Did I go back to Germany? No. The weak dollar and the strong euro made that an almost instant decision. I decided to stay a bit closer to home.
For my first week of vacation I repainted my home office, then assembled various pieces of equipment and went camping at Lake Kissimmee State Park. It was cool in the evenings and hot in the afternoons, and rather humid (to the point that I never needed to light a campfire or use my primus stove to cook). While I saw the tracks of various deer, I didn't see any; instead I saw squirrels ands rabbits and could hear wild pigs rooting around after dark.
Still, the silence, broken only by the wind in the trees, was wonderful.
The second week was also the week of my birthday and I chose to stay for four days and three nights at a resort hotel on St. Petersburg Beach, having my needs catered to and relaxing in the sun beside the pool. I went out on my birthday to the Seminole Casino to do some gambling (something I've never done before). After losing $10 on the slot machines, I called a halt.
I also had a massage in the hotel's spa.
My room was very nice (bedroom, sitting room, kitchenette) and one could stand at the balcony railing and watch and listen to the sound of the Gulf of Mexico.
Waves breaking on shore. Ahhh.
The total cost of the vacation was roughly a quarter of my trip to Germany last year, and the whole two weeks have had a most profound effect on my humours.
Now that I've returned, time to see what's been going on.
The Turks gave the green light for their army to invade Iraq and try to put the kibosh on the PKK, but they're willing to give the US a chance to do it. Unfortunately, we rely on the good will of the Kurds (the only real success story in Iraq), and we also rely on the good will of the Turks (because we apparently get about 70% of our supplies through Turkey). A Gordian knot that I'm afraid Bush is intellectually ill-equipped to handle.
South Africa's military was testing a new robotic antiaircraft gun (an auto-firing cannon that could even reload itself) when something, as usual, Went Wrong. Several people died before the cannon ran out of ammunition and could be approached safely to shut it down.
The Florida Legislature ("Bending Voters Over Since 1821!") has found itself at loggerheads over this property tax mess, and a complete resolution will obviously take longer than the so-called 'special session' scheduled for it. Neat idea - stay in session until the work gets done, and stop wasting time with 'special sessions.' Jerks.