|The Earth will gobble up the moon Saturday night.
A total lunar eclipse occurs Nov. 8, and sky gazers predict it to be a spectacular display as the moon turns orange as the Earth slowly blocks the sun's light on its surface.
The eclipse will start about 6:30 p.m., with total occlusion between 8:10 and 8:30. All returns to normal by 10 p.m.
Hope for clear skies and enjoy the night.
Made a new friend last week in Thomas Sanchez, author of "King Bongo," set in 1957-era Havana, and "Mile Zero," the latter set in Key West and published in 1989.
Sanchez is more than the typical Florida author, both in terms of history and in style. Not to denigrate any of the typical Sunshine State writers, but Sanchez is far and away better in terms of his literary panache. Heck, it took him eight years to finish "Mile Zero," so you know it wasn't a slash-and-dash type book.
He was in town for the reading festival in Sarasota, and then went to St. Petersburg for a similar event there. More to the point, though, he spent the night on Anna Maria and said he fell in love with the place. What better accolade can a writer bestow on our Island than to say, "I could really get some work done here."
Since Sanchez spent time in both Cuba and Key West, as did Ernest Hemingway, the topic of that author came up as we drove around our Island.
Sanchez had an interesting comment about the great man. Seems that his house on Whitehead Street in Key West was across from one of the biggest slums on the key. His finca outside of Havana was on the border of one of the most wretched sections of that island as well.
Here is this famous, popular, successful man who lives on the border of intense poverty, in other words.
Maybe Hemingway wanted to be reminded of how important he was by being able to see how awful others were, I suggested to Sanchez.
Maybe Hemingway wanted to be constantly reminded of how far he could plummet if he wasn't successful, Sanchez said.
I think Sanchez might be right.
Randy's coming back
On another author front, Southwest Florida writer Randy Wayne White will be on the Island Nov. 16 to sign copies of his newest book, "An American Traveler," more than a dozen essays of his travels and travails on the road. The new book is "an eclectic mix of pieces with a singular, driving theme: A so-called "safe" sedentary life is as predacious as slow cancer," according to his publicist.
"White demonstrates by example that the fun, the drama, the craziness of exploration — internal and external — is a singularly important part of the human experience. White dives with great white sharks in South Africa, but his love and concern for his two sons, who are traveling
with him, generates powerful and subtle undertones that carry throughout the book, and makes this far more than a collection of travel-adventure narratives.
"White hangs out in Australia with the Crocodile Hunter, he writes about the late Peter Blake and the New Zealand sailing team, he jogs the Mayan ruins of Guatemala, and he battles insects in his backyard garden. He's the lead sledder for an entry in the U.S. toboggan championships, he explores Vietnam — and gets lost jogging in Hanoi — and just as powerfully explores what it's like to reach middle age."
White will be at Ooh La La! Bistro, 5406 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 16. Luncheon tickets, which include a first-edition copy of the book, are $50, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tingley Memorial Library. Reservations are required and may be made by calling The Islander at 778-7978.
The event is sponsored by Ooh La La! Bistro, Circle Books on St. Armands Circle, and The Islander.
What seems to me to be a pretty big deal is going down this week as transportation leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada sign two trade agreements at Sarasota's Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The Marine Transportation System Second Annual Short Sea Shipping Conference will feature signing of a trade treaty to allow the three countries to share technology, information and joint regulatory processes to "nurture the optimum use of waterways, to more effectively manage freight growth, and provide water-based transportation alternatives for freight and passengers," according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Another accord deals with maritime technical assistance and training, the first maritime agreement between the United States and Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico. The treaty is expected to enhance short-sea shipping routes like sea barges and small container vessels in the Gulf and increase shipping, alleviate road congestion and pollution in the states and Mexico, and will positively impact port operations and NAFTA distribution networks throughout the Gulf states.
All that means that Port Manatee should get busier and busier.
Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta is expected to speak at the conference, which will also include presentation of papers dealing with fast-vessel technology, new capacity for the intermodal transportation system, public incentives, shipper requirements, and vessel financing and construction.
Greeks sky gazers more than 2,000 years ago noticed that the shadow of the Earth appeared to make the moon disappear and postulated that our planet was spherical.
Of course, the Flat Earth Society disagrees.
Yes, there is indeed a Flat Earth Society. Its Internet site states that "the Flat Earth Society is a nonpartisan, non-profit and nondenominational membership organization dedicated to improving the understanding of the nature of reality through pataphysical inquiry, empirical investigation and the exchange of ideas.
"While the society is not a ‘crackpot' group, it is opposed to the fashionable, politically correct Spherical Earth theory, which is expounded every day by so-called ‘scientists,' the media and political leaders. The society asserts that the Earth is flat and has five sides, that all places in the universe named Springfield are merely links in higher-dimensional space to one place, and that all assertions are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true false and meaningless in some sense."
I'm personally gratified that the Flat Earth Society isn't a crackpot group. It can't be, because it says it's not.