Archive for August, 2006

Conway Crime

Growing up and really up until fairly recently the Conway area of Orlando has been a fairly quiet suburb, just removed enough from the downtown area to be considered a fairly safe area to live. But recently I swear this nice neighborhood is being turned into a third world toilet. The blight of abandoned shopping carts and garbage along the heart of the area, Conway Road, is bad enough, but now we are contending with a myriad of back to back to back violent and even deadly crimes.

A couple years back, maybe less, there was a string of home invasion robberies in broad daylight, one leaving an older man in the hospital to slowly die right in the Dover Shores/Dover Estates area that only ended when the suspect was found slain in an apartment surrounded by his take and wearing the watch of the murder victim. That was gruesome enough for this quiet area, but it was quickly followed by other violent crimes, including an attempted rape in broad daylight at a bus stop on 436. About that same time a body was found murdered in the breezeway of a 436 area apartment complex. Shortly after another man was gunned down in the CVS parking lot at Conway and Hofner.

Just recently there was a shooting at some apartments right on Conway Road over a parking spot. A couple days ago police finally responded to repeated calls and complaints for 2 months of dangerous car and motorcycle racing around the windy Lake Underhill road and onto Conway Road at the East West Expressway ramp. An officer was intentionally run down by a young man on a stolen motorcycle and badly injured. And the next day a body was found duct taped to a tire floating in Lake Conway.

What the heck is going on? How has this area gotten so out of control that assault with guns, rape and murder are so evident that it makes all the auto and property theft seem like mere background noise? This is not right, this is not Conway. Where did this heavy violent criminal element come from all the sudden? Why is it not being immediately and severely addressed by our local leaders? I keep hearing talk about Conway becoming the next big neighborhood, the next Thorton Park even, but I guarantee you that’s not happening until some serious problems get addressed.

Speaking of leaders, I have to wonder if our Commissioner Linda Stewart is not up to the job. It is on her watch that this has sprung up. For all the good work she has done with our local parks and other development management, the crime to me is a more important issue that she has neglected. Her comment concerning the latest odd body-taped-to-a-tire incident makes me wonder if she is out of her element on this.

From WFTV Channel 9
Orange County Parks and Recreation said Randolph has always been kept open since it is used by fisherman at odd hours. And, at a community meeting, families voted to keep the non-stop hours.
Garris said the body was a sign it’s time to rethink that decision. Wednesday afternoon, Orange County Commission Linda Stewart told Channel 9 she wants to take another look at closing the dock. Next month, the whole commission should discuss the matter.

Whether or not a dock stays open is NOT the issue, not one bit. I swear to god if Linda Stewart and the “whole commission” get together and discuss the opening hours of a freaking dock when A BODY TAPED TO A TIRE was found floating around it, then they all are entirely brain dead. The problem is you have murderers loose in Conway, people who are armed and violent, would you mind please addressing that? Is your big plan to close a dock at sunset and that will thwart the murderers once and for all? Take heed Stewart, election time is coming up fast, it might be a good idea to at least acknowledge that there is a problem beyond that dock’s hours, and maybe you might even take a crack at doing your job and letting us voters know what exactly it is you plan on doing to keep the families in this area safe. If you are not up to it, perhaps the other candidates Jennifer Thompson, JP Quinones, and Martin Collins are. (Marty, get your profile completed man!)

Central Florida 511 System Ranked #1

Last week the Florida Department of Transportation released the results of a recent analysis which revealed that the Central Florida 511 Travel Information System is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the number of calls per capita.

511_Logo.gif511 is the three-digit number you can dial from any phone to access the service that provides free, real-time traffic information on Interstate 4 and 14 other major highways, including road closures and major evacuation routes in the case of hurricanes or wildfires. High density population areas like Florida and California see high usage by daily commuters seeking information on traffic back-ups, accidents and construction delays, while travelers in the Midwest and West typically use the service to keep on top of severe weather conditions.

After hearing about this report I began searching my memory for instances where I had made use of the 511 service in the past. I could only recall one time that I dialed 511 for traffic information. That may be due to the fact that most of the time my daily drive is a short one that does not involve having to make use of the Interstate, 408, 417 or 528. I also still find myself getting my traffic updates from the radio, which I admit is so 20th century.

Between January 1st and June 30th of this year, the Central Florida 511 Travel Information System received 115,000 calls each month and since the service became available in June of 2002 it has received more than 5.6 million calls.
(more…)

Post-Ernesto Thoughts

In the wake of dodging Tropical Storm Ernesto, I am reminded of a column Mike Thomas wrote back during the hyperactive 2004 storm season. He pointed out that Orlando prides itself on being a loving, warm, Christian community…until hurricane season rolls around. Then the prayers are more like, “Please, God, let it hit the Carolinas instead!” (Don’t worry, he was only kidding. I think.)

It’s good to see this is one time when nobody has to get it. :)

Atlantis’ Road Trip!

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OK, has anybody else even HEARD of this happening? Sentinel space blogger Michael Cabbage is reporting that NASA changed their minds and they’re sending Atlantis back to the pad!

See, this is what I mean about summer launches being complicated. In December, you want to launch a shuttle, you send the freakin’ thing up whenever you want. August and September are exercises in patience as they dodge thunderstorms, hurricanes, depressions, and assorted weather disturbances. I would think (and I hope NASA also thinks) that the shuttles have to be treated extra-delicately since they are older than most people’s cars. Technology doesn’t age so well, you know?

Anyway, Atlantis got to have a little road trip from the pad halfway to the VAB (pictured)…and back!

Eat Out For Charity

shareourstrengthlogo.jpgOn Tuesday, August 29th, the charity organization Share Our Strength is partnering with several Orlando-area restaurants to benefit Gulf Coast recovery efforts. In a partnership with the Food Network and the National Restaurant Association, restaurants participating in the event have pledged to donate either a portion of sales for the day or make a bulk contribution.

Among the area restaurants participating in the event, now in its second year, are the Buca di Beppo, Ruths Chris Steak House and Sweet Tomatoes chains, as well as The Capital Grille at the Pointe Orlando and both Emeril’s locations at Universal Studios.

For more information on the charity event, or to make a donation directly, visit www.strength.org/restaurants/diners/.

This Stinks!

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OK, this is taken directly from the official announcement on the NASA website:

“NASA is preparing to roll Atlantis off its launch pad and back inside the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building Tuesday morning to protect it from the winds of Tropical Storm Ernesto. Mission managers are still maintaining the option to leave Atlantis at the pad in the unlikely event the storm changes.”

But here is a live, actual map from the NOAA of what Ernesto is up to:

144607W_sm.gif

That thing is going to be nothing but a big ol’ thunderstorm by the time it gets to the Cape! It’ll be so small by the time it runs over Miami that it’ll probably drizzle on the Atlantic coast. Just enough of a threat to delay the launch…the story of NASA’s life…

But yes, let’s take a minute–along with our friends over on Metblogs New Orleans–to be grateful that this is all Ernesto is gonna do. I’m just mad that Ernesto exists right now, that’s all!

Shuttle Launch Scrubbed

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Just another quick note: According to this Orlando Sentinel blog post, tomorrow’s shuttle launch is scrubbed due to a lightning strike on the launch pad (and, from what I’ve heard, a very ugly weather report). The official NASA website says the next attempt will be on Monday at 4:04 PM.

Listen, I love shuttles as much as the next girl, but getting these things off the ground in the summer is a real pain in the butt. Thunderstorms and spacecraft just do not mix…

Here we go…

OK, people, heads up. It seems we’ve got a little something brewing in the Atlantic that could become the first named storm. We’ve gotten off easy so far, so I guess we can’t complain much. Remember, as the article says, this is nothing to panic over…this is just a warning to buy your batteries and tequila before all the evacuees come inland from the coast and clean out our stores like locusts…

MegaRail

One topic we haven’t really brought up here on MetroBlogging yet is the whole commuter rail thing. I’m not really sure what to make of it yet, it was kind of a shock to hear that some decision had finally been made, but I’m not really convinced that the CSX track really goes anywhere that people want to go. I’ve always thought at the least the lines need to run along the same routes that the traffic already does, which is the highways.

I’m no civic engineer but it occurs to me that we have the routes that work already laid out, it’s just that we have a whole mess of people on them at the same time in one spatial plane. Building a double decker highway everywhere just seems overly costly and darn it, I really don’t want to drive to work and back. I mean, I’ll give up that freedom to run errands at lunch or on the way home (I can always get in the car when I get home and then head to the grocery) if it means I can do some reading or extra napping while being whisked to my job and back. So what’s a good solution that is forward thinking and sellable to the cost concerned citizens of Orlando?

This morning while running through the dial I happened across Pat Campbell over on the AM talking to a guy from MegaRail, a company that has developed a really fascinating concept. It’s a multi-use rail system that uses cars with rubber tires that can enter and leave the track. It’s like a frickin bus that can run a route that includes driving on roads and then getting on a dedicated above ground rail line and haul butt across an expanse, then hop off on a road again. But they also have come up with other flat cars that people can drive their cars on to and it then behaves like a ground based car ferry. I envision WiFi on that sucker with maybe a big screen at one end for people in their vehicles to watch a sponsoring news channel (how about it Channel 13?) and get audio by tuning their car radios to a specific station. Takes some of the wasted time out of the commute doesn’t it?

Wow, that is just some smart thinking all around. So you can have multiple options and combinations to create a rich and flexible mass transit solution and the cost is the same or less than what we are already looking at. Campbell’s main point was why haven’t any of these newer innovative technologies even been considered, and I have to agree. Here we are in the place where Disney planned to seed his Experimental Prototype City Of Tommorrow trying to solve our traffic congestion problems with a technology that I thought we had all agreed has been on the fast track (heh) to obsolence for decades now.

Raccoons and Rats

We live downtown. And after living in Ocoee for over 12 yrs, I really like it downtown. Completely different down here. Instead of homeowner’s associations, you have neighborhood associations (in other words, no one telling you what color you can’t paint your house – just a bunch of people who get together and have block parties and help each other out).

But recently, on south Summerlin, around the corner from where I live, they tore down some really OLD apartments to make way for some new, high dollar condos. Seems to be a trend lately.

Problem is, when they tore down the condos, the whole neighborhood got a sudden influx of rats. On top of that, we already have a huge raccoon population living in this area. Considering all of the houses we have, I cannot fathom where these raccoons actually live, but they come on our back porch at night, in our driveway, cut through our yards and … yes… tear open garbage bags and strew the litter everywhere.

Recently we got those trash containers provided by the city (we had them in Ocoee for like the last 10 years) so I’m hoping this helps keep the raccoons out of our trash, but … will it keep them out of our yards?!?!

We recently had two parakeets killed by something on our back porch. At first I thought it had to have been the raccoons. Then yesterday I saw a rat the size of a small rabbit crawling across the top of our porch. He must have come from those torn down apartments. Ugh… rats.

Anyone have an idea what would kill two birds? Raccoons or rats? Keep in mind, the cage was NOT opened, only the bottom drawer (about half an inch deep) was slightly opened. I hate to kill the raccoons to get rid of them, and I’m not sure a rat trap would get rid of rodents of this unusual size (name THAT movie). Rodent extermination is not my forte. Any suggestions anyone??

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