Thursday, February 28, 2008
Several minutes later, Mike and I both decided to have a bit more soup. After I was done with the second bowl, I went to feed my dogs the leftover fat.
Then I realized I had never washed my spoon after feeding them the first time.
This was the train-wreck performance of the evening on American Idol last night. And her hair looked so ridiculous! She looked like she was auditioning to play Cruella DeVille off Broadway.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
So what are you doing right now?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
If you saw tonight's episode, you heard what is perhaps the most amazing version of John Lennon's "Imagine" ever performed. I daresay he outsang even John.
If you read this blog, I guess it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Downtown Lakeland. I love its history. I love the fact that there remains clear signs of what Downtown Lakeland was in its prime. That is- pre-revitalization. I'm not saying it's not in its prime now. In fact, I believe it very likely is every bit as good today as it was way back when...
Monday, February 25, 2008
Recently I was invited to serve on the Keep Polk County Beautiful Board of Directors. It's not a huge stretch, really. I served as the organization's executive director for three years, so it's a no-brainer that I believe in the mission.
KPCB's signature event, The Great American Cleanup, is March 29, so that's what I am focusing on today. This is a day where thousands of volunteers band together to make this place a bit more beautiful. They pick up litter from parks, roadsides, schools and businesses. They plant flowers. They collect items for recycling.
Here's a sad fact: every year, KPCB gets more volunteers than the previous year, but they also pick up more trash. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the work of a litter prevention organization accomplish so much that each year, less trash is picked up because there's less of it out there? I wish that were true.
You can help make that an attainable goal several ways:
- Do your part by volunteering to participate in the Great American Cleanup.
- If you have children, teach them not to litter. Your first step should be setting a good example and not being a litterbug yourself!
- If you are a smoker, cigarette butts are litter, too. STOP THROWING THEM OUT YOUR CAR WINDOW AND ON THE GROUND.
- If you live in unincorporated Polk County, the city of Lakeland, or several other cities that offer curbside recycling, participate in the program. If you don't have a recycling bin, call your Solid Waste Department and request one. They'll deliver it right to your door.
- Cover your load. If you're hauling something in the back of your truck, cover it or properly secure it so it won't fly out. If trash blows out the back of your truck, you are littering.
- Report people who you see littering. The KPCB Web site offers a way of doing so by submitting a Litter Trooper Report.
Volunteers who participate in the Great American Cleanup will receive free T-shirts and free passes to Historic Bok Sanctuary, while supplies last. For more information, call the KPCB office: 863-676-7019.
If you live in Lakeland and you can't participate in KPCB's March 29 event, sign up to participate in a Lakeland Clean & Beautiful event by calling 863-834-3306. Winter Haven residents can participate in Keep Winter Haven Beautiful's event on March 15 by calling 863-291-5662.None of these dates are good for you? Don't worry. Great American Cleanup activities begin March 1 and run through May 31. Don't be afraid to gather your friends, family members and neighbors and do your own cleanup. KPCB and the other local Keep America Beautiful affiliates provide gloves, trash bags and litter grabbers for cleanups any time of year.
For those of you who don't live in Polk County, I invite you to visit the Keep America Beautiful Web site. Here, you can find an affiliate near you so you can get involved in the Great American Cleanup.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
- Brightly painted exterior, reminiscent of Key West.
- Christmas lights hung throughout (made the place look cool!), along with lots of cool signs, posters and neon lights.
- An outside eating area.
- A menu full of reasonably priced food.
- A server who kept a smile on her face the ENTIRE evening, even when I'm sure I appeared to be losing patience.
- Big shrimp, great tasting grouper and crispy fries and hushpuppies.
Here's what I didn't like:
- The speed of service. We got there at 5:15 p.m. and left a few minutes after 7 p.m.
- The raw oysters (see photo above).
- The cole slaw.
- No fountain soft drinks. We were brought canned Cokes, and charged $1 each for them.
- By the time our food finally came, 45 minutes had passed and our Cokes were watered down.
- The speed of trying to get out of there.
When we arrived, there were two people at one table who were nearly done with their meal, and one table of four people who were ordering. After waiting 30 minutes for our food, I asked the server if Mike could at least get his raw oysters (they required no cooking, after all) and she politely told me they were filling orders in the order they were received and there was a BIG order ahead of us. Uh...that was the four people at the table behind us. I think that's a clear sign of trouble when four people constitute a "big order."
Shuckey's needs a lesson in cole slaw making. It was white cabbage and dressing. Period. No carrots. No purple cabbage. Not finely chopped. Big, hulking pieces of cabbage.
Regarding said oysters, the menu offers a "Shuckey's Dozen," which is 13 oysters. The shells above housed two of the oysters. I swear to you, I thought Mike had been short-changed two oysters when the tray came out because these two runts were hidden under bigger oysters. Note to Shuckey's: if you're gonna brag about how your dozen oysters is more than the next guy, don't include oysters in shells like the ones pictured above. You do nothing to advance your reputation by pulling a stunt like that.
If I go to a sit-down restaurant, I want my Coke from a fountain, not a can. If there was to be a next time for me at Shuckey's- which, unfortunately, there won't- I would bring my own can of Coke.
At the rate everything had gone that night, we knew better than to wait for our server (the ONLY server in the entire place, mind you) to bring us the check. We went to the bar to ask for it. She kindly asked us if we could wait a minute. That's what we had been doing all night, so why stop now? She delivered beer to a table outside, took a guy's order (after politely apologizing for his long wait) and then brought us the check. While waiting for her to run through the credit card, we chatted with some people at the bar, all of whom complained about the slow service.
So, as badly as I wanted to like Shuckey's, I have to say that sometimes it takes more than good food to make a restaurant good. I'm sure if anyone from Shuckey's reads this, they'll refer me to this info box printed on their menu: "Just about everything at Shuckey's is hand prepared in our kitchen. Some menu items may take longer than others...we appreciate your patience and your business."
This is my response. I don't care how good the food is, 45 minutes is too long to wait to get it.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Tomorrow is the Farmers Curb Market downtown- 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. You don't want to miss out on the fresh strawberries and collard greens, people! Also, there's a new vendor there who sells the cutest little dwarf bunnies for $10. He also sells cages for them and the quality is amazing. Artist Richard Bond will be there, wondering when I'm gonna buy that painting that I've had my eye on for weeks.
Also on Saturday is the Kiwanis Club's annual Pancake Festival. Here's what appeared in The Ledger:
"North Lakeland Kiwanis Club, Citrus Kiwanis Club and Kiwanis Club of Lakeland will hold the 50th annual Pancake Festival to support Kiwanis community programs on Saturday at the hangar at Tiger Town on Massachusetts Avenue in Lakeland. All-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage and coffee will be served from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be displays and booths by merchants and groups along with entertainment in the afternoon. Tickets are available from Kiwanis members for $4 for adults and $2 for children or at the door for $5. Call 838-9686."
Now that's more fun than you can shake a stick at! I hope to see y'all there.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
There were a couple of red flags in this letter. First, it explained that my deed was recorded by the Polk County Register's Office. In the bit of research I did yesterday, combined with having dealt extensively with county government agencies when I was a reporter, I don't find evidence of there being an office of that name in Polk County government.
The other red flag was this note near the bottom of the letter: "Florida Certified Deed Services is not affiliated with the 'State of Florida.' MANY GOVERNMENT RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE FREE OR AT A NOMINAL COST FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES." (This is a direct quote, capitalization included)
I'm sure that this company is required by law to include that disclaimer.
Out of curiousity, I called the Clerk of Courts yesterday and asked what it would cost to get a certified copy of my deed. The answer: $1 per page, and $1.50 per page to certify it. Most deeds aren't more than 3 pages.
How about if I wanted a non-certified copy? Oh, that's free. Just go to the Clerk of Courts Web site and print it off.
I called this shady company this morning and told them what I had learned. I asked them why anyone would use their service, when they can do it themselves for a fraction of the cost? This is what the lady told me:
"We’re a service company. Let’s say you don’t have the time to go down to the courthouse. We go for you. You never have to break your routine or make an annoying trip."
I think that's bull. I think this company is banking on people not being knowledgeable enough to know better than to spend 90 freaking dollars on something they can get themselves for less than $10.
Just before I tossed the letter in the recycling bin, I noticed a glorious site: a postage paid envelope. An idea was born. Recently someone left a comment on my blog about annoying junk mail and offered a BRILLIANT way to get back that those creeps.
I've been saving some boxes, just for the right opportunity to strike, and dear readers, today is the day! I've packed this box:
Full of crap like this:
And I'm mailing it to Florida Certified Deed Services today. They are getting one nice gift among all the crap- a signed copy of Southeastern University President Mark Rutland's book, Nevertheless. I already have a copy, and these people need some Jesus in their lives.
Four Jobs I've Had:
1) Short order cook at a bowling alley on a military post (My favorite job ever. No lie.)
3) Executive director of a nonprofit organization
4) Medical records clerk
Four Careers I Wanted, but Let Life Lead me Away:
1) Stand-up comedian
2) Doing anything with farming or horticulture
3) Author (there's still time!)
4) Large animal veterinarian
Four TV Shows I watch:
2) American Idol
3) LA Ink
4) Any pop culture shows on VH1
Four Places I went in 2007:
1) Long Beach, CA
2) Waynesville, NC
3) Cottondale, FL
4) Ocala, FL
Four People Whose Answers I'd Like to See:
3) True Calling
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Get your iPod and go to “Shuffle Songs” - then list off the first 10 songs that come up. No Skipping! Here’s mine:
1. ZZ Top- I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
2. Def Leopard- Foolin
3. Little Big Town- Lost
4. The Brian Jonestown Massacre- Sailor
5. Sheryl Crow- Soak Up the Sun
6. Santana- Se A Cabo
7. Violent Femmes- Johnny
8. Bad Company- Rock Steady
9. Pink Floyd- Money
10. Little Big Town- Mean Streak
Now it's your turn. Be sure to leave your list in my comments
Monday, February 4, 2008
We had a wide range of attendees, from experienced, established bloggers to people interested in starting a blog.
I hope you will check out the blogs that were represented tonight:
Bog It Blog
Kristen Freaking Jane
Blue Room Worthy
Emily the Strange
There were additional blogs represented, but the Web addresses weren't left on my sign-in sheet and alas, it's late and I'm not freakin' lookin' 'em up tonight. But some are linked on the side and others, well, you can look for them:
Polk County News Blog- Tampa Tribune
What's New Online- The Ledger
Polk Commission Watch- The Ledger
But now I think I've developed some real issues. It seems that I've taken a simple hobby done out of curiosity to new, borderline OCD heights. I felt it coming on this weekend, but I think my friend Ginger confirmed it during our phone conversation today.
I was telling her about this weekend, when Mike said, "Look! There's a quarter" as he pointed at the ground, and I nearly gave myself whiplash trying to find it. Mike was joking. I called him a f---ing ass. Yes, I called him that over a joke. (First clue that this hobby has gotten waaay too serious)
On Sunday, I jumped out of the car at a red light (Mike was driving) because I saw two pennies in the intersection. (Second clue that this hobby has gotten way too serious.)
This morning, while on a bike ride, I decided to cruise through the Wally's parking lot. It's a pool hall that serves alcohol, and I thought, "I bet those drunk pool players drop lots of spare change on the ground." (Yes, a third clue that this hobby has gotten way too serious)
I took a methodical approach to scanning the lot. I started with the parking spaces closest to the building and worked my way out. I was so engrossed in finding spare change that I didn't notice a man watching me until I heard someone yell, "hey!"
I never assume anyone is yelling "hey!" at me, so I continued my search. He yelled it twice more.
"He might be talking to me," I thought. But then I spotted a penny, and instantly the man was no longer a concern.
He yelled again. I looked up. He motioned for me to come here. I nodded my head no. I had recently re-established my no-talking-to-strangers rule. I found a nickel and another penny, then, just to prove I wasn't scared of him, I scanned the lot for 15 seconds more and left.
Ginger said that this obsession of mine has given her an idea for my birthday. Instead of buying me a present, she's going to suggest we go for a bike ride on a pre-determined route where she has planted about $13 in loose change. It'll be my best birthday ever.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
This is my favorite pic of Bindi, when she fell asleep in the yard:
This is a pic of Mike holding Moe:
I've spent the post season referring to the Patriots' head coach as "that cheatin'-ass cheater," and now I feel vindicated.
I'm so happy for the Mannings, having two sons win back-to-back Super Bowls. That surely must be one for the recordbooks. Eli Manning was completely deserving of the MVP award, too!
In the commercial department, my favorite was the Tide pen with the talking stain. You can watch it on MySpace. Click on the second quarter ads. Hilarious.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Anyone who purchased diamonds between Jan. 1, 1994 and March 13, 2006 could be eligible to receive money in a class action settlement. ABC Action News broadcast the story this morning, and you can read more about it here. What's really awesome about this, is your purchases didn't have to be just big diamonds, like engagements rings, but any jewelry with diamonds in it.
For more information, go to www.diamondclassaction.com, or simply click here to file a claim online.