Holiday wishes, holiday travel thoughts, manatee contest offerings
With the holidays looming ahead, this "Politically Correct 12 Days of Christmas," send by my friend the Cape Cod publishing mogul Walter Brooks, might lighten the spirits a bit.
On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival, my Significant Other in a consenting adult, monogamous relationship gave to me:
TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming;
ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note);
TEN melanin-deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping;
NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression;
EIGHT economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved Bovine-Americans;
SEVEN endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands;
SIX enslaved Fowl-Americans producing stolen non-human animal products;
FIVE golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration, (Note: after members of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens, turtle doves, and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further Animal-American enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.)
FOUR hours of recorded whale songs;
THREE deconstructionist poets;
TWO Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses, and;
ONE Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.
Merry Christmas Happy Chanukah. Good Kwanzaa. Blessed Yule. Oh, heck -- Happy Holidays! (unless otherwise prohibited by law) and, of course, unless, you are suffering from Seasonally Affected Disorder. If this be the case, please substitute this gratuitous call for celebration with a suggestion that you have a thoroughly adequate day."
An odd couple indeed
A couple old friends created what may be the buzz of the season Sunday by co-authoring an article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Jono Miller has been an environmental activist since before it was fashionable, was protecting the environment during the time it was in vogue and is now still battling at windmills when environmental stewardship again appears to be on the wane.
Kerry Kirschner has been pro-development and business during the same period of time, through the same cycles as Jono but in reverse, and currently heads a powerful pro-biz group in Sarasota.
Finding two more opposites is definitely a task, yet the pair found common ground in an article about the often-beleaguered Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Their suggestion: if air travelers continue to expect the airport to be the be-all for getting somewhere else, that the airport "is the place all flying travelers drive to, park, and then get on a plane, we are programming ourselves for disappointment."
So why not consider the concept of "transportation" instead of "airport" when thinking of the facility, Miller and Kirschner said, and "switch the airport mission from packing people into planes to facilitating travel ... because more than wanting an airport, what people actually want it to be able to get where they are going."
Turn the airport into a multi-model transportation hub, the two offered. Have bus service located there, add a train depot, and provide some sort of service where you could park your car there, check your luggage there, then get transported to another airport's front door, jump on the plane and go somewhere. No muss, little fuss.
"It lets go of the obsession that people have to land on our runway," they said. "The goal is not to wear our the runway, but to meet people's travel needs. Instead of pretending Tampa and fort Myers airports aren't real competitors, it embraces the reality that those facilities work better for some travelers."
And, as Miller put it, it also gets people out of their passenger cars and into alternative modes of transportation.
A few months ago, a buddy caught a ride to Tampa for a flight back to a class reunion in Iowa. He figured he'd catch an airport limo on his way back to get home to Sarasota, or rent a car or take a cab or something. No big deal, right?
Ha. His flight got into Tampa at 7:30 p.m. The airport limo wasn't running just yet, but it should be by any time. By 11 p.m., the limo was definitely out for the day. Car rental was $80 at every business in the airport, about the same fee he'd paid for a week's car rental in Iowa. Cab fare was about $200.
Finally, a bunch of them caught a cab to the bus terminal in downtown Tampa where, after a delay of a couple more hours, the exhausted travelers got on a Greyhound for about $18 for a trip to Sarasota via the scenic route featuring stops in St. Petersburg and Bradenton.
He finally got home at 4 a.m., better than eight hours after he'd gotten to Tampa. His Tampa-Sarasota adventure took about twice as long as his Iowa-Tampa airline flight.
So as you're waiting in line at some airport or another this busy travel season, think about multi-modal transportation offerings rather than the huge inconveniences that travel entails these days. Your blood pressure may drop as a result.
Manatee art contest this holiday season
Here's something your middle-school-age kids or grandkids can do during the holidays -- enter the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Manatee Decal Art Contest.
The winning artwork will become the design for the 2004-05 manatee decal," according to the FWC. "Finished decals are full-color, waterproof and designed to stick on boats or other vehicles. Each year the decals are available, through county tax collector offices, to individuals who donate $5 or more to the Save the Manatee Trust Fund. Money from the sale of decals supports manatee protection efforts such as rescue, rehabilitation, research and public education."
Deadline is Jan. 30, 2004, and sale of the decals raised more than $70,000 in 2002-03.
Students will need to work through their art teachers, who will submit the artwork to the FWC," the state agency said. "Each middle school is allowed to send up to five entries for consideration in the contest."
Art teachers can request a copy of the contest rules and requirements from the FWC by calling (850) 922-4330, or go Online at www.myfwc.org.psm or www.floridaconservation.org/psm.
The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, according to statistics within the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, has 175 inbound and outbound flights per week, with a passenger count in 2003 that is 4.5 percent less than in 2002. The current fiscal year budget for the airport is a little more than $15 million. The bulk of the budget comes from concessions and rental at the airport, and airline rates and charges.