Archive for March, 2006

Immigration Debate Reaches Orlando (sort of)

The Orlando Farmworker Solidarity Coalition will hold a protest for farmworkers rights at “the world’s largest” McDonald’s, 6875 W. Sand Lake Rd., Orlando 32819-9349 (near the intersection of W. Sand Lake Rd. and International Dr.) , on Sat., April 1 from noon-2 p.m.

This action is being organized in conjunction with the 2006 McDonald’s Truth Tour, “The Real Rights Tour,” organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a community-based worker organization largely made-up of Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. The 17-city tour (March 26-April 4) is the first major, national educational effort to build awareness among McDonald’s consumers of the urgent need for justice in Florida’s fields and of the power McDonald’s has to help raise wages and improve working conditions in those fields. The Orlando event will coincide with a major march and rally that the CIW will hold on April 1 in Chicago, the home of the McDonald’s Corp.

The farmworkers and their supporters in Chicago and Orlando will call on the fast-food giant to work with the CIW and help ESTABLISH REAL LABOR RIGHTS FOR THE WORKERS WHO PICK TOMATOES FOR McDONALD’S SUPPLIERS. The workers and their allies will be seeking:

  • The right to a fair wage for the tomato harvesters, after more than
    25 years of sub-poverty wages and stagnant piece rates;

  • The right for farmworkers to participate in the decisions that affect their lives, after decades of sweatshop conditions and humiliating labor relations;
  • The right to a real code of conduct based on modern labor standards,after McDonald’s and its suppliers unilaterally imposed a hollow code of conduct comprised of minimal labor standards and suspect monitoring

For more information see the Coalition for Immokalee Workers website.

My personal thoughts on the issue at my blog.

AOL City Guide Lists Best O-Town Eats & Drinks

Looking to try a new Orlando restaurant or bar, but not sure where to start? Want to know where the best coffeehouses and vegetarian-friendly eateries are? Which place has the best beer selection or best selection of singles? This might help — AOL City Guide published their annual “City’s Best” lists this week.

The nominees were chosen by City Guide editors and then voted upon by visitors to the site. The top five or so winners are now listed in 24 dining and 14 nightlife categories. This is by no means the definitive list of “the best” this city has to offer. Opinions are always subjective, and when ruled by tastebuds, extremely personal. Case in point, many of the category winners are places I’ve never eaten at, yet my regular faves are not listed.

I was happy to see First Watch (Best Breakfast) and The Dessert Lady Cafe (Best Desserts) listed, but can’t believe Kim Wu’s didn’t make the Best Chinese or Best Cheap Eats lists. And I know there are places that make margaritas better than Jimmy Buffet’s at CityWalk.

But it is a good place to start your search for something new to try. View the lists for yourself at City’s Best 2006, and then let me know what you think is missing.

Fun With Tourists


Here’s a shot of an excited little guy at the Animal Kingdom Lodge…they were feeding the giraffes when his family came through the observation area, and I thought he would explode from the happiness. The hotel is free, and the parks cost sixtysomething dollars, don’t they? His parents could’ve saved money.

Favorite overheard question from a Disney guest: “Do they keep the animals outside?” (No, hon, that’s why your room smells funny.)

I am suffering from The Flu That Wouldn’t Die, a plague that seems to be crippling most of Orlando. On a related note, if your throat is as sore as mine is right now, Disney seems to be selling Italian gelato at certain locations on the property. The stuff’s like heaven! I mean, you’ll still be sick, but at least you’ll be sugar-amped.

The traffic on SR 535 looked like the evacuation scene in “Independence Day,” so I would have to say Spring Break is not yet over. Proceed into Buena Vista with great caution–which, come to think of it, is pretty much always good advice…

We’re a city of terrible drivers

tn_1-traffic-management.jpgI know we live in a tourist town with lots of out-of-town, out-of-state … even out-of-country drivers. And many times they are driving cars that are foreign to them, reading signs that might even be foreign… and goodness knows that for some, driving on the right side of the road is COMPLETELY foreign.

I do not wish to pick on a particular group of drivers, just driving in general.

With our traffic issues, I think we all need to be more considerate than ever and try to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. But I’m afraid it’s quite the opposite to my mind. When did it become OK to just stop in the middle of .. say… Orange Ave (during heavy traffic I might add) because you JUST realized that you are in the right lane and you NEED to be in the left turn lane… in less than 50 feet. I mean does a mistake on YOUR part justify punishing the rest of us?!? Your stopping in the middle of the road creates a bottleneck that extends back for a 1/2 mile as all of the cars STUCK behind you in the right line finally figure out that we’re going to have to go AROUND you to get where we’re going. Meanwhile, you sit there… blinker on…. neck craned as you peer hopelessly at the traffic and wonder how you’re going to get over.

Here’s a thought… If you make a mistake, inadvertant or otherwise, go on THROUGH the intersection and find a logical place to turn around. If you make the mistake, you should be the one inconvienenced, not the rest of us.

It’s bad enough out there with the tourists making sweeping-four-lane-at-a-time-right-hand turns…. we don’t need oafish locals making things worse.

For the record, this happened to me three times today. I think it’s a new record. Makes you wonder who teaches people to drive nowadays… seems like there’s hardly any courtesy at all.

And to the fellow in the tricked out black truck who thought he could make me feel intimidated while I was allowing another car to cross in front while we approached a red light…. you need to learn a bit of patience and courtesy.

fire in the hole!

Brush Fire Forces Orange County School To Go Into Lockdown

Hopefully this won’t get as bad as it did several years ago. Anyone got any on scene pictures? Florida is mega-dry right now, we need some activator.

Mates of State

Indie band Mates of State will be performing at the Social March 29.

The married couple Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel’s sound is unabashedly happy, melodic, and at times poppy. The only instruments they play are an organ and a set of drum, yet they are able to fill a room with their sound. Their latest release “Bring it Back” exhibits not only their love for each other, but an exploration of sounds on the organ and beats on the drum unseen on their previous records.

The duo can in no way be prepared to The Whites Stripes, who exhibit a grungier sound compared to Mates of State. MOS are notorious for Kori’s gentle voice and twee pop sound’s of Jason.

For more information go to

We need a medic!

So the State Board of Governors has approved building a medical school at the University of Central. This is a proposal that has been on deck for quite some time, but if the funding comes in quickly enough the new facility could begin its curriculum as early as fall 2008. The cost? Close to $200 million when all is said and done.

Once this thing gets established it will no doubt draw more business and scientific ventures to Orlando. UCF’s consultants predict the Orlando school could help spark the development of a biomedical cluster, attracting research, venture capital and companies that, in time, will provide thousands of high-paying jobs. Perhaps then Orlando can shed its reputation as “simply a tourist town.”

Yet Another Coffee Shop

It’s hard to keep up with the incredible, inflated, exponential growth of the coffee-shop industry in west Orlando, but I found a pretty good one at the corner of Bluford and Route 50 in Ocoee (across the street from the old Scotty’s, which is now a Westgate call center). It’s called House Blend Café, in the new plaza. My cappucino was nice and strong–I have to believe the espresso could probably walk you to your car–and it was well-appointed for hanging out. The owners have included big leather couches, board games, coffee tables, etc. along with the usual mix of café tables.

I know they’ve already had a crawfish boil, and they advertise live music. They’re VERY big into charity and community events. Ask about their email sign-up if you want to be kept in the loop, because I think they’re trying to add new stuff all the time. And they have free wireless Internet access! Their site is

If you’re sifting through the glut of coffeehouses west of I-4, I can safely recommend this one. Nice people, good coffee, free Internet…I’m a simple woman. That’s pretty much enough to make me happy.

“The NEA Tapes” movie screening

There will be a screening of the movie “The NEA Tapes” at the University of Central Florida on Friday at 2:30pm. It will be held in the Visual Arts Building rm. 111.

This film discusses how National Endowment for the Arts of 1965 was created, as well as addresses the rising censorship in art. The film presents 54 individuals who have initiated change through various multicultural and demographic areas of art. It is 60 minutes long and it portrays how censorship affects not only the artist, but society at as a whole.

Orlando 5th Unhealthiest City in U.S.

Well I for one was shocked when I head this last Monday morning on the MIX 105.1 Scott and Erica morning show. Orlando, our City Beautiful was the 5th Unhealthiest City in the US. Best Places released a list of the worst cities in the US, in terms of health.

“Despite its reputation as a vacation destination, Orlando had one of the lowest scores in mental wellness. Its residents reported sleep problems and poor physical and mental health. On the bright side, levels of reported diabetes and hypertension were below average, as was high cholesterol.”

The other cities were… 10. Indianapolis 9. Las Vegas 8. New York City 7. Detroit 6. Columbus, Ohio 5. Orlando 4. Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria 3. Cincinnati 2. San Antonio 1. New Orleans

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