Monday, August 22, 2005

Back In Black

Sorry for the lack of post over the last month, but I just got back from a month in the keys. Yes the Florida Keys. The only Caribbean get away in the continental United States. It is the ultimate U.S. getaway; even the locals do not seem to see themselves as subjects of Washington. They refer to the keys as the Conch Republic. Although that is as far as I got into the local politics. I was there for the sun, fun and bugs.

Yes bugs, but not your local land loving pesky little swatters. No indeed, I was there for the under water bugs. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about then, sucks to be you. Because you probably have never experienced the immensely satisfying pleasure of plucking a live lobster from the sea floor and within a few hours eating that same lobster from your private beach front deck as you watch the sun slip into the water at the end of a perfect day. Now that’s the way God intended us to live!

This is no tale for the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

It is however what I have been doing for the last month. No I am not wealthy, no not by any stretch of the imagination. But you don’t have to be wealth to stop and enjoy life for a while. Actually I think the nouveau riche or the working wealthy as I like to refer to them, never enjoy their status in life. They seem too obsessed about their money or their new status to really enjoy either.

But luckily you don’t have to be rich to live richly in the Keys. There are literally hundreds of waterfront homes available for rental. Many have small boats available that you can take out and live the island life for real. My little slice of paradise was on SugarLoaf Key, just north of Key West, the last island in the chain that make up the Florida Keys. It was small by my standards and somewhat old. But old in a good way, like an old wooden boat, or your grandmother, reliable and full of stories if you could just get them to talk. I could stand on the back deck and smell the salt water which was no more than 30 feet away. And at dusk I would sit on that deck, sip Margaritas and watch the sunset as the sea breeze kept me cool and mosquito free. After the sun had put on its amazing show I would call a cab and head down to the bottom for a few hours of the Duval Crawl.

I picked this spot because of it’s proximity to Key West, because I love Key West, stayed on Key West many times. But you have to be very rich to stay in a private house on the water in Key West. Unfortunately Key West has been totally commercialized with regard to housing. Every square inch of land is being rented to tourist. And what remains private carries a price tag in the millions. But it still is a magical place as close to paradise as this country has to offer.

You must be ready to chill, because once you get past Miami everything changes. It’s like stepping into a decompression chamber, and you better be ready to slow down. You literally go from flying 75 miles-an-hour on a six lane super highway to 40 miles-an-hour on a two-lane secondary road that is the only land access to the keys. And if you are going to Key West you will be on this road for the next 200 miles. Get the picture. Time to really, seriously, chill.

However as you shuffle down AIA you in will be bored. There is water everywhere, many times on both sides of the road, water all the way to the horizon. And the water is bright turquoise in places, deep blue in others and almost white in place where sand bars poke above the water. You sometimes can look out over a mile and see people walking around on these sand bars in ankle deep warm Caribbean water. And when there is no water there will be countless other things to look at. Curiosity shops stuffed with amazing touristy trash, restaurants offering up some of the freshest seafood anywhere and of course bars. In Key West alone there are over 300 bars, quite a feat for an island only 3 miles wide and 4 miles long.

So you ask what is there to do after you;

eat and drink,
swing in your hammock,
swim in you pool,
walk on the beach,
tourist watch,
drink and be merry?



And that is the beauty of a month in the Keys, the ability to actually, really, do nothing. It is truly a glorious thing to wake up when the sun is very high in the sky just to sit on your beach front deck for an hour or so before you even begin to formulate a single thought. It is a feat of body and mind control that Buddhist monks take lifetimes to perfect and I can get in that state of total relaxation in just 24 hours after arriving in the lower Keys.

The First and Second Weeks

The first two week are pretty hectic. Running here and there seeing the sights that haven’t changed since the last time I saw them. Going here for lunch, there for dinner, here for drinks and there for drinks. And then about the second week you start waking up thinking of all the things that you want to do and remembering that you just did them. So you start fishing. And if you are lucky enough to be in the Keys during lobster season then God has truly smiled on you and you will carry memories with you that will cause you to smile when you are sitting in that old folk’s home, waiting.

Lobsters, or Bugs as the locals call them, is truly a culinary event. If you do it right it can consume your entire day and reward you with a truly pleasurable experience that evening. To do it right you have to boat out to where the lobsters are. Finding them is a trick and a secrete ritual I will not disclose in this post. But once found you simply snorkel down to where they hide, grab one behind the head and put him in your bag. It is somewhat more involved but you’ll just have to do it to understand what happens. The lobster catch can take a good 3 to 4 hours if you just getting a few for dinner. Or you can spend the day enjoying being on the water with friends.

Once you are back to your island paradise there is no pre-cooking prep involved. Unlike fish there is no scaling, no cutting or gutting. You simply drop the little guy into a pot of boiling water and wait. Now here again I like to stretch out the process for a few hours to make sure my friends and I are eating around sunset. So I like to create what is called a low country boil. I place a large 10 gallon pot on an outdoor propane burner. I add 5 gallons of water, lobster boil seasoning pouches (to taste), a couple ears of fresh corn per dinner guest and 3 small new potatoes per guest, some smoked sausage and an a couple of cut onions and a whole garlic cut up. Boil till potatoes are fork tender and then I add the lobsters, scallops and a few shrimp. Here again timing is everything. Every ingredient takes different amount of time to cook. So there is a lot of talking and drinking and adding different items at different times, it is quite a show. But when it is done I drain the water off and dump the entire contents onto old grocery store paper bags in the center of the table and the steam wharfs up like sacrificial offerings to the sea gods. And we eat. And that is a great day in the Keys.

The Third Week

Now the third week is THE week. By the third week my friends have grown too tired or too full of your nightly feeding rituals to keep up with me. My drinking buddies can no longer hang with me. And the “one-wreekers” have all cycled back to the civilization. I have done everything you came here to do at least a dozen times, I am alone and I have reached nirvana. Those points in time where all my wants have been satisfied to the point of boredom, and I can comfortable sit and contemplate my naval with total and focused commitment on that task.

Yes now I am in paradise. For one week. One of the fifty-two weeks in the year I can sit and want and do absolutely nothing. True and total peace. Peace with the world and peace with myself. And that my friend is a true vacation.

The Dreaded Forth Week
Everything cycles. Including pleasure and pain. So it goes to reason that after extreme pleasure there will be extreme pain. And yes that is what the forth week is; extreme pain, the pain of leaving paradise. I try and numb the pain by getting back into the cycle of going here and doing this. Back into the habits of drinking with more friends I have invited down to share my last week in paradise. All this helps distract me from the pain but it is still there stabbing my mind with its razor sharp spears of reality. And I always catch myself doing the eventual vacation countdown. I start counting how many days I have left. Counting the hours and minutes until I must leave.

I catch myself getting up a little earlier each day. I find myself facing each approaching day with a little bit more apprehension. And each sunset is a little more bitter sweet that the previous one. I feel as if I loose something each day so I spend the next day searching for it by fishing that flats one last time, snorkeling the Blue Reef one last time, visiting the Hog’s Breath one last time, watching the sunset from Mallory’s Square one last time. Doing everything one last time and promising myself that I’ll be back, real soon.

I have come to regard the forth week as a necessary evil which prepares me for my return to civilization. I believe it is a process I must go through to maintain my sanity. Can you imagine a cave man walking out of the jungle and stepping onto I-95. I think that would be enough of a shock to create a mental break from reality. So I see the forth week as an process that allows me to return to life as we know it and love it today. But for a brief moment in time, that glorious and wondrous third week I have experienced a little slice of heaven on earth.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Walking The Board

And since skateboarding grew out of surfing a lot of the tricks are interchangeable. As is with this trick, walking the board. Also this is a must learn if you surf. You may think that walking up and down your board is easy but as a matter of fact it is tougher than it looks.

This trick is of course best done on long boards. The longer the board the better.

To start the board walk you should be positioned in the middle of your board, at a medium cruising speed. To walk forwards on the board you will use a cross step action. You start by moving your body slightly toward the tail, making sure that the ball of your front foot is right in the middle of your board. Then quickly step forward with your rear foot bringing it around your front foot and making it your new front foot. Put it down across the deck. This may feel a little strange or goofy, hence the term goofy-foot. Welcome to goofy-foot skating.

Anyway… as you plant your back foot in front of your front foot turn your body so that you are facing in the opposite direction to how you normally skate. Another words swing around 180 degrees on the original front foot that you started on in the middle of the board.

Your half way there! Continue around your board by stepping to the back of your board with the foot that you just placed on the nose. Step around your original front foot which is still in the middle of the board. Remember to stay on the balls your original front foot, the foot, which remains in the middle of your deck. This will allow you to pivot around on this foot. As you swing around catch the board with your stepping foot and wala you are back at your original position.

This trick works best if you don’t stay in the goofy-foot position too long. Make both 180 moves seamless as one move like a 360 toe spin.


Well everyone has to master this move. It is the core for most street tricks. You gota crawl before you can walk. You got to Ollie before you can skate. ( or something like that ). Named after it’s inventers nick name Alan “Ollie” Gelfand, the ollie has become the must learn trick for every skateboarder.

To put it in perspective the ollie is just a jump move. Yea! Like water is just a drink!

What is tricky about the ollie and the hardest to learn and master is that to make the board jump you must try to push it into the ground. That is because all skateboards have a certain degree of flex built into it. Board bounce or flex is the key element in the ollie. The better the flex the higher the ollie. It’s that simple. Everything else is nothing but timing and gravity. Physics 101 brah!

When you approach an ollie think of your board as a diving board. You jump, or push, down on a diving board to get it to spring, or flex, up. This is much the same mechanics used in producing an outstanding ollie.

But, you ask, how do I make a stiff little skateboard flex like a big diving board. Good question. You use the tail of your skateboard. This is where it gets tricky.

Let’s take it one step at a time.

Step 1

Bend you knees and concentrate your energy into the lower legs and feet. Keep you front foot just slightly ahead of the middle of the board and your back foot behind your back wheels. Now jump up.

Did it? Good. Did you board come up with you? Probably not, or at least not enough that you can notice. But anyway it is a good practice. Repeat this practice many times until you are comfortable at jumping off your board and landing back on it while it is still moving. Wax on, wax off, good grasshopper!

Step 2

Now alter your jump so that your front foot leaves the board first. This will force the front of your board up as all your weight is transferred to the back of your board behind your back wheels. You will probably do this many times until you get it right.

You will notice your board may stop or try to stop. This is because the tail is hitting the ground. This is what is supposed to happen. Not the stopping just the tail hitting. This is where you get the bounce or pop. You have to learn, through repetition ( wax on, wax off ) when is the optimum time to pop with your back foot to release the bounce of your board hitting the ground. Pop too soon and you just do a goofy jump. Pop too late and your board stops and you tumble. Pop just right and the board jumps with you! Your half way there!

Step 3

This is kind of a step back. As you begin the ollie with your front foot you must learn to feel your board through your shoe. Sliding your front foot forward and up as you jump will help pull the board even higher. This will also allow you to keep you foot in contact with the board though out the ollie giving you more control for later advanced tricks.

You will do the same with your back foot. That is you must feel the board come up with your foot. It’s all timing and nothing more. Your feet have to match the vertical movement of your board. Anymore you loose your board and loose control. Any less and it’s just a flub.

Practice, practice, practice, the ollie is not that easy but when you get it down, and I mean really nail it repeatedly you’ve just opened the door to some amazing tricks.

Happy carving!

The Disposable Culture

It is very evident that after Terri spent two years in her “broken” state of consciousness that here husband was ready to “dispose” of her. He had grown tired of his vows of “for better or worse” and was plotting to engage the “till death do us part” clause of the contract.

Anyone who reads my blog with any consistence knows two things about me. I try to say positive in my post and I keep away from political content. Well today I break both of these self-imposed laws. Today I’m going talk about a culture of the throwaway that seems to have this nation is a vice grip. So no sweet, perky ‘isums’ about life and puffy white clouds, no today it’s all about the fact that if you don’t measure up you get thrown on the scrap heap.

It all started last Wednesday when I put some excellent left over veal parm’ in my microwave and hit the start button. Nothing happened. The microwave was broken, on the fritz, kaput! I went and told my wahine what was wrong and asked here to call a repairman out to fix it. I mean after all I had to get back to my tiki’s. A few days passed and we had an appointment for the repairman to come out and fix the microwave. Great I thought microwave popcorn soon!

But no brah, this weekend my wahine, she wants a NEW microwave. She starts talkin’ ‘bout, “We put a lot of money in to fixin’ the old microwave and it break again. The we have to buy a new one anyway.” How can you argue with that kind of logic!

I say fix the old one. Less mess, less to throw away, less money to spend. But no she only wants a new one. And besides, here papa says we get a new one. Well!! If here papa says we get a new one then we get a new one!

Now here’s my gripe. We could have fixed the old microwave for less money than it cost to buy new one. Except the new one was, well, NEW. So like good little consumes we threw out the old one and bought a new one. We consumed. We did exactly what we have been conditioned to do, get rid of anything that doesn’t work properly and replace it with a new one. That is what we are taught to do from the very first moment we can understand and retain a complete sentence.

Now some of you may not see anything wrong with this. You may say my wahine did the right thing and bought a new microwave. You may think like she thinks that the new one will last longer. And that works just fine, if we live in an inexhaustible supply of natural resources from which to manufacture an endless supply of consumable products. However we don’t.

We face ever-tightening energy resources along with an ever-exploding pollution problem. We can no longer afford to simply throwaway things that don’t fit perfectly into our perceived notion of an ideal. We are consuming our selves into oblivion! We are buying and throwing away our future, and our children’s future, on an unprecedented scale. Natural resources are being depleted as manufacturing pollution skyrockets and landfills are ever expanding. In fact many cities across the nation are struggling with finding places to put our throwaways. This is just not healthy, physically or mentally.

And we just don’t throw away things. The disposable culture has tainted how we value life in general. Today there are record numbers of pets being destroyed in America. As a matter of fact the US leads the world in domesticated animal unitization. The animal shelters across America are full of discarded birthday and Christmas gifts. Dogs and cats, pigs and rats, that are purchased on a whim, and giving to a child for companionship from absentee parents. These helpless animals are winding up by the thousands in holding pens for the veterinarian’s gas chamber.

And it doesn’t stop with animals. We are now beginning to see the emergence of the disposable human. You don’t have to look to far to see examples of this on every newspaper and in every television news report. You see this disposable culture of death beginning to bear fruit with the current court battles over Terri Schiavo. Unfortunately for Terri she no longer fits the mold of a “socially contributing person”. She is now “damaged goods” and therefore should be disposed of.

How has a society sunken so low that it will turn on itself and destroy the very weakest of its members? The Terri Schiavo case perfectly illustrates the ultimate manifestation of the disposable culture.

“When it breaks or you grow tired of it throw it away. There is something newer and better waiting for you.”

It is very evident that after Terri spent two years in her “broken” state of consciousness that here husband was ready to “dispose” of her. He had grown tired of his vows of “for better or worse” and was plotting to engage the “till death do us part” clause of the contract.

Unfortunately for Terri I only see her death in the near future. The courts move to slow for a woman that is being starved to death. And the cards of modern culture and convenience are stacked against her. See may be a fighter but see is weak. And the Judge who is sitting on the motion to reinstall the feeding tube knows this. He knows he only has to perform a few procedural stalling tactics and nature will takes it course.

He will of course be exonerated as only doing what the law allows via his understanding said law. The hospitals will be exonerated because they followed a court order. The state and the federal government will be exonerated because they “fought for Terri” and passed a law. And Terri’s husband will be exonerated because he believed Terri didn’t want to live any longer in her current state. And when she does, involuntary, pass from this life we, as a nation, will also pass over into a new era where if you cannot defend yourself . . .
no one else will.

So in the next few days, when we read about the death of Terri Schiavo, we can all turn the page to the sports section and feel exonerated because we took no part in her death. We can read the sports section with impunity. And when we are finished with the newspaper we can throw it away.

So as society slips over the edge and helplessly falls into the abyss of the disposable culture just keep on consuming and disposing till you become old and broken yourself. Then don’t worry about lingering around, a burden on society, because by that time we will have passed enough laws and figured out how to quietly, effortlessly and painlessly dispose of you too!


The world will eventually destroy itself with good intentions so there is no reason for me to participate in the self-destruction. The Schiavo quagmire is the perfect example. Two sides with wildly differing ideas of what is good for this poor woman and neither side cares to ask her what see wants. No you may think that is a stupid statement since she is considered to be a vegetable, but I say they should at least try.

The human race has always developed and eagerly embarrassed technology before they completely understand it implications. This can be exemplified in the medical technology that has spawned this most recent discourse in human rights that are swirling around Ms. Schiavo. We also lived with the shadow of nuclear technology form the 1940 till today.

And as I sit here carving I wonder what will be the technology breakthrough that ultimately brings on our destruction. What will be the advancement that we split our common physic and doom us to complete destruction? Will it be cloning that pits us against each other. Maybe computer technology will in itself rise up and kill us off. I don’t know. But what I do know is based on our past history something is bound to touch off an new blood letting that will surly be the end of or time on this earth.

That is why I listen to the waves more than the world. Long after we are all dead and gone the waves will continue their eternal cycles against the beach. Their constant and repetitive motion against the land calms my soul. As long as I look to the sea and not the land I live in peace. As long as I live with nature and not mankind I feel at peace.

So if you are looking to experience something permanent in your life, go sit on the beach for a while. Enjoy the sun, revel in the seagulls and listen to the age-old sounds of eternity. It will calm your soul and center your life.

Working Stiffs

I don’t punch a clock. I don’t have to be up and working at 8 o’clock in the morning. I don’t fight the crowds on the interstate. I don’t fight for a spot in the Starbuck’s drive-thru line nor do I fight for a spot on the corporate ladder. I am my own boss. I say when it is time to work and I say when it is time to play.

Some may say I am not a success. I don’t have the fancy cars, homes or any of the other trappings of “the good life”. What I do have is a loving wife and two perfect children who are learning to watch the insane dance around them and not participate. When I go to bed at night sleep comes easy and I sleep peacefully till dawn. I wake up slowly, not scared out of sleep by a rude alarm clock. I look forward to the morning, a quiet time for me when I can enjoy good, homemade, coffee with my dog and a newspaper. I read about all the other working stiffs who have snapped under the pressure of the modern rat race. I use the morning to plan my day, not rushing into the 20 foot race on the highways to get to a ten by ten foot working space lit by artificial light and inhabited by fear and loathing. Which brings me to the topic of this posting.

I took one of my very rare sojourns into the city this morning. On occasion I will pretend I am just another working stiff going to work during the morning rush hour. I do this to remind myself just how good I have it.

Well today was one for the history books. I left the hose at 7:20 a.m., I was going into the city to pick up some dead palm trees that would soon be reborn as tiki gods. I dropped the kids off at school and got on the interstate. It was 7:31. The traffic immediately stopped. An thus began the 20 foot races.

The 20-foot race is how I describe the daily commute for the poor souls who live in the suburbs and commute into the larger cities. They race their “high-performance-sports” cars to and from work in 20 foot increments on congested “freeways”. They greedily grab the 20 feet of space just vacated by the car in front of them. They squat on it like a prize and look around to make sure no other car tries to merge into their “spot”. They are always on the lookout for anyone trying to merge in front of them and steal the next 20-foot space that will be coming available in this mind-numbing dance to work. Just going to work in today’s society constitutes a day’s work in my book.

It has always amused me how humans will cheerfully rush to wait. Many people spend many hours of their lives quietly and obediently standing in line. And this is never displayed so insanely obviously as it is displayed on the interstate systems across this country. Today on my little stretch of reality there was several thousand people in their shiny little ego boxes all lined up do the 20 foot race to their tiny little office boxes where they will make their tiny little business decisions before they do another 20 foot race back to their tiny little condos for their tiny little 4 hour slice of life out of the 24 hours that was available to them. And they fear death?

Well 12 miles and 45 minutes later I reached my destination. What is that, like 16 miles an hour? That is equivalent to school zone speed all the way on an interstate system. I crept past speed limit signs that mocked me with their 70 mile per hour limits. I sat next to exit ramps full of people trying to get away from the gridlock nightmare that was their daily reality.

And everyone around me was trying to remove themselves from the reality that was all around them. The vast majority of the people were talking on their cell phones. As I sat and watched this slow march to the grave I wondered who could all of these people be talking to. Are they just as many people not working as working? I suppose many were calling their boss to notify them that they would be late because of traffic. I guess many were calling family members complaining about the traffic. I guess some could be calling the weather report or surf reports. But could some be calling each other?

Everyone was doing something other than driving. Those who were not talking on their cell phones were; putting on makeup, shaving, reading, watching in-car videos or television. Only in America can you watch a news report about the traffic jam that you are sitting in while talking to a friend about the traffic jam that they are sitting in.

I wondered why there wasn’t more wrecks than there already was. I mean everyone was doing everything instead of driving their car. Why wasn’t everyone just crashing all over the place. And I thought how juvenile and how irresponsible everyone was. No one was driving their car the way that they had be taught to. Everyone was doing everything other than driving.

And then it hit me. No one was being irresponsible. Everyone had gone into survival mode. This was a normal human response to stress and anxiety. I was witnessing the “Flight or Fight” response in action. People all around me were fleeing from the overwhelming reality that was crushing down upon them. In their windshield, in their rear-view mirror, to their left and to their right they all saw the horror that was out their looking in. The monster that was staring back at them was the reality that this was their life. The fact that no matter how fast their car could go, no matter how big their office, no matter how big their bank account, no matter how big their house. Nothing would free them from this hour-long hell that they will face twice a day for the rest of their lives.

On my way home from picking up my future tikis I drove down that same interstate. It was now free of the clog I had earlier experienced. Now it was a true interstate. I was moving effortlessly at 65 miles per hour. I had my window down and the warm ocean breeze was blowing around in the cab of my truck. The sun was warming up nicely and I could tell it was going to be a good day for carving.

I've Moved To Facier Digs

Well I just had to get out of the old neighborhood. The hoster where I had my blog (their name will remain undisclosed) just wasn't keep up. Their servers were slow and they had no spam filter. I was spending hours deleting all the very helpful post from a variety of people trying to help out my poker playing abilities and my sex life.

We anyway I had to move on. This new home for my blog seems respectful. They offer good controls and faster servers so we will see.

Over the next few weeks I will move some of my more popular post from the old blog. Until then happy carving!

360 Shove-It 2 Foot On The Nose

I really like this trick because when you stick it you really look good. It’s not that hard to master either, just a lot of practice and bruises.

Start with a 2-foot nose wheelie. Get ready to jump with your knees slightly bent. As you jump use your ankles to push the board into a 360 degree spin. This is the hardest part. After you master getting your board to spin the rest is pretty much timing. The board will spin and you will return to mother earth.

Hopefully you started this trick with plenty of open space in front of you, because you’ve got to watch the board not where you are going. While you are in the air and the board is spinning beneath your feet watch the board and anticipate when to catch it with your feet. You want the board to be pointing in the same direction as when you started, the direction of travel. Got it? Oh never mind you’ll get it! (ha-ha)

When the board is in the right position stop it with your feet and stick it to the ground. Adjust your direction and balance and away you go. Amazing everyone around.

Simply a work of art.