Saturday, December 10, 2011
Christmas in Florida is a great but different experience; for instance we laugh at the thought of a ‘White Christmas’, have flamingos along with the reindeer our yards, have boat parades along with one ones down main street and our kids are just as comfortable with Santa delivering presents in a canoe as a sleigh, there even a song about it thanks to Jimmy Buffet. One thing remains the same from Maine to Marathon, Jacksonville to Jackson Hole and everywhere in between is the music of Christmas. All over the country, children’s choirs and church choirs, bands and ensembles practice all year long for that one special night when we all dress in red, green, gold or white and head to a local venue. We take our seats and wait in anticipation for the moment when the lights go down and the music starts; what could be better than those old familiar carols to get us in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas carols focus mainly on the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus but they can also be secular and have themes like as winter scenes, family gatherings, and Santa Claus. The first known Christmas carols appear in fourth century Rome, then in the thirteenth century, France, Germany and particularly, Italy, developed Christmas songs in their native languages. O Come all ye faithful appears in its current form in the mid 18th century. Silent night was written by Father Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber and first performed on Christmas Eve 1818; some carols we know and love are very old indeed. Some, however, are relatively new; Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer didn’t hit the scene until 1949, the Little Drummer Boy wasn’t around until 1957. Did you know Joy to the World is based on the 98th Psalm and Jingles Bells was originally written to be a Thanksgiving song? One of my favorites is from Handel’s ‘the Messiah’, the Hallelujah Chorus. It is customary to stand during the performance of this song this originates from a belief that, at the London premiere in 1743, King George II did so, but there is no convincing evidence that supports this theory, it’s still a great story. So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone and enjoy the music!
Posted by FLDays at 12:42 PM
Monday, September 19, 2011
As fall starts and the weather cools our thoughts turn to going outside and having some fun before the really cold weather sets in. This is the time to look around your area to see if there’s a state or county fair, fall festival, or some event in your town. North Carolina and Tennessee fairs are known for their apples and homemade quilts, German clubs all over America celebrate Oktoberfest this time of year and we have many Halloween events in Florida, some take place at out our theme parks. Many communities have events, a ‘boo at the zoo’ is always a safe bet for the family, so if you have a local zoo be sure to check.
Fall Festivals are always a great place to take the family, most of them have food and games, some have live music and midways with rides and prizes. You can get homemade pies, jams and jellies or quilts. You can see livestock shows, there maybe a chili cook off or some kind of eating contest, that's right good old fashioned American fun. There seems to be a new trend in festivals however. Some ask that you bring a can of food or a bag of gently used clothes for the needy, there is even a pumpkin festival where you bring your own carved pumpkin and they display them, it’s really cool. Another trend at fall festivals is health screenings; some of festivals are starting to include blood pressure, diabetes or glaucoma tests and at some, you can even get a flu shot. From the old tyme country fairs to the heath wise and socially conscious now is the time of year when all the fall festivals happen and everyone gets out and enjoys them, so find one in your area and go have some fun.
Posted by FLDays at 1:43 PM
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Hurricanes are called many different things depending on where in the world they form; they are called typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes but the scientific term for all these storms is tropical cyclone. Hurricane season in the United States runs from June 1- November 30, with the most active time typically being the middle of August to the end of September. What is a hurricane? Here’s a simple explanation of a hurricane - A hurricane is the most severe category of a tropical cyclone, which is a counter-clockwise spinning low-pressure system that includes thunderstorms.
Hurricanes form when these three conditions occur; the surface water temperature is 80+ degrees down to a depth of 150 feet, weather disturbances, such as thunderstorms are present and the winds are light and fairly steady in the upper atmosphere. After they form, hurricanes can travel at speeds of up to 60 mph but they more commonly move at about 15-20 mph.
Wind speed in these storms is very important; it determines how they are classified. A Tropical depression is below 38 mph, a Tropical storm is 39-74 mph, and when wind speeds exceed 74 mph it’s called a hurricane. There are five different categories, or strengths, of hurricanes, also determined by wind speed. A category one has wind speeds of 74-95 mph, a category two is 96-110 mph, three is 111-130 mph, a four is 131-155 mph, and a five is over 155 mph. These are big, powerful, fascinating weather phenomenon we still don’t completely understand.
I have lived in Florida for most of my life and I have lived through many hurricane seasons but one of the worst was the 2004 hurricane season when we were hit by 4 major storms in that one year. Hurricane Charley was the first to hit. Charley was a category 4 hurricane that hit Punta Gorda, which is just north of Fort Myers, on August 13 th it was the strongest tropical system to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Then came Hurricane Francis, she came ashore just north of Jupiter on September 5 as a Category 2 storm. This was a huge, slow moving storm that did some significant to the Kennedy Space Center. Hurricane Ivan showed up on September 16th as a category 3 storm near northwestern Florida and did a lot of damage in Pensacola Beach. The last big storm to hit Florida that year was Jeanne she hit on September 25th as a category three storm in Punta Gorda, just 2 miles from where Frances had struck 3 weeks earlier. As you can imagine we, here in Florida, were so happy to see the 2004 hurricane season end.
There are a lot of people, from NOAA to William Gray, who try to predict how many hurricanes will form in a season but these predictions can be way off. The simple truth is that no one knows how many there will be but when they do form NOAA has two GOES weather satellites to help them keep an eye on them and track where they are likely to hit and warm the people; that’s what it’s all about, saving lives. If you are in an area when a hurricane is predicted, heed all the warnings, stock up on supplies, have a plan and leave, if you’re instructed to do so. We’ve had relatively quiet hurricane seasons since 2004 and here’s hoping they continue to be.
Posted by FLDays at 12:46 PM
Friday, June 17, 2011
Everyone enjoys the 4th of July, the colors the lighting up of the skies the big booms, the music that sometimes accompanies them; but have you ever stopped and wondered how it all got started?
Though no one knows for sure their exact date of origin historians believe that the very first pyrotechnic composition was discovered in China sometime around 600-900 A.D. during the Sui and Tang dynasties. The Chinese developed huo yao, the "fire chemical" or "fire drug" and soon after the firecracker was born. Back then firecrackers were most likely made of chunks of green Bamboo and used to scare away evil spirits because they were so loud but they were also used to pray for happiness and prosperity. Before the Ming Dynasty fireworks had been for royalty and the rich only but during the Ming Dynasty they became obtainable for any occasion, a birth, a wedding, a business opening, or a New Year's Eve celebration. To this day China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world.
Settlers brought fireworks over to the Americas around the 1600s and the very first 4th of July celebration and fireworks display was in 1777. Many of our major cities today still have huge fireworks displays to celebrate our nation's birthday. Some of the big celebrations include Boston which has a big concert with the Boston Pops Orchestra, Philadelphia, as you'd imagine pulls out all the stops and Washington D.C. goes pretty big too. Another fabulous place to celebrate the 4th is Mount Rushmore; they have a dazzling display that takes place over the Memorial, I'm sure it's quite the experience. Here in Florida we celebrate the 4th of July on the beach and over our many waterways, it's a great place to be with your family and friends. Fireworks take many forms to produce the four primary effects: noise, light, smoke, and floating materials. They may be designed to burn with colored flames and sparks that include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and silver.
So now you know and wherever you are this year enjoy - Happy Birthday America!
Posted by FLDays at 1:50 PM
Monday, June 6, 2011
If you’ve never been on a cruise you’re missing out on a really great vacation. I always ask people who tell me they’ve never been on a cruise, why not? I’m always amused when they tell me that they think they’d feel too confined or get bored. I’m telling you cruise ships now days are floating cities. Take the Allure of the Seas for example, it’s the newest ship of the Royal Caribbean’s fleet its 1,187 feet long and can accommodate 5,400 people, currently the largest cruise ship afloat. They have an ice rink, two surf pools and a Zip Line, the ship has seven "neighborhoods". The inside staterooms have balconies overlooking the park so you don’t get that ‘closed in‘ feeling. Disney’s newest ship, the Dream has a thrilling flume ride called the AquaDuck, the first-ever shipboard water coaster. There are many dining options from the chic to the family style the entertainment is Broadway caliber and the shops, don’t even get me started on them. There is so much to do and see on ships now days that you’ll never get bored and unless you spend a month on one I doubt you’d see everything either.
Florida has five different cruise ports and three Port Canaveral, Port Everglades and the Port of Miami are among the busiest cruise ports in the world, if not the busiest. From one of our ports you can easily reach anywhere in the world really but the Caribbean, being so close, is a popular choice. Cozumel, St. Thomas, San Juan, George Town, Belize City, Grenada and Barbados are just of few of the exotic destinations and or ports of call offered. A port of call is a place you cruise into for a day or just a few fun filled hours. Nassau has a great straw market, which is a place where you can purchase trinkets for the folks back home; when you come into Port Canaveral you’ll find it has a whole row of restaurants that offer some the best seafood you’ll ever eat and they’ve started a market place of their own. Key West is another popular port of call that has a little shopping area called Key West Bite, you come in on lower Duval Street which is the heart of everything fun going on in Key West. While in port you can also go on shore excursions which normally highlight the local sites like churches and museums but also include tours of harbors, diving and snorkeling trips. Then, after a day of shopping and or sight seeing, head back to the ship and on to more places and more adventures.
So, I hope you’d agree, on and off the ship cruises are a great vacation and one, I feel, everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
Posted by FLDays at 9:42 AM