Saturday, 3 January 2009

Fort DeSoto County Parl

My Brasilian guest drove today to Fort DeSota County Park, to visit withCaulfield, my Cambridge friend who is visiting her parents at North Redington Beach.

This County Park (1263 acres) is one of my favourite spots. It is utterly unspoiled territory with nary a condominium in view.

There one can picnic, fish, swim, walk, kayak, camp and cycle – or simply lounge.

The park has excellent and clean toilet/shower areas; more than adequate parking; and a pristine beach.

Mary has been to Brasil on a number of occasions, and she speaks excellent Portugese.

So this was a great opportunity for my guest to speak his native tongue; for Mary to practice her Portugese; and for me to be unusually silent.

We walked the beach, and I “paddled” up to my knees, having forgotten to take bathing trunks.

The others were smarter planners and they, in their “bathers”, plunged into the chilly Gulf of Mexico.

The three of us enjoyed the beach, the sea, our conversations, and a picnic lunch.

Here are a few pics from today; followed by a history of the park – taddled from Wikipedia.

Picnic area

Looking out to the Gulf from the picnic area

Tourists playing Bocce

Fort De Soto Park
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Fort De Soto Park is at the far southern tip of the city of St. Petersburg, Florida. This park, operated by Pinellas County, is made up from five offshore keys, or islands: Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key and Mullet Key (which is the main island). Today all are connected by land to each other. The island group is accessible by toll road from the mainland.
The park is a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail.

In 1849, Brevet Col. Robert E. Lee (the famous American Civil War commander) and three other US Army Engineers surveyed the area and recommended Mullet and Egmont Keys become fortified. Both keys could only be reached by boat, since they were islands off the mainland. Union troops were stationed on the two keys during the Civil War (1861–1865) to aid in the Union blockade of Tampa Bay. The keys were again abandoned by the military and in 1882 military reservations were officially created on the two keys. Nothing was constructed there, however.

Hillsborough County established a quarantine station on the eastern side of Mullet Key in 1889. It became known as Mullet Key Quarantine Station. The Marine Hospital Service took over jurisdiction of the station in 1901. The duty of the station was to inspect aliens aboard ships arriving from foreign ports. By 1925 the station operated with fifteen buildings. The quarantine station operated until 1937, when the Public Health Service transferred its operations there to Gadsden Point, near Tampa.

The main operation on Mullet Key, however, became Fort De Soto in 1900, named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The Army post was officially a subpost of Fort Dade, which was constructed on Egmont Key. These posts were to contain batteries of artillery and mortars to protect Tampa Bay from any invading forces. Construction of Fort De Soto began in November 1898 and was completed in 1906.

The foundation was constructed of a shell concrete formula and the walls and ceiling used a shell, stone and concrete mix. The main attractions at the completed post were the artillery and mortar batteries, Batteries Laidley and Bigelow. The post consisted of 29 buildings. The post's features included a large barracks, a hospital, a guardhouse, a blacksmith and carpenter shop, an administration building, and mess hall with kitchen, a bakery, and a storehouse. The site also had brick roads, concrete sidewalks and a narrow-gauge railroad to aid in moving materials and supplies around the post.

The post was active from 1898 to 1910. At least one company was present at Fort De Soto at all times and many times several units were present. Mosquitoes were a constant problem and the post was very hot in the summers.

In 1910 most troops were moved to Fort Morgan in Alabama. Only a caretaker force remained. By 1914 only a sergeant and game warden remained at the post. Through most of World War I a larger caretaker force was at the post, usually with about 22 privates, two noncommissioned officers and two commissioned officers. In 1917 four of the post's mortars were disassembled and shipped to Fort Rosecrans, in San Diego, California.

In November 1922 the Army announced it would soon close both Forts De Soto and Dade. On May 25, 1923, the forts were officially abandoned and only one caretaker remained at each post. A number of tropical storms and hurricanes severely damaged the buildings on the post. A few were destroyed, as was Battery Bigelow in 1932. The Army attempted to sell the post, but there was little interest. In September 1938 Pinellas County bought the areas on Mullet Key for $12,500.

Two years later the War Department decided it wanted Mullet Key back for use as a bombing range. In June 1941 the key was purchased back from Pinellas County for $18,404 and turned into a subpost of MacDill Field.

In 1948 Pinellas County again purchased the key and it permanently remained county property.

In 1962 a toll road, the Pinellas Bayway (formerly State Road A19A, now SR 682), was completed to the mainland, enabling island visitors to arrive by car.

On December 21, 1962, Fort De Soto Park opened. On May 11, 1963, Fort De Soto Park was officially dedicated. Its facilities have been expanded over the years. The quartermaster storehouse was reconstructed to become the Quartermaster Storehouse Museum. On December 2, 1977, the Fort De Soto batteries were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2005, Fort Desoto's North Beach was given the honor as top beach in America by Dr. Beach.

In 2003, a portion of the Marvel comic-inspired film "The Punisher" was filmed on Mullet Key and Fort Desoto as a mock-up of Puerto Rico.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Good start

Sunshine Skyway Bridge 1

Sunshine Skyway Bridge 2

Para-surfers Tampa Bay New Year's Day 2009

It was a good start to 2009 for some friends and for me

We trolled over to St. Petersburg

We had a nice trip.

We stopped at a rest area at the north end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and there enjoyed the sight of para- surfers. See pics above.

All this was on January 1st. Ah Florida.

Whilst much of the northern hemisphere shivers, we bask in the sun. It was 78F/26C today.

Forgive me if I gloat!

But I am grateful. Thanks be to “whatever” this is the best time of my life - so far.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Why gay rights are not special rights

3 arrested in N. California gang rape of lesbian

Thu Jan 1, 2:59 PM EST

One man and two teens have been arrested on suspicion of gang-raping a woman last month in the San Francisco Bay area while allegedly taunting her for being a lesbian, police said Thursday as they searched for a fourth suspect.

Officers arrested Humberto Hernandez Salvador at his Richmond home Wednesday night, Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said. The 31-year-old is being held without bail on gang rape, kidnapping and carjacking charges.

Police on Wednesday also arrested a 15-year-old Richmond boy and a 16-year-old Hercules boy, who were being held at a juvenile detention center on similar charges. Their names were not released.

Police would not detail each person's alleged involvement in the attack but said tips from local residents led to the arrests.

Investigators are still seeking 21-year-old Josue Gonzalez, who had prior addresses in San Rafael and Richmond, on a $1 million arrest warrant for gang rape, kidnapping and carjacking, police said. Gonzalez was called by the nickname "Pato" during the attack and is considered armed and dangerous, Gagan said.

Detectives say the 28-year-old victim was attacked on Dec. 13 after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. The alleged attackers made comments indicating they knew she was a lesbian, police said.

Authorities have characterized the case as a hate crime. Police said the victim lives openly with a female partner.

The 45-minute attack started when one of the men approached the woman in the street, struck her with a blunt object, ordered her to disrobe and sexually assaulted her with the help of the others, according to detectives.

When the group saw another person approaching, they forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building. She was raped again inside and outside the vehicle and left naked outside the building while the alleged assailants took her wallet and drove off in her car, police said.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Patriotism is not enough ( 2 )

Regular readers of this blog will have realised that I take a very dim view of tribalism and nationalism.

I mention both tribe and nation because those of us in the western, more or less Christian lands see our world and ourselves in terms of national identity.

We do not understand or appreciate other more eastern lands where loyalty to clan or tribe comes far ahead of loyalty to nation.

Westerners are in fact clannish and tribal
. We identify with our clan (nuclear family, extended family, circle of immediate friends etc); and with our tribe (people who share our religious, political or vocational lives), but these clans and tribes are fluid, and are mostly subverted to our national loyalties.

In other (say Muslim or Hindu) cultures, the loyalty to clan and tribe trumps all others.

A healthy sense of clannish, tribal or national identity is important insofar as it provides social glue by which we are moulded into peoples. A sense of shared history, traditions and values is vital if we are to live in free communities.

(Doubtless, one of the legitimate gripes of British folks regarding immigrants is that, by and large, they do not seem to have bought into a sense of “Britishness”.)

(But of course, at a time when all the old British institutions – Empire, Monarchy, Church, Government, Law enforcement, Class distinctions and the like are no longer trusted, even native born British people are losing their own sense of “Britishness”. The songs which I posted yesterday now ring hollow!)

So much for a healthy sense of clan, tribe or nation.

My “beef” is with that spirit which says “My clan/tribe/ nation – right or wrong”.

The global village is far too small for that spirit. We are one human race living on one small and stressed planet. We shall not survive without a commitment to international cooperation and understanding.

And the “My clan/tribe/ nation – right or wrong” spirit, leads clans, tribes and nations to develop a deep fear of “the other”, and a mistaken trust in “security”.

I do believe that the United States Governments since World War II have bowed down to this false God of national security, with dire results (Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq to name but a few cases in point). It also breaks my heart to see the British and Israeli governments take similar tacks.

This issue is as old as the bible. The Psalmist, referring to national security as the night watchmen writes the following.

11 Day and night the watchmen make their rounds
upon her walls, *
but trouble and misery are in the midst of her.

12 There is corruption at her heart; *
her streets are never free of oppression and deceit.

All of our vaunted “National Security” is not worth a bucket of spit so long as trouble. misery, corruption and deceit are at the hearts of our clans, tribes or nations.

J. Michael Povey

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Patriotism is not enough (Nurse Edith Cavell)

( see

re Edith Cavell)

As I walked this morning an old English patriotic song came into my mind. I learned to sing it at school.

It reads:

Here's a health unto her Majesty,
With a fal la la la la la la,
Confusion to her enemies,
With a fal lal la la la la la la.
And he that will not drink her health,
I wish him neither wit nor wealth,
Nor yet a rope to hang himself.
With a fal lal la la la la la la la la,
With a fal lal la la la la la.

It was probably written to celebrate the Coronation of Charles II as King of Scotland. He was crowned King of Scots at Scone on 1 January 1651.

Charles was also King of England, but these were the days before the Kingdoms of Scotland and England were joined to form what we now call the “United Kingdom”.

(Remember that Charles was a “Stuart”, those dismal Scottish Monarchs who inherited the English Throne upon the death of the last Tudor Monarch, Elizabeth I. [She was succeeded by James (Stuart) the first James of England, and also the sixth James of Scotland).

But can you imagine that we were singing this ditty three hundred years later.

We were singing them, alongside other British patriotic songs, (see below) when I was a schoolboy of about aged 10 – in 1954.

The British Empire was all but done. Our maps showed all the pink coloured Empire countries, but the deal was already done. India had obtained independence in 1948 (when I was four years old) – but we preferred to ignore that. There was still a “Colonial Office” in London.

The British Empire had ended. It’s fate had been sealed in 1919 when the British Treasury had been emptied by the expenses of the Great War.

But we still postured, and believed in Empire when I was a kid.

So, in school, we sang the old songs.

You can hear some of them at

The British Empire is long gone and forgotten. The American Empire is dying.

And we know that “patriotism” is a false G-d; that Nationalism is a deadly enemy; and that National Security is an illusion.

I am glad that I was born and raised in the United Kingdom.

I am proud of my American citizenship.

But I know that our day is done.


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

William Blake


Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.


When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main,
Arose, arose, arose from out the a-azure main,
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:

Rule Britania!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must in their turn, to tyrants fall,
Must in ,must in, must in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish, shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Brittons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Monday, 29 December 2008

The Wealthy and the Workers

My guest does not let the grass grow under his feet. He hustled himself to many restaurants, seeking a job. He found one at Cafe L’Europe on St. Armand’s’ Circle in SRQ, eight days after his arrival in the USA (He has a work permit and all that jazz).

St. Armand’s Circle is the upscale area of SRQ. Cafe L’Europe is one of the most upscale restaurants on the Circle.

He started work yesterday (Dec 28TH) at 10:00 a.m. It fell to my lot to meet him at the end of his shift. That was late at night.

I arrived at St. Armand’s Circle just before 10:00 p.m. The circle was filled with the wealthy. They shopped even at 10 o’clock at night.

And I was surprised, if not shocked because:

There were so many pre-teen and teens in their “packs”, swarming around and hanging out at the ice cream parlours, sans adults.

There were so many adults speaking languages other than English. It seems that SRQ is a favourite destination for wealthy Indians, Latin Americans, and Eastern Europeans.

And there were all too many young children, being dragged around by their parents at 10:00 p.m. I imagined that these little ones would be much happier were they tucked up in bed with Mommy and Daddy nearby.

But with weary eyes they hung on to their parents.

Such are the lives of the indolent rich.

Whether they know it or not, they are dependent on so many underpaid workers.

He finally emerged from Cafe L’Europe at 11:10 p.m. having worked for more than 12 hours at minimum wage.

And the Cafe has him there all day today (29th), tomorrow (30th), and on New Year’s Eve from 5:00 p.m. until God knows when.

O all ye Restaurant patrons. Spare a thought for those who serve you. Be slow to complain - they may be very tired.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Beaufort SC Christmas 2008

Salt marsh at sunset

The Pinkham's home

Barbara and Don Hauler

Chip and Charles Pinkham

Chris Pinkham looking cool in his new shades

His Dad trying to look cool

Donald R Hauler

Mark and Lindsay Hauler, Chris Pinkham

Marcia Hauler, Wendy Pinkham, Barbara and Don Hauler

Sweet potatoes with pecan "Christmas Tree"

The perfect turkey

Our quarters

Anchored yachts at Beaufort

St. Helena's Church, Beaufort

Antebellum Mansion, Beaufort

Lighthouse, Hunting Beach

Tidal Marsh near Pinkham home

The following are of various tidal marshes, and of Hunting Island Beach

Shrimp Boats

Tree skeleton

Where old trees go to die


The Thinker or the Stinker - it's your call