Mar 3 2024

Sand Key Park

1060 Gulf Boulevard
Clearwater, Florida 33767

… more pix and videos on Google Maps, Yelp n TA.

This 95 acre park is at the northern most part of the Sand Key barrier island, a short hop through Sand Key Bridge up to Clearwater Beach, and 21 miles west of Tampa airport TPA.

The parking at the park is $5 for the day. The amenity (list) includes outdoor showers @ Boardwalk #3, and #4 which is behind the bathroom and changing room.

I’m here for the 1.2 mile open water swim: it was fantastic!!! Our event has 167 swimmers. I car pooled with my friend. At 7am on this Saturday, the parking lot looks vacant. But by the time we leave, at 11am, there are still many parking spots. Not sure it has anything to do with the water temp hovering around 69°F.

Some swimmers say they saw dolphins. I see plenty pelicans, and a few other water birds: willets, Laughing Gull in breeding plumage, and American Oyster Catchers.



Mar 2 2024

Kamikaze & pelicans

This was taken at Sand Key Park at 8:07am. Reportedly, they do that dive before 9am when they’re hungry.

Watching pelicans thrusting their heads into water to catch their preys, always remind me of Japanese kamikaze – suicide bombers – in the WW II. The difference is, pelicans generally catch their prey, and the Japanese pilots – as human bombers, generally died.

Did middle eastern terrorists learn using humans as bombers from Japan?

  • NIH: terrorism-related attacks in E Asia from 1970
  • State Dept: country reports on terrorism in 2019
  • Justice Dept: psychology of terrorism
  • UNodc: Japan gather countries from Asia, …
  • Navy: terrorism in southeast Asia

Either, I didn’t ask a valid or clear question, or the Middle East didn’t learn from Japan.


Mar 2 2024

Clearwater, FL

The third leg of the Tampa Bay metro area: north of St. Petersburg, west of Tampa, on the Gulf of Mexico. The population is 117,292 (2020 census). It’s a part of Pinellas County.

The two major barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico are Sand Key (Sand Key Park)  and Clearwater Beach.

A few other islands

  • Caladesi Island
  • Egmont Key
  • Fort De Soto
  • Honeymoon Island
  • Shell Key
  • Anclote Keys
  • One Tree Island

… a restaurant

Mar 2 2024

Clearwater Beach

One of two major barrier islands of Clearwater, part of Tampa Bay metro area.

The narrow strip is highly developed like Disney. Saturated with hotels, many of them are 10+ story high; restaurants; shops; pirate boat rides, etc.

When we drove to Sand Key Park at 7am, the strip is quiet. But after done our 1.2 miles open water swim and award ceremony, at 11, it came alive, maneuvering out was a chord. We missed our turn to Sandbar on the beach, we decided to leave Clearwater Beach, and have our lunch at Hibachi, in Clearwater.

Feb 28 2024

Plaza Mexico Sun City

724 Cypress Village Blvd
Sun City Center, FL 33573

Probably will return.

… more pix on Google Maps, Yelp.

Colorful light shades. Although it saturated the small space, with the high back chairs, but the foods are decent.

The freshly made guacamole by the table side, is bit salty but yummy. The chips are fresh. The rest is a blur -:) I only got a few photos.

They’re re-roofing or something, wires are everywhere.

Feb 28 2024

Brick’s Smoked Meats

Love the tiles: the top L was in my home, the top R in Shanghai, both were made by Chee Hsin  

1528 State St.
Sarasota, FL 34236

… more pix on Google Maps, Yelp & TA

Another restaurant with ‘Brick’ in its name – hopefully this owner/manager isn’t going to be nasty as Hales Blackbricks, can take genuine and constructive critics.

Probably won’t return.

Love their decor – high ceiling, industrial. The last booth by the bathroom is angled. I don’t know they did that to shield the bathroom entrance or needed to be. In any case, it looks good. Two big open windows connect their outdoor area. The length of the bar looks out to a garage.

I particularly enjoyed their tiled tables: the patterns are familiar to Chee Hsin’s, which I’ve a book on it, self published on Amazon.

The service is good. The pretty young girl has red and purple nail polish – maybe I should go for the purple, to match my hair.

The food is a little trying. The bacon burnt end is on the sweet side but is tender. The brisket is thick and dry. With the butter knife, cutting became a chore. The ribs is a little softer than the brisket, but have it better many other places.

The young girl, the maitre d’ and a lady in black pants came over, asking how’s everything – they certainly care.

Feb 28 2024

Lucia di Lammermoor @ Sarasota

…at Sarasota Opera

Lucia di Lammermoor by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848). It was premiered in 1835 in Naples.

Another love story. Another good production. Another great opera.

This tragic drama was loosely built on Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

Five scenes with two intermissions plus three pauses, 3:15 long. The set designs are really good.

Feb 27 2024

Saks Fifth Avenue

120 University Town Center Dr,
Sarasota, FL 34243

… more pic on Google Maps

Will return. I haven’t been to a Saks for a few years. The one I used to go was on 5th Avenue in New York. It never impressed me. Sandwich between Bergdorf Goodman and Macy’s, Saks, I think their Christmas light show is the standout. Walking into this small one – two floors with cloth and cosmetics, I’ve a little wow feeling – maybe it’s the time of the day – afternoon; maybe it’s not crowded; or maybe I shop online for too long and glad in a physical store … The overall feeling is refreshing. Their decor is mute and light. Staff is ready to help.

Feb 23 2024

Beethoven @ Straz

TFO @ Straz

… more pix & videos on Yelp

The second piece is Beethoven’s 5th and last piano concerto: the Emperor. I’ve listened to this piece many times, and tonight it sounds beautiful as I know -:).

We’ve been to a few concerts that were conducted by Michael Francis (1975?-): a likable young man, with humors, a graduate of Cardiff University School of Music.

The pianist is Spanish Javier Perianes (1978-) who’s pretty short, who doesn’t have a list of impressive schools. I enjoyed his playing. When it was done, he returned quickly to give a Chopin encore, without much claps. While he was playing the Chopin, Francis stood at the side of the stage – I thought that’s a nice gesture.

At the beginning of the concert, of course someone would go to the stage and give a speech. Tonight it’s a chubby woman… who probably spent years climbing or paid handsomely to be in that position. She opened up by bragging that TFO Florida Orchestra is world class. But her presence really cheapens the evening. Mostly, she thanks the sponsors. I even saw Rick Steves (1955-), the travel guru’s name on the screen.

After conductor takes stage, people are still allowed to come in. The ushers are volunteers. I joked to one, “you should go to New York.” One of my tennis buddies Susan who’s a retired teacher, does the usher circuit, from MSG to baseballs … and gets paid in 3 digits even event.

The dinner at Oak & Ola is wonderful.

Feb 23 2024

Oak and Ola

1910 N Ola Ave
Tampa, FL 33602

… more pix n videos on Google Maps, Yelp & TA

Definitely will return.

We stopped here before the concert. It’s very similar with Ulele @ Armature Works: high ceiling, industrial, exposed brick walls, open kitchen; good service and pretty good food.

Location: by the water
Seatings: indoor and out
Food: very good
Service: very good, well trained

We went at 5 when they just opened. When we left at 7, it was packed. We stayed a bit longer bec it was raining, and our concert didn’t start till 8. We could have another toffee cake – it’s that good. But didn’t bec people are waiting.


– charred sour dough bread – good
– crab salad: wonderful
– meat charcuterie – fine
– special – fish amandine – good
– special mezzaluna pasta – great
– Spanish autopsy – yummy
– warm toffee cake – to die for
– chocolate tart – average

Our server said his name is MJ. A handsome kid, better looking than Michael Jordan … still love you Mike

We shared a bottle of Meleto BTL Chianti. Nice stems. They left the cork on the table – Should they put it on a small plate?
Big spoon for desserts
Ok I’m a dinosaur

They’re on RESY, may charge $25 for no show. No place for handbags.