2019 July

Friday, July 26, 2019

Letters to the editor with pictures since 2002. Published on Big Pine Key’s garbage days, Tuesdays and Fridays.

[Wanted: Room or Efficiency] I have a co-worker who is a solid Christian, a well-paid individual who drives 5 days a week from Miami to Marathon in need of renting a legal efficiency or room in the home of wonderful adult family. The location can be anywhere Big Pine Key, one of the Lower Keys or Marathon where his government job is located. The individual monthly budget is $900-$1100, preferably lightly furnished and with some utilities included. Those who can assist should feel free to call (305) 289-2629. Hope someone out there can make this a win-win outcome. Thank you.
[Iguana Killer Club Newsletter] This is not the wild west. Florida officials clarify stance on green iguanas, urging safety over hunting. Video
[Free Overnight Camp] Monroe County youth ages 10-17, to be held August 5-10 at the Melvin M. Jelsema Children’s Center in Plantation Key. This is the last of three camps held this summer, and youth attending the first two weeks had so much fun that they did not want to go home. There will be daily outings like Sky Zone, snorkeling, and roller blading.  Free transportation to and from the Middle or Lower Keys is included.

Youth at-risk of making bad decisions, who would benefit from a supervised, structured environment are encouraged to apply for the free camp too. For more information, contact Sebastian Rivera at (786) 458-5174 or Christi Shortes at (305) 852-2882 x239. Limited spaces are available.

[Tech Support] The next meeting of the Big Pine Computer Club is coming up this Saturday, July 27, 10 am at the senior center.  Questions or problems with your laptop, phone or tablet?  Perhaps we can help.  Open to all. Stop on by. Full Menu > Ongoing Events


[“Does water lose its properties”] Watch who you are making fun of.  I believe that it is you who needs to return to remedial chemistry. Water when left out will indeed evaporate.  It does not separate into oxygen and hydrogen.  It evaporates as water vapor.  It takes an electrical current to separate water molecules back to their atomic components. If you think about it we could have an unlimited supply of hydrogen for fuel if it was just a matter of collecting it from evaporating water.  As it is, it costs more in energy to separate the atoms than you gain in energy from the hydrogen.

[Lung Damage From Vaping] If you couldn’t smell a joint, no one would even care or know you we’re smoking it; hence vaping. It’s very unnatural.
[Florida Keys Community Resource Guide] United Way of the Florida Keys (UWFK) is pleased to announce the release of the updated Florida Keys Community Resource Guide. Working in partnership with organizations throughout Monroe County, UWFK provides thousands of booklets as resources for the entire community. Link




[Turn Signals] What most turn signals look like in Florida.

[Peeing In Space] Science fiction writer enthralls Twitter with a funny and informative thread about how male and female astronauts go to the bathroom. Link
[“Stale water”] It is true that basic water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen- they don’t vary when water sits out overnight but other factors impact it to make it taste flat. Link


[“Does water lose its properties”] Sorry to point this out but someone else has flunked chemistry. Water exists in three states: solid, liquid, vapor. It is all still H2O. The evaporation process does not break a very strong Hydrogen bond with Oxygen- this requires electrical energy; electrolysis. You almost had it, but no Nobel Prize for you!

[“Bicycle Joanie Nelson”] Speaking of names from the past, does anyone know what happened to Maya Totman, the wildlife rescue lady, after the storm?  Her house was a wreck and appears to have been vacant since Irma and now has a for sale sign on it.
[Doktor Health] Ibuprofen lowers testosterone production. New research has concluded that pain killers, especially ibuprofen, disrupts male hormones. Healthy young men that were taking ibuprofen had their testosterone drop to old man levels. Quoting from the research report: “Through a clinical trial with young men exposed to ibuprofen, we show that the analgesic resulted in the clinical condition named ‘compensated hypogonadism,’ a condition prevalent among elderly men and associated with reproductive and physical disorders.”
“Using adult testis explants exposed or not exposed to ibuprofen, we demonstrate that the endocrine capabilities from testicular Leydig and Sertoli cells, including testosterone production, were suppressed through transcriptional repression.”
If I’m elected, ramming the car in front of you because the person is texting when the light turns green will no longer be a crime.

[Rotted Flesh] The Friday after Mini-Season must be the worst day for our Waste Management guys with all those putrid lobster heads baking in the trash cans. Phew!

[Restaurant Review] I too have had issues with Kiki’s checks — more than twice.  The Kiki’s cards ARE good, if discount info is input to the computer system correctly and honored properly by the establishment.  The turnover of staff disallows their waiters and/or bartenders to learn how to “check the check” before presenting it to the customer.  Major confusion comes in play with happy hour pricing.  Especially when some of the apps are not included in happy hour (tuna nachos and caprese salad are not included) – which is silly, tacky and cheap.  Another glitch, these exclusions are not marked as “not included in happy hour” on the menu.  As a note, Kiki’s recently changed their menu and raised prices (they don’t list prices on their website menu), which no doubt will cause more confusion.  Happy hour pricing is not quite happy. Domestic beer is now $3 and crappy-brand house wine $4.50 and not all apps are included as advertised online and in-house.
[Commercial Space For Lease] $850 approx 800 sq feet. Utilities not included. 10939 Overseas Hwy Marathon, FL 33050. Near Doc’s Tattoo Parlor. Have questions, call Steve (910) 262-6705. (Ed: There were tiny pictures sent along but they were too tiny to see.)
[“Shipping container houses”] As if the Keys are not trashy enough, now we are getting low renters living in, and making businesses out of, these eyesores. It is bad enough to have those instant houses stuck all over paradise, but the shipping containers should be banned forever or sent to Detroit or Cuba.
[The Pandora Sinks] At the imminent risk of his own life, William Moulter, a boatswain’s mate who clung to the coamings, and pulled the long bars through the shackles, saying he would set them free, or go to the bottom with them. Scarcely was this effected when the ship went down. The master-at-arms and all the sentinels sunk to rise no more. Among the drowned were Mr. Stewart, John Sumner, Richard Skinner, and Henry Hillbrandt, the whole of whom perished with their hands still in manacles.

Some allowance is to be made both for the confusion of a shipwreck, and for the natural fear of the commander that in the loosening of the ties of authority natural to such a moment, the liberation among his crew of a number of men who had already mutinied successfully (some of the Bounty mutineers), and were going home with a rope about their necks, would be an act of merciful folly. This, however, does not excuse him for refusing his prisoners the shelter of an old sail on the sand cay, and so obliging them to get shelter from the sun by burying themselves neck-deep in the sand, as Heywood afterwards stated. Heywood further asserted that after the vessel struck the prisoners, having wrenched themselves out of their irons, implored Edwards to let them out of “Pandora’s Box,” but that he had them all ironed again.

Home office equipment must be able to endure the cat walking and sleeping on it.
Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, Children of all ages:
Wetstock 15 will be Sunday September 1st Labor Day weekend. Please come enjoy a day of peace & music. Featuring The Rockin’ Bobs, Cat 4, and Haywire.Make sure your boat has the proper safety equipment for a fun and safe day of peace and music on the water. Take only pictures and leave only foot prints!
Your friend,
Flip Flop Bob
[“Decriminalization of marijuana”] How will this affect our auto, life, homeowners and renters insurance costs? Will there be an increase of police searches for DUI’s? and what happens if you slam into somebody while stoned? Could neighbors sue for the stench or their kids being sickened?




[Hate Power] 80 years ago, almost 20,000 people attended a Nazi rally at New York City’s old Madison Square Garden. Video

[Bike Travel in Cuba] As a 77 yr. old guy who has gone to Europe, Canada, Mexico and now Cuba for bicycle road trips,  I thought you might enjoy reading my report of  this recent bike trip. On February 1st I flew to Atlanta, met some friends and we flew to Cancun,  Mexico.  We spent 4 days there, mostly touring the Mayan ruins of  Tulum and Chichen Itza and getting ready for the next part of the  adventure.  Seven more people flew in and we all boarded a Mexican airline, Interjet, and flew to Havana for a week of bicycle riding in Cuba. Cuba, where nothing works, including the people.  Unemployment is 48% and of those who do work, 8 out of every 10 work for the government.

Before heading to the western part of the island, we spent a night in Havana at the Riviera Classic, the finest hotel at one time.  20 stories with 3 elevators, but only one worked.  Contrary to what I found in the rest of the country, my shower only had hot water.  Turn the knobs all you want, but you only got hot, scalding  water.

The stories about the old cars is quite true, and many of those fine old cars are used to take tourists on tours of the city.  $30 gets you 2 hours in a restored 1952 Cadillac convertible and you can pile in as many people as you want.  Old Chevys seem to be the most popular and a few are quite nicely restored.  They all fell in the 1941 to 1957 range.  I saw nothing newer than a ‘57.  By restored, I mean they look good on the outside, but as our Cuban tour guide told us, there would not be a V8 under the hood as the original had failed decades ago and with no parts to fix it, other means had to be found.   Generally, that involved putting a 4 cylinder Russian made diesel inside and making the necessary changes to get it to fit and mate up with an  unknown transmission.

The country is still in the 19th century.  Many people walk, but equally as many use horses, both to ride and pull carts.  I saw wagons pulled by oxen on the highway.  We traveled by motor coach, stayed in crude motels, and ate in restaurants–all owned by the government.  Staying clean was a challenge.  In the public restrooms washing your hands was interesting.  You need three things to wash your hands: water, soap, and towel.  Well, the towel was your shirt or pants, because there never were any towels.   In 1/3 of the toilets there was no water and in one case, there was a lady standing beside the sink with a bottle of water to pour over your hands for tips (Cubans are very entrepreneurial).  In an equal number of places, there was no soap.   If you thought not having soap and water in the restroom was a problem, imagine not having a toilet seat!  Yep, no toilet seat and it wasn’t just confined to public facilities.  One of the rooms we stayed in had no toilet seat, which was matched by the fact there was no toilet paper.  In its place, somebody had carefully torn individual sheets of toilet paper from a roll and placed them on the top of the toilet tank.   Free health care and education is one of the things Castro brought with his revolution.

The healthcare is generally limited to the bigger cities.  Our guide told us that a taxi driver in Havana earned more in tips each day than a medical doctor earned in salary in one month.  And the doctor can be arrested and jailed if he attempts to treat people “on the side” to earn extra money.  Education is free, but the reality is that most people cannot afford to stay in school.  Our tour guide was the exception.  He completed college and got a Masters degree in computer technology, but can’t find a job in that field, so he conducts tours.

We visited a tobacco farm, where we had the opportunity to purchase cigars for $3.25.  The farm had been in this man’s family for 3 generations, but only recently had actual title been put back in his name.  The government had claimed it after the revolution.   After harvest, the government takes 90% of the tobacco, leaving the farmer with 10% for his own personal use.  He chose to demonstrate how to hand roll a cigar, then sell it to tourists.  I asked our guide if all farmers lost 90% of their crop to the government.  His reply, “Oh no, vegetable farmers only give up 60% of their crop.”

The roads looked like they had been carpet bombed with huge potholes everywhere.  Add those holes to the very steep hills and it made for slow biking.  While I am no speed demon, one day I averaged just 4.5 mph as I attempted to find bits of pavement between the holes in the road.  In many cases, there was no road, just dirt and when the trucks went past, we were engulfed in a storm of dust and exhaust fumes and noise.  A few of the trucks were left over Russian military vehicles.  Personal transportation in the rural area was provided by stake-bodied trucks.  People would stand by the side of the road and climb aboard when such a truck came by.  The fare was around 8 cents and you stood packed in the bed of the truck with several dozen other people.

Those on welfare receive $25 a month, plus a ration of beans, rice, and cooking oil.  The money came from the Cuban government, but the Russians provided the food.  Each month a supply ship docks with beans, rice, and cooking oil sent by the Russians.  Speaking of them, the Cuban version of the Missile Crisis is quite different from what we heard in the US.

I’m glad I went but have no desire to return.  Cuba makes our inner cities look like paradise and the poverty is staggering.  After two weeks abroad, we flew home and I spent the night in a Hampton Inn at the Atlanta airport and took the longest hot water shower ever; after having a cheeseburger, fries and two gin and tonics. I was really glad to be back.