Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Floridian Invasion Part II: Cocoa Beach and Miami

Cocoa Beach/ NASA

Cocoa Beach is a pretty chill place located next to Cape Canaveral.  This is also home to the Kennedy Space Center.  My second day in Cocoa, I spent practically the whole time at the Space Center.  I think the next shuttle launch is April 29th.  NASA is probably one of the few federal government agencies that I'm incredibly supportive of.  I would like to see more emphasis on this kind of forward thinking rather than our government busying itself trying to care for us from cradle to grave.  

Story Time:

Bouncing at the Sandbar?
Some of you saw my facebook status about taking a job as a bouncer so I thought I take a second to explain that one.  When I was a youngin' I saw the Patrick Swayze movie "Roadhouse"(probably too young the first time I saw it) and since I was a kid I always thought bouncing would be a cool thing to do.  I stopped in at a place called the Sandbar, which was a short walk from the motel I was staying at and I was told they have some good live music there.  Sometimes when I get bored, I'll strike up a conversation with a bouncer, server, bartender, whomever.  This time, I talked to the bouncer.  After talking to him for a while, we got into a conversation about bouncing as a job and how I always thought it'd be cool, without hesitating the guy (Mike) told me they were going to be hiring a couple more here soon to get ready for the busy season.  He ran and got his manager and I basically did an ad hoc, informal interview in which the manager told me I looked "healthy enough", big enough, I then hyped up my little bit of martial arts experience.  They basically said they rarely have to throw anybody out, so I flirted with the idea of staying in Cocoa for the spring and summer and bouncing...how cool would that be?  As cool as it may have been when I was 21 or 22, it would be major backtracking for me now, but it was fun to think about the possibility.  Jokingly, I tried to get an employee discount on my purchases.    

Surfer Dan:
My last day in Cocoa I got up early to get some surfing lessons in at Ron Jon's Surf Shop.  When I walked in an interesting looking fellow, probably close to 50 years of age approached me...he had a pony tail, lots of earrings and an interesting go-tee, he had the surfer look going on and he was to be my coach for the next hour or so.  Unfortunately, there were no waves, it was flat.  Dan was kind enough to show me some stuff free of charge since the waves were flat and I didn't really get to surf....what would have cost me $40 bucks cost me nothing and I still got 25 minutes worth of lessons.  Surfer Dan (he actually has another nickname that I can't remember) had an interesting story.  About 18 years ago he was driving home one night and his car got caught up underneath of a tractor trailer.  He had to have part of his face reconstructed and was told that he would never be able to walk without a crutch from then on out.  In his early 30's, shortly after this he was depressed until he discovered surfing.  As soon as he got on that board he forgot about his pain and walks around fine to this day (you can't even really tell that his face had to be reconstructed).  He said "it's therapeutic to me, I could be mad at something, but when I'm on that board, I may still be mad, but it doesn't bother me near as much".  He gives lessons to kids and is pretty well known around the area.  Dan was a really awesome guy and I highly encourage anybody who is in Cocoa and plans to take surfing lessons to take them from Dan and Ron's Surf Shop.  

What this taught me was the importance of having safety nets for happiness.  In addition to hobbies,  everyone should find something that is therapeutic and relaxing to them as well as something that is exhilarating and makes you feel alive.  Too much of one could make you lazy, and too much of the other could leave you with very low lows.  Find something that you can turn to when things get rough to take the stress away.

Ecclesiastes: Miami Edition

I may be one of a few people to ever say this, but I feel sorry for a lot of the people living in Miami, especially the South Beach area.  I stayed in Miami for 3 nights and lounged on the beach during the day, but honestly nothing exciting happened there.  I arrived on a saturday and spent literally a couple of hours in traffic and trying to find a hotel that was under 100 and had available rooms, the hostels were all booked.  I finally landed a hostel the last night I was there, Miami International Hostel, which actually was a pretty cool place.  I had 5 roommates:  2 from Paris, 2 from Munich and 1 from Amsterdam all of them except one of the Frenchmen spoke fairly good english.  I hit it off real well with the guys from France.  They were fairly politically knowledgeable as well, so I talked to them a bit about French politics..they were fairly to the left, weren't fans of Zarkosy, and thought the EU was a great thing.  The guy from Amsterdam, Sayeed, was probably one of the rudest people I've ever met.  Aside from him sitting on other people's beds, coming back to the dorm at 2 a.m. turning the light on and leaving it on until he was done doing whatever it was he was doing (which took 20 minutes), he also had the tendency to not know how to change his clothes in the bathroom rather than in the center room where all of us were sleeping.  Not aware of his surroundings or considerate of others, that perhaps sums up my perception of a lot of people there.

"Hot and Stuff"
Miami had some good cuban food though and I'll have to recommend Davids Cuban(?) off of Collins Street.  There was also a famous little pizza joint...I can't remember the name but my pizza box said "Hot and Stuff" so I'm assuming that was the name of the pizza place.  When I walked in, I didn't realize I was standing in a hall of greatness....I noticed that on the wall there were pictures of people who had visited this little place, people of such stature which towers that of R.E. Lee in comparison....it was that of Paris and Nikki Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Terra Reid,  and some others whom I didn't recognize nor care to.  They did not look very happy in their photographs.  

I say I feel sorry for some down there because the culture was incredibly materialistic.  Many nice cars, nicely dressed, and of course incredibly attractive people.  Not that there is any wrong with that by any means, but I would hate to live there b/c it's a lot to keep up with.  It's like chasing the wind.  My interactions with people left me with the feeling that many were defensive and snobbish.  In most places, I've been able to have some good long conversations with different people....and other than my french roommates, that didn't occur here in Miami.  I did meet another homeless person, and broke bread(power bar) with him after someone else walked past him waving a pizza in his face.  People there only seemed to only know how to communicate by car-horn.  The beach, however, was quite nice, and I had a nice run on the boardwalk.

As you can imagine, I didn't like Miami.  I didn't fit down there, not even in the business district.  The experiences inspired me to re-read the book of Ecclesiastes.  When I was reading, I noted a couple of things within it which  I found interesting:  While I hope you enjoy some of the passage below, I will admit my perspective on this book in the Bible is slightly critical.  The author, whom could have been Solomon, almost tends to devalue life entirely by devaluing everything within it that makes life...life.  It shows the hopelessness of life before Christ.  I only post these, b/c they touched on some things that have been passing through my head the past few weeks.  Here are just some of the things that jumped at me:

"After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine.  And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness.  In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world." ch 2 v 3...he goes on to talk about the futility of seeking riches, then the futility of hard work.

"Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors.  But this too is meaningless-like chasing the wind.  Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin." ch 4 v 4-5.  

"Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool." ch 5 v 3.

Politics & Work
"Don't be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land.  For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy."

"Those who love money will never have enough.  How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!"

"It is good for people to eat, drink and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them and to accept their lot in life."

On Wisdom & Fools:
Quotes from Ch. 7: "A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time...Control your temper for anger labels you a fool......Don't long for 'the good old days' this is not wise."

Ch. 8 v 1 "How wonderful to be wise, to anlayze and interpret things, Wisdom lights up a person's face, softening it's harshness."  

Ch. 10 v 3 "You can identify fools just by the way they walk down the street!"  (I've experienced this quite a few times already).

On Investments:
Ch 11 v 2 "Divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead."  

On Youth:
Ch 11 v 9 "Young people, it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it.  Do everything you want to do; take it all in.  But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.  Refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy.  But remember that youth, with a whole life before you is meaningless."

Chap 12 v 12 "My child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful for writing books is endless and much study wears you out."

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