Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ogunquit Dunes, Blizzard of 2010

Winter in Maine is a time of alternating rest and frenzied activity.
    -Tom Allen

The parabolic dunes of Ogunquit beach, has seen rough weather for thousands of years. The dunes protect the mainland from the mighty north Atlantic waves. The dunes are nature's buffer, protecting the shoreline from flooding and erosion. The year  2010 was a tough year for Ogunquit' s fragile dune's. There were many winter and spring storms carved and shifted these sandbarrier habitats.
This past week, the northeast was hit by a crippling storm, which shut down New York City, and strangled most of  New England. Ogunquit was not immune. Ogunquit received 10 inches of snow (far less than Boston's 19 inches or New York City's 20 inches), but experienced 35 to 50 MPH wind. The whipping wind combined with rising tides wreaked havoc on Ogunquit's fragile beach.

According to wikipeadia: A blizzard is a severe storm condition characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, and can include heavy snow. By definition, the difference between blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have winds in excess of 56 km/h (35 mph).Additionally, blizzards must reduce visibility to 400 metres (1,300 ft) or less and must last for a prolonged period of time — typically three hours or more.
The shiftal change in the dunes is a natural process. Nature moves the sand and creates new spaces. Some say that Ogunquit now has 8 feet more of beach!
Photo Courtesy, Ogunquit's Anthony Defeo.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas in South Florida

Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling. 
                           -Edna Ferber

Don't get me wrong, I am a New Englander, and do love Maine. I love the burst of spring, and the smell of a fresh rain shower that April brings. There is nothing like a Maine summer, with endless days by the sea. Autumn is a special time when the ocean roars along with the maples and oaks. However, I really never enjoyed winter. Yes, I skied in College, and tried all the winter time activities: Sledding and skating.  However, I could never grasp the concept of dressing for weather below 30 degrees ( -1c).

It's really hard for me to run in snow and extreme low temperatures. One particular winter in Ogunquit we had a lot snow, and the roads were not adequate to run on for weeks. However,  I was able to run on the hard packed sand of Ogunquit Beach.  The ever reliable twice daily tides washed away the copious amounts of snow which enabled me to meet my running requirements.
Christmas day in Ogunquit 1:00pm from Marginal Way. Photo Courtesy of BT.

As a child growing up in Somerville, my mother would dress me up in my "snow suit" in winter, and tell me to go out side and play. Because I hated the cold so much, I would stand in the hallway between our apartment and my Nona's apartment for hours.

As an adult, I really enjoy a "tropical" Christmas. It's something I always wanted from Santa. Some people "dream of a white Christmas", as a child I dreamed of a Christmas with a WHITE sandy beach! As an adult my Christmas wish came true!

Christmas Morning, Fort Lauderdale Beach. Post run.

Seven mile run on Fort Lauderdale Beach, and Christmas by the pool in Wilton Manors on Christmas day.

Nothing says Christmas,  like a vintage silver 1950's Christmas tree in south Florida....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thrift Shopping in Wilton Manors, FL

Wilton Manors, Florida, known for being a gay mecca, with restaurants, bars and speciality stores. But Wilton Manors also has two extraordinary thrift stores.

Located on Wilton Drive at the Shoppes of Wilton Manors next to Georgie's Alibi is Poverello. This shop is dedicated to providing  "life-saving food and basic living essentials with the highest degree of understanding, and respect for individuals living with HIV/AIDS who are residents of Broward County".  Poverello currently serves 1400 people per month with food and nutritional items.
Homes in Florida are known for not having cellars, attics and large closets, so people are always making room in their houses and need a place to drop-off used books, clothing and furniture. People in the greater For Lauderdale area regularly donate items from their homes to this organization. When you walk into "Poverello's" you'll never know what you'll find.  However, you can always find treasure hunters, antique pickers and collectors foraging for that "special item". Its common to find a brand new hardcover, that someone just finished reading for sale for $1.00, or vintage 1960's dishes.

Another popular thrift store is Out of the Closet this non-profit organization is also located on Wilton Drive. This Organization provides HIV testing, and helps funds the prescriptions and medications for people with HIV. Located at the store is a non-profit pharmacy, on-site testing and other services.

Out of the Closet carries furniture, clothes, housewares and many specialty items. The store is well lit, and quite clean and inviting.

These organizations provide world class care to a deserving population in Florida.

So if your bored with sitting by the pool or beach while visiting south Florida, its well worth your time to check out these two worthwhile thrift shops located on the "Drive". Both shops are open seven days a week, and feature daily specialty items.

The Details:
Poverello Thrift Shop
2292 Wilton Drive ( Next to Georgie's Alibi)
Wilton Manors, FL 33305

Out of the Closet
2097 Wilton Drive
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Telephone 954 358 5580

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Philippine English

Words and ideas are more powerful than guns in the defense of human dignity. Treaties are stronger than armamented boundaries. The only impregnable line is that of human Understanding
-Carlos P Romulo, President of UN, Diplomat, Aide-de-Camp to Gen MacArthur

I am always fascinated by languages. Not only by the language itself, but how it evolves. Its amazing that the English language is found around the world considering, that England is an Island off  of the coast of Europe that was settled by:  Celts, Romans, Norsemen, Anglos, Saxons and French. Part of the beauty of the English language is that it draws from all these different languages. We can say house, hut, edifice and manse to describe a structure. All these words come from various tribes that invaded the British isles.

As the English language spread throughout the world, it has evolved and morphed even more. There are differences in British usage and North American usage. The same is true for English in the Philippines.

In 1898 Spain ceded the Philippines to the US. The US found itself as a colonial master. At that time the Philippines were a collection of Spanish possessions where the educated class spoke Spanish, but the overwhelming majority of the people spoke their native language. The native languages of the Philippines are a southeast Asian variety akin to Indonesian and Malaysian.  Most of the native languages of the Philippines incorporated many Spanish loan words ( Tagalog has about 5 thousand). There is a dialect of Spanish still spoken in the Philippines called Chavacano. Only a small percentage of people speak this dialect ( about 6% of the population of Cavite, and some in Mindanao).  There are so many dialects ( or for that matter, actual languages) in the Philippines that someone in Manila would speak Tagalog, and 50km north another group of people would speak Kapampangan, a completely different language.

When the Americans took over, they did what they do best: infrastructure! The Americans built schools, government buildings and institutions. While doing this they established the English language as the mode of instruction.
The English that was introduced to the Philippines was an American post-Victorian military variety of English. As English evolved in the US, it has also evolved in the Philippines. In the Philippines,  most classes in High Schools and Universities are conducted in English, with a bit of Tagalog. To hear English spoken in the Philippines is quite different for native American ears, but it is truly English, albeit a Philippine version. One should never correct a Filipino speaking English; it would be like a Briton correcting an American. Some words from the Philippines have entered American usage. One such word is boondocks. Most Americans may think that this a native American word for remote place, but in fact comes from the Tagalog word bundok, which means mountain.

The Filipinos speak English much more clearly than Americans. They pronounce all of the syllables, and speak slower. Because the Americans introduced a post-Victorian military English around the year 1900, speakers use a polite form.  Its quite common to respond to female teachers, and other people with respect with "yes, Ma'am". While staying in a hotel last month, a friend phoned for me, and the message taker wrote: "Ma'am Theresa phoned for you." Teachers, supervisors and others  are often referred to as Ma'am.

Here is a quick list of Philippine English Words:
Aircon: For A/C or airconditioner
Already: Used very frequently in the Philippines. In Tagalog,  Na = Already.  Commonly used: Hali ka na ( come here, already). Let's go out to eat, already...
Ba: a verbal question mark from Tagalog..."going to the store ba?
Barbecue: What we call a kebab in the USA. A Filipino barbecue is meat on a stick.
Bananacue: A banana ( or Saba/Plantain) on a stick. Usually sold on the street.

Batchmate/Batch: Classmate, Class probably from US military classes.
Bedspacer: Roommate
Brownout: temporary blackout.
Cabinet: Closet.
Carnap: To steal an automobile.
Course: in University, your major.
Chit: Restaurant bill.
Comfort Room/CR: bathroom.
Commuter: Someone who takes a bus, Jeepney, or LRT/MRT (railways). Not a person who drives
Dirty Ice Cream: Sold from street vendors, from the street hence, dirt. Usually sold on a hamburger bun.

Dirty Kitchen: where the food is prepared, not really dirty, but usually on the back side of the house where the housekeepers would live.
Eat-all-you-can: All you can eat.

Every now and then: Often. I go to the gym, every now and then (i.e., I often go to the gym)
Gets: Understands..."I gets the joke"
Go/get down: To "get off " as in get off the jeepney.
Green Jokes: What we would call "dirty jokes"
Jeepney: A Philippine hybrid. Leftover US military Jeeps used for transportation. Probably fused with a jitney (small bus), hence Jeepney.

Ma'am: Polite form for Miss or Mrs. This form has virtually disappeared from the USA.
Merienda: From the Spanish, meaning small meal mid afternoon/snack.

Officemate: Co-worker.
Po: This has real no meaning in English, but a sign of respect. "Good Morning Po" Used after words, from Tagalog. Magandang Umaga Po, good morning (with respect).

Polo: A button down dress shirt.
Promo/Promotion: Special, as in Hamburger/Fries Promo, 50 pesos.
Remembrance: A souvenir, probably Spanish is origin,  Recuerdo which means remembrance and souvenir.
Rotunda/Rotonda: Roundabout, Rotary, Traffic circle.
Rubber Shoes: Sneakers, Tennis Shoes, running shoes.
Slang: What Filipinos refer to as an accent.
Slippers: Flip Flops, akin to sandles.
Take Home: for "take out" in the USA or "take away" in the UK.
Traffic: In the Philippines traffic is a "traffic jam", noun. In north America its a verb, traffic.
Tricycle: a public for hire motorcycle with a sidecar.

Related Blog postings

Blogger/Innkeeper Gorio wanders the streets of Metro Manila

 Related article from BBC

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

J. Mark's Restaurant of Fort Lauderdale Review

You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.
                                                                                              -Charles Kuralt

One thing I like during the holiday season is to spend a nice meal with friends. Our friend Mark, took us to the new J Mark's Restaurant on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Federal Highway is US Route One in South Florida. This major thoroughfare is dotted with local and national chain restaurants all the way to the  Keys. Restaurants come and go on this busy highway, and its hard to keep track of all the many choices. J Mark's Restaurant is not a "burger joint", but rather a casual contemporary adult oriented restaurant without the TGIF/Chili's kitsch culture.
This locally owned restaurant has a comfortable contemporary/mid century decor. J Mark's has  nice cozy bar, with high tops and booth seating.  The dining room is a modest size and features mid century architectural stone work, and light wood grains with modern contemporary fixtures.  The restaurant is decorated for the holidays but not in an over- the- top garish way. The staff  is polite and professional.  Restaurant is similar in concept to: J Alexander's and Houstons which feature contemporary American fare.

We started with a shared calamari appetiser. The calamari was fresh and  tasted good. However, we noticed that it was overly salted. I liked the selection of dipping sauces: marinara, garlic aioli, basil pesto ( Italian flag colors?).
Mike and Mark opted for the much touted prime rib that came with garlic mashed potatoes and side of vegetables. The meals were ample and cooked perfectly with a side of au jus.
J Mark's also had a nice selection of tuna meals. Our server, Candace, suggested that I try  tuna burger. The Deep Sea Tuna Burger, is 4 ounces of chopped sushi grade tuna mixed with spices, topped with an avocado, tomato and onion. Served with a side of remoulade sauce. The burger was tasty and filling, and I would get this again on another visit.

As  mentioned, restaurants come in go in South Florida, but I do think this one will be here for a while. A combination of: menu selections, specials, quality of  meals, and professional staff are things that make for a good restaurant!

The Details
J Mark's Restaurant
1245 North Federal Highway ( Route One)
Ft Lauderdale, FL  33304
Phone 954.390.0770

Dress Code: Casual ( not beach attire)
Price: Modest
Servers: professional and polite
Quality: Excellent
Parking: Ample
Full liquor license. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Swimming in Winter

Being a native New Englander I should enjoy winter sports and recreation, however I don't. I've tried them all: skiing, and skating. These activities are just too cold for me. So I gravitate to warmer activities.  I spend the winter months in warmer climates, where I can swim and continue to run.
My love for swimming developed as a child. Living in Somerville, Massachusetts, we did not have a beach; however my dad took me for swim lessons at the YMCA on Highland Avenue in Somerville. This is where I developed a fondness for swimming and all things associated with water. My aunt Santa (yes, that is her name, my father's family is Italian),  lived across the street from us, and she had a "pool". Albeit it was small. This photo was probably the first time I went "swimming" and the first time I wore a Speedo!
 As I got older, I went to summer camp in New Hampshire, Maine and Cape Cod, where swimming lessons continued. I spent many summer weeks on Long Island Maine as a kid, and continued to swim in cold Atlantic waters.

What I like best about swimming is the rhythmic cadence of laps. I find swimming laps to be relaxing and hypnotic. Its a different than other aerobic sports. With swimming you can swim solo, or with other people.  You can swim in the ocean or pool. Even on a cold day in Florida, its always warmer in the ocean or pool!

The ocean water is rarely below 70 degrees (22c) in the wintertime (today's ocean water temp was 75 degrees, 24c), so there is rarely an excuse to not swim, especially since my pool is heated to 81 (27c). The pool where swim practice is held is also heated to that temperture.

I have my father to thank for my love of swimming. It was he who took the time, to see to it that I knew how to swim as a child. Thanks Dad!
Papa Testa grills as his kids swim!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

UP High School

One who does not learn to look back to where he came from,
                                  will never get to where he is going.
                  -Dr Jose Rizal

In 1978 and 1979 I went to the University of the Philippines High School. School is located in the Diliman section of Quezon City. The Marikina mountains were to the west and the University campus was our playground.
The main road was Katipunan Road, which was an old dusty street. I went back after 31 years and saw how the campus and the outer loop of Quezon City has evolved. Crossing the street to the main University campus was quite easy over 30 years ago, now it is a trek.....Katipunan Road is now a six lane thoroughfare complete with skywalks.

I visited the school on a national holiday (it was a Muslim holiday). The school was quiet and eerie. I remember, we had an overnight sleep over at the school, and I heard about the ghost stories. The Japanese used the grounds for a prisoner of war camp during the war, and the Filipino rebels would hide in the nearby  Marikina Hills.  As I walked through the open air corridors I could once imagine the campus as a prisoner of war. The ghosts are still there, and you can feel the presence. There were some staff in the Principal's office. I asked the administrator about the "ghost stories" she confirmed that they were true! Herminia Malonzo, the administrator  took me for a stroll of the campus and told me some of the new plans for the tired campus. I asked her what ever happened to my prom date "Cherry Domingo". I lost track of Cherry throughout the years, and I wondered how she was doing. To my amazement Ms Malonzo had phoned Cherry and arranged a reunion to see Cherry after 31 years!

Here is a video about UP High School, interesting to watch!

Kalog ko, 'diba? 
Prom at the Ramada Inn, Manila, Feb 1979
Reunion with prom date, Quezon City, November 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Images of Manila and Street Scenes

Travel is a caprice in childhood, a passion in youth, a necessity in manhood, and an elegy in old age.
                                              -Dr Jose Rizal

Where ever I go in the world, I like observing street scenes. It's a way to see how people live, work, and interact with each other. I lived in the Philippines in 1978 and 1979. Since that time many things have changed, some things not. Enjoy this photo essay of life on the Calles and by ways of Metro Manila.....