Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bound Together By More Than A Paycheck

I used to work in the local division of a national homebuilder here in Sarasota. Just like everybody else. It's been a over a year since that division was closed at the end of 2008.

Amazingly, most of us have kept in touch one way or another--by phone, email, happy hours, etc. Several of us still living locally got together again last night at the Ale House and reminisced about what many of us consider was the best job we've ever had. In truth, it wasn't the job-- it was, instead, the best bunch of people we've ever worked with that made the job what it was.

Throughout our tenure with the company, we all struggled through our fair share of tribulations, the failing economy, downsizings, managerial changes, key resignations and more. Maybe our bond was forged by adversity.

But we also shared the good times of growth, of learning to do our jobs better, of becoming more professional, of getting to know each other. And to keep each other upbeat and smiling through the tough times. Laughter remains one of the hallmarks of this group.

Last night, we shared news about new jobs and about our families. We remembered those who weren't there last night, how much we missed them and how much we learned from them.

It's not like we were together forever in order to form this bond. The company's local history only dates back to 1999 and most of us were there for less than five years. Since the closure of the division, we have moved on to other jobs, to retirement, some have even relocated to other cities and states, but they are still part of us.

We are an eclectic bunch; some younger, some older, some male, some female, some office workers, some sales, some construction guys. Different backgrounds, different politics, different ethnicities, different lifestyles, different pay scales. So, what's the glue that keeps this gumbo of people together?

I heard it a couple times last night expressed as, "I love you guys," or "I really miss you guys." And, no, they were sober when they said it. We respect each other, we look out for each other, we genuinely care about each other and we enjoy each other's company. It wasn't a reunion as much as it was just a celebration of being together again, if even for a few short hours.

Some of us are doing fabulously in new jobs, some are doing OK and some are struggling. Even the ones who are doing the best confessed that it's not the same without the camaraderie of their friends.

Our joy was tempered by the news that two of our number had lost their jobs that same afternoon and we wished that they had been there last night to accept our comfort and our encouragement in person.

I remember having to sit through one of those interminable HR Power-Point 'webinars' while still in the employ of the company. The disconnected voice of authority coming through the speakerphone audibly chortled at the concept that employees consider themselves 'family.' The dumbest thing he's ever heard.

"A company's employees are bound together only by a paycheck. When the paycheck goes away, so does the 'family.' And he had a Power-Point slide that said so.

He obviously had never met us. And, if he knows what's good for him, he won't.

See you guys next time. I love you, too.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lennar Backs Down, Agrees To Total Home Restoration

Lennar Homes, in an effort to reduce additional negative publicity regarding what affected homeowners consider to be a half-hearted effort to mitigate the myriad problems stemming from the presence of Chinese drywall in their homes, have now agreed to totally renovate customers' homes.

Homeowners had complained that just replacing the drywall would not be enough to resolve the problems with corroding wiring, failing AC units and illness caused by the tainted sheetrock.

At a news conference today, Lennar Homes demonstrated its more customer-responsive approach in dealing with this sensitive issue by having a crack team of renovation experts begin the remediation process at a home in Heritage Harbour:

$13.06 Does Not Buy A Good Pizza--Or A Good Hitman

Just when you thought that the endless news stories about Nick Bollea's car wreck and the rest of the Hogan family's train wreck of a life finally had come to a end, now this hits the fan. They're baaaaaack!

I'm always amazed how often you hear about people trying to hire undercover cops to kill somebody. Real killers for hire need to get better organized. A toll-free 800 telephone number, maybe. Or a website. Maybe they should just kill their agents and start over. I'll bet sports agent Scott Boras would do one helluva job for a hitman and get him top dollar, too.

Apparently, the honeymoon between Graziano and the missus has been over for a while, like, since 2004 when Mrs. G filed her first domestic violence injunction. By August, 2007, the number of injunctions she filed reached 4. I don't know how many protection from abuse orders or divorce proceedings have to be filed before you get the picture, but it must be more than 4.

Later that same August, son John was riding with Nick Bollea/Hogan when he piled it up and John was left pretty much a vegetable. Hold everything! With cameras rolling, the loving husband and father declared, "My wife is the best mother there is in the world." Maybe so, but when the cameras were turned off, he still wanted the bitch dead, "best mother in the world" or not.

Now riding on the coattails of a celebrity like Hulk Hogan because your son hung around with his son was probably pretty cool for the Grazianos. But when your son gets almost killed and starts wracking up enormous medical bills, that's when you see the celebrity less as a buddy and more of a cash cow and start filing lawsuits.

Don't get me wrong, they all seem pretty much like trailer trash to me. Like the missus said this morning, "you can have money and still be trailer trash." Amen to that, sister. And having the money and their 15 minutes in the spotlight makes them just that much more interesting, too.

Proving that trailer trash can dish out a heapin' helpin' of irony, Graziano wanted the hit on his wife to be in a car crash. Nice touch there, Mr. G. Instead of trying to find a hit man, you should have just asked Nick to take her for a spin through Clearwater.

Over the course of a dozen meetings in the span of a few months, the details were finally negotiated to the satisfaction of both parties. Never let it be said that Eddie Graziano doesn't drive a hard bargain. Most guys would just want this to happen and move on, instead of trying to nickel and dime a killer. Hey, Eddie, HE'S A KILLER--what are you gonna do, try to cheat the guy out of a couple bucks?

The going rate to knock off a semi-high profile target in Southwest Florida: $1,100 in cash, a personal check for $1,000 and a gift card to Westshore Pizza for $13.06. Blame it on the economy. Hitmen have to eat too, you know.

And what kind of a pizza are you gonna get for a lousy $13.06? The lunch special?

Oh, I didn't know...............

Westshore Pizza Introduces its new "Eddie G" $13.06 Special
A very personal-size pizza, just like Momma used to make on Fridays, when Dad came home drunk after blowing his whole paycheck playing cards and started smacking her around. First, we take the dough and throw it against the wall, then knead it like we're choking that no-good bastard. Add some cheese and whatever we sweep up off the floor, put it in the oven and serve it up on paper plates. Our customers tell us it's "the pie to die for!"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Diocese of Venice Agrees With New Papal Finding: Men And Women Are Different

MSN referenced this survey in an article about the differing ways that men and women rate their vices, as reported by the Roman Catholic Church. Which is a lot like a bank that just squandered billions of stockholder money complaining that men prefer to steal blue pens while women steal red ones.

Catholics are supposed to confess their sins once a year to a priest, who then says "Okie-dokie, you're good to go. See you next year." I call that a good deal. I wonder if they have drive-through confessions? Or email? Could you just leave a message on his answering machine?

Women's top 3 sins in the confessional:
  1. Pride, as in "I hope everybody is jealous of my new shoes."
  2. Envy, as in "I can't believe Muffy has my new shoes in red."
  3. Anger, as in "I hate that bitch, Muffy."
Guy's top 3 are:
  1. Lust, as in "Muffy looks eminently doable tonight in those shoes."
  2. Gluttony, as in "I'm gonna have one more beer and then put the moves on Muffy."
  3. Sloth, as in "Oh, man, I just puked on my shirt. Hey, Muffy, lookin' good, babe...."
Apparently there are hard and fast rules as to what it takes for the priest hearing confessions to issue "Get Out Of Jail Free" cards, relative to the violation. These rules are handed down by the super-secret Apostolic Penitentiary, which I used to think is where they locked up those clergymen who abused little boys. Then I found out that they just ship 'em to another parish when someone catches them. What do they say about shit flowing downhill.....

The survey found that about a third of Catholics no longer thought confession was relevant. Does that mean they think they're perfect or does that mean they think that anything short of a felony doesn't count as a sin?

Pope Benedict XVI (that's his last name: 'XVI') says, "If people do not confess regularly, they risk slowing their spiritual rhythm." Which is, I assume, what they mean by good Catholics using only the 'rhythm method' or abstinence. Abstinence, I assume, means you didn't show up for work that day. So, I assume, if you have good rhythm and don't go to work, you will go to heaven.

In 2008, the Apostolic Penitentiary came up with an updated list of modern sins, such as polluting the environment (I'm talking to you, Hummer drivers), taking or selling illegal drugs (Heaven obviously does not have a baseball team), causing poverty and financial greed, which pretty much rules out Congress and all banks. Just released, the newest sin for 2009 is typing your emails in ALL CAPITALS.

I wonder if Bernie Madoff, Art Nadel and Richard Stanford are considered sinners for their schemes or angels of God for helping to save all their investors from the sin of excessive wealth?

The survey was conducted by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar, who probably figures that being under 80-years old should be a sin in itself.

Father Busa conducts his painstaking research
Catholic Priests are Bored

Slumdog Millionaire Comes To Bradenton

Hoping to cash in on recent Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, the Pittsburgh Pirates have outsourced two pitcher positions to two Indian ballplayers by inviting them to their spring training camp in Bradenton. And, by 'Indian,' I don't mean 'used to play for Cleveland,' I mean 'from the sub-continent.'

And, by 'ballplayers,' I mean 'javelin throwers.'

Both Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel beat out 36,998 other non-baseball-playing Indians in a contest called "Million Dollar Arm Hunt," a talent competition in India promoted by Jeff Bernstein, who is Barry Bond's marketing agent. Some agent. He couldn't find a job for Bonds in 2008, but he could run an 'American Idol' knock-off half of a world away?

True to the Slumdog Millionaire rags to riches theme, neither of these prospects knew the first thing about the Zen that is baseball, with its rich traditions, its revered heroes, its hallowed temples of green grass, brown dirt and excruciatingly-straight white chalk lines.

Had never heard about baseball's steroid past.

Oh, wait, that was supposed to be "baseball's storied past...."

Hell, they had never even heard of Abbott and Costello's Who's On First routine, let alone know who was playing right field. Then again, Costello never figured that one out either.

Their homes in India had electricity, but no running water and tarps for roofs. Yes, just like in Florida after hurricane season!

They learned to speak English from watching Baseball Tonight. Thank God it wasn't something like the Sopranos or Snoop Dogg's Father Hood. Fo' schizzle!

Wait 'til Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly find out about these two guys stealing American jobs from American boys playing America's pastime in America. Why, it's downright un-American!

In India, cows are sacred. In America, we kill them and use their skin for baseball gloves. How's that strike you, boys?

And what about those bus rides through Florida during spring training? Will the Pirate veterans tell them that here in America we ride in the bus, not on the bus?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OK, Now They've Gone Too Far

Broward County is conducting an internal investigation as to whether 15 Sheriff's deputies used steroids, although they admit that it's too early to speculate on possible criminal charges.

Football players, baseball players--sure; no steroids in sports.

But to castigate these two from the Sheriff's Dept. for using performance enhancing drugs, well, you make the call on this one:

Manatee Machete Man Threatens To Fillet Contractor

Man, 78, attacks worker with machete, deputies say

Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 3:34 p.m.

MANATEE COUNTY – Authorities say a 78-year-old man charged at a contractor with a machete, threatening to chop him up and throw him in a pond because the man did not want fish removed from the neighborhood lakes.

Francisco Ortiz, of the 500 block of Country Lane, was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the Tuesday afternoon attack.

Deputies say Ortiz reported the contractor to authorities around 3:30 p.m. when he noticed the man removing fish. Ortiz was notified by a deputy that the homeowners’ association had hired a contractor to remove tilapia from the neighborhood's ponds.

Ortiz, 78, told deputies he had pushed the contractor out of his yard last week and intended to do it again, the report said.

Ortiz entered his home and retrieved a machete while a deputy questioned neighbors about Ortiz's demeanor, according to a report.

After the attack, Ortiz ran into the home and locked all the doors, but Ortiz's wife let the deputy into the residence to arrest Ortiz.

Hell, yeah; I'd be pissed off enough to chop the guy up too for the way he was trying to get the tilapia out of the 'lakes' in the development. (Builders call those ratty retention ponds that catch all the runoff of lawn fertilizer and dog shit from the backyards 'lakes,' so they can charge you for a waterfront lot. And if you live across the street and can look out your guest bedroom window while standing on a your tiptoes and your neighbor's shrubs on that side of the house are trimmed down to the nubs and there are no cars in his driveway and you can just barely catch a glimpse of a corner of the lake if the water level is high enough, that's a builder's upcharge for "water view." )

Imagine. You're sitting there on your sun-dappled lanai that overlooks the lake, sipping an afternoon St. Germain's cocktail, statuesque herons patiently wade and wait, glistening turtles laze on the bank, a pair of otters frolic in the softly rippling water, somewhere in the distance a bird sings its song of spring. Yes, life is good in your little corner of the world.

Then, somebody comes to your idyllic little scene to remove the tilapia. Surely, there are better ways to get the fish out of the pond than this:

On second thought, forget the machete--go get the 12-gauge for that son of a bitch!

And when the cops show up to arrest him, HIS WIFE LET'S THEM IN to haul him off to jail.

Not even two weeks after Valentine's Day and she does him this way. That's right, buddy; that's how much she really thought of that $60 bouquet of roses you got her......

Proposed Naval Gunnery Range In Collier County

Pentagon officials today acknowledged the existence of what was heretofore a top secret military base near Marco Island. The site, according to anonymous sources at the Dept. of the Navy, was kept under wraps because it was used by the Navy SEAL program as a weapons proficiency testing area.

The Navy's best and brightest were brought here to receive training in small arms use, especially in the practice of shooting from a moving water craft, trying to hit an airborne target, also known as 'wing shooting.'

Since the presence of the base has come to light, several militant environmental groups have begun protesting, in the hopes of closing the testing range. So far, only birds have been killed.

From a distance, in a moving boat, at dusk and after a couple beers, they look like ducks......

......but they probably still taste like chicken."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Increase The Memory ON Your Computer

You say you're having trouble remembering things?

You say that you write yourself notes but then forget where you put them?

You say that you sit down to email Aunt Edna and your best friend from college--you know, old what's-his-name--and can't remember what you wanted to tell them?

You say that you tried pasting Post-It notes to your computer monitor and they just kept falling off because the screen was too dusty because you forgot to clean this past month? Or two?

Or was the screen too greasy from eating those french fries and then using your finger to trace the downward death march of your 401(k)?

Ever wish Post-It notes worked more like duct tape?

HERE is the answer to your problem.

You do remember having a problem, right?

For Some, Chinese Drywall Could Be Answer To Falling Stock Market

From Joel Friesen of Creative Commons comes this sobering assessment about the pernicious evil that is Chinese drywall.

The Chinese drywall epidemic appears to be especially deadly if:
  • you are 'upside down' in your new house
  • you think a class-action lawsuit seems like a good way to recoup the losses in your 401(k)
  • you think a class-action lawsuit can be an alternative career path in this recession
  • you want to move back north
  • your builder promised you 'the world' and you ended up with the 'third world'
  • you hate your neighbors
  • you're bored and want to inject a little excitement into your life
  • you are a house-a-chondriac
If you feel left out and somewhat disappointed because you're not being killed by Chinese drywall in your house, go here to find something else that will kill you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's Not So Hard Being Green

Suddenly, all us cheeseburger aficionados are ecologically vindicated! 'Going green' was never so gastronomically delicious. In fact, the hardest thing about it might be our arteries.

If this kid's success to drive across America depends on used vegetable oil from burgers and fries, who am I to deny him fuel?

Times being what they are, I understand there are sacrifices to be made. Apparently, there is a severe water shortage in the Central Valley of California. With only so much water to go around, the choice has to be made between irrigating the crops that produce 25% of America's food or filling the swimming pools of Beverly Hills.

I will, therefore, in the interest of my country, forgo the lettuce and tomato on my burger. God bless America!

Please join me every Weds. by wearing a green T-shirt to the weekly eco-friendly lunch at the Hob Nob, sponsored by FRIES (Friends Responsibly Initiating Environment Solutions.)

Who knew ecology could taste this good?

The Invasion!


Much to the relief of Red County, Wild Thing, Rush Limbaugh and various other know-it-alls who have been predicting this for years, AMERICA IS UNDER ATTACK!

Long suspected of being a Marxist Cuban/Venezuelan plot to take over Florida, a horrible plague has been unleashed upon our fair state. In the past few years, the U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted several boats with Cuban markings in the Florida Straits. These boats, thought at first to contain refugees, were found to have only iguanas, monitor lizards, pythons and bunnies on them. Upon further inspection, there were strong indications that their human handlers had been EATEN by the murderous cargo.

First discovered in the Everglades, these ravenous creatures are marching inexorably northward--right to YOUR doorstep! Right onto YOUR lanai! Slithering out of YOUR toilet!

Yes, America, the time to act is NOW!

Lock your doors! Board up your windows! Head to the Publix to stock up on bread, milk and toilet paper! Lock and load!

Our government will not save you from this menace. In fact, while acting as a so-called "community activist" in Chicago, Comrade Barack Hussein Obama led an effort to introduce monitor lizards and pythons into some of the housing projects there, under the guise of ridding those slums of rodents. HA! His real Communist agenda has come to light, as Lake Michigan now contains so many pythons that shipping on the waterway is endangered.

A resident from Turtle Rock recently found a large snake lurking around her back yard, eying up her cocker spaniel on the lanai. Afraid because of its size and aggressive actions, she called 911. When deputies showed up at her residence a couple hours later, they dispatched the creature with a hail of gunfire. UF scientists examined the bullet-ridden carcass and discovered that it was a Titanoboa ginormicus.


(University of Florida/PA)

The Titanoboa grew to 45ft or more

Will you allow our United States of America to fall to these invaders? Just as those Sons of Liberty turned back the British tyrants from our shores, so must we take up arms to expel these scaly Asian marauders from our midst.

If we fail to act now--and act decisively--this could soon be staring at you one morning from behind your prized geraniums:

Tyrannosaurus - click on the picture to go back

Sunday, February 22, 2009

North Port Gets Ready To Par-tay

City leaders are getting ready to party in North Port this June, celebrating the metropolis' 50 years of existence, miserable though it may have been. North Port is trumpeting the fact that the 1/2 hour parade, keystone of the anniversary festival, has been in the planning stages for three years. Two more years of planning, they say, and they should be ready.

The parade is to kick off at noon and run until about 12:15. 12:20, if you count having to wait for the two guys cleaning up after the Clydesdales. The parade will end in downtown North Port. Organizers promise that there will be signs erected to designate where downtown is.

Anniversary project manager, Linda Yates, said there will be a float, a clown, a mascot, a band, a classic car, a marcher, a dignitary, a Ponce DeLeon re-enactor and a Budweiser/Anheuser-Busch/InBev Clydesdale.

The theme of the festival is "North Port, Yesterday and Today," shortened from the original slogan of "North Port, Yesterday and Today But We're Not Sure About Tomorrow Because Of The Way Things Have Been Going Lately."

The Tampa Bay Rays, new to their spring training home in Port Charlotte just down the road, were supposed to have a significant role in the festivities. Since winning the American League Division Championship, however, North Port has decided to replace them with the Washington Nationals because they had the worst record in Major League Baseball last year.

Musical acts will include headliners "2 Broads and a Guitar." Really. City fathers apparently wanted to add an air of class and dignity to the event since they recently found out that their original choice of Luciano Pavarotti would be unable to perform due to the fact that he had died a couple years ago.

The festival will end with a fireworks display at 7:00 PM, if anybody's still hanging around and if police don't get too many complaints about the noise. And if the kid with the firecrackers can get off work early from the nearby Subway.

In order to raise money for the festival, several fundraising events have been held in North Port, such as last fall's highly successful "Haunted Grow House." Future events are to include the sale of a cookbook, bake sale and the ever popular pie-throwing contest, where for $5 you can throw a custard pie at a North Port City Commissioner. For an extra buck, former SCTI instructor and current Commissioner Mike Treubert will lick the pie off their faces.

The organizers regret that the previously scheduled 'Movie Night with Mike' with Commissioner Treubert showing some of his home movies has been cancelled, following a recent incident at the SCTI law enforcement class, where he previewed some of his videos.

Tallahassee Bureaucrats Sink Another Great Idea

Fish pedicure is banned in Fla.

Published: Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 8:00 a.m.

- A trendy pedicure with fish that nibble dead skin from the feet has been nipped in the bud.

The Florida Board of Cosmetology has banned the procedure, even before it was known to be offered anywhere in the state. The board said salons had been inquiring about its legality and decided to preemptively strike.

The treatment is popular in Asia and has spread to some U.S. cities. A client sticks feet, hands or other body parts in a bowl or pool, and the small fish chow down on soft decaying skin.

Texas, Washington, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have also outlawed the practice. A spokeswoman for the Florida board says there's concern because there's no way to disinfect a pool of fish in between uses.

Another example of how narrow-minded government overreacts when a promising economic engine suffers a hiccup.

Does this customer look like he's concerned about the fish pool not being disinfected?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Truth Will Out, Stephen King

Steven Lightfoot, the non-caped crusader who is trying to bring nefarious Casey Key kingpin, author Stephen King, to justice for the murder of rock icon John Lennon, tried to plead his case to the Sarasota City Commission this past week.

After being granted an impromptu audience with the assembled commissioners, he was summarily dismissed with the technicality that the accused lives in the County of Sarasota, not the City of Sarasota. Frustrated by this underhanded parliamentarian ploy, Lightfoot was forcibly removed from the chamber, shouting, "Don't tase me, bro," although that audio has been edited from the videotape below due to possible copyright infringement action from the original 'tased dude', UF student, Andrew Meyer.

Lightfoot has been waging his campaign for truth for some time now, first in California and most recently here on the Suncoast, daring to come into the very lair of his avowed arch-nemesis and his minions.

Because the Casey Key bid to secede from Sarasota County has yet to take place, the Sarasota County Commissioners are taking the preemptive measure of already researching Robert's Rules of Order for a loophole to prevent him from speaking at their next meeting, including denying entry to his everpresent "Stephen King Pulled The Trigger" sign.

Nonplussed, Steven Lightfoot intends to stay on message, although he revealed plans to sport a new look at the upcoming meeting:

Last Minute Entry Into The Parade of Homes

Organizers of the Sarasota/Manatee Parade of Homes have waived the pre-registration requirement and granted an exemption to a late entry, in an effort to increase the number of homes for the public to view.

Just under the wire, although the traffic signals had to be removed.
How to Move a House

"Home Prices So Low, I Have To Be Craaaazzzzeeeee"

In a effort to contain housing costs for the current economy, to keep his subcontractors working and, most importantly, to get some much-needed free advertising for his business, Pat Neal Homes is selling houses at cost.

In an ominous tone, he warned, "We traditionally raise prices to reward people who buy from us early," he said. It was unclear whether or not the prices had been raised since the morning papers had been delivered and people had read the story.

It was also noted that "realtors, as hungry as builders in this environment, appeared excited by the prospect..." Not exactly a feeding frenzy, perhaps, but the appearance of excitement. And in this town, it's all about appearances.

The homes are something new for the area, although some experts expect to see more and more of this type of structure popping up on the Suncoast. They are perfect for homebuyers who can take their home with them when they are forced to move out of state when they lose their job and can't find another one in Florida.

Construction managers for Neal Homes indicate that the new 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes will all have wood-burning fireplaces, a large picture window, spacious rear deck and low miles. Also included in the price is the rock used to block the front wheel, which is required for hurricane compliance.

Neal admits to taking some heat for using foreign parts in his new home design, but professed that he would be unable to offer such low prices if forced to use only American-made. He emphatically stated that he will not use any Asian manufacturers, however, due to the continuing concerns about Chinese drywall in them.

"Hurry in today; prices this low won't last forever!
A Van Down By the River

State Farm Insurance also plans to circumvent their withdrawal from the home insurance market in Florida by offering auto insurance policies to the owners of this type of dwelling.

Robert Bartolotta, city manager of Sarasota, admitted that he had heard of the new Pat Neal Homes offering and that is what swayed him to push for the downtown parking garage. "If this concept takes off, that parking garage can be turned into a high-rise condo in a matter of weeks."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Parade of Homes Marches On

The Parade Of Homes, the longstanding tradition of area builders showing off their wares to the adoring public, has kicked off again for 2009. While some in the industry thought this year would have such a low number of homes offered by the few remaining builders that the event would be called the 'Parade of Home,' organizers are excited by the wide array of showcase homes, albeit in reduced numbers.

Exceptional value! Nestled on a corner lot, the trellised entryway is reminiscent of a Tuscany villa. 2nd-floor bonus room makes this a real 'bonus' buy.

Ready to move into your slice of heaven? This starter home boasts a wood-burning fireplace, rustic siding and a charming 3rd bedroom/office option.
Abandoned House

Want your "home to be your castle?" Then, this one's for you! A luxurious 4-bed, 3-bath with open-air solarium on estate-sized lot that will make you feel like a king.
abandoned house 6

"Charming" is the word to describe this lovely two-story with a French flair! The inviting entry, quaint bay window, artistic roof design and manicured lawn all say 'home', n'est pas?
abandoned house 8

Lush native landscaping frames this spacious lot, giving a real 'old Florida' look to this much sought after location. Majestic trees complemented by colorful mature plantings combine for great curb appeal. And there's a house, too!
abandoned house 38

Here is a 'two-fer' offer that you can't afford to pass up! The builder is offering these two beauties as a package deal--live in one, rent the other; live in one, sell the other; rent both; sell both--the possibilities are endless. Makes ideal mother-in-law living quarters, too! Great for out-of-town guests.
abandoned houses 39 and 40

All the rage in Australia right now, this breezy, open-air model will be sure to capture the imagination of discriminating buyers who have a flair for adventure! Buy now, before the coming wildfire season brings out the imitators.
abandoned house 47

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Capt. Sullenberger's Fowl Past Comes To Light

Information just released reveals that USAirways pilot, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger has a history of unfortunate interaction with birds. Worthy of note is the fact that the operator of the roller coaster, 17-year old Jimmy "Did You See That Chick Just Puke on Her Boyfriend" Feltenberger, who, despite the collision with the avian, did NOT have to land the ride in the river.

The News Just Gets Worser and Worser

My God, can the news get any more depressing for us Floridians?

What was once a proud Sunshine State tradition, like red-light runners, sunburned tourists and overpriced real estate, this near sacred institution is now also mired in a downward spiral, reflecting the somber mood of everything related to Florida.

This distressing report indicates that even this group of formerly faithful visitors have cut back on their outings to the beach.

The next thing you know, we won't have any of these visiting Florida, either.

$50 Million Buys A Lot Of Crayons

When Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY, found out that $50 million of the $787 billion stimulus package would be for the National Endowment for the Arts, she gushed, "If we're trying to stimulate the economy and get money into the Treasury, nothing does that better than art."


Why didn't she tell us this before so we could have saved the other $786,950,000,000!

One thing, though; when she gets effusive about how 'art' will cure our financial woes, does she mean 'art' like this:

Or, does she mean 'Art' like this:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kirschner's Wet Dream

The Sarasota City Commission has decided to be the forward-thinking representatives of their community that they were elected to be by taking the bold step of approving what will, years hence, be recognized as the key element of reviving downtown Sarasota--a parking garage.

Despite the well-intentioned (and by 'well-intentioned', I mean 'well-intentioned' the way the former governor of Illinois viewed his state's vacant Senate seat) pleas by some of our area's most outstanding citizenry who, coincidentally, will not be able to turn much, if any, profit from a parking garage. They were hoping for a Convention Center the way they were hoping for a baseball stadium the way they were hoping for the building boom years to continue forever the way they were hoping for a Christmas pony in July.

The decision to build a lasting edifice to all those autos that nobody's buying did not come without some soul searching by the commissioners. Mayor Lou Ann Palmer said that the convention center vs. the parking garage debate "got too complicated" and she opted to stand on her head again, much to the delight of everyone present.

Ken Shelin, who just happens to be running for reelection and will be looking for campaign donations, was appalled at the lack of leadership displayed by his fellow commissioners toward the true vision of the real estate and development moguls in the chamber who would stand to make big bucks off a convention center and, by extension, make big contributions to his war chest.

Even Frederick "Call Me Rick" Piccolo, top executive at Sarasota-Bradenton airport, threw his support behind the construction of a convention center. Not that it will make any difference to him at his new job in Cincinnati........

Commissioner Kirschner, who waxed so eloquent on the virtues of a parking garage that it was roundly agreed that his empassioned oratory won the hearts, minds and votes of the majority of the other commissoners. With a hitch in his voice, he declared, "We can do a world-class garage."

And, so it came to pass.

"Some people hear 'parking garage' and they see this:
One Killed In Parking Garage Collapse At Charlotte's SouthPark Mall

I hear 'parking garage' and I see this:"

Sarasota City Commissioner, Kelly "I Really Liked Star Wars" Kirschner

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Did You Do While Rome Burned?

This, because I can't play the violin.

Digital D-Day

Today, Feb. 17, 2009, was to be the day of the greatest revolution in broadcasting history. Not counting the syndication of "I Love Lucy," of course.

The government, which has engineered this changeover, has decided to delay the switch because they ran out of money to fund the $40 coupons to buy digital converters. This is the same government, by the way, that was just given almost $800 billion in taxpayer money to do with as they see fit. Not to worry.

If you are one of the two or three people that have been in a coma for the last year and did not know about the end of analog, you are in luck. Not only has your government inadvertently given you a reprieve, but here is a sneak peek at what you would be missing if you do not prepare for the impending digital age.

The Miracle That Is Television.

Charity Begins At Someone Else's Home

USF Associate Dean, Abdul Rao, who oversees grants for the College of Medicine, has been busted for his 'charity work.'

Security cameras caught the good dean and another guy, identified as a day laborer/handyman who has worked for Rao, swiping the Schwinn off a loading dock on campus.

The video shows that they didn't take the first bike in the rack; the soon-to-be new owner took it for a test drive and decided that it just wasn't for him. But the second bike--now, that was more like it. Sporty, yet sophisticated. Handled well, all the options he was looking for, low miles, well maintained and, best of all, the price was right.

So, they loaded it into the dean's minivan, had the courtesy to return the first bike back to the rack and away they went, happy as clams. The handyman got a new ride and the dean was feeling just so damn warm and fuzzy for helping his fellow man.

Then, as is so often the case, some wet blanket has to ruin this tale of compassion--the narrow-minded, selfish owner of the bike in question, Timothy Boyd. As a doctoral student, Boyd makes nowhere near the $384,000-a-year that the dean rakes in and probably uses the bike because he can't even afford a minivan. Loser!

Still, Associate Dean Rao did not blame Boyd or the girl to whom he lent his bike that day for not locking it up or having a better alarm system on it. Instead, Rao said that he "gave a man who does odd jobs for me permission to use a bicycle that was parked at the center. I acted out of compassion for this nearly homeless man; but I failed to consider that the bicycle belonged to someone on our Alzheimer's team."

Oh, and he also failed to consider the security cameras on the loading dock, too. And, I guess it would have been OK if the bike didn't belong to someone he knew.

After the theft was reported to the campus police, a review of the security camera tape revealed the dean's 'act of compassion,' which is another word for 'misdemeanor,' in academic circles.

Rao, naturally, was overcome with remorse when he discovered he was caught. He had an assistant track down Boyd so he could convince him to withdraw his complaint and even made arrangements for the handyman to pedal the bike back to the loading dock. No harm, no foul, right?

Why would Rao risk his reputation (he is, after all an Oxford-educated transplant immunologist), his $384,000 salary and his work at the university overseeing millions of dollars in research grants? Why couldn't he have chosen the time-tested method of skimming a little bit off the grants? You mean to tell me that some drug company wouldn't have given the guy in charge a lousy $100 bicycle?

As I've said before, rich people aren't like the rest of us lowly swine. Just as local favorite, Art Nadel, was so very charitable with OPM (other people's money), so was Rao. Only it was OPB. Instead of parting with any of that $384,000 he made last year, better to just head down to the local bike rack on a deserted loading dock after dark and let this unfortunate fellow have his pick.

At least he didn't take the forklift that was sitting there. Of course, what we don't know is that maybe the guy needed the bicycle to go steal a flatbed truck so he could come back and steal the forklift.

In his defense, Rao said, "How stupid would I be? I knew the cameras were there?"

I hope that was meant to be a rhetorical question......

Monday, February 16, 2009

Piccolo May Be Playing A Different Tune

From the SHT on 2/14/09:

Airport CEO is looking elsewhere

MANATEE COUNTY -- Frederick "Rick" Piccolo, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport's president and chief executive officer, has interviewed for the top job at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Covington, Ky. "All is I can do is confirm that I have been interviewed and hopefully the process will be concluded in the next couple of weeks," Piccolo said Friday. The Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority has scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday at 9 a.m. to discuss Piccolo's potential departure.

Piccolo has been under increasing pressure to resign his post, due to his decision last year to proceed with the controversial new runway installation at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport.

Airplane Crossing Road ..Funny Pictures By Cool Fun Pics

Cited as a cost savings measure, the runway intersection with Rt. 41 didn't "pose a serious problem until season started and the traffic increased," said the embattled Piccolo. "Two months from now, the North Trail will be a ghost town again and nobody will care."Piccolo thinks he has a good chance of snagging the job at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. "They liked what I did here with the 'runway crossing the road' idea and wanted to know what innovations I could bring to Cincinnati," he said. "Noting that the airport was close to the Ohio River, I suggested consulting with hero airline pilot, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, to look at whether a water runway might work there."

Goodbye To Garcia

Bucs to cut ties with Garcia

Apparently it's a bit of a big deal, but I'm not sure exactly what Andy Garcia did with the Buccaneers.......


No Island Is An Island

Rec'd this forward of a forward of a forward, etc., from a friend of mine who is one of those Rush Limbaugh/Red County types--you know, everybody that doesn't look like him is an illegal alien stealing American jobs and sucking the system dry, thinks Obama is the anti-Christ and is absolutely convinced that his America is the one true religion.

Apparently they think this guy Howard is the shit for telling off Muslims, non-Christians, non-English speakers (although "Australian" is borderline English, at best) and anyone else who doesn't like the former island penal colony that they call home.

Prime Minister John Howard - Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law

were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia ,

as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head

off potential terror attacks.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims

on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies

monitoring the nation's mosques.



Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying

about whether we are offending some individual or their

culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have

experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority

of Australians.'

'This culture has been developed over two centuries

of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men

and women who have sought freedom'

'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese,

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language.

Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society

Learn the language!'

'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some

Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because

Christian men and women, on Christian principles,

founded this nation, and this is clearly documented.

It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls

of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you

consider another part of the world as your new home,

because God is part of our culture.'

'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why.

All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony

and peaceful enjoyment with us.'


and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this.

But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping

about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our

Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one

other great Australian freedom,


'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force

you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the

country YOU accepted.'

I figured this would be an appropriate response:

Dear Prime Minister Howard,

We agree. Please don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of OUR country.


Your hosts for the last 200 years, The Aborigines

Click to see an enlarged picture

The Trop Will Rock!

From Port Charlotte today, it was announced that a new color analyst will be added to the Tampa Bay Rays television broadcast team to replace the departed Joe Magrane. Rays management said that Dewayne Staats will remain the play-by-play announcer and will be joined in the booth by Brian Anderson and Todd Kalas.

Kalas, known for his on-air reports while roaming the stands, will be replaced by Kevin Kennedy, whom Rays GM, Andrew Friedman, spotted at a recent Boston Celtics game. "Todd is a good baseball guy and we want to use him in the booth and chose to go in a different direction in the stands," Friedman said. "If this guy doesn't get all those Q-tip-headed grandmas from St. Pete up on their feet at the Trop, we'll have to break out the defibrillators."

Is Barbetta Bucking For Cabinet Post In Obama White House?

Joe "Call Me Joe" Barbetta has demonstrated why he has a bright political future ahead of him.

Jeremy Wallace reports in the SHT that:

"Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta says state bureaucracy will keep much of the federal stimulus money from making its way to local government.

So the Republican county commissioner suggested that $300 million be given out by each of the 435 House members of Congress and $500 million through each of the 100 members of the Senate.

"Why can't we interject simplicity into this process?" he asked at a Feb. 9 County Commission meeting."

Wallace makes no mention of whether the Commissioners' meeting came to a halt until the laughter subsided. If not, that could indicate one of two things:
  • the rest of the commissioners agreed with what he said
  • the rest of the commissioners don't pay attention to what he said
There are a lot of frivolous, wasteful ways this money is going to be spent; nobody has any delusions about that. Republicans didn't vote for it because of that and Democrats voted for it in spite of that. Throwing money away is a time-honored American tradition.

Joe Barbetta apparently subscribes whole-heartedly to that tradition.

We don't have the foggiest idea of where the first half of the Bush administration's 'Son of Stimulus' went, except that the banks got it and they're not giving it back, in any way, shape or form. When questioned by Congress, the bankers don't have a lot to say about the handout, other than "When do we get the second half?"

Being numbers guys, the next thing these financial wizards will be asking for is the third half of the taxpayer prize package.

Now, I'm sure that members of the House and Senate would be more than happy to get this windfall, although its spending would probably be more visible than sneaking through an earmark or two for a pet project. Tougher to hide, say, a 'Bridge to Nowhere.' Maybe. Remember, these guys are the masters at this stuff.

I'm sure the esteemed senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, still has a couple payments left to ex-Gov. Blagojevich for his seat at the trough. And he sure as hell doesn't want to fall behind, knowing that the impeached (but still innocent; just ask him) governor's enforcer is Mrs. Blago, Patty "I'll Fuck You Up" Blagojevich.

As for Barbetta, maybe the thrill of hanging out with those big shots from the Red Sox for a week was all too much for him.

Congress Warms To Barbetta Stimulus Plan

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Is Henrietta The New Monica??

Taking a cue from his mentor, Bill Clinton, Pres. Obama wasted no time in demonstrating his affection for the ladies at a town hall meeting in Ft. Myers, FL. He pushed his way past his Secret Service detail and scooped up Henrietta Hughes in his arms and gave her a passionate kiss in front of 1,500 shocked supporters, many of which were visibly embarrassed to have witnessed such a brazen display.

Said one staffer, "Man, I wouldn't want to be him when we get home. Michelle is gonna kick his ass all over the White House."

"I'll hook you up, baby."
A homeless woman who was hugged and comforted by President Barack Obama when she pleaded for help at public meeting in Florida has spent her first night in a new home, donated by a member of the audience

The next day, Ms. Hughes was offered the use of a house by the wife of Florida State Representative, Nick Thompson. "We got a call from Rahm Emanuel late last night, telling us that our President needed a house. Fortunately, we had just bounced out some long-time tenants who were two days late on their rent payment, so we had this one available. Rahm said he didn't care whose house it was, just get one. He can be very, uh, convincing," Mrs. Thompson said with a trembling voice.

When asked whether or not she thought her new home would be better than living in her Nissan truck, Ms. Hughes said, "It's OK, but I guess I won't be taking it to the drive-through at the Taco Bell any time soon, now will I?"

"Barack, honey, that top right window is my room. Baby, you come see Henrietta anytime..."

Friday, February 13, 2009

State Farm a step closer to leaving state

Published: Friday, February 13, 2009 at 11:15 a.m.

Florida's insurance commissioner says he's giving conditional approval to State Farm's request to withdraw from the state' property insurance market.

State Farm Florida, a subsidiary of the Illinois-based insurer, said last month it could not continue doing business in Florida's high-risk property market without becoming insolvent.

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said Friday that State Farm can go ahead with its plan to withdraw from the Florida property insurance market, but stipulated several conditions with which the company must comply.

State Farm has 21 days to review McCarty's order and decide whether to abide by it or request an administrative hearing.

State Farm Florida also announced today that its parent company is threatened with insolvency if NASA is found at fault in the collision of US and Russian satellites that has spewed debris into space, threatening the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope.

Soviet officials are already backing claims by investigators from Russian insurance giant, Mutual of Mussgorsky, that the US satellite was at fault, based on reliable eyewitness accounts and skid marks.

"We had hoped to claim that the accident was an act of God and, therefore, not covered, " said a State Farm spokesperson. "But, considering that Russia is a godless state, I don't know how much traction that argument will have."

Local attorneys are already placing television ads soliciting clients who may have been injured in the collision.

"Got something in your eye? Call us now to find out if it's satellite debris."

Sarasota Restauranteurs Seek Relief

Upscale Sarasota area restaurants are bemoaning what they term "excessive media coverage" of the recent wildfires in Australia, citing a precipitous drop-off in roasted koala entrees.

"May I suggest a nice Australian Shiraz with dinner?"

The 'Disappeared' Art

It's hard for me to identify with rich people. For one thing, they have a lot more money than I do.

But what really gets me is their sheer hubris; a sense of entitlement, a belief that the rules don't apply to them, an arrogance that usually trips them up in the end. And that comeuppance is what keeps us little people going.

Hence the fascination with Art Nadel, still referred to as a "well-known Sarasota philanthropist," even though his biggest philanthropic effort appears to have been Art Nadel and Art Nadel alone, since Mrs. Nadel, his family, partners Neil and Chris Moody and his accountant, Michael Zucker, knew NOTHING about the years-in-the-making Ponzi scheme they all were attached to, in one way or another.

While on his self-described 'vacation' immediately after the house of cards collapsed, Nadel apparently visited San Antonio, TX (where he reportedly wrote in a guest book at the Alamo, "Now I know how you guys must have felt."), Hollywood, CA (where he reportedly met with producers to pitch a movie deal about his life story) and San Francisco, CA (where he reportedly took the Alcatraz prison tour seven times, "just to get a feel for the place.")

He wrote that he expected to be known as a "mini-Madoff." I don't know if he likes the distinction of being linked to a $50-billion enterprise or is disappointed that he couldn't steal enough to have Madoff labeled a "mini-Nadel." (Just doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

From what I hear around town, 'mini-Madoff' is one of the kinder things investors are calling Nadel.

Nadel wrote that if "this works out, you can also find me a literary agent." I guess the meeting in Hollywood with the movie moguls didn't pan out the way he had hoped. Too bad, considering the buildup given him by the Feds, calling Nadel, "exceptionally deceitful, brazen, creative and resourceful in achieving his criminal goals." If that doesn't sound like a follow-up role for Leonardo DiCaprio after his 2002 hit "Catch Me If You Can," I don't know what does!

He even signed one letter, "The 'disappeared' Art." How cool is that? Talk about a ready-made book title.....

Magician David Copperfield admits to being contacted by Sarasota financial whiz, Art Nadel, to make him "disappear." Again.

Name Change For Local Business

Tax advisor's advice illegal, IRS says

Published: Friday, February 13, 2009 at 1:00 a.m

SARASOTA COUNTY - IRS special agents arrested a Sarasota man on Thursday on charges he made more than $2 million peddling anti-tax schemes that ultimately cost the government as much as $18 million.

Carel "Chad" A. Prater advertised his Tax Escape Service in Sarasota County and across the country, telling customers that income earned in the United States is not taxable, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Prater filed almost 1,300 documents in Sarasota County courts that he falsely claimed would legally remove his customers from the tax system, according to a Justice Department lawsuit against him.

Prater also told his customers to stop filing income tax returns and paying federal income tax, and helped set up businesses for them to transfer funds to avoid taxes, the indictment states.

IRS agents estimated the potential damage caused by Prater and his associates at $18 million, according to records filed as part of a lawsuit.

In 2005, a federal judge permanently barred Prater and another local man from advising people on how to avoid taxes.

Prater hopes to be out on bail in time for his next scheduled seminar on Wednesday, to be held at an undisclosed location. Special guest speakers to include Larry Nardelli and, via teleconferencing call from New York, Art Nadel, who is unable to attend in person due to pressing business concerns. Also on the dais will be local businessman, Dennis Kim, addressing the topic, "How To Negotiate Lower Insurance Premiums For Your Business."

Prater has also announced that his company name will change from 'Tax Escape Service' to 'Prison Escape Service.'

"I'm Wesley Snipes and I approved this message."