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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Overhauling and Bringing My Nissan Outboard Motor Back to Life...

I had a most joyous experience the other day when the outboard motor that I had recently purchased off of Craigslist finally came back from the dead and roared back to life again. One could even say that my experience was almost as joyous as that of a Pentecostal parishioner jumping up and down in an apocalyptic frenzy while speaking in tongues...

That motor had evidently been in a deep coma after sitting around neglected in somebody's garage for an extended period of time and was in dire need of a complete overhaul. All it took to awaken that thing was a bit of persistent, tender, loving care in all the right places to finally get it to respond and eagerly want to be put back to good use.

The tender, loving care involved disassembling, cleaning and finally lubricating all the moving parts in even the most sensitive of places to eventually persuade it to work like it was intended. There had nevertheless been a moment or two when I had wondered whether I'd even so much as make that thing sputter if only but for a brief moment but she did indeed eventually sputter and later screamed in ecstasy after moaning for a good while.

It's always an intense pleasure for me whenever I yank on the starter cord and that motor eagerly responds on command. It sure beats the hell out of rowing to and from shore everyday.

Two-Stroke outboard motors are pretty basic insofar motors are concerned but I now only know that in hindsight after getting a complete and thorough education from some of my fellow boaters here in the harbor... and I do indeed thank them all for their unselfish help.

An Inauspicious Attempt at Kayaking...

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I finally got around to giving my new kayak a trial run the other day after a cold front that had passed through the Keys finally relented. It happened to be on a sunny morning with a chilly yet gentle breeze blowing through the air when I figured it would be a nice day to initiate that dinky little boat.

Mind you that I'd never previously been on a kayak before yet I was most certainly looking forward to a nice, relaxing, excursion throughout the harbor. So after layering on some warm clothing and after donning a life-jacket I gingerly, or so I thought, lowered myself into my kayak. It was then at that moment that what I most feared happening suddenly happened.

Yeah... that was me going for an unplanned early morning swim off the stern of my boat. In but an instant I was bobbing in freezing, cold water. My warm clothing was now a thing of the past and was now weighing me down. It was a good thing that I had strapped on my life-vest because it was a bit of an effort to climb back onboard my boat.

Nevertheless after a change of clothes and after laying my wet clothing out to dry in the cockpit, I was once again lowering myself back down into the kayak only this time with a lot more caution.

I did eventually kayak about the harbor for an hour or so but I certainly didn't attempt any speed records for fear of going for another unplanned early morning swim.

When it was all said and done, I had a lower back strain from all that kayaking throughout the harbor to go along with my bruised pride. I haven't been kayaking since.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Even the Birds are Weirder Here in the Florida Keys...

Things are definitely weirder down here in the Keys and I'm not just talking about the people that I previously blogged about either...

Just the other morning I happened to climb up on deck and saw the goofiest looking bird ever perched up on the bow of my boat.

It was still somewhat early in the morning when I found myself peering at that goofy looking bird on more than just a few ocassions just to convince myself that I wasn't seeing funny.

I'm quite certain that I wasn't hung-over from drinking either because I know for sure that I haven't imbibed in over a month... nor had I indulged in smoking any funny things the prior evening either because I ain't into that kind of stuff. If anything I had simply yet to have my first cup of coffee that morning.

Not only was that goofy looking bird peering back at me but I swear I could hear it singing a Bob Marley melody as well...

"... three little birds, pitched on my doorstep, singing sweet songs, of melodies pure and true, singing this is my message to you, ooh, ooh... Cause every little thing, is gonna be allright..."

Oh goodness, I'm quite certain that I still have my wits about me and if I don't, I'm sure somebody will let me know otherwise...

I'll have to describe the goofy looking fish that jumped clear out of the water and over the cockpit, and into my dinghy the other day but I've got things to do aboard my boat at the moment and that fish story will simply have to wait for some other day...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Howling at the Moon While Aboard My Boat in Boot Key Harbor...

It was a week ago or so that I coincidentally happened to observe a lunar eclipse from the companionway of my boat. I'll also have you know that this was but a minute or two after my bladder had rudely awakened me out of a sound sleep. And after gazing up into the crystal-clear, cold night sky, I was suddenly marvelling at a lunar eclipse in progress.

And after relieving my bladder and peeing a gallon or so, I then wrapped a thick blanket around myself to keep from freezing my ass off as I then took a moment to gaze up at the moon. as the earth's shadow ominously shaded that orb in its entirety.

It was damned cold outside and I'll be the first to admit that I was most tempted to blow off watching the eclipse and simply go back and snuggle beneath my warm comforters and blankets inside the boat's V-Berth.

However, I couldn't help but wonder just how often one does get a chance to observe an eclipse of the moon on a clear night sky and of a full moon no less. Besides, it wasn't like I'd be commuting to a day job first thing the next morning or even pulling up anchor to sail off somewhere the next day.

While marvelling at the dynamics of the heavenly bodies in play, I thought of all the remote communities in the world freaking out that the world just might be coming to an end. I also wondered whether religious zealots throughout the world might be in an apocalyptic frenzy at that very moment.

Well I've never howled at the moon before but if ever there was an appropriate moment to howl, this certainly was it. So yeah, that was me howling at the moon in the middle of the night in Boot Key Harbor during the lunar eclipse.

Mind you that it was a subdued howl lest anyone report me to the authorities and suggest that I was mentally unbalanced... but I did nevertheless howl just for the hell of it.

Besides if Ukrainian Chess Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk can howl at the moon after a painful loss at the chess board then I suppose that it is okay for me to howl at the moon during a lunar eclipse.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Theory of People Weirdness in the Keys...

My dear lady-friend from up on Marco Island has a theory about the Keys. It's a simple theory which makes a lot of sense and one that I may have previously heard from other sources as well. In any event I've been here long enough to attest to the fact that the theory does indeed have some validity to it.

The theory simply states that the further south one ventures down the Keys, the weirder people seem to get with the weirdest of all to be found in Key West... the last of the Keys with no more Keys to venture further on south to.

The Keys can thought of in a manner of speaking, as little magnets not unlike the ones stuck on your refrigerator door with lots of clutter pinned underneath. The Keys for whatever reason, seem to attract folks with "unconventional" lifestyles from all over the country.

I'm not just talking about the "fruits, nuts and yogurt" kind of folks either and it does seem as if most everybody down here has an independent streak of sorts about themselves. It's not uncommon to see folks practicing yoga outdoors in the early sunlight or even meditating out in a public setting.

Both young and old folk can be seen wearing wild hair along with tattoos adorning every part of their body. Other folks are into herbs and stuff, some of which are used for making tea while others are to be lit up and inhaled... not unlike the scene in small town middle America when I come think about it.

Even boaters tend to be weird and I'll even include myself in this group of folks. Collectively we all somehow seem to purport having circumnavigated and conquered the world when all we've done for the most part is dinghy to and from shore and blow off another day.

The local Cuban community in my judgement is an exception to the Keys weirdness theory. These folks tend to fly under the radar screen, are family oriented and depend on one another to get ahead in whatever endeavor it might be.

Retired military veterans on the other hand are unpleasantly weird more often than not. For whatever reason they all seem to sport an unkempt grey beard to go along with a perpetual scowl on their face.

They're quick to remind everyone that they've "served" and come across as having a sense of entitlement all the while expecting someone to pin yet another medal to their chest and to thank them yet once again for not having subjected themselves to a career of corporate downsizing.

Even tourist tend to get weirded out when they arrive here in the Keys... especially if they are here if only but for a few days. A case in point is when I happened to be in Key West a number of weeks ago sipping on a cold beverage one afternoon.

While watching tourists stroll along Duval Street, I observed a mature couple walking side by side. What made this couple standout was that the guy had strapped on a two-foot long anatomically correct male apparatus which could be seen dangling out of his pants zipper. To complete the look, he had a cigar in one hand and a beer in another as he hid behind his dark sunshades.

I seriously doubt we'll ever see a picture of him wearing that thing on his Facebook page. For all I know he probably held some big-shot corporate job back "up north" wherever that might be.

Retired snowbirds on the other hand are another exception to Keys weirdness... they are not weird in the least but predictably disgruntled and quick to complain about anything and everything. They are quite an unpleasant lot.

It also goes without saying that there are quite a few folks throughout the Keys missing a mouthful of teeth and we all know that Crystal-Meth is both highly addictive and destructive. Destructive in the sense that it can and will eat away the bone that holds one's teeth in place. These folks aren't weird... they're just simply delaminated in the complete sense of the word.

And lastly, there is a saying here in the Keys that in effect states, "If you want a girlfriend here in the Keys, then you better bring her here with you". It's a "live and let live" scene here in the Keys and if you happen to see two attractive young ladies in a bar chatting it up amongst themselves, then it's best that you don't get presumptuous and assume that they might have an interest in you.

So there you have it... The Theory of People Weirdness in the Keys.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Purchasing a Kayak...

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I finally broke down and purchased a kayak some three weeks ago or so after perusing Craigslist for days on end. In all likelihood I might have overpaid for the thing and may have perhaps even made what is known as an impulse buy.

Yes... an impulse buy... defined as the kind of purchase that women indulge in while shopping at a mall and the kind that guys splurge on while wandering up and down the aisles of Home Depot. It's like getting sucked into buying something that one only thinks they desperately need only to have a bit of buyer's remorse set in later on.

It's not like I absolutely had to have a kayak but I had seen other boaters effortlessly kayaking to and from the marina dinghy docks and felt as if I needed a reliable backup plan for my inflatable dinghy for which I had yet to find a reasonably priced outboard motor for.

Besides, I had gotten a tad bit annoyed about a partially deflated pontoon on the dinghy and of always having to pump more air into the damned thing which I suppose is how an overweight, balding, FOX News TV viewer must feel after having to re-inflate his blowup doll every other evening...

So I drove some twenty miles or so on up the Keys and purchased the kayak with delivery scheduled for the following day which turns out wasn't a sure thing. For you see, I had purchased the thing from a young man who had agreed to make delivery the next day while he'd be enroute to a college class in Key West.

While waiting for the young man at the appointed time I get a phone call from him asking me whether I was still wanting delivery that same day. After a brief WTF moment on my part, I proceeded to explain that I was waiting for him to show up and that not only did I want delivery that same day but that I had wanted delivery some twenty minutes ago.

He then grudgingly states that he'd be on his way soon enough to deliver the kayak after explaining that he was still nursing a massive hangover from the previous night and that he was still a little slow getting around.

What I didn't tell him was that I'd break his neck in two pieces if he didn't show up with the fricking kayak. Why I had expected any different after forking over my payment is beyond any reasonable comprehension because after all, these are the Keys and that's just how it is down here.

The kayak did finally get delivered within the hour and since I no longer had a compelling reason to break the kid's neck in two pieces, he drove off in his truck with his neck still intact.

It occurs to me that this same exact scenario was previously played out when I purchased my inflatable dinghy a number of months ago back up in St. Petersburg... an event that I previously blogged about in some detail.

On another note for all those inquiring minds out there wanting to know whether I've tired of sipping on cranberry juice while seated at a bar, I'll have you know that indeed I have... but I'll also have you know that I've been successful in beating off any urges to drink with a big stick that I found laying around the marina parking lot.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Already Forgotten Harbor Statistic...

It was a bright, early, sunny morning some six or seven weeks ago when a motor vessel could suddenly be heard rumbling slowly on past my boat and thereby causing me to instinctively poke my head out of the companionway to see what might be going on.

And I suppose that I must have resembled a prairie-dog impetuously poking his head out of his burrowed hole for that's how quickly I reacted upon hearing that boat as it approached mine.

Aboard that motor vessel were two uniformed personnel. I'd tell you of what government agency they belonged to but I simply wasn't paying too close of attention at that hour of the morning for I'd yet to have my first cup of coffee.

But what made the whole situation somewhat unique was that a mastless sailing vessel was being towed not to a mooring mind you, but rather to a pylon at the edge of a nearby mangrove which seemed rather odd to me.

All I could surmise at the time was that somebody had either had a mishap while out at sea or had gotten busted for drug trafficking thereby resulting in their boat being confiscated.

Shortly thereafter the uniformed officials could then be seen slowly motoring on back out of the harbor after unceremoniously tie-ing off that mastless sailboat to a pylon.

I didn't give that sailboat another thought until weeks later when it casually came up in conversation while seated at the marina Tiki-Hut one evening.

Well it turns out that boat did not incur a mishap while out at sea nor had the boat been confiscated for drug trafficking. Its owner, a single sailor said to be in his mid-fifties, with nobody other than three cats to keep him company, had simply died while aboard his boat.

Word has it that the fellow simply drank himself to death and that it wasn't until a week or so later that anybody thought that perhaps they ought to go check in on him.

It later was noted that the fellow's corpse had evidence of having been gnawed on in several places by his hungry cats which were later put up for adoption. And I of course certainly won't be holding it against the cats that their survival instincts kicked in after not having had a meal for a good while.

I suppose that there isn't much to say about the preceding other than that cruising aboard a sailboat isn't always glamorous or even adventurous.

I can also well remember the comment of a this one elderly female single sailor who was attempting to sell a boat on behalf of another sailor... "Living aboard a sailboat can either bring out the best in a person or it can bring out the worst." That comment has since stuck in my mind for whatever reason.

It occurs to me that there is a distinct possibility that this fellow has already been long forgotten... which I suppose is another compelling reason not to suspend my personal moratorium on drinking.

That fellow's fate certainly wasn't one that I would want to share. The fellow's boat also shared a somewhat similar fate for it was subsequently transported elsewhere and crushed as mandated by city policy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Observations of the 2010 Boot Key Harbor Christmas Lighted Boat Parade...

Christmas is fast approaching and the harbor has a festive look about it. Quite a few boats throughout the harbor can now be seen lit up in the evenings with strands of colorful Christmas lights. There are even a few boats decked out with lights reaching all the way to the top of the mast and down the various stays thus making the outline of a cheerful Christmas tree.

It also goes without saying that there are the usual bah-humbug individuals here in the harbor who simply can't be bothered with Christmas decorations let alone with other mundane but essential tasks such as scraping barnacles off of the hull of their boat... but let's not talk about me for now.

Well it just so happens that the annual Christmas boat parade was celebrated here in the harbor the other night. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate whatsoever and only a total Scrooge could possibly have taken any delight in the cold gusty winds.

I did however observe the boat parade from aboard my boat from some distance. From my observations there were only but a few participants in this year's event. I'd be surprised if there were more than eight or nine boats parading about the harbor.

By all accounts, past editions of the Christmas boat parade have been quite boisterous with plenty of eggnog and wife swapping going around. Uh oh... delete that last part. It has yet to be confirmed...

Nevertheless I did lend a bit of moral support to this year's boat parade. Yeah, that was me blowing the heck out of my conch shell as the lighted boats all blew their air-horns while parading by at the other end of the harbor.

The air-horns aboard those boats were no match for my conch shell. You should of heard all the car alarms going off in the marina parking lot and you should have seen the schools of fish jumping out of the water every time I'd blow on that conch shell.

No one in their right mind can accuse me of being an old fuddie-duddie and of not having actively participated in this year's edition of Boot Key Harbor's annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade.

Happy Winter Solstice Everybody!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Freezing My Butt Off Inside a Floating Igloo...

Yeah... you heard me right. It's darn right cold inside the boat at this very moment. It feels as if I somehow inadvertently forgot to pay my electric bill on time and had my power cut off. I'm quite certain that an igloo wouldn't feel a whole lot different than this cabin which can best be described as both cold and confining.

I wish that I could tell you that we enjoyed some beautiful sunny, warm weather here in the Keys today. I'd like to tell you that I happened to hook up with some scantily clad babes and that together we spent most of the day laying out up on deck tanning ourselves while sipping on pina coladas. But no... that did not happen.

Nope... there were no scantily clad babes to be found frolicking up on deck. Neither was there any scented tanning oil to be lathered over well-toned female hard-bodies. Nor was there even so much as an occasional glimpse of a perky boobie. It was that kind of a crummy day.

Today was simply miserably cold. There was little to do other than surf the web and watch TV in the marina lounge. At least the gusting cold winds have now subsided somewhat.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A sink full of dishes... where's a dishwasher when I need one?

Once again I had a sink full of dirty dishes waiting for me to get up wash first thing this morning. It always amazes me how fast that dinky little sink can fill up with grungy dishes. Washing dishes and scrubbing pots is without question the most mentally tasking chore to be performed aboard the boat.

In any event, it's always a delight to see a clean galley once everything is washed and dried. I even took it upon myself to sing a bunch of sappy love songs while washing the dishes this morning. Among my sappy songs were... "You're Just Too Good to be True", "For the Good Times", "When I Need You", "Lady In Red", "Knock Three Times" and lastly "Baby Got Back".

Ooopps... I didn't really sing that last one... so sorry.

The rest of my day was spent patching up a hole in my inflatable and cleaning the carburetor on my recently purchased outboard . The patch went on the same puncture that I've previously messed around with. This time I stuck on gobs of super glue and a large rubber patch. I'm hoping that I don't have to mess around with that fricking hole for awhile.

The carburetor that I spent a good part of my day cleaning is off of a 5Hp two-stroke Nissan outboard to push the inflatable. I purchased the thing off of Craig's List the other day at a heavily discounted price. Supposedly the outboard had been "winterized".

It was winterized all right... as in the valve on the carburetor was frozen in place. It took quite a bit of lubricant to get that thing to respond and spring back into action. But that's okay... a little bit of lubricant and a lot of persistence can fix anything. :)

I'll check the fuel line and spark plug sometime tomorrow weather permitting. A cold front is expected to move in later today with winds gusting up to 35 mph. I'm not looking forward to the coming days of freezing cold temperatures aboard the boat.

Yet again, I just might consider an inexpensive motel room to crash in for the next day or two. It all depends on just how miserably cold it gets aboard that boat. Yeah, I know... I'm a weenie sailor and I've yet to embrace all the inconveniences that go along with living aboard a boat.

To quote a dear lady-friend of mine... "F*** this noise".

And for those of you with inquiring minds wondering whether or not my self imposed "moratorium" is still in effect, I'll have you know that indeed it is. Cranberry juice on ice works just fine for me while seated at a bar. It somehow gives off the illusion that I've indulged and purchased a sophisticated cocktail of sorts.

One never knows... I just might even catch the attention of an attractive, sensible female in need of some companionship so long as the bartender doesn't stick one of those silly little umbrellas in my glass of cranberry juice.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hey Dude! You need to cook something!!

Dude... put down that large bag of chips and super-sized carbonated soda and listen to me. There is real food out there anxiously awaiting for you to get off your rear end and cook. It's not hard... check out Foodwishes on youtube as well as on for some easy cooking instructions. You can do this.

Chef John is an entertaining fellow with some five hundred cooking videos each lasting no more than six minutes or so. Surely, you've got an attention span that can last at least that long. (and for all you old timers out there, please save the "and don't call me Shirley" commentary)

Featured in the photo above is "Shortcut Green Enchiladas". It was every bit as good as it looks in the photograph. It was super easy to make and is one of those microwaveable friendly dishes... perfect for heating up for breakfast the next morning.

So check this chef out. He's a pretty cool guy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hey Michael! I invented the moonwalk before you had ever even thought about it!

I got a beef with Michael Jackson and it burns my a** every time I happen to come across a music video of Michael strutting about doing the moonwalk while claiming to have invented that whole dance routine.

The photo above clearly shows me as a toddler breaking out with the moonwalk way before Michael had even been born... let alone having even thought about it.

This photo even predates Astronaut Neil Armstrong ever first having stepped foot on the moon and was well before Michael suddenly croaked and passed away of food poisoning after eating a ten year old wiener...

Somehow I gotta believe that I've got some sizable royalties coming my way.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A brief moment at the Love Field Airport Terminal, Dallas, Texas...

A few weeks ago I found myself at the Love Field terminal seating area waiting for my flight to be called for my eventual trip back to Tampa. While mindlessly gazing out the glass windows onto the rainswept tarmac, another traveller seated herself alongside of me.

What initially got my attention was that for whatever compelling reason she didn't sit straight up in her chair but rather sideways facing towards me. She had one of those self-righteous matronly looks about herself. It was also readily obvious that she could stand to lose a good fifty pounds or so as well.

Well I'm suddenly having one of those WTF moments wondering what is up with this lady when she ever so slowly pulls out a recently purchased book out of its plastic shopping bag.

She's now thumbing through that thick book all the while flashing its cover in my direction. I immediately recognize the title of that book for it had only been released for publication just days earlier and had been heavily advertised throughout the airport terminal.

Being flashed before me is the cover of former President George Dubya Bush's memoir, "Decision Points". Not only is the large, matronly looking woman flashing the cover of that book in my direction, but she persist in making eye contact.

By now my stomach is beginning to turn from having to look at that cover and I'm now seeking out another seat elsewhere in the seating area. I do spot another seat and I proceed to gather up my belongings and head off in that direction but not before intoning, "Disdain and Contempt, Disdain and Contempt" to no one in particular.

Well that fellow traveller now has a surprised look upon her face as I'm heading off elsewhere. It was evident that she had been doing her best to elicit a reaction out of me and she certainly got one. I'm quite certain that it wasn't the one that she wanted to hear but she did indeed get a reaction out of me.

Mr. President... no amount of revisionist history will ever change the prevailing sentiment of disdain and contempt for your presidency. Now go away.

Day Eleven and I'm doing just fine thank you very much...

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Well whadda-ya-know... it's day eleven and I'm doing just fine thank you very much. It's day eleven as in the number of days since I last imbibed an alcoholic beverage. It feels good to wake up in the mornings feeling completely rested for a change.

It's not like I wouldn't like a cold beer now and then, its just that I have to come to terms with the reality that if I have even one beer then I'll want to follow that up with a couple of pitchers and a few tall ones out of a can. Not only that but it occurs to me that the one compelling reason why one drinks is not to forget but rather because one is simply bored out of their mind.

In any event this marina is full of numerous examples of why one should not drink in excess not that I should be talking.

For starters, there is the "tree of knowledge". Underneath that shade tree can be found an assortment of lawn chairs and ice coolers all loaded up with cold beer. The same usual suspects can be seen swapping stories of the goings-on here in the harbor while sipping on a few cold ones first thing every morning... and that scene goes on all day.

But heck, who am I to judge... I suppose I'm no different. I've simply done my drinking in the comfort of an air-conditioned tavern while watching sporting events on a flat-screen. Yet had I done my drinking under the "tree of knowledge", I then would have known some time ago about a fellow boater whose nude body was found floating in the harbor one morning.

One thing that I've discovered while living aboard my boat while tied up to a mooring here in the harbor is that there is very little actual discussion about sailing. It seems as if the concept of sailing is but an afterthought. Being tied up to a ball here in the harbor has a trailer park feel to it with the only difference being that one is on the water.

In other news, the crud that I had contracted on Thanksgiving Day is now a thing of the past. That crud along with its lingering effects lasted a good nine days. It feels good to be finally over the incessant fevers and to make matters even better the cold snap that found its way down to the Keys has finally relented.

In any event, I got stir-crazy yesterday and got out and did something that I'd been wanting to do for some time now. I drove on over to the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge, parked the car, and hiked the old Flagler Railway Bridge to Pigeon Key and back.

This old bridge was once part of a railway that ran all the way down to Key West and the bridge has since been made pedestrian friendly. I hiked a total of 4.4 miles in some eighty minutes with a number of stops along the way. I kept hoping to spot a spiny-tail lobster down in the shallow waters but I didn't see any.

It felt good to get out and breath in some fresh air while gazing out upon the open blue waters.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Indefinite Moratorium on Drinking Alcoholic Beverages...

I'm now on day seven of a self-imposed indefinite moratorium on drinking... as in drinking alcoholic beverages. The moratorium was brought on in part because I'd been ill for the better part of last week. Against my better judgement, I had more than just a few cold beverages the previous week and then caught the crud.

More precisely it was on Wednesday evening... as in the night before Thanksgiving when the women are traditionally in the kitchen slaving away preparing the next days feast and the guys are out cavorting about in the local taverns.

Incidentally... how great is that?

Yeah... I got sick with the crud... as in I don't quite know what else to call it. It was a complete body ache including achy eyeballs. It was one fever after another each followed by a drenching sweat. I didn't experience any nausea, or intestinal issues nor did I have any sinus or lung congestion... not even a random cough so that I'd have something that might elicit a bit of empathy.

My ailment felt like a mild version of Dengue fever with emphasis on the word "mild". I know what full-blown Dengue fever is all about having contracted that demonic ailment some thirty-three years ago while living in Puerto Rico.

Trust me, it was as close to death as I'd ever been. You want to avoid that fever at all costs. Jungle fever on the other hand is a good kind of fever and you certainly don't want to pass any of that up if it were to come along your way.

Oh goodness. I may have aged myself with that last reference... oh well.

In any event, I've loaded up on fruit juices having elected to forego on the consumption of alcoholic beverages for the foreseeable future. I hesitate to use the word quit because I've often previously uttered that word on more than just one occasion after a night on the town and quit didn't quite seem to mean quit... as in never again... as in "no mas" as Roberto "Mano de Piedra" Duran once declared while in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard.

So it's an indefinite moratorium on the consumption of alcohol for me. In the past week I've gulped down tomato juice, grape juice and apple juice with more of those on the way. Heck I've even rediscovered cold chocolate milk by the pint. I'll even throw in an occasional Coke for the heck of it.

So far so good. I haven't gone postal on anyone or anything like that and my wallet doesn't have that light feeling that it would often get after settling up a bar tab. Besides, if my Dad could one day just up and quit smoking without so much as a random comment about it to anybody, then perhaps I just might be able to forego drinking.

Sobriety... what an interesting concept.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A little bit of Puertorrican humor from back in the day...

I've become somewhat of a night owl here on the boat and often find myself surfing the web while reflecting back to the time when I most recently lived in Puerto Rico some fifteen or so years ago.

For whatever reason I'm thinking back to the time when myself and two fellow co-workers went to visit another co-worker at his house who happened to now be on the mend after under going a surgical procedure.

Well we're all glad to see that he is now on the mend but before leaving my fellow co-worker starts sharing a recent "experience" of his in a nearby town.

He proceeds to explain how he had gotten turned around while driving and found himself being pulled over by a female police officer after driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

As the officer was writing out the traffic citation, my co-worker goes on to explain that at that very moment another driver could be seen careening though the streets at an exceedenly high speed.

With that the officer is said to have placed her traffic citation notebook as well as her nightstick on the hood of his car. He then explains that the officer then gave chase to that speeding vehicle all the while blowing her whistle but not before instructing my co-worker to not go anywhere and that she'd be back in but a moment.

My co-worker further goes on to explain that he eventually did drive off after endlessly waiting for the officer to return and finish issuing the citation as well as collect her belongings which of course included her nightstick.

By now the whole story is somehow starting to seem a bit fishy to me. I certainly hadn't heard this story before but since it had been told in Spanish, I hesitated to inquire what had become of the nightstick fearing that I perhaps hadn't fully comprehended the full extent of the events.

Well at that moment, our co-worker who was on the mend now suddenly chimes up and in a most agitated manner inquires, "Y la macana? Donde esta!" (And the nightstick? Where is it!) whereupon my co-worker who had been relating the story proceeded to immediately reach down and grab himself on the inner thigh and deadpan, "La macana?, A mira... aqui la traigo!"

With that we all break out laughing our as*es off while the co-worker who had just blurted out the question suddenly realizes that he's been sucked up into a joke and is now jovially cursing all of us out. "Me cag* en la madre... Que hijuele de la gran-put* son to' ustedes" and on and on and on...

With that my co-workers and I hurriedly head off for our respective cars leaving our co-worker shaking his head and muttering crap out in his driveway.

I'm now driving off and still laughing my as* off and relieved that it wasn't me who had asked about what had become of "la macana"... especially since I myself had been on the verge of popping that very same question.

I'm suspecting that all that laughter might have caused that poor fellow to inadvertently break a stitch a two. The guys at the pharmaceutical plant never did let our fellow co-worker live that one down.

So there you have it folks... a little bit of Puertorrican humor.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mooching a turkey dinner at the local American Legion...

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A fellow boater here in Boot Key Harbor had suggested the day before that we head on over to the local American Legion for a free turkey dinner. All we had to do was simply scribble our names in the guest book and act like we belonged.

Well it didn't quite work out so easily... Immediately upon entering, I was accosted and asked whether I was a member of that private club or whether I was a military veteran. It was an awkward moment and after responding no to both questions I proceeded to explain that I was looking for somebody who turns out had departed but a few minutes before I had arrived.

I was all set to make a quick embarrassed exit when I was asked if I'd like a plate of food whereupon I gleefully responded for sure since I was completely famished.

Ordinarily I'd have had some reservations about mooching a meal but I simply didn't want to shell out the twenty or so bucks at one of the local restaurants when there was a possibility of enjoying a free meal.

After loading up my plate with a mound of food I seated myself at one of the long empty tables and since I was a late arrival I found myself eating my dinner all by myself and remembering better days when I was once surrounded by family members.

In any event, I scarfed down my plate of food while feeling somewhat like a homeless person being treated to a free charitable meal. It did however feel good to eat a real meal for a change.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Professional Business Card...

Although my professional business card is in need of an update insofar as my phone number and email address, I've nevertheless gone ahead and included it in my blog for your convenience.

It's a certainty that at some point you or someone that you dearly care about will one day be in dire need of my many varied and talented services... so feel free to save my business card among your favorite websites for when that moment arrives.

You can expeditiously contact me by dropping a line in the comment section of this blog posting. Simply describe in thirty words or less what your problem is that you need fixing and how soon you need it done.

My professional rates are surprisingly quite reasonable... especially if you happen to be female and super hot and can afford to pay for your own beer and beverages.

Also be advised that it is a well known fact that the gentleman in the various Dos XX Equis, beer commercials, touting himself as the "most interesting man in the world", doesn't have a thing on me and can't back up any of his claims... so don't be misled by this guy or any other impostors.

I am well known throughout the many dockside bars here in the Keys for my many adventurous and successful exploits. Feel free to walk in any bar and inquire about me. References from previously satisfied customers can be graciously furnished upon written request... or you can simply pick up my bar tab and I'll find someone to vouch for me.

Lastly... mature, sensible, attractive women in dire need of companionship get top client priority and my immediate attention.

Alex Shaffer
All Around Good Guy
Casual Hero
Personal Advisor

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 22nd... an infamous date in American history...

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November 22nd is fast approaching and that is one date out of the year that I always seem to find a moment to reflect upon... for it was on that date in American history that the highest of treason was committed.

Yeah... the President of the United States of America was murdered on the streets of downtown Dallas, Texas and for the longest time I grew up reviling the "image" of Lee Harvey Oswald toting a rifle in an old black and white photograph.

I still cringe at the sight of that photograph whenever I happen to set my gaze upon it and I can't think of a more reviled figure in American history other than possibly former VP Dick Cheney.

The odd thing about it is that I no longer believe that Oswald was anything other than a "patsy" as he himself proclaimed to be upon being paraded before the cameras. Not that I know what is completely factual or not, but I happen to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was a diligent CIA agent simply doing what he was instructed to do and that was to unwittingly set himself up as the fall guy.

The photograph shown above has been demonstrated to be a fake with the use of modern sophisticated electronic imagery. The results clearly show Oswald's image to have been planted atop someone else's figure so as to characterize Oswald as a rabid wing-nut intent on murdering the President... an early example of "cut & paste". Take a moment and examine the size of the head in comparison to the body... does it look right to you?

Funny how the CIA just happened to have this photo-shopped image of "Lee Harvey Oswald" in their files ready to be released to the press just moments after the assassination.

Whether J.Edgar Hoover, who headed up the FBI at the time was the mastermind of the assassination is a matter of conjecture and speculation that may never be disclosed. Nevertheless I happen to believe that the motive behind the assassination was that Kennedy, upon taking office discovered "a covert, secret dirty little war" going on in South East Asia and wanted to put a stop to it immediately.

Kennedy attempted to do so by signing off on a secret presidential resolution declaring "that in times of undeclared war, all espionage activities would be conducted under the exclusive jurisdiction of the US Armed Forces", effectively castrating the CIA and incurring the wrath of that agency.

In any event I've got a sink full of dishes in the galley that need to be washed and I certainly don't want to burn away a Saturday afternoon blogging about the motives and cover up of the assassination.

I'll simply conclude by reiterating what I had posted on my placard at Dealy Plaza on the 40th anniversary of the assassination.

Blown Away...
By the CIA...
Cou d'tat in the USA...
Burn in Hell LBJ...
High Treason in America.

Reading something other than chess theory for a change...

Hey... check this out... I've finally succeeded in crossing out a line item on my bucket list of things to do or see before I someday croak and depart this dear planet. Never mind whether or not this line item didn't happen to be on my top ten list of things to do before I were to croak or whether it was even among my top one-hundred.

The relevant thing about it is that I finally finished something that I previously started after at least two prior failed attempts made in earnest. I'll also add that this doesn't have a damned thing to do with what goes on in the bedroom for those of you with wandering minds... so don't even bother going there.

I finally finished reading a book that I've had for some time now. Reading that book cover to cover was a welcomed change of pace and I'll also be the first to tell you that it certainly was quite gratifying and somewhat enlightening for that matter.

Although I may be on a boat, there is only so much chess theory that I want to endlessly read so it was nice to set aside my various volumes of Garry Kasparov's, "My Great Predecessors" and read something else for a change.

The line item in question that finally got crossed off my bucket list was to completely read "Stephen Hawking's Universe, the Cosmos Explained" by David Filkin... an Authorized Companion to the Public Television Series...

I can well remember purchasing this book some eight or nine years ago at a greatly discounted price at a Barnes & Noble bookstore somewhere in Dallas. I can also recall randomly flipping TV channels late at night with the remote and stopping down on the PBS Channel when it happened to feature the book's accompanying TV series.

Say what you will of the PBS channel, I happen to find it compelling viewing no matter what the morons on FOX Fabrication News Network have to say about it. Let me ask you this... would you prefer to listen to Glenn Beck and Shawn Hannity utter stupidities and bullsh*t all day long or would you prefer to get enlightened while watching PBS?

Dude... In any event... you need to have your geeky science classmate explain the Cliff Notes version of the book if for no other reason than that you may perhaps find yourself gazing up a stars alongside a date late one night.

You never know... you just might impress the hell out of her with random tidbits of information of how the universe evolved and perhaps later find yourself stealing home plate after safely rounding all the other bases. Then yet again... maybe not.

But what the heck... let me help you out myself with a few tidbits of information free of charge.

Eratosthenes was a Greek mathematician who had the insight to plant two sticks perpendicular into the ground and measure the length of the shadow of one stick while the other stick showed no shadow at all when the sun was at high noon in some distant city.

As a result of this measurement, this old guy was able to estimate the diameter of the earth... Dude... it's called geometry and you want to put away your ipod and pay attention next time you find yourself seated in your geometry class not that I ever paid attention back in my high school days. Incidentally, it is reported that geometry happened to be Alberto Einstein's favorite class while a student...

Eratosthenes was to prove that the earth was not flat way before Columbus ever made such a claim. By the way... Former President Dubya Bush is reportedly still claiming that Saddam Hussein was a threat to world peace and that the world is a better place without him and that the earth is still flat.... Go figure.

Ptolemy was some dude from the second century that drew up complicated epicycles of the sun, moon, and other planets with Planet Earth at the center of it all. Kind of like what Sarah Palin would want you to believe about the hinterlands of Alaska but I advise you not to waste your time paying any attention to her stupidities.

Nicholas Copernicus was a Polish priest who croaked in 1543... he anonymously proposed that the sun and not the earth was the center of the universe so as to not offend the church and of all its bullsh*t about the biblical interpretation of the earth being at the center of the universe.

Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer who proposed that planets had elliptical orbits around the sun and not perfect circular orbits as pontificated by the church. Imagine that... somebody with a brain defying the teachings of the church back in the day. He based his conclusions on the precise measurements methodically taken by some Danish dude with a giant sextant.

Tycho Brahe was that Danish dude with a sextant who methodically took precise measurements of the visible planets and heavens... never mind that he failed to realize what those measurements could possibly tell him.

Galileo was an Italian mathematician who used a telescope to record his sightings of moons orbiting Jupiter thus trashing Ptolemy's model of the universe once and for all which claimed that all heavenly bodies orbited around the earth.

Issac Newton was a mathematician who wrote Principia Mathematica explaining the basic laws of motion and providing a mathematical description of the universe known up to that time.

In any event the book proceeds to explain the contributions of many others and of how one discovery would lead to another. Of particular note was how a simple light prism ultimately allowed scientists to determine what the sun and distant stars were made of by examining what are known as Fraunhofer lines.

The book goes on to explain The Big Bang, black holes, white dwarfs, time warps, subatomic particles and much more in simple everyday language. There is but one formula in the entire book... Energy is the same thing as Mass when it is accelerated to an exponentially super fast speed.

What is not stated in this book is that so-called Creation-Science is little more than an oxymoron based upon contemporary mythology... and that any sensible person will readily conclude that religion is little more than contemporary mythology destined to someday be set alongside ancient Greek and Roman mythology.

Dude... this is a pretty cool book. You may perhaps want to include it in your bucket list of things to do and see before you ever croak.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Slammed I am... in Marathon, Middle Keys

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The past six weeks or so here in Marathon have been somewhat monotonous. Primarily because there isn't much to do here in the Keys other than to go drinking and prowling about in the evenings.

So for better or worse I can often be found making the rounds at the various taverns in town for lack of anything better to do. For starters there is the "Sunset Grille & Raw Bar" on the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge. The place has great Tiki-Hut style ambiance overlooking a wide expanse of open water.

You'll want to go there for food and beverages if you happen to be doing the tourist thing. However, be prepared to pay full price and then some for the drinks and food. It is nevertheless a pretty decent spot to indulge in a few happy-hour beverages since this spot tends to draw in more than just a few cougars on the prowl and prowling cougars can indeed make one's overpriced beverage taste that much better.

"Burdines Waterfront, Chiki Tiki Bar & Grill", on mile marker 48 is another pretty decent place to indulge in a few cold ones and grab a bite to eat. Bottled Buds go for two bucks a pop which is not unreasonable.

It too has a nice feel about it. It's a dockside bar and grill overlooking the entrance to Boot Key Harbor. The food is decent enough, the beer is cold and more importantly it is all reasonably priced.

"Castaway", but a fishing-cast away from Burdines.... (ooopps... lousy pun... couldn't help myself... so sorry!) is simply overpriced. A dinky plastic cup of draft beer shouldn't cost $3.50 a pop. The place has nice decor but I happen to be on a cruising budget, not a European tourist budget and prefer to drink elsewhere.

"Porky's Bayside" is an outdoorsy type bar that happens to sell bar food as well. It's the kind of place bikers might prefer since it's right off of highway one. Other than that it really doesn't have much going for it. Check it out anyway just to say that you've been there.

"Hurricanes" is my preference for indulging in a few cold beverages and they sell pitchers of draft beer at a very reasonable price. The place also has free Wi-Fi, two separate bar areas, a restaurant area and a number of flat-screen tvs for viewing sports.

In addition, live bands play on Friday and Saturday nights. It might be Motown one night, Reggae another, and Blues and Country another. Without exception it's all been good.

Lastly, "The Brass Monkey" is about as seedy as it gets... it's a neighborhood type bar and caters exclusively to the locals... and these are hardcore service-industry locals and out-of-towners should enter with caution.

This is a smoking bar so it goes without saying that it is somewhat difficult to breath in there. Patronizing the place are nevertheless a number of skanky-looking women all bulging at the seams looking for a good time if that happens to be of interest to you.

So... after giving you the brief rundown of watering-holes here in Marathon, I'm thinking that I need an evening activity other than drinking.

There has got to be something better to do and it's way past time that I set sail and venture off elsewhere.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Doing a little sightseeing throughout Naples...

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On day three of my previous visit to Marco Island and after yet again dipping my toes into my friend's swimming pool on more than just a few ocassions, she suggested that we venture out of the house for a drive on up to Naples.

Well I certainly was feeling a bit restless after leisurely sipping on a pot of coffee and loitering about her house all morning long and some fresh air along with some bright sunshine would certainly do us both a bit of good.

Naples is but some fifteen miles north of Marco Island and I well remember sailing on past that community when I had previously sailed on down to Marco from Fort Myers Beach. Damned... that seems so long ago.

Besides, going for a nice relaxing car ride would suit me just fine after my memorable encounter of sorts with Skunk-Ape the previous day as described in my previous blog entry.

That unexpected encounter certainly was enough excitement for one weekend not that I expect anyone to believe me. So yeah... driving up to Naples to check out rich people's homes seemed to suit me just fine.

My friend had assured me that Naples was an exceedingly wealthy community and that I'd be marveling at all the opulent homes. Let me tell you right up front... my friend certainly wasn't exagerating... Naples reeks of wealth. There is no end to the opulence in that community.

If the Parker Brothers were still around and were to ever update their Monopoly board game, then I'm pretty sure that they'd rename the Boardwalk property as Naples... that's how opulent the place is.

There is so much wealth in Naples that one is much more likely to spot a Bentley than one is to spot a Chevrolet Lumina unless I were to happen to get lost and somehow find myself driving my beat-up car throughout town.

The streets and avenues throughout Naples are all fabulously landscaped and are even adorned with a few Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo statues on loan from Italian museums.

In any event I seem to recall a "Paul Harvey, and now you know the rest of the story" radio commentary from long ago of the town with the highest income per capita in the United States. Naples now holds that distinction. Never mind that it is alleged that a good many of the mob honchos all reside in Naples during the winter months because we all know that there is no such thing as the mob.

Besides, the newly governor-elect of Florida also happens to be a Naples resident who legitimately earned his fortune by having his corporation overbill the US government for fabricated health care services... and we all know that this fellow is a fine upstanding elected official of the Republican party and that this is the party of righteousness and of enviable moral values.

Who was it that once wrote, "Behind every great fortune made is a crime"?

In any event, Naples seemed a tad too austere and opulent for my taste. I felt as if there was a security camera at every street corner peering up my rear end the entire time my friend and I cruised that place.

Naples is a community of old fuddy-duddies and I'd prefer not to bother going back there... unless of course I were to earn a small fortune by legitimately overbilling the federal government for services that were never performed and purchase an ocean-front mansion.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Skunk-Ape... my new bar-buddy.

I happened to come across an "Everglades Skunk-Ape Research Field Guide" last time I visited my friend up in Marco Island. We had both gotten a bit restless after loitering around the house all morning and she had suggested that we go for a drive on out to the Skunk-Ape Research Center on the Tamiami Trail.

The research center is operated by some guy who has spent his entire life in the Everglades and whose family history can be traced all the way back to 1891. He claims to have spent the last thirty years investigating Skunk-Ape sightings, collecting data, and researching that elusive creature.

The center even has its own website... , if you still happen to have an interest in knowing more about this creature.

The field guide is but a sixteen page pamphlet and describes the Skunk-Ape in quite some detail insofar as its appearance and living habits. It also includes invaluable information on how best to plan a sighting expedition. Also included is a comprehensive expedition check list of things to do and not do and of items to bring along for the expedition.

Included in that check list is a pound of dry Lima beans to be used as bait which can be purchased at the Research Center.

Well I gotta tell you... all that information in that field guide seemed a bit too made up for my liking and had me thinking that it was all a load of crap.

Yeah... I'd seen this rodeo before. It seemed like a ploy to convince tourists to shell out some hard earned cash for a swamp expedition that had zero chance of sighting the so-called Skunk-Ape.

The whole concept of the Skunk-Ape had me thinking about the "Chupa-Cabra" back when I was living in Puerto Rico. That's all one ever heard about for months on end on that island. Every other day, a goat would be reported to have been found dead in the island countryside after having had all its blood sucked out of it.

Common sense somehow had me thinking that those dead goats had to be the result of a "Santeria" ritual.

In any event, I'm outside the Skunk-Ape Research Center waiting on my dear friend to get back from what I thought was the ladies room and finish whatever women do in there for hours on end. But instead she had been heavily engrossed in conversation with Dave Shealy who is world reknowned as the most knowledgable Skunk-Ape expert in the world.

Mr. Shealy was so convincing in describing the elusive Skunk-Ape that he even persuaded her to purchase all kinds of contraptions at inflated prices so that she could conduct her own search expedition.

All this while, I'm patiently waiting outside and find myself looking out over a nearby pond for alligators while sipping on a cold beer that I had pulled out of my ice-cooler.

It then happens that I'm suddenly smelling a gawd-awful stench coming up from behind me but before I can turn around to see where that stench might be coming from, some ape-like creature has gently placed his hand on my shoulder.

I've turned completely around now and find myself looking straight up into that creature's face. He's now motioning to my cooler and I'm so frightened that I don't hesitate to reach into that cooler for not just one, but two cold beers which I then promptly hand over to him.

With that the creature cradles both beers in one hand and stealthily ambles back into the swampy water. It's a shame that I was too scared to have the presence of mind to take a picture of the creature with my cell-phone camera before it had waded out of sight into the thick brush and trees.

I later told my friend of my encounter with what surely was a Skunk-Ape after I had helped her load up her SUV with the expedition gear that she had purchased at inflated prices.

Somehow I don't think that she quite believed me and that I was perhaps mocking all that gear that she had just purchased. She just kind of looked at me funny and asked whether there were any beers left in the cooler.

Like I mentioned's a shame that I didn't happen to take a picture of that thirsty creature. Surprisingly all it took was a couple of beers to lure that elusive Skunk-Ape out of its swampy habitat.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tuning in to Radio Marti for a little Texas Rangers Baseball...

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It wasn't all that long ago when I'd be more inclined to admit to being a NASCAR fan before I'd publicly admit to being a fan of Texas Rangers baseball.

Say what???... Oh gawd... I'm lying... there ain't no way in hell I'd ever claim to like watching NASCAR. My apologies, I got carried away attempting to make a point about the Texas Rangers. In fact, I'll even go so far as to state that the only thing worse than having to watch NASCAR is having to listen to it.

Listening to NASCAR is cruel and unusual punishment and only the most heineous of criminals should be subjected to such hardship. But I digress... this blog entry ain't about rednecks carrying on about tire pressure and the confederacy. It's about baseball...

Baseball as in "beisbol"!!... as in the time former Rangers catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was once chastised by team management for not resting his knees in the off-season and of instead playing Winter League Baseball in Puerto Rico.

In response, Pudge was later quoted to have stated, "Some peeeple like to go feeeshingg... some peeeple like to go huuntinngg... I like to play BEISBOL!!!" . It was readily assumed that he was refering to fellow teammates prefering to go fishing and hunting in the offseason.

In any event, living aboard a sailboat implies having to do without a few creature comforts that almost everyone else takes for granted these days. Okay... perhaps more than just a few creature comforts.

Well you see... S/V Blondie-dog is as basic as it gets. For starters, I ain't got no TV onboard, nor do I have a VCR, or a microwave, fridge or even a flush toilet. I ain't even got someone to get up and fetch me a warm beer if I happen to be in need of one for that matter.

Onboard my boat insofar as electronics are concerned, is a cell phone for that random phone call and salacious text message, a handheld GPS for navigation, a VHF radio to plead for assistance when in distress at sea as well as a laptop with an ocassional internet connection, and lastly a CD player with a radio. Yes a radio.

Yeah dude... a radio. I'm sure you've heard of a radio before. It's an electronic device from way back in the day that precedes Ipods, CD players, cassette players, and even your dad's eight-track.

It's a device to let you tune into communications from some random distant radio tower. Nevermind that the communication these days is more often than not from some pompous, bombastic-lardass with an oxycontin addiction pontificating about so-called conservatism and moral values.

So yeah... I happen to be back on my boat and it's late in the evening and though the boat may be tied up to a mooring out in the harbor, I'm wanting to discretely tune in for some baseball. Not football mind you or preferably even NBA basketball but rather Texas Rangers baseball... as in the 2010 Baseball World Series!!... but please don't tell anybody... baseball just ain't cool.

However I've got one option for tuning in and that is to plug in my CD/Radio into an inverter and then plug that little device into a DC current power source. (feel free to google "inverter" and impress your geeky classmates next time you remember to attend science class)

Well I've got the radio plugged in and I'm ever so slowly twisting that radio nob up and down the dial searching for the ballgame. Surely somebody out in radio-land is broadcasting the 2010 Baseball World Series whether it be on the FM or AM dial.

I do eventually find a radio broadcast of the game. It is however in Spanish but heck... that's better than tuning in to some a college football game involving two teams no one has ever heard of before.

Besides, as a youngster, I use to tune the radio in to listen to los Cangrejeros de Santurce y los Senadores de San Juan battle it out at Bithorn Stadium all the time. The radio broadcasts were always in Spanish of course and I certainly had no issue with that back then so hell, I'll tune in and listen to the Texas Rangers play ball in Spanish.

I've got the radio dial set to Radio Marti and the fact that the broadcast is in Spanish is but an afterthought as I'm soon immersed in the ballgame but remember not to tell anybody that I said that because baseball just ain't cool.

Radio Marti for those of you who weren't around when the cold war with Russia was in full swing, is a radio station operating for the exclusive purpose of broadcasting news and commentary to the general population of Cuba. The station does not air any annoying radio commercials which can be thought of a good thing. Radio Marti is in all likelihood funded and operated by the CIA for all I know.

Incidentally, you should have heard those two radio announcers whine like malcontent little kids as the Texas Rangers were spanking the hated New York Yankees. Talk about a pair of crybabies.... muah, muah, muah.

Go Rangers!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daddy is a pain... Worse than the rain...

Well it happens to be a delightful Saturday morning here in the Keys and there are but a few scattered clouds in the sky. A cold front has made its way down this way and a pleasant cool breeze has blown the prior days' muggy weather away.

In any event I've tired of reading through a Continuing Education Course that I have to take in order to renew my CPA license and don't care to scrape barnacles off the hull of the boat at the moment and instead find myself once again messing around with my laptop.

While mindlessly checking a few files in my laptop I came across a writing of mine describing a family moment some ten years ago and am reminded of how living aboard a sailboat certainly isn't any better than those kind of moments.

So... I've included that writing in my blog for your amusement and it goes as follows:

While driving home with my wife and two young daughters one weekend morning a few summers ago, my youngest cheerfully thought up a few chants to pass the time away and poke a good measure of fun at her dear 'ol Dad at the same time.

It didn't take long for the wife and older daughter to soon join in with a few amusing yet disparaging chants of their own at my expense.

Soon enough I was subjected to hearing a chorus of goofy chants directed my way.

While some chants rhymed and others didn't they all nevertheless concluded with "Boooo Daddy!!... Boooo Daddy!!" followed by a collective outburst of boisturous laughter.

It wasn't long before my youngest proceeded to exclaim, "Daddy is a Pain!! Worse than the Rain!! Boooo Daddy!!! Boooo.. Daddy!!! followed once again by uncontained merriment at my predicament.

It soon became readily apparent to all that if I were to salvage a bit of my dignity that I'd then have to think up a chant of my own real quick.

No sooner had we cruised on past a distant cow pasture alongside the interstate highway when a burst of inspiration suddenly struck me. I proceeded to loudly intone, "Mommy is a Sow!! Worse than a Cow!! Booo... Mommy!! Booo... Mommy!!"

After the immediate outburst of uncontained laughter by all I was swiftly slugged in the arm by the wife, nevermind whether or not the chant had any validity to it.

For the rest of the drive home all I heard from the kids seated in the back was, "Ooohhh Daddy... You're In Trouble!!... Ooohhh Daddy, You're in Trouble!!"

We continued laughing all the way home.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Actual cooking going on inside the galley...

Check it out... I've got some actual cooking going on inside the galley. I've invited my dear friend Hannibal Lector on over for some sauteed liver with fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti.

Bathroom mural at Jack's Lookout on Marco Island... do be sure the read the quote written on the wall.

Jack's Lookout is a quaint open-aired dockside bar on Marco Island. It overlooks the Rose Marco Island Marina and is frequented by the same usual suspects. Even the same snowbirds come here year after year to spend the winter months before heading back up north to wherever that might be.

I'll admit to having enjoyed more than just a few cold beverages at that dockside bar but I can assure you that it doesn't even come close to being described as a "secluded, hedonistic, dockside bar".

The mural in the mens room can be said to depict the typical bar patron at Jack's Lookout... pale, fat, old, disgruntled, and on a fixed income. In other words... your typical male FOX Fabrication News Network viewer.

I'll just have to keep on looking for that elusive dockside bar while the regular bar patrons at Jack's keep on looking to make sure that "it is still there".

Inexpensive accomodations at the Dallas Downtown YMCA...

Well I'm now back on the boat after a good four days of loitering at my friend's house on Marco Island... or "the rock" as she would often refer to it... and it goes without saying once again that her swimming pool was just as inviting this time around as it was on the previous occasions that I had visited.

Though my boat may feel confining at times, it is nevertheless my own personal space where I can sprawl out and not feel that I may perhaps be imposing in anyway. Besides, there is the little matter of adhering to the second tenant of booty-call protocol as explained in a previous blog entry.

In any event a narrative of the happenings of my four days of loitering on Marco Island will simply have to wait for a later date... if only because I wish to conclude my narrative of events in my prior blog entry that last found me seated alongside an empty revolving baggage carousel at DFW airport some three decades ago.

While apprehensively staring at that empty baggage carousel go around in circles, I kept wondering where I might stay that evening. It was now early evening around eight pm or so and I had already made a number of phone calls to inquire about lodgings for the evening without any success.

I had made use of a telephone receiver mounted alongside a huge visual display of a map outlining the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. All one had to do was note the number on the map corresponding to the hotel one wished to call and simply press a button for direct dial.

Incidentally, direct-dial telephones were a novelty for me at the time. I had never seen one before. The only phones I had ever previously come across were black, rotary-dial telephones with an occasional dial-tone from back in the day when I lived in Puerto Rico.

But I digress... One number after another had been called and each time I had gasped upon the front desk clerk informing me of their hotel room rates. In my pocket were some two-thousand dollars in American Express cashiers checks which most assuredly would have vaporized in a matter of days if I were to stay at one of those fancy hotels.

You see... I was literally off the boat after having grown up in Puerto Rico and totally clueless about affordable lodgings such as Motel 6 and the like and so there I sat staring at that revolving empty baggage carousel when a song performed by the Village People happened to suddenly pop into my head.

YMCA...ymca.... YMCA....

I spring up out of my chair... find a pay phone along with the ubiquitous yellow pages... make note of the various YMCA phone numbers and call to inquire about whether they have any rooms available for the night and of their room rates.

I'm in luck... the Downtown Dallas YMCA has one room left but I'd better hurry to claim it. I plead my case and explain my situation and assure the desk clerk that I'll be there before midnight to check in and to please hold the room for me. The desk clerk is a real sweetie and assures me that she will.

I collect my bags and head for the terminal curbside area to hale a cab when once again I'm in luck. A Trailways bus is soon scheduled to depart for the thirty mile trip to downtown Dallas.

I board that bus after loading my bags into the baggage compartment and upon the bus driver giving me instructions to sit in the back and to keep my eyes glued to his rearview mirror. I am to wait for his signal when we reach my stop.

That African-American bus driver has the demeanor and physique of a no-nonsense drill sergeant so I readily comply with all of his instructions. The bus later makes a number of stops in downtown Dallas after the long drive from the airport.

Well groomed and coiffured passengers can later be seen stepping off the bus at the various luxury hotels with hotel bellmen eagerly awaiting curbside to collect their bags. These hotels were undoubtedly the same ones that I had called earlier that evening to inquire about their room rates.

The last stop is at the Fairmont Hotel. It has a worn look about it in comparison to the other hotels. Sure enough, upon stopping and upon the remaining passengers disembarking, the bus driver peers up into his mirror and we make eye contact. A quick nod of his head tells me that I'm at my stop and it's now my turn to step off the bus.

I'm the last passenger to be attended to and I'm given concise and deliberate instructions on where to find the Downtown Dallas YMCA. I am to walk one block over and two blocks down. I am to look for an old brick building in front of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas.

It's late August and I was to later find out that the 104 degree Fahrenheit temperature earlier that day was to be the hottest that year in Dallas. I'm lugging two heavy bags while trekking those couple of blocks to the Y. Everything is bigger in Texas or so it seems and those street blocks each seemed to measure at least a quarter of a mile in length.

I eventually find the YMCA right where that driver said it would be. The place has a seedy look about it but I'm exhausted and only too happy to finally have a place to crash for the evening. My room is located on the fifth floor of that six story dilapidated building and so I ride on up in an equally dilapidated Otis elevator.

The elevator finally creeks its way on up to the fifth floor but not before giving me a few scares. I get off that elevator and look around one last time to check and see whether its cables are still holding it in suspension. The elevator does not crash on down to the ground floor so I continue on to find my room. I unlock the door, flip a light bulb on, toss my bags inside and lock the door securely behind me.

It's stifling hot inside that room and there is no air-conditioning, not that I ever had any while growing up in Puerto Rico. It does take some effort to finally open the window to circulate some equally hot air in from the outside. I'm in for a most uncomfortable evening to say the least.

It's past eleven pm or so and I take a cold shower, never mind that hot water was nowhere to be found in that building. I don't bother to unpack my bags and I'll worry about finding better accommodations in the morning. I am nevertheless relieved to have finally arrived in Dallas after having read that Newsweek cover story weeks earlier that I previously mentioned in a blog entry... besides, I certainly can't complain about the very modest room rate that I paid.

Hey... you get what you pay for.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clueless while seated at the DFW baggage claim area...

I got another invitation from my friend on Marco Island to drive on up from the Keys and visit for a day or two or four... and I can assure you that living on a sailboat can feel quite confining after awhile, especially if it happens to be tied up to a mooring ball for weeks on end.

So no... it didn't take a lot of convincing for me to batten down the forward hatch to the v-berth and slide in the slats to close up the companionway of that boat and drive myself on up to Marco for a few days of loitering.

So yeah... I'm definitely only too happy to make the four hour drive back up through the Keys and then on through the Everglades and on to Marco Island. It goes without saying that I'm once again most certainly looking forward to dipping my toes in her swimming pool and watching tv at all hours of the evening.

It's a four hour drive and there's not much on the radio that holds my interest so I turn the thing off. I find myself absorbed in my own thoughts and thinking back to when I seemed to be but a kid and completely clueless as to what to do with the rest of my life... kind of like now for that matter.

In any event, some dates are forever imbedded in one's mind and August 24th is one such date that I never fail to reflect upon when it rolls around. I well remember that date because it happened to be on that date when I first arrived in Dallas, Texas some three decades ago.

I had previously been living in Puerto Rico and working my first job after finally graduating from college with a degree in accounting. I had grown restless of the daily grind of working every day and of still living with my parents and of not quite being able to afford a place of my own.

In the back of my mind I kept yearning to venture out and see the world as in move to the United States and make a life for myself. The only question was... but where? It wasn't like I had any close relatives or family friends that might briefly take me in until I got situated and the like.

I had visited New York some years earlier and had assumed that it was a logical destination since every Puertorrican I'd ever previously known that had relocated from the island had moved to that big city.

However, I also recalled being completely intimidated by how complicated and busy that place could be and was certain that I would be completely lost and clueless if I were to move there.

There was little doubt in my mind that I'd somehow find myself inadvertently roaming the Bronx projects late one night without any idea of where I was only to later incur a mishap of some sorts. No thanks... New York wasn't gonna work out for me and wasn't ever a viable option.

So... New York was summarily scratched off my list of places to go to which left option B. Only problem was that there was no option B. I was simply clueless as to where to relocate to in the good 'ol US of A. That is until one day I happened to come across an issue of Newseek magazine. It's cover story was of a massive migration underway at the time of job seekers relocating to Houston, Texas.

I recall the cover story describing in some detail how both the steel and automotive industries were hurting and how whole families from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania were relocating in droves to Houston, Texas in search of jobs within the oil industry which at that time happened to be booming.

The article did however go on to explain that not all job seekers arriving in Houston had been successful in finding gainful employment and that the job market in the oil industry had started to become saturated. The last two or three paragraphs of that article did however describe Dallas as having a more diversified economy were job opportunities could still be found.

Four weeks later after purchasing a one way airline ticket, I found myself seated inside the baggage claim area at DFW airport with my bags by my side. I sat on a hard chair there all by myself wondering for the longest time where I'd be spending the night let alone the next coming weeks.

You see... there was no one coming to pick me up and I had no idea of where to go and Dallas was a much bigger city than I had ever imagined. I simply just sat on that chair all the while watching the empty baggage carousel continuosly spin around in circles long after all the other passengers had collected their bags and driven off somewhere.

Incidentally, I believe that I may have seen my first alligator as I drove on past a rest stop along the Tamiami Trail. I happened to notice a number of tourists peering down from their safe perch on a boardwalk that hovered above the swamp.

Down below appeared to be a submerged scaly log the length of a F-350 Ford pickup truck. Then yet again it could have been but a fake model of
an alligator purposely placed in the water to make tourist actually believe that they'd seen a real alligator.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Cat in the Hat on Aging... and not by Dr. Seuss!

Well now... It's my birthday and what better way than to put smile on my face than with a little ditty from The Cat in the Hat himself!

My new and improved profile for "Single Sailor's Seeking Soul Mate", Group Cruiser's Forum..

While perusing through the various topics and forums on web site, I came across a group forum inviting me to post a profile as well as a photogragh of myself on it.

The "Singles Sailors Seeking Soul Mates" group forum in question is described as "for those who have the dream, but not the mate". It goes on to further explain that the forum is for those who are "looking for a long term relationship, life partner, or a soul mate to share their sailing/boating adventures".

Well now... here's a forum that most definitely has gotten my attention. I not only have but one dream but I can readily admit to having several dreams throughout the week and am indeed most often without a mate.

Yeah... count me in. I'm definitely interested in having not just one "long term relationship" but many more. Long weekends can most certainly be thought of as being long enough for a long term relationship. I therefore gotta believe that I do meet the first requirement for posting a profile on this forum.

Insofar as the other requirement about seeking a "soul mate to share their sailing/boating adventures"... I certainly do indeed live aboard a sailboat where adventures can be made and as far as the soul mate part about it, I would most certainly welcome a soul-sista-mate aboard so long as she is super hot and doesn't go postal on me.

My profile is still a work in progress and it could perhaps use a little help... but here goes anyway:

I need to expand my social scene... I can be found more often than not at the local taverns till late in the evenings after doing nothing all day aboard my sailboat. I'll be the one downing a few pitchers of cheap beer and chatting it up with the other bar-flies while ogling the bartender's boobies as she leans over and pours yet another draft beer.

As far as my age is concerned, I'll tell you that I'm older than I look and am what is known throughout the various bars and taverns here in Marathon as a h*rny ol' f*rt but don't let that alarm you in any way.

I do however keep up with my appearance. I have now let my hair grow out somewhat and I keep it neatly braided all the time as you can well tell from my photogragh shown above. I'll also have you know that I do make it a point to wash my hair every other month whether it needs it not.

Although I may be on a boat, I am fastidious about brushing my teeth and I do happen to brush every other week. I know of a few boaters here in the harbor that don't even own a toothbrush and have a goofy looking grin to prove it too.

Please note that I am into re-cycling stuff onboard the boat as well and have no problem in reusing tissue paper... I hope this won't be an issue with you since all of us need to get onboard with the energy conservation program and I'll expect you to do the same when you're on my boat. Every little bit helps.

Now for the unpleasantries... I will on occassion inadvertently release a gas pressure buildup at the most inopportune moment while in a social setting but that is just but one little character flaw that I hope that you'll overlook.

Lastly, if you see me reaching down between my legs and scratching like crazy, it's because I've had a jock itch for the past six months or so that just won't quit. I can assure you that it's not contagious in anyway. Just don't worry and be happy.

So there you have it... my personal profile that I've submitted for the "Single Sailor's Seeking Soul Mate" forum.

I'll add that you need to hook up with me and that if you happen to already be in a relationship, then that's okay too... discretion is one of my better virtues.

You get bonus points if you happen to be sensible, attractive and can afford to pay for your own bar tab!

Hope to hear from ya soon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reminiscing After Getting a Haircut...

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It had been some six or seven weeks since I last got a haircut back when I was on Marco Island. My hair now had somewhat of a ragged look about it and I was once again in need of another so-called buzz cut.... number two clippers all around the sides and back, tapered and blended with a little length on the top... military style not that I was ever in the military which is neither good or bad.

Anyway, I think it's a good look for me since I'm on the verge of having to acquiesce to the "double-nickle". Yes indeed... the double-nickle as in the number fifty-five... as in the total number of points that Michael once laid on Spike Lee's beloved Knicks.

I suppose it's a good look especially since I've started to gray on the sides but even more importantly because the cut requires little maintenance and because "I'm on a boat" to reiterate a familiar phrase used here in the Keys.

One recent Sunday morning while seeking out a local Cuban diner for a breakfast sandwich and a "taza de cafe colao", I happened to notice a nearby barbershop. I therefore made a mental note of its location because my hair could certainly use a trim... and the sooner the better. ("Incidentalmente, a mi me gusta el cafe tal como me gusta a las mujeres... caliente, dulce, y prieta"... ooopps.. I didn't really mean to say that.)

Upon entering that barbershop the next day, I am taken a-back by what is certainly some sort of monstrosity mounted up on the wall. I collect myself before realizing that it's not some Mako shark that someone valiantly hooked and reeled in after a four hour struggle at sea, but rather a moose of all things...

Mounted up on that wall was Bullwinkle... as in Bullwinkle the moose featured on many a Saturday morning cartoon show from back in the day when I was a little kid.

Yes, a dumba*s moose... the docile, vegetarian creature described by Bill Bryson as dumber than a cow in his book, 'A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.". Dude... yes you dude... you with all the ridiculous looking tattoos... you need to read this book or else have someone read it to you.

Anyway, all this random chatter about a haircut and of some unfortunate moose mounted up on the wall brings to mind the time when I had first moved to Ennis, Texas some eleven, twelve years ago and was in dire need of a haircut back then as well.

It had been somewhat of a cold winter week by Texas standards when I first ventured into a town barber shop that could best perhaps be described as "old-school". It happened to be a Saturday morning and it seemed as if every gun-toting local senior citizen was in town waiting for their turn to get their hair trimmed... not that they had much hair to begin with.

Upon entering that barbershop I take a seat and then look up to survey my surroundings and sure enough, mounted on every wall of that shop is some sort of critter or another.

Prominently displayed upon every surface of 'dem 'der walls was a bob-cat, a rattle-snake skin, a beaver, a trout, a few Bambi's, a falcon, and quite possibly somebody's pet cat that had gone missing awhile back.

There was even a bass fish mounted up on the wall that could somehow turn its head and talk to you if you happened to walk on by. Nevertheless I'm not convinced that that particular bass came from a real lake. I'm more inclined to believe that it was a fake bass-look-a-like and was made in China to humour all the short-bus Dubya Bush admirers.

Well I happen to be in dire need of a haircut and resign myself to the fact that I'm in for a long Saturday morning wait while I reach out for one of the many dated and worn-out magazines randomly scattered about on a coffee table.

I peruse some old gun magazine and its many gun show advertisements including one from the NRA. I'm then suddenly reminded of what is surely their new slogan... "Guns don't kill kids, Kids kill kids"...

I soon set that magazine down but not before having a sudden urge of wanting to wash my hands. I don't want to lose my chair so I remain seated and instead find myself reaching out for another magazine.

Only this time I happen to pick up an old issue of Car & Driver... I seem to recall getting instant "tired-head" after reading but a paragraph or two of carburetors, brakes and suspension systems and whatever so I set the "Car & Driver" mag down as well and reach out for yet another magazine.

I'm not the least bit interested in picking up a dated issue of "Hunting" and I quickly flick that one aside and instead pick up an old issue of "Fishing" or some-such...

At least this magazine has some alluring pictures of streams in Idaho and Montana where fly-fishing is an understandable passion. I'm reminded of the captivating movie with Robert Redford, "A River Runs Through It".

(Note to all you under-achieving, confused adolescents perpetually gulping down obesity sodas and wandering throughout cyberspace... watch this movie and get a perspective of some sorts of a time and place that only your grandparents can readily recall... Hold on a sec while I pop open another brewsky... sploosshh)

The fishing magazine holds my interest for a short while when to my surprise I happen to uncover an old yellow issue of "National Geographic" from underneath a pile of "Popular Mechanics" magazines.

No sooner had I thumbed through the first few pages of that old issue of National Geographic when I'm suddenly captivated by what was no more than a half page article about a town with the lowest zip code number in the US Postal Service database.

It is an article describing in some detail the remote and mountainous region of Adjuntas in Puerto Rico. The article goes on to describe the annual patron saints festivities and how the region was long ago regarded as the "Land of the Gods" by the local Taino natives prior to Columbus making landfall and proclaiming the island and all its possessions as belonging to the King of Spain.

I question whether the local Taino chieftains had any comprehension whatsoever of what might Admirante Cristobal might have proclaimed at the time and find myself distracted yet again of the topic at hand and can't help but think back to a purported incident early on in the NASA space exploration program.

After conducting simulated lunar landing tests one day on a remote and rocky tract of Arizona terrain, NASA technicians approach two Navajo natives who had been observing the proceedings from a discrete distance.

When the elderly of the two natives was asked in jest to record a message for NASA astronauts to deliver to the residents living on the moon, the old Navajo recorded the following in his native Navajo tongue... "Beware of the white man, for he comes to take your land"....

In any event I find myself mesmerized after reading and re-reading that half page article in National Geographic. It's somewhat cold inside that barbershop and I'm wearing an all weather-proof jacket to keep the cold out.

Yet somehow I'm suddenly transported back to a time and place in that mountainous town of Adjuntas that I previously had an opportunity to visit. In my mind I can vividly recall the sheer beauty of the surrounding mountains and of the dense tropical foliage. I can distinctly recall the sweet scent of the earth after an early morning rain shower and the rich aroma of a nearby coffee plantation.

You see, I had jumped at the opportunity to participate in the first national chess tournament ever to be held in that remote town. It is a town now somewhat accessible by the recently constructed "autopista" and a town that I had never previously visited before in spite of the fact that I had lived on the island for a number of years.

It also happened to be a special moment for me because earlier that evening, I had played and won a hard fought game that had lasted a grueling four hours versus the top rated competitor in the event.

My opponent was a highly esteemed three-time island champion who has since gone on to achieve the title of International Chess Master.

It goes without saying that I was immensely elated at having won earlier in the day and it made that beer taste all the better while I and other fellow competitors from that event all joyfully watched the pasofino horses and their attractive female riders parade on by.

In addition to cheering on the parade participants, we spent most of that evening ogling all the hot young ladies wearing their tight fitting jeans and short skirts while dancing to the rhythms of salsa and merengue in the town plaza.

Occasionally a fellow competitor would high-five me yet again and loudly intone my last name... "SSHHAAFFEERR!" Damned that made me feel good.

I've got my eyes closed reliving those special moments when I hear the barber calling out to me. "Your next." I seat myself in the barber's chair while still relishing those not so long ago moments of that special evening in the festive town plaza. The elderly barber proceeds to tie an apron around my neck and perfunctorily asks "well, is it cold enough outside for you"?

I had hardly had a chance to respond when he launches into an endless ramble of how he had once been a sheriff out in some remote, barren region of Wyoming and how I had never experienced what cold weather truly is since I had never been there before.

He goes on to ramble on about how isolated the place is and how bone numbing cold the place can be and how cows and horses and buffalo would literally freeze solid while standing on all fours out on the prairie and how damned cold it was and on and on and on and on and endlessly on...

All the while I've got my eyes closed doing my best to tune him out and I'm clinging on to the last images in my mind of that magical evening in the town plaza all the while wishing that the gentleman would simply just stop rambling on about cold weather. I kept thinking to myself... "please be quiet... please be quiet... please be quiet... would you please shut up already"!

I finally relent on trying to relive that memorable moment and I come to terms with the fact that I'm in Ennis, Texas getting a haircut from some ex-sheriff endlessly rambling on about the cold weather in Wyoming and how I didn't know squat about bitter cold weather.

That ex-sheriff chewed a good portion of my ear off with his mindless monologue that day... now I know how Evander Holyfield must have felt after Mike Tyson took a bite out of his ear.

(Memo to the producers of History Channel's, MysteryQuest television program... Bullwinkle has been located and can be found mounted on a wall inside the "Village Barbershop" on mile marker 50 in Marathon, Florida.)