Off Key

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By Bob Frederickson

From Reality ‘Clips’ to Boats at Risk…

Manatee ‘Clips’ Sarasota, ‘Siesta Key’

Two shows with local ties debuted last year, the reality show “Siesta Key” set here on the island and the dark comedy ‘Claws’ based on the stranger-than-life predicaments faced by a colorful group of manicurists working at a nail salon set in a strip center aptly named ‘Palmetto Plaza’ located in a less than glamorous pocket of Manatee County.

Palmetto Plaza may be an altogether fictional locale, but it is a place instantly recognizable to anyone who has ventured ‘off key’ for any appreciable length of time in the past decade or so, especially if their travels have landed them on Old 301 north of the airport, or anywhere along the North Trail between Sarasota and Bradenton. Critics and viewers alike have found the show’s characters equally believable as well.

Contrast that with the version of Siesta Key presented on the eponymously named MTV show that is virtually unrecognizable to many local residents – islanders and mainlanders alike. The show focuses on a group of self-absorbed twenty-somethings constrained by their own velvet chains.

Which likely explains why ‘Claws’ has been picked up for a second season while the ultimately ‘unreal’ reality show ‘Siesta Key’ has a future that remains in doubt, with no word to date from MTV as to whether a second season will ever be aired.

Claws’ second season debut will be June 10th on the TNT network.

Canceling your Landline Service? Keep your Old Phone!

For the first time in history a majority of households in the U.S. rely exclusively on cell phones in their homes, having canceled their landline services.

But service interruptions like the recent Verizon outage that left tens of thousands of the company’s cell customers without service from Tampa to Venice for almost eight hours highlighted a critical flaw in that decision: access to 9-1-1 call centers was lost for those homes that had deep-sixed their old landline phones.

But it needn’t have been so. Even if you cancel your landline, keep at least one of your old phones plugged in. It should continue to allow you to dial and reach 9-1-1 operators in the event of an emergency.

Just make sure you still have a dial tone when you plug in the old phone. And check regularly to make sure the dial tone is still there, maybe at the same time you check your smoke detectors in the spring and fall.

Having a 9-1-1 backup in place could also be godsend in the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster that knocks out cell towers or overwhelms your cell provider’s capacity with higher than usual call volume.

Call the publicly regulated landline provider in your area if you have any questions.

Facebook’s First Amendment Blind Spot

Aric Nesbitt, running for statewide office in Michigan, thought he’d announce his candidacy by running some ads on Facebook. So he submitted the following copy to the company’s Ad Department:

“I’m proud to announce my candidacy for state senate. Lansing needs conservative, West Michigan values, and as our next state senator, I will work to strengthen our economy, limit government, lower our auto insurance rates, balance the budget, stop sanctuary cities and pay down government debt.”

He went on to say he is pro-life and pro second-amendment.

Do you see a problem here? No? Well, Facebook apparently did.

Nesbitt got this response from the constitutional scholars in the company’s legal department:

“Your ad wasn’t approved because it doesn’t follow our Advertising Policies. We don’t allow ads that contain shocking, disrespectful or sensational content…”

Yet another example of Artificial Intelligence at work.

Quote of the Day

“A clear conscience is the first sign of a fuzzy memory.”

Not the Night Out she Expected…

35-year-old Carol Stone was arrested in Pasco County last month for battery. It seems her husband forgot their anniversary. So she gave him several pointed reminders – with her fists.

She was probably hoping for a night out, though an all expense paid trip to the Land O’ Lakes detention center probably wasn’t what she had in mind.

Making a Spectacle of Yourself?

Snap Inc. – parent of Snapchat – lost a bundle – $40 million to be exact – on its first version of ‘Spectacles,’ their sunglasses with built in video cameras. They were supposed to be the next big thing…(they weren’t). So what’s Snap’s next big idea? Well essentially the same thing, except now with support for WiFi…  

You have to admire the persistence of this bunch, but I’m thinking they may have overlooked a glaringly obvious point: namely that a lot of folks buy sunglasses to make a fashion statement and, frankly, their ‘Spectacles’ are kind of goofy looking…

Still, Apple struck out a few times before hitting the jackpot with its iPhone. Anyone remember the Newton hand held device?

But, if I had to bet I’d agree with the comment of one reporter who commented that the real magic of the company’s Spectacles is its ability to make money disappear. 

Ambiguous Message at MacDill Rally?

A dozen or so protesters lined up outside the gates of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa the day after the recent U.S. attack on Syria to voice their opposition to the strike, which came in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

It was a relatively low-energy affair, but a sign carried by one protester caught my eye by making a point that was probably not intended. It read: “Syria Gas Attack = Iraq WMDs.”

Now I’m sure the protester’s point was that there are no stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria, just as there were no WMDs in Iraq.

Here’s the thing though: no one knows for sure, but it is at least plausible to take the sign at face value, since many observers in the region share the belief that Saddam, a member of the Baath party, sent at least some of his WMDs to Assad, also a Baathist, for safekeeping before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. If so, then the sign is quite literally true: the Syrian gas really does ‘equal’ Iraqi WMDs.

After all, such weapons were in Iraq at one time given the established evidence of their use against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war that began in 1983 and later against Saddam’s Kurdish foes in Northern Iraq. And with no evidence of their destruction, they must have gone somewhere, right?

Or wrong…                                                                 

But that’s the ‘off-key’ appeal of that protester’s sign for me. It works for those on either side of the issue.


Got a Boat? Listen Up…

You might want to check your security plan. International boat thieves have been operating in the area recently.

“They don’t go after the little ones and they don’t go after the old ones. They go after the nicest ones they can find that are not secured,” Longboat Key Chief of Police Pete Cumming told WFLA news recently.

Jim Gallagher of Cannons Marina told the station they’ve had boats stolen that have been recovered with motors gone, stripped bare. The Coast Guard reports the thieves are using the stolen vessels for drug and people smuggling. Then they end up abandoned on the beaches of Mexico when the smugglers are through with them.

So if you have a boat, you might want to make sure it’s securely locked down. This area is ripe for the picking when it comes to the 30+ foot, dual or tri-motor models the thieves are looking for. And with apps like Google Maps these latter day pirates have the advantage of one stop shopping where they can peer down from above and shop for the best opportunities on an island like LBK or Siesta with easy access to the Gulf.

As Cannon’s Gallagher told WFLA: “If a boat is just tied up in the water, they can untie it and tow it away with a small boat and be silent and out the canal in 5 minutes.”

Some trailered crafts have been hitched and driven off from their owners’ driveway.


Siesta Sand
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