Tag Archives: Caribbean living

Trump, GOP Sliming Brave San Juan Mayor Is Contemptible

Trump and his chump change colleagues really hit bottom the past few days, trashing San Juan’s gutsy mayor, who has demonstrated great leadership and compassion under extreme duress.  Trump and his sleazy, lilliputian GOP apparatchiks bitching about Ms. Cruz’s performance was like criticizing someone who’s just been run over by a Mack truck because they didn’t carry the stretcher to the ambulance and drive themselves to the hospital.  This is not how people of quality behave!

Watching those dirtbags slime Ms. Cruz was infuriating.  They were an embarrassment to our country.  Jeez, could they do something less distasteful like maybe just go back to quietly cheating us out of travel reimbursements or something?

Trump’s performance as president thus far demonstrably disqualifies him from making any sort of useful observations about leadership, a quality which he is decidedly neither imbued with nor seeking to acquire.   He knows not of leadership because he just doesn’t possess the full complement of knowledge, skill sets and emotional range to understand those whom he would lead.  Trying to explain to him wherein lies his ignorance of leadership would be like trying to explain the color red to a congenitally blind person.  He’s not got it and he’s not gonna get it either.

And, speaking of leadership, aside from the shocking paucity of moral and humane responses to millions of our countrymen and women suffering, one would have thought that the feckless White House occupant et. al. would at least look to their own self interest.

But the distinct impression these folks leave is that they think Latina/Latino voters will forget this.  In the first place, everyone knows that the “Latino vote” is by no means monolithic.  Mexican Americans have different priorities and issues than Cuban Americans, who differ on many subjects from Puerto Ricans, who don’t necessarily share the views of folks with Central American ancestry who…well, you get the picture.  But despite the differences,  I can guarantee you that the “they” of whom our meathead president spoke when dissing Mayor Cruz, know when “they” have been insulted.  And I suspect “they” will remember it for at least a couple of election cycles.  Nice strategizing there, GOP.

And it was only a few hours after Trump made that insulting remark about “they want everything done for them” before I heard some illiterate (literally) jerk where I live repeating with kneejerk stupidity that very same Trump doctrine.

No.  They don’t.  They are American citizens and Puerto Rico (and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are American soil.  Period.  When there’s no power, no communication, no fuel,no water and no food, and no plausible way to ameliorate that lack, there’s only so much “they” can do.  “They” are part of us.

Actually, I think Trump’s just pissed off because someone pulled his own stunt against him in Puerto Rico.  He licensed his name to a casino company for a resort and golf club in Puerto Rico.  That company welshed on the licensing fees, then declared bankruptcy, changed the name, and left Trump’s organization holding the bag for an unspecified sum.  Basically, they out-Trumped Trump.  No wonder he’s sulking.  Too bad it’s the people of Puerto Rico who are having to pay the price in the form of seemingly deliberately drawn out  hurricane relief.

Some leaders, no?  No.  Those commie-loving Trumpsters and their GOP Putin-poodles in congress are so busy giving away the farm that they wouldn’t know true patriotism or leadership if it bit ’em in the ass.

Back to Trump and the GOP dumping on Mayor Cruz–do these assholes even know anything about Puerto Rico and its native sons and daughters? Do they not realize that it’s been a European-developed island since the early 1500’s? It was a powerhouse in the Caribbean more than a century before the Pilgrims even showed up in the New (relative term) World.

Oh, right.  I forgot. Trump doesn’t know any history.  (Not to digress but, what the hell were they teaching at the expensive schools from which he supposedly graduated?)  Apparently his little cadre of heel clickers either doesn’t either or won’t admit to it.

Yeah.  Some leaders.

What would Jesus say?  The same thing Lin-Manuel Miranda said about Trump re: dissing Mayor Cruz.  “You’re going straight to hell.”



St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, PR Fingers Crossed for all of You Fellow Americans

A Cat 5 hurricane, Irma, is bearing down on people and places I love and it’s weighing on my mind. Especially St. John–Love City–such a tiny place, for such a big storm.  And, Borinquen–con Madre de Dios.  Y Jesu, too, of course.
Hispaniola, Cuba, then Fla.

It’s gonna be a long week.

This is really scary.  The models all seem to include where I am.  I’ve been through a Cat 5.  It’s not an experience I’d recommend.



Chainsaw Phil

Once upon a time I lived on islands. Not always the same one, but always
islands. The first time I moved to one it was in the Caribbean and it was
supposed to be for a couple of months. I didn’t come back to the continent
for 12 years. And even then I lived on barrier islands. For awhile I lived on
two islands at once–one in the Caribbean the other a Florida barrier
island–and commuted.  On Fridays I’d walk to the dock, take a ferry to St.
Thomas, a surrey-bus to the seaplane terminal, then the Goose*–a
seaplane–to St. Croix, then a surrey bus to Christiansted or Frederiksted, do
my work and return home the same way.

I met a lot of interesting people.

One of them was Chainsaw Phil–or, as people called him more or less
affectionately, Chainsaw–the most consistently pessimistic, skeptical, cranky person I ever met.

BTW, on this particular island there were three things one was never supposed to ask.  “Where are you from, what’s your last name, what do you do for a living?”

Chainsaw just kind of appeared on the Caribbean island at some point,
having migrated from the Pacific Northwest where he’d been a lumberjack.

He was, and probably still is, the second most profane human being I have
ever met. Because of his profession, and the fact that much of the bush to
be cleared was cassia, which is full of thorns, Chainsaw was always
scratched, cut, bleeding, and with a patchwork of other occupational wounds in
various states of healing/scabbing. His T-shirts suffered the same fate and were invariably torn in several places.

Chainsaw, however had hidden depths. Brilliant, literate, and with a
massive database of general liberal arts information, Chainsaw was quite a
conversationalist. He could riff on various obscure philosophers, contemporary fiction, history, you name it. We had a number of fascinating chats over the years.

I only ever saw him happy once. After a huge hurricane had pretty much
squashed the island, all the locals had to pitch in to clear the roads and get
the power back on. None of the airports were open so each island was pretty much on its own.

I came around a corner and there was Chainsaw, dangling above the debris strewn roadway from one of the few trees still standing, by one arm, the other swinging along with the chainsaw like a damn bullwhip, cutting the hanging branches dangling from also-dangling wires and trees, just a-whoopin’ and hollerin’ like a cowboy gettin’ some little dogies along on the dusty trail.  He sounded like Slim Pickens in the final scene of “Dr. Strangelove” (one of the greatest films ever made).

Chainsaw had this huge grin on his face.  I’d never seen him smile–normally even when he laughed he frowned.  I wasn’t even aware he could smile

*BTW for Goose flights they would have to take passenger weights to determine if the lumbering aircraft could safely get airborne and land.  Seems as though I recall that here’s an old VI Daily News photo somewhere of the Lt. Gov. or Gov. or head of the legislature, something political…wading in the shallows having been forced to abandon a Goose plane for reasons I can’t recall.  The seaplanes had a reputation for being rickety but there were a limited number of ways to get to St. Croix from St. Thomas, and the Goose was the quickest one.

Ummm, Excuse Me CNN, Puerto Ricans Are NOT Permitted to Vote for US President!

I hope I misunderstood CNN’s Poppy Harlow this afternoon.  She was discussing the presidential election with someone–I wasn’t paying much attention, just flicking through channels, and didn’t notice who it was–when Ms. Harlow seemed to make an incredibly uninformed remark.  She was asking about the “growing Puerto Rican vote”.

Uhhh, Puerto Ricans, (and voters in the other U.S. Territories) are NOT, repeat NOT permitted to vote in U.S. presidential elections. They can vote in primaries but not the general election.  Ya’d think a political reporter/anchor should know that very basic fact.

I sure hope that I’m the one who’s wrong here and that I did misunderstand Harlow because, if not, then she is far too ignorant to be permitted to open her mouth on international television at least about the presidential election.

It was also evident today how individual TV “News” networks are trying to influence the vote.  Within five minutes I cycled through CNN, MSNBC and Fox News channels and they each had a different cherry-picked presidential poll that they were reporting.  Fox News said polls show Clinton five or six points ahead, CNN said she was ahead by 12 and MSNBC said she was 20 points ahead.

Of course, I rarely even look at the news anymore because of the incessant yammering about the election and the dearth of any real facts being reported while the respective “news” networks are spewing opinions day and night.  God only knows what might be going on in the rest of the world because we’re sure not gonna hear about it on the “news”.   Presumably this is not reporters’ fault, my guess would be they are all getting their marching orders from corporate HQs.

All together now–can you say “media whores”?



Here’s a tip about mosquito spraying.  Its effectiveness is inextricably tied to the size of the spray’s droplets.  The maximally effective droplet size is between 7 and 22 microns.  Most spraying results in much larger droplets.

Some years ago mosquito spraying in Collier County, Florida resulted in a die-off of fiddler crabs, which resulted in restrictive sanctions against the spraying.  And, the insecticide used in spraying is expensive.  So a Charlotte County mosquito spraying pilot, Richard Howe, who also happens to be something of an inventive genius, figured out a way to increase the percentage of appropriately sized droplets and decrease the amount of pesticide by 90%.  He met with great resistance from various vested interests.

Mr. Howe, and his brother Bob, are legendary pilots among certain segments of South Florida.  I mean, those guys can fly!  They can do pinpoint spraying that other pilots just do not have the ability to replicate.  Richard Howe tinkered with any number of ways of getting costs down and effective kill rates up.  He finally came up with spray nozzles and flying techniques that accomplish both.  The droplets, being so small, hang in the air longer than the much larger droplets most spraying applications produce.  Since it was the droplet size, not the pesticides, which was the operant factor, research showed that much lower pesticide concentrations could be used to achieve maximal spraying effectiveness.

So, now that the Zika virus has reportedly caused paralysis in 30 people in Puerto Rico, maybe local governments could start taking the virus seriously.  It’s not just a threat to the intrauterine development of fetuses.  According to a news item of a few days ago, someone was saying that, well, paralysis is rare and temporary and nothing to worry about.  Unless, that is, the muscles that get paralyzed are the ones involved in breathing.  Yeah, that might be a problem.  Ya think?  Jesus, what does it take to get people to wake up?

Remember polio and the “iron lung” machines of the 1940’s and ‘50’s?  Polio victims whose breathing muscles were paralyzed had to be kept in the machines, which artificially pumped the air in and out of their lungs.  Do we really want to go there again?

Again and again, disasters of all types are linked to one common cause–lack of
imagination in people who are responsible for preventing them.  So, while people are wasting time trying to get the U.S. Congress to get its collective sorry asses in gear to get some research funding into the pipeline pronto, if not sooner, maybe South Florida and Caribbean local governments could think about contacting Mr. Howe’s company, Application Dynamics.  Y’know, to at least look into some less environmentally intrusive and destructive ways to kill mosquitoes, for the time being.

Because, while the infected mosquitoes may only have a range of about 400 yards or so, that of the people they infect has a considerably wider radius.

Just sayin’.

Stop Complaining

That’s advice to me from me.  Surely there must be a few things which don’t send me screaming into the night in aggravation.  Yes, there are.

Natural systems.  The world, and by extrapolation, the universe, are fascinating.  Just watching water flow can keep me occupied for a good long while.  The stars?  Definitely on my A-list.  Growing things?  Ditto.  Animals?  Even better to watch.  There are some coyotes–or as my neighbor insists, red wolves–in the area.  I’ve seen them a number of times, heard a group howl once only a few yards away in the wood, and even stumbled upon the pups once.  Too cute for words and fascinating to watch.  Bobcat(s) in the neighborhood are another thing I love.  Once I came across one stalking three bunnies when I was riding my bike.  It was only about 35 feet away and didn’t even flinch when it saw me.  Quite the contrary, it gave me what could only be described as a stern look that said clearly “Heyy!  Human!  I’m workin’ here, don’t screw this up for me.”  I just froze and watched the ultimately unsuccessful hunt for about fifteen minutes.  Now, I try not to anthropomorphize but it was pretty clear the animal did not want to have a golden opportunity like three bunnies effed up by some klutzy human scaring them off.

And, to digress as usual, BTW, for those who think that they can just pretend away facts about the natural world–global warming comes immediately to mind–here’s a tip.  The laws of physics weren’t passed by Congress.  Water doesn’t compress, it goes where it can and when there’s more of it, say, from melting ice caps, it takes the path of least resistance.  And in that path there’s a ton of expensive stuff that humans have built.  Try as you might, ya can’t just wish away water.  Water doesn’t give a damn what you want, it has its own agenda, so to speak.  And it wants the low lying ground.  Upon which puny humans have placed their cherished stuff.  Which will win?  My money’s on the water, which tries 24/7/365 for as long as necessary to get its way.

The oceans are also on my top five list of cool stuff.  The Caribbean (sea, ocean, what’s the difference?) is a subset of that category which I especially love.  For many years I lived on a tiny island in the Caribbean, including a long stretch of time with a nifty little bay in my front yard.  And that nifty little bay had a nifty little coral reef only a few feet from the shore, so it was possible to hop right in from the beach and start snorkeling with virtually no effort and still be in waist to chest deep water.

The people on that island–also on my A list–were very cool to know.  Both the natives and the continentals were an incredibly interesting bunch, and always full of mischief and doing neat things.  And they didn’t nitpick about stuff like wearing shoes to work.  Once I rode my racehorse into a local bar to get a drink–a kamikaze.  The bartender didn’t even bat an eye, just said “What’ll ya have?”.   Since the horse was almost 17 hands high and known to erupt into furiously crazy episodes of bucking, kicking and biting, I had to give the bartender points for aplomb.  Ya just can’t do that kind of thing in America.  People can’t handle it.  Shoot, I probably wouldn’t get past the front door, let alone get served.  (Hey, it’s not as if I was totally unsocialized.  I left the foal at home.  She was way too fond of drunks to take into a bar.)

When my baby horse was old enough I didn’t “break” her but taught her to accept a rider the way the Indians did.  By taking her in the water–my beautiful front yard Caribbean bay–and leaning on her, then gradually lying on her back and eventually sitting on he, bareback.  The weight in the water wasn’t alarming so there was never that traumatic bucking, kicking and screaming horses are so often goaded into when they are “broken”.  I wanted her whole, not broken.  The big horse would swim around the bay, I’d hold onto her mane and she’d tow me as I snorkeled.  The baby horse would swim circles around us, impatient that we were so pokey and slow.  None of us wore shoes, either.

And on that island, people used to steal my big horse, which was one of only four on the island.  (They learned to regret that particular crime though, because of her aforementioned tendency to go bats–t crazy without warning.)  Even worse, the staff at the luxury hotel–where I used to sneak her in to eat the yummy, expensive and well-manicured lawn–would occasionally try to impound that big thoroughbred.  Not to worry, though, a local guy–a white native, who looked and acted like a Viking–had the same problem.  His solution was to steal his horses back and he very kindly taught me how to steal a horse quietly so I didn’t have to go in like gangbusters to get my horse back.  (For years I’ve tried to figure out a way to get that on my resume but haven’t come up with a socially acceptable way to do so in our overly conformist, even tight-assed, society.)  Good times, as they say.

And my Viking friend had a few asocial tendencies himself.  Recently a mutual friend and I were reminiscing about that Viking gentleman’s amusing episodes.  When I laughed about how he used to get frisky with people who intruded on his beach, the friend countered.  “Hey, he used to climb up into coconut trees and shoot a high impact pellet gun at boaters and people on his beach!”  Frisky indeed!

We used to have archery contests with his hunting bow.  We had the same nemesis, a fake Rasta.  (He not dread, mon.  Irie.)  And my friend would pretend it was him we were aiming at and scream “Take that, mon!” and let fly with an arrow, then race down the mountainside to fetch it for my turn.  We’d drink wine and shoot that damn bow for hours.  And ride horses!  He taught me to ride like an Indian–bareback, no bridle, just a rope wrapped around the horse’s nose.  We’d have a blast riding along the goat trails, and pounding down the beaches in a flat out gallop, the sky so blue, the water so clear and wonderful, making a perfect backdrop for the heart-pounding races.  I knew true freedom in those moments.  He taught me how to build a fish trap one afternoon, sitting on his own beautiful beach, not a soul in sight.  What a guy!  Everyone should be so lucky as to know someone like him.

That crazy, huge Viking could disappear like fog evaporating too, when someone wanted him to do something he didn’t want to do.  When pursuing females,  generally glaring in fury at his disappearance, quizzed me about where he was, I could say innocently, and truthfully, “he gone bush”.  Sadly, I report that my Viking friend died young–hounded to death by women trying to pry his very substantial personal fortune from his grasp.  He beat them to the punch by dying so they couldn’t pry it from his cold dead hands.  Ha ha ladies.  He gone bush fah true!

It was a measure of how much people loved him that some natives insisted on personally digging his grave by hand.  Since he was 6’5” or more, it was a big grave, too.  Hard to imagine that such an exceptional person left the place he loved rather than hand it over to some grasping females.  But typical of him.

Jeez I wish there were still people like that in America.  I love people like that!

Yeah, there are things that don’t make me complain.