Wednesday, May 31, 2006

NewsWatch


Learn While In Your Jammies!

I was recently introduced to the HPLC by a friend. If you're the type of person that still enjoys the challenge of learning but whose schedule does not allow you to make regular trips to a school, then these FREE online courses may be for you. Most are 6-week courses and provide two lessons per week but you can log on at any time to catch up before the end of the course. They even provide message boards where you can get help from your course instructor or chat with other students.

Their online course offerings are mainly technology-oriented but include a limited number of business-oriented courses. Right now, you can enroll to learn more about MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, Windows XP customization, CorelDRAW, Linux 101 and others.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Flat Stanley Visits Paris, Miami and more

Here's a real character that pops up everywhere! If you haven't heard of Flat Stanley, here's you chance. I came across a link to Flat Stanley's visit to Paris, France and thought it was both funny and amazing the amount of work that some people put into this. See a picture gallery of Flat Stanley's world travels. Among my favorites are Stanley hangin' with the homies in Miami and Flat Stanley gets eaten by an alligator. Heck, even Clint Eastwood has met Stanley!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Celebrity Babies with a Cause

Some of you who read this post may consider what I'm about to blog about somewhat controversial. It seems I already got myself into a wee bit of trouble earlier today, so maybe this won't help but I guess I'll just roll with the punches.

So... by now most of you have probably heard that Brad and Angelina welcomed their much-anticipated new baby girl a couple of days ago. The current "buzz" has to do with who will get the first photos of baby Shilo. Entertainment-type TV shows have said time and again that whenever a celebrity couple brings a baby into this world, the person who is able to produce the first photos of the baby stands to make a great deal of money (sometimes millions of dollars depending on who the baby's parents are... Brad and Angelina being one example).

In recent years, other celebrities have handled this issue in different ways. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick decided to show their baby off at a news conference attended by many reporters and photographers, which essentially meant that no one profited much, if at all, from the photos. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin accepted a monetary offer from a magazine for exclusive rights to the first photos of baby Apple with proud parents. For now, it appears that Brad and Angelina have been successful at maintaining their privacy, with the help of the Namibian government.

Since it's inevitable that photos will be taken of their new baby at some point in the near future, why not consider doing what Gwyneth and husband Chris did, but with a twist? Since Angelina is already into doing charity work while Brad tags along, and many magazines would happily pay millions of dollars for a photo spread, why not strike a deal with the highest bidder so that the money goes to a charity of choice? Seems to me that would be the wisest solution for many reasons... and the baby has started it's life making a major contribution to some lucky charity organization - donating more money than most people do in lifetime. Some of you may think this is exploiting the child, but like I said... the photo(s) will be taken at some point so why not make sure the money goes to a good cause instead of to some idiot that's part of the paparazzi who certainly does not deserve a penny of it?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Three in the Afternoon Movie Clip

Three in the Afternoon by FanBoys Productions Some of you may recall I'd posted a link to a homemade Star Wars saberlight duel a few weeks ago. Well, there's more where that came from. Here is another one, titled "Three in the Afternoon", except this one was "Winner of the 2004 East Texas Film Fest" and includes girls!

Yes, I'm feeding the geeks! ;-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gas Stations with "Convenience" Stores

I went to fill up my gas tank today in part because I heard a report this morning about a 9-month long FTC investigation which found no evidence of widespread gas price-gouging after Hurricane Katrina. With the fuel companies temporarily out of the "dog house" I suspect that prices will start to creep back up again...


"Further, the report reiterated the FTC’s position that federal gasoline price gouging legislation, in addition to being difficult to enforce, could cause more problems for consumers than it solves, and that competitive market forces should be allowed to determine the price of gasoline that drivers pay at the pump."

[...]

"After discussing the critical role of prices in market-based economies, the policy section concludes that if natural price signals are distorted by price controls, consumers ultimately might be worse off, as gasoline shortages could result."

The consumer never wins!

Back to me filling up my gas tank... so, I'm at one of those (thankfully, rare) gas stations that offers the convenience of pay at the pump without the convenience of actually receiving the receipt at the pump. I've probably been to this particular gas station at least 25-30 times over the past several years and I'd have to say that probably 90% of the time I end up having to go into their "convenience" store in order to get it. Sometimes I even have to wait in line just to get the darned receipt. I've commented to the cashier a few times about this and am always given the same B.S. reason... that they're either out of print rolls or they "forgot" to replace them in that particular pump. I know why they do this. It forces people to go inside the store where the station owner hopes you'll spend more money on their ridiculously overpriced items. What they don't realize is that this deceitful and manipulative tactic has made me resent them because they treat people like morons so I rarely patronize their station and I purposefully never buy anything in their convenience store when I do use the station.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New South Florida Blog Watch

I just came across a new South Florida blog - Miami Watch - and thought I'd give this fellow blogger a warm welcome to our fast-growing blogosphere. Welcome, Stephen!

Childhood Memories Gone But Not Forgotten

Joyce Ballantyne Brand, the artist of the popular Coppertone ads of decades ago died Monday at age 88. I can recall as a kid when my family would come down to Miami Beach for vacation, knowing that we were in Miami when we'd drive past the HUGE animated billboard on the side of a downtown building off Biscayne Blvd. that had the black puppy pulling down the little girl's swimsuit bottom.

Unfortunately, that ad has long been gone along with another childhood favorite... the Fontainebleau's multi-storied wall mural that I also vividly remember.

The Power of the Internet

Ahhh... the power of the Internet! In an era when most people feel disconnected from their community and are already too stressed and stretched for time to take the initiative in doing something pro-active to change things for the better instead of just complaining about it, along comes one of those rare citizens who does care enough to take the time to get things rolling in the right direction. Kudos go to Miamista for starting a blog designed to get rid of not just Commissioner Johnny Winton but any other incompetents in office! For those who haven't heard, Winton was arrested and accused of hitting cops at Miami International Airport after an incident at a bar.

Let's turn the power of one into the power of many! If you're like me and tired of public officials who set a bad example, here's your chance to make a difference. Anyone out there who wants to help in some small way to get commissioner Johnny Winton and others like him get kicked out of office, simply place a text link on your blog or website that links to Miamista's new blog, appropriately named... Lets Get Rid Of This Clown .

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Town of Trump, Florida?

Well, well... it looks like billionaire Donald Trump (a.k.a. "The Donald") will have an opportunity to add to his ever-growing property portfolio and finally buy his own mar-a-lago town in one of the ritziest parts of South Florida and perhaps even re-name it... what else? Trump, Florida, of course!

Talk about a "rags to riches" story... I just read in the Sun-Sentinel that the 43-acre central Palm Beach County town of Briny Breezes (which is an ocean-to-intracoastal mobile home park) is up for sale starting at $500 million. For those of you wondering what that amounts to on a per acre basis, that's $11,627,907/acre folks!!! That doesn't even include the $20,000 non-refundable processing fee each applicant must pay or payment of the town's legal and professional fees by the lucky winner. If the majority of the town's residents were to accept the current bid of $500 million, each would stand to make an average of $1,024,590 for their mobile home and the land it sits on! Now that's what I call "happy campers!" ;-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Build a Better Blog

Wouldn't You Rather Be Blogging? Build a better blog... try saying that 3 times, fast! After reading Rick's post on blogging personalities, I recalled a recent online test I took that asks "how linkable is your blog post?"... that's linkable, not likeable (though they essentially need the same ingredients). Not having blogged for very long, I'm still learning so I found this linkability test useful even if getting incoming links isn't my main objective (though they are appreciated). After taking the test, you'll get to the results page where you'll get tips and advice based on your answers.

Oh, and in case you want one, get your own construction sign image here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Baker's Dozen & Builder's Acre

Why is it that bakeries will sometimes throw in an extra donut, cookie, bagel (or whatever) when you purchase a dozen of them, but somehow when you're buying land all you get for a "builder's acre" is usually not much more than 3/4 of an acre?

Things that make me go hmmm...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Star Wars Lightsaber Duel

My brother sent me a link to a 5-minute long homemade movie of a Star Wars lightsaber duel. Though I can't say I was ever really into Star Wars, the clip was pretty good and, those of you who are may get a kick out of it. These two kids made this homemade film using Adobe tools for the effects and it's pretty amazing.

Buy One Sundae, Get One Free

I was forwarded an e-mail that I thought I'd share the contents of...

For any of you who have a hankerin' for an ice cream sundae on Sunday, May 7th, Baskin Robbins is having a buy one, get one free day tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

U of F's UNaffordable Hurricane House

The University of Florida's Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center will open their new 3,000 sq. ft. "hurricane house" to the public on May 25th. It's located at 3205 College Avenue in Davie. It was built to come through a category 4 or 5 with little to no damage. This is one of four "hurricane houses" throughout Florida, all funded by the Florida Dept. of Financial Services.

Bob Stroh, director of UF’s Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing supervised design and construction of the homes.

What's the problem, you ask? Each house cost about $600,000... nothing affordable about that. Let's try it again and build a more averaged sized home that's ACTUALLY affordable!

Cookie with eBay-ish Qualities

This chocolate chip cookie came from a recent batch and the way this particular one "developed" caught my attention so I decided it was photo-worthy.

Now, I've heard some crazy stories about what people put up for sale on eBay (a family for rent; burnt toast with the image of the Virgin Mary; a 7¾" long french fry; a pregnant tummy or forehead available as advertising space) and I'm not going to be one of those morons, but... whaddayathink? Do you see the profile of a head (mouth, nostrils, eyes, eyebrows and even an ear)? No, I didn't do any photo editing! What should I name it? ;-) I've heard you should never name something you're going to eat...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Flying over South Florida

Mother's Day is coming up and that, along with driving around today, made me think of a couple of funny "Mom" stories which I'll share here.

The first one happened while flying over the ocean shortly before landing. My mother asked my brother (who was sitting next to her) to look out the window down at the ocean. He did, and then asked her what he should be looking for. "You don't see it?" she asked. "Is that a shark down there?" she queried. My brother and mother both took another look, then started laughing when they realized that the only thing that looked remotely like a shark was the shadow of the plane on the water!

The second story was told to me recently by a friend's mom. She was flying into Fort Lauderdale and as the plane headed west towards the Everglades and then made the loop to head east to land at the airport, she was looking down at the neighborhoods and commented about how she couldn't believe how many homes have pools. She soon found out that many of those "pools" were actually the blue tarps on hurricane-damaged roofs!!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Katrina Cottage - Temporary Housing Option

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail with a link to information about the Katrina Cottage. It offers four different layouts - each with the basics (living room, kitchen area, bedroom & bathroom) - and was designed for people who want to stay in a hurricane-affected area while their house is being rebuilt.

For a cottage that can be purchased for under $35,000... I couldn't help but wonder what an interesting and inexpensive option this would be as a "vacation" home if you own land anywhere but you're not ready to build the full-fledged home on the property yet. Hmmm...

Quote of the Day

I actually heard this a couple of months ago on a promo commercial for whatever was going on in a daytime soap opera (I think it was "Days of Our Lives") but it was such an unbelievably stupid quote that it stayed with me. What floored me is that they must've played the same promo for about a week and never thought to edit it, which just goes to show that people may hear things just fine but don't always listen very well. Here it is:

"What's worse than the death of a child?
Having the killer show up at the funeral."

What sane person would think that the killer showing up at the funeral is in any way worse than the death of a child? Apparently the writers of this promo and the voice-over person didn't catch this, or they need to re-think their priorities! This one belongs in the "Stupid Quotes Hall of Fame".