I am saying goodbye to the Sunshine Skyway bridge that I have crossed every working day for the past 8 months. It is a welcome thing too because adding an extra 3.5 hours of commuting time everyday really wears you out after some time. My car blew up and died on the freeway in January and I had to buy a one to continue the trek. I am now located in Bradenton, just about 7 minutes from the nearest beach.
Bradenton isn't as exciting as Tampa but I won't complain just yet. Driving through the small streets, you can really get the sense of what the deep south is all about. The population is greatly weighed towards older people (retirees, you might say). However, the contrast is that it is mainly a touristic town because of its proximity to the beaches. It is smack in the middle of summer so the mosquitoes are out in full force after 5pm. I make it a point to stay strictly indoors at night. Having noticed this aspect after being bit time-after-time by mosquitoes, am I considered a Floridian yet?
My nephew Tony and I caught the Keane concert at the House of Blues in Orlando on saturday. Apparently this is the only happening venue in Florida because we met other Keane fans who commuted all the way from Tampa for this show; here is a shout out to the folks in Carolwood that we met.
The show had 2 opening bands which were ok. They weren't what we came for though. By the time Keane came on stage, the house was packed like sardines. The House-of-Blues is located in Disney's Pleasure Island area so the audience was quite tame. In fact, I might go as far to say that they were too tame. Keane played a short set with the familar songs: Somewhere Only we Know, This is the last time, We might as well be strangers. There were a couple of new songs which got mixed reactions from the audience. The lead singer's voice, which is the centerpiece of the band, was sometimes drowned by the level of the music. At times, he was off key too but it only happened at the beginning of the set. As time progressed into the middle of the set, he was much better. Overall, the show was enjoyable; not great, but I can't really find faults. They are a good band that has a great 1st CD and I hope will last the test of time.
Who would ever thought that I would find remnants of Cisco in Florida. Well, apparently there is a lab located in Bradenton. I am now working with them in the Catalyst 6500 firmware group. Life for me remains in Tampa but I am doing the long commute to Bradenton. It is a mixed Solaris and Windows 2000 development environment here in the lab. However, I am finding that much more time is spent in the Unix environment as all of the compilation, source code control, etc... is in Unix. It is comforting to see that the Unix toolset haven't changed much in the past 15 years. (One really can't say the same of Windows)
Bradenton is pretty near the water and the Cisco lab is located just right off downtown. Many of the folks here speak fondly of the Cisco cafeteria in San Jose as well as their beautiful campus in Massachussets. The building in Bradenton greatly pales by comparison, but at least we get to be in Florida and doing work we like.
Just as all good things must come to an end, my work with Pegasus Imaging is done. I have completed the .NET component for the company and am now ready to move on to a new opportunity. I have been a little busy winding down at the beach. Coming up for air after a concentrated development cycle is just something sorely needed. The summer season is over and the waves are rising a little high in the gulf. Whether it is seasonal or due to the recent hurricanes, it reminds me of the Pacific.
I have started nosing around at other companies in the area. Unfortunately, the market for technology seems to be extremely limited in Tampa. If anyone knows of an opportunity that requires realtime/embedded, vxWorks, .NET or Win32 experience, please drop me a short email.
Check out this beach bum.
When you think about it really.... life usually ain't that hard. Most of the time, we just make it so.
Here is a sight going to the causeway.
This is a view of ClearWater.
This one is of the final bridge.
Here is a projected model of the path of hurricane Ivan. Jamaica just got hit pretty heavily and the folks in the Keys are busy evacuating. Highway 75 is going to be a fun one this weekend. Here in Tampa, we should see signs of it hitting by Tuesday afternoon. The folks at work are frantically backing up on to CDs and lifting computers on to their desks. I got a bad feeling about this one.
Florida is supposed to be the lightning capital of the world. I just got in from taking a rain shower in the middle of the lightning storm. The cracks of thunder and lightning as they get close are frightening. But if you can swallow the slight moment of fear for just a second... wow, the sky is etched with light. I remember my cousin mentioning to count between the lightning and thunder. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.... If thunder and lightning come together under 5 seconds, you're too close. Some of these in the order of 2 and 3 seconds are pretty spectacular. The rain is pouring hard and you get a free shower to boot. There is only about 10 minutes worth of show and I can imagine how it might be like at one of Pink Floyd's light show that I've heard so much about. Flash.... one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two....
Pinellas and Polk county are evacuating from Tampa. It is a madhouse here as everyone is trying to run away from Charley. I have made it a point to get a first hand view of my first hurricane so I am staying in Tampa for the moment. Initially I was going to make a break for Orlando but on second thought.... I think I will risk it. I am actually kind of excited because beside from the high winds, there are no other sign of the hurricanes at the moment. I do notice the fear in the local folks so it does make me a little worried. But hey.... you only live once.
The roads going east-ward are jammed as you can imagine. Fear pervades and I can hear private conversations regarding the hurricane all around the market that I visit. I stare at the sky and there is nothing out of the ordinary. So far, everything is just like any other day. Everyone says that this is the big one. I have an itch to go out to the causeway to watch the waves get bigger. The thought to getting caught in the flurry of people trying to get-away prevents me. Maybe I will do it tomorrow morning when most everyone is gone.
I should call my cousin Nick in Orlando and tell him that I am not coming.
People tell me 2 hurricanes are coming this way. The first (Bonnie) is supposed to hit on Thursday (today) and the other (Charlie) during the weekend. I look around me and there is sunshine everywhere. There is not even a cloud. The local folks tell me that hurricanes hit very suddenly and you've only got and hour or two of notice. Do I know my evacuation route? What a strange thought and the lingering "Californian" in me finds it humorous. Knock on wood that I would regret the thought someday. For now though, I am very excited to hopefully witness my first hurricane.
Calling some place home means getting to know its surrounding communities. In the "other" Bay Area (Northern California), it took me the greater part of 30 years and still I am not conversant with every nook and cranny.
This is a start to soaking myself into the community next to the gulf.