Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Continuing Vision Problems

I am so sorry - I hate not being able to interract with you. But my vision problems continue from the Lasik Eye Surgery. My left eye's vision is blurry and I'm seeing double: It's as if you are viewing everything through a window pane which has been smeared with Vaseline.

My right eye is swollen half shut with an on-going infection.

This is my third Lasik eye correction. The first one didn't improve my vision significantly, so about a month later they corrected it again to 20/15.

Three years later, my vision began to deteriorate to 20/40. This type of deterioration is common, and something that the Lasik industry doesn't like to talk about. Most patients give up at this point, and resign themselves to glasses. Contacts aren't usually a good option, as a side effect of Lasik is dry eyes (another symptom the Lasik industry glosses over).

Some patients go back for a further correction, as I did.

I'm not happy with the consequences of my decision so far. I'm still touch-typing, as I can't see this screen very well. This is why I've refrained from posting.

Bear with me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lasik Eye Surgery

I had this surgery last week, and my eyes aren't cooperating, which is why I'm not posting. Bear with me and hopefully I'll be able to see well enough to do it on Wednesday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Murder of the Banana Trees

I have some really weird neighbors.

Maybe ALL neighborhoods have such weird neighbors, or maybe I'm just different because I get to know my neighbors. But...

They're weird.

You've already heard about Mr. Clean. But I have a neighbor on the other side of me who is a devout Jehovah's Witness but otherwise a kindly widow. We'll call her Maude.

When I spray for weeds, I go over and spray for weeds there (with her permission). When I need to borrow a tool, Maude loans it to me. I helped her mourn her husband, and she's been a sympathetic ear when I've had my problems.

But Maude has her moments.

A year ago the house on the other side of her was up for sale, so Maude thought she'd be helpful. She got the owner's permission to do some pruning and ended up over-enthusiastically mowing some prize azalea bushes to the ground.

Maude gets that way sometimes. She'll start to prune something and get carried away, manically reducing the victim to nothing but a stump while cheerfully proclaiming that it will come back better than before.

When the new owners moved in, they were fit to be tied and wouldn't speak to Maude for a couple of months. In fact they wouldn't speak about Maude except through their teeth, hissing like geese.

I work out in my yard every day, so I never imagined that Maude would be "helpful" over here.

Never the less, I went into my backyard the other afternoon, and stormed inside to find Pov.

"Why did you cut down two of my banana trees?!" I demanded indignantly. Pov was sprawled out on my couch, watching TV. He looked startled.

"I didn't do any such thing," he protested mildly. I had reason to suspect him, as he'd been doing a little pruning in my backyard a couple of days previous to that.

"Well then who did?" I asked somewhat unfairly, as he would have no idea.

We tramped out there again, with my pointing out the two banana trees that had been razed to the ground.

Puzzled, we came to the conclusion that it had to have been Maude. Pov is a great favorite of Maude's, so he went over and tried to figure out what she had been thinking, but Maude denied it adamantly. She told Pov that she had only gone over to do a little pruning and take out anything dead, and had carried home a baby banana plant to put in her back yard.

The next day I happened across Maude while we both were gardening and I put it to her again. She looked at me with wide-eyed innocence and told me the same tale, but I could see certain tell-tale signs that showed she was lying.

So, I dropped it. There is no sense lambasting a sweet but slightly mentally deranged widow.

But I am getting a padlock for my gate today.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Stranger Danger

Ever hear the term "stranger danger"? It's something that very little children are taught: Strangers can be dangerous.

I love looking at homes for sale. If there's an open house, I'm there. Why? Because I'm curious, because I like getting ideas for my own home, because I enjoy the little fantasy of living elsewhere - it's almost the adult version of playing with dolls.

I usually drag my best friend, Pov, with me.

It's odd how often we can knock on a door and the only person opening the door to us is a woman who is there by herself. She is always friendly (she wants to sell her home) and is eager to bring us inside to look around.

How lucky they are that we mean them no harm.

But it makes me realize how vulnerable we all are to stranger danger. When I'm home alone, I no longer open my door to door-to-door salesmen. I let them leave their flyers on the door, instead.

We've all done thoughtless things that leave us exposed to the mercy of others, but it's wise to remember that so that in the future we can minimize stranger danger.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Florida's Environment: Who Cares?

Florida is in a terrible drought right now. We are facing the tightest watering restrictions we've ever faced because our sources have literally dried up.

The Tampa Bay Area is scrimping and saving all the water it can, hoping desperately to hold off until the rains come once more. This is a doubtful hope, as we've been in a drought for three years now, and we're terribly overdeveloped with a relatively poor infrastructure.

As a native, I hate to see this happening, but politicians and businessmen allowed their greed to exceed their judgement. And why shouldn't they? It's human nature to get what you want; the hell with everyone else. That is why government is supposed to be in place to check human nature. But government only works when it's also incorruptible.

Currently we have many abandoned homes in our neighborhoods. These are homes that have become neglected, run-down, with lawns that are dry and crispy from the lack of rain and no one to water them weekly.

The home behind me was once the most beautiful home in the neighborhood: It was a lovely oasis, tucked away from prying eyes, with a vast backyard of lush, green grass, rimmed with tropical landscaping and citrus trees. The tree in front of the house was majestic, and shaded a large part of this pristine home.

I recently checked on the home, which has been vandalized by local teens who've been holding parties there. Last Thanksgiving, they even dug a firepit in the middle of the formerly lush lawn, which is now nothing but brown straw. Alarmed neighbors called the police, as one spark could have brought down the entire neighborhood.

Windows are now broken, the roof has been compromised, the carpeting spongy and moist. The tree in the front yard has split in half, and is now laying on the white tiled roof.

The swimming pool had become a pond for a while, with murky depths that could conceal anything from a corpse to the Ebola virus. It was full of mosquito larvae and tadpoles - a sign that life hadn't entirely left the premises.

Due to the health hazard and my repeated calls to the city about it, the pool was finally drained and covered by some unknown group (possibly the bank that the property must have reverted to).

Other than this one concession, no one cares any more. The best property in the neighborhood is a virtually worthless tinderbox, waiting to go up in flames.

Down the street, some homes have become rental properties. A rental property usually means a different type of resident: Someone who doesn't care about the property or being part of the community. There is little to no obligation or responsibility.

Mexicans have moved into these homes, because (at least in this area) Mexicans don't mind cramming a couple families into one home and sharing the expenses. And because they have little-to-no regard for the people that they live amongst, they have contributed color to the neighborhood.

We now have thumping stereos from souped up cars travelling regularly through the neighborhood. We've had spectacular, noisy, screaming fights taking place at 7 AM on a Saturday morning: Our Mexican alarm clocks.

And yesterday, they decided to fire off illegal fireworks. Near the tinderbox.

We called the police.

They didn't bother to come.

Eventually, the Mexicans grew tired of all the pyrotechnics and, alarmed by seeing many of us watching them (and on our phones), they slunk off into their respective homes.

As I turned to go into my home, I saw that my next door neighbor, Mr. Clean, was running his sprinklers full-blast on a non-watering day. His lawn got some of the water; our street got the rest. You'd think if you were bent on doing something illegal, you'd at least want to get the full benefit of it.

I was pretty angry about this. I have tons of beautiful landscaping that I'm babying along because I'm playing by the rules. We are in the most severe drought that we've ever seen in Florida, and I'm a native suffering because so many people have moved down here that we may never see 'normal' water usage again.

So I called the hotline to report Mr. Clean's pirating. Do you see a theme here? Yup: I'm a tattletale.

The hotline's mailbox was full.

I called again, this time hanging on to the line so that an operator had to take my call.

"Oh, just leave it in the voicemail box," she said dismissively. I told her that the mailbox was full. "Well, we aren't equipped to take complaints," she said. "You'll just hafta call back durin' business hours. We don't send inspectors out at night, anyways."

"You don't?" I asked incredulously. "The news is full of reports of your inspectors catching homeowners watering illegally at night!"

"I dunno what ta tell ya," she said, bored already with our conversation. So, I shot off an email to Pinellas County Utilities. Who knows if they're any more interested than she is? I guess the disinformation was just a fluff piece to scare us into conforming: The tiger has no bite.

Who really cares about Florida's environment?

Who knows.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spring Break

Spring Break keeps getting in my way. I have loved ones with two different Spring Breaks this year, and this week is one of those Spring Breaks. Sorry for not writing more! I'm swamped!

We're out in the garden and at the beach more than we're at home.