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Story Tools

Date of Issue: June 08, 2006

Sandscript

Mystery revealed this weekend for Florida fiction fans

Readers, writers and fans will be gathering just to our south this weekend for mingling, participating in panels, book-signing and enjoying an intimate, casual gathering.

"Mystery Florida: A Conference To Die For, Chapter 2," is Friday and Saturday, June 2-3, at the Holiday Inn Lido Beach, on the beach just west of St. Armands Circle.

The cost is $99 a person and patron sponsorship is available for true fans of the genre.

Many of the Sunshine State's finest mystery writers will be panelists and speakers, including James O. Born, Cal Branche, Tom Corcoran, Tim Dorsey, Terry Griffin, Stuart Kaminsky, Jonothan King, Christine Kling, Bob Morris, Barbara Parker, P.J. Parrish and Randy Wayne White. Additional authors will be attending and signing their books Friday at a free-to-the public event called "Mystery Mingle."

The event will also feature Crime Scene Sarasota, a look at the professionals who gather clues and help solve crimes, presented by a team headed by Lt. Bruce Whitehead, lieutenant-in-charge, Sarasota Sheriff's Office Forensic Services Unit.

With attendee registration limited to less than 100, this will be an intimate setting in which fans, authors and readers can get to know their favorite authors.

The Mystery Mingle, which is the largest mystery author-signing event on the west coast of Florida, starts at 5 p.m. Friday. Circle Books, a conference sponsor, is gathering authors in the Gulffront Lido Room of the Holiday Inn for a festive-yet-relaxed book signing and informal conversation.

Mystery Florida begins in full Saturday at 8:30 a.m., with panel discussions and a luncheon and special award. Throughout the day, attendees will have the opportunity to chat with their favorite authors and purchase books to be signed.

Panel authors will be the guests at the special patrons of Mystery Florida Saturday after the conference. For a donation of $500 per couple, the patrons' dinner includes admission to all events as well as an invitation for two for fine dining and mysterious talks.

The conference is sponsored in part by Circle Books of St. Armands Circle and the Sarasota County Film Commission.

Further information is available at 388-2850.

Oh, and proceeds from the event will benefit the Tingley Memorial Library in Bradenton Beach and the Longboat Library on the key.

 

Hurricane factoids

OK, so I'm lazy, but some of the following have been growing green stuff since I uncovered them some years back and they've never seen print in our annual hurricane section. Enjoy!

 

Deadliest

In 1972, an East Pakistan cyclone killed 200,000-500,000 people.

 

Worst in history

In 1900, a hurricane struck Galveston, Texas, and basically washed the city away. About 15 percent of the population drowned.

 

MEOW and SLOSH

Storm surge is the biggest threat hurricanes produce in Florida. Two computer models are used to determine risk for coastal areas. MEOW is Maximum Envelope of Water, and used to gauge the amount of water likely to be pushed ashore by a storm. SLOSH is the Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes and is used to produce maps showing what degree of flooding is expected from storms.

 

Stay alert!

Hurricanes can intensify very, very quickly. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew went from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm in 36 hours. In 1969, Hurricane Camille went from a Category 1 to a Category 5 storm in 48 hours.

 

Hurricane myths vs. facts

Just because you've always done something doesn't mean that thing is right.

There are several myths about hurricanes that we've probably believed for years and years. Unfortunately, we've wasted a lot of time doing things that are pretty useless. Here are some myths and facts about hurricane season.

 

Taping windows protects the glass

Taping windows will do little or nothing to prevent breaking in a storm. It is a waste of effort, time and tape. The tape provides little additional strength to the glass and no protection against flying debris. Once a hurricane warning has been issued, spend your time closing up shutters or putting up plywood over your windows and doors.

 

Open the house windows on the lee side of the storm to balance air pressure or the house will explode

The difference in air pressure between the inside of your house and outside in the storm does not cause the house to blow up, since no house is built airtight. Hurricane winds are intense and variable, and open windows even on the lee side can allow flying debris to enter. Once a window or door is shattered, intense winds can enter and rip the house apart trying to get out.

 

Any emergency shelter will do if an evacuation is ordered

Storm shelters will open depending on the severity of the storm. Not all shelters may open. Check the radio or television for shelters that are open. Remember that shelter space is not adequate for the population, and conditions are somewhat primitive, so the best course of action is to stay with friends who live far away from the coast or low-lying areas.

 

More pet smarts

I've spent a big part of my life letting dogs lead me around, and that isn't even beginning to touch on past girlfriends.

There were a few hard-learned lessons.

I once gave a mutt I had a bite of supper. In the wee hours of the morning, when I got up to ... well ... I found myself skating across the living room in the dog puke caused by my special treat. I guess it was indeed a treat.

The ASPCA has hit on a bunch of tips for pet owners for the summer season. I'll bet you're going to read these and think, Jeez, of course! but ...

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets.

Do not apply sunscreen to pets or insect repellent products not labeled specifically for animals. Remember that pets lick themselves. A lot. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in "gastrointestinal upset."

Keep matches and lighter fluid out of reach.

Never use fireworks around pets. My previous doggie would curl up into a bowl, all 75 pounds of her, whenever there was a loud noise. My current mutt wants to go bite the noise. Thunder is always exciting at my house — and fireworks is a new kind of adventure.

Keep your pet on his/her normal diet. Any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe indigestion and diarrhea (see above nighttime skating story).

 Do not put "glow" jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with them. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestion.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Of pets, too.

 

Sandscript factoid

Here's one that was missed in this week's hurricane special section: Comfort.

Tool-time David said that the most important tool one could have before, during or after a big storm is one's personal comfort. Sleep well, eat well, be as calm as possible.

You're not going to be able to function if you're doing the wakeful tossing-turning sleeplessness in a 90-degree house at 3 a.m. You're also not going to be worth much to anyone if you're cut, bruised, dirty and miserable at the same time.

Chill, he advises. Your roof will still be missing tomorrow. Splurge on a hotel somewhere, if you can find one, crank down the AC, luxuriate in a long shower and get a good night's rest.

The problems won't be gone come morning, but they won't seem to be quite as huge.

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