Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jose Marti Park

This park is owned by Cuba, but for political reasons it seems ownership was never transferred to the current Cuban government. It's where one of Cuba's founding father's, Jose Marti, once stayed. You can see his statue and plants growing in soil from each Cuban province, in the park:

Jose Marti Park

Jose Marti Statue

La Casa De Pedroso

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ybor City Celebrates Communism

Today I went to Ybor City for what was billed as a "Cuban Sandwich Festival". Strangely, it had a Communist distribution system. Let me explain.

All the food was "free". Politically powerful people got to gorge themselves on sandwiches while ordinary people stood in line, waiting for leftovers:

The politically powerful gorge themselves on free food

Only a lucky few actually got anything.

If you had American currency you could stand in another line to buy actual, full sized, Cuban sandwiches:

Standing in line for capitalist Cuban sandwiches

A long line:

The line for places which accepted American currency was very long

Food shortages were endemic, and even the two capitalist establishments had problems keeping food in stock. The first of the two places selling sandwiches ran out as soon as I got to the counter.

This place was in an isolated area and had them in stock:

The only place I was able to get a Cuban sandwich

A Cuban sandwich

The festival was a disgrace to the Cuban community, not that any of them noticed.

Also on display were cigars:

A cigar vendor

And antique cars:

Antique cars on display

I guess I got a genuine Cuban experience!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

le macaron

It's a store selling macaroons!

le macaron

These are what I purchased, they look kind of weird:

Macaroons from le macaron

And they taste weird, too:

Inside a le macaron macaroon

French macaroons have a crispy outer shell, which shatters when you bite it, flinging shards of macaroon everywhere. Inside is a mushy glob, which is much too sweet, even for my American palete. I guess you're supposed to enjoy the flavor, but with the sweetness it reminds one of medicine.

Worst cookie ever!

(I suspect these are actually tiny pavlovas, a dessert from Australia and New Zealand.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Italy has problems

Living in America, I can find "Ristorante Pizza Speciale" in my grocery store's freezer section:

Ristorante Pizza Speciale

It isn't premium pizza, it's very competitively priced. But it goes to some effort to sound authentically Italian. Also, it's imported, but not from Italy:

Thin Crust Pizza--Product of Germany

I wonder how a German company can make frozen pizza, ship it to the US, and charge so little. And if this is possible, I wonder why an Italian company isn't doing it instead.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Work for it!

QR codes in trees:

QR code in a tree

QR code, close up

I'm guessing it's for either a ladder or a stilt company.

Occupy Wall Street Now Hiring

Occupy Wall Street now hiring

The GOP convention will be held in Tampa this year, and it appears as if someone is giving the Occupy movement money to hire professional protesters. That's the impression one gets from this flyer. I wondered who was behind it. Here is what I was able to dig up and my opinion as to what it means:

Nothing on the flyer says which organization is offering to pay people. The only contact information given is a phone number and the private email address of one "RJ Bradley-Ortiz".

I Googled "RJ Bradley-Ortiz" and found this:


I couldn't find that exact post, but a link was given and I followed it. It was a Craigslist posting. It informed people to call RJ at the same phone number, but at a different email address. And the organization doing the hiring was listed as the Florida Consumer Action Network:


According to the posting, they were offering to pay people nine to twelve dollars an hour:


I went to the Florida Consumer Action Network web page and found a few interesting things.

They call themselves a grassroots organization, which is odd since it seems they are paying people. And they are apparently paying people nine to twelve dollars an hour. That's not the sort of money you pay to get professional help, that's the sort of money you pay people to stand around and protest.

What they're apparently hiring people to do isn't clearly stated, but they do use Occupy slogans in their material, so what else would a reasonable person think?

They also don't list RJ Bradley-Ortiz as a staff member:


Perhaps they're just a very large organization and RJ isn't as important as the bookkeeper.

FCAN touts its financial accountability. "FCAN has a high standard of financial accountability." The last financial data they have posted is from 2009:


I wanted current financial information, and a list of donors, so I looked at the two links the organization provides. One led to a Florida state website which gave me some basic information from 2010. They have a foundation with a 2010 income of 190,659 dollars (it does voter registration and education) and a network with a 2010 income of 461,500 dollars:


The other link led me to a website that offered limited information. It expressly forbid me to republish information as a registered user. So here is what you can find about FCAN as an unregistered user:

FCAN hasn't reported revenue and expense data to the website. And its two listed donors (from what year I don't know) are SEIU and USAction:


That was all the information I was able to gather. Nothing is proven, but things look odd. And I still want to know a few things:

1. Why is FCAN using Occupy slogans and giving people the impression in flyers that they are part of the Occupy movement and hiring people.

2. What are the people they are hiring expected to do? Is it to act as paid, professional protesters?

3. Why does their webpage only list financial information up to 2009? Where is the information from 2010 and 2011, and who are their donors?

Perhaps a professional journalist could find answers to these question.

UPDATE: I found a FCAN twitter account and am asking them about this. Will post any responses.

Guerilla knitting

Saint Petersburg's guerilla knitter strikes again!

Guerilla knitting

Guerilla knitting, close up

Obama in Saint Petersburg

Obama Campaign Office in Saint Petersburg, FL

The picture above is of Obama's campaign headquarters in downtown Saint Petersburg, Florida. They seemed a little desperate when I visited. Right after I took this picture a woman popped out and asked if I wanted to have my photo taken with the building. I declined her offer.

Five or six people were standing on nearby street corners holding Barack Obama signs. It looked a little odd. For one thing, they weren't standing in a group but as lone figures. I know this allowed them to cover more area, but it also made them look like pan-handlers.

Another thing which seemed odd was that they were standing in the sun, on empty streets. It was 9am and the building wasn't supposed to open until 10. It's only May; if this keeps up, they'll be pretty demoralized by summer.

Also, the signs lacked any individuality or real message, just "2012 BARACKOBAMA.COM". I take it there wont be any "Obama/Biden" stuff this year (probably a wise decision), but they really should come up with something meaningful to say. Especially if they are going to force people to stand outside with signs all day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Designer Duct Tape

"Pucker Up" Duct Tape

Also available in "Digital Camo", "Hello Kitty", and "Paisley Princess".

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

National Train Day

It's National Train Day! A day to celebrate trains, because in America very few people take them and they're considered something of a novelty.

Nation Train Day Banner

People came and took pictures of Tampa's train station, named "Union Station":

Taking photos of Union Station

It's rather modest, but the clock there is pretty:

The clock at Union Station

The crowd consisted of mainly older people, but also parents with young children:

Crowd at Union Station for National Train Day

The biggest draw seemed to be the model trains:

Watching the model trains at Union Station

Out back, they offered a tour of a passenger train. A lone singer belted out Sinatra-style tunes and people ate food from food trucks. The audience didn't seem enthusiastic about the food, as if it were a little too exotic for their pallets:

Union Station, National Train Day activities

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Taco Bus

This is a chain of Mexican street food style restaurants. The larger ones are run out of buses, the smaller ones look something like this:

Taco Bus in downtown Tampa

Everything they make is great, and they even do breakfast!

Breakfast plato at Taco Bus