Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eating it Raw

Today on the iGoogle Homepage one of the “How to of the Day” topics was How to Eat Sushi. This was a very informative article, especially for someone who has never eaten Sushi. It also had a link to sushi etiquette, so that you don't accidentally insult the chef or the culture.

I like to eat fish, but I have never attempted to eat Sushi. I prefer to have my fish cooked, not raw. This is strange because I immensely enjoy eating raw oysters and clams.

Another reason that I do not eat Sushi is that ounce per ounce of fish served; it is outrageously expensive in comparison to the cooked fish that I am accustomed to eating in Restaurants. This is the same reason that I do not eat Lobster

I have noticed that they are also selling Sushi in the local Grocery Stores. Six little one ounce rolls of raw fish circled around a glob of rice. It’s probably a total of two ounces of fish and four ounces of rice for $6.95. Who would buy Sushi in a Grocery Store anyway? I would want to see the person that is preparing it before eating it. If they were not Japanese, I wouldn’t put it in my mouth.

Years ago I read about an old Japanese custom, which was part of the geisha culture, which had spread to California. I’ve been patiently waiting for it to spread east before eating Sushi. At least this was one of my excuses, for not eating raw fish. The custom has finally arrived here in Florida and just a forty minute drive away from where I live.

The Sushi is served on the body of a young woman wearing only a G-string and tiny flower shaped Pasties (although I believe that in Japan the women are entirely nude). Now this is “How to eat Sushi”.

I’ll now have to fall back on my second excuse for not eating Sushi; I am inept at using chopsticks.

The Beach Bum


Friday, June 27, 2008

Sinner Man

A comment was recently posted to one of my Blogs (Eye in the Sky) that piqued me. First of all, as I have said before, if you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to put your name on your comment, you shouldn’t be commenting at all.

The comment of which I speak was posted by an anonymous commenter:
“It is never to late to repent your sins and comunicate with the Lord. You have a great opportunity to get connected with your friends, some of which are waiting for the outstretched hand to walk together onward towards peace.”

Here’s the part that really tighten my sphincter: “It is never to late to repent your sins”. First of all who has the right to decide what is a sin or a transgression. I have a set of morals and mores that I subscribe to in my daily life. Who is to say that what I believe to be a sin and do not belive to be a sin is incorrect. Perhaps the Moral Majority is wrong and I am right.

Let’s start with the Ten Commandments.

There are three that I feel that we should all follow. Do not murder or steal and honor your parents. If you don’t follow them you are a sinner. But then again, we must define what was meant by these Commandments.

Is murder OK if you do it in the name of the Lord? In my book murder is the premeditated act of killing another living being, regardless of the reason or the cause. I have violated this commandment by killing insects and other vermin. Therefore, I am a sinner and should repent.

On what level is stealing considered a sin? Is the person that takes a note pad and a few pens home from his workplace a thief? How about the person that takes a glass, flatware or a salt shaker from a restaurant. Are they thieves, after all it is stealing? Stealing is the act of removing of property that belongs to another without their permission. Again, I am guilty; I am a sinner and therefore should repent.

I have always honored and revered my parents. However I do recall one time, when I couldn’t get my way as a teen, which I said to my Dad “I hope that you rot in Hell”. This is not quite honoring thy parents. I guess that technically I have broken this Commandment; I am a sinner and should repent.

I wonder if these sins can be broken down into misdemeanor and felony sins. Must one have to repent for the misdemeanor sins?

There are other things that I consider to be sinful.

One is the waste of finite resources. Yet millions of people around the world do this on a daily basis. It’s a sin and they should repent. I am not guilty of this sin (unless you count beer as a finite resource – I usually leave about a half ounce of backwash in the can.

I feel the waste of food is also a sin. My parents, who lived through the Great Depression, would always tell (force) me to eat everything on my plate and not to waste God’s greatest gift. Leftovers were worked into new meals and we rarely had any food items in our trash. In today’s society too much food goes down the garbage disposal and in the trash can. This is a sin and we should all repent.

I could go on forever on what I believe to be sinful. Most of these sins are not mentioned in the Bible or in any other Holy Book.

However, I do not feel the need to repent for my sins, because like George Carlin, I do not believe in the Heaven and Hell concept. If I’m wrong, I’ll pay on Judgment Day.

The Beach Bum

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Bad Time to Buy

Last weekend there were several articles in the St. Petersburg Times about the falling economy and the housing slump in the Tampa Bay area. One particular article was about Hernando County; the county where I currently reside. It made the front page of the Times last Saturday.

It was a well researched article by Times Staff Writers Chandra Broadwater and John Frank. The Headline read “Housing Slump slams Hernando County”.

Here are some interesting facts and figures about the recent economic downturn in Hernando County from this story (Please note that there are 67 counties in Florida).

• The second-highest increase in the number of households receiving food stamps from May 2007 to May 2008, at 58 percent.

• The third-highest unemployment rate in April, at 6.6 percent.

• The fourth-highest rate of foreclosures in May from the previous year.

• The fifth-highest jump in students receiving free or reduced-price school lunches from March 2007 to March 2008.

And these numbers are accelerating as I write this Blog.

My son-in-law and daughter (hereafter referred to as “the kids”) decided to look at homes, in Hernando County, in the fall of 2004. They were tired of “throwing away their money” on rent. I thought that this was a good idea. But why look in Hernando County? My daughter explained that the same size house in Pinellas County (St. Petersburg-Clearwater area) was selling for $50,000 to $70,000 more with smaller lots. This made sense to me, but I did mention the fact that most of son-in-law's work (he is a plumber) was in Pinellas County.

At that time there was a construction boom going on in Hernando County. The kids were primarily looking at new homes in new subdivisions. I looked at some of the brochures and I couldn’t believe what was being offered for under $200,000 on a quarter plus acre lot. Swimming pools (screened in), fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and marble countered Kitchens and Bathrooms.

By April of 2005 these houses had gone up in price by at least $50,000 and there was at least a nine month wait for occupancy. This put the home that the kids wanted out of their financial range. In May 2005 the kids began to panic. Not only were prices escalating but it was also rumored the Apartment Complex that we lived in was being sold and being turned into Condos (the rumor was true). So they decided to look at older homes (built in the 1980’s).

The house they found had 2000 Sq Ft of living space situated on a well landscaped half-acre plus lot with a screened-in swimming pool, for under $200,000. The kids put in a contract and went to settlement in July.

Now let’s jump ahead to 2008.

The current market value of this house is about $30,000 less than what the kids paid for it. Although they have made several improvements to the house and the property.

The new construction has virtually ceased. Developers have reduced prices on finished homes (vacant) as much as $50,000 just to recover some of their losses. Investors (speculators) who had bought homes during the boom (looking to make a fast profit) are letting their properties go into foreclosure. Nobody is buying.

What happened?

First the real estate market began to fall apart in 2006. Then the job market began to decline (the two major industries in Hernando County were the construction industry and the service industry – Wal Mart is the largest employer in the County). Finally gas went up from under $2 a gallon (regular) in the summer of 2005 to nearly $4 per gallon in 2008.

Who is to Blame? You have to blame someone, it’s the American way!

Personally I blame President George W Bush, his brother Jeb (former Governor of Florida), the Congress (both State and National) and the apathy of the average American citizen like me.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Eye in the Sky

George Carlin has spoken his last dirty word, pointed his last finger and taken his last bow. I’ll miss him and his irreverent style of humor.

Carlin was born an Irish Catholic, but gave up on religious practices and beliefs at an early age. Much of his humor was aimed at the Church and organized religion. When he was asked about his religion, he would say “Catholic — which I was until I reached the age of reason.”

Some of his funniest material about religion is on his “You Are All Diseased” CD. It is definitely X rated and available on (a button on the right sidebar links to Amazon) for about $12.

That being said, it brings us to the topic of today’s Blog: Religion.

I am not religious nor am I an atheist. I tend to believe in creationism more than I do evolution. I do believe that there is a force much more powerful than us; Supreme Beings so to speak. But the idea of praying to these forces is beyond my comprehension.

I’ve always like these lines from one of my favorite movies; Forrest Gump. Lieutenant Dan asks Forrest “Have you found God yet, Gump?” and Forrest answers “I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him.”

My son-in-law, Mike, has found God and it is because of a book that I gave to him about 3 weeks ago. The book is named Alcoholics Anonymous (AKA the Big Book). He was thinking about attending an AA meeting (he was half in the bag at the time) and I told him to read the book first.

I attended meetings for three years in the early 1990’s. I was still drinking, but I wouldn’t drink on days that I attended meetings. Within the AA organization these are called half measures. I also couldn’t handle the constant references to God. However, I did enjoy the spirituality aspect of some of the meetings that I attended.

Like me, Mike was never very religious, although he was brought up in the Catholic Church. He attended a few AA meetings but continued to drink. He told me that he was getting good feelings after attending the meetings. Ten days ago he started reading the Bible and praying (in a meditative state). He did not ask to win the Lotto or anything frivolous; he ask for guidance.

According to Mike, his prayers are being answered. He suggested that I do the same. I replied that it was a little too late in the game for me. He then said that he would pray for me.

This brings us back to George Carlin. Carlin once said that he prays to Joe Pesci (he is a guy that gets things done); he gets a 50% chance of having his prayers answered. The same as when he prayed to God. But he can actually see Joe Pesci as he “is not an INVISIBLE MAN...LIVING IN THE SKY...who watches every thing you do, every minute of every day.”

The Beach Bum

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

La Dolce Vita

Yesterday I received the following comment on my post about property taxes here in Florida:

“Don't be depressed, the people like yourself that live the good life in Florida looking at the woman and eating grouper can thank the people of Venazulala al ala for the gas and ass we pay for.” Anonymous

First of all, I dislike anonymous comments and wish that Blogger would do away with that option. Also the comment box has a spell check feature so there is no excuse, except for drunkenness, for the misspelling of Venezuela. However with the al ala written after it, it may have been intentional. Your guess is as good as mine.

I do not pay taxes, I do not own property nor had an income for the past two years. And let me state, for the record, that I would love to be paying taxes, own a home and making an income.

Don’t be depressed.” The depression that I was writing about was an economic depression. However what depresses me personally is the fact that my children and grandchildren are going through hard times. Because of my current situation, I am unable to help them. As I see it, it will only get worse.

Live the good life in Florida.” It depends on what you call the good life. It also depends on where you live in Florida. When I first moved to Florida I decided to live on the beach. The cost of housing was higher than in the city but benefits were much greater. The warm salt water in the Gulf of Mexico had a therapeutic effect on my arthritic knees (I could walk without a limp) and the lack of pollen bearing trees helped my allergies (I could breathe in the springtime without taking Claritin D).

Besides the health issues, there were other factors. My place of employment was slightly more than a half mile away. There was a Grocery store, a Liquor store, a Walgreens and several Bars and Restaurants within a half mile (comfortable walking distance) of my residence. Plus with the exception of the Cucaracha Grande (Palmetto Bug) and seasonal Love Bugs, there were very few flying insects.

The drawback of living on the beach is there are very few jobs available outside of the service industry.

For eight years I did live what I considered to be the good life. After being unable to work two years ago, it was no longer the good life.

Looking at the women.” As far as I know Florida does not have a monopoly on women. They are everywhere. However, if you are referring to women over 55 with sagging breasts, varicose veined legs and pot bellies; The Gulf Coast of Florida seems to excel in this category.

Eating grouper.” I like Grouper. But I also like Cod, Pompano, Salmon and many other mild tasting fish. In 2000 I could get a Grouper Sandwich (5 ounces with fries and coleslaw) for $5.49. A seven to eight ounce Grouper Filet dinner was just $9.95 with salad and potato.

Last summer I paid $8.95 for a skimpy four ounce sandwich. That’s when marine fuel was under $3 per gallon. Marine fuel is currently more than $4 per gallon and it takes a lot of fuel to find the “happy fishing grounds”.

That brings us to “Venazulala al ala.” As far as I know Venezuela doesn’t set the price on crude oil, OPEC does. The leading producer of crude oil is Saudi Arabia; I believe that Venezuela is fifth or sixth down the line. Besides, Venezuela has given us more good Baseball players than any other OPEC country.

The Beach Bum

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Looking for Relief

The Front Page Headline in last Saturday’s Print Edition of the St. Petersburg Times reads as follows:

Unpaid realty taxes soar

The article by Times Staff Writer Will Van Sant goes on to say “The surge is unprecedented and the reasons are clear: A slumbering real estate market, stagnant wages, growing unemployment and the rising cost of energy, goods and services.”

In Florida the tax bills are sent out in November and due on April 1st. If not paid before June 1st they are advertised as delinquent and go up for auction. The bidder bids the percentage of interest that they will be charging the homeowner. The lowest bid gets to hold the paper on the property and the Homeowner has two years to pay the principle plus interest.

Two related articles on the front page under this Headline were about rising foreclosures in the Tampa Bay area (and people filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy) and more Floridians turning to food stamps for help (up 21% from last year).

Last week I read that unemployment had risen from 5% in April to 5.5% in May. And so far the month of June is above the predicted rate. But these figures are actually below the real unemployment numbers. They don’t take into account the number of High School and College grads who will not be able to find work. They are technically not unemployed as many of them were never employed. A Catch 22.

Then there are the members of the Armed Forces who are returning from military service to no available jobs. Their only option is to re-enlist. The theory is that even a shit job in the military is better than no job at all.

Add to this the number of individuals that are under employed. This is a common practice in the service industries, where employees get close to minimum wage. Their hours get cut to a minimum, but they cannot claim unemployment compensation because they still have a job.

Last fall a friend wrote to me saying that it looks like we we’re heading into a recession. I disagreed saying that we were in a recession and heading into a depression. All of the leading economic indicators are proving me to be correct.

A few weeks ago another friend stated that this economic downturn was orchestrated by the Bush Administration to keep our thoughts on things other than the War in Iraq. Judging from recent Newspaper Headlines; it’s working.

The Beach Bum

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Stuffing The Ballot Box

Former Mayor Richard J. Daley, of Chicago, would be proud of Major League Baseball.

Today I visited and cast my All-Star Ballot for 2008. As a Cubs fan, I voted for several players on the team. Given the choices available, I made one or two marginal picks just to give my favorite Cub players an All-Star vote. And in the process I omitted some of the players that I really believe to be All-Stars.

After I had finished voting for players in both the National and American Leagues, they asked me if I would like to vote again. You are allowed to vote 25 times. That is 25 times per email address, not ISP.

Now if I wanted to do so, I could set up another 24 email aliases and vote a total of 625 times. Judging from the early results, I don’t doubt for a moment that some others are doing this and much more.

It’s time for Major League Baseball to revise the All-Star balloting system.

Here’s what I propose:

First and foremost – No Internet Voting!

All Active Players, Coaches and Managers would vote 1 time with a weighted value of times 25. Also they could not vote for anyone on their own team.

The Sports writers would get 1 vote each with a factor of times 20.

Each team would pick 7 home games in June to let their fans vote for their favorite players. One vote per fan per game on a cardboard ballot as was done in the old days. This would also encourage fans to come out to the Ballpark.

This system would turn All-Star Balloting into the right direction. At least until someone figured out how to stuff the Ballot Box.

Just my opinion.

The Beach Bum

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