Coming this week (13)

For this week’s entries:

I will post an e-mail to a friend which I sent following an “interesting” experience that occurred in 1999. This post will show that my style of storytelling has been with me for years. I actually wrote these for sheer fun!

I’ll also discuss bullying. Is it a rite of passage, or unnecessary? Maybe it’s both!


Yesterday, I mentioned something about an update. Here it is:

     Shamu is growing at a rapid pace. His appetite is out of control. Thank “god” he is not religious, because he would be going straight to hell. I’ve never seen a bigger commandment breaker. He steals the algae pellets that we place in the tank for the Pleco, murders most of his tank mates, and eats like a gluttonous NFL offensive lineman at a dinner buffet. Watching him eat is like watching a maid vacuum a dirty rug. He literally engulfs everything in sight. His name should be Hoover!

Surprisingly, one of the feeders at the top of picture 21, in August 20th’s post, remains alive. I have no idea how he is still with us. The Pleco is also in the tank. Unfortunately, the twins didn’t make it. (RIP)

Shamu loves to eat krill (They are frozen and have to be defrosted.), live fish, pellets, flakes, bloodworms (Same process as krill.), frozen fish (ditto), and live worms. The worms are fairly large and come in a small container filled with dirt; they have to remain in the fridge. I use a plastic spoon to scoop them out and place them into the tank. It’s pretty nasty, but fun to watch! The live fish simply swim at the top of the tank until they are eaten. (Survival of the Fittest at it’s very best!)

We also place some live Cray fish into the tank. They are larger than the blue Crays pictured in the last post, but they are a welcome treat. The first time, I placed two of the Crays into the tank and they were fairly aggressive; you would think they bought the tank. The Crays walked wherever they wanted and didn’t seem fazed by the presence of the large serial killer. (Let’s be honest, Shamu has killed more than Troy Davis!) TOO SOON?

After a couple hours, one of the Crays was “missing.” The other one must have witnessed the carnage because he ran to the corner and hid. He eventually dug a hole under a rock and stayed there for several days. I thought he was smart enough to survive, but nature took its course and Shamu caught him slipping. He is no longer with us. (Damn shame what happened to that crustacean!) I’ll continue to place more Cray fish in the tank because it’s best to give the Red tail a varied diet.

Until next time…

**Soon, Shamu will be eating live mice!**

Latest picture of Shamu

Cray fish: hiding behind rock to avoid Shamu


For those who don’t know, the state of Florida has three storied college football teams. The only problem is the fact that the University of Miami and Florida State University have reached the end of their respective stories. The University of Florida is the lone remaining dominant school.

This season was supposed to be the revival for the other two schools. All I heard from their fans is how they are “back!” Turns out I was right; they are not back. If anything, they have regressed! The Gators remain undefeated (4-0) with blowout wins and the nation’s best run defense. How good is the run-D? In the game against our hated rivals, the University of Tennessee, the Volunteers finished the game with a total of negative nine (-9) rushing yards.

Our coaching staff is the best and our players are the most talented. Unlike other schools we play straight up and smack teams in the mouth. We’re not like the scrubs in Tallahassee and Coral Gables. They play run defense like @Efidalgo12’s future wife, there are always at least eight guys in the box! (Enjoy that one and reuse it; it’s my gift!)

Miami is 2-2, with losses to MARY-land and Kansas State. (In case you were wondering, those teams suck!) Florida State lost, at home, to a tough Clemson team and to Oklahoma. Great teams have to win those tough home games. The Seminoles are also 2-2.

Florida 48 – Kentucky 10

BIG game next week; Alabama is coming to town. GO GATORS!

Enjoy this wonderful football Sunday and thanks for the continued support!


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This Actually Happened – August 20th, 2011

Tank Life


Many people are under the impression that aquarium fish live boring lives and they have no personality. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fish in our two aquariums have their own personalities and quirks. (I say our aquarium since I share an apartment with two of my cousins.) This is an account of our experiences. The one thing I noticed is how difficult it will be to determine the actual size of the fish according to the pictures. They are larger than the images may suggest!

Moving the tanks into place sucked ass. They are massive and weigh a ton…not literally! (New trend!) Keep in mind, our apartment is on the third floor. We officially established the tanks last year. Every fish has been purchased since then, except for “Scarface.” We don’t really care about the gender of the fish, so for the purpose of the entry, I will assume that all the fish are male. As you’ll see, through trial and error, we have become veterans and our tank waters are crystal clear!

************We do not have names for any of the fish so I will create some for this post.***********

The first Picture is of tank one. This is the community tank, where most of the fish live in harmony, except for some minor bouts during feeding time! This tank holds 130 gallons and is slightly larger than the other one. (Excuse the bottles of liquor at the bottom, we drink! Oh yeah, we also use the shot glasses while playing beer pong, but I have to get clearance from all participants before I can release that story!) {1}

The second picture is of tank two. This is where the new star of the show lives. This tank is usually empty except for “Shamu,” tank, two smaller catfish, and “food.”  This second tank holds 120 gallons. For me, Tank two is special because the first base that we had was rotting at the bottom, so we built our own base from scratch! (We definitely got our Bob Vila on!) {2}

My favorite fish is the Big Shark. (I mentioned him in my post about sharks.) He called an iridescent shark but is not an actual shark; he’s a catfish.  He has been with me the longest. Before my cousins moved in I had two sharks, but the other one eventually died. The Big shark will be called Scarface. The name is appropriate if you read about the stingray incident in my shark post. There are two smaller, identical sharks, and I’ll refer to them as the little ones. Scarface usually never ate in the past; in fact the first time I saw him eat was this May. Now, he eats on a daily basis during feeding time and he seems to be growing more rapidly. I have yet to see either of the little ones eat. I guess they scavenge at night! You would think these sharks would bully the other fish, but they have been fed flakes since arriving in the tank, so there is a lack of aggressiveness. That being said, they control the left side of the tank! {3}

The lungfish is probably the most polarizing of the fish. People either love it or hate it. The lung fish has been with us for a little over a year. He has feet and can walk. The fish looks like some sort of eel and has to swim to the surface in order to breathe. (It’s pretty cool!) The most interesting aspect of the lung fish is the fact that he can survive outside of the water! We’ll call him “Walker.” Walker is pretty much the garbage man of the tank. He’s slow moving and only eats the leftover food. For the most art, he remains either under the massive piece of wood, or the large rock. It’s hard to tell how big they are from the pick, but if you compare them to the bottles below the tank, you can get a better idea. Currently Walker has been acting weird and posing. I’ll post two pictures of him, one will be a pose. (Upon further review, they’re both pictures of Walker posing!) {4} {5}

The next fish is a Leopard fish. I’ll call her “Diva.” Diva has spikes on her body and cannot be touched, unless you want to get pricked. I call her Diva because we have noticed that she only eats krill, which are basically small shrimp. It is best to feed fish a variety of foods to ensure the best health and growth, but Diva only eats krill. Most of the fish are intelligent enough to know when they are about to be fed, so she’ll wait by the opened top and allow the different types of food to pass, without moving. As soon as the krill is inserted into the tank, she will begin to feed. You’ll see in the picture, she’s not the easiest on the eyes! (Is it sexist that I called her Diva and made her the only female? HA HA!) Diva can be seen in picture five. It’s difficult to capture a good pic of the fish, so I found this picture online. {6}

We have a kissing fish. He has wide lips and is always attempting to kiss the other fish. He will lock lips with them which I think aggravates the others. When we first placed him in the tank, he was docile, but as “lips” grew, he became more aggressive. The pick is another from the Internet, but Lips can be seen in Picture 4 with Walker. {7}

The next fish is Cock-eye. He was an aggressive fish when he arrived and was the bully of the tank, especially during feeding time. He ate to his heart’s desire and fended off the others, but something changed. I call him Cock-eye, because he has a puncture in his eye socket. We’re not sure when the incident occurred or who the culprit is, but he hasn’t been himself. I haven’t witnessed him eating anything in three weeks! He is on suicide alert. (Yes, fish commit suicide. They will be frightened which will cause them to stop eating!)In picture 4, Cock-eye is the fish entering the frame. The picture was taken before his eye was injured. I attempted to get a pic of Cock-eye’s injury, but it doesn’t show up on camera. {8}

Cock-eye’s story leads us to “Billy the Bully.” Billy is a convict cichlid. They are called convict due to their white and black striped bodies. We placed three convicts in tank one. They were tiny but the convicts are also extremely aggressive. Tank two was empty for a few months because we planned on getting Piranhas. They are illegal in the state so we abandoned the idea. When we purchased Shamu, we decided to move the three convicts into tank two. Although Billy and the boys are bullies, we decided to make the move in order to give some life to the tank which seemed empty.  Billy was clearly the leader of the pack and grew faster than the others because he ate more. After several weeks, we were forced to move the boys back to tank one because of Billy; he continuously bit pieces of their tail, and wounded them. The smaller of the two convicts appeared to be on his deathbed. The move worked like a charm and the boys regained their strength. They are now thriving in tank one. They are smaller than the others, but they each have carved out their spaces, which none of the other fish dare enter. The boys usually fight each other, which is fun to Watch. Recently, Billy hasn’t been himself. He witnessed some traumatic events and lost his aggressive nature. Billy began to hide behind the pipe inside of tank two and barely ate. I would place live worms into the tank for Shamu, but Billy would quickly eat them. We were forced to move Billy back to tank one, but the move was costly. Billy is extremely quick and it took us a half hour to capture him. When he arrived in tank one, all of the fish seemed to gravitate towards him. It was as though he was telling them what he had witnessed in the other tank. Regretfully, Billy stopped eating and died this evening. He was a great fish. RIP BILLY *Tear*{9}  {10}

“Lil O” was our third Oscar. We previously had an Oscar which looked exactly like Lil O, but he died a few months ago. “Big O” was the undisputed king of the tank. When he was alive, we didn’t own tank one, so all of the fish were in tank two; Big O was the top dog. He grew to be fairly large before dying. Lil O on the other hand was timid. He arrived on the same day as Shamu. Lil O was twice Shamu’s size, but he was frightened of Billy. Lil O is no longer with us. (More details about his death, below!) {11}

Tiger Oscar Cichlids are one of the most aggressive fish and they eat a lot. A clear example of this is “Oscar the Glut!” When he first arrived in the house, he was placed in the previous tank one as a replacement for Big O. We were super disappointed. OTG was the most timid fish we had ever seen. He literally looked like he was too scared to survive. Every day seemed like his last. To our amazement, OTG grew to be a dominant force in the tank. He is the king when it comes to consumption. OTB is always among the first to eat, and literally jumps out of the tank in search for food. There was one occasion in which he hit me on the hand with his mouth, while trying to eat. We have to be careful, especially when he is hungry. In the picture of tank one, OTG is front and center. He is white and pink. I have pictures of Oscar but they are all out of focus because he refuses to remain still. The picture is from the Internet.   {12}

The next two fish are truly unique. I’ll call them Big Skitz and Lil Skitz. Skitz is short for schizophrenic. Not only do these fish have multi-personalities, they change color according to who they are. They can be all black, white and black with red tail, or a mixture of the two. There have been numerous occasions in which people ask, “didn’t you have a black fish?” Yeah, he changes color; there are two of them. Tonight, I was attempting to get a picture of Cock-eye, until I realized I was taking a picture of Lil Skitz. He was rainbow colored. First time I ever witnessed that. I’ll post a pick of the rainbow colored lil Skitz. Big Skitz can be seen in Picture 4. {13}

We have a Dinosaur Bichir. It is a small snake like fish which always attempts to eat pieces of food which are way too big for his small mouth. He will be called the Alex fish, since my cousin Alex donated him to the tank. He is the only fish who has not grown. We’ve had him for a year. The Picture is from the Internet, but ours looks exactly the same. {14}

The Jack Dempsey is probably has coolest colors. He usually keeps to himself. {15}

The final fish inhabiting tank one is the Gold Severum. I honestly barely remember this fish is alive. {16}

We have lost some great fish, so I will show a few from Tank One.

Angel fish {17}, Fire Eel {18}

I already mentioned the fight between Scarface and the stingray in my post about sharks. {19}

The Pianiceps catfish was one of my favorites, and ended up being the first casualty in tank two. I can’t be certain, but I think Billy the Bully may have scared him into committing suicide!  {20}

There are a few feeder fish in the tank, but I’m sure they won’t survive the night. (Feeders) {21}

I also placed some treats for Shamu, tasty blue crayfish. (They are too tiny for me to capture on camera.) {22}

The Red Tail Catfish, Shamu! He is the star of the show. We were let down when we discovered that Piranhas are illegal in Massachusetts, but there was an alternative. It’s such a great feeling when a plan unfolds perfectly. When I saw videos of Red Tails online I was excited, but my enthusiasm was curbed (Shout Out to Larry David!) when I saw Shamu in the store. He was miniscule. “It is going to take forever for him to grow?” I thought. Shamu is amazing. He grows daily. At first, we only fed him krill, flakes, pellets, and worms. When he tripled in size, we decided it was time for the feeders. Shamu devoured all 24+ in one night. We were filled with excitement. We have a killer on our hands. Piranhas? No thanks!

Shamu proceeded to eat everything we fed and he grew daily. (When I say he grew, I mean he grew. You can literally notice his daily growth!) One day, I noticed that Lil O was missing. Where could he be? Shamu ate him! Then we lost Coors. (He’s was a silver bullet!) {23} Billy the Bully often picked on Shamu when he was tiny, but things changed. Billy witnessed all of the carnage, which is why we attempted to save his life. Billy was traumatized and never recovered.

Shamu lives with Tank. He is a Pleco, more commonly known as an algae fish. Tank should be safe since he has a hard body, which is difficult to digest. We’ll see how long he lasts! {24}

Shamu also lives with small twin catfish. They like to bury themselves in the sand. I haven’t seen the other one in a while, so I’m not sure if he is still alive. {25}

I will show a few pictures of Shamu, displaying his rapid growth. {26} {27} {28}



Tank One {1}

Tank Two {2}


                                                                                                      Scarface {3}


                             Walker, Lips, Cock-eye, Scarface and the little ones, and Big Skitz {4}


Walker & Diva {5}


                                                                                                 Diva {6}

                                                                                              Lips {7}


                                                                         Cock-eye scrounging for food {8}


                                                     Here is Billy kicking a young Shamu out of his favorite spot {9}


                                                              Billy  during his reign as tank Bully {10}


                                                                                  Lil O hiding from Billy {11}


                                                                   Oscar the Glut {12}


                                                          Lil Skitz in rainbow form {13}


                                                                        Alex Fish {14}


                                                                           Dempsey {15}

                                                                       Gold Severum {16}


                                                                    Angel Fish {17}


                                                                         Fire Eal {18}


                                                                    Stingray {19}


                                                                    Pianiceps catfish {20}

                                              Feeders with Shamu lurking in the background {21}


                                                                  Blue crayfish {22}

                                                                          Coors {23}


                                                                       Pleco {24}


                                                                  One of the twins {25}


                                                    Shamu about two weeks after purchase {26}


                                                              Shamu a few weeks later {27}


                                                                  Shamu tonight {28}

The tanks are great to have and we love observing the fish. I’ll definitely lose a part of me when I move to LA!







My Obsession With Sharks

My kinship with sharks began in the 80’s, exactly how you would expect–the 1975 blockbuster, ‘Jaws.’ I loved watching the movie, but I was terrified of sharks.

I can recall being eight years-old and begging my mother to pay for swimming lessons at the Huntington Ave YMCA. (The first person who posts a video of themselves listening to the village people song ‘YMCA’ while acting out the letters on facebook, will be my hero! There will also be an infinitesimal cash prize!) She didn’t want to at first, but I was spoiled so mom eventually agreed to buy a monthly membership. Excitement filled me, on the first day of lessons; I was imagining myself being the next Michael Phelps. (I know he wasn’t around back then, but can you name a famous swimmer?) I can remember the day as if it were yesterday. I entered the dressing room and changed into my brand new cheetah-print Speedo. Wait, that’s definitely not what happened. Hold on while I …

OK! I changed into my baggy Boston Celtics basketball shorts; the quintessence of cool. Sorry, I should have wrote “fresh,” it was the 80’s! My mother sat on one of the poolside benches and watched, filled with pride; her little boy was about to become one of the greatest athletes in the history of aquatic sports. I stood at the water’s edge with supreme confidence.

“Today, I will tame you, great puddle of chlorine.” I said assertively.

The instructor announced the basic rules and displayed the proper swimming stroke. I mimicked his motion perfectly; I WAS A NATURAL!

“Ok, everyone get in.” He instructed.

I sat on the deck with my feet in the water; I would go no further. “Oh mighty pool of the Young Men’s Christian Association, You have proven yourself a worthy adversary. For today, I cower at your vastness.”

There was no way in Hell anyone would be able to convince me that there were no sharks in the water. I fought and cried, as if I were a two year-old, begging a parent for a candy at the supermarket counter. Noticeably, my mom was pissed! Hello money, have you met Mr. drain? Down you go! (In case you were wondering, I didn’t set foot back inside the YMCA until my freshman year at Boston Latin School, and that was to play basketball. I have no idea what the pool looks like!)

It would be another couple years before I gained the courage to enter a pool. Even then, I would always keep close to the walls because deep down inside, no matter how ridiculous it may have seemed, I knew there was a great white shark in there somewhere.

I can remember one instance, I was either fourteen or fifteen. I was at my grandparents house, where there is an in-ground pool in the backyard; I was the only grandchild there on that sizzling afternoon. GREAT…or so I thought.

There I was, having the time of my life, jumping off the diving board and racing to the waters edge for another leap. I even swam laps to the shallow end of the pool and back. Somehow, I forgot about sharks and simply seized the day. UNTIL…

The screen door slid open and my aunt appeared. She was well aware of  my bizarre fear of sharks, but she assumed that I had gotten over the fear. Standing at the edge of the pool, she yelled, “watch out for the shark!”

My aunt laughed–I didn’t.

I swam as fast as I could to the waters edge. Words can be extremely powerful! I wanted to continue swimming, but I couldn’t muster the courage. She couldn’t believe it. “Are you crazy? You’re not going to swim because of sharks?”

In a word, “YES!”

I know it may seem insane, but until a person learns how to deal with a phobia, it will control his or her life. No matter how silly the fear may be. Although I have gained the ability to conquer my fear, it continues to exist. Every time I am in the center of a pool, I have the feeling that a shark will swim up and bite me, in the same manner that Jaws attacked the young lady at the beginning of the movie.

There is one aspect of the fear which boggles my mind. Whenever I swim in the ocean, where an actual shark can show up, I have zero fear. I am that crazy guy who is swimming so far out that you can barely see him; I can’t explain why the fear only occurs in pools. I even had a manatee swim by me while in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Florida coast. I saw the huge mammal passing, and didn’t even flinch. I also scuba-dived while in Cancun, but I wasn’t frightened. We jumped into small two-seater speedboats and raced towards the reef. I jumped in with no trepidation, completely trusting the instructor, who promised me “there will be no sharks.”

While on vacation in Jamaica, I even jumped off the booze-cruise and swam to shore. (I was drunk out of my mind and I honestly didn’t think I was going to complete the swim. Halfway there, I switched to hybrid mode, using the efficient and energy-saving backstroke. Always remember to GO-GREEN!) I also didn’t worry about sharks when I jumped off the cliff at Rick’s Café, landing in the ocean beneath. Longest fall of my life!

One might assume that my fear of sharks would make me hate the perfect, genetically engineered, killing machines but I don’t. In fact, I love sharks! One of my favorite experiences happened in Florida. (No, not with a stripper in Miami. Does your mind ever leave the gutter?) I’m referring to SEAWORLD in Orlando.

“Shamu?” You ask!

No, I’m not into whales. (Literally or figuratively!)

Seaworld has an attraction called Terrors of the Deep. It’s probably the largest fish tank in the world. (I didn’t research this fact because I would be crushed to discover there is a larger tank, in some location that I have yet to visit.) The massive tank is filled with all sorts of dangerous marine species. For me, the stars of the show were the many great white sharks. The best feature of the tank is the slow-moving walkway, which is located in a tunnel at the bottom. Being able to watch great white sharks swim over my head and alongside me was an experience that I will never forget. (Yeah, I like sharks!)

I guess I like all marine life—sharks are just my favorite! This is most likely the reason I love eating fish so much. The experience at Seaworld has always remained with me, which is why I keep fish as pets. My roommates and I now have two large aquariums, and you guessed it…THERE ARE SHARKS! Well, not exactly! In the industry, they are called iridescent sharks, but they’re really just catfish which look like sharks. We wanted to get piranhas, but they are illegal in Massachusetts, so we settled on a red-tail catfish. (Don’t tell PETA, but I love watching fish feed. I wrote settled on a red-tail catfish, but they are probably more ferocious than piranhas. **YouTube: ‘red tail catfish eats fuzzy mouse,’ you won’t be disappointed.**)

We regularly fed our fish the flakes, until the discovery of “feeder-fish,” which are tiny goldfish. The procedure is to buy many feeder-fish, then release them into the tank. The larger fish will eat the “feeders” whenever they get hungry. (It makes for a great show. **This is merely survival of the fittest!**)

We have a large tank, full of different species, and we once released thirty-two feeders. Several entertaining days later, there were only three feeder-fish remaining. I can concur with Darwin because the three feeders survived and grew to adulthood, before dying. The autopsy report from the veterinarian claimed the cause of death was AIDS, but he wasn’t completely certain!

**Kids say the darndest things** I spend a good amount of time with Amari, my nephew, and I remember one day sitting in the kitchen, in front of the fish tank. I was eating fish, obviously. (If you’re ever in the Boston area, I recommend Nos Casa Café, located on Dudley St.) He turned to the tank, then turned to my plate and said, “Don’t you feel bad?”

“Why?” I replied.

“Because you’re eating fish in front of the fish. That’s just wrong!” He reasoned.

“They don’t care!” (That was my reply, but deep down inside, we all know that they do care. **I shed one tear!**)

One day I will swim with great white sharks, in a cage of course; I like sharks, but I’m not crazy! I also want to own the world’s largest in-home aquarium. Most people can picture their dream home—I imagine my dream fish tank, with a house surrounding it. My connection to the movie Jaws is everlasting. Anyone who has ever witnessed me give a toast will recall the famous line, “Here’s to swimming with bowlegged women!”

Sadness grabbed hold of me upon my return from a trip to Miami a few years ago; I discovered that my two sharks were dead. I cared for those fish for over two years, and they grew to be a part of the family. I was so distraught that two years elapsed before I could purchase new fish. During my youth, I remember watching an episode of the Cosby Show, and Rudy was inconsolable because her pet fish, Lamont, died; I thought the burial ceremony was ridiculous. My how little the ignorant know—losing a pet fish is one of the most heartbreaking moments in a person’s life. To Rudy Huxtable, I say, “I’m sorry!”

The largest of the three sharks, has been with me more than three years, and we have made it through some tough times; I almost lost him last summer. An incident transpired with a stingray, late one cursed night. Before leaving for work, I noticed the stingray in the corner of the tank. I stepped closer, to get a better look, and determined that he was dead. Upon further inspection, I could see that his tail was completely torn off. “What the Hell happened?” I thought. I knew there would be no answers, but I had many questions.

“Who would harm an innocent stingray?”

“Was this the act of some sick human being?”

”Why did this have to happen in our tank?”

The shark was almost motionless at the other end of the tank, and he had a laceration on the right side of his face.

“How’d that happen?”

I determined that there were enough clues to solve the mysterious incident. It is my expert opinion that my shark was involved in a regrettable altercation with the stingray. I concluded that the stingray hit the shark in the face with his stinger, causing the shark to retaliate. He delivered a death-blow, ripping the stinger off, but he didn’t escape without paying the price. The Ray’s sting caused the shark to go into a state of shock, which lasted almost three days; I thought he was a goner. Eventually, order was restored. The remaining fish no longer questioned whether or not they were living with a killer, and the shark’s face healed; he is now known as Scarface.

So, when people ask me, “do you like sharks?”

I pause for a moment before replying derisively, “Yeah, lil’ bit!”

“Farewell and adieu, to you fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain.”