Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dive the Philippines - February 10 - 24, 2018

This flyer is being posted to the Sarasota Scuba Club website.  If you are interested in doing either segment of the trip with us let me know.

DIVE THE PHILIPPINES!
February 10 – 24, 2018

Have you fantasized about diving in an exotic tropical locale?  Does the thought of swimming with Whale Sharks, the largest fish on earth, give you an adrenaline rush?  Would you invest a little more time to become a PADI certified Thresher Shark Diver?  If you answered yes to any of those questions then we have the trip for you!

Photo by Thresher Shark Divers

Sarasota Scuba Club member Cathy Hayslett is reaching a “milestone” birthday on February 22, 2018, and to celebrate it we are traveling to the Philippine island of Cebu on a hotel/dive package.  First we will be at the Turtle Bay Dive Resort for 7 nights, all-inclusive including 15 dives for $1070 p/p double.  From there we transfer to Malaspacua Island for 4 nights all-inclusive including 10 dives at the Tepanee Beach Resort for $717 p/p double.  This is the Thresher Shark site.

This is not a Scuba Club trip per se, just an opportunity to dive the Philippines at a remarkably cheap rate.  You are welcome to come along to both resorts, or only one if you choose.  Also, if 15 dives are too many there is a 10 dive package at Turtle Bay for $948 all-inclusive.

The most logistically easy routing is to take Emirates Airlines from Orlando via Dubai, United Arab Emirates, then nonstop to Cebu.  Roundtrip is $1187.  It’s an arm and a leg in Business Class.  Of course you are welcome to make your own flight arrangements using a favored airline or departure airport.

If any of this whets your appetite for dive adventure contact Craig Faanes.  Our arrangements are being made by a tour operator in Orlando and also one in the Philippines.  I can put you in touch with either or both if you desire.


Cathy and I look forward to hearing from you and also descending to the bottom of the Philippine Sea with you!

The Dive Resorts

The first seven nights we will stay at the Turtle Bay Dive Resort near Moalboal on the west coast of Cebu Island.  Not only is Turtle Bay a great dive site but here is where we have a chance of swimming among Whale Sharks.  And, if we are lucky, we will see those humongous sardine balls you've no doubt watched on National Geographic Wild channel programs.  Turtle Bay consistently receives rave reviews on Trip Advisor from its past guests and the setting looks stunning.  You can make your own reservations for Turtle Bay by contacting:

Kim Mackey
Senior Dive Specialist
Caradonna Worldwide Dive Adventures
Longwood, Florida
Phone: 800-328-2288 x 109
kim@caradonna.com

The specifics of our dive package include the following:

Hotel package is $948 per person, which includes:  Round trip airport transfers from Cebu, 7 nights accommodations in a deluxe sea view room based on double occupancy, 3 meals daily, 10 dive package (9 guided boat dives + 1 guided shore dive),  use of tanks, weights and belt, hotel taxes and service charges.  There is also the option to upgrade to a 15 dive package, if you want to do more diving?   Would increase your price by $122 per person (13 guided boat dives + 2 guided shore dives).

The second part of our journey will stay at the Tepanee Beach Resort on Malapascua Island, a short ferry ride from the north tip of Cebu Island.  Here we will be diving with Thresher Shark Divers   Its here, appropriately enough, that we can dive with Thresher Sharks and if you are interested (like Cathy and I are) you can obtain PADI specialty certification as a Thresher Shark Diver. This is the only dive shop in the world where that distinctive specialty can be earned.

Our arrangements are being made through Andrea at Thresher Shark Divers on the island.  You can reach her at dive@thresherdivers.com to make your own travel arrangements.

The dive package we are using includes the following:
Package details

· Resort:  standard AC room, see below*
· Meals: Breakfast
· Transfers: round trip from airport/ Cebu city; private road and boat trip; shuttle boat and porter fees in Maya and Malapascua
· Dives:  per person (tanks, weight, boat, DM; free tea, coffee and drinking water on the boats)
· Thresher Shark Tshirt, mask strap or log book with all dive packages of 10 or more dives
Package price
Per person, in PHP (approx. USD = 49, EUR = 53, GBP = 63, check xe.com for current bank rate)
· Slams/Blue Coral/Cocobana: 
o    7 nights/16 dives: 38,100
o    10 nights/20 dives: 48,500
· Tepanee upgrades  (highly recommended) +P400/700/1200 per person per night, for standard/superior/deluxe
· Free
· Wi-fi at the dive shop and restaurant for all our customers (subject to island connection)
· Tea, coffee and drinking water on the boats
· Thresher Shark Tshirt, mask strap or log book with all dive packages of 10 or more dives

Want something different?

· We offer 4-5 dives a day (including a dusk or night dive), so you can add on more diving if you wish! You can choose your dives from our daily schedule which usually includes several sites in each time slot. 
· Want to change your package?  No problem, just let us know your requirements. We also offer diving only packages if you prefer to book your own resort.

Exclusions (depending on dive)

· Marine park fee/tax: P150 per day
· Monad Shoal marine protection fee: P50 per dive (shark dive only)
· Equipment rental: P350 per dive / 700 per day
· Night/dusk dive surcharge: +P250
· Torch (light) rental: P300
· Computer rental P500 per day
· Dona Marilyn Trip: +P350 (fuel surcharge) per person
· Calangaman Trip: +P850 (350 fuel surcharge, 500 marine fee) per person (Surcharge may be more if we do not reach minimum numbers)
· Kimud Shoal Trip: +P250 (fuel surcharge) per person
· Gato: We do not charge extra for Gato :-)
· Nitrox: +P350 (package rates available)
· 15 litre or 10 litre tanks: +P100/500 for air/nitrox

Additional exclusions

· Night boat transfer: +P1000
· Full board meals (lunch and dinner): P900 per person, per day

*Resort

· Packages quoted are for standard AC rooms or cottages with AC, en suite bathroom with hot water shower, wi-fi, most come with balcony, based on twin occupancy.  Priced for:
o     Slams - very close, 100m back from the beach but some seaview rooms, pool.
o    Cocobana - very close, some beachfront and seaview rooms. Pool. Upgrades available. 
o    Blue Coral - very close, package rooms with amazing seaviews. They also have a great deal on their garden view fan rooms.  
· Tepanee Resort -we highly recommend Tepanee, it costs a little more, but is well worth the difference. It is 3-5 minutes walk from the dive shop. Some seaview rooms, private beach. Price is +P400/700/1200 per person per night, for standard/superior/deluxe, based on twin share.  Deluxe rooms are very private and have an amazing seaview, great value :) 
· Other possible resorts include:
o    Blanco - more expensive, really nice resort with great sea views, worth the extra
o    Ocean Vida and Legend - more expensive, a few minutes walk, a pool at Legend
o    Malapascua Garden Resort, Celtis and Hilteys - a few minutes walk, less expensive rooms off the main beach
· Included meals may be provided at Oscar's Restaurant at the dive center depending on the resort. 
· We are upfront about charges and inclusions. If comparing, beware that online booking sites do not always accurately portray the original price, their discounts, room type, taxes, fees and meals. Our prices are inclusive and should match any price offered online. If you find any difference, please ask! 
· Thresher Cove - they are a new resort that are not affiliated with us and are located in a remote area on the other side of the island. We advise against staying here if you are diving and want to be near the main area. 
· Cheaper options: you can save if you prefer a fan room, even more if you want backpacker. This backpacker/dorm place has great reviews and you can book directly online: http://www.exploremalapascua.com.ph


Why TSD?

TSD is British owned and run; one of the country's top PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centers and a multiple award-winning dive shop. We consistently win PADI's top annual award for "Outstanding Contribution to the Dive Industry" and have many customers who return again and again. Our DMs are highly trained, each with thousands of dives around Malapascua and laser eyes to find all that hidden macro!  And our instructor team is the most experienced on the island. So you can be assured that with us, you will have only the best: top quality service, unrivalled professionalism and a safe and most of all fun diving vacation from start to finish!  

About our thresher sharks!

You are very lucky - there has never been a better time to come for thresher sharks :-) TSD has been diving a new site and the sightings have been amazing, the best in the 14 years we have been here!  You can catch regular updates and photos on Facebook 
Including an incredible video.

TSD has a very special spot where we dive for threshers and we believe it is the best shark experience you will get on Malapascua! Let me tell you why!  
o    Most other shops go to one of two very small cleaning stations to see  the sharks. Here the divers stay in the same spot and kneel behind a rope waiting for a shark to appear. There are usually 4-8 boats at each spot so you will see a lot of other divers and there is not much to see if you do not see a shark.  
o    TSD dives in a different area, where there are rarely any other boats and it has many cleaning stations. So it’s never too busy.  We have spectacular, often close up sightings almost every day, in a much more private setting. It’s is also more interesting as it’s a “swimming” dive with the chance to see many other creatures like frogfish and ghost pipefish as well as other pelagics like rays and other sharks!



Getting There

There are a zillion different options for traveling from the Sarasota-Bradenton area to Cebu Island.  We spent about 5 hours researching those options and found that traveling on Emirates Airlines from Orlando via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, is the most logistically easy option.  Emirates is consistently ranked among the top three airlines in the world (right up there with Qatar Airlines and Singapore Airlines) so it should be a treat to fly with them. The roundtrip airfare, depending on the day of departure, is about $1200.00 USD.  Its about $5,500 in Business Class, and its astronomical in First Class.  Travel to Cebu from Orlando involves a 14 hour lay over in Dubai which will give you a brief opportunity to savor a little Arabic culture.  The Dubai Airport is ultra-ultra modern and a real treat to occupy.  

It is possible to fly from either Tampa or Sarasota on Delta or United or American Airlines to Cebu and a couple of the options are slightly cheaper.  However each involves LONG layovers in Tokyo or Manila, and excruciatingly long (40 some hours) travel time on the return.  Plus there is the issue of using multiple airlines which greatly increases opportunities for lost luggage and missed connections.  For those reasons we are going with the Emirates option.

If you want to make a reservation with them click here 

Other airlines that are reasonable options include Delta which will require connections in Atlanta (of course), and Tokyo and Manila. In the latter you'll connect to Philippines Airlines or Cebu Pacific Airlines for the hour long segment to Cebu.

You can also travel on United Airlines which will take you via Chicago and either Tokyo or Hong Kong and Manila for your segment to Cebu.  

A third option is American Airlines via Charlotte, Los Angeles and either Tokyo or Hong Kong and Manila for the final segment to Cebu.  

Finally, if you have lots of time and want to explore all sorts of options try booking a flight using Orbitz.com   There the routings and prices are almost endless.  

Our Proposed Itinerary

The currently planned itinerary for the trip Cathy and I are taking follows.  We hope you can join us for some or all of this adventure!



Day 1     February 10        Saturday
Leave    Orlando                                                1:30 p.m.             Emirates Airlines
Day 2     February 11        Sunday                                                 (13 hours 50 minutes)
Arrive    Dubai, United Arab Emirates              12: 20 pm
14 hours 25 minutes between flights. 
Day 3     February 12        Monday
Leave    Dubai                                                    2:45 a.m.              Emirates Airlines
Arrive    Cebu, Philippines                                 3:25 p.m.             (8 hours 50 minutes)
Transfer to Turtle Bay Beach Resort $1070.           All-inclusive rate includes 15 dives
Day 4     February 13        Tuesday             Dive
Day 6     February 14         Wednesday       Dive
Day 7     February 15        Thursday           Dive
Day 8     February 16        Friday                Dive
Day 9     February 17        Saturday             Dive
Day 10  February 18        Sunday               Dive
Day 11 February 19        Monday
Transfer to Thresher Shark Divers and Tepanee Beach Resort on Malapascua Island 
$717.   All-inclusive rate includes 10 dives and transfers  
Day 12 February 20        Tuesday               Dive with Thresher Sharks
Day 13 February 21        Wednesday        Dive
Day 14 February 22        Thursday           Dive
Day 15 February 23        Friday                 Transfer from Malaspascua Island to Cebu City airport
Leave    Cebu                                               5:05 p.m.             Emirates Airlines
Day 16   February 24        Saturday            (12 hours 5 minutes with stop in Manila)
Arrive    Dubai                                             1:10 a.m.
Leave    Dubai                                              2:50 a.m.              Emirates
Arrive    Orlando                                          9:55 a.m.              (16 hours 5 minutes)

Airfare $1233 round trip from Orlando
Total travel time Orlando to Cebu 37 hours 5 minutes (includes 14 hours 25 minutes in Dubai)
Total travel time Cebu to Orlando 29 hours 50 minutes
Total roundtrip travel distance is 24,646 air miles



Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Proposal to Help Control Lionfish on Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles


Lionfish, an insidious, voracious, invasive species that is decimating reef fish populations throughout the Caribbean and along the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic coasts.  Photo by Akingslife.com

Shortly after Hurricane Andrew roared ashore near Miami in late August 1992, some misinformed individual decided to release his or her collection of Lionfish into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean (the guesstimate is that 8 individuals were released).  Native to waters of the Southwest Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Lionfish found themselves in an environment where they had no natural predators.  Add to that their possession of highly venomous spines on at least three parts of their bodies, the Lionfish were suddenly thrust into an aquatic nirvana where their population and range exploded.  


Lionfish are native to the areas shown in green and blue on this map; they have invaded the areas shown in red - all since 1992 and all because someone released eight of them near Miami!

Lionfish reproduce like crazy; females produce up to 30,000 eggs each month and young females begin producing eggs at 2 months of age!  On top of their fecundity that would put a Mormon to shame, they are voracious eaters, consuming anything and everything that they can fit in their mouths.  In some places they are decimating reef fish populations that so many SCUBA divers enjoy while pursuing their sport

Absent any natural predators in Atlantic/Gulf/Caribbean waters the only possible way of controlling their burgeoning populations is through hunting/spearing them.  All a diver needs is a spear and a Zookeeper containment tube to hold the fish (and protect the diver from the venomous spines) after each fish is speared.


A spear and a Zookeeper are all that you need to help control this insidious predator.  Just make sure you don't spear your carpet when you are practicing with the spear on dry land :)

Because of the serious threat posed by Lionfish, the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) recently developed and implemented a Lionfish Hunter certification program that is offered through some PADI dive centers.  During a recent dive trip to Bonaire, Cathy Hayslett and I successfully completed the PADI Lionfish Hunter course and now, like Secret Agent James Bond, we are licensed to kill.

We completed the course at Toucan Diving Bonaire located at the Plaza Resort Bonaire which, in our estimation, are the best place to stay and the best dive shop to dive with on the island.  Hagen Wegener, a PADI Instructor (a Brit who is married to a fellow Wisconsin Badger!) did a masterful job of teaching us the proper way to hunt, kill, and contain Lionfish.  During our two certification dives with Hagen we eliminated two Lionfish from the reefs of Bonaire and the following day killed 10 more.

Look for these signs while on Bonaire - stay at the Plaza Resort Bonaire and dive with Toucan Diving Bonaire - and you will be assured of a fantastic time on the island.

However, because of local regulations, that was the end of our Lionfish hunting during our stay. Those local regulations require that visitors be accompanied by a local, licensed Lionfish hunter otherwise it is illegal for us to hunt and help remove Lionfish - even though we are trained in the proper way to remove them.  Curiously visitors on nearby Curacao, just 47 miles west of Bonaire and a fellow part of the Netherlands Antilles,  are not only allowed but encouraged to hunt and kill Lionfish and do so on their own.  Yet, on Bonaire the restriction remains in place.

This was particularly frustrating while diving after our training when we were with divemasters who were not licensed to kill Lionfish.  We saw many Lionfish on subsequent dives, usually out in the open, seemingly begging us to hunt them.  However because of the law all we could do was look at them.

After thinking about this issue for a few days I developed a potential solution to the issue and have proposed it to the Lieutenant Governor of Bonaire (appointed as the overseer of the island by the Queen of the Netherlands).  This morning I wrote the following letter to the Lieutenant Governor and laid out a proposal that could help reduce Lionfish populations on Bonaire and result in the generation of funds for local Lionfish control and management on the island.  I also copied the letter to STINAPA - the local agency that manages the Bonaire National Marine Park.

I certainly hope the Lieutenant Governor and STINAPA find this proposal to be workable and they begin allowing trained Lionfish Hunters to help them remove invasive Lionfish from their waters.  I don't want to make it sound emotional like something the National Audubon Society or Sierra Club would say, but the future of the reef fish population on Bonaire depends on reducing or eliminating the Lionfish population.  This proposal is one step in that journey.  I hope the plan works.   Cathy and I (with our spears) will be on the next plane bound for Bonaire if this happens!



March 5, 2017


The Honorable Edison Rinja
Lieutenant Governor of Bonaire
Management Office
Plasa Reina Wilhelmina 1
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

Dear Mr. Lieutenant Governor,

During February 18-25, 2017, Cathy Hayslett and I spent a wonderful week of SCUBA diving on your beautiful island.  While there we stayed at the Plaza Resort Bonaire and as part of our SCUBA experience we participated in the PADI Lionfish Hunter certification course taught by Hagen Wegerer of Toucan Diving.  During our training dives we eliminated two invasive Lionfish from your reefs and the following day we removed 10 more.  However, because of the rules on Bonaire that restrict Lionfish removal to only those individuals accompanied by a local, licensed, Lionfish hunter,  we were unable to legally take any more Lionfish even though we saw dozens more.   

Lionfish, as you most certainly are aware, are causing serious problems for reef fish populations throughout the Caribbean, and as far up the Atlantic coast as New York State.  Their voracious appetite and the complete lack of any natural predators is causing Lionfish populations to increase exponentially.  Currently, and until a natural predator is found or some sort of artificial control is developed, the only way to hope to control the threat to reef fishes and other organisms is to hunt and remove Lionfish.  Many divers like myself and Cathy would love to help remove Lionfish from your reefs and help to ensure the long-term viability of reef fish populations (and consequently a huge part of the economy of Bonaire).  However unless we are accompanied by one of the few local licensed Lionfish hunters that can’t happen.

As a retired US Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist I am painfully aware of the issues involved with the public and its involvement/influence on natural resources.  However, and with my professional background, I am also aware of the benefit that the public can offer resource management through the active participation in resource management on top of the sale of fishing licenses or hunting licenses.

My suggestion to you is in line with what the government of Curacao is doing to help control Lionfish populations.  However my suggestion is a bit more restrictive and would result in a money-making proposition for local resource management agencies like STINAPA- Bonaire.  I would like to suggest that you change the rules so that Lionfish hunting is allowed on Bonaire by visitors but only after 1) everyone completes the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) Lionfish Hunter certification course and 2) every Lionfish diver purchases a Lionfish Hunting permit.  Already we pay $25 US for a year-long permit to dive in the Marine National Park.  Why not charge $10 US (or even $20 US) more for a Lionfish hunting permit and then earmark those funds for Lionfish management on the island?

Perhaps to ensure that only Lionfish are being taken by visitors, make it an additional stipulation that all Lionfish taken by visitors must be registered with the dive shop from which the Lionfish hunter dives or rents their dive equipment.  There are ways to gather data on the Lionfish that would also prove useful for their management – things like 1) the location hunted, 2) the number of Lionfish seen, 3) the number harvested, 4) size of each fish, and 5) the gender of each fish.  Taking it a step farther, visitor-harvested Lionfish could also be examined for stomach contents to determine what species of reef fish are being most impacted by the presence of this insidious, voracious, predator.

I hope that you find my proposal not only professional but also workable.  There is simply too much at risk on Bonaire and its mega-popular reef fish population to not take some additional steps to control Lionfish that pose such a realistic threat to the continued viability of the SCUBA diving economy of your beautiful island.

Should you find my proposal to be something of interest I would be delighted to offer my advice and expertise as a professional wildlife biologist on implementing a program that allows well-trained visitors to assist your government in reducing or maybe eliminating the threat posed by Lionfish.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Still Think The Donald Deserves a Chance?


Still think we should "give him a chance"?

We are 5 days in. PAY ATTENTION!
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama, and is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.

How much of a chance do we need to give?

Why Wasn't Vern Buchanan "Working For" 10,000 Constituents Last Saturday?


Every two years, our mailboxes are filled with campaign literature from Congressman Vern Buchanan in which he woos us with tales of “listening to” his constituents because he is supposedly “working for” us in Washington DC. His re-election campaign literature makes it seems as if the Congressman turns into Charles Atlas when he steps off the plane at Washington National airport each Tuesday morning before returning to his office on Capitol Hill.

This past Saturday, January 21, more than 10,000 of his constituents marched in solidarity over the Ringling Bridge to protest politically-motivated cuts to women’s health programs, the destruction of the Affordable Care Act, human rights, and many similar issues that destined for dismantling by the incoming Trump Administration and by the Congress.

Despite all of those campaign promises by Vern Buchanan to “listen to” his constituents I didn’t see him anywhere near the Ringling Bridge on Saturday. He certainly wasn’t working for us on Saturday. 

If our Congressman was actually “listening to” his constituents he would have been “working for” us by leading the march over the Ringling Bridge showing his personal solidarity with his constituents. Instead and once again, our supposedly hard working Congressman was nowhere to be seen.

His campaign rhetoric, like the Congressman himself, is hollow. Yet this Congressional District continues to re-elect him every two years. I’ve had enough of not being listened to on issues that are of monumental importance to more than his campaign contributors. When will the rest of his constituents have a similar epiphany?

Friday, December 16, 2016

How Do I Register as a Muslim?


This morning I sent the following letter to US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and a slightly different one to my Congressman Vern Buchanan.  In both letters I asked for their guidance on how, when, and where to sign up for Donald Trump's Muslim registry.  This is especially important now that I have converted to Islam solely so I can be on this Registry.  I am also blind copying the letters to the FBI and to The Donald himself at Trump Tower.  I'll post any responses here on my blog.

December 16, 2016


Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington DC, 20510

Re:  Muslim Registry

Dear Mark,

During his successful campaign for the Presidency (successful if you consider that he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes that is) Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that upon taking over the Presidency he would establish a registry for Muslim people in the United States.  We tried something similar once before in America – remember those Japanese internment camps during World War II?

However, and despite that horrible and embarrassing chapter in our nation’s history, President-elect Trump is set to embark on a similar course of disrespecting an entire race of people.  And this time, for good measure, he is going to be disrespecting an entire religion (whatever happened to freedom of religion in America?).

In anticipation of there being a Muslim registry in the United States, I have recently converted to Islam and am now a full-fledged Muslim (praise be to Allah).  Accordingly I look forward to being able to be among the first to sign up for this registry.  There is only one slight problem – I don’t know yet how when or where to register.  Thus I am writing to you for guidance.

Will the Muslim Registry be set up like the draft was for those of us old enough to have been drafted to serve in Vietnam?  Will there be an US Office of Muslim Registry or will those duties be handled by some already existing agency like the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives?  How soon after January 20 2017 will I have to be registered?  Can registration be done online or will it have to be in person?  Will I receive some sort of marking on my skin like people endured during the Hitler era to identify them as Jewish?  Or will I simply carry an identification card that resembles a driver’s license?  Will I have to obtain a new passport that clearly identifies me as Muslim? Or will my current passport suffice but with a note in the Department of Homeland Security database that I am a registered Muslim?

During your recent successful bid for re-election I heard you say that you would represent all of your constituents. I’m assuming that means all of your Muslim constituents as well as gentiles, jews, atheists and agnostic.   If what you said was actually true and not just normal campaign hyperbole, then I ask that you get me information as soon as you have it on how I can register as a Muslim.

Allah Akbar


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What The Fascist Government of Donald Trump Means for America


Let's look at the bright side. A year from today there will no longer be protests at abortion clinics because abortion will be illegal.

If you are a college student who relies on Pell grants to fund your education you no longer have to face all that paperwork to qualify for your next loan because there no longer will be any loans.

If you enjoy knowing that health insurance companies could no longer drop your coverage because you became ill or could deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition know that a year from today you'll be able to once again worry about losing your health insurance because the Affordable Care Act is history.

If you slept easier knowing that your 25 year old child was covered by your health insurance worry no more because with repeal of the Affordable care act your child is on his or own for health insurance.

Remember how the stock market was at 8000 on the day Bush left office and how yesterday it was 18,000? Well kiss that goodbye.

Enjoying Medicare and Social Security benefits you have paid for? Well enjoy no more because they are about to be replaced with privatization that will benefit corporations not you or me.

There will no longer be a need to fret over the $1 billion decline in the Federal budget because that will be wiped out paying for increased militarism

We no longer have to worry about honoring international agreements over climate change because those agreements are now history

Trade agreements we had with countries that favored American exports were just wiped out because no civilized nation is going to negotiate with a bully in the White House

There is no longer a need to worry about a madman having his hands on the codes that could start a nuclear war because by 12:01 pm on January 20 a mad man will

Have you been enjoying the separation of church and state? Well enjoy no more because they just became one entity.

Are you gay, lesbian, or transgender?  Prepare yourself for more harassment and mistreatment because someone who openly is disgusted by you was just made our leader.

Worried that your spouse might cheat on you?  Its ok because we have a new "president" who complained to a reporter about how he wanted to "fuck" a married woman (while he was also married) but was disappointed when he couldn't.  Apparently infidelity is now a new family value just like hate is.

Have you enjoyed the elegance and grace of Michelle Obama as the First Lady? Well enjoy no more because our new first lady is a former stripper who likely entered the country illegally.  Heckuva job.

Remember how we had a relatively free press in America? Well look it up in the history books because the open disdain for the legitimate media and threatening and assaulting members of the media are now acceptable behavior

There is no longer a need to worry about the rich becoming richer and the rest of us taking it in the shorts because the rich are about to enjoy more tax cuts and you and I will pay more to make up for their largess

There is no longer a need to worry about public land like National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges being sold off to promote business growth because they will be

Stop worrying about all those regulations that ensure you have safe food to eat and clean water to drink and clean air to breath because Mein Fuhrer has promised a 70 percent reduction in those types of regulations.

If you're a female Trump supporter don't become upset when men make lewd comments or grab your genitals because your leader has legitimized that sort of behavior.

Remember all that talk about "family values"? Well they have been replaced by a society that condones calling a female a "bitch" or a "cunt" and now it's ok to openly display images of the hangman's noose around certain races of people.

If you are physically or mentally challenged don't worry about pesky laws and regulations that protect you and your dignity because it's now ok to mock you and make fun of you.

If you are an investor make sure you buy stock in companies that produce coat hangers because demand for them will sky rocket when Roe v Wade is overturned.

Out of work and looking for a job? Then move to the Southwest and help build Trump's Wall. Just don't plan on getting paid for your labors because Mexico isn't about to cover the costs.

If you live in coastal areas you don't have to worry about pesky laws and treaties that might protect you from rising sea levels because they are gone.

Enjoying those cheap prices you pay for items made in China that you buy at Wal-Mart? Well enjoy no more because the isolationist trade policies we are about to endure (tariffs on imports) are about to increase the cost of those items.

Remember when we were kids and practiced diving under our school desks to protect ourselves from a Russian nuclear attack? Well worry no more because we will now be best buddies with Russia.

Worried about more attacks by radical Islamists? Well you should be because Mein Fuhrer's anti Muslim rhetoric has increased the likelihood of that occurring.

Hate those Hispanics living down the street? Well quell your hatred because they will be deported but remember you're going to have to pay more taxes to pay for their deportation.

Remember how eight years ago, people cried tears of joy at our first African-American President? Last night half our nation voted for a man endorsed by the KKK.

Worried about increased gun violence in America? Well worry no more because the NRA will have an office in the White House and eventually everyone will be carrying a gun

Prepare yourself also for the United States becoming the laughing stock of the planet because with the coronation of a racist, misogynistic pig as the leader of the formerly free world that's exactly what we have become.

Lastly I hope everyone has stocked up on a 4-year supply of KY Jelly because the American electorate just gave us all a need for it. Use it liberally