Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sinkholes in Florida

Dont you just love Google? Today I asked Google to find “images sinkholes Florida” hoping I could find some graphic which would show me how often they occur in parts of the state, which is very very long. There it was.


It is not something I ever worried about until the neighborhood we bought a house in near Tampa suddenly had a rash of sinkhole damage and property values plummeted. I was lucky, not only was I not in the “band” of sinkholes, but my house sold very quickly, at the same price we had paid. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.

You never know where a sinkhole will suddenly appear, but as the graphic above demonstrates, some places are likelier than others.

Here is an article from today’s AOL Weather News:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Sections of a building at a resort near Orlando’s theme park district collapsed into a sinkhole late Sunday, forcing the evacuation of 105 guests in the structure and also dozens of visitors staying in two adjacent three-story buildings.

APTOPIX Sinking Building Resort

Watch out for those blue zones!

Sinkholes are as much a part of the Florida landscape as palm trees and alligators. Florida has more of them than any state in the nation. Earlier this year, a man near Tampa died when a sinkhole opened up underneath his bedroom.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Astonishing Sinkholes Around the World
Experts say sinkholes aren’t occurring at a greater rate than usual but that the high-profile nature of recent one in populated areas has drawn attention to them. There also has been a rise in sinkhole claims in Florida, but insurance officials believe some of those claims are questionable. Here are some answers about why sinkholes form and their costs.


Florida’s peninsula is made up of porous carbonate rocks such as limestone that store and help move groundwater. Dirt, sand and clay sit on top of the carbonate rock. Over time, these rocks can dissolve from an acid created from oxygen in water, creating a void underneath the limestone roof. When the dirt, clay or sand gets too heavy for the limestone roof, it can collapse and form a sinkhole. Sinkholes are caused naturally but they can be triggered by outside events.


Although sinkholes are formed naturally, they can be triggered by heavy rainfall, drought followed by heavy rainfall, tropical storms and human activity. The most common actions by humans that cause sinkholes are heavy pumping of groundwater to spray on oranges and strawberries during freezes to keep them from being damaged, well drilling, excavating, creating landfills, leaking broken water lines and pounding or blasting from construction.


Three counties in the Tampa region are known as “sinkhole alley.” Two-thirds of thesinkhole damage claims reported to the state Office of Insurance Regulation from 2006 to 2010 came from Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Sinkholes are less common in South Florida, home to the state’s two most populous counties – Broward and Miami-Dade.


The state Office of Insurance Regulation says reported claims from sinkholes have risen in recent years. More than 2,300 claims were reported in Florida in 2006 but that figure jumped to almost 6,700 claims in 2010. There is no geological explanation for the rise and state insurance officials believe many claims are questionable. There must be structural damage to a home for a policyholder to claim a loss from a sinkhole, but insurance officials say claims are often paid without that proof.


The state Office of Insurance Regulation says sinkhole claims in Florida cost insurers $1.4 billion from 2006 to 2010.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Building, Environment, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Florida, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Statistics, Technical Issue | , | Leave a comment

Seattle: A Beautiful Farewell

“Oh! Look! The mountain is out!”

When someone says ‘the mountain,’ everyone knows what mountain you are talking about. It’s the granddaddy of all mountains, Mount Rainier:


Mount Rainier often shrouds itself in clouds and fog. A day when the mountain is out lifts everyones spirits. It was a beautiful last sight of Seattle.

August 11, 2013 Posted by | Beauty, Cultural, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Seattle, Sunsets, Travel | Leave a comment

Camels Source of MERS?


From today’s BBC News:

Mers coronavirus: Dromedary camels could be source
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC World Service

Dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly Mers coronavirus that emerged last year, research suggests.

Tests have shown the Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus, or one that is very closely related, has been circulating in the animals, offering a potential route for the spread.


The study is published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

But the scientists say more research is needed to confirm the findings.

The Mers coronavirus first emerged in the Middle East last year. So far, there have been 94 confirmed cases and 46 deaths.

While there has been evidence of the virus spreading between humans, most case are thought to have been caused by contact with an animal. But until now, scientists have struggled to work out which one.

‘Smoking gun’
To investigate, an international team looked at blood samples taken from livestock animals, including camels, sheep, goats and cows, from a number of different countries.

They tested them for antibodies – the proteins produced to fight infections – which can remain in the blood long after a virus has gone.

Professor Marion Koopmans, from the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment and Erasmus University in The Netherlands, said: “We did find antibodies that we think are specific for the Mers coronavirus or a virus that looks very similar to the Mers coronavirus in dromedary camels.”

The team found low levels of antibodies in 15 out of 105 camels from the Canary Islands and high levels in each of the 50 camels tested in Oman, suggesting the virus was circulating more recently.

“Antibodies point to exposure at some time in the life of those animals,” Prof Koopmans explained.

No human cases of the Mers virus have been reported in Oman or the Canary Islands, and the researchers say they now need to test more widely to see if the infection is present elsewhere.

This would include taking samples from camels in Saudi Arabia, the country where the virus is the most prevalent.

‘Priority search’
Prof Koopmans said: “It is a smoking gun, but it is not definitive proof.”

Commenting on the research, Professor Paul Kellam from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge and University College London, said the research was helping to narrow down the hunt for the source of the virus.

But he told BBC News: “The definitive proof would be to isolate the virus from an infected animal or to be able to sequence and characterise the genome from an infected animal.”

Health officials say confirming where the virus comes from is important, but then understanding how humans get infected is a priority.

Gregory Hartl, from the World Health Organization, said: “Only if we know what actions and interactions by humans lead to infection, can we work to prevent these infections.”

Data suggests that it is not yet infectious enough to pose a global threat and is still at a stage were its spread could be halted.

August 11, 2013 Posted by | Environment, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Travel, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Air Rage and the Boeing 767

As soon as I got on the plane, I could see the dramatic potential. The planes charge for baggage, unless you have elite status. More and more people are using carry-ons, and there is an exact size. The flight attendants are quick to tell people to put the bags in the ovehead compartment wheels first, and most passengers are already trained to put them in that way. So what happens when you board your flight and your optimal sized bag does NOT fit?


What I saw happen is that the first passengers to board put their suitcases in sideways. Then, as people board for whom there is no room in the overhead containers, they have to move their bags to places where there is room. Chaos, as people try to pass one another going opposite directions in the aisles, carrying luggage too big for the overhead cabinet.


Boeing is a Seattle company, and I’ve always had a lot of loyalty to Boeing. I cannot understand, not for a heartbeat, taking away that extra two or three inches that allowed bags to go in wheels first. It’s dumb, it makes passengers angry and resentful. It makes you hate the airlines.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | ExPat Life, Rants, Technical Issue, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Perseid Meteor Showers Climax Sunday and Monday Nights

Truly, some of the best moments in life are free. The smell of salt in the air near the sea, pine needles underfoot walking through a forest – and watching meteor showers in a light-free area – an isolated beach, a desert, or out on a boat 🙂

Written by
USA Today and staff reports

Get outside this weekend and check out the shooting stars of summer.

The year’s best celestial fireworks show is on tap in the wee hours of Sunday and Monday as the annual Perseid meteor shower takes center stage in the night sky.

Sky watchers may see as many as 50 to 100 meteors an hour as it peaks in the early morning hours before dawn. But if you don’t want to stay up so late, don’t fret. The reliable shower is known to produce some brilliant meteors between 10 p.m. and midnight, too.

Summer is a perfect time to watch meteors. Plunking down on a blanket or sitting in the dark in a reclining lawn chair works fine. Temperatures in the Pensacola area during the evening are forecast for the mid-70s and there is a chance of an occasional thunderstorm. All you have to do is lie flat on your back and enjoy the show.

The key to seeing meteors is finding a fairly dark sky unspoiled by artificial lighting. If heading to the country or finding a dark beach is not in the cards, the backyard will work fine as an observing platform as long as outside lights are kept off.

Perseids are known for fireballs, brilliant trails of light produced as tiny grains of comet dust slam into the upper atmosphere at nearly 134,000 mph. The shower’s cosmic dust grains — about one-fifth of an inch across — burn nicely as they zip overhead. Those dust grains come courtesy of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which circles the sun once every 133 years and leaves behind a debris trail. (Comets are basically dirty snowballs that develop tails when they approach the sun and start to melt.

“The Perseids are the good ones,” said meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus, the hero of Greek mythology born from a shower of heavenly gold. As Perseus rises in the northeast sky after midnight, the meteors appear to emanate near the constellation.

You will have to stay up late to see the Perseids at their peak. The best viewing comes from midnight to dawn, particularly after the half-full moon sets both nights after midnight, said Astronomy magazine’s Michael ­Bakich.

“There will be a dozen ‘Ooh’ moments in that hour,” Bakich said. “Ones when everyone will say, ‘Did you see that?’ ”

Though the shooting stars seem to come from the constellation Perseus, don’t look there to see them, Bakich advises. Instead, look about one-third of the sky down and away from the constellation to spot meteors streaking across the sky.

“That makes them easier to pick out,” he said.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Education, Entertainment, Technical Issue | , | Leave a comment

ReVisit Mr. and Mrs. T’s in Edmonds, WA

You wouldn’t think such a good restaurant would be in a strip mall, but it’s a good thing we got there early. Within half an hour of our sitting and ordering, the place was packed. It’s a large place, but people just kept coming in. Friday night, and truly great Chinese food is also comfort food in Seattle. The clientele was probably 75% Chinese descent and 25% the rest of us.

“Let’s try something new,” I suggested. We eat at this restaurant almost every time I am in town. I miss GOOD Chinese food. “I read that we can forestall dementia by forging new neural connectors in our brains, and you do that by making yourself do something new. Let’s all try a dish we’ve never had before.”

My friends ordered. Actually, they laughed, they eat there more often than I do, and have tried almost everything on the menu. They said unless it were jellyfish or something of that ilk, it would be hard to find something they hadn’t tried, but they would find some things less ordered, but good.

This is what they came up with:

Fish Shanghai Style

Spicy Ginger Beef

Clams and Black Bean Sauce (this was my favorite!)

Delicious! Every bite! Or maybe that it is seasoned with a friendship that goes back thirty years or so 🙂

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Seattle, Travel | Leave a comment

Favorite Meal at Ivar’s

Ivar’s is a Seattle icon, with several different restaurants at different locations. The original Ivar’s Acres of Clams is still in downtown Seattle, on the waterfront. Another great favorite is in Mukilteo, right next to the Mukilteo Ferry, where they have both a beautiful restaurant and an outdoor quick-stop, so while waiting for the next ferry over to Whidbey Island, you can snack on fish and chips – or clams and chips, scallops and chips, salmon and chips, halibut and chips . . . you catch the drift. All hot and freshly made, there is no more wonderful fast food – to me – in the world.

During a break in my busy day, I had a crab-on-crab meal, Dungeness crab, it has it’s own sweet, intense flavor:


What you are looking at is a Dungeness Crab Cocktail on the left, and a Dungeness Crab Ceasar Salad on the right. Oh, yummmmm!

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Seattle, Travel | Leave a comment

Seattle SeaFair Air Show

We were having a lazy Sunday when the buzzing started. At first I thought it was someone mowing the lawn, and then we looked outside – and discovered we had a world class view of the SeaFair Air Show. Oh, what fun! Single engine planes, bi-planes, and a military-appearing jet squad that I don’t think was our Pensacola home team, the Blue Angels:





Boats tie up days in advance to have a key position for the hydroplane races; many of the people are scantily clad. This used to be more family oriented, but now the rescue teams are called upon frequently to rescue the drunks who fall into the water, or worse – hurt themselves while drunk doing stupid things:


There is nothing so exciting as the sound of hydroplanes racing:








August 8, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Seattle | , | 4 Comments

Some Peeks in Edmonds, Washington

You would love Edmonds, Washington.

It is a picturesque village. Along Main Street, and Fifth Avenue there are corner gardens, maintained by the city. This year, they are planted primarily with white flowers, big, fluffy flowers which make all the other flowers POP! with color. Overhead, from the lamp posts, are huge hanging baskets, full of a variety of plants, mostly purples, blues and fuchsias. The overall effect is stunning.

On our way to her manicure-pedicure, I drove Mom around looking at the sights. Down at the Edmonds Beach, I was shocked to see an eagle, perched on a piling. The shot isn’t very good, I jumped out of the car in a hurry and snapped, not taking enough time, but I was so surprised – I had never seen an eagle there before.


After lunch, as we headed out, we saw people touching up one of the murals Edmonds has painted on the sides of buildings there:


Here is another one, nearby:


I love it that this sweet little town, with its ferry coming faithfully in and out, preserves its identity and character in the face of changing times.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Bureaucracy, Character, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Venice, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Eid Mubarak 2013!

Screen shot 2013-08-06 at 8.54.40 AM

May all your fasting and sacrifices be acceptable! May you receive the blessings of this long, very hot month of Ramadan! May you and your family have peace and the blessings of love, understanding and abundance!

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment