Climate Scientists Issue Second Warning: We Are Killing the Earth

We are killing our planet. Humanity received a first warning from scientists who specialize in the environment in 1992.

Nothing changed. Exploitation of our planet for her resources–often in the most rapacious and unsustainable ways–has only accelerated. The Paris Agreement is a very substantial step in the right direction, but is only now beginning to be implemented.

The tRump Administration has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, taken steps to gut the E.P.A., is trying hard to eliminate incentives to use wind and solar and killed through Executive Orders every possible policy put in place by previous administrations to safeguard the environment.

The overall situation has gotten much worse, with only one issue relating to the earth’s degradation improving–that being the hole in the ozone layer of our atmosphere–and all other indicators sliding downhill far faster than climate scientists feared.

And now a second warning has gone out. We’ve been put on notice. Twice.

It’s time–way past time, actually–to pull our heads out of the rapidly-warming sand, try to mitigate this damage and begin to heal the earth.

Our survival depends on it.

 

 

Benjamin Lawrence Basile

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar
13500 John Young Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837

Call 407 206-5039

I’ve dined at the Applebee’s location in the Hunters Creek area of Orlando many times. If you’re from metro Orlando or visit much, you probably know that’s very close to the tourist area and only a mile from the Osceola county line. But this one is mostly patronized by locals, many of whom work in the tourism industry.

I’ve eaten at seven Applebee’s locations all total and this one is not very different from the others. I like the crew here, the bartenders especially and go there fairly often. I still have not tried the dining room, opting to sit at the bar. Sean and Ariana and a couple of other crew members have always taken good care of me. They have a decent beer selection and the “always happy hour” thing is awesome. That’s 2 for 1 ALL DAY, but on domestic drafts only. Beer lovers, you gotta love that!

There are seven or eight TV screens in the bar so there’s always something good on. This location has become my go-to spot for sports viewing, especially for games I can’t get at home. However, they don’t carry the pay-per-view events, such as UFC fights or those PPV championship boxing matches.

I like just about everything I’ve tried here and can recommend several appetizers. The Spinach and Artichoke Dip is always good, as are the Mozzarella Sticks; but my fave is the Sriracha Shrimp. Just the right amount of heat, you can’t beat this one!

I usually dine solo so I haven’t had a chance to go the “2 Entrees for $20” route, but it looks like a good value. What I had on my last visit was the Bourbon Street Steak and it was damn near perfect. And their garlic mashed potatoes are to die for!

The one draw back here is that their usual good service is not so good when the place fills up. I don’t like it, but it’s a common thing at chain restaurants. Management in chains are very, very focused on payroll costs and you can’t really staff for the hour and a half of each day when the place “blows up” as you’d have too many crew members for the other 80% of the shift. I get it, but I don’t like it. I hasten to add that it’s no worse here than most places I’ve visited.

This Applebee’s is quite family friendly. If fact, you’ll find many families with school-age kids seated in the bar area on just about every night. If you still have small ones in your posse, you can be seated wherever you like, bar included. (Not AT the bar, but in the bar area!)

Quick summary: moderate prices, great place to watch sports, good service, decent beer selection and very tasty menu offerings.

One more thing: there is a designated entrance to pick up take out orders on the north side of the building. Your order will be waiting in the bar area.

A little info to help you find it: this A-bee’s is an out building in a very large shopping complex and there’s lot of parking. It’s not all that easy to see from John Young, especially if you’re northbound. It’s across JYP from the Gator’s Dockside which is much easier to spot, so look on the west side of the road. The complex is just a wee bit south of where the 417 exit for John Young cuts through.

 

Bulldog thinks the menu is one of the best things about Applebee’s.  View it here:

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

A Visit to My County’s Ag Extension Service

A Visit to My County’s Ag Extension Service

Some of you may know that I’ve been wanting to find ways to grow stuff. I had a ball gathering some ideas at Orlando’s Veg Fest nine days ago. There were hundreds of companies, growers, educators and agencies who rented tables for the event; one of them was the Orange Country (Fla) Agricultural Extension Service, and those folks were very helpful to me. The University of Florida’s Ag Dept cooperates with each of Florida’s 67 counties, and many of them do great work in helping their residents who engage, or–as in my case–hope to engage in anything related to agriculture.

I found the folks who were staffing the OCAES table at Veg Fest to be very, very helpful. They had stacks of publications on a thousand topics relating to growing things, permaculture, landscaping and green living and so on, and I took about ten or so. And they very patiently answered my questions, gave suggestions and told me about other resources which they believed would be helpful to me.

Because I found them to be so helpful, I decided to pay a visit to their Conway Road location in south Orange County. I made it out there last Monday and I’m glad I did. Way back in 2006, I scored a free tree from them when they were located much closer to the family homestead, but I had not seen the new and much bigger campus since the move. And, yes, I got a few good pix out of my visit to this new-to-me location.

The gardens there are lovely. There’s plenty there for folks who like to dig in the dirt, whether they’re mostly into landscaping and flowers, or, like me, stuff you can harvest and eat. You probably noticed the pergola that welcomes visitors in the banner photo; here’s a closer view of this inviting structure’s roof which I think makes for a pretty good photo:

I do enjoy seeing the landscaping or aesthetic side of what they do at the Ag center. Here’s a shot that features some mighty fine landscaping that any gardener would be proud to display or would look amazing at any park or place of business, too:

When the visitor gets a little further into the grounds, they’ll find the part of the gardens devoted to agriculture, to growing things we can cook and eat. Because I’ve done plenty of the “pretty stuff” and am now focused on microfarming, this is the part of my visit I liked best. And for some reason, this spiffy little shed attracted my attention and I just had to get a shot or two:

The staff has been so helpful to me, both at Veg Fest and when I came for my visit. I’ve gathered some very good ideas and will soon be planting. This is going to require some serious planning and preparation, as I have a small and very shady yard, but grow stuff I will!

If you’re also here in Central Florida, I recommend you stop by and take a look at the facility and their lovely gardens. You can find the Orange County Agricultural Extension Service at 6021 So. Conway Rd, that’s just a bit north of where Conway meets Judge Road. The hours of operation can be found here on their web site or by calling them at 407 254-9200.

 

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Bulldog Needs to Get Back to Butterfly Heaven Soon!

Moss Park. Lots and lots of Butterflies. That was back in the springtime and it was an outdoor excursion I’ll always treasure. One of the best EVER for this puppy, sans un doute! (Can’t beat Florida in the spring if you’re a butterfly buff!)

I have posted with a few pics from the trip–that was in March of this year for any who’d like to see those photos–but today I have some that have not lived anywhere off my hard drive until now.

The one featured here is a fave. But I have plenty of others. That, of course, will be another post on another day…

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Going to Winn Dixie for Milk, Beer, Pepsi and a Baby Sitter!

Going to Winn Dixie for Milk, Beer, Pepsi and a Baby Sitter!

 

I’ve just got to post today about a memory that came up recently for me; it’s about going through the super market with your kids–looking for babysitters.

Our youngest had very curly, very red hair and people noticed him when we were out in public. In those days, there obviously was no craigslist, so if you needed sitters–which we did for our brood of three–church was option one but the grocery store was option two! (And, yes, sons one and two were terribly cute, as well!)

Here’s how that worked: once we were in the check out line, the cashier would, without fail, notice little Benji sitting in the cart and say “oh, that little guy is sooooo cute!” And I would say “he sure is! How would you like to baby sit him?” And we got three different sitters for Benji and his two big bros that way, including Traci, who was with us for almost a year. She didn’t stop sitting for us until she got a job interning for then Florida Senator Paula Hawkins.

Back in the ’80s, grocery stores pretty much filled cashier jobs with young women who were of baby sitting age. This technique would probably not work so well these days. I go back to when many young men made money by mowing lawns and their sisters often baby sat. There are many, many more ways to make part-time money now, but back in the ’80s when our kids were small, the local supermarket was a great place to find new–and good–sitters for those darling kids at home.

 

 

With this little walk down memory lane, I am,

 

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

Bulldog Carries a Lot of Gear While Cruising the Camping Trail

Bulldog Carries a Lot of Gear While Cruising the Camping Trail

If you’ve taken a look around here on my blog, you know I love to camp. Some folks are into backpacking and carry everything they need on the camping trail on their backs. I’m going to try that one day.

Some folks are into RV’s. Good option for campers with deep pockets but to me it’s like taking a small apartment with you on your outdoor adventure.

My preferred camping style is somewhere in the middle. The term “car camping” is heard a lot on sites and blogs that cover “camping stuff” and that’s the way this puppy rolls! (By the way, the term does not refer to sleeping in the car.)

You’d be amazed at how much gear I can fit into my 2006 PT Cruiser. I added a car-top carrier about ten months ago and I tote around a lot of gear with my rear seats folded down. (PT Cruisers have a rear hatch.) In fact, I carry way more than I need.

I’m big on my tent, the Coleman Picton II. And, yes, you can see it in the Featured Photo for this post. My camping domicile measures 10’×10′ 6″ and is very comfy for one or two happy campers. (Shown here from the back side with the rear vent deployed.) They say it could sleep up to eight, but that would be sardine-style! It’s designed to keep you warm and dry in winds up to 45 mph, believe it or not. If rain is not in the forecast, I like to keep the rain fly off. Makes for comfy, breezy nights. More about that in a minute…

The tent is just over 5′ high and that’s just right for me to change clothes in. I’m not very tall so that works out fine. I don’t like sleeping bags or cots, though I have a good cot. I’m into sleeping in hammocks or recliners. I have a camping recliner that works very well; it’s the camping equivalent of a Lazy Boy (but can be carried by 1 person) and has the added bonus of eliminating the worry of acid reflux being a big deal and spoiling my camping fun. The docs tell me to never sleep laying completely horizontal anyway; so a camping recliner is a great way to go!

One other bonus of sleeping in a recliner: if I didn’t need to use the rain fly, in a recliner I can see the stars through the tent ceiling! It’s a great thing, one of the reasons I camp so much! Seeing the boughs of trees above–same awesome pay-off!

I have two different one-burner stoves, one propane, the other uses the “shorty” composite propane/butane tank. That one is so tiny when folded for travel. Most cooking, though, is with my Texsport 2-burner; you could think of this as a “store brand” Coleman 2 burner stove. Just a bit cheaper. It’s been a champ. It’s easy to clean and when folded is really easy to carry around. It uses the 1 lb propane tanks you can buy anywhere; if you have the adapter, you could use your big 4.5 lb propane tank.

I carry three tables with me, one three-footer that uses the screw-in table legs that store under the table itself when not set up. The other two are the type that fold/unfold easily and snap together; those are 18″x18″ and 24″x24″ and are handy in or out of the tent. The three footer is the main thing in the tent but is not bad for cooking with my two-burner stove at sites where that standard over-sized picnic table is not provided.

I could easily put together another post about all the lanterns, flashlights, torches and miscellaneous small gear and tools I take along. It’s a lot of stuff. I’m not going to walk down that blogging path right now, but the main take-away is that if you decide to try the car camping method, you’ll probably be amazed at how much gear you can take along! A 30 ft RV is NOT required to have fun camping!

And besides, camping is way too cool to leave to the RV crowd! I’m not downing those folks at all. But campgrounds are mostly designed with RV’s in mind. In fact, there are destinations that have “campground” in their name don’t accommodate tent campers at all! They’re NOT campgrounds, they’re RV Parks! That’s a pet peeve of mine and I really like sites that don’t treat car campers, aka tent campers, as second-class citizens!

As I type this, I have a reservation to camp later this month at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake. I really love their tent sites even though it’s straight-up primitive camping. But regardless of where you prefer to pitch your tent, there’s nothing like camping for those of us who love to get outdoors. I do a lot of it, but not nearly enough! Get out of the house and out into nature, people! You’ll be glad you did!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile