Model Boats [Video]

Model Boats at Amelia Plantation

Model Boats at Amelia Plantation

The Boardwalk Bash at the Spa and Shops of Amelia Island Plantation held a pleasant surprise on Friday night of the Memorial Day weekend with members of the Fernandina Pirates Club and several handcrafted model boats on display and cruising around the lake.

The boat builders and ship modelers love to show off the hobby they are so passionate about.

I don’t know when they will be on exhibit again, but if you get the opportunity to see the boats, you don’t want to miss it.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwy9i_coFVM

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Gold in Real Estate, ready for the picking

Invest 1/3-1/3-1/3, gold, cash and real estate. You'll be fine.

There is still GOLD  in them thar hills neighbor!!!!!  No, I don’t mean gold in the form of nuggets, I”m talking about Real Estate.  I know, a few of you are thinking I’ve lost it for sure this time, but hang with me here for a minute.  I’ve been watching the market very closely and I’ve got to tell you there are some super buys on this Island right now, not likely to be found again anytime soon. Because let’s face the reality here, land on a island is and will always be scarce.

I was checking the number of homes available under $100,000 and for the first time in many years they’re many to choose from.  OK, so how does this turn into the “G” word?  Well let’s think about this for a moment.  Even in these bleak economic times, (oops, I did it again, talking bleak instead of positive, sorry I was just raised to tell the truth), people are still going to need a place to live.  Now what do you think would rent faster, a $2000 monthly rental or a $800 – $900 a month rental?  Of course reality is that there are more people looking for the lesser amount then the higher one.

Let’s say you bought one of these properties for seventy five thousand, your monthly payment would be somewhere around $400, at a rate of 5.5%.  If you rented this property for $900 a month you would be in a positive cash flow right from the start. This is not the “G” we are looking for though.  You now have a property, on Amelia Island, a bicycle ride to one of the most beautiful beaches on the east coast.  You rent the property out for a couple of years, and hopefully these economic times will turn, (sorry, I guess I did it again) and all of a sudden you find your property has increased in value two or three times; not a bad return for a seventy five thousand investment. I know I know I’m preaching bubble again, but darn it like I said before, land on an island is scarce and there comes a time not too long from now that all those people that left the sunshine state in search for….what I don’t know? Jobs, probably. There comes a time they will come back to live the good life with sun, sand and sea. That’s just the way it is.

Another approach would be to purchase the property for cash and then add your profit to it and sell it under owner financing.  You now become the bank and enjoy the interest.  When you sell the property and you are holding the note, repairs, taxes and insurance have just flown out the window and you are left to enjoy the rewards.

Folks if you are looking for a safe place to invest, and I don’t think it’s on Wall Street, unless you’ve got more guts then I have, start considering real estate again.  Yes, there is still gold to be made and the opportunity is right in front of us.  Sometimes we are looking so hard for opportunities we fail to see what is within arms’ reach.  Drop us a note if you would like a free list of the properties available within your investment range, you may be shocked.

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Lets Put Seniors in Jail

Lets Put Seniors in Jail

Lets Put Seniors in Jail

My 90 year old grandma is at it again, passing along the philosophies and political theories she believes in. This time she wants to see senior citizens put in jail and all criminals put into nursing homes.

The original author is not known, but Grandma sure agrees with the following:

Seniors in Jail

“This way the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies, and walks, they’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc. and they’d receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes, and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool, and education, simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request.

Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.

Each senior could have a PC, TV, radio and daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct, that would be strictly adhered to.

Criminals in Nursing Homes

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised.

Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week.

They could live in a tiny room and pay $5000.00 per month and have no hope of ever getting out. ”

Justice for all!

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Free Saltwater Fishing

Free Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing

Press release – Gov. Charlie Crist has announced two free fishing weekends to help draw visitors to the beautiful Sunshine State. Both residents and nonresidents in Florida can fish for saltwater species around the state without a license during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, May 29 to May 31, and the weekend of June 5 and 6, which is the first weekend after Florida’s popular red snapper season opens in the Gulf on June 1. All other fishing rules apply.

“Florida is the fishing capital of the world,” Crist declared, “and our beaches are clean, the fish are biting, and we invite our friends to enjoy some Florida hospitality.”

Chairman Rodney Barreto of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) applauded the governor’s decision.

“Gov. Crist’s actions to offer free fishing this weekend and next will do wonders for our business communities that have been suffering cancellations since the oil spill started,” Barreto said. “We aren’t experiencing any oil impacts here, and the fact remains that Florida is open for business.”

The FWC will continue to monitor all of the potential impacts of the oil spill on Florida’s fish and wildlife and continue to be involved with many aspects of the oil spill response, Barreto added. In addition, the FWC has consulted with key representatives from several fishing organizations in Florida who are very concerned about inaccurate public perceptions regarding the condition of Florida’s fisheries and the state’s marine environment. There has been strong agreement from these stakeholders that the fishing business in Florida is “as usual” and that fishing remains a safe and viable recreational and commercial activity.

Go to MyFWC.com/Fishing to learn about fishing regulations in Florida.

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Always Wear a Lifejacket

Always Wear a Lifejacket

Always Wear a Lifejacket

By: SafeBoater

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be bringing you Nine Darwin Awards for boaters as compiled by www.safeboater.com, a Canadian website dedicated to teaching safe boating skills.

You should always wear a lifejacket or a personal floatation device, known as a PFD.

Why? The majority of drowning victims could have been saved if they took the time to wear a lifejacket. Each person on your boat should wear a PFD that fits them snugly and securely. This simple step really does save lives.

And the Darwin Award Goes to…
In 2001, a Montana man decided to take part in a new extreme boating sport: “Snowmoboating”. That’s right. He actually used his snowmobile to glide across the surface of the lake, just like skipping a stone across a pond. But this man’s hydroplaning adventure ended in tragedy when the snowmobile lost momentum and sank. Sadly, the man wasn’t wearing a lifejacket, and drowned within minutes while his friends watched helplessly from the shore.

The Bottom Line: Wearing a lifejacket can save even the most stupid of water sport enthusiasts.

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Sunrise Rotary Awards

Sunrise Rotary Awards

Sunrise Rotary Awards

By: Katey Breen

Twenty two members of the Rotary Club of Amelia Island Sunrise attended their recent Annual District Awards Luncheon and it was obvious the District Awards Committee is impressed with the work they do in their club.

Amelia Island Sunrise received six awards (far more than any other club in the district).

(1). A Premier Club Award (of the 62 clubs in the district, 22 received this designation)

In the small club category:

Rotary Sunrise Awards

Rotary Sunrise Awards

(2.) Best Membership Growth
(3.) Best International Service Project (for the Nicaragua Project)
(4.) Best Local Service Project (for our work with the Boys and Girls Club)
(5.) Best Service Above Self Project (for the Nicaragua Project)

And last, but far from least,

(6.) Best Club!!!

Congratulations and thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do!

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Floridian Marriage Proposal

Floridian Marriage Proposal

Floridian Marriage Proposal

There were two elderly people living in Fernandina Beach, Florida. He was a widower and she was a widow. They had known each other for a number of years. One evening there was a community supper at Osprey Village near the Amelia Island Plantation.

The two were at the same table, sitting across from one another. As the meal went on, he took a few admiring glances at her and finally gathered the courage to ask, “Will you marry me?”

She considered the question carefully, for about six seconds, and answered, “Yes, I will!”

After the meal and a few more pleasant exchanges, they went to their respective homes. When he awoke the next morning, he was troubled. “Did she say ‘yes’ or did she say ‘no’?”

He could not remember. Try as he might, he just could not recall. Not even a faint memory. With trepidation, he went to the telephone and called her.

First, he explained that he didn’t remember as well as he used to. Then he reviewed the lovely evening they shared the night before. As he gained a little more courage, he asked, “When I asked if you would marry me, did you say ‘yes’ or did you say ‘no’?”

He was delighted to hear her say, “Why, I said, ‘Yes, yes I will’ and I meant it with all my heart.” She continued, “And I am so glad that you called, because I couldn’t remember who had asked me.”

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In the Eye of the Storm

No one knows the diameter of the Hurricane's Eye yet.

With the official Atlantic Hurricane Season starting on Tuesday, growing uncertainty about the oil leak disaster in the Gulf and the potential effect of a hurricane coming through the area, weather experts claiming a very active season with up to 23 storms, you would think we have our plate full.

But no we don’t have that choice. Because we are already in the middle of the eye of the storm when it comes to the global economy and financial reform. That’s why it’s critical to have an understanding of economics, politics, and the technical details of various businesses; only then can you hope to be immune from the blather you’ll hear on TV and read in the popular press.
In spite of all the government induced good news consumers say that it just doesn’t feel much like a recovery to many people.
Unemployment is stubbornly high — 9.9 percent. The jobless face fierce competition for work. Those with a job are watching their paychecks shrink. A growing number of people are at risk of falling into foreclosure, and only those with the most stellar credit can get a loan.

Hurricane Season is in the Cross Hairs

Contemplating a long Holiday Weekend (Memorial Day) and several discussions over the past week, I decided to clear my mind on what the economy in my opinion really is doing and the inevitable comparison to the hurricane’s Eye and the Storm season ahead of us became a given based on the following observations:

1.    The volatility in the markets of the world economy underlines that we are in a calm between a credit crisis turning into a currency crisis as the collapse of the private debt bubble is replaced by a government debt bubble that will also collapse.

2.    The world is at a point of no return for government debt as debt-to-GDP approaches 100%. When debt becomes too big, governments cannot control the interest rates and currency. The availability of investor money will largely depend on the willingness to pay interest.  The lead warning is Greece, Dubai is feeling its second strain, all much in the same manner as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were announcements in the credit bubble crisis.

3.    Oil will go to a peak and not only because of the disastrous effects of the Gulf Crisis. The recent wealth of humanity has been built on energy. More than half the world’s conventional oil supply is already used. That means that the quantity of oil produced each year will not increase much from the current level even as demand from developing countries like India and China increases substantial. Wars over oil have already started. Energy prices will rise. We will see a substantial rise in the cost of food, as food production requires energy.

4.    The U.S. can prosper and keep a leading position in the world by developing and investing in three forms of technology—the Internet and mobile technology, new medicines through biological breakthroughs and new sources of energy. All are good investment opportunities and are necessary for human expansion. The other good thing for the US economy is that we still know how to produce food in large and exportable quantities, which will become an important negotiable resource.

Data are important and we need to learn how to read them

What we need to do is start to understand and accept the stories the DATA tell us. 

We have currently a sort of a hazy blue sky overhead, with Washington and the main media trying to convince us that things are improving and blue skies are in the forecast. But I think we’re in the eye of the storm. We went through the initial eyewall of heavy winds blowing from the credit crisis and we now know what happened. As dictated by Keynesian economics in a recession, the governments came along to bailout the problems and purchase all the toxic waste of sub-prime mortgages and bad debt from too much private lending.

How many storms does it take for us to change course out of harm's way?

Governments now have a huge credit bubble, just like we had with the housing mortgage bubble. So the economy slowly or rapidly, depending on which side you operate (public or private) moves from a credit crisis to a currency crisis. I think that in many countries the government debt bubble will burst and that will be the other side of the hurricane, as the winds swirl around and hit us from the other direction in terms of a currency crisis and government debt collapse. 

So the question in this scenario becomes: Is the strategy the U.S. government is using to stave off the recession, the correct one? And the answer is NO 

Building a few roads, some bridges, some hand outs for basketball programs or high speed rail or even nuclear power won’t have achieved much.

Look at it this way: Last year, the government spent about $1.5 trillion more than it collected in taxes. The Federal Reserve also spent $1.5 trillion buying mortgage debt to keep that market from further collapse and is on the hook for another $400 billion or so for Freddie and Fannie. So the government spent $3 trillion dollars to give us the current blue sky of a small recovery.

The current blue sky is approximately measured as 3% of Gross Domestic Product. The US GDP is about $14 trillion, so at 3% that’s about $400 billion of economic growth. Well, $3 trillion spent for $400 billion of economic growth is a pretty bad return on your investment, even when there are long term considerations of improvement. Add to that several trillions of guarantees and future government obligations for Fannie, Freddie, FDIC, PBGC, Social Security for the large group of boomers etc., and I have the basis for believing that these obligations are big enough to cause the collapse of the sovereign debt of the United States.

We’re not Alone!

And what’s worse, I don’t think it’s just the U.S.; I think it’s worldwide. In other words, we’re going to have debt crisis in the U.S. and Europe and other countries that have expanded their government debt too. 

As Greece is being bailed out by other governments, pretty soon the question is going to be who’s going to bailout whom? The U.S. debt is getting out of control at a spending rate approximately equal to Greece’s (in terms of percentage of GDP per year.) I think we’re in a far more precarious position than most people are willing to realize. 

And that all has brought us collectively in the eye of the storm, where government debt has gotten so big that it can never be paid off. That’s the problem that happened in Greece. Government debt is so big that the other countries of the European Union have had to come in with a $110 billion bailout, which is probably not enough, over a three-year period, to try to put the Greece situation back on track. What happens when Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland are added to Greece is a valid question?
One scenario here is that all these countries are going to be dropped from the Eurozone and left to fend for themselves and the Euro goes back to the handful of original strong economies in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium etc.
They can do that over there and put the dream of One Single Euro on ice for another generation or so.

But here in the U.S. we obviously don’t have that option!
 In the U.S. we are looking at the massive southern eyewall of the storm  and we are starting to realize that the government debt and obligations for retirees from the baby boomer generation equals some $75 trillion dollars, which cannot be paid off with dollars that are now denominated at the value that most people think they should be.
In other words, we’re heading toward government devaluing the dollar to decrease its intrinsic debt in order to survive. And that means people and businesses need to protect themselves. A savings accounts paying no interest while the purchasing power of the dollar is rapidly declining, you need a diversification plan that includes metals (gold, silver,copper), solid real estate (land) in high quality supply and demand areas, cash to operate and benefit from deals and most importantly you need to understand the essence of energy in the Growth of Humanity’ Wealth.

The explosion of the offshore oil rig in Louisiana and the obvious inability to stop the leak is much like what Three Mile Island in 1979 was for nuclear energy. This kind of deep water oil drilling is potentially far more dangerous than we were made to believe; not only dangerous in the short term for the investors who build rigs and spend hundreds of millions of dollars putting these things together, but now for the environment and people’s livelihoods.
And it’s going to majorly affect our ability to do offshore drilling, which we had hoped could be one of the new sources of oil to keep the wealth of the planet and humanity growing.

Oil and Wealth Go Hand in Hand

Because of the availability of cheap energy the planet has grown to 6.8 billion people from 1.5 billion people over the last century. Because we could take the work off the backs of men and animals and put it onto machines. We created electronics, computers, medicine and so forth to improve our lifestyle. We have lived truly in the most abundant time for part of humanity, but we have used up half of the oil that fueled this abundance.

We cannot increase energy production at the level that Asia and India would like right now in order to have the kind of widespread lifestyle we have here in the West. So big price and supply changes are on the horizon. No and, ifs or buts!
I told my friend Ric (Market Man) a long time ago while standing in the surf off the island of St.Croix in the Caribbean, that when the Chinese and the Indians were ready to take their position in global wealth building, we’d better have a solution for energy supply and refrigerator gases killing our ozone layers. That was 1989 before Hurricane Hugo paid the island a destructive visit.

Now I think that moment has come and some 2.5 billion people are getting ready to claim their rights and that is a worrisome situation politically because it can lead to wars over resources. It could also lead to starvation because the production of food is dependent on energy. Energy is used to provide everything from fertilizer to diesel fuel to food storage to transportation. Energy has allowed America to move away from the farmlands when 50% of the U.S. population used to pull food out of the surface of the earth, to only 3% of the US population producing food, much of which the country exports.

We are in the Eye and have little time to waste on futilities that distract from the future. The dollar may be doomed as the global reserve currency, as is the Euro as back up in its current configuration.
We will enter a time of positioning strength against strength and weakness against weakness from manufacturing to technology and  from resources to food supply.
One of the most important things to think about and invest in is the future of technology. In many ways, technology is the savior for mankind. It’s brought us this great abundance and I think can continue to do so and responsibly expand to the rest of the world.

We really need to find new sources of energy as well. Maybe wind, water and nuclear are not as “easy” as oil, but applying technology to the availability may just get us the technological answers on the demand side, just as much as the fuel injector was a savings over the carburetor.
Humanity needs a huge poke to come off its fat ass and become inquisitive and pro-active again, instead of accepting that past accomplishments are good enough.
We’re still trying to support retarded giants surviving on past laurels as if it were life support with a future. Manufacturing giants like GM, Ford and Chrysler are trying to buy time to survive on government bail outs, while looking to outsource production to other countries in a variety of ways.

But that’s not where the answers are

One of the nice things about technology is that Apple, Microsoft, Google and Intel all have substantial cash in the bank, even after the worst recession since the Depression. They have no debt. Apple just blasted through to being the third-largest company in the U.S. in market cap. I’m not making Apple a recommendation for investment as it is already high, but did so to many people several years ago when its common stock was less than 100; at almost 257 at last Friday’s closing, I wonder how many people listened.

I predict however that it still has a long way up, because the company understands and practices constant innovation. It just shows how important technology is with new iPads and so forth. 
And just to be clear on this: there is no production of anything done in Silicon Valley; all the plants for semiconductors and so forth are in Asia. Yet there will be competition for intellectual resources in the future. America has an edge on the front end of the invention of technology. Meaning technological advancements are initiated here, because as a final consumer market the US is the most advanced data gathering market on the planet, which is why there are plenty of Indians and Chinese in Silicon Valley starting their own companies. While the US still has the leading edge in education and development of new things, these values should be emphasized and supported.
Other technology driven industries the US leads in are aeronautics, space exploration, transportation and distribution logistics, software development, biotech, nanotech, medical applications and other areas where technology is the leading guide to solutions and improvements.

If government is so inclined to support growth with financial hand-outs, I’m willing to go against my beliefs  here by suggesting government support US invention and creativity as a very good investment. If we don’t, they’ll figure out how to do things on their own as in fact, they are doing. 
For those of us willing to see a bigger picture than only their street sign, we realize that one of the reasons for China’s great leap forward was active participation in new technologies. China moved from being the low-cost producer to doing their own offshoring and outsourcing to Indonesia where they get cheaper labor for certain production. They’re trying to move up the food chain to the more complex things like electronics rather than cheap consumer goods as we watch the sweep of anointed society moving from the West toward the East. Some call it Natural Progression.

Another area where technology is key and America still leads is bio-technology? Cracking the genome means that we have figured out how to use biological methods so that people can repair parts of their bodies with living tissue rather than pills. Pills are based on chemistry that, hopefully, has some kind of molecule that makes us feel better. There is a whole new trajectory for the biological sciences that can be used to improve the human condition, next to obviously all tendencies of natural healing and prevention methods.  

You can see an overwhelming need for new energy sources. We need new ways to absorb the sun’s energy to extend humanity’s position on this planet.

The U.S. is in the best shape technologically to prevail and keep its empire from collapsing in the way so many large and successful collections of society and empires have in the past. I’m not sure we will, but I think that’s the best opportunity for us both as a nation and as individuals. If we invest in finding the right technologies, we will all do better and the looming eye wall may weaken or dissipate over time.
As it stands currently in Washington and on Wall Street however, we better prepare for the next part of the storm.

Watoto Childrens Choir

Watoto Childrens Choir

Watoto Childrens Choir

You are invited to An Evening of African Song and Dance presented by the Memorial United Methodist Church in Fernandina Beach, featuring the Childrens Choir. The concert will be on Wednesday, June 2 at 6:30 PM.

This concert of “Hope” features the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda, East Africa who are among the 1.8 million boys and girls orphaned in Uganda due to AIDS or war. Come be inspired by their music and dance which combines contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm.

The concert is free and open to the public!

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Egg Vacation Photo Contest

Egg Vacation Photo Contest

Egg Vacation Photo Contest

Here is a contest opportunity I found on Digg.com that looks like it could be fun. Many of our viewers are wonderful photographers and this little contest fits their interests perfectly.

Photography, travel, staycations, humor and creativity are high on our reader’s radar and this contest offers it all.

Newegg.com claims to offer the best prices on Digital Cameras, Digital SLR Camera, Canon Digital Cameras and Sony Digital Camera Cameras with fast shipping and top-rated customer service. Their slogan? “Once you know, you Newegg!”

I don’t know if their claim is true or not, but I am sure many of our readers and subscribers would be interested in submitting a photo in their photography contest.

They are looking for awesome vacation photos, a staycation photo of chilling out close to home, a humor category and there is a category where you insert their egg dude wearing the Hawaiian shirt (pictured) creatively into a photo.

With over $35,000 in prizes, there is a grand prize, a Newegg pick and a Voter’s Choice Award. Submit your photo and get your friends to vote now!

Go online for the details and to read the complete contest rules. Good luck!

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Snapper Seabass Shark Shark Shark

Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Snapper, Seabass, Shark, Shark, Shark; Snapper, Grouper, Shark, Shark, Shark; etc…, etc…, etc… Last week there were a lot of bent rods aboard the Cleansweep charter boat, but we lost a bunch of tackle and time dispatching Sharks which abounded over the nearshore reefs we were working.

Seabass, Grouper and Snapper were boated but moving further offshore and trying different baits failed to abate the Sharks. The tide changing inshore may have helped us as the day progressed because the Sharks eventually moved on and we were able to catch more of the species we were targeting.

Although critical to inshore fishing, tide changes also effect fishing offshore. I’m going to start keeping log of tide changes related to fishing bluewater. Similarly, yesterday we fished Lofton Creek with live shiners targeting Largemouth Bass. We struggled early, losing what likely were Bass although we never caught a glimpse of them before parted line around an anchor rope and a poorly set hook allowed them to escape.

Catching Bass near Amelia Island

Catching Bass near Amelia Island

Alligator gars then became a problem, stealing our bait and tackle while the seven year old fishing with us delighted in these ferocious looking fish. They were stealing the show from the Bass we were targeting! After moving to several different spots the Gar persisted until we moved way up the creek where we finally lost the gar and boated two nice Bass, one of which attacked a large Shiner on the surface spectacularly, missing it several times before gulping it down in typical exciting Largemouth fashion.

I think that moving farther up the creek where the water salinity was different and some tidal change may have allowed us to catch Bass without the presence of Gar. Patience again paid off.

Father’s day is coming, so forget the tie or socks and give Dad what he really wants… a Cleansweep fishing charter.

Call me, Captain Jim Wormhoudt at (904) 753-0882 with your local fishing questions.

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Chocolat Chaud A La Creole

Chocolat Chaud A La Creole

Chocolat Chaud A La Creole

Ally at the Desk has been in the kitchen translating French recipes into English as a school assignment.

This homework has become a family favorite as we never know what she is up to when she hands over the shopping list to her father.

This recipe turned out to be for Hot Chocolate.

Hardly a beverage served up for the Memorial Day Weekend, but since it was assigned we weathered through the task at hand!

The French Recipe

Chocolat Chaud A La Creole

4 tasses de lait
1 oeuf
4 tasses de chocolat en pudre
6 cuilleres a soupe de sucre roux
1 cuillere a soupe de farine de main
1 cuillere a cafe d’ extrait de vanille
1 baton de cannelle
1 tasse de cacahouetes ou d’amandes

Faire chauffer le lait avac la vanille et la cannelle. Dans un bol, melanger le chocolat en poudre, le sucre, la farine de mais et l’oeuf avec un peu de lait froid. Verser dans le lait chaud et laisser epaissir. Retirer le baton de cannelle et ajouter les cacahouetes ou les amandes. Servir chaud.

Chocolat Chaud A La Creole

Chocolat Chaud A La Creole

Lets see how she did on the translation:

The English Recipe

Hot Chocolate

4 Cups of Milk
1 Egg
4 Cups of chocolate powder
6 Tablespoons of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of corn starch
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Cup of peanuts or almonds

Heat the milk with the vanilla and cinnamon. In a large bowl, mi the chocolate, the sugar, corn starch and egg with a little cold milk. Pour in hot milk and let thicken. Remove the cinnamon stick and add peanuts or almonds. Serve hot.

Wow, this turned out to be incredibly sweet and having nuts in my hot chocolate took some getting used to. Cinnamon sticks could not easily be found at Food Lion, so as an alternative Ally sprinkled cinnamon atop the sweet, hot beverage!

All in all, the hot chocolate tasted more like a candy bar. I recommend serving this as a special dessert… in the winter!

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Fifty Florida Tidbits

Florida's Official Stone is the Moonstone. No-one knows why?

Just how much do we really know about the history of our great state of Florida?  I was talking with a seventh grader a few days ago and it became clear to me that state history is something that is not being conveyed in the school system today, or at least not enough.  I found fifty facts and trivia on www.50states.com and thought I would share them with you.  I must admit some of it surprised me and I am sure a few readers will be surprised also.  I hope you enjoy this over this holiday weekend.

Florida Facts and Trivia

1.    Greater Miami is the only metropolitan area in the United States whose borders encompass two national parks. You can hike through pristine Everglades National Park or ride on glass-bottom boats across Biscayne National Park.
2.    Saint Augustine is the oldest lasting European settlement in North America. There were Viking settlement dating back to the 10th century and even the original settlement on Amelia Island is older, but did not survive. From here the Florida Orange industry was developed.
3.    When the city fathers of Lake City Florida refuse to match the land offerings, money and agreement to “furnish water to the university without charge,” in 1906, the University of Florida moves 50 miles south to Gainesville.
4.    Orlando attracts more visitors than any other amusement park destination in the United States and possibly the world.
5.    New England Congregationalists who sought to bring their style of liberal arts education to the state founded Rollins College, the oldest college in Florida, in Winter Park in 1885.
6.    Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center is America’s launch pad for space flights.
7.    Florida is not the southernmost state in the United States. Hawaii is farther south.
8.    A museum in Sanibel owns 2 million shells and claims to be the world’s only museum devoted solely to mollusks.
9.    The Benwood, on French Reef in the Florida Keys, is known as one of the most dived shipwrecks in the world.
10.    Safety Harbor is the home of the historic Espiritu Santu Springs. Given this name in 1539 by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. He was searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth. The natural springs have attracted attention worldwide for their curative powers. These days St.Augustine is fighting for the honor of the Fountain of Youth as Ponce de Leon’s quest.
11.    Niceville in the Panhandle is home to the famous Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival celebrated the third weekend in October.
12.    The United States city with the highest rate of lightning strikes per capita is Clearwater opposite the bay from Tampa.
13.    Gatorade was named for the University of Florida Gators where the drink was first developed in 1965. One of the researchers moved to Indiana in 1967 and got it commercially produced and bottled as it became sport market share leader with about 80% over the years. The real breakthrough came when the Kansas City Chiefs won the Superbowl in the 1969-1970 season with Gatorade on their side.
14.    Young aviator Tony Jannus made history on January 1, 1914 when he flew the world’s first scheduled passenger service airline flight from St. Petersburg’s downtown yacht basin to Tampa.
15.    Physician Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola invented mechanical refrigeration in 1851. Gorrie created the first practical unit as a means of cooling the air in facilities he set aside for patients who were diagnosed with yellow fever.
16.    Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first suntan cream in 1944. He accomplished this development by cooking cocoa butter in a granite coffee pot on his wife’s stove.
17.    Neil Smith and his brother of Monte Verde developed the first Snapper riding lawn mower.
18.    Key West has the mainland’s most southern point and the highest average temperature in the United States. 77.8°F
19.    The Saint John’s River with a length of 310 miles is the longest River in Florida and is one of the few rivers in North America that flows north instead of south from it marshland source south of Melbourne to its mouth in Jacksonville. http://www.nbbd.com/godo/StJohns.html Other known rivers flowing north are the Red River from Minnesota into Canada and the Fox River in Wisconsin.
20.    The largest lake in Florida is Lake Okeechobee. It is the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states and with 730 square miles is half the size of Rhode Island.
21.    May 20, 1970 Florida lawmakers passed and sent to the Governor a bill adopting the moonstone as the official state gem. Ironically, the moonstone is not found naturally in Florida…nor was it found on the moon. In the US it is found in Colorado, Indiana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin
22.    In 1987 the Florida legislature designated the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) the official state reptile. Long an unofficial symbol of the state, the alligator originally symbolized Florida’s extensive untamed wilderness and swamps.
23.    Miami installed the first bank automated teller machine especially for rollerbladers.
24.    Ybor City, the Latin Neighborhood in Tampa was once known as the Cigar Capital of the World with nearly 12,000 tabaqueros (cigar-makers) employed in 200 factories. Ybor City produced an estimated 700 million cigars a year at the industry’s peak.
25.    Plant City, the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, holds the Guinness record for the world’s largest strawberry shortcake. The 827 square-foot, 6,000 pound cake was made on Feb. 19, 1999 in McCall Park.
26.    The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a cable-stayed concrete bridge. Opened in 1987 the bridge coasts through the clouds at 190 feet above water. Its bright yellow support cables spread from the two center pillars. The structure gives drivers unobstructed view of the water during the 4.1 mile trip over Tampa Bay.
27.    Nearly 80 percent of the states intake of sweet Atlantic white shrimp is harvested in Amelia Island waters. Two million pounds of shrimp are delivered to Fernandina docks annually.
28.    A swamp such as the Fakahatchee Strand in the Everglades functions in three major ways. First, its vegetation serves as a filter to clean the water as it makes its slow journey southward. Secondly, it’s a major habitat for wildlife and plant life. Finally, it actually prevents flooding by slowing down the flow of water after heavy rains.
29.    DeFuniak Springs is home to one of the two naturally round spring fed lakes in the world. The other one is near Zürich in Switzerland.
30.    The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens at Delray Beach is the only museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to the living culture of Japan.
31.    Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America because the city has 185 miles of local waterways.
32.    Fort Meade is the oldest settlement in Polk County. It dates back to 1849 when a settlement grew up around the United States Cavalry fort during the Seminole Indian Wars.
33.    The Fred Bear Museum in Gainesville is a tribute to the accomplishments of Fred Bear a promoter of proper wildlife management and the founder of Bear Archery Company.
34.    The Hawthorne Trail a part of Florida’s Rails to Trails program and attracts many outdoor enthusiasts to walk, cycle, or ride horseback through its 17-mile length.
35.    Just north of Haines City is the Baseball City Stadium the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals. Haines City is known as The Heart of Florida.
36.    The city of Hypoluxo’s name comes from the Seminole expression water all ’round — no get out.
37.    Islamorada is billed as the Sports fishing Capital of the World.
38.    Key Largo is known as the Dive Capital of the World.
39.    Marathon is home to Crane Point Hammock, a 63.5 acre land tract that is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the Keys. The area contains evidence of pre-Colombian and prehistoric Bahamian artifacts, and once was the site of an entire Indian village.
40.    Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West was built between 1845 and 1866. Controlled by the Union during the Civil War, the fort was the home base for a successful blockade of Confederate ships that some historians say shortened the conflict by a full year. The fort also was active during the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.
41.    The first graded road built in Florida was Old Kings Road in 1763. It was named for King George of England.
42.    During the 1991 Gulf War the busiest military port in the country was Jacksonville. From this location the military moved more supplies and people than any other port in the country.
43.    When first completed in 1989 the Dame Point Bridge became the longest cable-stayed span in the United States, the longest concrete span of its type in the Western Hemisphere, and the third longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.
44.    The longest river sailboat race in the world is the Annual Mug Race. The event runs 42 miles from Palatka to Jacksonville along the St. Johns River.
45.    The Olustee Battlefield State Historic Site o9n Highway 90 between MacClenny and Lake City commemorates the largest battle fought in Florida during the American Civil War.
46.    Venice is known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World. Collecting prehistoric sharks teeth has been a favorite pastime of visitors and residents of the Venice area for years. Amelia Island beaches are also famous for shark teeth collection.
47.    The Florida Museum of Hispanic and Latin American Art in Coral Gables, is the first and only museum in the United States dedicated to the preservation, diffusion, and promotion of Hispanic and Latin American Art.
48.    The Pinellas Trail, a 47 mile hiking/biking trail connecting St. Petersburg with Central and north Pinellas County, is the longest urban linear trail in the eastern United States.
49.    Titusville, known as Space City, USA, is located on the west shore of the Indian River directly across from the John F. Kennedy Space Center.
50.    Florida is the only state that has 2 rivers both with the same name. There is a Withlacoochee in north central Florida (Madison County) and a Withlacoochee in central Florida. They have nothing in common except the name. And in old Indian Withlacoochee meant “crooked waters”.

And now you know!

Fernandina Commission Meeting

Fernandina Commission Meeting

Fernandina Commission Meeting

There is a regularly scheduled meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:00 PM at City Hall on Ash Street on Amelia Island, Florida.

Here is the agenda:

1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE / INVOCATION
Invocation by Reverend Jeff Overton of First Baptist Church.

4. PROCLAMATIONS/PRESENTATION
4.1 PROCLAMATION – NATIONAL FLAG DAY AND WEEK – Proclaims June 14, 2010, as “National Flag Day” and week of June 13-19, 2010 as “National Flag Week”. Ms. Amy Schnell, Representative from the Daughters of the American Revolution, will be present to accept the proclamation.

5. REQUESTS FROM THE PUBLIC TO BE HEARD ON ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA
5.1 CITY RESIDENTS
5.2 NON-CITY RESIDENTS

6. RESOLUTIONS
6.1 APPROVING GRANT SUBMITTAL – NORTH AMERICAN RAILWAY FOUNDATION – RESOLUTION 2010-58 AUTHORIZING THE SUBMITTAL OF ONE (1) GRANT APPLICATION TO THE NORTH AMERICAN RAILWAY FOUNDATION (NARF) FOR DIRECT FUNDING FOR THE REHABILITATION OF THE HISTORIC RAILROAD DEPOT BUILDING, AUTHORIZING EXECUTION; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE. Synopsis: Authorizes the grant submittal for the rehabilitation of the historic railroad depot building.
6.2 OPPOSING FLORIDA HOMETOWN DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE – RESOLUTION 2010-59 OPPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION THAT WOULD FORCE VOTERS TO DECIDE ALL CHANGES TO A CITY OR COUNTY’S COMPREHENSIVE PLAN; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE. Synopsis: Opposes Amendment 4 and urges citizens to vote “no” when it appears on the 2010 ballot.
6.3 AUTHORIZING THE NEGOTIATION OF A PURCHASE AND LEASE AGREEMENT – US POST OFFICE – RESOLUTION 2010-60 AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY ATTORNEY TO NEGOTIATE A PURCHASE AND LEASE AGREEMENT WITH THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 401 CENTRE STREET; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE. Synopsis: Authorizes the negotiation of a Purchase and Lease Agreement for property located at 401 Centre Street.

7. BOARD APPOINTMENT
7.1 CITY COMMISSION APPOINTMENT – JUVENILE JUSTICE COUNCIL – 1 Appointment.

8. CITY MANAGER REPORTS
9. CITY ATTORNEY REPORTS
10. CITY CLERK REPORTS
11. MAYOR/COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
12. ADJOURNMENT

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Redneck Bank where Bankin’s Funner!

Online Redneck Bank, contradiction in terms?

The news this morning reported another three bank closings in Florida, one in Nevada and one in California yesterday and it confirms what some of us have been saying for the longest time: we’re still in the credit crisis part of the economic downturn! The FDIC closing down already 78 banks in 5 month is a clear indicator that this year will be a record year with somewhere in the 180 bank closings, while the Feds still hold a list of some 700 endangered banks.

What caught my eye in yesterday’s closings in Florida however is that Jacksonville’s Everbank agreed to share losses with the FDIC for the Bank of Florida Corp and acquire the assets and deposits of its 3 locations. Everbank has had my special interest for quite a while as one of the first true Internet Banking pioneers since it took that route in 1994 after 32 years of traditional banking. Everything I have seen and heard about their operation since going online has been highly positive and bench setting and the bank has grown into a mini powerhouse with $5.5 billion in assets and some 1,500 employees.

While digging a bit more into the phenomenon of online banking I realized how dated my local banker here on island actually is. I briefly visited my personal banker the other day while she had some printer/scanner looking apparatus in front of her computer as she was learning the in and outs of what the bank called a technological advancement. Apparently the scanner is supposed to be make live easier for business account holders as they can now scan checks that are than immediately deposited in their accounts.
I didn’t ask much further as the whole technology of check writing has been a technological backward nuisance to me ever since I came to this country in 1980.
The practice of checks  for payments was already mostly abandoned in those days in Western Europe. A bank giro automation system had replaced that and in general a trip to the bank was limited to a couple of times a year.

I do most of my banking online with Paypal for transactional purposes and an occasional deposit for local check payments. Especially in a time when interest is down to zero, there is no good reason to keep money in a bank account.
This is why I consider internet banking the only cost saving automated route into the future. Yes it will increase unemployment but that’s the name of the game when automation comes to town.

Redneck Bank

And then while searching how internet banking has been progressing over the past several years here in the States I run into this heartland Bank of the Wichitas in Oklahoma, which runs a complete online banking division out of Mustang Oklahoma called Redneck Bank with the slogan “Where bankin’s funner!”

Their website is a riot you should check out at http://www.redneckbank.com/indexcontact.html customer approach is downhome folksy yet refreshingly innovative. If you’re looking at confidence inspiring longevity, Redneck’s holding bank “the Bank of the Wichitas” has had its doors open since 1913, is a member of the FDIC (as any legitimate bank) and what personally inspires me is the explicit notation that they “take seriously their commitment to providing services and employment opportunities regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, and any other characteristic protected by law”. Now that is a different twist on redneck behavior, if there ever was one.

A little more digging reveals that the Wichita Indians, once the prevalent residents of the territory gave name to the original bank, and by now I feel my admiration for their resistance growing, because I can sympathize with their history and culture. It is said that the first white man to ever see and record a meeting with the Wichita, Francisco Vazques de Coronado, a Spanish explorer came up from Mexico (of course it was not called Mexico yet) crossed Arizona (!), New Mexico and Texas as he explored the American Southwest in the early 1500s looking for riches. Coronado came across the Wichita Indians in 1541 in the Great Bend area of the Arkansas River in what is now south-central Kansas. He wrote very interesting observations about them and yes there was a time before immigration laws and Arizona.

There was a world without established frontiers and boundaries, when people fought wars over food, wealth and protection and now here is a bank in Mustang, Oklahoma that that endorses the Redneck Principles of family, wagon circling and protect what’s yours, while offering banking without boundaries, because that is what Internet Banking is. I can sit here on Amelia Island and open an account with Redneck Bank in Mustang Oklahoma. Wow.

A line in the website make up says: You’ll find bankin’ is “funner” when you can open an account online offering high interest, no minimum balance, no monthly maintenance fee and many other free services such as overdraft privileges! When you can take care of your business from any internet connection anywhere in the world any time of day or night, it’s time to shout!

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