Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May 5 Jimmy Buffett Concert Cancelled

NBC has cancelled the May 5 broadcast of the Today show in Key West.

The network wants to keep the morning show anchors in New York to better cover the swine flu story. (Ironically, Jimmy Buffett's latest novel is called Swine Not?)

Personally, I think the coverage is already way over the line. I've barely calmed down over their panicking me about Mad Cow Disease. I had just gotten over deer concerns - Lyme disease and all. Oh - and what about equine encyphalitis? Egad! The horses are going to kill us all!! Then chickens & birds freaked me out (remember how they got rid of the post office chickens? At least one commissioner cited bird the new post office chickens have been innoculated.) The news seems to have cried wolf once too many times.

Mostly I'm afraid of wolf. Wolf Blitzer that is.

Anyway, Jimmy Buffett will not be playing 8:30 am on May 5 at the Westin Resort.

The Today show plans on doing a Key West broadcast at a later date - but as of now, none is scheduled.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jimmy Buffett to Play Live in Key West

Despite what many tourists believe, Jimmy Buffett rarely plays live in Key West. And when he does, there is never any advance notice - meaning you never get to see him.

Funny - you live in Key West and you never get to see Jimmy Buffett. Everywhere else, he comes around every summer.

Until now.

The Today Show is promoting Key West as an American vacation destination and will be filming an entire 4-hour morning show on our little tropical island.

As part of the production, Jimmy Buffett will play a live 30-minute concert on May 5, 2009 starting at 8:30 am.

The mini concert will be at either the Westin Resort or Mallory Square.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Photos of Vandenberg in Key West

USS Vandenberg in Key West - dockside at the Truman WaterfrontThe USS Vandenberg has arrived in Key West and is now snugly berthed at the Truman Waterfront.

The ship was welcomed into port by the Conch Republic army, with many locals watching as tugs maneuvered the 520-foot ship into its temporary dockside home.

People watching the arrival of the USS Vandenberg in Key West

Final preperations to prepare the Vandenberg for sinking will begin immediately.

The ship is expected to be sunk in 140 feet of water south of Key West sometime in May 2009. (I hear May 15 is the tentative date).

Another picture of the USS Vandenberg in Key West
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Vandenberg - The Sinking of a Movie Star in Key West

The USS Vandenberg should arrive in Key West by Wednesday - if forecasts are correct.

Here is the latest update from the organizers and the National Weather Service:

This will no doubt be a spectacular site docked on the Outer Mole - 520 ft long and 71.5 feet wide - rusting and looking ready for the sea floor.

Interesting fact: The 1999 movie Virus, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, was filmed aboard the Vandenberg.

If you want to see the Vandenberg in the movie but don't really want to sit through the whole movie, see USS Vandenberg sinking - Key West. It contains a video of every Vandenberg appearance in Virus - both above and below deck. You can almost follow the plot.

Seeing actors running around the gigantic ship gives a sense of the incredible scale of this vessel.

When this ship is sunk, it will be a sight to see.

I'm guessing you'll be able to walk across the water with all the boats and spectators.

I know I won't miss it.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Smoking Getting More Expensive in Florida - Cigar Industry Fumes

This week, the Florida Senate unanimously passed a $1 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes.

A local Key West convenience store predicted $7 per pack cigarettes soon. A friend mentioned he purchased an $8 pack at a dockside bar/restaurant on Stock Island.

Cigar smokers will also see a tax increase - as much as $1 per cigar (tax depends on weight - tax is $1 on 1 oz. of tobacco).

Key West once was the epi-center of the US cigar industry. Today there is nearly no cigar manufacturing in Key West.

The State of Florida, however, has more cigar companies than any other state - and they are fuming over the new tax - predicting sales declines, employee firings, and companies relocating out of state. Florida makes approximately 90% of all domestic cigars.

Imagine Cuba is opened and the world's finest cigars are widely available in the US. Will the Florida cigar manufacturing industry survive, especially given the added burden of the new tobacco tax?
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama's Writes Column Pointing to a New Cuba Dialogue

An op-ed column written by President Barrack Obama appeared in newspapers across the Carribean, Latin American, and the US. "Choosing a Better Future in the Americas", reaches out to regional nations - suggesting the upcoming Summit of the Americas is a new beginning.

In reality, the US embargo of Cuba could disappear with the slightest action by Raul Castro & his brother. Just free "some" political prisoners and the gate opens.

I don't expect the full embargo to be lifted at the Summit of the Americas. Instead, as a first step, the US will allow travel for cultural exchanges. And what better way to exchange culture than with a sailboat?

Following is President Obama's op-ed column:

As we approach the Summit of the Americas, our hemisphere is faced with a clear choice. We can overcome our shared challenges with a sense of common purpose, or we can stay mired in the old debates of the past. For the sake of all our people, we must choose the future.

Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security.
In advance of the Summit, we have begun to move in a new direction. This week, we amended a Cuba policy that has failed for decades to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people. In particular, the refusal to allow Cuban Americans to visit or provide resources to their families on the island made no sense - particularly after years of economic hardship in Cuba, and the devastating hurricanes that took place last year. Now, that policy has changed.

The U.S.-Cuba relationship is one example of a debate in the Americas that is too often dragged back to the 20th century. To confront our economic crisis, we don't need a debate about whether to have a rigid, state-run economy or unbridled and unregulated capitalism - we need pragmatic and responsible action that advances our common prosperity. To combat lawlessness and violence, we don't need a debate about whether to blame right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents - we need practical cooperation to expand our common security.

We must choose the future over the past, because we know that the future holds enormous opportunities if we work together. That is why leaders from Santiago to Brasilia to Mexico City are focused on a renewed partnership of the Americas that makes progress on fundamental issues like economic recovery, energy, and security.

There is no time to lose. The global economic crisis has hit the Americas hard, particularly our most vulnerable populations. Years of progress in combating poverty and inequality hangs in the balance. The United States is working to advance prosperity in the hemisphere by jumpstarting our own recovery. In doing so, we will help spur trade, investment, remittances, and tourism that provides a broader base for prosperity in the hemisphere.

We also need collective action. At the recent G-20 Summit, the United States pledged to seek nearly half a billion dollars in immediate assistance for vulnerable populations, while working with our G-20 partners to set aside substantial resources to help countries through difficult times. We have called upon the Inter-American Development Bank to maximize lending to restart the flow of credit, and stand ready to examine the needs and capacity of the IDB going forward. And we are working to put in place tough, clear 21st century rules of the road to prevent the abuses that caused the current crisis.

While we confront this crisis, we must build a new foundation for long-term prosperity. One area that holds out enormous promise is energy. Our hemisphere has bountiful natural resources that could make renewable energy plentiful and sustainable, while creating jobs for our people. In the process, we can confront climate change that threatens rising sea levels in the Caribbean, diminishing glaciers in the Andes, and powerful storms on the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Together, we have both the responsibility to act, and the opportunity to leave behind a legacy of greater prosperity and security. That is why I look forward to pursuing a new Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas that will help us learn from one another, share technologies, leverage investment, and maximize our comparative advantage.
Just as we advance our common prosperity, we must advance our common security. Too many in our hemisphere are forced to live in fear. That is why the United States will strongly support respect for the rule of law, better law enforcement, and stronger judicial institutions.

Security for our citizens must be advanced through our commitment to partner with those who are courageously battling drug cartels, gangs and other criminal networks throughout the Americas. Our efforts start at home. By reducing demand for drugs and curtailing the illegal flow of weapons and bulk cash south across our border, we can advance security in the United States and beyond. And going forward, we will sustain a lasting dialogue in the hemisphere to ensure that we are building on best practices, adapting to new threats, and coordinating our efforts.

Finally, the Summit gives every democratically-elected leader in the Americas the opportunity to reaffirm our shared values. Each of our countries has pursued its own democratic journey, but we must be joined together in our commitment to liberty, equality, and human rights. That is why I look forward to the day when every country in the hemisphere can take its seat at the table consistent with the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And just as the United States seeks that goal in reaching out to the Cuban people, we expect all of our friends in the hemisphere to join together in supporting liberty, equality, and human rights for all Cubans.

This Summit offers the opportunity of a new beginning. Advancing prosperity, security and liberty for the people of the Americas depends upon 21st century partnerships, freed from the posturing of the past. That is the leadership and partnership that the United States stands ready to provide.

Tomorrow the much anticipated Summit of the Americas gets underway. Much more Cuba talk should dominate the media manana and over the weekend.

(Now that Cuban-Americans have unlimited travel rights to Cuba, it is only a matter of time before all US citizens have equality and can freely travel.)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

USS Vandenberg Forecast to Encounter Gale Force Winds

The USS Vandenberg is underway and on its way to Key West. Hooray!

NOAA is providing daily updates of the ships progress, route, and weather conditions.
According to the video weather forecast, the ship will encounter a developing low pressure system that will create gale force winds today and tonight, with 25-35 knot winds and seas building to 8-15 feet.

Here is the latest NOAA briefing, published yesterday (a new one will be released later today):

With building winds and seas, one has to wonder about that one tug, named Elsbeth III, towing the massive 524' former U.S. Air Force missile tracking ship.
Here is a photo of the Elsbeth III:
And here are her impressive specs:
  • Built 1998 by Captain Latham Smith, Green Cove Springs, FL
  • 5000 HP Ocean Tug
  • L.O.A.: 90 ft.; Beam: 40 ft.; Molded Depth: 16 ft. with extreme sheer; 98 GRT
  • Three 1986 Model KTA-50 Cummins engines, rebuilt & rated 1450 hp each @ 1800 RPM continuous. Complete spare engine available.
  • Three ZF Gears fitted with trolling valves for continuous shaft rpm control from 0-260 rpm
  • Three Bird-Johnson propellers @ 87" x 83" in 82" type 37 Nozzles. Propellers turn 260 RPM on 8" shaft with John Crane seals
  • Bow Thruster: 100 hp
  • Tow winch: Almon Johnson, holding 2000' of 2 1/4" wire. Secondary winch for anchor handling or tandem tows with 1800' of 2" wire. Heavy stern roller, 6' diameter by 10' long & able to deck a 15 ton anchor
  • Three Gensets @ 150 kW, 80 kW & 60 kW
  • Hull: Heavily reinforced 1/2" plate with 15 integral tanks
  • Two 3000 lb. anchors each with six shots of 1 1/4" chain; windlass with capstans
  • One HIAB 1 ton Marine Crane
  • Tugger: One Gearmatic, 10 ton, 1 ton air tugger
  • Berthing: Eight crew
  • Towing range: 30 days; 60 days utility work
  • All vital systems in triplicate for enhanced reliability

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Sure Its All a Big Misunderstanding - right?

Nearly every day another aspect of the Monique Acevedo scandal is revealed. You can't help but think of Blagojovitch - the disgraced impeached senator from Ilinois, indicted for abusing nearly every aspect of his high office.

With each new allegation, it becomes harder and harder to believe her husband knew nothing. The latest allegations involve his campaign finances.

Meanwhile, the Superintendent Randy Acevedo, Monique's husband, has chosen to remain silent until the investigation is complete.

According to the Miami Herald, "In less than two years, she has spent more than $95,000 on pink silk ties, bar stools and spear-gun accessories. The eclectic list of purchases goes on: a table saw, a chandelier and the complete DVD box set of Six Feet Under."

The list of questionable purchases is long. Here are a few more:
  • several men's suits, all size 54L. Her husband recently weighed in at 317 pounds
    ''I have suits, but where she got them I don't know,'' Randy Acevedo said. ``I assumed she paid for them with her own credit card. I don't keep track of our finances.''
  • DVDs of Knocked Up and Good Luck Chuck
  • two $19 payments for traffic school
  • a Jesus bandage purchased at Fast Buck Freddie's department store.
  • Furniture, Pottery Barn $2,714.93
  • Two-piece bed set, Bed & Chair Depot $1,826.43
  • Four-person stay, Courtyard Key West Waterfront $771.90
  • Home furnishings, JC Penney $563.21
  • Four big and tall dress shirts, Jos. A. Bank $256.30
  • Folding chairs, Office Max $239.94
  • Garment and carry-on bags, Samsonite $189.98
  • Harmony 720 Universal remote, Logitech $179.99
  • Unknown, Subtropic Dive Center $166.34
  • Nutra-trim, Jolt gum, etc., GNC Nutrition Center $140
  • Sports equipment, Divers Direct $138.95
  • Coffee table, Kmart $129
  • 10 gift cards, T.G.I. Friday's $100
  • Farouk flat-iron hair straightener, unknown $93.30
  • Chris Rock DVD
  • Oprah Winfrey's magazine
  • two pairs of Oakley sunglasses.
As for Key West - the citizens are rightly upset over this. Schools are struggling with budget cuts. Every dollar really counts.

One commenter to the Citizen website wrote:
The sad thing is we have children in our classrooms without books and supplies and she's out spending. Teachers are having to buy [supplies] for [their] classrooms. I know teachers who have been told [there isn't anymore] copy paper. So if you want your children to learn and practice what they learn it won't be in this school district. There's no more money for anything including supplies, subsitutes, and there's a hiring freeze but we have people out [wasting] money. Extremely frustrating. Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, the city mayor had a strange response to Bill Becker's question on the radio about the scandal. The mayor, straining and stammering, only said he hoped it would be handled in the spirit of Key West's "motto" - One Human Family. I have no idea what that means. But it certainly didn't show a hint of outrage over the corruption and fraud that is alleged.

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