January 31, 2012

Primary Day

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The Republican primary is today in Florida. We have a closed primary system here, which means you have to be registered as a Republican in order to vote in the Republican primary. Sarasota County is still considered Republican territory, although, as I recall, the McCain-Palin ticket carried it by just 200 votes or so in 2008.  (Sarasota city residents are another story, voting quite Democratic.)  A rally for Newt Gingrich supposedly drew 4,000 people here last week during a work day.  Personally, I haven't seen much interest here in the primary.  (I found this yard sign down in Ft. Myers, a Republican stronghold.)  For the most part, the political ads I've been seeing on TV are anti-Newt.   The latest poll I read has Mitt Romney defeating Newt by double digits.  Whoever takes the primary, I'm sure I'll hear it dissected 552 different ways on Wednesday. The Republican National Convention is up the road in Tampa this summer.   Buckle up!  It's gonna be a bumpy political ride until November.

January 30, 2012

Winter Bloom

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I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it blooms during the winter here in Florida. And, as you can see, it's quite eye catching.  The tree is the size of a large oak and it's filled with these beautiful colorful flowers -- just one of the many reasons I love the Sunshine State this time of year.

January 26, 2012

R & R

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In this case, R & R stands for Roger & Rafa. One of the greatest sports rivalries played out yet again on Centre Court at the Australian Open today (in the wee hours of the morning -- 3:30 a.m. EST): Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal. Gosh, I enjoy watching them in action! Recently, I framed a few of my favorite pics and they're in the mix. It's rather nice seeing Rog & Raf smiling over my desk, especially during those hectic work days.  By the way, in case you missed the news...it was another good match between them, although Rog lost in four sets.  

January 25, 2012

Banana Rama Produce

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I stumbled across this produce stand in rural Sarasota County, when I went for a drive a couple of weekends ago. Between the rusty tin roof, weathered paint and American flag flying, it was just too irresistible for me to pass by. It's called Bananarama Produce. And even though it's located way out in the country, they're quite busy selling beans, bananas, oranges, tangerines and more. Linda, the co-owner, didn't mind me snapping pics and even was kind enough to give me a tangerine plucked from a nearby tree which was quite tasty. Thanks!

January 24, 2012


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During the holidays, gasoline prices were on a downward trend dropping quite nicely (although no where near what they should be in reality).  Just before Christmas, it was $3.27/gallon for regular unleaded.  And, now look at the price.  Up 24-cents in one month.  If this trend continues we'll be at $4/gallon by April.

January 17, 2012

Miakka School House

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I just love little old school houses, like this one, the Miakka School House. According to an historic marker, it was constructed in 1914 for a whopping $1,400.  It was the first public school to be constructed using school bonds in Manatee County, which is a little confusing because this site is located in Sarasota County.  (Turns out, 7 years after the school opened, the area became known as Sarasota County.)  Although the school house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, I'm not sure about its status now and whether it's open to the public.

January 16, 2012


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This bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. is located at MLK Park in Sarasota. Inscribed below is a quote from the civil rights leader which reads, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  If you happen to be in the Sarasota area, there's a celebration of MLK's life at the park noon - 6 p.m. today.  

January 15, 2012

Budding Bud

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About 50 yards down the road from yesterday's photo, I spotted this sight: a flower poking out of a Bud Light bottle securely fastened to a barbed wire fence. The flower was fresh and a few cigarette butts lined the bottom of the bottle.  Makes me wonder why someone would take the time to tie this to a fence in the middle of nowhere.

January 14, 2012

Tangerine and Blue

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It's a perfect time of year to go for a drive in the country here. I was in the middle of nowhere, east of I-75, when I encountered this citrus scene. I love the bright orange tangerines against the cobalt blue winter sky. It makes me wonder if perhaps this is how the University of Florida, a land grant college, came up with its school colors: orange and blue.

January 11, 2012

Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Granted, I could not see the rose color that's supposed to be on this woodpecker's belly to indicate that it is indeed a red-bellied woodpecker, but after scouring through my trusty Birds of Florida manual, I've determined it cannot be: a pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker or a red-headed woodpecker, which leaves the red-bellied. Anyway, I heard this little fellow pecking on a branch at Selby Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota.  Affter staring upward for awhile, I finally spotted him. Even with that shock of red, he wasn't easy to locate. One of my loyal followers in Houston (who happened to miss her flight from Tampa back to Texas due to a triple overtime football game - oops!) mentioned she recently saw a beautiful woodpecker and wished I would have been there to capture the moment.   Well, I missed that one....so, I offer this red-bellied instead.

January 10, 2012


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As soon as I saw this guy sitting outside Whole Foods in downtown Sarasota I had to meet him.  Look at that face...those droopy jowls...blood shot eye and unusual combination of colors!   Adorable.   His name is Hari and he's a 15-month-old English setter with a very sweet demeanor  -- such a gentleman.  I've encountered a lot of Irish setters, but never an English setter.  I must say, he's representing his breed well.  He just moved here from St. Pete (with his mom, Rosemary) and I think he'll fit in quite nicely in this dog friendly town.  During my brief meet-and-greet, three other people came up to say hello.  Welcome!

January 9, 2012

The Early Bird...

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...gets the bald eagle!  Armed with my Christmas binoculars, long lens, tripod, and a mug of hot coffee I set out before sunrise yesterday morning in search of my elusive eagle.  I drove by Ed Smith Stadium, spring home of the Baltimore Orioles, and didn't see him.  In the few minutes it took me to park and look up again, he had materialized high up on the third base lights just as the sun was rising. (Oh, he's tricky!)

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After basking in the warm sun for a bit, he took off heading south, most likely in search of breakfast.  Since I had my camera locked down on the tripod with a 2-second time delay, I was happy to get this one shot.  He's big, but he's fast!  I waited around for about 30 minutes, expecting him to return clutching a large fish in his talons, but alas, that will have to happen some other day.  By the way, there are no signs he has built a nest at the stadium (which he, or another eagle, did last year causing some issues).

January 8, 2012

Thunder By The Bay

The first weekend in January typically is when Thunder By The Bay occurs in Sarasota. Thousands of motorcyclists descend upon downtown. Although this is the 14th annual event, it's the first time I've attended.  Let's take stock of the event:

The bikers couldn't mask their excitement to be in Sarasota.

They admired motorcycles...

...and strolled around downtown.   (I'm quite certain I was the only one in Ralph Lauren (turquoise tennis sweater) --- but no one seemed to notice or mind.)  

We all made our way to lower Main Street where a large stage was erected....

....and The Boneshakers, a Sarasota cover band, belted out some awesome Loverboy and Journey songs.

I stopped bopping and singing long enough to capture this shot of the drummer wailing "Doooon't Stop Belieeeevin!"  Great stuff!  If you happen to be in the Sarasota area, Thunder By The Bay is still going on tomorrow.   Check out the schedule of events, which includes a blessing of the bikes at 9 a.m.  By the way, I bumped into two loyal followers, Martin and Pat, who immediately inquired if I was going to post Thunder By the Way on SDP.   How nice is that?!  Great seeing you.  And, thanks for sending so many people to SDP.  (I'll mention it during my annual review with management.)

January 7, 2012

Bird on a High Wire

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Excluding the Photo of the Year, it's been quite awhile since I've posted a bird photo. I spotted this handsome red shouldered hawk along the "Hawk Corridor", which is what I'm now calling a portion of Fruitville Road. On this journey, I encountered 9 red shouldered hawks in a 2-mile stretch. Bird bonanza! In other ornithology news, a bald eagle has taken up residency near Ed Smith Stadium. I first noticed him a couple of weeks ago sitting atop the third base lights, and then, the other day he buzzed right over my car when I was driving by the stadium. Each time I've returned camera in hand, but he's proven to be elusive. I think I'm going to grab my new Christmas binoculars, long lens and tripod and head out early in the morning to find him.

January 6, 2012

Frost & Fog

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For those who think it doesn't get cold in Florida, I offer this photo.   I was on my way to work yesterday morning when I noticed this blanket of frost on the ground and steam fog rising from the pond.  Temperature:  a chilly 34 degrees.  It's not every winter day you see this sort of thing in Florida, so I couldn't resist pulling over for a quick pic (even though it meant parting from my toasty seat warmer).  Fortunately, I had a camera on hand since I recently decided to store an old point-and-shoot in my car for unexpected photo opps like this one. Also, luckily, this cold front blew in after my friend from Michigan left, otherwise I suspect he'd be requesting a refund from the Chamber of Commerce.

January 5, 2012

Plaza Art

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This oversized sculpture sits outside Plaza at Five Points right along the Five Points roundabout in downtown.   I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I like it, as well as the water feature.  The flagpoles you can see through the sculpture are in the middle of the roundabout...and just beyond that is the Zenith building.

January 3, 2012

Collegiate Spirit

There's nothing quite like a college football game! In my last post, I mentioned I attended the Outback Bowl, convenientally located in Tampa less than one hour north from SDP Headquarters.  It was a great venue. The game itself...well...all I can say is 'WOW'.  I've endured many Michigan State football nailbiters, but this one one takes the cake (or perhaps in this case the bloomin' onion).  MSU pulled off a come-from-behind victory (down 16-0 in the 3rd quarter) to win in triple overtime.  What I love about this Spartan team is their never say die attitude and Spartan spirit.  After blocking a field goal to win the game, the players celebrated on the field and made their way to the MSU fan section where, beaming with pride, they sang the Spartan fight song.  Fight!  Fight!  Rah team fight!  Victory for MSU!  What a sight to behold.  (By the way, I was so caught up in the moment I'm amazed any of my pics are in focus.)

January 2, 2012

So Far So Good

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So far, 2012 is shaping up quite nicely here at SDP Headquarters!   During the long holiday weekend, two good friends visited from Michigan and Texas.  Of course, we stopped by St. Armands Circle, where we spotted Neptune clutching a handful of fading balloons from the New Year's Eve celebration the night before.  It was such a fun, unexpected sight, I immediately thought it was SDP-worthy.  We also went to the Outback Bowl in Tampa yesterday to see my alma mater, Michigan State University, take on the University of Georgia.  More on that as soon as I recover from my team's heart stopping triple overtime victory. (Hopefully, within the next day or two.)  Go State!

January 1, 2012

Photo of the Year - 2011

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Happy New Year!  After much discussion, the SDP staff selected this as the 2011 Photo of the Year: a great blue heron with a fish head which had been tossed into Sarasota Bay by a fisherman.   What a fun capture!  As for my personal favorite for the year, which wasn't posted on SDP, here it is: Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon -- amazing!  I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and prosperous 2012.

This is the first theme day of the year for the City Daily Photo community.   Click here to view thumbnails for all participants