Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Early Fall


Fall weather has arrived in peninsula Florida, marking its earliest arrival in the ten years that I have lived here. The winter season in Florida is marked far more by dry weather than cold temperatures, though there is a connection between them. Though we still have daytime temps in the low 80s, the dry air that has moved in allows for night-time readings to drop into the low 60s and upper 50s (it is 57 at the moment). This marks a dramatic shift from just last week, when moist air dominated the area and lows were falling only into the mid-70s.

Most importantly, for comfort, is the arrival of low dew points throughout the day, allowing us to shut down the air conditioner and open the windows on October first. That is a full month before we normally have the weather in place to allow us to begin our “tumble-down, wild, picnicky sort of life,” that Harriet Beecher Stowe noted was the most charming thing about living in Florida in the winter season. So, in the words of Stowe, lets celebrate the “general happy-go-luckiness which Florida inculcates,” and embrace the outdoor life that is the hallmark of the dry season in Florida.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"All in" Online.


In an effort to embrace the online teaching that I am doing, and will likely be doing much more of in the future, I have adopted a pedagogy that is techno-centric this semester. I have my students blogging, working on a wiki page, and editing a google map with content overlays. The end result will (hopefully) be a website that is a relatively comprehensive compendium of information for the various topics at hand (there are three classes involved).

I'll let you know how it pans out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Lure of Florida.


Having been in New England for most of the summer, returning to Florida for the (very long) end of one of the hottest summers on record, it is hard for me to wrap my head around what it is about this place that lures seemingly sane people to move here. I was struck by that rather soberly this evening when I learned that Gilbert Fite had passed away in Florida in July. As an eager Grad student lapping up works on rural, agricultural and labor history while studying in Chicago I read Fite's work with great pleasure. He was a child raised on a North Dakota Homestead farm (literally), and an academic who wrote so compellingly of the ever-more-stressful plight of farmers on the northern plains in so compelling a manner that I had understood him only in the context of that often forbidding but always enticing region. Imagine my surprise, then, to learn that he died in Fort Myers, Florida, to which he had retired, apparently, to play golf.

In any case, Godspeed Professor Fite. I hope you find a set of links on a short-grass prairie in an afterlife that does not force you to endure the heat and humidity that you so recently left behind. And thank you for your thoughtful and engaged scholarship and your commitment to keeping alive the memory of a hopeful impulse in American life in which family farms and farmers were thought to matter and to deserve a political economy in which they could survive, if not thrive.

Monday, June 7, 2010

NOAA and Deepwater Horizon.


If you find comfort in the collection and generation of knowledge, as most good post-Renaissance people do (at least those who have not been infected by the heresies of Michel Foucault such as myself), you will enjoy following the ever-expanding surface oil slick generated on a daily basis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which creates a number of daily graphs and aggregates all of its information on its Deepwater Horizon Incident page. Warning: It makes for some really depressing reading, including the number of turtles dying on a daily basis.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Maps can be very instructive.


This is a post designed to demonstrate who narrow is the world in which I live, mentally. I was playing with a map this evening (I know, geek badge) and decided to trace the latitude of my town around the globe to see what it intersected. I was more than a little surprised by the results. I know already that I was a straight shot from my local beach to the Canary Islands on the coast of Africa, because I my daughter asked me years ago where we would end up if we just kept swimming and I looked up the answer for her. Beyond that I was surprised to learn that we were about 70 miles south of Cairo, for example. But what blew me away, and sent me to the computer to confess my ignorance, was the striking revelation that my very hot, flat town is 99 statue miles north of the peak of Mt. Everest in Nepal! I would not have bet on that in a lifetime, to be honest.