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Our Screwed Up Taxes

Like most everyone, I hate paying taxes. It’s not that I don’t believe in paying to a government to provide the services and protections our country needs; really I do. What I don’t believe is that our taxes are being used wisely and that I feel like we are being way overtaxed because of such misuse.

Of course, it is easy for me to make such sweeping statements without any detail; but that is still how I feel.

We all have read the stories of government excess and misappropriation of funds. We have all heard the news of government contractors charging hundreds of dollars for a hammer or screw either as outright criminals or the just as criminal good old boys network. All these things leave a bad taste in our collective mouths when we pay our required money to our state and the federal government.

All those regular taxes aside, the ones that really get me are the less than ordinary taxes we get hit with. I have written before about my feelings about prize and inheritance taxes, but within a recent article, I see another mention of taxes that cause me to grind my teeth.

If you hadn’t read or heard, the college student that was fortunate enough to emerge from the mele for the Barry Bonds record-breaking* (asterisk included) home run ball decided to auction it off. You can read about the ensuing news and interesting choice to open to the public the fate of the ball by the new owner. In the subtext of the article, though, is the part that stood out to me.

He decided to sell it, he said, because he couldn’t afford the tax bill that would result from holding onto the ball.

Some tax experts said Murphy would have owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes based on a reasonable estimate of the ball’s value even if he had never sold it. He may also have faced capital gains taxes as the ball gained value.

How wrong is it for a person to end up with a valuable ball at a baseball game to end up having taxes levied against him at the purported value of the ball> Hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes?! Our government has no business labeling this transaction one deemed required to be taxed. Now when he sells it, that makes some more sense, but if he simply has it in his possession without having purchased it in the first place it is ludicrous to have the government involved at all.

I feel the same way about person to person vehicle sales, inheritance, prize winnings, etc. The government needs to get their hands out of so many pockets and make better use of the funds already being collected. Quit looking for more ways to take a larger portion of our money and do a better job being efficient with what you have. Quit deficit spending and set an example for our nation and start the hard road of working your way out of debt and living within your “means.” How can we expect the American public to do it if our nation as a whole cannot do it either?

GREECE – Modern & Cosmopolitan

GREECEGreece is a country where old traditions have been carefully preserved as an important part of its national identity. Over a turbulent history, marked especially by foreign occupations, often bloody, “Hellenism” was at the highest price, a form of resistance that not only meant keeping the language, but also the traditions, customs, legends, literature and popular art. Despite – or perhaps because – persecutions of all kinds, cultural identity and especially Greek popular culture have been kept until today. Currently, the Greek traditions, new and old, are fascinating for tourists and sacredly respected by Greeks.

GREECEAlthough at first glance the country is modern and cosmopolitan, young people seeming to prefer entertainment in clubs and pubs, they will not hesitate to dance to traditional Greek music, they know the lyrics and respect all the customs and celebrations, as the generations before them did as well.

In Greece, the respect for values and customs of the past is essential. Many of them have become unwritten laws that are respected by the Greeks. The country is revealed as a special place, with often usual rules for foreigners, but will all that even more interesting. It’s a way of living life to the fullest but with great respect for the others.

Don’t even think about the fact that in Greece you will find someone eating alone, on the run, at a table. Something like this is unthinkable. The meal is the best opportunity to socialize and lasts for hours.

GREECE

Known for its many ancient ruins, white villages, sunny beaches, delicious cuisine and friendly atmosphere, Greece is among the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. It consists of a mountainous mainland and hundreds of islands with stunning scenery, historical sites, nightlife and culture. For example, Corfu is the most northern Ionic island in Greece, which reflects numerous cultural and architectural influences of many foreign empires that led it across the centuries: from Roman to Byzantine, Venetian, French and British.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana is a state located in the Southern United States. Its capital is Baton Rouge and the largest city is New Orleans. It owns the tallest state capitol building in the United States, which is 450 feet tall and features 34 floors. In Metairie you will find the longest bridge over water, in the world, known under the name of Pontchartrain causeway and is 24 miles long. It links Metairie with St. Tammany Parish on the North Shore.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana is the only state in the union that has parishes as political subdivisions and not counties. The state received this name in honor of King Louis XIV.

Another well known facts about Louisiana refer to the state’s bird, which is the Eastern Brown Pelican, the state’s flower represented by the magnolia, the state’s tree, which is known under the name of Bald Cypress, “Give me Louisiana” –the official song, the state’s wildflower represented by The Louisiana Iris, or the official insect, which is a honeybee.

LOUISIANA

As for the local cuisine, they are proud of their boudin, which is a type of sausage link used in Cajun and Creole dishes. It is made of rice and ingredients like crawfish, pork, alligator, etc.. Also, the turduke is a partially deboned turkey with a deboned duck inside and a deboned chicken inside that, each having a different stuffing. Isn’t that an interesting dish?

A funny thing is that in Louisiana if you bite someone with your natural teeth, the act will be considered an assault, but if you bite that person with your false teeth, the act will be considered an aggravated assault.

This state’s official colors are gold, white and blue and the state motto is “Union, Justice, Confidence”. In conclusion, we can say that Louisiana is indeed a state of contrasts.

New Orleans Cooking Vacation

Cooking School Vacations in Italy 1New Orleans is a city known for its good times and great eats. The city’s impressive restaurants, rich food heritage and focus on culinary arts make New Orleans a popular destination for cooking vacations. A variety of museums, cooking schools, culinary festivals and events, and fine and causal restaurants provide many opportunities for culinary travelers visiting the Crescent City.

Museums

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is home to a variety of collections and exhibits designed to give visitors insight into the city’s rich food heritage and the role that food and cooking play in New Orleans culture.

Demonstrations

Demonstration classes at the New Orleans School of Cooking in the French Quarter offer visitors the opportunity to learn how to make creole and Cajun favorites from entertaining experts. The two and a half hour demonstration classes include generous samples of the four dishes made during each class.

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Hands-on Experiences

The Savvy Gourmet offers culinary travelers the opportunity to learn how to cook with hands-on experience. Small hands-on classes taught by talented chefs are offered on a variety of topics including local Louisiana cooking, cooking fundamentals and international cuisine.

Events

The New Orleans Food and Wine Experience and Tales of the Cocktail are held in New Orleans each year. Each event is designed to enrich people’s understanding of New Orleans cooking and cuisine through a series of dinners, tastings and seminars.

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Dining

Much can be learned about New Orleans cooking and cuisine by dining in a variety of restaurants on a New Orleans cooking vacation. A complete New Orleans cooking vacation should include meals in some of the city’s fine dining establishments as well as the smaller hidden gems.

Vacation Packages

The New Orleans Cooking Experience offers two types of vacation packages. Visitors can sign up for weekend or long weekend vacation packages that offer multiple cooking classes and meals.

The Best South Beach Hotels on a Budget

Beach House Decorating Ideas

Beach House Decorating Ideas Miami’s South beach (SoBe) is a great place to visit for the young, old and anyone in between. There are so many things to see and do that you’ll wish you had left more “empty” time in your schedule to just sit by the pool or on the beach.

Although there are many expensive South Beach hotels you could choose, there are hotels for the budget-minded, and you might be surprised at the prices available if you travel either side of the busy season. If you travel from May to September, you are going to find fewer people and lower prices on hotels as well as restaurants.

The prices quoted change frequently and give you a basic idea of average prices in May.
The Big Names–Not So Inexpensive
Fountainbleau is located at 4401 Collins Ave–right on SoBe and offers more than 1500 rooms. Prices start at $329 for a May visit in this extraordinary hotel.

Gansevoot South is a luxurious hotel located at 2377 Collins Ave, again, right on the beach. Rates begin at $325 for a stay in May.

OK, so you don’t have that much money…

Beach House Decorating IdeasReality–Lodging YOU Can Afford
For under $100 a night, here’s what you get:
*Collins Ave is right across the street from SoBe

The Continental Oceanfront (1825 Collins Ave) (800) 555-7555 (online reservations at: www.continentalhotelsouthbeach.com/bookit.asp) $74/night

Beach Place Hotel (8601 Harding Ave) (305) 866-3215 www.beachplacehotel.com $79/night

The Chesterfield (855 Collins Ave) (305) 531-5831 $77/night

The Kent (1131 Collins Ave) (305) 604-5068 www.thekenthotel.com $89/night

Ocean Surf (7436 Ocean Terrace) (305) 866-1648 $65/night (one of the very few hotels on the beach)

Hawaii Hotel (7430 Ocean Terrace) (305) 861-3440 $65/night (also on the beach)

Bay Breeze Hotel (6600 Colline Ave) (800) 385-8893 $59 to 69/night

Many of these rates were “online” rates through sites like trav.com or priceline.com, as of 2009.

Beach House Decorating IdeasOther Options
There is hostel-type lodging available at the following:

AAE Lombardy Hotel & Hostel (6300 Collins Road)

Miami Beach International Traveler’s Hostel (9th Street)

Jazz on South Beach (321 Collins Ave)

Reservations for these hostels should be made through www.hostel.com and rates are as low as $15 per night.