Day 055 – Melbourne, FL – 4th of JULY!

Happy Birthday America! 238 and showing your age, but I think there still a lot left in ya!

I finally got to see my cousin Lynn and her family today! I met her at Coco Beach, one of the locations of an MTV True Life episode I worked on about young people addicted to tanning. It had just rained right before I got there so the sand was still damp, but the air war warm, the water was inviting and the beach wasn’t very packed. Lynn staked out a good complete with ample food, beer and an umbrella.

I headed straight for the water and ran into her two kids, Katlin playing near the shore, and Chenoa, diving like crazy looking for treasure near the breaks waves. I think she found her Uncle Rob’s sunglasses twice until they couldn’t be found again . I’m not sure how much his cost, but now that I have cheapies I don’t have to worry about losing them in the surf – that’s just the way it works.

Lynn’s friend Dallas, his son Westin and another friend Shelly joined us later. Westin is this little blond haired cutie that I instantly fell in love with. He was totally chill taking it all in and a big fan of potato chips, even salt and vinegar, but not too many. We stayed on the beach for a couple of hours before heading back to Lynn’s new rental house in Orlando for a bbq and neighborhood fireworks.

Dallas is a native Floridian and owner of a chunk of land that he wants to turn into a biodynamic farm. We got to talking about politics and it was interesting to hear his views. To me they had a conspiracist bent to them and he’s a bit anti-government, but also warm hearted and engaging. It’s been too long for me to accurately remember his take on a lot of what we talked about – that’s the problem with updating a blog many days after events transpire. But, what I do remember is how he went about making his arguments and how I felt about responding to them.

He would posit something, i.e. he’s against mandatory vaccinations, and then support it by saying that he has read a lot about it and a personal anecdote. In this case how his older child started to talk at a young age and then stopped (or regressed) after getting a required vaccination(s). I knew this went against what I knew about the safety and benefit of vaccinations and made me think of the discredited English doctor, whose study is cited by people who believe vaccines cause autism, but has been shown to be totally without merit.

I found myself not mentioning that study or the radio report I heard on NPR two years ago about the importance of getting vaccinated to ensure those that can’t, for health reasons, can also be protected through group resistance. Or that sighting a single instance based on ones own experience isn’t very strong evidence for linking cause and effect. But I didn’t because – 1) I’m overly cautious about getting into conflict with people that I’ve just met and 2) I feel that when I can’t remember the names of people, studies, etc. I get tripped up making my point.

Number one is an important thing for me to figure out because I want to learn how to create an environment where people can talk about important and potentially contentious issues constructively. Number two I think is a bigger issue for me to get over since it goes to the heart of debating. I marvel at how politicians and pundits can get on television and use very little evidence or grossly distorted facts to support their views yet few people seem to notice or care. I don’t endorse it at all, but at the same time they get air time and make their case even when they don’t seem to know what they are talking about. And yet…people keep listening to them. Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz are two politicians that seem incredibly good at it. So much talk with so little information content as if their entire purpose is to nullify public discourse.

Back to Dallas – I enjoyed hearing what he had to say because I think there are many people that hold similar views and I wished I would have debated him with more vigor in order to respect my own views and make them known. As a side note – he said I could buy his kid for $45, which seems like a really good deal for Westin. Of course there are the legal issues and the lack of a place for him on my bicycle, but if I lived closer I would seriously consider some type of rental deal 🙂

After stuffing ourselves with tasty hamburgers we set-up chairs a few houses down on the sidewalk and watched the neighbors light up the sky. Since my cousin and her family just moved into the area it also ended up being a good opportunity to meet their neighbors.