to the repeater and through a complex series of relays would be re-broadcast across all the boxes in the system. The relay contained a unique signal from which the location of the fire could be determined. Fire alarms have truly come a long way since that time.

This picture of Jacksonville Fire Station Number 2 completes the mental picture of what was considered "at the ready" for the time, complete with horse drawn fire engine.

With that in mind you can imagine why little boy's imaginations ran wild when the internal combustion engine arrived on the scene. This shiny red number could not help but generate excitement as it rolled through city streets ready to do battle with the frequent fires that occurred due to oil lamps and stoves.

So the next time you hear the sound of a fire alarm and see a fire engine go racing by, realize how far firefighting has come; and say a little prayer for the men who run toward fires.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gloom and Doom

After a 500 point drop in the Dow here in America, rumors about financial problems in other countries, and general despair all over; I thought it only fair to add my two cents to the mix and give everyone a reason to smile among the wreckage.

Below is a video clip that I think perfectly fits all the economic woes we have been experiencing. So gang... enjoy the gloom and doom!

Now... don't you feel better?