Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s a nice – if hot and humid – Sunday morning here in Lithia, Florida on the second weekend of meteorological fall, or what passes for fall in the Sunshine State.
Because of our geographic location in the subtropics, we experience the four seasons quite differently from folks in the upper latitudes; seasonal changes here are subtler than, say, in northern Georgia or Wisconsin, and most Floridians only refer to two seasons, dry and wet, with the Atlantic hurricane season as the asterisk to the wet one.
As I first noticed when I moved back to Florida with my mother 50 years ago after living in Bogota, Colombia for almost six years, the wet season begins late in May and ends in late October or early November. This closely matches the duration of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1 and ends on November 31, although Mother Nature does not get the memo and tropical storms sometimes form either “early” or “late” days, or even weeks, before the official start of the season and after the season ends.
So, here we are, still in the “summer weather/wet season” pattern: rising temperatures and humidity levels in the morning, with plenty of sun and varying degrees of cloud cover, then increasing cloud cover and precipitation starting around 1 or 2 PM. If conditions are right, cumulus clouds will morph into towering anvil-topped cumulonimbus clouds, and rain showers become thunderstorms. There are variables, of course, and sometimes the “boomers” predicted to pass through an area either never form or form elsewhere, or they’ll transit through the area quickly because the wind currents steering them are strong and fast.
And, sometimes, the reverse happens; a squall line will linger overhead for hours, soaking the ground with torrential downpours and creating spectacular displays of intense lightning strikes punctuated by loud crackling booms of thunder that sometimes recall an artillery barrage like those you see in a documentary about World War II – or Korea, or Vietnam, or Desert Storm.
Some people love thunderstorms and look out at them from a window or even from their open front doorway.
Others, including me, don’t love them so much. I used to be frightened by thunderstorms when I was a kid, especially if they were “danger close” and hovered over our homes in Miami for what seemed like forever. Now that I’m pushing 60 – ugh, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around that – I don’t fear them as much, but I still don’t like them.
Yesterday, for instance, was one of those days that fit the “summer pattern” almost perfectly, except for the time of day when the thunderstorms rolled in. Instead of a hot, sunny morning, Saturday, September 10 in Fish Hawk Ranch – the name of the Tampa Bay area development where I live now – started out as a rainy day in the morning hours, and the thunderstorms didn’t wait till after one in the afternoon to make an appearance.
Luckily – for me, anyway – the wind currents from the Gulf of Mexico were strong, fast, and blew the thunderstorms away to the east at a fast clip, so we here in Lithia were not in the shadow of the mighty cumulonimbus clouds for as long as I thought we might be. As a result, I was able to use both my desktop and laptop computers, and I even got to listen to some classical music on my Amazon Music app that’s linked to the Roku on the family room set.
I didn’t do anything constructive yesterday – other than writing yesterday’s blog post, that is. I played one of my “adults-only” games (I can’t play Regiments or any other war game every day, after all) for a while, then puttered about on Facebook and kept checking on the progress of my package with Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection.
Apropos of that, the tracking data for that $119.99 order shows no changes from yesterday; my package is currently at the UPS facility in Lakeland – 19 miles away as the delivery truck drives – and it’s still scheduled for a Wednesday, September 14 delivery.
I assume that since Amazon decided to send it via UPS SurePost rather than by regular UPS Ground or its own Amazon Prime delivery division, UPS is going to transfer my package to the Post Office some time tomorrow; it’s Sunday – as well as Patriot Day, the name chosen in 2002 to denote the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – so the Post Office is closed today. I also assume that UPS will make the handover either at the Lakeland or Lithia Post Office branch, which will then do what is known as “last mile delivery.”
I normally don’t get antsy – or angsty, if you like – over all of my Amazon orders, but I do get nervous when I am expecting any orders in the $100-plus price range. I get that Amazon likes to use different shippers to fulfill its customers’ orders. I also remember a time, not that long ago, when orders from Amazon took an average of 10 days to reach my former home in Miami. Now that the huge e-retailer has warehouses in most of the U.S. and its own delivery service, most of us who shop on Amazon are used to getting our packages in one or two days. I admit it…the occasional delay does worry me, but especially in cases involving pricey items – such as Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture 6-Movie Collection.
As for today being the 21st Anniversary of the abovementioned terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda, I just must marvel at the fact that a baby born on that terrible, tragic, and unforgettable day is now a young adult old enough to legally purchase such things as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and other items that “mere” 18-year-olds can’t.
That young adult obviously did not see the live TV reports about the three hijacked airliners that struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, or the stories about the passengers and surviving crewmembers of the fourth jet – United Airlines Flight 93 – who prevented the Al-Qaeda terrorists from hitting either the White House or the U.S. Capitol by overcoming some of the hijackers who were in the main cabin, then battering their way into the cockpit and forcing the hijackers at the controls to crash the plane in a field near Shanksville, PA. Nevertheless, the lives of every kid born on this date on September 11 have been experienced in a different world from folks who remember the world as it was on September 10,2001.
Another observation – September 11, 2001 is now so far back in the rearview mirror of American life that we have lived through four different Presidential administrations: Bush II (2001-2009), Obama (2009-2017), Trump (2017-2021), and Biden (2021-ongoing).
I don’t want to write anything more about September 11 except to say that today I ordered The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, a 2019 book by Garrett M. Graff, the author of this year’s Watergate: A New History. I have a few books that focus either on the hunt for Osama bin Laden or the emergence of Al-Qaeda and the intelligence community’s efforts to deal with its violent terror campaign against America, but I’ve always shied away from a detailed history of The Day itself.
I ordered the hardcover edition of The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 – which is only a couple of dollars more than the paperback – this morning and has a delivery window of September 14-20.
I don’t have any other news to share, and I do have a few things to do before the weather deteriorates, so I will close for now. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and always stay indoors during a thunderstorm.
 Or, as irreverent comedians refer to my native state, America’s Wang.