November 01, 2012

Panama City Beach

Press HERE to see a slideshow
from Panama City Beach.

Little Lizard
IMG_3824: Little Lizard
Gulf Highlands Putt-Putt
IMG_3826: Gulf Highlands Put-Put
Betty on the Beach
IMG_3843: Betty on the Beach
Stingray on the Beach
IMG_3856: Stingray on the Beach
Boys at Play
IMG_3853: Boys at Play
Docking Sport Fishing Boat
IMG_3870: Fishing Boat

The past month has slipped by so quickly. We arranged to rent a 3-br condo and we got a great price for it. This time of the year, one can rent a condo for $600 to $800 per month. The complex is called Gulf Highlands. I am sure that our landlady would have wanted more than the $800 we are paying - if there had been more than Betty and me staying here. We know that the same condo would rent for more than $1000 per week in the summer. We have heard and seen that the Florida panhandle is very popular with Southerners, who love to be on the beach in the summer. In any case, we have lots of room with two and a-half baths and good size kitchen. The condo is in a complex with many swimming pools, a miniature golf course, exercise rooms, tennis courts and best of all we are a mere 300 yards from the beach where the complex has a beach house and another pool.

The weather has been outstanding with 80 degrees and clear skies most everyday. Yes, it rained two days and yes the last couple of days saw highs only in the 60's, but by-and-large it has been wonderful here. We have seen lots of interesting little animals in the neighborhood. The most prevalent are little lizards, which are definitely not geckos. When I walk down the sidewalk, a lizard scurries out in front of me with almost every step. In the pond by the putt-putt course there are turtles and the occasional egret. On the beach we often see gulls, egrets and other sea birds. In the Gulf of Mexico one can see a stingray from time to time. We have heard that one can see so many of stingrays from the balconies high above the gulf. I saw a photo taken in Destin that had dozens of rays in a very small area. When we first arrived, there were thousands of butterflies all about. They are still around but not in such great numbers.

We try to get out and walk on the beach or to the library everyday. Although we do not always succeed, we often walk three miles in a day. We have not been playing tennis or miniature golf. I am sure we will do 18 holes on the putt-putt course one of these days. I like swimming in the ocean more than the swimming pools, but that may change in next couple of weeks as the high temperatures dip into the 70's and 60's.

There are other things to do in Panama City. They like to have events most every weekend. We went to October Fest a couple of weeks ago. I have to say it was a bust. I thought I was going to get pounded physically after challenging a bunch of Republicans, who had a booth. I am shocked at how little they are willing to defend the Republican Platform and how poorly they are informed. Kind of amazing, when you think about it. The right wing is quite strong in northern Florida. Betty got an Obama sign for our front yard. Somebody stole in with one day. The thing that gets me the most are the handicapped Romney supporters riding around in the Medicare paid for carts, who would deny that same benefit to the next generation. Well, enough on politics.

We enjoyed an afternoon at the Jazz by the Bay 2012 festival. The music was good and the people in the park were great. We got a couple of souvenir t-shirts at the jazz festival.

Panama City Beach had a fair last weekend on the marina. Again not that great, it was a bit like a miniature Taste of Minnesota. The local restaurants were selling tastes of their food. Wine and beer was available. They had a few things for the kids, like crab races and huge pile of beach sand for the kid to play in. There was a guy a chain-saw sculpting a log into a pelican. We walked over to bar in the marina to drink beer and sangria. We got into a good discussion with a couple that had retired down the beach at Port Saint Joe. To my delight a tourist fishing boat came in while we drank. They had caught dozens of fish. I ask somebody what it cost to fish on the boat, $75 for ten hours on the water. With most people just bringing a few fish home, it made for some pretty expensive fish. But - hey fishing is NOT all about the fish. For me it is also about the peace of the water, the sun shining on me, and the wind blowing through my hair. So, I think that I get it.

Of all the places we visited during the fall and winter in the USA, this one seems really nice. Cost and weather are near perfect. The lack of real culture, well, was a bit lacking. It exists but to no great degree.

I hope that you will take some time to read my op-ed, explaining why I voted for President Obama.

Why I Voted for Obama

Sinclair Lewis said: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Yes, I fear the Republican agenda, which moves America toward fascist programs and policies. But that fear had not totally motivated me to vote for Obama.
President Obama has earned my vote for another four years by his deeds in office. Here are some of the President's acomplishments:

  1. The first bill President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help women fight back when they don't get equal pay for equal work.
  2. His Recovery Act supported millions of jobs and helped to stave off a second Great Depression.
  3. He pushed for and won middle-class tax cuts that benefitted every American worker, and saved the typical family $3,600 in taxes over the last four years.
  4. President Obama rescued the auto industry, and now GM and Chrysler are healthier than they've ever been. The American auto industry has added nearly a quarter of a million jobs since June 2009 -- and they most likely wouldn't exist right now without President Obama's leadership.
  5. He doubled funding for Pell Grants, helping to make college more affordable for nearly 10 million families.
  6. His student loan reform ended billions in subsidies to banks serving as middlemen and reinvested those savings directly into students.
  7. The President established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college.
  8. His Race to the Top Initiative helped spur nearly every state to raise academic standards.
  9. His tax cuts, social-welfare programs, and economic policies lifted nearly 7 million Americans above the federal poverty line in 2010.
  10. President Obama has signed 18 tax cuts for small businesses since taking office.
  11. We've seen 5.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 31 months.
  12. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level since President Obama took office.
  13. Health care reform -- passed after decades of failed attempts by every previous President -- provides affordable health coverage to every American and will lower premiums by an average of $2,000 per family by 2019.
  14. Obamacare expanded access to lifesaving preventive care such as cancer screenings and immunizations with no out-of-pocket costs for 54 million Americans.
  15. Obamacare ends insurance discrimination against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  16. Because of Obamacare, over 3 million more young adults have health insurance today than would if the new law hadn't passed.
  17. The parents of over 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage.
  18. President Obama has ordered the overhaul of federal government regulations to make them smarter, practical, and more efficient. Just a fraction of these commonsense initiatives will help save businesses $10 billion in the next five years alone.
  19. His historic investments in clean energy have helped more than double the amount of electricity we obtain from wind and solar sources and helped increase biofuel production to its highest level in history.
  20. President Obama is doubling fuel efficiency standards, which will save drivers more than $8,000 at the gas pump, not to mention lessen the impact of automobiles on our environment.
  21. President Obama has taken unprecedented action to address climate change, reaching historic international agreements to curb carbon emissions, and taking action here at home to reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and promote clean energy production.
  22. He has taken historic action to protect our environment -- signing one of the largest expansions of protected wilderness in a generation and putting in place standards to reduce toxic air pollution that will save thousands of lives.
  23. President Obama fought for and won landmark Wall Street reform that reins in the abuses that led to the financial crisis and ends the era of taxpayer bailouts and "too big to fail."
  24. Wall Street reform created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation's first federal agency focused solely on consumer financial protection -- and the Bureau is already protecting families from unfair and abusive financial practices from Wall Street banks and shadowy corners of the financial industry.
  25. As part of President Obama's commitment to transparency, the White House has posted its visitor records online for the first time ever.
  26. President Obama's all-of-the-above approach to energy has helped cut the United States' dependence on foreign oil to its lowest level in 20 years.
  27. President Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq.
  28. He announced a plan to end the war in Afghanistan and transition security responsibility to the Afghan people.
  29. President Obama sent the largest security assistance package to Israel in history and funded the Iron Dome system, which is protecting Israeli homes and schools from rocket attacks.
  30. President Obama rallied the international community to implement the toughest sanctions on Iran in history.
  31. Through the President's historic increases in Veterans Affairs funding, he has expanded and improved healthcare and job training access for our returning veterans.
  32. President Obama negotiated the New START Treaty with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. At the same time, he also secured commitments from dozens of other countries to lock down nuclear materials.
  33. His administration naturalized 11,146 military service members as> citizens in 2010; more than in any year since 1955.
  34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida's Space Coast.
  35. President Obama recognizes that tourism is one of America's largest economic engines; he's worked to encourage international visitors to come here, maintaining our security while keeping millions of Americans in good, paying jobs.
  36. He has affirmed his personal support of marriage equality, directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in federal courts, and took the practical and compassionate step of extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners.
  37. He fought for and won the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, allowing gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly for the first time in history.
  38. When Congress failed to fix our broken immigration system, his administration did everything in its power to improve it, streamlining the legal immigration process and announcing a policy that lifts the shadow of deportation from hard working young immigrants brought to the> as children.
  39. Oh, and he gave the order to send troops in after Osama Bin Laden -- and has decimated al-Qaeda's senior leadership.
Posted by bill at 11:29 AM | Comments (4)