Land crabs and tourists

Land crabs looked like this after it rained a few decades ago.

I’ve noticed something – but maybe it’s nothing.

When I was a kid, come winter, every other car on the road was a foreign plate – you know, from a different state. It seemed that everyone drove down to Florida.

Over the years, that disappeared, I didn’t notice it until the last couple of years when the foreign plates showed up again. In droves (no pun intended).

I am guessing that maybe it had to do with the pandemic, and maybe people felt safer driving their own cars than being crammed up together in an airplane and I noticed it even more during the period when flights were being delayed or canceled by the thousands, I guess people felt they could depend on their own cars rather than the airlines. Also, I know it was very hard finding a rental, I tried, so I guess bringing your own car along was the thing to do.

Now I notice the cars with the out of state plates are gone. But the airlines are starting to cancel flights again, so who knows. But then again, it’s summer, so there really aren’t tourists here in summer.

Another thing I noticed when I was driving today was a large sign that warned people about land crabs. I don’t know if it was warning them not to drive over them or not to pick them up.

When I was a kid, that was an issue. After it rained, the streets were full of land crabs who were flooded out of their holes/homes. You had to be careful not to drive over them or they might puncture a tire. These crabs were all over – by the hundreds – they even appeared in back yard pools. They would break the screening around the pool areas and just end up in the water.

I have not seen that for years because of all the over-development. I thought the crabs disappeared due to that, so it was interesting seeing the sign today, warning people of the crabs. The sign might be left over from the big rains/tropical storm thing we had a couple of weeks ago. But again, I didn’t even know there were any land crabs to be warned about, I haven’t seen any in decades.

So far, as of today, I haven’t seen any tourists or land crabs. Things a good thing.

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The price of gas; and coffee

This cartoon from Friday really hit a nerve with people. It got so many shares, likes and comments, more than any other I think.

A lot of people were saying they didn’t like it because it made no sense – how can you compare one cup of coffee to gallons of gasoline? But the point of the cartoon is that if a guy buys a $5.00 cup of coffee, most likely he is doing it daily and most likely, he is doing it more than once a day, so for him to complain about the price of gas is disingenuous. Plus, anyone who buys $5.00 coffee really has no right to complain about the price of gas. It’s just a big metaphor. That’s all. Sort of like Elon Musk complaining about the price of a space rocket.

And yes, I know gas is more than $3.00. I was surprised to see some of the comments from Norway and other far away places where gas is $7.00 a gallon! But it was cleaner to read making it $3.00 a gallon rather than $3.79 a gallon or $3.99 a gallon or even $4.00 a gallon, since $4.00 was too close to the $5.00 amount of the coffee.

I was driving around my county the last few weeks and saw that gas in less populated areas is much less than popular and more upscale neighborhoods. Some differences as much as 50 cents a gallon and these places are harder to get to than popular neighborhoods and areas. So none of it makes sense other than supply and demand I guess.

And might I add that Shell gas stations are always more than any other station on any give day at any time of the year. I gave up buying Shell gas years ago. For spite I think they are higher in price. If one station is $1.99 a gallon, Shell, across the street is $2.29 a gallon. If gas is $3.79 at one station, at Shell across the street, it is $4.15 a gallon. I think they do it to see how many people are too lazy to drive across the street for the cheaper gas – and it’s not cheaper brands, it’s name brand gas that is cheaper than Shell. Always.

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Lines, lines, everywhere there’s lines

I’ve been all over the county this past month and every once in awhile as I’m traveling around by car, I come upon lines. They are out in the traffic lanes, usually spilling out into the right lane and they are endless. That’s where I got the idea for today’s cartoon.

I am assuming they are covid testing lines, or possibly they are vaccine lines or are they food giveaway lines? If we lived in a snowy area, I might assume they are snow delay lines, like what happened last week on I-95 in Virginia.

After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, our county – Miami-Dade, was devastated. There was nothing. No place to eat, no place to shop, no place to do anything. Devastation.

Every once in awhile as you drove around, you would see a line. And we would just get in the line. We didn’t know what the line was for, but we knew it was something we needed, because we had nothing left! So we would park the car and stand at the end of the line. Waiting, to see what was up front.

One time I was driving by Eckard Drugs with a friend, and we stopped. We got in line and when we reached the front, it was for batteries they were giving out. Another day, it was at another location and it was food, another time it was ice.

When I drive by these long car lines these days, it reminds me of that time so many years ago.

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I have to get out more

I drove 30 miles south from home and while down in Homestead (a city south of Miami), I stopped to get gas. My credit card was declined three times at two different gas stations.

Then later in the day, I got a call from Citibank, claiming my card was being used fraudulently. I had to confirm it was me using the card so they would unlock it. They said it was “out of my buying pattern.”

I guess I never really leave my neighborhood and I only buy gas around home, so when they saw the attempts to charge 30 miles away, they freaked out.

I’ve been thinking of taking a road trip. That’s going to be some experience every time I attempt to buy gas along the way.

I remember when I used to go from one end of the county to the next – all in one day, for work – the county is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. And there was a period where I drove 100 miles a day, just to hang out with friends, night and day. Now I usually drive about three miles a day. But the weird thing about this incident is that I was using the card in my own home county, still considered to be part of Miami. I am glad to see they are trying to stay on top of fraud though.

I remember some years ago, I got a call from American Express. They said their was fraud on my card. I asked how they know, they said someone was trying to buy motorcycle parts, and they knew that wasn’t me. About a month later, I got a call from Visa – they said something about fraud, too. Their reasoning was that someone was trying to by Avon, and they knew it wasn’t me. So I fall somewhere in between motorcycle parts and Avon!

I have protected the cards all these years – I use those protective sleeves and so far, so good. I had seen some people, try to skim my card, but luckily they didn’t get through the protective shield around the cards.

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Getting rid of my old car

I’m heading up north on Friday – Boston and New York and it’s been an issue trying to get rid of my old car.

It’s amazing how I said so many years ago that I would keep the car until I ran it into the ground and that seems to be the case. The car really doesn’t seem to be worth much.

I have kept up maintenance all these years – I’ve always been good about that. But for some reason, it’s all falling apart. The roof leaks (it’s a convertible), the electrical system is shot, the car shakes, which may have to do with the electrical system and quite a few other things. But until last week, it all was perfect, or so I thought.

I have the car at the service station, and they ended buying the car for peanuts. It burns me up that I have spent thousands of dollars there over the years – thousands of dollars some years alone, and they wanted to nickel and dime me over the price of the car. But I needed to get rid of it and the burden, before I leave town tomorrow.

Friends wanted to buy it and I was ready to just give it away, but I didn’t want to sell it or give it away to anyone I know. I don’t trust it and I didn’t want to sell or give away a problem car to someone where they will always have problems with it. My good gesture will end up bad.

I agreed to sell the car to Carvana and they were to come out yesterday to pick up the car and pay me, but they sent me an email canceling the whole thing because Carmax, the almighty Carmax, says the odometer does not match what I told Carvana it was, even though I had it verified and I sent a photo of the current odometer. How Carmax is accurate and I, the person in possession of the car, is not, I don’t know.

I finally decided to donate the car to a local charity. But I needed them to pick up the car by today. I never heard back from them to arrange the pick up. I gave them all the info over the phone and I then just waited, but I was getting antsy, so I sold the car to the service station instead, just to be done with it. And for the past few days I have picked up every strange phone number that called – all robocalls, but thinking that one might be the charity. None were.

As for my trip – I’m taking one of my usual Thanksgiving trips where I start off in Boston and then take the train down to New York. I wrote about one of the train trips in 2017 called “A delightful train ride,” where I overheard a couple of older ladies and their conversation the whole train trip – they sat behind me on the train. You can read that here.

UPDATE: After I sold the car for next to nothing, I received an email from Carmax. They corrected the error and it’s updated on their website. A day late and thousands of dollars short.

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It’s like I’m from another planet

I bought a new car the other day. I hadn’t had a new car in 16 years! What happened was, I always had cars for a few years, maybe five years the most. At one point I started leasing cars, so I had to turn them in every three years and I would then get a new car. But 16 years ago, I decided to buy a car and keep it until I ran it into the ground. And that finally happened – it is almost run into the ground.

My current car has electrical problems and with the pandemic and all, they can’t get the part or parts they need to repair it. So I panicked and I went and purchased a new car. I did try to rent a car for a week or more but again, due to the pandemic, there are no cars available to rent!

So anyway, I went to the dealership and bought a car. They said they usually have 200 cars on the lot, but now they only had 11 – pandemic again! I had to get a pre-owned car because the wait time for new cars is one year. Seriously.

I got in the car to test drive it and was lost. I couldn’t find the shift, “How do I put it in drive?” I asked. “How do I turn it off?”

It’s been so long with my current, “ancient” car that I was not up on all the new gadgets and blue tooth, etc. The new car almost looks like a cock pit. The staff at the dealership was laughing. What made them laugh more was that I didn’t take the car with me. I said I could come back the next day to pick it up. I didn’t want to wait around for it to be detailed. They couldn’t believe I would buy a car and not drive it out that day.

But that’s me. I like my old stuff. I don’t want a new tv or cell phone or computer or car, unless I am forced to get it. I am a creature of habit, as one guy at the dealership put it. Do I fear change? Maybe. I have friends who are out the first day that a new iphone is available or a new tv. But not me.

Of course I’ve been in many cars that are new and modern, but I guess I’m not paying attention to the dashboard, I’m looking out the window as others drive.

My cousin had called to say hello the other day and we were talking about my new car. He was telling me things like how the key fob works and how the Bluetooth works and things like that. It made me feel like I was a 15 year old kid learning to drive for the first time. Truth be told, my 16 year old car has a key fob and it took about 12 years for me to realize that the locks were not broken on the car, it was the key fob that made them appear to always be unlocked. I just thought I was living on the edge by not having the car locked, when I finally realized it was the fob in my pocket allowing the car to be unlocked.

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Saved by an angel?

An angel over a car accident

I’ve been waiting to hear from my Mom, you know, some sort of signal, but nothing yet. When my brother passed we all heard from him the first week, then he disappeared. I had a friend jak, who passed away and for two years, I would feel his presence in the passenger seat of my car. Never in the house, but always in the car. His songs would play on the radio and I just had a sense that he was there next to me as I drove around.

But I think my mom saved me from a bad accident yesterday.

I had a friend visiting for a couple of weeks and yesterday he was headed home. We were out and about all morning and my car was fine, but at 1:30 pm, we jumped in the car so I could take him to the airport and it wouldn’t start. I kept trying and nothing. It wound not turn over. So he ended up taking Uber to the airport.

About an hour later, I was arranging to have the car towed to the service station in the morning and I ran out to get the license number. While I was there, I tried starting the car again and it turned over perfectly! I turned it off, turned it on again and same thing, it started perfectly. I drove it to the service station to have it looked at and Ubered home.

I thought that that was quite strange. Then I thought, what if Mom was protecting my friend and me from a bad accident as we drove to the airport? What if she made the car not work and then it started normally just a short time later?

I have been saved in traffic situations in the past by people from the other side. I just know it. I’ve almost been in accidents where I knew they were going to happen and nothing happened. Not too long after my brother passed, I was almost in an accident. The truck was coming right at me, I steeled myself for a side door impact and nothing happened. It was as if by magic, the oncoming, speeding truck missed me. It was as if it just drove through me and ended up on the other side of my car.

An angel over a truck

A few years back a friend was telling me about a dream he had where his mother, who had passed, told him she had protected me in an accident. As he described the details, I remembered the incident from about 10 years earlier. He had every single detail right – the color of the car, the type of car, the location, and even that the guy was on a cell phone, which caused him to drive through the red light. A brick phone at that!

At the time I couldn’t explain how my car squeezed into the size of an inch between two cars. Literally, the car had to squeeze that small for me to have survived that accident. I could never wrap my head around it, but I knew at the time it was some sort of divine intervention and when my friend explained it all 10 years later, regarding his late mother’s intervention, it made sense.

I’ve had quite a few incidents like that. Am I a bad driver or is it others? I believe it’s others, but either way, I was saved from terrible accidents by divine intervention and I wonder if that was the case yesterday where my car would not start when needed and then when not needed an hour later, it started without any hesitation.

UPDATE ON THE CAR: The service station called me this morning. There is not a thing wrong with the car. It starts up perfectly. It starts right up. THANKS MOM!

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Simple car and Uber issues

I had to go back and get something done on my car yesterday – flat tire. So I left the car and had to take an Uber back and forth. I made sure I had my phone on me at all times, didn’t want to go tracking it down again.

I didn’t know it was a flat tire, I thought it was a fan belt, because of the flapping noise the car made when I drove. The tire was not fully flat, so it was letting air out slowly and that’s why I didn’t know it was the tire. I had looked up what the sound could be online and it suggested the fan belt. I was telling the mechanic that’s it’s like WebMD, where you look up your symptoms and then you think you’re dying when you have a simple cough or something. Same with the car symptoms.

I brought the car in very early and the tire was fixed by 8:30 am, when he called me to pick it up.

Anyway, the Uber drivers – let’s talk about them. I had two, one to get home from the shop and one to go back and pick up the car. The first one and I talked the whole drive. He was very friendly and we talked about everything – but mostly about how over-developed Miami is these days, we reminisced about the old days.

The second driver didn’t say much. I had to force to say something every once in awhile, just to not appear rude in the back seat. It’s funny how people give off such different vibes.

Another thing I noticed is that each takes a different route to get to and from the same place. Even last week when I took Uber back and forth from getting work on the car, I noticed it. I guess their GPS adjusts to traffic patterns now, like Waze does.

In the past, I would tell them how to go, you know, how to take shortcuts; even going to the airport I would do that. But more than once we got stuck in traffic or hit a detour, so I keep my mouth shut now.

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No shift, Sherlock

I didn’t think people would get today’s cartoon, but I’ve been living by Jason Chatfield‘s credo – “Don’t curate your art to what gets likes. Curate it to what you like.” So I did and people do get it. At last count, there over 2000 shares on Facebook!

Originally I did this cartoon years ago and it was Watson handing Sherlock a dress, which is called a “shift,” which I remember from my grandmother for some reason, she must have used that word. And he says, “No shift Sherlock,” handing the shift back to Sherlock, and the explanation is, “Watson does not like this week’s disguise.”

But I didn’t think people would understand that “shift” is a dress. According to a blog called Who, What Wear, “A shift dress refers to a short dress that hangs straight down from the shoulders with clean, simple lines.” But who knew except my grandma and me.

He protests too much

I just left my car for service early this morning – a tune up, Schedule A service.

I took Uber home. I see they charge a booking fee now on top of the regular fee. Strange. How else would I get them, wave them down to save on the booking fee? Just add that fee to the cost of the ride rather than nickle and dime people, right?

A friend texted me and asked me to meet him for breakfast. I had breakfast early this morning, about 7 am, so I didn’t want to go to breakfast, but also, I am incapacitated until the car is done later. So I’m stuck at home, although I guess I could have taken an Uber to meet him.

He could have picked me up you say? No, he can’t, because in Miami, a car-based city, he doesn’t have car. He bikes it all over. He is an older guy, in his 70s and to his credit, he rides miles a day – sometimes as much as 60 miles a day!

When I told him I left the car for service, his reply was, “I’m so glad I don’t have a car.” Which makes me think he wishes he had a car, because why say such a thing? We all chauffeur him around when he can’t take his bike places.

And he is totally against social media, too.. I think it’s because he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand. He puts down social media daily. He sends me articles constantly on how bad it is, how they are stealing our personal info, etc. etc.

Rather than just not say anything, he likes to put social media down, like he does my car or anyone’s car – because he doesn’t have a car.

Ironically, he used to work for the city and he had a city car and he would bring the city car home, which maybe was not allowed, because quite a few years back he was written about in the newspaper and blogs and scrutinized about using the company car for person reasons. So maybe that’s why he has an aversion to cars. Although he has had his own car after that situation and he did pick me up many times to go out and hang out.

He did tell me yesterday that the best thing he ever did was give up his car and use his bike, which I can believe. I told him I missed the gym and he suggested I get a bike, but I miss the free weights, not cardio. So a bike will do me no good in that regard.

He has a new bike now, it folds up. It looks so silly when we are at lunch or wherever, because it looks like a wheelchair or something folded up beside him, then he unfolds it and rides off.