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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What goes up must come down: the housing market

There are plenty of For Sale signs around my neighborhood, and they've been there for a while. Apparently this is happening everywhere as sales slow and prices drop. Which proves that old adage: What goes up must come down.
I wonder where are all those people who boasted they were making a killing flipping condos or living the high life by financing their cribs with zero-down mortgages?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Say it ain't so! Rick Shaw is leaving

Anyone who grew up in Miami knows all too well the unique voice and talent of Rick Shaw. This morning, he told listeners he's retiring. Wow!
Rick Shaw is a South Florida staple, an airwaves landmark. Suddenly I feel o-o-old.

Monday, November 27, 2006

We can't win for losing

Thank God we had a mild hurricane season this year. Nature owed us that much. Yet, forecasters are warning that this is a temporary reprieve in a heightened decades-long super active period. Most people I know are taking this seriously, strengthening their homes with improvements.
I'm wondering, though, if builders of new construction are going the extra mile. A couple of years back I interviewed Herb Saffir (he of the Saffir-Simpson scale), and he said that, while the Miami-Dade County Building Code was the best in the land when it came to hurricane protection, he considered it very basic. His recommendation: build above the code if you REALLY want protection. The initial cost offsets future expenses.
Is anyone doing that?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey Day Preparations

On the calendar it's not yet Thanksgiving, but try telling that to my brain. It's already on vacation. I bet, though, it has plenty of company. I'm sure not a lot of work is getting done in offices around the country.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday, better in many ways than Christmas. Less commercial, for one. In my family, we have some funny traditions. My husband, for instance, always plays "Alice's Restaurant" for his two grown kids, no matter where they are. (One lives in New York, the other in San Diego.) When we married, he began doing the same for my kids. Now if he runs a little late on that ritual, they call us on the carpet.
A family ritual is born...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Simpson cancelled: About time!

Rupert Murdoch pulled the plug on the Simpson TV special/book that would have featured O.J. talking about his ex-wife's murder and how he would've done it had he been of that bent. (Yeah, right.)
What took you so long, guy?!
It's incredibly disgusting that the project got off the ground in the first place. You have to wonder what publisher Regan was thinking when she decided to fork out so much money and bring the book to print. Are these people so anxious to make a buck?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Class trips: Why you need to be young to take them

I dropped off my 15-year-old at school at 4:30 a.m. today. He and his classmates were headed for a class trip to Epcot. They will return after 10:30 p.m. He was sooo excited.
I, on the other hand, was exhausted just thinking about the long hours. My idea of a fun trip is something more sedate and quiet, with a little history and culture thrown in -- and preferably not on a bus with dozens of teenagers. Is this a sign of maturity or aging?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Is O.J. crazy?

O.J. is now talking about how he would've killed his wife had he really, really done it, in a book and TV special. What's wrong with him?! Can't he stay away from the limelight?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New technology, new illnesses

Some people are spending too much time with their Blackberry, giving rise to sore thumbs. Now there's a therapy treatment for overused thumbs. Some intrepid hotel chain has also come up with a special hand balm after discovering that many of their business guests complained about hand and arm stress.
If I could draw a cartoon of the typical person in the 22nd century, I'd be tempted to sketch out two overdeveloped thumbs with other shrunken body parts. Darwin's evolution, no?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ding dong...the witch will be dead

For most Cuban-Americans my age, the impending death of Fidel Castro is like the winning lottery ticket in the back pocket -- an almost but not quite happening. Now U.S. government sources say the dictator has about 18 months to live.
Delay the celebration. I'll believe it at the funeral.

Friday, November 10, 2006

When did Veterans Day become a shopping weekend?

Drove around a bit this morning and was surprised to see few American flags waving in this glorious autumn breeze.
Will the same disinterest be displayed this weekend at our shopping malls?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Spears files for divorce -- surprising no one

Britney Spears files for divorce -- and that's news?! C'mon, the Spears-Federline nuptials were a joke, like so many Hollywood marriages. I feel sorry for the two kids born of the union, however. They will likely (and unfortunately) repeat their parents' mistakes.
I wish we wouldn't cover Spears' split up so breathlessly. I would prefer something better. How about a piece on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward's decades-old marriage. In Hollywood, that's really BIG news.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Finally...a reprieve from negative campaign ads

You know the best thing about election day? The annoying campaign ads finally stop.
I've had it up to here with all the negative ads, the vitroilic accusations that turn me off not only from politics but the candidates themselves. Over the years the ads have gotten worse, and though countless editorials have complained about them, I can't think of one single candidate who hasn't thrown mud.
The depth of muck is certainly pushing teenagers away from the electoral process. A couple of weeks ago I spent two days visiting schools and interviewing middle and high schoolers. Most were not interested in the elections, though a few were. But to the man and woman, they all remembered the negative ads and didn't like them. As a 13-year-old at Hialeah Middle School told me, "Why don't they tell you what they stand for instead of ripping up the other guy?"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Do the rich get all the breaks?

No one would argue that traffic in South Florida is a nightmare. But how willing are we to change our habits to make it better? Time -- and money -- will tell.
Local traffic experts are studying an idea that has worked in other states. It would charge a monthly toll for solo drivers for a decal that would allow them to drive on the restricted lane for carpoolers on I-95. To be honest, my immediate reaction was: Here we go again. People with money get all the breaks.
But read closely and you'll learn that benefits ripple down to regular commuters because paying cars would be moving off the regular lanes.
If they ever get I-95 working, maybe traffic experts will work on SR 836. That's a parking lot at almost any time of the day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

He said/he said: another sex scandal

I've read the story about the influential evangelical pastor and the charges leveled against him and don't know what to think. On the one hand, if the gay prostitute accusing him of monthly trysts is lying, he should be held legally accountable and punished. The pastor's career and reputation are pretty much ruined. On the other, if the accusations are true, the pastor's got some explainin' to do.
Normally this is the kind of news I shrug off. What someone does in the bedroom -- unless that person is hurting someone -- is not the public's business. But if you make opposition to certain kinds of bedroom behavior the platform of your life, as Rev. Haggard has by opposing homosexual unions, then you need to be upfront.
There's either a lot of lying or a lot of hypocrisy going on.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cold and rainy is fine by me

Our friendly forecasters are now telling us to expect a colder and wetter winter. Well, hallelujah. Last winter my grass turned the color of a cake crust and I wore a sweater once or twice. I think we need breaks from the heat, and if that means a little rain, so be it.
I've lived here all my life and I often talk about the weather to other old-timers. We seem to agree on one thing: It's been hotter lately. This despite the fact that most of us grew up without air conditioning.
Global warming or too much air conditioning?