Carl Wernicke

Carl Wernicke is a native of Pensacola. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After 33 years as a reporter and editor, he retired from the Pensacola News Journal in April 2012; he spent the last 15 years at the PNJ as editor of the editorial page. He joined the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in 2012 as Senior Writer and Communications Manager, and retired from IHMC in 2015.

His hobbies include reading, traveling, gardening, hiking, enjoying nature around his home in Downtown Pensacola, as well as watching baseball and college football, especially the Florida Gators and New York Yankees. His wife, Patti, retired as a senior vice president at Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union and is a Master Gardener. 

Carl is a regular contributor to WUWF. His commentaries focus on life in and around the Pensacola area and range in subject matter from birding to downtown redevelopment and from preserving our natural heritage to life in local neighborhoods.

IHMC

I have to issue a retraction. Recently in this radio spot I reported that I had cleverly solved a hummingbird fight over a feeder in my backyard by the brilliant solution of hanging a second feeder. 

IHMC

Worries about the loss of honey bees have morphed into concern that insects in general are in decline. While we mostly see insects as a nuisance, they are crucial to Earth’s environment. Insects play a host of crucial ecological roles. From recycling nutrients to pollinating food crops to being food themselves, these bugs quietly support our own survival. Their sheer numbers indicate their importance. Calculations are difficult to quantify, but one estimate I found posits that insect populations worldwide outweigh humans 70 to 1.

IHMC

I tend to be reserved around people I don’t know well. I was astounded to learn, as an adult, that people I had gone to school with thought I was stuck up because I was so quiet around them. In reality, I was just too timid to approach them.

This was also a hindrance as a journalist, which took years to overcome. But the rewards of opening yourself to other people are as numerous as there are people.

Carl Wernicke

What do you do about a hummingbird with a bad attitude? Now, that’s not as strange a problem as it sounds.

Hummingbirds are known as the bad boys of the bird world. They can be very aggressive with each other. I was told once by a ranger at a nature preserve that he had watched two hummingbirds fight until they fell, exhausted, into the dirt where they resumed the struggle.

IHMC

At a recent event, I discovered that the usher went to high school with one of my brothers. That led to a discussion about living in your hometown, and my career with the Pensacola News Journal also came up.

That led to a name I hadn’t heard in years: Leon Odell Griffith. The usher said he had spent years under the friendship and tutelage of Griffith, and still reveres his memory. It brought back memories for me as well.

IHMC

Those of us who grew up in Pensacola are accustomed to calling it a tourist town. That is, there are things intrinsic to this place that make people want to visit.

The beaches. The Naval Aviation Museum. Blackwater Forest. Deep sea fishing. Rivers and creeks perfect for canoeing. Pensacola Bay for sailing and fishing. The world’s longest fishing pier (or at least, it was). The lighthouse. Gulf Islands National Seashore. Increasingly, downtown Pensacola.

IHMC

In 2019 we have access to everything - it sure didn't used to be that way.

Our connections to the world come in many ways. In the dim past it was primarily print. Then came radio, television, and now the Internet and social media.  One advantage of the radio and early TV eras, at least before the 24/7 coverage of everything, was how it amplified, rather than replaced, our own imagination.  In my childhood, TV gave only glimpses of the sports heroes so many of us tried to emulate.

IHMC

During my years as a newspaper columnist I tried to avoid writing about restaurants or businesses I patronized. I never wanted any hint that I was using my position for personal gain.

But, over time, in trying to write about local people, events and neighborhoods, some places I frequented would be mentioned. And for me, local restaurants hold a special place in a community.

Carl Wernicke

IHMC

As a reader, one of my greatest delights is finding an article that deftly summarizes something I had been thinking. Better, if it takes your own idea to places you had not yet been to, yet immediately recognize.  Now, I am not speaking about politics. It is an unfortunate trend today that right, left or whatever we tend to gravitate to news sources that reflect our own thinking.

IHMC

Time is fleeting, madness takes its toll. Fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will remember that lyric from the show’s iconic song, "The Time Warp."   

I raise this because dealing with time has become something of a madness in modern times. Hordes of people seem obsessed with saving it. A minute here, a minute there. It’s why you see people risk killing themselves and others to careen through a red light and save, what, three minutes on their way to work? 

IHMC

This past Saturday, a non-profit group I work with, Pensacola Open Streets, hosted its third annual Ciclovia in downtown Pensacola. Well, I said work … I wait until the actual work is done, and then write the press release. For an old journalist like me it’s a routine task, just don’t tell the rest of the group. Anyway, Ciclovia is designed to get people out of their cars and on downtown streets on foot, bicycle, skateboard, rollerblade, anything human powered.

IHMC

One blessing of living in Northwest Florida is that while we enjoy the change of seasons, we don’t suffer from real winter weather. Watching Midwesterners experience sub-zero temperatures and tree-top height snowfall makes that clear.

IHMC

For years in my Pensacola News Journal column, and here on WUWF, I’ve chronicled my efforts to clean up roadside litter. One unvarying factor was that no matter how often, or how much, litter I collected, it didn’t take long for there to be more.  It also didn’t take long to abandon my dream that cleaning up litter might inspire people to stop tossing it. 

It does not. 

IHMC

Travelers find value in different ways. It can come in seeing famous places you have always heard about, or just immersing yourself in another culture — seeing new faces, if you will. You can discover how people are alike, or how different we are.

I enjoy discovering something unexpected that leaves a lasting impression. Maybe I had never thought about it, or maybe I knew it intellectually without really understanding it.

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