Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I'm a ridiculously picky eater. Coffee has to be fresh & strong. Meat has to be trimmed. Can't stand chicken (yard bird). Don't like green veggies - 'cept asparagus. Bananas have to be a little green. Won't try tofu. No microwaveable or frozen anything. No packaged out of the box dump it boiling water stuff. Hamburger has to be lean sirloin. (Oreos w/ milk is always the perfect meal.) Salad's OK, but I like it made with spring mix, little pieces of fruit & nuts - not regular lettuce & dressing. I probably drive Deb nuts & lemme tellya - she spoils me rotten with things like shrimp fra diavlo, blackened mahi, seasoned rib eye, mussels marinara, clams casino, almost anything Italian, yadda yadda yadda. I do compromise when it comes to pizza.

One thing that Deb likes & I absolutely detest is calimari. Dave don't do no calimari. I've got rubber bands in the desk that I'd rather chew on. So here's the deal: We go to a particular place for pizza from time to time. Deb gets the small Mediterranean - which has clams, shrimp, crab, & CALIMARI on it. Yuck. I get a small whatever doesn't have calimari on it pizza. I won't get one medium with her topping favorites on half 'cause I'm afraid a calimari might get loose & wriggle onto 'my side'. So we end up having to buy 2 'specialty' pizzas (same as regular pizza with an inflated price), a coupla Bud Lites & the stinkin' bill is always around 50 bucks - for stinkin' pizza.

There's only one thing worse than calimari, hot dogs, green beans & fake macaroni & cheese in my book - & that would be REDNECK CALIMARI as pictured below. NO WAY!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008


One thing about blogging - you get to "meet" some pretty cool people, &, in my case some pretty good writers as well. Mark LaFlamme is an author that falls into the met via the blog category. He has a new book out called DIRT: AN AMERICAN CAMPAIGN. I decided to read it. It was the least I could do after calling him a "nut", though it was meant in a good way. (He's funny & somewhat over the top. What more could you expect from a guy that's a newspaper crime reporter who takes the week of Halloween off for vacation?)

DIRT is the story of a candidate for President embroiled in the dirty tricks of a heated primary. His daughter-in-law has met an untimely end & the candidate's son, unable to accept her death, retrieves the body from her resting place & begins driving around New England with her corpse. Needless to say, Daddy ain't too happy & sends "a response team" to deal with this potential scandal, which in this man's case, is tame compared with the other skeletons in the family closet. Besides, he can't have the voters investigating the 'dirt' on him - especially when he's busily shoveling the 'dirt' on the frontrunner, the man with the squeaky clean image.

So I posted a review on-line (below) & hope Mark LaFlamme has some measure of success. I'm sure that good sales would be helpful - Halloween is only a month away.

DIRT: AN AMERICAN CAMPAIGN by Author Mark LaFlamme is a well-crafted work of entertaining and thought provoking fiction. The foundation of the story, unique to say the least, causes the reader to examine multiple personal conflicts within the storyline while providing a perspective on the behind closed doors dirty tricks and win at all cost mentality that is the political power grab. LaFlamme has managed to build tension, without gratuitous shock value. His characters are strong, though saddled with weaknesses and tragic pasts. The pace is crisp without sacrificing needed detail. There is nothing predictable about DIRT, including the conclusion and THAT makes for a great story. Well done Mr. LaFlamme.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Where To Retire - You Have Options!!!

You can live in Phoenix , Arizona where...

1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away because you found shade.

2. You've experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.

3. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave town.

4. You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food

5. You know that 'dry heat' is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven.

6. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

You can live in California where...

1. You make over $250,000 and you still can't afford to buy a house.

2. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.

3. You know how to eat an artichoke.

4. You drive your rented Mercedes to your neighborhood block party.

5. When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.

6. The 4 seasons are: Fire, Flood, Mud, and Drought

You can live in New York City where...

1. You say 'the city' and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan .

2. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can't find Wisconsin on a map.

3. You think Central Park is 'nature,'

4. You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.

5. You've worn out a car horn.

6. You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

You can live in Minnesota where...

1. You only have four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup, and Tabasco

2. Halloween costumes fit over parkas.

3. You have more than one recipe for moose.

4. Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.

5. The four seasons are: winter, still winter, almost winter, and construction.

You can live in the Deep South where...

1. You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.

2. 'Y'all' is singular and 'all y'all' is plural.

3. 'He needed killin'' is a valid defense.

4. Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob , Jimmy Bob, Mary Sue, Betty Jean, Mary Beth, etc.

You can live in Colorado where...

1. You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.

2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home and he stops at the day care center.

3. A pass does not involve a football or dating.

4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.

You can live in the Midwest where...

1. You've never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name

2. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.

3. You have had to switch from 'heat' to 'A/C' on the same day.

4. You end sentences with a preposition: 'Where's my coat at?'

5. When asked how your trip was to any exotic place, you say, 'It was different!'

AND You can live in Florida where...

1. You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.

2. All purchases include a coupon of some kind -- even houses and cars.

3. Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist

4. Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.

5 Cars in front of you are often driven by headless people.

But you should be able to add & subtract numbers - so you can save for retirement:

Fifty Years of Teaching Math In The USA 1958 - 2008

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this?

Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

1. Teaching Math In 1950s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?

2. Teaching Math In 1960s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1970s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 1980s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math These Days

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question : How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok. )

Location - Location - Location

I don't like doughnuts - at all, but most of the cops I've met have been pretty decent. Of course, I've never had to wear a pair of those bracelets they carry or do the frog walk either.

When we bought our house, we narrowed the choices down, sort of, to 2. The first was on the island (Anastasia Island - also part of St Augustine), the other a mile inland. The price was the same - to the penny. The cost for flood insurance, for the one on the island, was about $7k per year. The one we chose? - wasn't required.

We bought our house the day it went on the market (after looking at the one on the island the same morning). The first set of sellers were willing to negotiate, so I was in the deal making frame of mind when we walked into the 2nd one. The realtor proceeded inside ahead of us, followed by Deb (my wife). Deb got to the foyer while I was still entering & announced "SOLD" - Totally negated my brilliant negotiating skills. That's OK - The location is great & I'm more than 20 grand to the good on insurance savings. Besides, there's not a doughnut shop anywhere within miles.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good Education, Good Price, Cool Digs

One of the best educational deals around is located in downtown St Augustine. It's called Flagler College - a 4 year liberal arts school of about 3000 students. Aside from being surrounded by history, great amenities & perfect beaches & parks - it comes with a reasonable price tag - $19 grand a year including room & board. It's also a highly rated school according to U S News & World Report, among others. These are just a few pictures which hopefully show the school's more unique features.

The school was built by Henry Flagler as a hotel - where big-wigs like presidents & Thomas Edison stayed. It was the 1st hotel with electric lights - but that's another story. The fountain (payin' attention?) is surrounded by 12 frogs & the part in the middle represents a sword plunged into the earth. It works like a fountain & a sun dial.

This is part of the courtyard - there's a blend of architectural design throughout. Moorish, Roman, Spanish - all tied together.

This view is from a courtyard across the street - trying to show the roof & the dramatic towers from a short distance.

Ho-Hum, just the ceiling art. Every school should have domes & gold painted ceilings.

If you turned right, from the courtyard where the overall shot of the main building was taken, & walked 50 yards - this is where you would end up. One of many cool shopping & dining locations. It's a pretty clean town dontcha think?

If you said this looked like Tiffany Glass - You would be right - 30 million dollars worth - & this is in the dining room that the students use.

See - Toldja. Imagine kids eating pizza & corndogs surrounded by such expensive art. The chairs in the picture are mostly reproductions of the originals - though there are some 100+ year old chairs (valued at $22K each) mixed in with the fake $2k chairs. There's a secret about how to figure out the difference between the two types. Visit St A & I'll let you in on the mystery of which ones are "the cheap seats".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Therapy

My daytime career is fun, demanding, self-satisfying, stressful, hilarious, aggravating, plenty of freedom, tightly scheduled, big bucks, tough budgets, way up, way down, spectacular, frustrating. It's a roller-coaster & I've been on that ride for 30 years as of this month - 41 if you count the days when I worked for my dad (a builder) beginning at the ripe old age of 11. I love what I do but sometimes it's nice to get a break.

Sooooo, when I get stressed out - I go to therapy. (We can drive on our beach, which is pretty cool - I think.)

It's free, quiet, & relaxing, especially at the end of a long day on the roller coaster.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chubby Hubby

Last week I was pulling some weeds in one of the beds & heard myself huffin' & puffin' - I'd only been working at it for 15 minutes. I stood & muttered aloud that "I feel like I'm in the worst shape of my whole life." Later I started complaining that my shirts felt tighter. Did they shrink?

God Bless my wonderful wife - she encourages, never nags or lectures me about my health or the need to exercise more & maybe lose a few pounds. She does a great job taking care of my sorry a$$.

I've been buried for a few weeks, & we've had lots of out of town company. Hey food is a social thing right? It's a comfort thing when dealing with stress - right?

So last night I went into a full blown panic. I went out to the garage to puff a stogie & watch something on TV. (Most of my TV watching takes place in the garage while I'm smokin'.) Normally I hit the switch on the garage door opener & waltz over to my work bench, flip on the idiot box, light up & park my rear end on a bar stool for a bit & chill out. Last night it was raining pretty hard & all kinds of frogs were jumping inside - little green thumb sized buggers. Now they don't bother me, actually they're pretty cool, but they end up dying & I have to go around collecting their little cadavers. I hit the remote & shut the garage door & went back to whatever I was watching.

Ten minutes later I'd had enough & headed into the house. I'm walking behind Deb's Durango & my gut is getting stuck between the SUV & the "hurricane rated" garage door. I was freakin' out & when my escape was complete I rushed inside & declared "That's It! I'm goin on a diet & I'm gettin' in better shape. Deb was pleased & I was pissed.

A couple hours passed & I decided to finish the stogie that was waiting patiently in the workbench ashtray & walked down the hallway to the garage. I was about to hit the open button for the garage door and let every frog in St Johns County join me for a few soothing puffs when I noticed that the front bumper of the Durango was nearly 2 feet away from the storage cabinets (the ones I usually bump). No wonder I couldn't fit between the car & the door! I think Deb parked that way on purpose.

Amazingly, I feel much thinner today. Think I'll go buy some Oreos.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Coupla Things Guys Should Never Do

#1 - Guys should never pick out small appliances for home. Today we decided it was time for a new coffee maker. What I wanted was the kind that could grind & brew. We had one & it was really great, but I broke it about a year ago. (Lesson 1(a) - Stay out of the kitchen so appliances won't get broken.) In the end, passed on the expensive gadgetry & went with a reasonably priced, space aged looking, functional appliance. (We'll just use the separate, but less convenient grinder) I made one big mistake - bought a black one. If you look at the picture of our kitchen - all of our appliances & cabinets are white. Uh... Ok ... But I can't return this one - the box & the packaging has been destroyed. So much for focusing on functionality. Guess we'll have to see if they make the one we bought in the right color.

Oh yeah... #2 - Never ever take or try to decipher phone messages for your wife - Let them go to voicemail & ignore 'em.