Happy Thanksgiving

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An evening adventure

There were two things I was unaware of when I left the hotel to fin dinner at 6pm: The first was that there was a TB Lightning game at 7pm so in addition to being a Saturday, downtown restaurants were filled with hockey fans (of both teams) looking for a pre-game meal. The second is that was a HUGE event being held in the park across the street from the arena, so I couldn’t use the Riverwalk to bypass the increased pedestrian traffic caused by people trying to get food or into the arena for the game.

I did know that it was a Saturday, and thus my chances of getting into ANYTHING that late without a reservation would be darn near impossible. However, I also knew I was hungry and eating at the hotel restaurant was also not an option (see previous post), but there was a third saving grace to this evening – FREE streetcar service on the TECO line (a line I have ample opinions about).

Still with me? Good, because all the “exposition stuff” is out of the way, I can say I walked all the way from the Embassy Suites to past The Florida Aquarium without finding a decent eatery without a horrendous wait so I got on the streetcar and took it to what I thought was Ybor City… it wasn’t.

“Centro Ybor” is the THIRD stop on the northeastern leg of the route – I mistakenly got off at the first, which is slightly further than their maps make it look. Of course, all the sports bars were filled because they were hosting “watch parties” for the game so my choices were Jimmy John’s, 7-11… or a slightly hidden pizza place behind the main mall with maybe four or five other customers in it.

Touchdo… I mean “goal” – particularly since their NY-style pizza came to $3.50 meaning I get two quarters back for Sunday’s non-free streetcar service (and/or Lynx service later that night). When I returned to the Ybor City station, it was already 7pm. The game had started so the trolley system was considerably quieter so, as not to waste a free night, I got off at Channelside where the tailgating or whatever was going in that parking across from the arena was still going on, now they were listing donors, sponsors and “team captains” (that’s how I figured out it wasn’t a Lightning event, they could pronounce the names on their index cards). The reason I got off there was to get ice cream which didn’t disappoint, but I got back to the streetcar station exactly as it was pulling out.

Screw this, it’s only a two block walk back to the hotel.

It was three, and it felt like every foot of it with the surprisingly cool Gulf winds. Also, it was super bright or pitch black depending on where the arena was to me. The brighter areas had people either arriving late (more than I would expect considering they were already a half-hour into the game at this point) or looking for tickets (I actually thought the large guy standing outside the doors was asking to see my nonexistent tickets for security reasons) while the dark side (the backside of the garage) had scalpers, panhandlers and other shady looking characters.

The point is, I made it back unharmed… exactly as the next streetcar pulled into Dick Greco station. Because, of course, it did…

Categories: adventures, Channelside\Downtown, florida, Tampa | Leave a comment

How to ruin your own meal

So I had just returned from the zoo and was reorganizing the pictures I uploaded from my phone (for some reason, FB overrided the album I uploaded them to and said “nah, he doesn’t want to upload the to the album he created especially to upload them to. No, what he REALLY wants them put in ‘Mobile Uploads’ because #fuckhim

After getting that squared away, I began planning out yesterday’s post. I had a blank document with no headline… and a rumbly stomach so I went downstairs to the frigid cold lobby (#becauseFlorida) and decided to have a quick meal in the hotel restaurant.

I was seated straight away despite it’s small size and slightly bigger crowd than I was expecting this early – even for a Friday (I was unaware it was also a game night so we got a lot of customers come in wearing “Bolt Blue,” and, of course, they got far better service than I did). My waiter took my drink order right away, and came back about ten minutes with my water, and then took my order. I asked him about various things on the menu, and then ordered a plate of wings and a plain cheeseburger. Pretty straightforward, right? Of course not.

After waiting 20 minutes for my appetizers, my waiter brings them out. They have zero taste, but I’m hungry. He comes back and takes them 10 minutes later and asks if I want any “coffee or dessert.”

“How about the burger I ordered?”

“You didn’t order any ‘burger.’ So, bring the check out then?”

“Damnit, why do I keep forgetting I’m stooped? But appearently, I decided – without my knowledge to cancel my order while I was making it. My God, that is REALLY stupid on my part, but that’s just how us stooped people roll.”

“I asked you if you wanted the wings AND the burger, and you said ‘no’ (so buying an appetizer negates the rest of my order?) Therefore, if you want the burger you thought you ordered, you have to actually order it.”

If he simply forgot to put it in, that would be one thing; but not putting it in and saying it’s somehow MY fault makes me more mad. Twenty minutes later he brings it out exactly as I hadn’t ordered and runs off. Obviously, I’m not eating here again.

I’d was going to go out and do something fun tonight, but, frankly, I’ve lost my appetite…

Categories: Autism, Channelside\Downtown, florida, Tampa | 1 Comment

Photos: Ybor City School

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Trolley songs

I’m not sure whose idea it was, but for some ridiculous reason (likely financial), the Tampa Electric Company Streetcars only offer afternoon and evening service on weekdays/Sundays. If they want to appeal to “commuters” (which is already laughable given it’s only 2.7 miles long and barely serves the downtown core), they NEED morning service. Let’s not forget visitors (like me); sure, the TECO serves mainly hotels/tourist attractions, but we need to get around too.

For instance, I came to Tampa to participate in the Florida Public Archaeology Lab in Ybor City (the city’s historically Cuban district, and last stop on the streetcar line) at 10am. So, I dutifully got up at 8am, showered, got dressed, had a quick breakfast and was out the lobby door by 9:30am. I specifically chose this hotel because the lobby opened directly onto Dick Greco Plaza (the penultimate stop on the extremely short system).

I waited along with a half-dozen other people most of whom stood around for 10 minutes, got impatient and left – and after 25 minutes (after it became apparent that there was no way I was getting to Ybor City for 10am), I was reluctantly forced to find alternate transportation.

Though none of the five cab drivers lined up outside the hotel was all that keen on taking me on such a short trip, I get one to grudgingly admit that, yes, he “knew where Ybor City was.” It didn’t make him happy about it, but he did agree to take me there (thankfully, I could take the trolley back if need be).

I won’t bore you with the historical information they never gave me, but it was the site of one of the city’s first public schools which was apparently torn down in 1905 and eventually rebuilt as a distillery (which is currently used as a commercial property of some sort). They didn’t really give me a lot of details.

My job was to clean and bag increasingly smaller pieces of window glass, broken bottles and rusted nails. Exciting, I know, but one of the girls next to me (did I mention only six people showed up to this event – SIX) found an old Pepsi bottle (with writing on it), a penny from 1934 (plus another from 1973), a button and some old slate fragments (likely from the school roof).

We got a slight break around 11am as three different sets of 3rd graders ran through the small museum and quickly found where we were working so one of the organizers gave a spiel about how “the museum and the garden we’re standing in were once townhouses for Cuban immigrants who worked in the nearby cigar factories.” She made no mention of archaeology or what we were doing (processing artifacts), but she did explain the site history to a reporter from the Tampa Bay Times who dutifully took our names, ages and hometowns as well as snapping several photos before leaving as quickly as he arrived (once the story is posted to their website, I’ll provide a link to it below).

Shortly after the reporter and third wave of students came through, my table reached the bottom of our bag (the group behind us finished a few minutes earlier), so our facilitator pulled out two bags of larger artifacts and had us wash/clean them.

This second bag took all of 10 – maybe 15 – minutes to get through at which point, she asked us to return our siphons (which we used to keep our artifacts in), brushes and wash out our washing pans. At which point, it was only 11:35am – a full 25 minutes before streetcar service began for the day…

Categories: adventures, Advocacy\volunteer, Channelside\Downtown, florida, Tampa, Ybor Ciy | Leave a comment

Thankful Thursday memes

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“Buddy, ya mad psyc elf”

Did that headline make sense to you?

Good, that makes TWO of us. I was thinking of that annoying Will Ferrell movie, but, sadly, it had nothing to do with that abomination.

I was going out to buy milk from the 7-11 catty-corner from my apartment. That was my only intention for this humid fall night – nefarious or otherwise… and, yes, I’ll get to that later in this essay, but first some context…

It was 7:45pm, and, due to the quaint anachronism known as “Daylight Saving Time,” it was practically pitch black out there save for oncoming traffic (which are extra dangerous for me due to my having a 1.5 second processing delay – which can be absolutely deadly as a pedestrian), a couple of flickering/sparsely placed streetlights and the signs on top of the two hotels – plus the aforementioned convenience on the other side of the extremely busy intersection.

That is stressful enough for me under normal conditions (but is far better than being out in the day’s heat), but did I mention that I also had to deal with the deafening noise of a rapidly approaching fire truck with horns blaring and sirens at FULL VOLUME.

I get it – it’s an actual emergency, but it doesn’t have to stop an inch behind me blaring said horns directly into my ears while I’m in the middle of a busy intersection with the pedestrian signal up (it was also the very thing I was trying to avoid so, congrats, mission accomplished).

This caused me to jump 3 feet in the air and freeze temporarily while their sirens were still going and now they were shouting “MOVE YOUR (horn)ING ASS (double horn), YOU (horn)ING RETARDED ASS(horn)!!!”

“Shit. God damnit, that hurts,” I said holding my ears in pain as I tried to continue crossing the street while the fire truck nearly clipped me as it shot off behind me.

“Buddy, up ya mad psycic elf,” this guy in a black and grey hoodie said passing me from behind, I could barely hear over the ringing in my ears.

“HEY, BUDDY,” he said repeating it for me impatiently. “I SAID ‘YOU’RE OFF YOUR MEDS AGAIN, YOU FUCKING PSYCHOPATH!!!’”

That is both helpful and not helpful at the same time – especially since I once again only caught half of it.

“God damnit,” I said stepping onto the sidewalk, “that horn was loud and an inch away from my ear. What the hell is wrong with them? Fu…ow. Seriously.”

“I SAID ‘SHUT UP, YOU ARE A FUCKING LUNATIC! GET IN THERE (pointing to the CVS on the corner), BUY YOUR MEDS AND GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY TOWN, YOU RETARDED ASSHOLE!!”

That I sort of understood, but as I tried to work it through in my head, I didn’t realize I was repeating everything I was saying out loud.

MASS SHOOTER!”

“MASS SHOOTER?!! WHERE,” I shouted looking around frantically for a place to hide. Of course, there wasn’t so much as a bush in a 100-foot radius, so I looked like a madman to 100s of oncoming cars.

YOU ARE,” he said flipping me off as he finally disappearing somewhere into the darkness.  “YOU GOD-DAMNED RETARDED LUNATIC!”

Sure, he was gone… but what if he came back later in my trip? I wondered as I continued to walk towards my destination, my body still shaking as I entered the convenience store, but, hey, at least, my hearing was starting to come back…

Categories: adventures, Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, florida, Orlando, sensory processing disorder, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Can’t you get it?

Do I really need to take that awful phrase apart? I will anyway, but first let me provide some context. This is a comment I made on the Facebook page “Joy of Autism” on a picture of a boy with the caption: “I asked him to do something. He said “no” so we celebrated.”

Was it inartful? Probably. Was it insensitive? Possibly. Did I prove I have absolutely no understanding of what Autism is (and by implication never will)? At least one commenter thought so asking:

Jonathan Twiggar, can’t you get it? He’s nonverbal, and he spoke.”

“Can’t you get it?”

There were 100s of enraged replies I could have posted, and, believe me, I considered all of them. Was see implying I was stupid or just that I wasn’t worth explaining things to? This is why I quickly learned to not ask questions in school – either my teacher, classmates or both would have that “why are you wasting our time with this shit? This is OBVIOUS to anyone with half a brain!”

Can’t you get it? Of course not, and you never will because you’re stupid/retarded/etc. so why should I bother explaining it to you if you’re never going to get it?

To be fair, not 100% understanding something relatively trivial that I didn’t know and had no way of knowing based on the scant information presented to me is a federal crime… at least on Facebook.

Heck, I guarantee my mom could see that same reply and react like “what’s the problem with this? Why do you think she’s ‘attack’ …wait, what did YOU say to… how dare you write something like that!” #supportive

Speaking of Facebook, I couldn’t post any of the replies I wanted, but I eventually collected myself enough to give a reasonably measured response (which to my amazement, no-one argued with). However, that doesn’t mean I know anything about Autism – least of all mine…

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, entertainment, Internet\FB | Leave a comment

Awesome Autumn memes

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Photos: A walk in Orlando

These are pictures I took on my phone on a walk in Orlando almost 2 weeks after the storm. A lot of downed trees and branches, but most of the debris seems to be cleaned up. I may add more photos later.

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