Boobala Darling Wins A Cruise Part 9 of 9 (A Fictional Story Staged In Brooklyn)

Living Under the Loan Shark’s Shadow

Harry’s life was going downhill fast, especially when he began borrowing from loan sharks at extremely high interest rates. Harry had been pacifying the loan shark with small payments from time to time which didn’t even make a dent in what was owed. The interest on the loan kept getting higher and higher, making the balance due greater than what he originally borrowed. Harry had defaulted on his loan with “Nino the Butcher,” the new loan shark in town. Everyone in Brooklyn knew who Nino the Butcher was, and that he always found a way to collect on his loans.

At midnight, Boobala heard the doorbell of her apartment ring violently 6 to 7 times. Opening the door, Boobala saw a dark-featured, vicious looking gent. He held something in his hand that looked like a switchblade. With the most menacing tone, he slapped the switchblade in his hands, saying: “Tell your husband that Nino wants his money paid in full by tomorrow at noon or else.”

Boobala shuttered at the sound of his words. She closed the door locking it quickly behind her. She was shaking all over with fear. Harry didn’t even bother to ask who it was. He had a hunch that soon he would be dead if he didn’t come up with the money.

Harry was thoroughly frightened, not knowing how to get out of this dilemma. He started to berate and insult Boobala, blaming her for not caring about his fate. “You mother [email protected]#[email protected]%, you’re despicable and worthless. You don’t know how much I despise you. It’s your fault I’m in this predicament!” he screamed at the top of his voice. Needing someone to hate to give purpose to his meaningless existence, Harry balled his fists and punched Boobala. Her nose began to bleed heavily. She started to cry hysterically, not knowing if her nose was broken, which only enraged him more. He hit her again, knocking her to the floor and kicking her. Blood was dripping from her mouth.

He pulled her up by her hair, yelling: “You ugly bitch, are you listening to me at all? I said to go and get some money from your Uncle Marvin or your friend Myrtle.” He began to shake her by the shoulders, screaming “Do something, don’t just stand there looking like a freaking idiot!”

Accustomed to the frequent violent outbursts, the neighbors kept their doors closed. They never liked Harry and avoided him like the plague. Nonetheless, Boobala in horrendous pain and still bleeding, tried to calm him. The more she tried to calm him the angrier and more out of control he became. Harry was raving mad as he paced the floor of his apartment nervously. He yelled in desperation. “The only person in this whole world that I could count on and who has the money to bail me out is Uncle Jake. Why now of all times is he vacationing in Florida? I don’t even know how to reach him!”

The ranting and raving finally stopped. An awkward silence filled the air. Boobala was shocked to see Harry staring at her, not uttering a word, as if he had descended into a trance. After sitting there for what seemed like forever, Harry buried his head in his arms on the table and began crying: “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die,” which he kept repeating.

No: 12 (9-16-2011)

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep…

Nino the Butcher had a notorious reputation in Brooklyn. He was getting tired of Harry jerking him around with his smooth talk. This time Nino meant business. There was no way out. Harry was now trapped by the consequences of his gambling vice. The mere thought of such an outcome sent a wave of dizziness surging over him. Feeling sick, anxiety rising in his chest and experiencing symptoms of nausea, he had a terrible urge to vomit. He got up from the table to go to the bathroom, when suddenly the pain was almost more than he could handle. “Boobala!” Harry cried, trying to keep the panic and fear from showing in his voice. Another wave of pain swept over him, taking his breath away as he fell onto the floor grabbing his chest. Boobala ran to his side as he lay on the floor in a motionless heap.

“Harry?” Boobala said anxiously, shaking her husband’s shoulder gently. “Please Harry, open your eyes.” Silence answered her. Boobala tried shaking him again, in a much louder tone of voice she cried “HARRY, HARRY! PLEASE OPEN YOUR EYES!” There was still no answer. She sat there in shock, her body shaking with heart wrenching sobs. Reality was just starting to sink in as a blade of unbearable pain twisted in her heart. Realizing that he was gone, she screamed at the top of her lungs: “Harrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyy!!!”

Boobala’s ordeal was finally over. Harry had died suddenly from a heart attack at the young age of 36. Boobala could not believe that Harry was dead. She was heart-broken but also relieved. He had always been in the best of health, hardly ever experiencing a period of sickness. Although she hated him for his physical and verbal abuse, she still loved her psychopath of a husband. I guess you could say theirs was a love-hate relationship, an on-again/off-again love affair. They had been married for 17 years. Now she was a widow at age 35. For good or bad, Harry shared her dawn of love, her first sexual experience. A strong addiction which she found was hard to kick. The role of victim seemed to fit her fairly well.

Not having any life insurance or a nest egg to fall back on, Uncle Jake had to pay for the funeral expenses. Uncle Jake was retiring and wanted to give up the apartment and move to Florida. He had to get away from Boobala. He told her that she had to leave. Picking up the remaining pieces of her life, she ventured out in search of a better and more peaceful way to live.

No: 13 (9-24-2011)

Can Dreams Come True?

Boobala had no social life other than her one and only childhood friend, Myrtle, who was always concerned about her well-being. Since Myrtle lived on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, Boobala was able to get a one bedroom apartment near her. As in every tenement building, you can’t avoid having a nosy neighbor. In Boobala’s case, that role was served by Mrs. Grime. She was an elderly woman who lived alone, always needing someone with whom she could talk. Never having the good graces to shut up, she went from one neighbor’s apartment to the other, looking for freebies, smokes and the latest dirt. Boobala avoided her nosy neighbor at all costs.

Boobala was now making considerable money as a Buyer/Product Manager-Women’s Apparel for a local department store. Papa and mama had passed on. Uncle Marvin sold the business and retired to Florida with his wife Ethel. All Boobala did was work, saving every penny that she earned. No one, perhaps, ever had a greater fear of being poor than herself. She cringed at the thought of losing all that she had worked for to create a name for herself. She was deathly afraid of being caught out in the cold, unfriendly world, unable to find work, destitute with nowhere to go. Being the frugal person that she was, Boobala would shop locally instead of taking the elevated train on Marcy Avenue.

As it was her way, whenever she came across sweepstakes entries in the stores, she would fill them out hoping, that she would eventually win something. She had been doing that for several years. It was becoming a monotonous practice to fill out the entry forms. Somehow, on this day, the picture of a ship in the shop window seemed to attract her attention. It stood out like a blinking neon sign, beckoning her to look. Boobala approached the window and began to read, thinking it was the usual ‘blah, blah, blah.’ The poster offered a free cruise, all expenses paid. She kept debating whether or not to give it one last shot. Finally, not able to resist the temptation, she filled out the form for the umpteenth time, forgetting all about it until the day the door bell rang and the man dressed in a sailor’s suit delivered the telegram…

No: 14 (9-25-2011)

Is this the part where we say “The End?” The end of what? We don’t have to. Wasn’t each episode riveting? Aren’t you a little curious to find out more about what happened to Boobala? I bet the suspense is killing you. Boobala is incredibly eager to get going again. So what do you say, should we take it to the next level? Let me know and let me hear some of your comments too!

Things to Do in the Dominican Republic: Top 10 Most Unforgettable Dominican Resort Activities

Vacationing in the Dominican is not exactly like vacationing in other Caribbean locations. There are many things to do in the Dominican Republic that you just can’t do other places. And of course you can also do the things you love to do on any vacation as well.

Here are the top 10 most unforgettable Dominican Resort activities.

10. Sunbathe

You expect to sunbathe on any beach vacation, and you can do it in the Dominican too. The sun is hot and out all year round. The weather forecast for the Dominican can be deceiving. If the forecast says partly cloudy, expect sun. If the forecast calls for rain, do prepare for rain, and know that it will probably be sunny again within the hour.

9. Swim in the Ocean

The Dominican Republic is located on the East side of the Island of Hispaniola. Its Northern shore is on the Atlantic Ocean, and its Southern shore is on the Caribbean Sea. Many of the Dominican beaches are beautiful and easy to swim in. The surf is fun, but not rough.

8. Dance

Dancing is one of the most fun things to do in the Dominican Republic. The DR is the home to two fun and easy Latin dances: Merengue and Bachata. Most resorts have dance instruction and Latin-themed nights of entertainment so you can hone your skills.

7. Learn Spanish

The Dominican is a Spanish speaking country. Although the majority of resort staff speaks English, you can also take advantage of Spanish lessons offered as entertainment. Don’t expect to master the language on your vacation, and you can learn a few phrases and have fun practicing the sounds of the country.

6. Snorkel

The Dominican Republic, like many Caribbean destinations, is surrounded by beautiful ocean habitat, including natural and man-made reefs. Many independent companies hold snorkeling tours. These tours can show you the beautiful underwater world of reefs.

5. Eat and Drink

Eating and drinking is one thing you expect from any vacation, of course. And in the Dominican, you can do it in style. Many resorts in the Caribbean are all-inclusive, which is a great choice for someone who just wants to relax and not think about prices. In the Dominican, be sure to try local flavors like fried fish, conch fritters, and local desserts.

4. Gamble

Gambling is another activity which is common in some Caribbean locations, and it’s one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic too. In fact, many resorts have a casino on resort grounds or very close by. If you’re a fan of slots or table games, the Dominican is a good choice. The atmosphere at the casinos in this country is friendly, open and fun.

3. Watch Shows

Shows are common at Caribbean resorts, but Dominican shows are special because of its history and culture. Dominican shows include elements of both traditional Dominican dance and modern day Merengue and Bachata movement, in addition to the usual Vegas-style spectacle.

2. Take a City Tour

Touring a city is another great thing to do in the Dominican Republic. Whether you’re touring the capital city of Santo Domingo, or the beautiful cities of Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, you can get a unique taste of the local culture and customs. Visit historical sites and appreciate the natural beauty of the country.

1. Visit Ocean World

Visiting Ocean World Adventure Park in Puerto Plata is one of the most memorable things to do in the Dominican Republic. Residents of the park include tigers, turtles, exotic birds, sea lions, sharks, and dolphins. Children and adults can enjoy shows and animal encounters they will never forget.

Take advantage of the Dominican’s unique aspects, as well as the things to do in the Dominican Republic that you like to do on any Caribbean vacation.

American Criminals: Murder Incorporated

After the Castellammarese War ended in 1931, with both opposing bosses, Joe “The Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano ending up quite dead due to the treachery of Lucky Luciano, amongst others, Luciano, along with Jewish mobster mastermind Meyer Lansky, formed a nine-member National Crime Commission, which cut across ethnic lines. There was no single boss of this commission, but instead the leadership was divided equally amongst Luciano, Lansky, Lansky’s sidekick Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Costello, Joe Bonanno, Vincent Mangano, Joe “Adonis “Doto, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, and his right-hand man Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro. (Loose cannon Dutch Schultz – real name Arthur Flegenheimer – was not a member of the Commission for exactly that reason: he was a loose cannon and could not be trusted with making common sense decisions.)

Of course, all corporations need a separation of powers within that corporation, whereas certain people are given duties that do not infringe on the power and duties of other members of that organization. (Make no mistake, the National Crime Commission ran like a well-oiled machine, and indeed operated like an unregistered corporation)

This is where Murder Incorporated came into play.

It was decided that for the good of the National Crime Commission sometimes distasteful things must be done to keep the Commission nice and profitable. This included killing people who endangered the continued flow of cash into the Commission’s coffers. The Commission decided that they needed to establish a separate branch of the Commission, that was responsible for one thing and one thing only: the murder of those people the bosses said needed to be killed.

Louie Lepke was put in charge of, what the press called Murder Inc., and to assist Lepke in his duties, the Commission appointed Albert Anastasia, nicknamed “The Lord High Executioner,” to be Lepke’s right-hand-man. Lepke would never give a direct order to any of his killers to do a job. Instead, Lepke used trusted men like Mendy Weiss and Louis Capone, to issue the final order and decree to the hit men chosen.

By keeping a level, or two, of insulation between himself and the actual killers, Lepke figured nothing could ever be directly pinned on him.

And at first, Lepke was right, until he made one fatal mistake.

The first order of business for Lepke and Anastasia was to assemble a crack hit team to do the actual dirty work. Through Louis Capone, who was close to Anastasia, Lepke had been nurturing a group of homicidal maniacs, some of whom with rather kill that breathe the cool fresh air of Brooklyn. These killers were called “The Boys from Brownsville.” The Boys from Brownsville were hardly the only killers employed by Murder Inc., but they were the foundation which led to as many as 100 freelance assassins being put on a steady weekly salary (of $125 and up), to be ready to kill whenever an order was given. These men were sometimes paid extra for a job especially well-done, and they were allowed to operate in designated territories in the gambling and loansharking businesses, or in any illegal operation, like hijackings, and even kidnappings. But one thing is for sure: even if a member of Murder Inc. didn’t kill anyone for a month, or two, or three, his killing salary came in steadily every week.

Now let’s get to the cast of characters of Murder Inc.

The first and foremost turned out to be the biggest headache for Lepke: Abe “Kid Twist” Reles. By eliminating the three Shapiro brothers, Meyer, Irving, and Willie, Reles along with his childhood pal Martin “Buggsy” Goldstein, took over all the illegal rackets in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. To do so, Reles enlisted the help of Harry “Happy” Maione and Frank “Dasher ” Abbandando of the neighboring “Ocean Hill Hooligans.” Soon, such cutthroat killers like Harry “Pittsburgh Phil” Strauss, Vito Gurino, and “Blue Jaw” Magoon were taken into the fold, and the Boys from Brownsville were a formidable group of killers indeed. The key for their transition from Brownsville to the big time was Louis Capone, ostensibly a Brooklyn restaurateur, who was very close to Albert Anastasia.

When Anastasia, along with Lepke, was entrusted by the Commission to form Murder Inc., Anastasia approached Capone and said, “What about Reles and his boys from Brownsville? Are these guys capable of doing what needs to be done? No questions asked.”

Capone assured Anastasia that Reles and his boys were stone-cold killers, and efficient ones at that. The only problem Capone had was that Reles and Maione, considered to be the number one and number two leaders of the group, hated each other’s guts; and they didn’t trust each other much either.

Despite their petty differences, Reles and Maione worked like a well-oiled killing machine. Under the direction of Anastasia and Capone, the Murder Inc. killers operated in such a manner that was almost foolproof. When assignments were given out by the bosses for killings all over the country, the arrangements were made in a way that detection of the actual killers was almost impossible. The key to their method was the concepts of corroboration and separation of powers. The bosses brought in several men to do different aspects of each job, with one man knowing nothing about the other men, and their involvement. Still, each man was so intimately involved in the operation, he would be considered an accomplice, and his possible corroborating testimony was useless in a court of law, in case he ever decided to turn rat.

For instance, let’s say Joe Schmoe from Illinois was next on Murder Inc.’s hit list. Murder Inc. would hire one man to steal an automobile for the getaway. Then another man would be directed to get as many guns as were needed for the job. Then there would be a third man, who would be the ‘finger-man”: the one who would point out Joe Schmoe to the actual shooters. Then of course, they needed a getaway driver, and a driver of a “crash car”: a legitimately registered car, that would crash into a pursuing police car, or the car of a nosy citizen, after the deed was done. The reason for the legit car was that the driver of the crash car could claim it was just an accident, while the shooters escaped in the stolen car. (For obvious reasons, it was not a smart idea to crash into a police car with a stolen car.)

The beauty of this routine was that each man involved in the murder would have limited knowledge of the other men involved in the hit. The man who stole the car would not know who purchased the guns, or who did the actual shooting, etc….etc….

Of course, Lepke and Anastasia did not rely entirely on the Boys from Brownsville to do all their dirty work. Other killers were needed to do a variety of jobs in a myriad of places. One killer was enlisted from a unlikely place: the Loch Sheldrake Country Club, in the Catskills, in upstate New York.

The Loch Sheldrake Country Club was owned by Sam Tannenbaum, who had first owned a grocery store on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Loch Sheldrake Country Club was a ritzy establishment, and it housed many rich Jewish families for their summer vacations. Of course, Lepke and his crew were well-represented at the Loch Sheldrake. Those gangsters who rubbed elbows with the legitimate Jewish businessmen included Lepke, his partner Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro, Shimmy Salles, a bagman for Lepke’s rackets, Curly Holtz, a labor racketeer, and “Big Harry” Greenburg, who was Lepke and Shapiro’s partners in various Garment Center swindles.

Gurrah Shapiro, a thick-chested gorilla-of-a-man, was quite a character himself, and also quite capable, as was Lepke, of pulling the trigger when necessary. Whenever Shapiro was angry, and that was often, his favorite saying was “Get out of here.” Yet, with his gravelly voice, the phrase sounded like “Gurra dahere.” Hence, his pals gave Shapiro the nickname “Gurrah.”

Sam Tannenbaum had a teenaged son named Allie, who Sam eventually was grooming as his replacement when Sam decided to retire. Sam Tannenbaum employed Allie at his hotel, either waiting tables, or setting up beach chairs by the lake. Sam also did not pay Allie a dime for his work, to ensure Allie didn’t disappear to his old haunts on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, until after the summer season was over. As the owner’s son, the Jewish gangsters invited Allie Tannenbaum to all their parties, and Allie got a fresh taste of what it was like to be around people who had coins constantly jingling in their pockets. This made him a likely suspect to be drawn into their world of murder and mayhem.

One day, after the summer season of 1931 was over at Loch Sheldrake, Tannenbaum was strolling down Broadway in Manhattan, when he bumped into “Big Harry” Greenberg.

Greenberg asked Tannenbaum, “Do you want a job?”

“I could use one, if it pays,” Tannenbaum said.

Greenberg smiled. “This one is for Lepke. You know what kind of a job it will be.”

Tannenbaum shrugged, and said he would do whatever it took to earn some fancy cash, so he could spread it around like his Jewish gangster idols.

Little did Greenberg know he was hiring one of his eventual killers.

Tannenbaum started working for Lepke, initially for $35 a week. His job included general assignments like slugging, strikebreaking, and throwing stink bombs where they were needed to be thrown. Tannenbaum later graduated to more important duties, like “schlammings,” which meant he “schlammed,”or cracked the heads of union workers who were not towing Lepke’s line.

As his work production increased, so did Tannenbaum’s salary. In short order, Tannenbaum was intimately involved in six murders, and he helped dispose of the body of a seventh murder victim. As a result of “making his bones” in the murder department, Tannenbaum started raking in an impressive $125 a week; more than he made in an entire summer at his father’s resort. Because of Tannenbaum’s summer location in the Catskills, Tannenbaum’s job consisted mostly of murders and extortions in upstate New York. Tannenbaum was a valuable asset to Lepke in Sullivan County, because Tannenbaum was familiar with the back highways and numerous lakes, where bodies could be disposed of. During the winter, Tannenbaum and his family vacationed in Florida, where Tannenbaum worked as a strong-arm-man in several of Lepke’s gambling joints.

In the early 1930’s Lepke added another valuable asset to Murder Inc., when he hired Charlie “The Bug” Workman.

“The Bug” was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1908, the second of six children born to Samuel and Anna Workman. Workman quit school in the 9th grade, and began roaming the streets of the Lower East Side, looking for trouble. When he was 18, Workman was arrested for the first time, for stealing a $12 bundle of cotton thread from a truck parked on Broadway. Since it was his first offense, Workman got off with simple probation. The following year, Workman was arrested for shooting a man behind the ear over who-owed-who $20. By this time, Workman’s reputation on the streets was such, the man he shot refused to testify against him, and even said he couldn’t truthfully identify Workman as the shooter. Miffed, the cops pulled up his file and decided Workman had violated his parole on the cotton theft. As a result, Workman was sent to the New York State Reformatory. For the next few years, Workman was in and out of prison, for such parole violations as associating with “questionable characters” and “failure to get a job.”

In 1926, Workman hooked on as a freelance leg breaker, or schlammer, for Lepke’s union strike breaking activities. Workman did such a good job, in the early 1930’s, Lepke put Workman on his permanent payroll at $125 a week, as a killer for Lepke’s Murder Incorporated machine. Lepke liked Workman’s cool demeanor, and after Workman performed a few exceptional “hits” for Lepke, Lepke gave him the nickname “The Bug,” because a person had to be crazy to kill with the calm detachment Workman displayed when performing his gruesome tasks. Workman’s other nickname “Handsome Charlie,” was given to him by members of the opposite sex.

For the next few years, Workman was in and out of trouble with the law. In 1932, he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. In 1933, Workman was arrested again for decking an off-duty police officer after a minor traffic dust-up. All the while, his specialty was killing whomever Lepke said needed to be killed. After a hit was done, Workman enjoyed the fringe benefit of “sweeping out the pockets” of his victims. Most of the times, Workman earned himself an extra thousand dollars or so for his efforts. And one time he even found a ten-thousand-dollar bonus in the pants pocket of some poor sucker whom he had just whacked.

Lepke’s Murder Inc. didn’t limit it’s exploits to the New York City area. In fact, Murder Incorporated eventually employed anywhere from 150-200 killers around America, and it was reported these killers may have committed as many as 800-1000 murders from the late 1920’s, until Murder Incorporated’s demise in the early 1940’s.

Why You’ll Fall in Love on Your Nassau, Bahamas Vacation

Why Choose A Nassau Bahamas Vacation?  

Steeped in the culture of the ancient trade winds, Nassau is the ultimate cultural Bahamian experience.  A mix of Spanish, African and British cultures has created an island culture truly unique to Nassau. A Nassau Bahamas vacation is an easy choice for families. Generally speaking, children under 12 stay for free. On this dream like island British English is spoken, steel drum music wafts in the air and relaxation is a way of life.

Nassau Culture and History 

Nassau has been home to pirates, explorers and natives for centuries. The pirate atmosphere has deep roots to the days when local inhabitants would place lights on the reefs to lure ships to crash on their shores. Goods and booty would be collected from the waves and re sold. 

Nassau has a particularly strong cultural expression in part due to the fact that it is the capital of the Bahamas. The Bahamas became a reluctant member of the United Kingdom in 1629 when King Charles I claimed the chain of islands in addition to the Carolina’s in the American South.

Making Travel Plans For Your Nassau, Bahamas Vacation

Travel to Nassau is generally accomplished by plane or boat. The major airport is Nassau International. Taxis can be taken around the island and water taxis are common for inter island travel.

American planes flying into Nassau are cleared to bypass customs based on an agreement between the two countries. Your valid, U.S. passport will be required for re entry into the United States. 

 

Arrival to Nassau by water is very common. Many large cruise lines call on the port in Nassau and smaller sailboats and yachts frequent the water ways.

Island Activities

Nassau has deep cultural roots which make onshore activities vibrant and lively. Everything from destination weddings and gambling to architectural tours and horseback riding can be done on the island. 

Downtown Nassau is the cultural center of the Bahamas.  Walking tours of the areas colonial influenced architecture are a popular choice.  Maps of the central town squares can be found through almost any concierge for self guided walking tours. The architecture, food and music is a unique blend of Spanish, British and South African influences.

A water or beach activity is a must on your Nassau Bahamas vacation. Take a snorkel tour of a hidden lagoon or kayak the lapping shores. If vacation means relaxing on your back, go for a blow up mattress and float in the protected shoals of the Caribbean while tropical fish dart through the water.

Aruba – A Romantic Paradise

A perennial favorite for honeymooners and others seeking romantic travel, Aruba is known for its year round high temperatures and its gorgeous white sandy beaches. This is the perfect destination for couples who love relaxing at the beach, shopping, gambling, a great nightlife, and water sports.

WHAT TO DO: For water lovers opportunities in Aruba abound including some of the best SCUBA diving in the entire Caribbean including wall and reef diving. Both shipwrecks and beautiful and some rare marine life exists in the always warm water. Snorkeling and a hybrid of snorkeling and scuba called snuba is offered through water sport companies as well. For those who want to see the sea without the water sports, Atlantis Submarines and Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine offer the chance to see sea life aboard a boat. Sailing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing are also popular due the constant winds.Aruba also offers the opportunity for casino gambling and a hot nightlife. All gambling is done is US dollars and many of the best resorts offer casino gambling on facility. Caribbean Stud Poker, an Aruba invention, is especially popular. L.G. Smith Boulevard in Orajestad is a popular spot for bars and nightclubs that operate from midnight to when the sunrises again.World class shopping including stores such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren are available at open air shopping malls. Local craftsmen selling their wares can easily be found in Oranjestad. Aruba’s connection to the Netherlands makes for a colorful blend of European and Caribbean goods. Personal items are duty free.

WHERE TO STAY: Most of the resorts in Aruba are along the southwestern coast, particularly around Palm and Eagle Beaches. The large high rise resorts are mostly at Palm Beach while the smaller low rise hotels are concentrated at Eagle Beaches. Locally owned hotels and villas are located on both beaches. A few options are also available in downtown Oranjestad. A number of hotels offer an all inclusive option including the Holiday Inn Sunspree, Riu Palace, the Occidental Grand Aruba, and many others. The options for adults only resorts are limited but Bucuti Beach Resort and Renaissance Marina Hotel both offer these options. Cruises are yet another way to experience Aruba– most of the major cruise lines offer ports of call in Aruba. Please contact us for more information about all the incredible options you may have for lodging in Aruba.

DESTINATION WEDDING INFORMATION: Catholic, civil, Jewish, and Protestant weddings are available in Aruba. Same-sex commitment services are available in Aruba and the country does recognize same sex marriages. Specific resorts are very gay friendly and offer same sex commitment ceremony packages. Many hotels offer complete on site wedding packages. A boat captain is not allowed to officiate a wedding according to Dutch laws unless he is authorized under the laws of the country which the ship is registered with.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing Online Poker Vs Playing at a Poker Table

The differences between online poker and more traditional poker table games are sometimes not quite as obvious as they may seem.

Unlike sitting down at a poker table with friends, or even strangers, online poker has an added dimension these days. There is a lot of pressure from many quarters to make online poker illegal, particularly in the United States. You will almost always know if the table game you are playing is in an area where poker is legal, but it is getting harder to know if this is true about poker played online.

In spite of these gray areas, millions in the U. S. and around the world regularly enjoy participating in online poker games from the comfort of their own homes. Just to give this some perspective, in 2005, the revenue from online poker was reported to be in the vicinity of $200 million.

Not only is online poker generating huge amounts of revenue and creating new millionaires, among players, site owners, and affiliates of poker sites, but, due to its pervasive influence, the appeal of poker in general is growing. The public is not only gaining knowledge about poker, but is showing an interest in all things poker. From the tables to the chips at the table, to the people who play at the tables, poker is huge.

Poker players such as Chris Ferguson (Jesus), Annie Duke, and her brother Howard Lederer (The Professor), and Hoyt Corkins (The Alabama Cowboy), to name a few, had never been heard of by the public a few months ago. Now they are celebrities in their own right. Even people who have been celebrities, such as Jennifer Tilly, Ben Affleck, and Mimi Rogers have traded in the bright lights of Hollywood for the green felt of the poker table – at least on occasion.

While many of these famous people play in tournaments sitting at the table with the celebrities of poker, most mortals enter the poker arena via online poker websites such as partypoker.com, pokerstars.com, ultimatebet.com or fulltiltpoker.com.

Sitting at a poker table can be intimidating, particularly for the new player and just is not that inviting for the beginner. They are apt to feel out of their league, and, if others at the table have more experience or are strangers, they are apt to feel intimidated.

The online poker experience is quite different. There is an anonymity which protects the psyche of the “newbie”. They can watch games as long as they want before actually taking part. Additionally, most online venues will have tutorials and practice games for beginners that help ease the learning process. Sometimes the main site will actually have a completely separate site set up strictly for the beginner. Another helper for the beginner is that online games tend to have buttons labeled for the various actions and often include on-screen prompts for the appropriate action.

Internet poker sites also offer a range of limits so that the beginning player can actually start betting pennies. Not only is the betting easy, but so is the access. Unlike a table game, an online game can be found 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world that there is a computer and an Internet connection.

There are, however, two drawbacks to playing online, particularly if one’s goal is to eventually participate in the highly televised poker tournaments occupying more prime time slots on TV. First, there is the hurdle of actually sitting and playing at the table itself. No amount of online preparation can duplicate or offset the first few times you find yourself in a chair across from a Doyle Brunson, Chris Moneymaker, or Daniel Negreanu.

Second, although it IS possible, it is exceedingly difficult to bluff at an online poker game and even harder to learn how to read your opponents.

Look on the bright side, however. It IS easy to learn basic poker skills and improve your technique online, and you won’t have to worry about your poker face!

Sandwich Nation

Every day, half of America eats one or more sandwiches, mostly for lunch. That computes into 300 million a day. They’re easy, they’re filling, no muss, no fuss. And you don’t even have to know how to cook. The varieties are endless, so where do we start? The short list includes the BLT, Grilled Cheese, Club, Dagwood, French Dip, Monte Cristo, Muffuletta, Pastrami or Corned Beef on rye, PB&J, Cheesesteak, Po’ boy, Reuben, Sloppy Joe, Submarine, Fried Egg. It’s endless.

The British first referred to “bits of cold meat” as a “sandwich,” named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was an eighteenth-century aristocrat. Legend has it that he instructed his servant to bring him some meat between two pieces of bread while he was playing cards with his cronies. Apparently he could play uninterrupted, as the bread acted as a napkin (rather than his sleeve) and kept the card table tidy. His cronies caught on and followed his lead. What was in them we’ll never know, but what a beginning (the Earl will never know).

Let’s check out these favorites:

1) Elvis immortalized the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, although there’s not a big call for the.

2) Dagwood, named after comic strip Blondie’s husband, stacks up fillings and bread, impossible to eat except in sections, but somehow Dagwood Bumstead managed.

3) The French originated this sinful sandwich in a Parisian cafe in 1910; there is no one named Monte Cristo but simply a French term (Croque Monsieur) to describe a fried sandwich of ham and cheese, not on any weight loss program to be sure.

4) Sloppy Joe: kids grew up on these tangy and messy sandwiches. Its origin dates back to the 1930s and was created by a short order cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa. Originally called a “loose meat sandwich” it seems Joe added tomato sauce which cranked it up a notch; as its popularity grew, Joe wanted to get credit and renamed it after himself. Folks in Key West Florida insist it was dreamed up at a local bar called Sloppy Joe’s. Some historians want to give Cuba the credit, but let’s just give it to Iowa, okay?

5) Submarine: sub sandwich shops seem to multiply daily with no end in sight; also known as hoagies, heroes or grinders in the U.S. with a multitude of fillings, they come in foot long and smaller sizes, perfect for Sunday afternoon TV sports or a quick lunch.

6) Club: undeniably the grande dame of sandwiches. Historians track its creation to the Saratoga Club House, an exclusive gambling joint in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since its inception in 1894, the standard ingredients haven’t changed: toasted bread, lettuce, tomato, sliced turkey or chicken, bacon,and mayonnaise, and don’t forget the toothpicks. The BLT is a first cousin to its predecessor, without the turkey/chicken or third slice of toast. The Club has stood the test of time. Its only controversy is the turkey/chicken debate. (World-class chef James Beard insists on chicken.)

7) If you’re a New Orleans resident, the sandwich of choice is the Muffuletta, whose popularity is claimed by the Central Grocery where it got its start. A large round loaf of Sicilian sesame bread is loaded with Italian sliced meats and a spicy Creole olive salad. (If you don’t live in New Orleans, you’re on your own.)

8) Peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese, both beloved no-brainers. ‘Nuff said.

9) Reubens and pastrami or corned beef on rye take top billing at any self-respecting deli, especially Jewish. Slather on some mustard, add a few Kosher dill pickles and you’re in business. For a Reuben, throw in some sauerkraut and thousand island

dressing.

10) Those Louisiana folk sure love their originals. The Po’ Boy is basically a sub filled with meat or fried seafood, similar to the Northeast’s lobster roll.

11) Oh boy, don’t ask anyone from Philadelphia about Philly cheesesteaks, because they are fanatical about them. Be prepared for a long-winded answer. The same goes for Chicago’s most popular sandwich, the Italian Beef: Italian bread loaded with thinly sliced beef, topped with peppers and dripping with jus, hold the cheese; all-American French dip (in spite of its name) is a take-off, but rather bland by comparison.

12) Can’t leave out those wonderful “bound” fillings: egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad and tuna salad; we corner the market on those, whether they’re daintily served at teas and parties or just a big old scoop on whole wheat.

12) Pita sandwiches crammed full of turkey, cheese, avocado, hummus or falafel; a trendy ethnic take on the basics.

13) Hamburgers and chicken fast food sandwiches are a whole other subject.

Sandwich sales in the U.S. topped $27.7 billion and that’s not counting the sandwiches made at home. Wow, that’s a lotta bread, literally. Apparently, the U.S. is not the only country that likes their sandwiches. In 2017, the pre-made sandwich industry in the UK made and sold 11 billion in U.S. dollars, and that’s not counting freshly made.

We’re not even going to get started on sandwich cookies (Oreos) and ice cream sandwiches. It’s too exhausting. So many sandwiches, so little time.

A Security Guard’s Work Environment: What Should You Expect?

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks numerous types of data about various occupations; this includes information on work environments. For many jobs, the work environment is relatively consistent; security officers, however, have to face a wide variety of settings and be able to adjust and function in each of those.

In fact, security guards have one of the most diverse job environments of any industry. While a teacher generally practices her craft in the classroom, a logger works in forests and a surgeon rules the operating theater, just about any building or location could need a guard. Schools, malls, casinos, hospitals, nuclear power stations, courthouses and airports all need varying levels of protection.

In its official category of “Security guard and gaming surveillance officer,” the BLS counts both private security officers and ones that work for the government; however, the agency makes a distinction between them and police. The main difference between the two is that police are always government employees and have the power of arrest, as well as a much more stringent training requirements.

The BLS identifies several industries that employ the greatest number of security personnel. In 2012-13, over half worked in “investigation and security services,” while government employed 9 percent, 6 percent worked in education facilities, both public and private; 5 percent were in accommodation and food services, and 4 percent protected hospitals.

Transportation security screeners and other security personnel provide services in transportation facilities such as airports, train stations and sea terminals; they work for the federal government.

Gaming surveillance officers work at casinos and other gambling institutions; for that reason, this is an occupation that only exists in jurisdictions where gambling is legal. While many in gaming security work in observation rooms and maintain surveillance with cameras, others patrol the floor in order to quickly respond to incidents. Gaming security officers are, as a rule, more highly paid than generic security guards, with an average wage premium of $7000 per year; however, they also face a higher than average rate of injury.

The work isn’t generally challenging physically, with long periods of little activity. Security officers either man a station for the duration of a shift or make rounds inspecting a facility. Both situations require most officers to be on their feet for long stretches of time, which is something to be taken into account if you have lower back pain or other health issues that could be exacerbated by standing or walking.

However, in case of theft, burglary, altercations or other incidents, a guard will be required to confront a potentially volatile or violent situation, in which case they should have both the personal skills to defuse a situation peacefully if possible, and the physical fitness to deal with a threatening individual if the former doesn’t work. This is why states require security officers to undergo training and certification, although it varies – while Florida, for example, mandates 40 hours’ training, a Connecticut security guard license only requires an 8-hour course.

In conclusion, it’s generally difficult to predict in advance the nature and comfort level of a security guard’s workplace. The higher an officer’s skill and training level, the more likely they will be to get a comfortable and well-paid assignment, so if you’re considering going into this industry, make sure to prepare thoroughly and train the skills you will need to ensure safety for yourself and others.

Walking Tour Of Downtown San Jose – Costa Rica

Downtown San José usually doesn’t make it to most tourists must-see spots in Costa Rica. Most folks do not want to spend time visiting San José but you are really missing out on seeing a real vivid part of Costa Rica. Sure it’s congested and smoggy but a lot of people go visit New York City. And although you can now fly directly to Liberia so you can hit the beaches without even stopping in San José, the fact is most people still fly into the San José International Airport so why not go on a walking tour of downtown San José?

Here is the route I take friends on when visiting Costa Rica. Depending on how much you get into it this tour it could take several hours even a full day.

If you have a rental car parking is very cheap. I like the parking lot across the Omni shopping center so that is where I’ll start this tour. Make your way towards East of Calle 4, Avenida central near the Plaza de la Cultura where you will see a lot of people and pigeons hanging out along with the street preachers, comedians, and musicians all preforming live. Across the plaza is the famous Teatro Nacional. It opened it’s doors in 1894 and it is beautiful. Guided tours are available. Across from the theater is the Grand Hotel de Costa Rica. Which is the most famous hotel in Costa Rica. It used to be the most exclusive and luxurious hotel in Costa Rica. They have a nice outside cafe where you can have a coffee or a drink and a snack. Their sandwich de jamon (ham sandwich) is delicious. There is also a casino inside the hotel if you’re the gambling type.

Back towards the theater and down the grassy steps on Calle 5 is the tourist information center of the ICT. It’s open Monday-Sat 9-1, 2-5. From there you can enter the plaza’s underground exhibits including the Gold Museum which features pre-Colombian artifacts. Admission is $6 and it’s open daily 9:30-4:30.

The main road off the Plaza de la Cultura has been made into a pedestrian mall so you can walk freely since cars are not allowed. Keep an eye on your valuables and don’t wear jewelry that can be snatched by thieves. Here you will see many shops and restaurants vying for your attention on both sides of the streets.

Some good stops include La Casona which is off the pedestrian mall just look to the right off of the Calle Central and you will see it. It’s a two story building full of typical Costa Rican souvenirs. You can take care of all your gifts for friends and family right here. You will also see the Librieria Universal which is one of the oldest stores in Costa Rica. You can buy gadgets, maps, books, and more. You will also see Libreria Lehmann another great bookstore.

There you’ll notice a large monument to Costa Rica’s democracy which is a group of bronze campesinos standing humbly but firm looking up proudly. It’s out in front of a large building which is the Banco Central. Keep walking and you’ll pass La Gloria, Costa Rica’s largest department store. Across La Gloria is the Banco de Costa Rica a huge black marble building.

Make your way down towards the Mercado Central. The market is crowded full of shops, restaurants, produce stands and more. It covers the whole block of Avenida Central 1 and calles 6-8. This is a great place to take in the daily life of local Costa Ricans. You will also find some interesting food and meats on display. There are herbs sold for medicinal use with claims of curing ailments.

If you’re claustrophobic or don’t like crowds do not visit the market! Two blocks down is the historic Correo Central building. If you’re a stamp collector check out the second floor where they have a museum of the Costa Rican postal history with rare and old stamps on exhibit.

Head back towards the plaza de la cultura heading north passed the ICT offices and Gold Museum.

You will see a park in the middle of the city, which is the Parque Morazan. It’s near the Aurola Holiday Inn. At the center of the park is the Music Temple, patterned after Le Trianon in Paris.

Head 2-3 blocks north and you’ll run into the Parque Bolivar and the location of San José Zoo which is opened daily form 9-4:30. Admission is only around $2.00.

Heading east you will pass the Parque Espana which is full of plants and trees in the middle of the city. Keep going on Avenida 7 you will see la Casa Amarilla which is the home of ministry of foreign relations. It has a nice park in front. Both donated by Andre Carnegie. Near by is the Centro Nacional de Cultura open Tue-Sat 10-5. It houses a museum and theaters. Near by is the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design also open T-Sa 10-5. Admission is $3 and they have art and exhibits from all over the world.

Up the hill on Ave 7 is the Biblioteca Nacional which is the national library. It faces the largest city park, the Parque Nacional. Check out the Monumento Nacional which honors the battle again filibuster William Walker. The statue was made in France Rodin Studios and shipped to Costa Rica.

Across the street from the park you will see the statue honoring Costa Rican hero Juan Santamaria holding his torch and the Legislative Assembly which hoses the Costa Rican congress.

Two blocks south of the Parque Nacional is the Museo Nacional open Tue-Sunday 8:30-4:30. This a very popular tourist attraction. Admission is $4 and you get to tour the former Bellavista Fort. You can still see the bullet holes from the 1948 civial war. Excellent exhibits in Spanish and English.

Next stop after the museum is the Plaza de la democracia. You can see it from the museum. This is rather new built in 1989 to commemorate democracy. It features a statue of Jose Figueres hero of the 1948 civil war. Former president who abolished the army after the civil war. The plaza is full of tented market stalls selling everything from clothing, jewelry, to hammocks and crafts.

Places To Eat

There are several great spots to grab a quick bite, a cup of coffee, or a cold cerveza. For a nice cup of coffee and a delicious bagel-yes, bagel-Bagelmen’s is a must. Located on Avendia Central in Barrio California downtown.

Cafe de la posada on the pedestrian walkway south of the national museum. More local in nature. Good stuff.

Giacomin. Coffee and Italian style pasteries. Located near the Fischel pharmacy downtown.

Manolos which is right on the pedestrian mall. Excellent casados and delicious churros.

There is also a Pops downtown right around the corner of the Plaza de la Cultura right on the pedestrian mall. Best ice cream in town.

If need be you’ll find all the franchise stuff downtown like KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Macdonald’s, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. For a bit more Latin fare try Rosti-Pollos which is downtown right across Cine Vanidades.

There you have it. A great walking tour of downtown San José which hits all the great spots. So wear comfortable shoes and have fun!

Fabulous! Carnival in Venice

In about 1985, I saw a photo of Venice during Carnival (Carnevale), which included the masked and costumed revelers, it has been on my “Top 10” visit list ever since.

What is not to like about this event:

  • The beautiful city of Venice
  • A really big 10 day party through the streets
  • Fantastic costumes
  • Italian food

Carnival (Carnevale) is the annual event in Venice for the ten days leading up to Lent, the last night is Shrove Tuesday on which there are several big balls. Of course this is not just a Venetian tradition; think Mardi Gras in Rio or Trinidad during the same time of year, but my interest in fancy masked balls and beautiful costumes is much greater than watching dancers in dental floss bikinis. The origin of the word carnevale is Latin (carnem levare or carnelevarium) and suggests a “farewell to meat”, which was traditionally given up in the weeks of self-denial, during the period of Lent.

The history of the masks and the masquerade dates back to Roman times, there are records of the festival as far back as 1162. The Romans celebrated the early part of the year with a fertility festival where masks were used by all levels of society including slaves. The Carnevale di Venezia enjoyed a long period of infamy and notoriety through the 1600s, up until the time of Napoleon’s conquer in 1797. At the peak of this event, the party started on December 26th and ended sometime in the spring. This period of gambling and partying coincided with the loss of prominence and wealth in the region, as the power centers of Holland and Britain expanded their trading reaches. The celebration continued to decline and was actually banned in 1930 by Mussolini. A group of Venetians, and Venice lovers restarted the tradition in 1979.

Today the Carnevale is limited to the ten-day period before Lent and it is an enormous tourist draw. The city is really crowded, hotels are expensive, restaurants full and the streets are at times simply bottlenecked. There are websites and tour groups fully dedicated to the event. The range of party events caters to the rich and sophisticated (balls and music), to the families with kids (chocolate and puppets) and to the college crowd (pub crawls).

You can choose to participate in the carnival celebrations in several ways depending on your tastes, energy level and budget. You can simply walk around the streets or sit in a cafe and watch the incredible costumed characters that are wondering the streets. Spend some time in Piazzo San Marco, there are all sorts of special performances throughout the day and night. Choose to get your face painted and have some fun. Or you can buy tickets to any number events, that range from very affordable to very expensive.

We booked two nights in a great hotel right near Piazza San Marco. Arrival in Venice was actually easier than anticipated; there is lots of signage, big car parks and a central arrival point for the aqua-transit system. The vaporetti (water buses) are very efficient, there are multiple routes and destinations available, at a very minimum every visitor will end up on the #1 or #2 at some point, running in the Grande Canal and Canale delle Giudecca (respectively). Buy a multi-day unlimited ticket; you will end up using the system.

Venice at any time of the year is beautiful; there are endless museums, galleries and historical buildings to engage all types of interests. Two things that I would highly recommend;

  1. A visit to the island of Murano where the glass factories are located. You can take the “scenic” boat tour that we did in error and really see all the islands or go direct. In either case, Murano is filled with glass and restaurants and is a nice break from the crowds in Venice.
  2. The Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge’s Palace. This tour as something beyond the normal tour and it is really fun!