Saturday, January 29, 2005


I just had a kid come in and plunk a handgun on my desk.

"Dr. Baird, you need to keep this thing for me. Otherwise, I'm gonna kill the bitch."

"OK. Wanta talk about it?"

"There's nothin' to say. Just take that fu**in' thing away from me."

And then he just marched out.... I know that he has been having trouble with his 'babymother' "stepping out" on him. You know... women troubles with the teen aged mother of his kid.

I know the feeling son. But I ain't gonna give the handgun back. The sheriff's gonna have that one. Nice Glock too.

How come these kids have better guns than their JPOs? I mean, that ain't no cheap Saturday night special. Actually, I never liked Glocks. I can't stand a semi stove-piping on me and my one foray into Glock ownership was with one that Bert at the gunshop in Sanford couldn't seem to get the ramps right. Plastic crap.

As Dax would say... just Damn.


Friday, January 28, 2005


We went around yesterday and got the mast sorted out. The guys at the marina want the thing out of their way so we moved it closer to the boat. The current logic is to just set the thing on the deck and then put it up when we can. I have to replace one of the chain plates before that momentous event can occur and I need to get the motor properly tuned before then so that we can move around in the berth. Busy busy busy.

Anyhow, I went and found Buddy at the Anchorage Marina there in Melbourne. His folks owned Nelson's Marina in Titusville where I kept my old boat for years and years and I got all hooked up with him to move over to his marina the first of next month. Once there I'll be among friends and things will be a lot better. Not that there's anything wrong with these folks, it's just that the place that I'm at is right out there in the open roadstead and I'm parked right in the surf. Not a happy place for someone who is a middle aged fat guy. It is tough to go aboard behind some guy who is in his 20s and stretches waaaay over there to step aboard when the boat is moving in a four foot arc in the chop. No fun.

I also went by Fauver's yesterday on my way back. He's the guy who is gonna make me some new chain plates. Busy busy busy.

One of these days I'm gonna get all caught up. Hopefully in time for the funeral. In the meanwhile, I've found another Cuban (Cuban/American) singer that I really like Karina Nuvo. She does a tune called cleverly enough "Cuba" that really kicks. I don't think that her record is completely out but I heard her on WLOQ the other day and just fell in love with her voice. I got a copy of the tune off the internet. Go look.


Saturday, January 22, 2005


----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Gilmartin
To: Bob Baird
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2005 7:52 PM
Subject: Stuff I Don't Know

> Bob:
> Tryin here to get thru your poetic style:
> What is this "drop station" for Juvies??
> Also: Nutrias ??? I know nothing. Help me
> on this.
> ...Danno
Dan --

A nutria is a South American rodent. Looks like a cross between a rat and a beaver and grows to aboout 20 pounds. Brasilian and Argentinian peasants live off the things. They dig out dens in the bank of rivers and lakes and generally make themselves unloved by property owners. But... a twenty pound edible rat!

The cops call the JAC a "drop station" because they can just drop a juvenile off and they are processed here and the cop can get back onto the street. Juveniles are a real problem for the cops because in spite of the fact that kids are often dangerous, their dependency status (juvenile and not sui juris) means that they can't just take them to 33rd St. The juvenile system exists so that these kids can be "assessed" to determine if they are a threat to the community. Before the JAC was created 10 years ago cops had to take a kid in to the station and get someone, like a judge, to determine if they needed to be incarcerated. Pain. The Juvenile Assessment Center in Orlando was the very first facility in the country to provide "one stop" service so that a cop could bring the kid to us and secure the reptile, get all the stuff the kid needs (detox, diversion, release functions similar to pre trial release, foster care handling, and on and on and on. I even do child protection investigation and home studies for DCF).

If I'd found this job twenty years ago I'd have quit teaching to do it. Think about how many times you've stood in front of a class and thought "Man, I wish I could MAKE that kid do what I want!" Well, if I'm a kid's JPO and he doesn't do what he's told... I'll put him in jail. I can feel you smiling Dan.


Sorry. I wasn't trying to talk in code. Bad habit.


Thursday, January 20, 2005


Well, it's been an interesting week. After struggling with the mountains of unfinished work at the office I started to see daylight. And... we had the 10th birthday of the JAC yesterday and that was fun. For those of you who care, I work at a drop station for the Department of Juvenile Justice... a "one stop shop" if you will, where the cops can just drop off arrested juveniles and have some reasonable expectation of the young reprobates getting needed services... as well as getting prosecuted appropriately. The main idea is to protect the public, but those kids are some taxpayer's pride and joy. The "other kids" that cause all the trouble are invariably the children of people who can't believe their precious babies could do such terrible things. The place was a very, very radical idea ten years ago when a collection of heavy hitting politicians gave the idea a try. A success story in local government. Gee... an idea in government that actually worked.

Anyhow, the same collection of politicians gathered for the 10th birthday so that they could pound each other on the back and talk about the good old days. Linda Chapin was there, Lawson Lamar, Schembri sent his right hand man, the sheriff sent his. We mere soldiers in the army of the fight to reduce juvenile crime (we process 35,000 criminal complaints a year... everything from shoplifting to multiple murders) were there to clap at all the approved places... and frankly, to admire the decade of hard work that went into the place.

We all got a nice catered lunch out of the deal. I had some kind of egg concoction. Quiche with broccoli, I think. It was OK. When the big wigs came around to my office after the speeches I had a kid in with me and I made the kid (we call them clients... he he) tell the good legislator what she had gotten out of the experience. She said that I was tough but fair and was the only cracker she had ever met that didn't want to f**k her. I thought it was funny. My secretary looked like she had swallowed a grenade. My immediate boss tried to apologize but the guy, a state Senator, just laughed it off and said that the child obviously was from Tallahassee... where the rest of his cabal of politicians are usually housed. I thought that was funny too.

I had a good time.

Later I was on the boat fishing for my dinner when a pair of nutrias swam past me. What's interesting about that is that I was just reading about the things on the faithful internet. The things are big rodents, getting up to 20 or 30 pounds, and have wreaked havoc with shorelines on the Gulf coast but are new arrivals in Florida. At least in the interior like in the St. Johns River.

I've got mixed feelings about the things. The are herbivorous. They aren't likely to bite any tourists. But they make dens in the shorelike like beavers and lots of folks hate them. I first saw them in South America twenty five yers ago when I was down there playing Indiana Jones without any reason. Just moving around avoiding real work. A sailor's life. Anyhow, the common people of Brasil and Argentina and everywhere live off the things. They're sort of like guinea pigs in the Peruvian mountain villages. Nothing fancy, but a great thing in a hungry world. Lunch.

There I was fishing for dinner off the back of my boat when two perfectly good 15 pound rats swam by. Hey! Break out the soy sauce. I think I smell something cooking.


Sunday, January 16, 2005


There's a small group of blogs that I touch base with every day. They're over there on the right. The Daddy of them all is Gutrumbles. That guy Rob is one of those free spirits that is always fun to watch. I suppose because he gets the juices flowing... but he also seems to get his buttons pushed about the same time and way that mine are.

He just took off on a rant about spammers. Now I suspect that he gets a lot more personal mail than I do because he's the kind of guy that pisses a lot of people off. I mean... pisses them off on purpose. I tend to piss people off by mistake. I'll say something about Orlando bus service and suddenly every advocate of public transportation will be at my door with a rope in their hands. Well heck.

But what kills me is the volume. I've got a piece of software from McAfee called Spamkiller that rides on top of my Inbox and filters the stuff as it hits... but damn... the volume! Some mail I enjoy getting. Honest. I like to get chatted up by folks from Australia writing me and asking what the weather is like in Central Florida and whether I'm afraid of alligators. But along with the real emails are mixed in two kinds of crap:

The first is the straight commercial dreck. I figure this stuff is mass mailed like all junk mail based on the assumption that 99.99% of the time they will be shitcanned, but the remaining one percent will make them rich men. That stuff is snuffed out by the good folks at McAfee. At the moment it is running at about a thousand a day. The actual count as of this moment for yesterday and this morning is... 1783. Jeez! And it takes up a lot of time and computer resources to process the stuff. I can tell when the Spamkiller is working because things slow down noticably. Not enough to really make me livid like Rob, but enough so that I'm thinking that I really don't want to subsidise these assholes' desire to sell me something that I don't want. It's sort of like... if the mailman backed up a tractor trailer full of unsolicited junk mail to my mail box every day and I was left with the unenviable task of toteing all of the offers for all the people who want to sell me penny stocks and bigger dick pills and traditional porno and new wave porno with farm animals... I mean, why should I have to carry all this crap to the dumpster? And by extension, why should I have to run something like McAfee out in front of my mail box? I have to pay so that these goons can send me their shit. Grrr.

Now with traditiional snailmail at least the bulk mailers have to spend the money for a stamp and for getting the crap printed and there are thousands of guys out there making a living delivering the mail. But with email all they have to do is push a button to aggravate me. I'd like to find out their physical address and send them a bill. I mean... come on guys. Even with the software to stuff you down the toilet you are taking up my air. Quit it.

The second kind of unwanted mail that I get are crank letters. There is some asshole in Fargo who wants to tell me that he thinks that everyone living in the sunny south is a racist Jim Crow cracker and he wants me to perform some kind of anatomical impossibility so that he can vailidate himself in some sort of sick way. Those guys are colorful, but a trifle redundant. And there are folks who want to come around and put a bullet in my head because some bondsman had to put them back in jail last year and they figure that it's my fault. I suspect that they got put back in the darkie hole because they're losers and didn't go to court like they should. Those guys are so hopelessly inept that they're not much of a threat. I mean... if you've ever tried to fire a handgun while holding it sideways like some dork on TV you will undertand why law enforcement has so much time to eat donuts and pork hookers.

Some of these guys have sent me multiple copies of files of pictures of their diseased body parts and asking if it looks familiar. Again, this kind of stuff takes up time and space and computer resources and is mostly purged by the McAfee stuff, but it still slows down things and I don't want to have to be the point of takeoff for these kinds of loonies. I believe that they're dangerous and crazy people who are out there hating ME may be on a shortlist with the coroner's office. Gentlemen... you need to know that I am armed and dangerous and I practice constantly in order to hone my shooting skills. I do not hold my gun sideways. If you pop out of the bushes near me you need to let me know you're there otherwise you might die trying to straighten me out about something I said on line. Duh!

I guess this whining is part of the price that I have to pay if I want to blog and have a fairly busy web site. But I can fully understand why Rob wants to have the cretins broken on the wheel. My concern is really with the kooks. I wonder if Rob or Velocidude or Jim one of them has ever had one of these idiots show up on the front step toteing a handgun. Fortunately, I think that I'm fairly hard to get to. I work for the State mostly these days and I'm inside a JAC surrounded by metal detectors and my connection to bonding is mostly a thing of the past. But guys... what happens when one of these loonies shows up at one of your Georgia BlogParties?

I know.. I know. But just because I'm a paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out there adjusting for windage.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005


One of the things that I've noticed lately is the affect that holidays have on my workload. I just spent about a week and a half doing flat nothing in the worksite, and now I've been back shoveling this drek for a little over a week and I've finally seen some daylight, and I feel that I'm just beginning to break even and am only a week and a half behind. In other words, I'm at the place where I would have been if there had not been a Christmas and New Year. Sigh.

But there are points of interest. My friend Tom Leete was showing off his "Big Christmas" that his girls got him. You know about big Christmas, don't you? Well, for guys, especially the Daddy type guys like Tom and I, mostly what you get for presents are things that you would have bought for yourself anyhow... shirts, ties, new jeans, bla bla bla. But you also get a gift of some kind that you would NOT buy for yourself, and that's your Big Christmas. For Tommy, his present was a XM radio for his truck... the truck I borrowed while my Volvo was in the shop. XM radio... that's Sirius radio's competition. Satellite radio with a couple of hundred channels and absolutely no static that won't fade out on you in the middle of the night while you are driving across Texas. Well, so what, you say. Big whoop. But look, there is a whole channel of nothing but Frank Sinatra. Twenty four hours a day of non stop old blue eyes. And a channel of nothing but audio books. I fell in love with audio books about a year ago. This is great on long trips when you get sick of the same old Oldies on the FM radio and you want to lose yourself in The DaVinci Code. Great stuff!

And... Tom can pull the radio out of the truck and move it to his car if he gets the kit installed in the Mercedes. What I'm thinking is that I could get that satellite radio installed and then move it around from the car to the boat to the plane. Hmmm. Isn't that a delicious thought?


Friday, January 07, 2005


I have a duty to satisfy tonight... I have to get Tommy's truck back to him. I've been riding around Orlando all week in this monster thing of his while the Volvo was getting a new timing belt and seals installed. And some other junk. Just the stuff that I should have done six months ago but have been putting off until the lady just up and died on me down there in St. Cloud the other night.

I've always said that I'd rather be lucky than smart. And it's still true. I was down there at the Leete homestead last Saturday... sitting around running the noise maker and bragging about times past then I said that it was time to hit the dusty trail, went out in the yard and lit up the trusty Volvo and headed to points north. Now you should understand that these folks live about fifteen miles outside a little bitty place called St. Cloud in a rural part of Osceola County south of metro Orlando. I mean waaaay out. Waaaaaaay out. Anyhow, Leete headed for the sheets and I hit the road. I got about 500 yards from his front door and the car just quit. Bam. No talking about it. No whining or running lousy. Just bam... dead as a door nail.

So I walked back, mooched a bed for the night, and borrowed his truck to get into town the next morning. The tow truck ($200 !) solved my problem and the good folks at the Volvo place told me timing belt and five hundred bucks later I was on the road. A week later.

What's the point of all this? Well, I borrowed Tommy's Chevy Avalanche while my car was in the shop. Now, at first glance, you'd think that I'd be happy, but.... well.... I am happy that he was generous enough to just hand me an expensive top of the line pickemup truck for me to profile around town in... but... would I want one? Uh... nope.

I found that the thing would not fit into most of the city parking spaces that I find myself trying to get in to. I mean... this thing is a TRUCK! And I suppose that I've become one of those accursed metro types. That's funny because the Volvo 740 Turbo really is a hot potatoe. Quick, agile, road eater... but small. Comfortable, even for a middle aged fat guy like me, but small.

That Avalanche is a good looking truck, but I wouldn't trade my Swedish rocket title for title. Sorry. Too damned big.

But I do appreciate the loan. And I'm just as happy to get it back to my friend. Any time you are stuck without a ride I'll lend you the Turbo.

This has been the first week of the new year after ignoring my office since the wek before Xmas. I guess that is why I'm blathering about this sort of crap. I can't see my desk! I don't think that there's a kid left in Central Florida. We've got them all in the Detention Center! Good Grief!


Saturday, January 01, 2005

1421 BOOK

I'm reading a really interesting book by Gavin Menzies called "1421" which proposes that the Chinese conducted a series of voyages of discovery that included America, both polar regions, Australia, and just about every nook and cranny in all 7 oceans in 1421... a hell of a long time before good old Columbus sailed the oceans blue. Fascinating thesis, and powerfully presented by Menzies.

Of course, it is all speculation. The Chinese got out of the exploring business because the old Emperor fell and was replaced by Mandarins who didn't want to spend any money on ships so the voyagers came home to a country that didn't particularly care if they had discovered Rhode Island or not.

Anyhow, I asked my resident historian if there was anything to it. Dan Gilmartin is one of smartest guys I know, teaches the stuff at UCF (don't blame him for being a Democrat... he can't help himself.. it's his heritage). Here's the email exchange:

--- Bob Baird wrote:

Dan --

I'm in the midst of reading "1421" by Gavin
Menzies, a book asserting that the Chinese
discovered the Americas in the early 1400s and
even colonized S. America. I've aleady come
across some websites resisting Menzies' thesis
but he is putting together a strong argument.

I was wondering if you had heard of this and
what you thought of it. You know me. Playing
sailor. But the ships of the 1421 fleet were
three hundred feet long and 125 feet wide! and
travelled in fleets of over a hundred support
vessels. Could the classical Chinese actually
have made this kind of trip? Menzies says that
one of them actually visited Antarctica and
another one made a northwest passage! Seems
impossible, but there you are.

Anyhow, whatcha think?


----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Gilmartin
To: Bob Baird
Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2005 6:35 AM
Subject: Re: Menzies

To be perfectly frank, my areas are U.S. and
European (medieval to modern) and I really don't
know. I've heard Menzies interviewed and read a
smattering here and there, and my conclusion far> is that there's a reason for peer review.
IMHO its right up there with the Irish claim that
St. Brendan discovered America and St. Patrick
chased the snakes out of Ireland. But, really, I
can't say that I know.


email of 1/1/2005:

Dan --

Well, I've always been interested in Henry the Navigator and the start of all that sailing looking for natives to subjugate and so on. I never thought it was such a strange deal to just keep sailing south till you turned the corner and then you would find the Indian Ocean and then the spice islands and endless wealth would be yours. Sort of like going to Jamaica to import their spices... same kind of get rich quick idea.... dangerous, dangerous... there be monsters at the edge of the earth you know... but the only thing stopping you was... that you might die. So what the hey? Let's go!

Menzies isn't a professional historian. He's a retired submarine captain for the Brits. As a dilletante in the business (meaning I read books without really knowing I'm doing in a sysematic and scholarly way) I have many reservations with anyone who allows an idea to become a matter of belief rather than a matter of evidence. Boring Bob here.

But it all makes a sort of sense if you accept the idea that the big change in Chinese politics kind of put the exploring racket out of business. The old emperor was out and the Mandarins were in and that meant that all those wasteful sailors could be left to drip dry at the edges of the new maps... and the only people who cared were the Portugese who wanted to get into the moving and storage business themselves.

I guess what I'm telling myself is that I buy a big chuck of Menzies' thesis. It probably will not ever be really verifiable until the anal Chinese rejoin the community of scholars... or at least allow us barbarians to catch up with their ancient historians... that IS scholasticism, which is something I have some experience at.... school folk being by definition conservative and slow to act...

I just figure that a herd of crooks like Henry and their ilk could very well have had a copy of a copy of a copy of the maps created by the Chinese and they figured... what the hell, let's go see if they're real or not. What's a few lives as long it isn't our own?

If nothing else, the 1421 book is a hell of a read. I recommend it to you.



Anyhow, that exhausts my scholarly resources. Like I said... the book is a good read. I recommend it to anyone.