THE REAL FLORIDA 



GATORS, SNAILS, SNAKES and HUMANS 

GATOR-2

This is a story about my state, this is where I have resided for the past 45 or so years. And it speaks to the things you probably are not aware of. Things no one told you about Florida, especially real estate people.  

And we are a state with the state bird, the Mockingbird.  Who in their right mind in the Florida Legislature made the Mockingbird the State bird?  Pick the Pelican, stupid or the Egret.  

Even the Alligator is better qualified.  Scientists tell us the ancient Dinosaurs actually evolved into birds, thus cutting out 50 million years or so and since Gators eat a lot of birds, I assumed it should be our state bird.  I vote for the Gator, winner take all….

Someone once asked me are Gators that dangerous?  GATORS DANGEROUS, only to idiots!  They are our state treasure.  Generally, They won’t bother you while boating, fishing or skiing in the Florida swamps.  The are best defined as curious, cunning, focused, ambush hunters.  

Around humans most of the time these lazy critters are just looking for a handout from the human subculture “Homominus Bidiotosis”.  They are the morons who feed them marshmallows which just makes them more comfortable around man.  Then the handout can become a hand.  By the way gators think hands taste like chicken.

Just avoid the nests around mating season, don't look for lost golf balls near the edge of the water and don't walk "Fluffy" at the waters edge.  Gators think "Fluffy" tastes like chicken.  A hand isn't worth a Titleist nor a Noodle and watch out when swimming in inland lakes. It's a territorial thing. And they were here first. Gators aren't the only things we have to be aware of in our state, you’ll soon see.


GATOR STYLE

Our Jurassic friends, some of the first settlers in Florida since they appeared during the Oligocene epoch about 37 million years ago come in two flavors worldwide.  The American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator. In Florida however we have the American Gator plus two other members of the Crocodilian Family.  The Salt Water Crocodile common in some estuaries and the Caiman introduced from South America by pet stores.

Thus three common types with teeth exist in Florida, with a lust for food and one pseudo branding sport gator, with lots of noise, the Florida Gators who are football fans.  The only other Gator specie in the world is the Chinese Alligator, smaller in size, about 5/8th of the American version whereas the record for an American Gator is 19 feet and the oldest known Gator which was donated as a yearling to a German Zoo is known to be 76 years old.  Weinersnitzel must be good for you.   

The Chinese alligator currently is found only in the Yangtze River valley and is extremely endangered, with only a few dozen believed to be left in the wild. Indeed, far more Chinese alligators live in zoos around the world than can be found in the wild.  So far no travel visas have been issued and the Chinese culture saw them as a food source and voila, few alive.  

In review, the real gator can be confused being with Salt Water Crocodiles, the Southern Gator and the Caiman.  Caiman were those cute pets sold as Gators in our pet stores. Usually overfed they grew quickly.  When they ate the family pet or took a finger, they all too often get the short ride to the glades or flushed into the sewer system. Surprise, they lived. Sewers have water that goes for miles and rats.  Home sweet home.  They hunt a lot at night so dark is OK.  

Caiman, think of them as a Gator in ripping shape with an aggressive attitude of a Crocodile. They only cause harm when people interfere with their lifestyle, which is to eat anything with fur or skin, dead or alive, moves or makes a noise. The ad said they make great pets, they forgot to ad “who like other pets”. 

They were not native to Florida, but imported from S.A. as cute pets in the sixties.  The difference between the three is evident.  The Alligator has a wide face and articulates his upper jaw with incredible strength to close it. Not so strong to open it. Thus the duct tape or electricians tape you see in all those TV shows to secure them when trapped. The Crocodile can articulate his lower jaw opposite to the alligator.  The Caiman can articulate and move his upper and lower jaw.  The Aliigator is more laid back than either the Crocodile or Caiman.  The Caiman wins the nasty award.

Most common attacks, realistically, the Gator is our official trash and unleashed dog law enforcer.  In residential areas he is the reminder not to leave your dog unleashed, near the waters edge, or wandering around.  Leash laws in Florida do exist,  but they are not heeded too, nor enforced strongly enough.  Besides, Gators don't read, and some humans don’t read signs either.   

Yes, stupidity exists, it's rampant and is doing well amongst some of our not too bright pet owners.  Cats are smarter, they don’t like water and our feral cat population (over 100,000 in our county) has not been diminished by the gator population. Cars get cats, yes, Coyotes, yes, Cat HIV yes, Gators no.  Maybe cats taste like cats and not chicken.

Soon we'll have to put the Gators on Lipitor with all the sugar and carbs they are getting. DO NOT FEED THE GATOR!  First it’s illegal and recently our fish and game people issued tickets.  Arms, legs, pets and chicken parts look the same to the Gator.  His walnut size brain has one function.  Not much you can do with a walnut so it’s 100% dedicated to food and body control - temperature determines what Alligators do. Gators think people taste like chicken and a hell of a lot better than bread.


GATORS-3 HUMANS- 0

Unfortunately as things run in cycles, last year was a bad year for Gator fatalities. Three definite fatal Gator attacks on a swimmer, a gal walking real close to the edge of the water and another Gal with her legs dangling in the water off a dock. These attacks in urban neighborhoods stem from two things. Compression of the Gators habitat and the idiots that feed them while walking their dogs. 

They loose their fear of humans and associate humans as a food source.  An animal with hundreds of pounds of body weight and a brain the size of a walnut doesn't differentiate. Those canines will crush anything after he drowns it. And he is capable of a burst of speed faster than a human can react. 35MPH. They are ambush predators lying just below the surface at the edge of the water and can cover fifteen feet in less than two seconds. They think poodles taste like chicken and people taste like poodles who taste like chicken.

TAMPA BAY TIMES
A popular Central Florida tourist attraction could face fines after a tour boat filled with riders began taking on water in alligator infested water.  The boat at Jungle Adventures Nature Park in Christmas, FL  was carrying more than a dozen people Saturday, many of them children, when it started to sink.   Terrified riders said water started coming into the back of the boat so the guide told them to head to the front while he pushed the boat back to shore with a pole. One stranded passenger said they were all very scared and they even spotted alligators by the boat.  Investigators say there were no life jackets on the boat. Right now the cruise ride is closed down.


LAST WEEK
Happens all the time: Someone did feed the “pet” Gator last week in a trailer park.  The folks that live there thought the nine footer was harmless. They got the guys arm back (so much for stories of the arm that feeds you) so he could be buried in one piece.  Gators drown their victims. They got the gator and the mans arm back, so he could be buried whole.

You would have better luck smoking in a dynamite factory.  In the wild the Gator is the top of the food chain except for man and many restaurants who serve farm grown gator, quite good I might add.  It's got a gamier taste than chicken. Don’t overcook it.  Tastes more like rattlesnake than Chicken unless you get them free ranging chickens.  We have dirt-fed free-road kill chickens here. 

After Hurricane "Fay".... With water as high as three feet deep covering a good part of the state, and 40 million dollars of damage, one group did benefit from all the rain. The Gators ( not the football team) are thinking main street is their new turf while surveying millions of dollars damage. The Gator Lobbyists are claiming victory for mother nature in returning all this nice land the developers ruined when they turned the state into the Condo-Congo.  Leave them alone, give them a birth, avoid them during the mating season and we’ll all sing Kum-Ba-Ya around the fire missing no one.


NEW SNAILS NOT WELCOME IN LOS ANGELES - ALREADY IN FLORIDA
Los Angeles International Airport inspectors seized an unusually slimy package.  67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa and used in some Religious ceremonies in Florida.  The snails which are prohibited in the U.S. arrived from Nigeria.  The snails were confiscated July 1, a sample sent to a specialist in Washington, D.C., who identified them, as a prohibited species, and the USDA incinerated the snails after they were inspected.

The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.  The confirmation that a small portion of the giant African land snails infesting Miami-Dade County contain rat lung worm.
Rat lungworm parasite can be found in snails or their “slime” (mucus), and if ingested may cause a form of meningitis. To prevent infection the public is recommended to avoid handling the snails, instead, to call the Division of Plant Industry toll-free helpline at 888-397-1517 to report snail sightings.

An inspector will be sent to collect the snails. If you do come in contact, like in your house,  wear gloves, thoroughly wash their hands after handling the snails, and avoid touching their hands to their mouths, noses or eyes after handling snails. In addition, it is recommended to carefully wash all produce that may have been in contact with snails before eating. Same recommendations for Ebola.

These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop over 500 species, they can get to and in Florida it is more serious. There is already a snail problem in Miami-Dade County, and FDA leaders fear the snails could make their way into Central Florida.  Florida first saw a problem in the 1960s   
They can also threaten your home.  
“The first six months of their lives, they primarily eat stucco off the sides of house to build calcium to build their shells stronger.  In the last year and a half, they’ve collected, frozen and killed 150,000 snails from suburban yards scattered around the eastern side of Miami-Dade County and recently fielded its first reported infestation in Broward County.  They reproduce quickly and one snail can hatch 1,200 eggs in a lifetime because they're hermaphrodites they don't need a mate. and they eat hundreds of different types of plants.  The snails have the ability to grow to be 8 inches in length.  The snails are also used in religious ceremonies to predict the future.

At a little-known government laboratory in South Florida, they keep the snails under lock and key. But giant African land snails are such a threat to humans that the rules say they have to be kept locked away, just in case.  But they are pretty sure the giant African land snails that the state has spent more than $6 million to capture and kill were smuggled in by a religious cult that used the snails' mucus in healing rituals.

Miami's most prominent practitioner of Santeria the government needs to check Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee for snails. "The potential is higher in those areas," said Oba Ernesto Pichardo, of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye in Hialeah. "All those areas have sufficiently active religious populations with a snail culture.  Charles Stewart, of Hialeah, sometimes known as "El Africano" or "Oloye Ifatoku." Stewart practices a traditional African religion called Ifa Orisha, which is often confused with the Cuban Santeria.

DOGS TO THE RESCUE
If conditions are too dry, they burrow into the soil and hide. When the rainy season returns, they emerge, like zombies clawing their way out of a grave. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam touted his agency's acquisition of a pair of Labrador retrievers trained to sniff out the pungent scent of the snails' excrement. Cong keeps live snails locked in her lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami so the dogs can become familiar with the smell.

MORE FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

FLOIDA SPIDERS
The Black Widow Spider and the Brown Recluse Spider (aka the tissue eating spider) are just two of our poisonous and very common species. They can make garden work exciting. Not to say some Caterpillars, Swarming Hornets, and the African or South American Killer bees won't make you a mess either.  Fortunately there are anti-venoms available at many local hospitals.  The Brown Recluse is also known as the tissue eating spider and requires immediate professional help. 

FLORIDA SNAKES
While tip toeing thru the tulips, be aware we share the soil those who can't tiptoe. They only have one tip and most likely it isn't a toe, it's a rattle.  Namely, Coral snakes, Eastern Diamond Backs, Copperheads, Timber Rattlesnakes, the Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake, the Cottonmouth and Water Moccasins all have poisonous bites that require immediate medical attention. If at all possible, and the snake has been dispatched, bring it with you to a trauma clinic, the responders will know where to go. Different poisonous snakes have unique venoms and require specific anti-venoms. Time is valuable.

While our cottonmouths can inflict very nasty wounds, the ordinary water snake which looks very similar can bite if you mishandle them.  The most common snake in Florida is call the ‘Black Racer because it is a Black snake and the fastest thing on one foot.  They are a protected specie, harmless to humans and have an enormous appetite for mice and rats. Thats why they are protected.  

Last year one got into a friends garage, and armed with shovels and rakes they wanted to organize a hunt and dispatch about a four footer.  I explained to my friend he’s here because you have a rat nest somewhere here.  I gently picked him up, bare handed, no aggression, put him in a bag and dropped him at the park. I told them get an exterminator.

Recently our most predatory additions of epidemic size and now a state program to try and bring under control, Pythons and Anacondas, some bigger than twenty feet long have taken on the Gators as top of the food chain in the Everglades.  Not poisonous, but able to crush anything they get around and yes they do have huge teeth to hold on to you while they choke the daylight out of your brain.   They have gotten even bigger in the perfect unrestricted topographical growth and abundant food sources of the Everglades. They were dumped in the Everglades by really thoughtful citizens when they got big enough to eat small deer and children, theirs.  

Best bet is leave snakes to those who know what they are doing.  Again and I repeat please just don't kill a snake because it crossed your path. Generally they retreat and quickly get out of your way.  REPEAT: There are some protected species in Florida (The Black Racer eats mice)  and if a snake is hanging out near your house, most likely you have rats and mice too. Think of the snake as your partner in rat and mouse control.


NEW!  BACON ON THE HOOF
In addition to the snakes we now have an epidemic of wild feral hogs (super destructive and dangerous bulldozers) find the Florida climate enduring.  They get frequent copulation miles for reproduction and range from Texas, Mi, AL and GA.

Wild boar attacks on humans are not common but do occur occasionally due to stupidity. Usually, the boars, like most wild animals, will avoid interactions with humans unless cornered and they a like an MMA fighter in the Octagon. Fast, razor sharp tusks that will slice you open.  But a sow with piglets is another story and will fight too.  

Due to the clearing of natural boar habitats, the number of interactions, including aggressive ones, between humans and boars has increased.   When dealing aggressively with a human, boars will charge at them. Sometimes, these may be bluff charges.

But, in other cases, violent contact will be made. While the impact of the large, hard-skulled head may cause considerable damage itself, most damage is inflicted by the boar's tusk. When ramming into a person, the boar will slash the tusks upwards, creating sizeable open lacerations on the skin. Due to the height of the boar relative to a human, most wounds are inflicted to the upper legs.  Catch an artery and you are in trouble.

Some attacks are provoked, such as when hunters wound a boar which then counterattacks. Male boars become most aggressive during the mating season and may charge at humans at such times. Occasionally, female boars will attack if they feel their piglets are threatened, especially if a human physically comes between them and their young. Although a majority of boar attack victims recover with medical treatment, fatalities do occasionally occur.
Note these pigs are omnivorous, and eat more than plants.

MOSQUITOS - TICKS
Our world class mosquitoes and ticks can carry Lyme Disease, and it's variants. No longer is the Lyme virus strictly from a DEER tick.   Also they carry the strain that causes Meningitis.  Which is a sometimes fatal swelling of the brain.  You'll need good repellant and a new brain if left untreated. It's characterized by flu-like symptoms. 

One of the major problems with Lyme disease is that it, just like Ebola can effect different folks based on age or physical condition. LD can show up in the body almost in any organ, highly undetectable, can lie dormant for up to three years and the symptoms may mimic or be similar to other disorders. I have two friends with the Lyme Disease and both have been on an ongoing battle for close to five years now. More in an article I am putting together.


AMOEBAS
Death by Amoeba:  Keep your nose and mouth closed while swimming. There is a rare Amoeba that infiltrates your body from those nice warm swimming holes in the summer that has killed several children these past years.  Though rare, it is deadly if you come in contact with it.  The problem is there is no way of telling  you have it almost till it is too late 

NOTE: Pinellas County, Florida - Code enforcement officers in Pinellas County now have another tool to fight the swarms of mosquitoes that are common in Florida during the rainy months from May through October.  County commissioners have passed a new ordinance that gives mosquito control the authority to issue citations to people who don't attempt to control mosquito problems on their property. 

The offense is called Harboring Mosquitoes. Under the new ordinance, anything that holds water and attracts mosquito larvae must be eliminated or treated. If not, property owners will get a warning. If they ignore two warnings, property owners will be hit with a $188 fine.  Brilliant!  So we fine 10 people this year, and thirty billion/trillion mosquitoes still get away because of inadequate spraying.  2013: Two more deaths have been attributed to the deadly amoeba brain syndrome.



Flowerred

SEX OFFENDERS
What is the worst predator in our state?  Liberal sex offender laws. In abundance in our beloved state is the two legged kind, like Mr. John Evander Couey, 46, a convicted sex offender who kidnapped, raped, and then buried alive a wonderful nine year old Jessica Lunsford. This occurred  in Citrus County.  In 2005, the slaying of Sarah Lunde in Hillsborough County is the latest in a tragic series of crimes that have involved the deaths of young girls and the arrest of felons with histories of violence or sexual offenses.   In a little more than a year, 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota was kidnapped and killed followed by the death of 9-year-old Jessica and 13-year old Sarah.

09/21/09
While making update corrections to this article, a little 7 year old girl in Floral Park Florida is missing. The predator address scan for that area indicated no less than 87 former child molesters residing within a ten mile area.  She too did not make it.

Couey had an extensive criminal record that includes 24 arrests for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, and indecent exposure. In 1991, he was arrested in Kissimee on a charge of fondling a five-year-old child. During a house burglary in 1978, Couey was accused of grabbing a girl in her bedroom, placing his hand over her mouth, and kissing her. Couey was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was paroled in 1980. Because of the lenient laws governing child molesters at that time, Couey was released early.

The Gator has a brain smaller than a walnut... Mr. Couey and the others had a human adult’s brain. I would rather see and live amongst the miniscule brain of the Gators, insects and snakes than let those abductors, rapists, pedophiles and murderers live amongst our children…

If I had my way they all would be Gator bait.  2/14/07 during the Jury selection on the east coast of Florida, Mr. Couey was seen doodling in a child's coloring book. It is believed this is part of the defenses ploy for a possible "innocent by coo-cooism" plea. If so this is a low-down dirt bag scheme by the defense team and the Judge should step in.   

THE VERDICT:  Guilty as charged:  Murder in the first degree, rape of a minor under 12, Kidnapping and so forth. Lets adopt the 30 day law as in England. Lets not pay the attorneys provided by the taxpayers 10 years of appeals as we are paying for the attorney, room , board , medical, dental and a library, TV etc.  On September 30, 2009 at 11:15 a.m. EST.
 

THE END CAME FROM ELSEWHERE:  Couey died at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital after complications from Anal Cancer before the sentence of the court could be carried out.  Amen. Send him a postcard addressed to hell.


SO WHATS THE REAL STORY IN FLORIDA? 
Florida is a great state to live in.  It has sun, beaches, attractions, unique food, great entertainment, no state tax, slower in style than the north, flip flops the official state footwear, a casual nature, great parks, recreation, boating, fishing and camping, music, culture, museums and yes, we have NASCAR. 

NASCAR, a circuitous mass traffic jam of up to 43 vehicles generally screaming and crashing around on an oval track sometimes exceeding 200 miles an hour, some 45 miles an hour faster than my last airplane. Piloted by celebrity excitable nomex suited warriors who occasionally lose their cool and throw things like helmets and punches at each other when ramming doesn’t work.

BUT there are many issues they don’t tell you about. My mission is to clue you in about people things in Florida. I love it here in-spite of everything thats wrong.  Nature you live with, people problems you try to work out.  Occasionally they get swapped.

It has problems like all states do with the economy, crime, one of the most corrupt bought sold and paid for political structure in the US, poor infrastructure growth, some indigent people, a huge drug problem and so forth.  

We are a state with lots of older white guys as it was explained in the press who by a small margin re-elected a Governor who was charged in Federal court as GUILTY because as the President of his company HCA they had embezzled 1.7 billion dollars from Medicare and still gets elected in probably the largest Medicare state.  

He should of gone to jail for the claims people did not get cared for but were billed. If this was China he would be dead now.  It was hit the hardest during the Bush Recession, thats my name for it, telling it what it really was.

Housing went really south, the expressions, "upside down, under water”  literally meant it.  Any further south than the Florida Strait’s is nothing but ocean till you hit Cuba.  “Under water" means a house whose value is lower than what its worth was at one time.

Then there is the  thirty to thirty-five thousand jobs we lost here in our small county alone, 10,000 empty condos built on greed, the fast buck deals that lie empty, thanks to the incredible financial prowess and accountability of the Congress during the Bush Administration years.  They are coming back but many commercial properties and homes being bought by those from South America and the Orient.

Even NASCAR, one of our favorite adorations was struggling. It’s doing well now.  Is there anything else we should know.  Yes, on the financial side of things only the highest national Hurricane Damage insurance and Property Taxes in the nation.  This leads to a high rate of foreclosure and personal bankruptcy's are on the rise. Many folks have lost their homes.  


THE REST OF THE STORY
DRUGS LEGAL, DRUGS ILLEGAL
High risks from falling drug traffickers. You are more likely to get hit with a 74-100 lb. bag of weed tossed from an airplane than a Gator bite. Especially, just north west or south west of the glades.  
Thank goodness for the real incredible hero’s of the Coast Guard and the combined FEDERAL, STATE and LOCAL Florida Drug enforcement agencies who battle this scourge on a daily basis.  Less than twenty miles from where I live they made a two million dollar Heroin bust a few days ago. (2013) But we had a unique drug problem, a quasi legal looking real drug problem called pill mills.

The pill mill epidemic was a nationwide problem in 2010, driven by doctors who would write prescriptions and sell drugs out of clinics they owned themselves. Florida’s lax laws gave the Sunshine State a reputation for easy access to the drug, so much so that billboards advertised to "narco tourists"  buyers from out of state who would come to Florida to buy the drug. With more than 1,000 pain clinics in operation across the state, Florida became known as the "Oxy Express.”  

IN 2011 law that increased penalties for doctors who abused prescription privileges, banned them from prescribing drugs like oxycodone and strengthened state regulatory power over prescription pill trafficking. "In 2010, 98 of the top 100 oxycodone pill dispensing physicians nationally resided in Florida," the report read. "In 2011, after the passage of HB 7095, only 13 of the top 100 resided in Florida, and by the end of 2012, not one Florida doctor appeared on the top 100 list.”  The report, which used figures that also were widely reported by the media, cited U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration data accessed January 2013.

When the Florida law changed, it prevented physicians from dispensing pills out of their clinics.  Some physicians are still allowed to buy hydrocodone in large quantities, emergency room personnel,  but private doctors could no longer buy the drug and sell it on their own.  That’s not to say pill mills weren’t a problem, or that the 2011 law didn’t make a difference.  By the time HB 7095 was enacted, it was estimated as many as 11 people per day were dying from prescription drug abuse. From 2010 to 2012, overdose deaths from prescription drugs, illicit drugs and alcohol dropped nearly 17 percent  Overall prescription drug fatalities fell 23%, and about 52 %t of that decrease was in deaths from oxycodone.


HURRICANES
Once again the brunt of the storm wormed and turned it's way around the Bay of Tampa.  We have missed the last ten mild and severe storms thankfully. One circumvented the state and went to New Orleans, Katrina.   Since my condo is six stories up, I do not fear the flooding.  If it gets that high I’ll need  to put a call into Noah.  

It's a site-cast total concrete building with lots of rebar and built strong with bullet level plastic safety coated windows.  It’s on a golf course surrounded with lakes and ponds galore, really an Island accessible by a forty foot bridge and SWIFTMUD who is our water management is behind the power curve on dredging thus, a good flood could happen.   With food, water, enough propane,  and a natural barrier to keep thieves out, it’s doable. 

My garage on the surface level has an elevated platform with Gorilla Brand nuclear rated shelves with cases of canned food and water six feet off the floor.  It if gets that high the Canoe comes out.  We keep a propane stove, propane lights, and reserves, water and canned foods, back up batteries for all the radios and and ample supply of Budweiser, C- Rations, Ramen noodles in four flavors, Cheezo’s, Peanut Butter, Crackers, and Martini Mix and a small Honda generator. After I put this collection together easily keeping me warm and dry, no hurricanes, rain nothing else.


PUBLIC SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
For those who have not taken advantage of the tons of public safety information available, here are the basics from the local advisory and stock up on those necessities, the FEMA folks usually distribute Ice and water.  Oh, the ice is for the beer.

Get on the "A" List for a good Hurricane party. 
Dress appropriately, flip flops, big-fish patterned shirts and shorts for the men, no underwear.
For the girls, halters, tops optional and really short shorts or bikini bottoms and thongs.
Study the words to "Margaritaville" for the sing-along's. 
Fill vehicle gas tank with gas, it displaces water, fill self with Vodka, it displaces fear.
Not a bad idea to have something for home defense and protection.  Things get crazy during evacuations and crazier when supplies get low.  Baseball bats are Ok, i
f you read the whole story on Katrina you would understand.  But a .380/.40 cal Glock and a Remington 870 all good.
Get cash and secure papers and valuables and store in safe place, computers might not take credit cards during the building break-ins.
Refill medications and make sure you have the bathroom basics, band-aids, toilet paper, Alka seltzer, PROZAC, Viagra, Medicinal Brandy and Duck tape. 
Fill containers and tubs with water, even if evacuating – you may need the water when you return, fill one container with Brandy or at least good Vodka (2 liter min) floating in large pieces of ice if this goes more than a few days.  Your windows, if not safety glass, at least cover them with DUCK TAPE to prevent flying shards.  (Remember we are the State for Shards and Chads.)

MOST IMPORTANT
Be sure to help neighbors with their preparations. They won’t listen anyway proclaiming, “ride this one out”.  SURE, you will, remember how helpful they were to you during the last hurricane.  HINT:  CYOA - Cover your own ass, even the LORD said do not covert thy neighbors ass.  Sit back and watch, Enjoy natures way of getting even and leveling the land again after we screwed up her previous work.


DON'T TOUCH PLANTS
Plants and some botanicals should be avoided in our state. The usual culprits  such as Poison Ivy, Poison Oak live alongside others with names such as (Latin) Abrus Precatorius, Alamanda Cathartica, Nerium Oleandor, Philodendron Selloum.  

While some require ingesting to do harm, the contact sports type like the IVY and OAK, do come in contact with pets that we don't control at all times.  Dogs can read "POISON IVY" signs.  The most dangerous plant of all is POTUS AMERICANUS, or the "five fingered feel good plant" in conjunction with a heavy and fast automobile.  NOTE: More than a few ounces and you're a dealer and get to share bed-e-by stories with some of the local farmers like Bubba and Jethro.


EARTHQUAKE
Besides hurricanes, we have tornadoes, waterspouts and our newest phenomena, the earthquake. Didn't think California and Turkey had the edge. We get earthquakes emanating from the Gulf. Funny the last one we had emanated from the center of the Gulf.   Almost the same location that the meteor that caused the extinction of the Dinosaurs (no no no, please evangelicals, they were not killed off by the cavemen, that was 200 million years later) but if you need a theory for conspiratorialists, just tell them you think it’s Godzilla.  


INFART-SRUCTURE
Since our state has adapted the low bid policy, the I-4 corridor from Tampa to Daytona and the I-75 highway from say Sarasota to the Georgia border might get completed one day. Maybe 2018. In forty years I have never been able to go from one place to another using those highways without numerous construction delays to improve the job botched previously. 

Fellows, please consider another inch thicker asphalt and it might last a year longer.  Low bids? Nah, good lobbyists. Both the Selmon Expressway and the Clearwater Beach Bridge had construction failures costing a lot before the first car crossed over.


SINKHOLES
What's a sinkhole? well it's NOT the hole in the middle of your sink that the water goes down.  It's an underground cavern that during the dry and wet spells in the state tend to collapse on occasion.  Totally unpredictable and ranging in size from a Ford 150 pickup to a 3200 square foot house.  Sinkholes add an aura of concern around the purchase of a new home as it might NOT be covered in your homeowners policy.  In that case your bank account might be a stink hole from the sinkhole.


ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Like all the help in Katrina...no comment.  A massive foo-pah in straightening the St. Johns River years back now calls for a massive un-straightening of the St. John's River to restore the ecology it has ruined. 

Namely the river, the water, the sedentary ability for water purification and wholesale environment destruction.  The waste alone from the Orlando area is a matter of concern.  Millions of people in a congested area, congested all the year round produce a lot of effluent.  Thats a lot of poop to process and look what it has done to the hat business!

BOMB RANGE (LA BOMBA)
We also have a unique situation as much of our state has been used as a bombing range so every once in a while, a nice hand Grenade winds up at a garage sale or a WWII 500 LB bomb, probably the same vintage as used in IRAQ washes up on a our beaches. Just recently fishermen found an air to air test missile in their nets.  



OUR DOCTORS
Medical care at one of our hospitals can be just as dangerous. Some of our doctors cut off more wrong limbs than all the Gator attacks this year. The solution: Use an indelible magic marker and the DR's sign off on the part removed. Phrases like "DO NOT REMOVE", "DO NOT CUT BELOW THIS LINE" and "NOT THE MIDDLE ONE" are very common.  On the other hand there are cases of Doctors not being Doctors practicing here. Many cases... including a witch or two practicing Voodoo. Must be popular, Sara Palin had her Voodoo doctor protect her against curses and spells. Thus we know they are there.


DUM-DUM-DUM-DUM (JAWS)
The Sharks did a fair job on the East coast this year, though Tampa Bay is known for it's variety and density of sharks who like to bear young in the surf at night along the beaches.  Add some excitement to your sundown leisurely swim. This year might set a record on the East Coast for attacks.  Share the water fellows, share!  Want to swim as fast as Phelps, make friends with a shark!


St. PETERSBURG TIMES - World-renowned shark expert George Burgess, keeper of the International Shark Attack File, is used to getting silly questions about the ocean's most fearsome predator. "Are sharks out to get you?" is among the most common, he said. "The short answer is 'No.' " The 64-year-old University of Florida professor is co-author of a new book, Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide, which contains a trove of great information for sharkophiles. "There are more than 400 species of shark but only a select few have been implicated in attacks," he said. 

"But another way you can look at it is this: Any shark that can get to be 6 feet or longer can be considered dangerous." Burgess said he receives many inquiries about great white sharks. "They are identified in many shark attacks because they occur in areas where they are the only species," he said. "But if you are looking for the most common 'grabber' in Florida, that would be the blacktip shark.''

The species most often implicated in attacks are the bull and blacktip sharks (each with 20 percent) and the spinner (with 16 percent). If you were to pick a "Shark Attack Central" for Florida, it would be Volusia County on the east coast, for one reason: It has the best surf breaks. Spots such as New Smyrna and Ponce Inlets are revered by the state's wave riders.

"People also want to know if there are more sharks now than there were before," he said. "The fact of the matter is there are a lot more people going in the water and that means there is more of a chance for an encounter, more of a chance to see a shark.

The blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) is a species of requiem shark, and part of the family Carcharhinidae. It is common to coastal tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including brackish habitats. The  black-tip shark has a stout, fusiform body with a pointed snout, long gill slits, and no ridge between the dorsal fins. 

Most individuals have black tips or edges on the pectoral, dorsal, pelvic, and caudal fins.  It is a Carnivore, and can grow to 8 ft (2.4 m) and weigh 66 to 220 lbs (30 to 100 kg).  They school and Black-tip sharks are so common in Florida that scientists suspect most bites in the state can be pinned on the shark, but there has never been a single fatality in the region due to black-tip shark attack.

Swift, energetic piscivores, blacktip sharks are known to make spinning leaps out of the water while attacking schools of small fish. Their demeanor has been described as "timid" compared to other large requiem sharks. Both juveniles and adults form groups of varying size. Like other members of its family, the black-tip shark is viviparous; females bear 1–10 pups every other year. 

Young black-tip sharks spend the first months of their lives in shallow nurseries, and grown females will return to the nurseries where they were born to give birth themselves. In the absence of males, females are also capable of asexual reproduction.  Normally wary of humans, black-tip sharks can become aggressive in the presence of food and have been responsible for a number of attacks on people. 

This species is of importance to both commercial and recreational fisheries across many parts of its range, with its meat, skin, fins, and liver oil used. It has been assessed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on the basis of its low reproductive rate and high value to fishers.


JET SKI'S

More dangerous than the Sharks were some of the two-legged knuckle dragging anthropoids who drove high powered speed boats (basically not good for anything else) at 60-70 MPH in congested areas while partying with spirit. Actually, too much spirits were at the party. 

Then the other kind of leisure water craft, namely those water borne Evil Knievel machines; the Jet ski's. You probably weren't aware some of those water-borne motorcycles may have as much as or more than 215HP for power as in the RXT by Sea Doo. That's more than a Honda, Saturn or PT Cruiser automobile. 

Photo Credit:  
Water safety is important in Florida as shown in this wonderful shot of the Sea World skiers doing their version of the Michael Jackson Moon Walk on water.   And we thought they were trying to replace methane in the ozone layer.   

Needless to say we are proud to announce the Jet Ski group has propelled Florida into the top three states for Marine Accidents and Fatalities. Well done fellow's!   Yet the license law looking for 18 or over to operate a vessel, an operators license for marine use, a qualification marine test, written or other has never passed in this state.  Lobbyists again… you see good accidents make work for good attorneys. The lobbyists are just protecting their surf….err turf.   
This must drive the United States Coast Guard and the various Sheriffs Departments bonkers.


RED TIDE
Another treat in Florida's West Coast is RED TIDE no not a new name for the Russian Navies latest sub. No,  not a football team, that was the Crimson tide. It's a water borne blossom of Red Algae that kills fish, turtles, and other water species resulting in an odiferous STENCH on the beaches. Some years it took bulldozers to haul the dead fish landfill fodder away. Even employees at the counties landfill thought the fish smell was too much!

Red tides in the Gulf of Mexico are a result of high concentrations of Karenia brevis, a microscopic marine algae that occurs naturally but normally in lower concentrations. In high concentrations, its toxin paralyzes the central nervous system of fish so they cannot breathe. Dead fish wash up on Mexican gulf beaches. Dense concentrations appear as discolored water, often reddish in color. It is a natural phenomenon, but the exact cause or combination of factors that result in a red tide outbreak are unknown.

Red tide causes economic harm and for this reason red tide outbreaks are carefully monitored. For example, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides an up-to-date status report on the red tide in Florida. Texas also provides a current status report.

Red tide is also potentially harmful to human health.  Humans can become seriously ill from eating oysters and other shellfish contaminated with red tide toxin.  Karenia brevis blooms can potentially cause eye and respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing, tearing, and itching) to beachgoers, boaters and coastal residents.   People with severe or persistent respiratory conditions (such as chronic lung disease or asthma) may experience stronger adverse reactions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service provides a public conditions report identifying possible respiratory irritation impacts in areas affected by red tides.


RABIES
And Rabies amongst our raccoons is on the upswing though we have air-poisoned them with pellets for two years now. Cute and cuddly, rabies shots are no fun.   There are few public health threats as concerning as the spread of rabies. A bite or scratch from an infected animal can spread this deadly viral disease from animal to animal or animal to person. 

The most common carriers of rabies in Florida are coyotes, bats, foxes and most frequently raccoons. Diseased animals may behave differently than healthy ones. They may stagger, behave aggressively, be out at times of the day when they wouldn’t normally, nocturnal raccoons active during the day and may salivate excessively or "foam at the mouth.” 

Again a bite or scratch from an infected animal can spread this deadly viral disease from animal to animal or animal to person.   If you capture or trap one DO NOT relocate raccoons; it is against the law in most Florida Counties.  Relocating a raccoon is illegal and leads to fighting among raccoons and the spread of disease.   

Since rabies is such a dangerous disease, the most important way to protect yourself and your pets is to prevention of contact with rabies. Also, keep your pet’s rabies vaccinations current (dogs, cats, ferrets, sheep, horses and cattle). 


COMMON SENSE

Do not feed or interact with wildlife or strays.
Do not leave out food outdoors for pets or wildlife. 
Comply with leash laws. 
Report animal bites or scratches to Animal Services.  
Make sure your pet gets and wears their rabies vaccination tags. 
They should also wear a tag with their name and your address and phone number, and microchip your pet to insure his/her records can be found.  Keep your pets under direct supervision incase they encounter strays or wild animals.  
Keep them in a fenced yard or on a leash.  
If a stray or wild animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for your pet immediately.  
Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. 
Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. 
Call Animal Services or an animal rescue agency for assistance.  
Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. 


LIGHTNING and TAMPA BAY
We get so much, we named our one-time Stanley Cup Hockey Team after it, unfortunately they kind of short circuited and grounded out the next year. Lightning is as much a part of the Tampa canvas as manatees and strip clubs. It tears through sky on an average of 100 days a year. It singes and burns, injures and even kills.   Florida is a contender for the Lightning Capitol of the world and Tampa Bay is the Capitol of the Capitol. 

We average more lightning strikes per hour than anywhere else in the world.  Enough that we have a Lightning Research Lab at the University of Florida. The last class reported shocking information about the intensity of strikes and as soon as they get out of the hospital, we'll hear more about it.

And it leads us to a bold assertion: "Tampa is known, as all of you know, as the lightning capital of the country," It's an association ingrained into the soul of the city. But, the claim of national storm superiority might be a little overzealous,as the state leads the nation in lightning-related fatalities. But calling Tampa the lightning capital of the United States, or North America, or, as some have said, the world, just isn't true.

Houston is a hot spot, and so is the arc from North Carolina to New Orleans. New England. The Rocky Mountains. The amount of lightning activity a region or city sees changes every year, depending on a whole host of factors. One defining term would be the most cloud-to-ground lightning strikes another is thunderstorm days. Some strikes pack more of a punch, or multiple punches known as strokes — the parts of the bolt that fragment off, documented in iconic photos. A single strike could carry as many as 15 strokes, adding one more layer to the comparison process.


S.C.U.D.S. (FLORIDA DRIVERS)

Our Senior Citizen Unrestricted Driving School (S.C.U.D.S.) just graduated another class. Florida roads and highways are the largest demolition derby in the world.  You don't go to see crashes, they come to you. You think Gators got poor eyesight, some of our citizens lost theirs years ago and drive by sound. 

COUPLE THINKS CAR CAN FLY
Several years back an older tourist couple from Eastern Europe left Tampa in a rental car trying to get to Sarasota.  They missed the exit to I-75 south, which goes direct to Sarasota.   Instead they drove on the I-275 south highway to St. Petersburg for the Skyway Bridge to Sarasota and missed that exit.  They got off at the last downtown exit. 

This exit ramp becomes the road which enters the Coast Guard Dock and Air Station, St. Petersburg.  They thought the Coastguardsman in the booth was a toll gate attendant.  He thought they were looking for the commissary.  He waved them through. They thought the taxiway was the entry ramp to get back on the highway.

They did access the main runway at Albert Whitted Airport where the tower guys were frantically trying to radio the Red Chevy Cavalier to "get the hell" off the runway. Unfortunately, the Chevy comes with FM and music and the tower was on another frequency band yelling some explicative.  Alas, our brave couple accelerated to 65 miles per hour, about the rotational speed of a Cessna 150 and proudly flew off the end of the runway into Tampa Bay and started to sink.  

THERE IS A GOD 
This proves it. No coincidence. That day, of all of the 365 days in the year, the St. Petersburg Fire Department - Marine division was conducting rescue exercises off Albert Whitted Airport in case an aircraft didn't quite make the runway.   I could just see the guys in the Zodiacs and larger Fireboat commenting, "How realistic these exercises get year after year!"   The folks survived the ordeal probably thinking maybe they should of taken a cab or paid the toll.  Then as if that's not enough!


"ELDERLY WOMAN CRASHES INTO DMV BUILDING"
Deerfield Beach, Florida (AP)- Officials say an 80-year-old woman crashed into the DMV building in Deerfield Beach when she went to take a state-ordered driver's license retest.  The Florida Highway Patrol says Therese Smith accidentally drove her car into through the Department of Motor Vehicles building literal "stopping at window six", Wednesday, injuring several people. An FHP spokesman says she apparently stepped on the gas too hard. The car went over a concrete parking block, onto the sidewalk, through a metal parking sign and through the windows of the office. 

Fire rescue officials say seven people in the waiting room were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Four others also were hurt but did not need to be taken to the hospital. They were injured from flying glass and from falling on other people, but no one was actually hit by the car.  Smith was cited for careless driving. Her test was postponed.  (Hopefully till her 100 birthday)


OH CANADA!   CANADIAN DRIVER DISCLAIMER
We Welcome our Canadian Friends: I love our snowbirds and many are friends of mine BUT the once a year migration of the slightly dyslexic Canadian drivers who love to make right turns from the left lanes, left turns from the right lanes and think signals are a waste of battery power in their cars keeps me on the alert.  They add a certain challenge to the driving here in the winter months.  I

It's OK though, they help our community, give new meaning to the off-neglected letter "A" in our vocabulary and still try to convince our Senior Professional Shuffleboard Players (S.P.S.P.) that Curling is a far more physically enduring and intriguing sport. (Yawn)  Try Curling on sand…

Next time I hear how Cribbage is more exciting than Mahjong, I'll scream.  And they don't tip!  SOLUTION: Some restaurants now offer American and Canadian menus, with the Canadian one higher by 15%.


NEW ! WRONG WAY ON TAMPA HIGHWAY = DUI
In February, four University of South Florida fraternity brothers died after a wrong-way driver slammed into their car on Interstate 275. Two weeks later, a man driving the wrong way in the same area killed himself when he smashed into a box truck. In August, another man died in a wrong-way crash on the same highway. Four more people died in two crashes the following month.

The deadly collisions on Tampa Bay area interstates, six so far claimed 11 lives. It drew national attention and much speculation as to causes. Experts weighed in with theories. Law enforcement stepped up patrols in an effort to prevent them.  But the wrong-way drivers keep coming four more were stopped since October. And that shouldn't be surprising wrong way driving is an astonishingly common phenomenon in the Tampa Bay area.

In the past seven years, troopers have responded to at least 70 incidents of wrong-way drivers on limited-access highways around Tampa Bay. That tally does not include nearly 700 wrong-way incidents that occurred on local streets in 2014 alone.  But among the data the Times collected, one pattern stands out: drunken driving. In almost all of the wrong-way driving cases that resulted in a crash, and in all six of this year's fatal wrecks, the drivers were legally impaired.  That, law enforcement officials say, is the real issue.   And that's what makes it difficult to stop.


CRUISING TITANIC ADVENTURES

Both coasts feature cruises to the Bahamas, Mexico, and other parts of the Caribbean and South America.   Even Clearwater has a short cruise aboard a totally fake pirate ship.  

The SS Yohoho and a beer.  Pirates are big in Tampa Bay.  Jose Gasparilla parties and Krewes are a Holiday in Tampa.  Literally the city shuts down, mainly because the parades lock up the traffic and a bunch of drunk pirates invade the town. Recently, well more than just recently the city is cracking down.

The problem was not the Pirates, raping, pillaging, and burning, not in the script, but the problems were spectators who drank too much, drunk offenses prevailed, and used any location as a bathroom, all in all the pirates (actors and local citizens) were under control.  And feel protected that out Navy has these Somalia wannabes under control and keeps an eye on them. (see classified photo)


CRUISE FEVER 
What do you get when you cram 1000 people into a boat with cabins that don't circulate air well? Lets face it, open windows or portholes are not that common below the waterline on most sea going ships.  Thus the answer to the question is a bunch of little virus's and bacterium that cause about 20% of the travelers to get various upper respiratory and lower tract problems.  More common than you think.

Just recently Carnival Lines had two from their fleet come back to port with hundreds sick on board.  Adds new meaning to the expression “Cruise to nowhere".  Each season either fires, bad food, epidemics of porcelain polishing or just going over the side welcome the seafaring cruise public. 


GOOD and BAD FOOD - SO BIG WE HAD TO MAKE IT IT’S OWN SITE
Read on, and we'll talk about FOOD in paradise. So big we had to make it a separate piece. Our chain restaurants should be called “ Chain gang restaurants” and some of the operators thrown in jail.   Illegal Immigrant labor working in the restaurant industry swelled till Florida and a few police departments got involved and uncovered literally slave labor.

That article and list of many restaurants has grown large enough to warrant it's own space and places are broken down under the good the bad and the what are they still doing in business.  We call it the "State of the Onion”  at www.aljacobskitchen.com 


FIREWORKS ** JULY 4th  2007-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15
By the way, fireworks are illegal in Florida.  So how come during Holidays there are tents every mile selling pyrotechnics.  Under Florida Agricultural law it is permissible to buy fireworks to scare bird flocks away from your farmland.  What tourist has farmland in Florida?  Our Tallahassee bought off legislature  hasn’t the balls to repeal that stupid law or issue an amendment to show proof of farmland since the fireworks folks donate money to their lobbyists.

Two of our tourist laden pristine beaches exploded under a hail of spent Chinese defective fireworks.  Blew one motels windows out and sent 12 to the hospital. Why do I tell you this?   Because each year covering for the paper we get two or three really serious injuries out there and sooner or later someone loses their sight. Working for the paper, I always made a beeline for the local hospital after 10Pm, about the time the injuries come in, and always got a story about fingers and eyes.

It was incredibly scary seeing all those fireworks designed to explode 500 feet up bursting on the ground and the idiots screaming get a good shot, get closer.  Sometimes I wonder.  Any one of the flying rockets could have gone horizontal as many did and crisped someone.  

They are trying to pass ordinances that allow for larger safety zones or move the fireworks shows to a barge off shore.   The two shows cost $15,000 dollars for 15 minutes of flash and the resulting lawsuits will easily surpass that. PLEASE BE CAREFUL......


SUN WORSHIPPING
Not sunburn, SUN WORSHIPPING because after you cook yourself raw, all we'll hear is  "Oh God, it hurts".  Get the Aloe, get the Coconut Butter, get me a Vicodin, a Joint, anything.  When I was a kid I suffered some severe burns on my ankles to above my knees, enough to put me in the hospital with second and almost third degree burns, I will tell you 40 years later from that day at the beach I still feel the pain from that burn, as a reminder and it doesn’t let me forget.





©  Copyright 02-2017 aljacobsladder.com