Vultures and Sinkholes.

A giant sinkhole in Winter Park back in 1981.

A giant sinkhole in Winter Park back in 1981.
 
Written by Ben Alexander in February 2010
 
Florida is a really strange place. Predatory hawks swoop down into backyards and snatch small dogs for a quick meal, alligators longer than a sofa wander into random kitchens, and little lizards mate on the windowsill right outside my office window.
 
I’ve lived here almost 7 years and sometimes it starts to feel just like everywhere else, until yet another weird thing happens. In the first weeks of January of this year we had an unprecedented cold snap in which the temperatures dipped below 30 degrees for almost a week.
 
The sudden cold caused sinkholes and huge flocks of vultures wheeling over my neighborhood.
 
There was a cause and effect, let me explain.  
 
In order to protect the citrus crop all the farmers east of Tampa (in the Plant City area) started to mist their crops with millions of gallons of water. A thin layer of ice on the oranges keeps them from dipping too far below 32 degrees. Meanwhile all this water is drained out of the underground aquifer and it caused numerous sinkholes to open up in that area. Here is a great article about a giant sinkhole near Orlando back in 1981:
 
 
I wonder how many lakes were actually sinkholes that filled in with rainwater? The name of my town is Land O’ Lakes, Florida…
 
And that brings us to the flocks of vultures. There are several large lakes around my development that are chock full of gators, fish and every type of heron, gull and hawk you can imagine. When the lakes fell below a certain temperature all the fish died and floated to the surface.
 
There are always a small group of turkey vultures hanging out near my development because we live near a wooded area full of deer that regularly get killed on the busy road that passes nearby. They are highly social birds, and sometimes you’ll see them hopping excitedly over a deer carcass like college kids around a full beer keg.
 
When the fish died the area around the lake turned into a huge vulture party. Instead of just 5 or 6 birds there were over 100, perching on the roofs of the houses near the lakes or circling in the air 200 feet above their abundant food source. I think the circling in the sky is a way to advertise to all the other vultures in the vicinity:
 
“Hey fellas, there’s plenty of dead food over here, check it out !!”
 
When I walked around the lakes there were over a thousand fish carcasses on the grass, big bony skeletons with arched spines drying in the Florida sun, many of them over a foot long. The big ugly birds stayed in the area over a week, and by the time they departed there was no flesh left on any of the dead fish, and the unpleasant smell was gone.  
 
If the vultures had not arrived it would have been a much bigger mess…. this was nature’s way of cleaning up after itself I suppose.
 
As for the sinkholes, maybe one will appear under my neighbors house and I’ll finally get that lake front property I’ve always wanted.
Lovely to look at, isn't he ??

Lovely to look at, isn’t he ??
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The Seasons of your Life

Hanging out in North Carolina with Todd Barrow.Image

written by Ben Alexander, founder of BalloonDistractions.com

Todd started with us as an entertainer filling gigs part time and now runs one of the largest regions in our organization. I got to spend some time with him during the summer of 2013 and we had some great conversations about work, life, and all the BIG questions.

Todd and I are both knocking on 40, and we’ve both had all kinds of varied and weird jobs. Todd was in the military, counseled young people for drug addiction, and even installed water filters!

One of things that Todd and I discussed (over a beer or three) were the “seasons of life” that we all go through along this journey, and how certain types of work fit better at certain points in your life.

Case is point is the college student that joins us and fills gigs as an Independent Contractor, they log on, choose where and how often they want to work, and the flexibility of this works in their favor.

Then you have the stay at home Mom, she might have kids in elementary school, but she doesn’t want the hassle of a typical 9-5 job, so she learns to twist and uses our company to get out of the house 2 nights a week and earn a couple hundred $$$.

The third example might be a retired military veteran who gets out of the military in their 40’s with a small pension and joins our team as a Regional Partner and earns 40K per year by organizing the team, selling new clients and occasionally filling a gig to keep the schedule populated.  

Each of these three examples represent someone in a different season of their life, with different perspectives and goals, along with varied levels of life experience.

As a company we respect whatever season of life you happen to be in, and we’re grateful that people from various backgrounds, ages and experience have joined our team.

So what season are YOU in?

Are you happy with where you are in life, or do you want to make a change and do something different? We are looking for Regional Partners in 200 metro markets throughout the United States, check out our website at BalloonDistractions.com!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really cold water.

Written by Ben Alexander in 2011

Some people are born with a genius-level IQ, these rare folks can fathom college-level calculus and play the violin while still in grade school. Not me. I’m stuck with the dull gray matter I was born with, so I’m doing my best to maximize my mental effectiveness.

Every morning around 8AM I’ll hit the pool for a cold swim… the pool in our development is NOT heated.

For the swim all I’ll need is earplugs, goggles, a swimsuit and a Timex watch to measure my time in the water… and a bunch of crazy determination. The water was a tad colder a few weeks ago when I started doing this, about 50 degrees. It will be just over 60 degrees tomorrow, and I’ll stay in the water about 30 minutes.

There is a strange relativity to exercise that reflects back upon your everyday life: when you conquer a physical challenge early in the morning it seems as if everything ELSE that you have to tackle that day feels easier.

You really never know how much you can do until you just go out and try it. 

Swimming in cold water does many things at once: burns tons of calories quickly, gets the blood pumping and focuses the mind on a singular task. It takes a certain level of personal discipline to get in cold water in the first place, yet once you get in and start swimming it feels pretty good.    

I have a very ambitious agenda on the table for the expansion of Balloon Distractions and I need to be at the top of my game as we implement these big changes. My crazy exercise routine grants me clarity, and I need it now more than ever. 

 

Tools of the trade...