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Mini Blog Posts:
2022-07-06: Added a bunch of new websites to the Web Guide
2022-06-22: Added 20 new websites to the Web Guide.
2022-06-01: Uploaded a new version of the Web Guide
2022-05-02: Created a way to sort through Web Guide URL's via the alphabet.
2022-05-02: Added 14 new websites to the Web Guide.
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George Farina's Blog Post's

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2022-09-14  5:30 am:   




As with last year, I spent most of the year writing and programing, trying to stay busy, being creative.

In contrast, I didn't continue writing the two books I began writing last year. They're just about the same as they were in 2021. They have a beginning middle and end, about 25K words each, yet, plenty of words still need writing.

I did write many blog posts throughout the year, about twenty for Dusty Loft, eight at GeorgeFarina.net and two at Medium.

Keeping with the same system I used last year, I kept them unpublished until today. I find many more errors, make the posts much better if I edit them over a longer period of time.

The posts at George Farina.net are listed below. Four are excerpts from chapters of Far From Perfect:

Excerpts From Far From Perfect, Chapter 9 College
Excerpts From Far From Perfect, Chapter 11 Starting Over
Excerpts From Far From Perfect, Chapter: 14 Overlook
Excerpts From Far From Perfect, Chapter 15 The Bear

Two are posts created from images within the previous GeorgeFarina.net gallery. I combined the websites gallery with the blog gallery, then turned the images from the websites gallery into blog posts:

Bicycles Ive Owned
Village At Dadeland

The blog posts at Medium are titled:

Magazines
A Good Cup Of Coffee

I also posted numerous blog posts at the Dusty Loft blog, to many to list individually, blog posts including fictional stories, episode reviews, creatively written blog posts, song lyrics, among others.



Edited photo of an image originally by Peter H from Pixabay
  
I began writing two new books in 2022, both fiction. One of them I got much further with than the other, a book I began writing as a comic book series, having written a few issues during previous years.

I included past issues as part of the book, then added to them, turning the issues into much longer stories within the book.

The other book is written somewhat similarly, not in the sense of a fictional comic character, in the sense, it began as different thoughts, stories I wrote, than combined to form a book.

I spent many hours programing as well, working with the Web Guide, updating my personal website.

Two new category boxes have been added to the Web Guide. A category box showing all the URL's with just the URL and title in a dual format layout. And a category box showing the dates websites were added to the Web Guide.



Screen Image Of The Web Guide Category Boxes With The Grey Template

I also added a grey template to the Web Guide. To choose between the Default Template and the Grey Template, click on "More" via the upper menu after visiting the Web Guide.

Keywords: 2022, Updates, Writing, Programing, Web Development, Blog Posts, Books, Stories, Medium, Dusty Loft, Web Guide Grey Template, New Category Boxes
Category: Blog Posts
Category2: 2022 Updates


2022-09-14  5:30 am:   

Excerpts From "Far From Perfect", Chapter: 9 College. The chapter takes place in the early 1990's, over 30 years ago.

While attending Middlesex Community College I took two courses I remember more vividly than any other courses I took at the time, Business Management 101 and College Writing 101.

Before I wrote this chapter, I looked at my old college transcripts to help jog my memory. There are courses on my transcripts I can't remember at all. I can't remember the teacher, students, what was taught or even attending the class. With these two courses, I remember the teachers, some of the students, where I sat and even much of what was taught.

I think the reason the business and writing courses stand out in my mind is because of a combination of timing and good teaching. I took the writing course when I was between jobs, allowing me to focus more on the material. I’d imagine the fact I had access to a computer and enjoy writing also helped.

The teacher for the Business Management course was excellent. He taught lessons I categorize as real-world knowledge. I was working third shift at a supermarket while taking the course. He used a supermarket as the subject of two lessons. Like many supermarkets, the supermarket he spoke about placed handheld baskets at the entrance of the store to give customers an additional option to carry groceries. The owners of the supermarket decided to place a stack of baskets at each corner of the store.

The placement of baskets throughout the store was great for customers who only planned to shop for a few items, items they could carry without a basket, customers who didn't grab a basket at the entrance. If, while shopping, these customers decided to purchase more items then they could carry, they could simply grab a basket from any of the additional much closer locations.

He said, as a result, the stores sales greatly improved the following year. In the past, most customers who walked in without a basket only purchased the items they originally intended to purchase. If the customer saw additional items on the shelf they wanted, they probably wouldn't have walked to the front of the store for a basket. The idea makes sense. I'm surprised other supermarkets don't add baskets throughout the store.

The same supermarket also owned a field next door. They turned the field into a dairy farm, where they kept cows, allowing them to sell their milk. With a dairy farm next to the store, the supermarket could sell fresh milk at a lower cost due to the closer location.

I can’t remember the name of the supermarket. From what I remember, the supermarket was one of the largest individual supermarkets in the country. They implemented many unique innovative ideas, with many of their ideas becoming standards in the industry.

The teacher of the course gave another example using a supermarket within his teachings. However, his next example was an example of what not to do in business. He said the owner of a supermarket took a half cent from every dollar the store earned.

Due to the fractional amount, the missing money wasn't easily noticed. Even if noticed, most would overlook the fractional amount. However, over the course of a year, the half cents added up to a substantial amount. Then, the owner tried to hide the money from the IRS to save on taxes. The IRS did catch the owner. As a result, he spent time in jail.

The teacher of the business management was very knowledgeable. He really enjoy teaching. He kept the class entertaining. The subject matter taught was interesting. He was young. He seemed to be a bit fun loving.

I remember at the end of a class he addressed the ladies in the class. He said something similar to, “I'm single. I drive a Porsche”. He said it in serious, yet, joking tone. Most students in the class laughed. I thought it took courage on his part. Nevertheless, I don't know if he ended up with a date.

The other course I have fond memories of was a college writing course. Before taking the writing course, I doubt I wrote more than a few essays in my entire life. To be completely honest, I only remember writing one essay, an essay about Salt Lake City in Utah, while in grade school.

The course was English 101, with a focus on writing. The teacher was extremely tough and let the students know the first day of class. She said every semester a few students walk out of the class crying. The year I took her course was no different.

After taking the course, I understood why students got upset. The assignments weren't easy. Students needed to spend many hours writing the type of essays required. The teacher was very straight forward with her comments. She didn't pull any punches.

After putting in a lot of work just to complete a paper, reading her comments was very difficult. However, her style was also why she was a great teacher. By the time I finished the course, I was a much better writer. At the same time, I was well behind the curve before the course began, I still had a long way to go. Regardless, the course was a good start.

The English 101 course didn't only improve my writing, the course also improved my overall knowledge. I wrote a paper titled “The Complications of Stress”. While doing research, I learnt the severe effects of stress.

I wrote a paper about the Tragedies of Prison. I learnt about rehabilitation in prisons and in many cases the lack of rehabilitation. I wrote several papers in her class, providing me with additional knowledge about a variety of subjects.

The course was extremely difficult, nevertheless I stuck with it. During the course, I began realizing how much I enjoyed writing. Even though the course was tough and at times very harsh, I greatly respected the teacher. She provided a great deal of knowledge to her students. I found her direct approach admirable.

Below are excerpts, with a few adjustments, from one of the papers I wrote in her class. I didn't get a great grade on the original version.

****************************************************

Complications of Stress, by George Farina

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, stress is a mentally or emotionally disruptive or disquieting influence. Stress is a condition affecting the way a person thinks, acts and feels. It is not uncommon to suffer from unconditional amounts of stress in the 1990's. Since today's society is extremely fast paced, people from bankers to janitors have high stress levels, causing them to suffer from symptoms of stress.

Some people take their jobs too seriously. They put too much pressure on themselves to strive at work. Supervisors can also make the work place more stressful, by issuing unobtainable deadlines and by yelling at employees.

In addition, with the downsizing of companies, many people have to put in overtime hours or have to bring work home. As far as females are concerned, many don’t just have full time jobs, many are responsible for taking care of their homes and families. Furthermore, plenty of people, both male and female are working at places where they don’t enjoy the job they’re responsible to complete.

In today's economy, it is difficult to support a family on one paycheck. Certain individuals such as young couples paying college tuition's can’t get ahead in life. Young couples, just out of college often work two jobs and still struggle to survive.

Negative stimuli are not the only causes of stress. Changes in a person's personal life can also create stress. For example, the death of a loved one, divorce, and personal injury can cause high levels of stress. Causes for lower stress levels include vacations, minor violations of the law and holidays.

A person's personality also contributes to stress levels. High-strung people are known to have higher stress levels. Laid back people usually have lower stress levels. When a person suffers from stress over a long period of time, the extended periods of stress can lead to fatigue and a feeling of inadequacy.

Experts have linked stress to major diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, insomnia, anorexia nervosa and eating disorders. Migraine headaches, lung disease and skin diseases are also thought to have a relation to stress.

Some experts also believe chronic stress may lead to cancer. In addition, experts believe stress is the number one cause of infertility in both men and woman (Compton's Encyclopedia online).

In contrast, some people thrive in certain types of situations others consider stressful. These people use certain stressful situations as a source of energy. For example, Michael Jordan always wants the basketball when the pressure of the game is at its highest level. Many Airforce pilots relish the challenge of taking jets to their limits.

People deal with stress in different ways. Some people deal with stress by using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. The may feel the drugs, alcohol, and tobacco help put them at ease.

Other effects of stress are exhaustion and anger. Sometimes a persons' anger is taken out on the wrong person.

Fortunately, there are remedies to help reduce high stress levels. Some people practice Yoga to help their circulation and in turn reduce stress levels. For example, Bob (last name removed) is currently practicing Yoga. He says, “Yoga promotes blood flow, loosens joints and in turn relaxes tenseness.” With the practice of yoga, Bob also said, “He has more energy and gets up in the morning without feeling the need to press the snooze button on his alarm.”

Other stress-reducers include exercising properly, participating in sports, taking stress-reducing pills, and laughing.

There are many more remedies for stress depending on a person’s situation and symptoms. However, the above remedies are the most commonly used with positive results.

Stress is a complicated problem, affecting most of us in this day and age because of the pace of our lives. Each of us needs to understand what stress is, how we can combat it, and how we can reduce stress in our daily lives.

****************************************************

English 101 was the last college course I took for the next ten years. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't know the different careers available and I didn't properly research the different courses available.

I went to the school, signed up and simply took the classes I was told to take. I know some of them were necessary, though, I'm sure there were a few I took just because I was told to take the course.

I didn't have a specific direction I was heading. And without a direction, I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel.

After I took the writing class I got a full-time job during the day, often working Saturdays. I decided to put school aside, From there, I didn't have the opportunity or know how to go back to school until I was much older.

"Far From Perfect" is available for sale via the "Far From Perfect" webstore webpage.

Keywords: Far From Perfect, Chapter 9 College, Middlesex Community College, Manchester Community College, Middletown, CT, Connecticut, Courses, Business Management 101, Writing 101, Real-World Knowledge, Supermarket, Dairy Farm, Teachers
Category: Blog Posts
Category2: Far From Perfect


2022-09-14  5:30 am:   

Excerpts From Far From Perfect, Chapter: 11 Starting Over

I'm now in Miami. In order to afford the move, I needed to sell both my condo and car. I did. I didn't make any money from the sale of the condo. I sold it for the amount owed on the mortgage.

Before I sold the condo I tried to replace the floors, however, I didn't finish. The unfinished work wasn't appealing, causing the value to drop. After I sold the car, I had just enough money for the move, and for the purchase of a bicycle as a form of transportation.

I purchased a blue 1998 Fuji Odessa mountain bike. The bike was blast to ride, perfect for a city like Miami.

Arriving in Miami felt like an enormous weight was lifted from my shoulders. I’ve always been a little high strung. I yearned to live in the hustle and bustle of a large city. I finally arrived in the city where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

I had an apartment and a job. The apartment was in a complex called Taho Springs. Taho Springs was located in a section of Miami called Doral, on 4800 NW 79th Avenue. I now had an opportunity to live the life I dreamt.

I arrived in Miami sometime during early 1999.

I was looking at my arrival as a new start. I was gonna make a ton of friends. I was gonna meet plenty of women. I was gonna party, work hard, and enjoy life to the absolute fullest.

Taho Springs was a very cool complex. The complex possessed plenty of grassy areas, a small gym, multiple pools, a basketball court and a large pond in the center. Benches surrounded the pond, allowing residents to relax, while enjoying the scenery.

When I arrived in Miami, I drove by the complex where I saw a for rent sign. I went to the management office, explaining my situation. I told the lady I just arrived in the city and already had a job. I just needed an apartment.

She was very understanding. To this day, she was one of the nicer people I've ever met. I wasn't making much money. I was working at a new job and moving to a new city. In all fairness, she didn't have to rent the apartment to me at all.

She probably could have found a tenant with better qualifications. I don't know her reasoning, nevertheless, she did decide to rent the apartment to me. I was very grateful. A few days later she gave me the keys. The move was official.

I’m now renting a one bed room apartment for about $630 a month. Considering the location and all the amenities, I thought the price was excellent. I was paying basically the same amount of money I was paying for the mortgage and condo fees of the condo I purchased in Connecticut.

When I moved into Taho Springs I owned very few belongings. The only things I brought from Connecticut was a computer, a small TV and some clothes. After the move, I didn’t have much money. I didn't have any furniture either.

Luckily, there was a rug in the bedroom. Without a bed, I went to sleep on the floor every night. The lack of furniture wasn't a major issue. I knew I could make do with whatever I'd find.

I didn't let the fact I was broke get me down either. Technically, I couldn't afford the apartment at my current salary. I had the mentality, if I worked hard, opportunities would present themselves. Eventually, I’d earn enough money to comfortably afford the apartment.

My life wasn’t going good in C.T.. I was determined to make it in Miami. To the point where I use to say, “I'd live in a box on the street then go back to Connecticut to live.” And at times, I probably came very close to living in a box. Parts of my life didn’t go great in Connecticut, often feeling like a nightmare. I didn't want to go back.

Shortly after I moved, a tropical storm hit Miami, drenching Doral. I think the storm was named Irene. The storm caused flooding unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The entire area was flooded with at least a foot of water. The parking lot where I was staying looked like a lake. I could have gone fishing from my patio. Days after the storm ended, the roads were still flooded.

As cars pulled into the complex they bogged down and got stuck. I was new to the complex, only briefly having met a few neighbors. Our building was the closest to the entrance. Many of the residents from my building waited by the entrance to help push cars to higher ground if they got stuck.

With a bicycle as my only form of transportation, I could only keep a couple days’ worth of food in the apartment at a time. The storm was worse than expected. The Governor flew to Miami, flying over Doral and Sweetwater in a Helicopter to see the damage himself.

Many of the stores were closed. The roads weren't fit for driving. I needed food, yet didn't know where I could purchase groceries. I didn't have a choice except to take my bike onto the flooded streets to find a supermarket.

Riding through the streets was an adventure within itself. There were parts of the street where the water was almost to the top of my bikes tires. Only a few trucks were on the road. There weren't any pedestrians or other bike riders. A lady in the passenger seat of a vehicle took a few pictures of me as she passed. She probably thought I was crazy.

I was barely able to see the road or sidewalk through the water. I couldn't tell if I was on the sidewalk or street. I remember worrying about the possibility of a storm drain or manhole being opened due to the storm. I knew I would have taken a nice tumble into the drainage area. I rode about mile before reaching higher ground where stores were open.

Taho Springs was a place where I experienced many great times, and made many great memories. Many of the things I envisioned before moving to Miami became a reality. I met plenty of new friends. I felt like I belonged.

I began looking for a girlfriend. I had my computer. I decided to go back to what I knew, chatrooms. I met a young lady online named Vanessa a few weeks before New Year’s Eve, 1999. She was living in South Beach. We were both in a similar situation. She recently moved to Miami from Peru, just like I did from Connecticut.

After speaking on the phone a few times we made plans to meet each other in person on New Year’s Eve in South Beach. Neither of us owned a cellphone. We arranged to meet at a specific location, at a specific time just west of Ocean Drive.

I let my imagination get the best of me. It's 1999. I'm in Miami. I’m going to meet a girl for the first time, a girl for whom I just met online, on South Beach, for New Years. I imagined her being a little risqué with courage and faith in people. I imagined her being happy and carefree. And I imagined us having a great night, laughing, flirting, getting to know each other, celebrating the new year.

I took the bus to the beach New Year’s Eve. The area where I was meeting Vanessa was packed. Everyone was dressed very nice. I think they were dressed the way they were dressed was because most of the people planned to hit the club scene.

I was in jeans and a sweatshirt. I defiantly felt out of place. I looked for Vanessa, however, I couldn’t find her. After waiting for a while, I went to a pay phone to call her. I didn't get an answer. I kept trying unsuccessfully for the next hour. Since I was already at the beach, I decided to look for a bar to celebrate the New Year.

I found a small bar on a side street with a pool table. I ordered a beer while sitting at the bar, drinking, waiting to see if I could get in a game of pool. The people in the bar were in groups, doing their own thing. Just like the scene on the streets, I felt out of place. I stayed for a couple drinks before leaving.

After I left, I walked around Ocean Drive by the beach, boardwalk. Small groups of people where spread throughout the street. After walking around, taking in the scenery I took the bus home.

The next day I called Vanessa. She swore she was at the beach, which is quite possible. I only knew what she was wearing. The area we planned to meet was packed. We stayed in touch online. A few days later, she took the bus to Doral where we met at a Miami Subs. We grabbed a bite to eat, while getting to know each other better.

She was very pretty. She was also very different than I expected. She wasn't risqué. She was very nice, well-spoken and didn't drink very much. Additionally, she wasn't as interested in a boyfriend as much as she was interested in making friends.

In other ways, we were in the same situation. Neither of us had much money. We were both trying to meet new people, trying to find groups of people we fit in with. In difference, I was looking for a female companion.

Vanessa only stayed for a couple weeks before we parted ways. Soon thereafter I became friends with a bunch of other neighbors from my building. I met a lady named Adriana. She was from Venezuela and a few years older. I was still working part-time, sometimes working over night shifts for inventory. As a result, I was often awake late at night when I was off from work.

We met late at night in the laundry room, around 2am. We were both doing laundry. She'd only been in the United States a short-time and didn't speak English. I didn't speak Spanish. We introduced ourselves as best we could given our language barrier. We were both new to Miami. We were both happy starting our new lives in a new city.

She lived in an apartment on the same floor as my apartment. Sometimes when I got bored I sat outside my doorstep. Whenever she’d see me, she walked over to talk. I had an English Spanish dictionary. We both flipped through the pages, finding different words to describe our thoughts. Each time she stopped over, we learnt more about each other. We also learnt how to communicate better. Before long we developed a very good friendship.

She often spoke about her relatives in Venezuela. I offered to let her use my computer to e-mail relatives and friends in her home country. She did and was appreciative. She was kind hearted. During her visits she noticed I didn't have any furniture or a bed.

A few days later she took me to her apartment. She purchased a new mattress and asked me to take her old mattress. I did. Her old mattress was in great condition. I put it in the bedroom and slept great from that day forward.

A few different people were staying at Adriana’s apartment. Adriana’s apartment was a one-bedroom apartment. The living room was setup like a second bedroom. Multiple cots, day beds filled the living room where relatives and friends slept.

After I got the bed I found a table and a framed painting someone left by the dumpster. They were both very cool, both in great condition. The table was well crafted, possessing plenty of character. I used the table regularly. To this day it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever owned.

Adriana cleaned houses for a living. She also had a son in high school. I'd see him playing soccer in the hallways of the complex. We became friends as well. When he got his driver’s license he took me to different places throughout Doral.

He showed me an apartment complex in Doral called Doral Isles (I'm not 100% sure of the name). Doral Isles was gated community with its own Beach. The sand on the beach was stunning. Palm trees were everywhere. Doral Isles was the type of place I didn't even know existed.

I started meeting other friends throughout the complex. I met another lady in the laundry room. We met while I was doing wash. She was going to all the laundry rooms in the complex, placing business cards on top of the washers and dryers. The business cards had her name and number, offering to give residents haircuts.

Her name was Maria, she was a few years older. She also recently moved to Taho Springs with her husband. She was trying to earn extra income cutting hair from her apartment. She took me to her apartment where she introduced me to her husband John. Soon thereafter, she cut my hair.

Over the next few months I became very good friends with Maria and John. They always tried to include me when they'd see me in the hallway. Plus, they treated me with respect. Sometimes they stopped over my apartment or vice versa.

We were all struggling, trying to find ways to make our lives better. John often talked about starting his own business. He'd run different ideas by me, asking what I thought. Unfortunately, at that age I didn't have much feedback to give him.

Marie and John were friends with a younger girl named Olga. She sometimes stayed at their apartment. She was a few years younger than myself, nevertheless, Maria and John thought we might make a good couple.

They introduced us. The four of us went out as a group a few times. We went to Bayside Market Place. We walked around, took photos and listened to live music.

Another day John drove us to the Aventura Mall. We began hanging out on a regular basis. Maria wanted to learn how to cut hair as a professional in order to get a job at a salon. We drove to Hialeah to check out a local hair cutting school.

I dated Olga for a few weeks. We got along good, though, our relationship wasn't serious. Soon thereafter we began just chilling as friends.

Things were going great. Living in Miami in a way reminded me of when I first discovered the internet. Everything was new and exciting. Adriana introduced me to Caffe con Leche and all of its wonderfulness. Caffe con Leche took coffee to an entirely new level. After a cup of this stuff I'd be in a great mood for hours. I was introduced to Cuban Coffee. Cuban coffee gets a person’s heart going. The first few times I downed a shot of Cuban coffee, I was awake the entire night.

I realized the mesmerizing effects of the Miami sun. I enjoyed stepping outside the sliding glass door onto the patio as soon as I woke up. The second I stepped outside I felt the sun warming my entire body. I just stood on the patio soaking it up for a few minutes. The feeling is amazing, especially coming from a cold weather climate.

The entire area seemed to be growing. A new pizza place opened in a little outdoor mall across the street. I was either their first or one of their first customers. The pizza was excellent. They always remembered me and were very hard workers. I liked the owners and wanted them to do good.

Whenever I met someone new from the area, I always mentioned the pizza place. Plus, I tried to eat there as much as possible. Every time I ordered a pizza for delivery, the pizza seemed to arrive in minutes. When I walked across the street to pick up food they always hustled to prepare my meal.

After living in Miami for about a year, I learnt the Miami Sun is also tough on a person’s body. I was taking buses or riding a bike every day. This was before there was a push to improve public transportation in Miami.

Even though public transportation in Miami was better than anything I'd experienced, quite often buses ran late. The area where I was living didn't have many covered bus stops. Sometimes I sat in the sun for hours waiting for the bus. Extended exposure to the sun often led to dehydration. Plus, being from a northern state I wasn't use to the heat.

"Far From Perfect" is available for sale via the "Far From Perfect" webstore webpage.

Keywords: Far From Perfect, Chapter 11, Starting Over, Miami, Florida, MIA, Fl, Taho Springs, Doral Springs, Tropical Storm Irene, New Year’s Eve, 1999, South Beach, Caffe con Leche, Cuban Coffee, Book
Category: Blog Posts
Category2: Far From Perfect


2022-09-14  5:30 am:   

Excerpts From Far From Perfect, Chapter: 14 Overlook. Some of the names within the chapter I changed to keep their privacy private.

One day while taking the bus to work I noticed a for rent sign hanging from the top of an apartment complex. The complex was called Overlook.

Within the complex were two high rise style buildings with balcony's, a large pool, small gym, and tennis courts. The complex was gated. And most importantly, Overlook looked like the type of apartment complex found in the city.

Overlook was located near Miami International Airport, just off NW 7th Street. I called to find out the cost of a one bedroom apartment. They were reasonably priced.

I went to the management office to fill out the necessary paperwork. From there, within days, I was renting an apartment. Just like the management office at Taho Springs, the ladies working in the office at Overlook were excellent.

The apartment I got was on the first floor. It was in decent shape, located very close to the pool. I still didn't have any furniture. I owned a few milk type crates I used as shelves. Nothing else.

When I moved out of Taho Springs I didn't take the mattress Adriana gave me. Brenda owned a second bed she kept in the spare room I slept on while renting her room. Both of the next two rooms I rented had beds of their own.

Many of the stores in the immediate area were small, culturally rich urban stores.

At the time, prices were great. A small furniture store was located a block away. I walked there to purchases a single mattress for less than $50.00. I didn't have any way to carry the mattress to my apartment. Even though the mattress was only $50, the mattress was quality, very thick and fairly heavy. I dragged it all the way to my apartment.

When I arrived home, I put the mattress on the floor in the living room under a window, setting up my new pad like a studio.

Sometimes during the weekends I went to the pool in the morning. Then, when I went back to my apartment I took a nap on the bed under the window, letting the sun warm me.

After moving to Overlook, I ate my first Cuban Hamburger from a local cafe. I liked going to the local cafes to get Café con Leche’s in the morning. I didn't even know a such thing as a Cuban Hamburger existed.

On a Saturday I walked to get a Cafe con Leche early in the afternoon. I asked for a hamburger and a Café con Leche. The lady working said they only served Cuban Hamburgers. I decided give the Cuban burger a try.

Let me say, the Cuban Hamburger was delicious, packed with flavor. Potato chip fries were added to top. The Cuban burger tasted very different from an American hamburger, yet, the essence of the burger possessed the same feel as an American hamburger.

I lived in the first-floor apartment at Overlook for about a year. I was very happy with the apartment. At the same time, wanted an apartment on a higher floor with a better view. I asked the management office to let me know if an apartment on a higher floor became available.

Shortly before my lease expired, an apartment on the seventh floor in my building became available. I seized the opportunity and rented the apartment.

The view was absolutely incredible. The 7th floor apartment was facing east, overlooking the pool and downtown Miami. Many days I looked out the sliding glass door in disbelief of the view.

The layout was basically the same as the first-floor apartment, a decent size one bedroom with a walk-in closet, full bathroom and a full kitchen. Due to the higher floor, I was paying a little more for rent. However, the rent was still inexpensive, especially considering the location and view.

If I remember correctly, the rent was about $700 per month. I was making about $12.00 per hour. Even though the rent was very affordable for Miami, finances were tight.

I didn't have many friends during this part of my life. I lost many friends when I moved out of Taho Springs.

After the moves I had a lot of trouble making new friends. I was always looking for something exciting or different to do in my spare time.

One of the great things about living in Miami is the fact, plenty of different events almost always take place throughout the city. And plenty of them are inexpensive. I went to as many events as I could while living at Overlook.

When there weren’t any events, I made a Pina Colada to take out by the pool. Although very tough on a person's body if suntan lotion isn't used, the Miami sun was as addicting as anything I'd experienced.

The pool was surrounded by beautiful palm trees and tropical foliage. Though, many days I was the only person using the pool. I laid by the pool, by myself, relaxing.

Every weekend the Flagler Dog Track hosted a very large flea market in their parking lot, consisting of hundreds of tables selling a wide variety of items at low prices.

The dog track was only a few blocks away. I either walked or took my bike. I saved a lot of money shopping at the flea market. I purchased brand new belts for $2.00, new packs of socks for less than $5.00 as well as plenty of items of necessity. The Flea Market at the Flagler Dog Track was without a doubt one of my favorite places in all of Miami.

The atmosphere was incredible. Hispanic music played. Plenty of food stands were located throughout the flea market. I always liked walking by the Arepa stand, hearing them yell AREPA, AREPA, AREPA, AREPA. The arepas at the flea market were choice. I almost always purchased an Arepa.

Sometimes I went to the Flagler Dog Track to watch the dog races. I didn't have good luck betting on them, yet enjoyed the races.

South Beach hosted a fitness festival during the summer. The event was free and took over most of South Beach. I decided to attend, taking the bus to the festival.

The event offered a wide variety of different fitness exhibits and competitions. A beach soccer arena was set up to host soccer matches. Another exhibit consisted of a boxing ring where an instructor taught viewers how to box. They had an area for people to play paddle ball. As I was walking by, I was asked to play and did. I enjoyed the event and liked the idea of a fitness festival.

Another day I rode my bike to the Calle Ocho Festival. Calle Ocho is an enormous annual festival held in Little Havana, spanning many miles along SW 8th Street. In many ways the Calle Ocho Festival is closer to a party then a festival.

Multiple stages are set up where live music is played. They have tons of food, drinks and different exhibits. I rode my bike to the festival. I rode along the adjacent street, just South of SW 8th Street.

I stopped at one of the stages. Pitbull and Lil Jon were performing. I sat on my bike watching part of the concert. I continued riding through the streets, people watching, enjoying the music and smells of grilled food.

While I was living at Overlook, I read the first book of my life from cover to cover. I was about 30 years old. I always enjoyed reading articles on the internet and in magazines, however, I never read an entire book.

The book I read was very enjoyable. I began reading every spare minute I could find. I read every day at lunch. If I didn't have anything to do after work, I read when I got home.

I was very interested in the city of Miami, its history and the people living in the city. I purchased and read a number of books related to Miami. I purchased Miami: City of the Future by T.D. Allman. City of the Future is a very thick book, telling an interesting story. I read MOB Over Miami. MOB Over Miami details the darker side of a local nightclub owner.

Any interesting book I could find with good reviews, I read. I read the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code was very interesting, as a result I read all the books published by Dan Brown at the time. I read the Da Vinci Code, Digital Fortress, Deception Point, and Angels and Demons. All by Dan Brown. Over the next couple of years, I read 1984 by George Orwell, Killjoy By Judy Garwood, Seabiscuit, Joe DiMaggio: A Hero's Life, A couple of CSI Las Vegas books, a CSI Miami book, Art of the Deal by Donald Trump and at least one other book by Donald Trump.

I also read The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy. The trilogy was probably one of the coolest set of books I ever purchased.

Each book contained a series of letters. Each page has a different letter. Some pages have envelopes attached to the page. The reader opens the envelope and pulls out the letter to read. The letters are hand written. The book also possesses very creative artwork.

Sometimes I went to the Hialeah Horse Track from work during lunch time to sit in the stands and read. At the time, the horse track was closed and had been for many years. The building and track was deteriorated, a bit spooky in a cool kind of way. There weren’t any horse races or casino.

However, it was open for the public to use as a park. I usually went during the middle of the day, during lunch time. The only people I saw were a few maintenance workers scattered throughout the park, making the horse track a great location to enjoy reading a good book.

Sitting in those seats was an awesome feeling. They were the original seats from back in the day. People sat in the exact seats as they watched some of the greatest horses in horse racing history race around the track.

I climbed up towards the middle of the stands. I was the only person in the stands. I was probably a good thirty feet above the track. The dirt oval was very much intact. It looked magnificent, even if filled with weeds and grass.

The tracks signature Pink Flamingos still called the park their home, roaming free throughout the center of the track. I liked the atmosphere of the abandoned park.

After taking a seat, before I started reading, I imagined what it was like sitting in these very same seats, looking out over the track during the 1940's and 1950’s. I imagined the crowd around me cheering as famous horses like Citation or Secretariat thundered around the track.

I visited the track somewhere around 2004, during an era where there wasn’t much hope of the Hialeah Horse Track ever reopening. Many days as I sat in the stands, I thought about trying to purchase one of the chairs. I didn't know who to ask. No one was in the stands other than myself. Only a few maintenance workers were working throughout other parts of the park.

I was always thinking about ways to obtain different collectibles, especially collectibles related to Miami. I read about a collectible show in Coral Gables, a show only showcasing Miami related collectibles, held at a church in Coral Gables. I attended. Before going to the collectibles show, I already owned a small collection of magazines dedicated to Miami.

After attending, after seeing many of the cool collectibles on display, I started looking for a larger variety of Miami related memorabilia. I found a die cast 1996 Road Champs Metro-Dade transit bus for sale online. I purchased the bus at a great price.

I found a Spirit of Miami HO scale locomotive, new in the box. I purchased the train as well. Many many years later, I purchased a New York to Miami tin toy car from the 40's or 50's, the only one I'd ever seen. Even to this day, I haven’t seen another for sale.

Most of the collectibles purchased, I was only able to keep a few years. I continued to struggle financially, usually having to sell different items to pay bills. Though, owning these items, even if only for a short period of time was very cool.

After living in the complex for a while, I decided to join a gym. I joined a gym located in a little shopping center almost directly in front of my building. The gym was inexpensive with a verity of exercise machines and weights. One of my goals was to improve my stamina. Many days I went just to use the treadmill. Other days I'd lift weights as well.

At some point after moving to Miami, I ended up with a desk job. Previously, I only worked at jobs requiring physical exertion like warehouses. After I began working at a desk, I began having trouble sleeping. In the past I experienced difficulty sleeping, however, while working at a desk, things got much worse.

By the time I arrived home from work I possessed an enormous amount of built up energy. The extra energy was part of the reason I joined the gym. I went after work, lifted weights and ran a mile on the treadmill. Most nights the exercise helped me sleep better.

I've always admired and enjoyed photography. Though, I lacked education on the subject. For the most part, I just snapped away. The scenery in Miami is stunning. Even without technical knowledge of photography, I managed to take a few good photos. As years past, I read about photography, learning how to take better photos. I learned different techniques and took a wider variety of photos with better results.

Overlook was the exact type of complex I wanted to live in. Overlook was urban, with good amenities and a great view. I didn't have many friends. I figured I could make a few friends within the complex.

From there, I turned my apartment into a bachelor pad. I set up a futon in the living room I used as a couch during the day and a bed at night. I purchased tropical foliage and palm trees. I put them by the sliding glass door. Then, I turned the spare bedroom into a computer room.

During the time I lived at Overlook I met some good people within the complex, nevertheless, I didn't develop any lasting friendships. Most of the people I met were closer to acquaintances. We'd meet in the hall, ask how each was doing, before going about our day.

At the same time, at least on the floor I was living, the residents seemed to look out for each other. Every few weeks the fire alarm went off. The alarm was usually a false alarm. However, it stayed on until the fire department arrived to do a sweep of all the floors, ensuring there wasn't a fire.

During these times, most people opened their doors to see if smoke was in the hallway. Many waited outside their doors in case the building needed to be evacuated.

My next-door neighbor was a very nice much older lady. Due to her age she couldn't make it down the stairs on her own. A few times we stepped outside our doors and smelt smoke. In those cases, everyone stayed on our floor. Tenants didn't want to leave the older lady if we needed to evacuate. The remaining tenants stayed to help her down the stairs.

The neighbors who lived in the apartment on the other side of the hall from my apartment threw parties on the weekends. I ran into them in the hallway every now and then. They were always very friendly. Nobody on our floor seemed to mind the noise. They usually played Hispanic music throughout the night.

I heard their music from my apartment. I liked listening to the music, hearing them laughing, dancing and enjoying themselves. I didn't have much of a social life. I guess in a way, I was living vicariously through the neighbors.

Towards the end of my stay at Overlook I got to know them a little better. They even invited me to a couple of their parties. I had a good time. Their parties were very similar to how I imagined.

One morning I looked out on my balcony. A couple of pigeons made a nest. Seeing them directly outside the sliding glass door was very cool. They stayed for a while, however, eventually they made a gigantic mess, causing some of havoc.

I lived at Overlook during both Hurricane Wilma and Katrina. During Hurricane Wilma the entire complex lost power for about a week. I didn't have internet for at least three weeks.

Without AC, most people including myself kept their doors open to create a breeze. A few people ran generators on their balcony's. They ran extension cords from their generators to neighboring apartments, giving their neighbors electricity as well. Without electricity, I could only take cold showers. Food was also extremely limited. The people with grills invited neighbors over, cooking for other tenants on their floor.

The old lady next to me owned a grill. She was able to obtain a good amount of meat and rice. I remember going to her apartment for meals. She was serving anyone who walked through her door.

I lived at Overlook for about 4 ½ years.”

Things were decent at Overlook for the majority of my stay. Even though I was living in the type of complex I envisioned, I wasn't living the lifestyle I envisioned. I guess I felt my life turned boring.

I didn't have as many friends as I would have liked and there were few if any parties within the complex. I'm not saying I preferred parties every night. I'm just saying I would have liked to have made a few friends and have gone to a few parties.

For whatever reason, I simply didn't meet people in general who I stayed friends with for an extend period of time.

I tried doing different things on my own to meet females and people in general. I went to sports bars, little clubs and cafes within the neighborhood. I even went to a popular nightclub downtown.

The club wasn't like the club I frequented years ago on the Berlin Turnpike. I felt out of my element. I didn't have any luck, either meeting a female or even a friend at these places.

I've always preferred to be around people. However, I got use to doing things on my own. Doing things on my own wasn't the best scenario, however, I did get some enjoyment out of many of the things I did.

The Calle Ocho Festival was a great memory. A few times I did have friends visit I knew from different areas of the city and work. And I did meet some cool people from different floors within the complex.

After I moved out of Overlook, I moved around a bit. I rented a room from a very cool couple a few blocks away. The room had its own entrance located on the side of the house. They were renting the house themselves. The family let me move in immediately.

The house was a Spanish style house with an outdoor tiki bar in the backyard. The husband worked for the city as a driver for the disabled and elderly. His wife was nicknamed the Ice Queen by friends because she liked to keep the Air Conditioner at a very cold temperature.

The AC in my room was part of the central AC system. I didn’t mind the cold temperatures. They also had a daughter who was going to college in Connecticut, at UCONN.

I thoroughly enjoyed staying with them. They treated me with respect and were friendly. Sometimes they invited me inside the main part of the house for lunch. The way they invited me and treated me felt genuine, less invasive than other places I've stayed at.

The Ice Queen told me about a great outdoor restaurant down the street at the corner of Flagler and NW 57th Ave. They served Cuban food and fresh juice. She said they delivered a different meal each business day of the week for $25.00 a week.

The food was great, and the price was great as well. The Ice Queen either worked from the house or got home early. She had meals delivered during the week.

Riding was still one of my favorite past times. I often rode my bike around the neighborhood. During the majority of the time I stayed here I was between jobs. I spent many days trying to find employment. Eventually, I found a somewhat steady job. However, I only lived at their house few months. Money wasn't the issue. Money was tight, yet, somehow I paid rent every month.

The house was being foreclosed on by the bank. The landlord informed the family. As a result, they decided to move.

They asked if I wanted them to try to find a place with an additional room. I thought the offer was very cool. At the same time, I didn't want to put them in a difficult situation.

I moved out as well. I probably could have stayed an additional couple of months, rent free, by myself until the bank took over the property. I didn’t.

After leaving, I moved around a bit before I found a studio in a small apartment complex on West Flagler Street.

"Far From Perfect" is available for sale via the "Far From Perfect" webstore webpage.

Keywords: City of Miami, Overlook Apartments, Yolanda Villas Condo's, Flagler Dog Track, Flagler Street Flea Market, Hispanic Music, Arepa's, South Beach Fitness Festival, Little Havana, Calle Ocho Festival, Hialeah Horse Track, Exercise, Hurricane Wilma, Cuban Hamburger, Arepa's, Books, Pink Flamingos, Miami Collectibles, Urban Living
Category: Blog Posts
Category2: Far From Perfect


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