Karma Sings–again; but in a hurricane

To the tune of “Singin in the Rain” (this is the second verse; worse than the first):




I am walking in the rain

Correction. A hurricane

Thunder crashing ’round me

Outdoor potty is my bane

Summer I’d like to forget

Please send me back to Tibet

Sarasota is insane

I’m still walkin’

Walkin’ in the rain


Sarasota Loves Tennis: Fun Facts to Know and Tell (by Jack & Sasha)


In honor of the US Tennis Open 2016, which begins today and runs through Sept 11, we offer the following fun facts.


The 1917 US Tennis Open was known as the Patriotic Tournament during WWI.


From 1908 -1961, the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times.

The tennis events known as “Majors” or “Slams” borrow the terms from bridge, not baseball.

In 1977 during a US Open match between John McEnroe and Eddie Dibbs, a fan named James Reilly was shot in the leg. It was unclear whether this was a stray bullet, from a sniper within the stadium, or by someone from a Queens apartment building. The shooter was never found. But after a brief delay, the match continued (and the crowd stayed put!!!) and McEnroe won.

Longest tennis match in history was at Wimbleton 2010 when during the 1st round, John Isner and Nicholas Mahut played 183 games that took 11 hours 5 minutes and stretched from June 22-24. Isner eventually won.


Suzanne Lenglen in 1926 pinterest.com

Longest professional tennis point: the ball passed over the net 643 times in a 1984 Richmond, Virginia match between Jean Hepner and Vicky Nelson. Nelson won the point after the 29 minute rally and eventually the match, (a six hour 31 minute marathon that remains the longest match played in a single day.)

Shortest match: In the 1922 Wimbledon final Suzanne Lenglen defeated Molla Mallory, 6–2, 6–0, in 23 minutes. Some accounts state that the match was over in 20 minutes




Since 2006, the challenge system in tennis has been a complex computer system named Hawk-Eye. It replaced Cyclops.

One explanation of the strange scoring system of Love, 15, 30, and 40 is that it is based on the face of a clock. But how then to explain 40 rather than the score leaping to 45? The theory is that when playing from deuce (40-40), two consecutive points are necessary to win the game. So, following the clock model (the hand moves from 40 to 50 when an advantage is won; back to 40 when an advantage is lost, and all the way to 60 when an ad is followed by another point. Some tennis historians claim that the original scoreboard looked like a clock with a movable arm.



Tennis:  In 12th century France, in a game called Real Tennis, the server would shout “tenez,” take heed, like shouting “fore” in golf, leading to the name of the sport. Or perhaps from the Old French word, “tenetz” meaning to hold (i.e., a racket.)

Volley, from the French “a la vole,” meaning “on the fly.”

Let or Net: When the service ball hits the net, it is called a Let. It was coined  from mishearing a frustrated Russian server who yelled “nyet.” (OK, not really. We made this up just to make sure you’re paying attention.)

Deuce  may come from the French phrase “a deux le jeu,” meaning “to both is the game” (i.e., the two players have equal scores.) Or, it may indicate that two points are needed to win the game. Oddly, the French do not use the term, but instead use “egalite,” meaning equal.

The origins of “love” is disputed. It may have been derived from the French word for egg, “l’ouef” (although the contrary French refer to nil as “zero.”) It might come from the Dutch or Flemish word, “lof” meaning playing for honor rather than a wager. Similarly, that wagers were often taken, the winner took it all and the loser played for love of the game, so zero became known as love. Another theory, it’s from the old Scotch word “luff” meaning nothing.

Eddie Dibbs in 1972 coined the term “bagel” to refer to zero games won in a set.

Jack often uses the term, “puddler,” for the player who hits dinky shots (no matter how effective they are.)

Words that describe what it feels like to play tennis in Sarasota during the summer months:

Baking, blazing, blistering, broiling, burning, fevered, fiery, flaming, friggin’ hot, humid, oven-like, parching, roasting, scalding, scorching, searing, sizzling, smokin’, steaming, summery, sweltering, thermogenic, torrid, tropical—very warm.

And finally, a copy of a tennis poem, “40 Love” by Roger Gough

Screenshot 2016-08-28 11.59.42

for an interesting analysis of the poem:



One of our sources:

Stuart Miller, May 24, 2013, Quirks of the Game: How Tennis Got Its Scoring System



Local Artist: Rob Gerdin (by Jack & Sasha)

Meet Local Artist:

Rob Gerdin, designer and senior creative director of NatureRails, LLCRob parrott photo

Art Medium:

Custom metal railings, gates, fire screens, murals, mixed media. Airbrush & Sculpting

Contact Information:

http://www.NatureRails.com   941-351-2598    INFO@NatureRails.com



His family and friends say that Rob sees everything: that pelicans twist upside down a split second before they hit the water; that the lower beak of skimmers is longer than the top one; that each feather of a bird is completely different from the others. Even when he was just 4 years old, he noticed things that others didn’t; he used his crayons not to fill in spaces but to shade, blending the colors to more realistically capture the intricate beauty of nature.

When he was 13, Rob’s family moved from Queens, NY to the Hudson River Valley, and his appreciation for nature was moved as well. “I was used to seeing rats and pigeons but suddenly there was another Awesome photo of waves railing had to send-1world so beautiful; there were deer, huge green spaces, and so many birds with unique colors and feathers.”  The birds became his favorite subjects, so much so that his high school art teacher dubbed him “the birdman.” At 13 he sold his first professional painting to his orthodontist.


As an adult, Rob lived in Silicon Valley and then San Francisco, working by day and then coming home to paint at night. As a self-taught artist, he studied art at a community college but ended up teaching his teachers and fellow students. He then taught himself computer graphics, beginning with Corel Draw in its 1.0 version. His artwork garnered recognition and awards.




A transformative moment came when he moved to Colorado, met his wife Wendy, and built a log home that required dozens of wood spindles for the balcony. Again, Rob saw things differently. Here was an opportunity to take something functional and turn it into a work of art. The idea hit him at 3 am and by the time he was done, he had designed three metal panels depicting an eagle, moose, trees, and mountains to replace the spindles. NatureRails was born.


Under Rob’s artistic guidance, NatureRails produces custom steel and aluminum gates, railings, and mural panels that draw from the ideas, symbols, and interests of clients as well as the nature that surrounds them. Since their move to Sarasota in 2011 to be near his mother, Florida has inspired a new motif:  starfish, clown fish in seaweed, dolphins, and of course the birds:  egrets, blue heron, pelicans, and barred owls.

Carolina Palm wolf gate copyright

Each NatureRails item is meticulously designed to meet code, safety considerations, and built “like a bridge” by local metal fabricators to last even in a salty and tropical climate like Sarasota’s. [To see how they’re made, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kltPQMqWdFQ] There are no large areas of empty space, no sharp edges, and no area lacking a protective powder coating.

But what there IS, is art.


“If you can imagine it, we can design it.” Rob interviews his clients, interprets the ideas he collects, uses photos and research to get the details right, freehand draws into a tablet with a stylus and then from there uses his painterly skills to design the piece. “I’m a nature guy trying to be a metal guy,” he says.

Screenshot 2016-08-27 17.39.57

His background in painting and his love for nature show in his works, but so does his sensitivity to what is meaningful to his clients.  One of his current projects, [Full Disclosure: for my sister Cat] is a mural that depicts the Ringling Bridge, a woman below on a SUP board, her whippet watching from shore, and her favorite birds in the scene. Her reaction to the design: “It’s brilliant! He’s brilliant! Even better than what I had imagined.”

The Salt Life: Burkinis and Sarasota (by Sasha)

There are French beach towns that have said “non” concerning Muslim women who wear “burkinis” at the beach.

Mind you, this isn’t a matter of nudity or prudity; this is a concern that the women on the beach are wearing too much and so 30 French towns banned burkinis, concluding this apparel is dangerous because it is, according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a “provocation.”


Strange. I grew up when the bikini and topless sunbathing by women were considered provocative. But wearing too much at the beach? A provocation? A “symbol of the oppression of women”? Really?


Okay. I know there is a reason behind the French argument but it is a contorted one, so follow along: The French mayors and President aren’t saying that burkinis are too sexually stimulating; they object to burkinis because they are too politically stimulating. Burkinis are equated with religious garb that constitute an affront to France’s secular values. But then the logical leap is that every woman who dresses in full-body swimwear at the beach is an oppressed Muslim–who might also be perceived as a member of radicalized Islam and, therefore, given the series of Islamist attacks on French soil, these potential terrorists lounging on French beaches fully clothed will make other beach goers, ummm, uncomfortable.

The argument is too incredibly illogical and ignorant to even warrant a rebuttal, n’est pas?

In contrast, here in Sarasota we are a bastion of liberty—a line in the sand (ha, ha) where the individual right to cover up is recognized. We not only allow women to walk the beach wearing as much clothing as they like, but we also have doctors who advise them to cover up!

  •  There are the women who are jogging wearing their 50 SPF proof jogging suits (but what if running for them is a religious experience?);
  • There are the Mennonites who walk Lido Beach wearing ankle-length pastel dresses and bonnets (Eek! Tied to religious practices!);
  • There are the newly arrived tourists who wear jeans and loose tee-shirts (and thank their deity that they are here);
  • There are the brides and their attendants in their sweeping long dresses (Eek! many times fresh from participating in religious ceremonies on the beach);
  • There are the women who cover themselves with towels and hide from the sun beneath huge umbrellas (and pray that their dermatologist will commend them for their efforts).

Meanwhile, there are news videos of French police officers forcing Muslim women to strip off their burkinis right there on the beach in order to stay put. Huh? A government-enforced strip tease? That’s not provocative?

But today (8/26/16), at least for the moment, reason prevailed when France’s highest administrative court ruled that the burkini bans in French resorts are illegal as they constitute “a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental liberties.”

In response, at least one mayor vowed to fight on, defy the ruling, and maintain the ban in the name of ending women’s oppression.

Mon Dieu.



The Salt Life: Hurricane Preparations (by Sasha)

Hey Sarasota:  We are approaching the mid-point of Hurricane Season; the period of time when things can get serious. As I write this, a new threatening system is forming and looks to be headed this way.

With that in mind, it’s time to shop.

Yes, shop.

Since living through a derecho (i.e., an intense wind storm that can contain mini twisters) in upstate New York that downed surrounding trees, crushed my car (and temporarily my spirit), blew out our windows, blocked our doors with debris, left power lines dangling and sparking, and forced us to live on our own for a week–UNPREPARED–I’ve  become very interested in (Jack would say obsessed with) preparing for the worst.

I am no expert, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express 😉 and I am an attentive viewer of Survivor, Dual Survivor, Man Against Nature, and Naked and Afraid. So I am very prepared (Jack would say very paranoid.) I have no ambition to eat off the land, distill water with plastic tubing, or ignite fire by rubbing sticks together. But with planning, I won’t have to. Whether the disaster is an electrical outage, a flood, a hurricane, a tornado, or a zombie apocalypse, what is needed in advance is supplies. Hence, you need to shop.

You have probably already stockpiled food (and remember your pet’s!), gathered your important documents (include your home owner’s insurance!), know to fill your bathtub with water, and have an assortment of batteries at hand. But if you think that makes you prepared, dear reader, you are a true novice.


So for disaster virgins, consider the following list of unique things that I have  purchased and are ready for action. [If you click on the photo it’ll take you to Amazon.com and we’ll make oodles of $ if you buy!]Take a look at some of the items inside Sasha’s Disaster Survival Kit:


1)  Lantern. Candles are nice, but they work so much better and are much safer when they are enclosed in a lantern. So I have stockpiled candles, a glass lantern, lighters and matches. But there are better choices.


My recommendation: The inflatable Luci solar Lantern—a little solar lantern with good lighting and lasting time—and it collapses for storage, is light as a feather, can be hung up, it floats, and is safer than anything with a flame. (This was a Christmas gift from someone who thinks I’m crazy, but let’s me be me. I adore it.) Continue reading “The Salt Life: Hurricane Preparations (by Sasha)”

Karma To Run For Senate? Considers taking on ‘Lil Marco (by Jack)

In a surprising development, Karma, the cute white Tibetan Terrier (which is not really a terrier at all) is considering a run at the U. S. Senate seat in Florida presently held by Marco Rubio.IMG_1909

Her candidacy was inspired by Duke, the 9 year-old Great Pyrenees that has recently won a third one-year term as honorary mayor of Cormorant Township in Minnesota.

Speaking through an interpreter she said:  “We are being overrun by illegal Mexican chihauhuas and ‘Lil Marco supports granting them amnesty and even allowing them to compete at Westminster. These illegal Mexican immigrants have criminal backgrounds (expired dog licenses!) and run drugs (black market flea meds!) and are a threat to homegrown dogs—even though there are some, I suppose, who are nice.”

Laying on her poolside cabana she calming mused about the problem: “I hear that they are crossing our border with ‘coyotes.’ We will have a bigly problem in the future when we have cross-bred coyotes and chihauhuas. Trust me.” Karma took a brief time-out to lick her butt and then continued with what was now becoming a rant.

“’Lil Marco has done nothing to protect the right to be secure within our doghouses for all American canines. All he cares about are those Havanese. If I were to win I would build a wall. Believe me. It would be high enough that not just the chihauhuas couldn’t jump over it but neither could the coyotes. Believe me, believe me.”

[This reporter had the odd feeling that Karma’s speech was familiar–was she plagiarizing, and if so, from whom?]

While her announcement has not been made official, Karma has already picked up the endorsement of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who yesterday issued his unsolicited endorsement: “I love Karma’s white fur. I support white power in all forms. I am overjoyed to see that she is embracing issues I have championed for years. It’s time we put America first!” Asked if she would accept Duke’s endorsement she glared at the reporter who asked the question and responded: “Grrrrrrrrrr.”IMG_1903

Karma seemed fully prepared when asked about her own immigrant roots. “My ancestors came here legally when the Chinese took over Tibet. By nature we are a peaceful breed.  Indeed one of my distant relatives, Senge, was the Dalai Lama’s most loyal companion. So, I understand oppression. But the important difference is that my kind came here legally, the Mexican chihauhuas are being dumped here by the Mexican government. We must build a wall to keep them out. And, what’s more, I will make the Mexican Kennel Club pay for it! Believe me.”

Meanwhile, Florida politics continues to amaze us all.

Salt of the Earth: Vintage Paws (by Karma)

On a sultry Sunday afternoon, I took my two humans with me to Yappy Hour at Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton.

Yep. That’s me at the event.


This is a fun place for dogs every third Sunday (1-4pm) not only because this brewery welcomes canines, but because they also sponsor fundraisers for local rescue organizations.

Today the featured nonprofit was a favorite of mine:  Vintage Paws.

Founded in 2012 by Jennifer Hummel, Vintage Paws is a Senior Dog Sanctuary.

It is a needed service because when dogs are aging or sick, or their humans are aging or sick, euthanasia (I can barely think about it) is sometimes the only option.


So Vintage Paws was created to provide a place for displaced senior dogs, either through foster care or adoption.

This event taught humans about the issue, and told them about the need for donations and for humans who can foster, adopt, or volunteer.

Some of the dogs waiting for a new home played with us lucky ones who already have one:

That’s Andy, who is very friendly and cute, posing with Jennifer Hummel, who is also friendly and cute.






This is Joey, a very sweet male. He has just the right amount of energy to be fun but is calm.










Lily and I sniffed each other and touched noses. She says she likes to be held.




I liked all three dogs and each really deserves a new loving home.

Since it’s the dog days of summer, there were lots of bowls of water around, a pool to stand in, and free biscuits (but I ate the popcorn instead.)

Daryl Hall of Vintage Paws shows off some of the dogs in need of placement.



The long range goal of Vintage Paws is to raise enough money for a new facility; kind of like assisted living for older and ailing dogs.





If you have opposable thumbs, (and I don’t), you can check them out at VintagePaws.org

Email Jennifer at: Jennifer@vintagepaws.org  or call at 941-921-4355.

Tell them Karma sent you. Arrrff!


The Trump Phenomenon: Part II Donald J. Trump: The Pokémon Candidate (by Jack)


The latest craze to hit Florida (as well as the rest of the world) is Pokémon Go. After installing the appropriate app on your Android or IPhone you then set off on your search, in “augmented reality,” for Pokémon characters. There are, of course, special strategies and special ways of capturing Pokémon by strategically using gyms, incubating lucky eggs, maximizing the use of Pokéstops, using Pokéballs, and the like. Mainly, in order to capture all 142 of these ‘lil critters you have to spend considerable time “poking around” with your phone.

ThR8TNWZ_400x400        Floridians have a special advantage when it comes to playing games with “augmented realities” since we live in the state that is the home of Disney World.  With special ticket prices for Floridians we can more frequently experience the joys of Disney hyperreality—imitations of imitations of things that never existed (e.g. someone dressed in a Mickey Mouse costume who impersonates the character who appears in Disney films which, of course, is merely a cartoon figure). Augmented reality is a piece of cake for us!

The Pokémon Go craze is an interesting cultural phenomenon that raises some fundamental questions about reality. Do the various Pokémons and associated characters actually exist? If so, where are they located? If they exist why is it that only some people can see them? Can you touch them? Can you feel them? Are the IPhones used creating new, alternative realities? If they are not real, what are they? If they don’t really exist then how can people see them? Is reality merely perception?

The entire Pokémon phenomenon makes the case that reality is a social construction. For those with a cell phone with a Pokémon Go app they may see a park bench as a Pokéstop while others without a phone may simply see a bench. One’s view of reality is interpreted and can vary from person to person.

Games such as Pokémon are popular because they tap into important cultural values. The malleability of reality makes the game successful. In a like manner, Donald Trump has built his campaign for the presidency on a similar assumption. In his 1987 book The Art of the Deal he described his relationship to reality: “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”


Like the Pokémon Go game, Trump’s exaggerations are fast-paced. He throws out absurdly false claims which draws the attention of the media and then he rides the wave of publicity until the media begin focusing on the truthfulness of them; then he distracts them by throwing out yet another false statement and the media scramble to catch up. All the while he amasses followers who love, strangely enough, his “truthfulness.”

Still hung up on traditional notions of reality the media watchdog Politifact found so many false statements made by Trump in 2015 that it couldn’t identify only one to designate as “lie of the year” and instead gave the “award” to Trump himself. Examining 77 statements he made they found that 76 percent of them were either mostly false, false or “pants on fire” false.

Still, in our present cultural environment does it matter? One of the keenest observers of contemporary America, Stephen Colbert, perceptively highlighted the problem. Truth was no longer relevant. It was boring. Instead, our new approach should be “truthiness.” Things don’t have to actually be true, they merely need to sound as if they could be true.

Don’t be surprised after you download that Pokémon Go app and it directs you to the White House that you see a Donald Trump anime staring at you!


The Salt Life: The Herald-Tribune’s Zika Forum (by Jack & Sasha)

On August 17 we were two of about 100 people who attended the Hot Topics Forum on Zika that was sponsored by our excellent local newspaper the Herald-Tribune.

Rather than summarize the points made (check out reporter Maggie Clark’s August 18 article at http://www.heraldtribune.com), we offer here our reactions to and thoughts about what we heard—and didn’t hear.

Sasha:  This is such a difficult issue to present, especially for a city that counts on tourism. On the one hand, panelists encouraged public awareness and taking steps to avoid Zika transmission whether by mosquito or sexual transmission.  There was also support for additional research but also concern that the US Congress did not allocate the $1.9 billion asked for by the CDC. Don’t panic was the general message. On the other hand, the risk to pregnant women of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly, little knowledge about the neurological damage that might not show in the infected for years, no crystal ball for how this will play out and whether it will eventually spread, and with the probability that the lack of funding will delay the development of a vaccine, we should be very concerned indeed.


Jack:  The potential impact of the virus spreading when people leave the Olympics and return home was mentioned, but one huge omission was Puerto Rico (a commonwealth of the US whose residents are US citizens). Given that, it should be of concern that over 11,000 American citizens living there have Zika, the territory is bankrupt, and the US is ignoring them. If we said that 11,000 people were infected in Florida, believe me, the Congress would act. It is being projected that Puerto Rico may have as many as 800,000 cases by the end of the year.

Sasha:  I learned a lot from the panelists, mostly because they brought together points that were on the periphery for me. For example:

I knew that mosquitoes could infect humans; but I had missed that once-infected, humans could pass on the virus to other mosquitoes who would then pass it on to other humans, and so on. In addition, the type of mosquito that carries Zika likes to bite several hosts rather than feed on one. Eeek.

I knew that Zika could be sexually transmitted, but who knew that although women carried the virus for perhaps as many as 8 weeks, that men could carry it in their semen for up to six months. [Question: How on earth, then, can we be sure that the virus can be contained within Miami’s zone of infection without also “containing” sexually active men? Wow. This would be a new twist on reproductive and sexual freedom, no?]

Dr. Vilma Vega introduced the issue of whether Guillain-Barre syndrome, which harms the nervous system, could be linked to those who had Zika years earlier. So rather than experiencing short-term flu-like symptoms and being done with it, Zika could pose a much greater danger for all those infected.  Continue reading “The Salt Life: The Herald-Tribune’s Zika Forum (by Jack & Sasha)”

From the Salt Mines: Reasons to Hate Online Job Applications (by Sasha)

dreamstime.com A few months back, I was helping an unemployed plumber with his online job application. When I asked him for his password to the employment site, he replied, “bite me.” Unfazed, I moved the keyboard toward him and said, “okay then, you type it in yourself.” “No,” he said. “You do it.  My password is ‘bite me;’ I figured I wouldn’t forget it because that’s the way I feel each time I have to fill-out an application online.”

I told him I understood completely, and that it made no sense to have the unemployed jump through so many hoops for some very ordinary jobs.

“Yes it does,” he said. “That way, when we give up, do it wrong, or don’t bother, it’s our fault. It’s like there’s a conspiracy out there to screw us, man!”




As director of the Human Resources Department, I’ve called this meeting because we have an emergency on our hands.

Plainly stated, for every job advertisement we place, we receive on average 125 applications.

People, this is taking up too much manpower, therefore based on the best practices of HR departments throughout the country, we will manage this problem by following a new strategic plan.

To wit, effective immediately we will implement three policies.

First, all applications must be completed online and all documents submitted electronically.

Q:  All? How about say for groundskeepers and maintenance?

A:  All.

Q:  But typing and computer literacy are not skills required for doing those jobs.

A.  Hmmm. Let’s agree that to hold them to the same standard we’d hold ourselves is to treat them fairly and equally.

Next, we will erase all contact information for this department from any eternal site; No more phone calls, emails, or heaven forbid, texts from external applicants. And as backup, we’ll put someone at the front desk who will deny anyone who comes in access to HR without a verified appointment.

Q: But then how would applicants ask us questions?

A:  Pay attention! That’s the point. We don’t have time to hold their hands! Make them figure it out!

Finally, our software will be upgraded to provide applicants with new challenges; we will add questions that are irrelevant but with spaces that can’t be left blank, we will have the system reject any phone number that doesn’t contain two hyphens, and we will discourage the casual applicant by demanding their social security number upfront.

Q:  How about ask them to click on buttons that don’t exist?

Q:  Or could we also log them out automatically after just 30 minutes.

Brilliant ideas team! Now you’re getting into the spirit of this meeting. Other suggestions?

Q: What if we list in the job description every conceivable responsibility the new job holder will have and ask them to document how they meet every single one?

Q: Oh, oh, I’ve got one: our software could upload the applicant’s resume then cannibalize it to fill out the application form automatically but incoherently.

Q:  I’ve heard that other firms apply algorithms to each application to pre-screen for the presence of keywords and then automatically reject all the others.

Q:  We could require them to download the latest versions Acrobat or QuickTime before they apply.

Q:  Wait, but what if they can’t because they don’t own the computer? Oh, I get it, that’s the point.

These are great ideas, people, just email me the details later today.

Q:  Perhaps if we took down the ads for the jobs that have already been filled we’d have less applicants?

This is not, I repeat NOT, in keeping with “best practices.” It would be far too time consuming to take down every position when we fill it. What next? Would you have us thank applicants for applying or inform them when they are no longer being considered? For heaven’s sake, people, let’s stay on track here. 

(Someone else enters….)  Excuse me…I hate to interrupt, but the toilet is overflowing in the Executive bathroom.

So call the company plumber! Now!

I did; but he told me that for this job to be considered, I had to apply online.Shutterstock.com


And I have to use his password.

Which is?

Bite Me.





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