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Glaciers – Visit them Soon

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:53pm

Vickie Kelber

Alaska is home to thousands of glaciers including this one in Kenai Fjords National Park.

Although I love a tropical climate, many of our travels have taken us to places noted for their glaciers. These visits have always occurred in the warmer months, for I would never venture forth in winter to an area capable of producing glaciers. Even my glacier skiing experiences were in the northern hemisphere in August.

Simplistically, a glacier forms when, over years, more snow accumulates in the winter than can melt in the summer. The mass of snow gradually turns into glacial ice. While new snow/ice is added to the top of the glacier, the bottom is slowly worn away in a process called ablation.

Due to ablation, there is constant movement under the glacier forming crevasses and blocks of ice (seracs) as well as changes in the terrain such as the build up of rock and soil called moraines and bowl like formations known as cirques.

There are glaciers in every part of the world except mainland Australia. Some of the world’s most visited glaciers are the Patagonian glaciers in Argentina, with Perito Moreno Glacier being one of the most popular. One of the more exotic locales for a glacier is on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Unfortunately, the glaciers in this area have receded more than 80% and it is predicted that they will disappear in the 2020s. What would an aspiring Hemingway write about if he/she were to visit then?

The popular Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska.

Pakistan is home to possibly the longest glacier outside of the polar regions, the Baltoro in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas. I don’t know about you, but seeing that glacier is not in my travel plans anytime soon.

In China, the best known glacier is the Hulong in the Yunnan Province. New Guinea has glaciers as does New Zealand where the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers flow down into a rainforest.

Norway boasts the largest glacier in continental Europe, the Jostedalsbreen. lceland’s Vatnajökull is larger, covering 8% of the country. The Vatnajökull has active volcanoes as well as hot springs within its caves.

Antarctica is a popular tourist destination, with Harker Glacier among the most beautiful ones there. So many people visit Antarctica that a special organization was formed in 1991 to establish guidelines for responsible tourism to that area.

In our country, Alaska has thousands of glaciers. Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, a popular tourist stop, is 21 miles long. The Hubbard Glacier between Alaska and Yukon Bay, Canada is one of the largest in North America; it is believed its retreat is increasing the number of earthquakes in that area. I find it interesting that the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred, in part, because the tanker had to change course to avoid icebergs formed by the retreat of the Columbia Glacier.

The Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, another popular tourist destination, has lost 1900 feet since 1946. Since 1850, the largest glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana have retreated by two thirds and some of the smaller ones are disappearing. As at the Mendenhall, the glacial recession in this park is rapidly accelerating.

Although miles long, the Canadian Rockies’ Columbia ice field has lost half its volume in the last hundred plus years, with notable acceleration since the 1980s. We will be visiting these ice fields this year, but not without a guide because it is so dangerous due to the melting.

The Aletsch Glacier looking toward its origin; the sheep are marked with green paint to assist in locating them.

The glaciers with which we are most familiar are those in Switzerland. If you count the minor ones as well as the majors, there are more than 1500 glaciers in this alpine country. Switzerland is where we have gone glacier skiing in the summer as well as hiked to a mountain restaurant that no longer exists because that part of the mountain collapsed due to a retreating glacier. There is another glacier to which we hiked in about an hour’s time in the 1990s. When we returned 12 years later, it had receded so much that we hiked almost three hours and still were not able to reach it.

The largest glacier in Switzerland is the Grosser Aletsch which is the one visitors see when they make the long and expensive trip to the top of the Jungfraujoch. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it covers about 45 square miles. Although still more than 14 miles long and 3300 feet at its thickest point, it is retreating about 100 feet a year and the recession is accelerating. On a hot summer day, the water that runs off it is equivalent to 60,000 liters (think 5,000 crates of 12 one liter bottles) a second. We first visited the Aletsch in 1991. I took pictures and then happened to see a photo in a magazine taken from the same vantage point in the 1940s. I was shocked to see the difference; the difference we noted on our most recent visit was even more alarming.

Studies from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have found that the rate of dissipation and disappearance of glaciers is rapidly accelerating. In the last 15 years, Swiss glaciers have receded by 20% and it is anticipated they will lose another 50% of their area in the next 30 years. The country is so concerned with its receding glaciers that there is a special website ( which lists all the major ones and an interactive chart showing the annual changes since 1880. Melting of the glaciers will have a devastating economic effect on the country. Obviously, tourism will be affected, but, more importantly, they will lose a critical water source. More than 50% of their electricity and 26% of their drinking water come from glaciers; not to mention the flora and fauna that will be affected.

Since 2005 in Switzerland and other alpine countries, a unique method is being attempted to try to preserve some glacial areas integral to the skiing industry. These sections are being wrapped in a layer of plastic foil that reflects heat and radiation. The hope is that this will preserve parts of the glaciers that are critical to the economy of these locales. One of the other sites employing this technique is Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany where it is feared the glaciers on the Zugspitze will disappear in the next twenty years. While somewhat successful in slowing the melt in the targeted areas, this approach is very expensive and cannot be used to sustain entire glaciers.

Not all glaciers are receding; in fact a very few are advancing, including the Perito Moreno. For many of the glaciers, however, think about planning a trip sooner rather than later.


Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is presently on the board of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education.


Sharks Among Us

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:49pm

Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

Tiger Shark with blacktip sharks.

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is already halfway complete. Sitting here contemplating the first 6 months of the year and then the last 12 months total, I realized that it has been 1 full year since I was right where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea and that’s where my wife and I were swimming….with Whale Sharks! About the size of a small school bus, it was quite an experience to be in the migratory route of these plankton eating giants.

It got me thinking about the Gulf Stream current, other migrating species that utilize this conveyor belt and other predators that come into our waters. With recent news headlines teeming with information about attacks it seems relevant to talk about something that may bother residents and visitors… sharks!

From the Yucatan Peninsula to the Texas coastline and all the way to the Florida Keys, the Gulf of Mexico is home to more than 45 species of sharks. Some are deep water dwellers while others can be found in our rivers and canals. Several varieties are right here in the Marco Island area.

The anatomy of a shark is quite amazing. Even though there are more than 400 species worldwide, the basic body structure is very similar throughout.

All sharks have cartilage for their skeletal structure rather than bones. This allows them to maneuver better than other sea creatures and also helps with their speed. We can all picture the open-mouthed poster from the movie “Jaws” quite well and we remember how intimidating that was. Well, the jaw seems so big because it is not attached to the skull. Both the upper and lower jaw can operate independently of each other and this allows for a very powerful bite on its prey.

They have many rows of teeth and the shape of these teeth may depend on the individual shark species’ diet. They are very sharp and can rip thru meat and bone with little difficulty. Teeth will break or fall out constantly. Since they have several rows of teeth and with the front row being the most vulnerable to removal it is estimated that sharks can regrow thousands of teeth in their life span.

Sharks depend highly on their sense to help find food as well as awareness in the water. They have an internal sense for them to detect vibrations in the water and this is called the Lateral Line.

They can also detect electrical charges from their prey. As the move through the water all living things will produce some type of electrical current. This sense is called the Ampullae of Lorenzini.

The strongest sense for a shark is smell. Just under the snout are two “nares” or nasal cavities. Water enters one nare and exits the other. The water goes into nasal sacs and over a series of skin folds which gives the shark the opportunity to register the smells. The shark’s brain will analyze the smells to determine if they are prey, predator or mate. About two-thirds of a shark’s brain are filled with these olfactory lobes to best recognize what is near them. Once a scent is identified and the shark decides to pursue, it starts swimming. The back and forth movement of the head helps this predator to better locate the source of the smell until it is in sight.

How keen is this sense. Research shows that they are able to respond to one particle of blood for every one million particles of water. This is like us trying to determine what is in a swimming pool when only one teaspoon of something is dropped in!

They also have very keen eyesight and they can see well both at day and at night. Depending on the amount of light, the eyes will dilate to help better see objects in their path.

Hearing is another major advantage to them. Some species have the ability to hear prey that are miles away. They hear sounds at an extremely low frequency from a long distance.

Shark Week begins on TV very soon and we will see lots of video with calm waters and then, all of a sudden, this fin slowly elevates to break the water’s surface and the infamous music plays in the background! That fin strikes fear into young an old alike. But sharks do have more than that one fin. Most species have six fins: a pair of pectoral fins, a pair of dorsal fins, two pelvic fins and anal fin and a caudal fin. The front dorsal fin is the one we see most often in films. It seems that the most important fin is the caudal fin, or tail fin. For most sharks the cartilage frame extends into this caudal fin, primarily into the upper lobe of the tail. This is the main source of thrust and forward motion. The shape of the tail fin reflects the shark’s lifestyle.

These sometimes huge fish are all over the world. Some species we know quite well and others are still a mystery. Some travel thousands of miles on their migratory paths while others appear to be more localized.

One thing that I do know very well…when I hear that theme song from the movie “Jaws” in my head, I’m just a little more timid when I go swimming in the Gulf. Maybe that’s just me…or is it?


Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and a Naturalist for the dolphin survey team based on Marco Island. Bob loves his wife very much!


Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:47pm

Laurie Kasperbauer

“Independence is Happiness” – Susan B. Anthony

Seek independence and run with it! SUBMITTED PHOTO

On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted and thirteen colonies broke free from the governance of Great Britain. Those thirteen colonies would one day become part of the United States of America, and for the more than 200 years that have passed since it’s signing, we have fought every day to maintain the independence implied in that landmark document. John Hancock, in his support of this newly-sought freedom, concluded that Americans would have to rely on the “Being who controls both Causes and Events to bring about his own determination.”

While John Hancock was no doubt referring to the larger body of all Americans as the “being” to control both causes and events, I believe the same logic holds true for us as individuals. If we are truly independent, then we must take responsibility for our own actions and reactions and therefore, own our destination. The colonists of 1776 faced battle to preserve their freedom, and thousands of troops have sacrificed for the safety and independence of our country since. Seeking clarity of mind and body as individuals seems a small task in comparison. Especially if, in the words of Susan B. Anthony, independence equates to happiness.

The philosophy of yoga teaches us that getting uncomfortable on our mat is one step we can take toward conquering the blockages that impair freedom of mind and movement. Holding a posture a few breaths longer than we would like, allows us to stew in the thoughts that begin to settle into our consciousness. Once we get past the frustration, the discomfort, and the blaming (after all the instructor got you into this position) we are free to explore what is really going on inside. Why do I feel the way I do? In what way do I contribute to these feelings? What can I release in order to gain an ounce, an inch or a moment of freedom?

Freedom is worth fighting for. Through concentration and focus; through battle; and through being truthful with ourselves. Each of us, individually, is responsible for our own actions and reactions. We make our own choices, we create our own destiny. Yoga is a map guiding us toward the destination.

On Independence Day we celebrate the freedoms we are granted as citizens of this great country. Realizing that collectively we are all part of the “being” John Hancock referred to hundreds of years ago. As a country, we control the causes and events that lead to our destiny. As individuals, we create our own destination. Through our words, our actions, our thoughts and our reactions.

Dig deep. Seek independence. Find happiness.


Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.


Goodland Civic Association Ends Season on High Note

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:45pm

By Barry Gwinn

Folks start to arrive at the Community Center.

The GCA was incorporated on May 2, 1978. Its by-laws call for a meeting, open to the public, to be held every third Tuesday of each month, from October through April. It meets in the Goodland Community Center, at 417 Mango Ave. After April, we get to leave town or do some serious recreating. For as long as I have been on the board, we have faithfully adhered to this schedule. In addition, we have a potluck supper before each meeting, featuring specialties and delicacies of our members. These guys are good. Most of the time, this is much better than eating out and always cheaper.

When I became GCA secretary in March 2008, the attendance at meetings was sparse and sometimes controversial. I am told that in the late 90’s GCA membership was north of 300. I have not confirmed this but know that by March, 2008, it had plummeted to 112. This was due to warring factions on the board, which alienated a lot of the Goodland community. I witnessed some of this first hand. The members had lost faith in the GCA and didn’t renew their memberships. It is hard to blame them.

Greg (right) and Barry presiding.

Starting in 2008, under the successive presidencies of Mike Barbush, Joanie, Fuller, and Greg Bello, the warring factions were dealt with and the board was stabilized. We were finally able to pull together and start addressing pressing community concerns. Collier County came on board and good things started happening. The community gradually recognized that things had changed drastically for the better. Since 2008, our membership has more than doubled. It now stands at 238 and counting. The response has been both encouraging and heartwarming to the GCA Board. It seems like the Goodland community is aware of and approves of what the GCA is doing.

Even so, attendance at our monthly potluck suppers was sparse. Not realizing how lip smacking good the food was, our members would arrive only for the town meeting, which followed the supper. The lowest attended supper has traditionally been the last one of the season. This year our membership came early and stood in line to break bread with their neighbors. The last supper was the best attended of the year.

The GCA has always counted on our wonderful restaurants to help us out with special events. It is unusual that a community with a permanent population of about 400 would have four restaurants, all of which are known throughout southwest Florida for their entertainment and cuisine. This year, some of this delicious restaurant food started making its way to our potluck suppers.

Town Meeting in progress.

At our February 17 supper, Amy Bozicnik of the Little Bar, brought over a huge bowl of peel and eat shrimp, with cocktail sauce. On March, 15, Chef Mike Duncan of Marker 8.5, came over with a large tray of delicious corn beef and cabbage. On April 21, our last meeting, we grilled up remainder of hamburgers (left over from our community picnic) , provided by Shelly Ballante of Olde Marco Lodge.

I have to also give some credit here to a couple of Goodland gals, who have never failed to provide a couple of tasty and well regarded tasty dishes for each of our potluck Suppers.

Linda Van Meter always brings one of my favorites. It is a concoction of rice and sausage in a tomato sauce. I suspect there is a hint of Michigan in this dish. We know that whatever the turnout, because of Linda, we will always have enough good food. Linda has been doing this since I came on Board in March 2008.

Line forms on the right.

For the past two years. Nancy Gwinn, my lovely wife, has sent over a heaping helping of south central Pennsylvania potato salad. She can’t always make the meetings but never fails to sweat it out in our kitchen at home using her own recipe for this touch of old rural Pennsylvania.

And so we look forward to the coming year, starting in October, 2015, we anticipating larger crowds and more and tasty dishes at our potluck suppers. People are discovering what I have known for years. At dinner time each third Tuesday, the place to be is with your neighbors at the Goodland Community Center.


Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years. Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association

Fishing the 10,000 Islands in July

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:41pm

Capt. Pete Rapps

Andy Schapps with a nice Triple Tail.

Here in the Ten Thousand Islands, the weather in July is somewhat predictable, as are the fishing patterns. Expect the bite to drop off during the mid day heat and slack tides. The bite is early in the day, and again late in the afternoon/early evening after the mid day storms cool things off a little.

Day time air temperatures are now hovering around 90 degrees each day, bringing the water temperatures up to 87 degrees.

Anglers can get into some nice Snook on the outside islands. Top water plugs and suspended soft plastic artificials will produce some nice morning action. Of course nothing beats a livewell full of Pilchards and Thread Herring. You can live chum with a handful of these guys, then follow up with a nice one on your hook.

The Trout bite will remain steady. They are generally smaller than the winter Trout, but around in good numbers. They will take anything from a live shrimp, to a buck tail jig, to a topwater plug. Fish early on the incoming tide for your best results. You can count on the Redfish to take a 3” Gulp shrimp on a ¼ oz jig head on the last half of the incoming tide around oyster bars or mangrove lined shorelines. Live shrimp under a popping cork works great for Reds too!

Triple Tail are hanging around markers and structure, and will happily take a live shrimp on a circle hook. Permit and Cobia are hanging around offshore structure. Bring some small silver dollar sized crabs with you for the Permit. Cast net some nice 6” mullet to present to the Cobia.

John Czencz with a nice Trout on a Captain Rapps Charter.

Mangrove Snapper are larger in size than most of the year and are hungry for a live shrimp around the Mangrove roots. Shark are all over the place and love Ladyfish. Some Tarpon will be around on the flats early in the morning and in the evening. They are looking for live Ladyfish and Mullet.

Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands of the Everglades National Park, and Spring time Tarpon-only charters in the Florida Keys. Capt. Rapps’ top notch fleet accommodates men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, and those with special needs. Between their vast knowledge & experience of the area, and easy going demeanors, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Book your charter 24/7 using the online booking calendar, and see Capt. Rapps’ first class web site for Booking info, Videos, Recipes, Seasonings, and more at

Bridezillas…Chapter One

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:34pm

Richard Alan

They say it’s all about the dress, and many a bridezilla have been revealed on more than one reality show. I have had the pleasure of experiencing more than I can count, firsthand in my jewelry stores over the decades, before it was even in fashion.

For those of you who have no idea what a ‘bridezilla’ is- this is the best description I found on the internet: One incredibly ridiculously spoiled young female brat who thinks she is the center of the universe just because “Her Wedding” is eighteen months from now. She feels everyone in the world has to drop everything and come running, in this twisted prime-donna’s mind. All living creatures involved in the wedding will experience emotional scars from her terrible and impending wrath. (A spin on ‘Godzilla’ – an ancient Japanese cult monster).

Any readers who have experienced a bridezilla up close and personal can relate to this article. If you happen to be one, or worse, one in training, I suggest you turn the page, for my article may set you off, making you cause destruction and mayhem to local buildings or power-plants.

Laugh if you will, I can spot one after less than 30 seconds into a conversation. Her devouring stare and body language says it all. I immediately warn the staff of impending doom and its ugly aftermath.

It all starts at the very beginning…the engagement ring.

In a nut shell, the first big mistake is the groom who brings the future bridezilla and her mother to “help” pick out a ring. The problem was that this groom had called me ahead of time to convey his price range of no more than $3,000 for the diamond and ring. But the future bride’s mother (a former, semi-retired bridezilla.) had other ideas, and insisted that her spoiled brat or bridezilla-in-training should have at least a two-and-a-half carat ring, which would easily set him back at least eighteen thousand bucks, a little over his budget. The lack of color on his face says it all.

Within moments it goes from bad to worse, the groom-to-be now looks like he’s been turned inside out, and the future wedding party (or future train wreck) heads for the door. It was obvious to me that the mother and daughter were totally disgusted due to my lack of $3,000 two-and-one-half carat diamonds. I thought that was the end of it. So I thought!

A couple of months later they are back for wedding bands, and I noticed a nice one carat diamond on her ring finger. They told me it was an heirloom from his deceased grandmother’s estate. He avoided the eighteen thousand dollar two-and-a-half carat diamond bullet! Alas, the young she-wolf seemed appeased…for now.

Well, as expected, there will be nothing but the best for her majesty. To his surprise, she produces a photo of the exact diamond studded wedding ring she wants, and no other ring will soothe the savage beast.

Problem is the ring is an exclusive design that can only be purchased at a Cartier jewelry store, and it costs a little over $15,000! Sorry, I can’t help you with that dude, Cartier does not sell wholesale to other jewelers. She wants that ring, not a reasonable facsimile thereof. Good luck! It was nice seeing you again.

Luckily, I escaped this one physically and monetarily intact.

I later heard it on the coconut telegraph that she micro-managed every aspect of the absurdly expensive wedding, and on top of it all, had a meltdown in the church, making everyone wait for over an hour before walking down the aisle. I firmly believe in what goes around, comes around, and it did. To add insult to injury, the perfectly prepared cute juvenile nephew lost one of the wedding bands that fell off the pillow somewhere in the church. My friend who attended the wedding said she should have post-dated the gift check; the marriage lasted less than a year. I can still hear this divorced bridezilla roar from under the Marco Bridge at every full moon!

Another bridezilla comes to mind that nearly caused me to be placed under protective custody (for her protection, not mine), after the pain and anguish I endured from her, not to mention my time, sanity and money.

The wedding band. All for one simple groom’s wedding ring. I sensed it was going to be a bad one from the start, and my instincts are always correct. Yeah, as I walk through the valley of death! Oh woe is me!

She brought four other persons to pick out one gold wedding band. It was immediately apparent to me that the groom-to-be had no say in the matter.

Months passed. Let’s just say the original design was changed and reconfigured by this bridezilla more times than Bruce Jenner’s license photo. So many times that I was so confused and dumbfounded that 24 hours before the wedding there was still no finished wedding ring! Make it wider! Make it thinner! Make it white gold! Make it yellow! Add diamonds! Now take them out! It’s too tight! It’s too loose! Mama Mia!

Then she called me the day before the wedding, “where’s my fiancé’s wedding ring?” I told her good question, as far as I know it’s still in that crazy mixed-up mind of hers!

“What do you mean you don’t have it?” I told her after the last (and what never seems to be final) product, I cut my losses and I melted the ring, diamonds and all, into a solid ball. And I suggest that she and her wimp-in-shining-armor had better head to the mall and buy a ring, because I’m not spending another penny or a second of my time on this adventure. And please convey my sympathies to the groom.

I slept with a loaded handgun in fear for weeks after that. I heard that particular marriage dissolved in three months. Luckily, that ex-bridezilla wails under some bridge in Ft. Meyers.

Please note that no names or descriptions have been mentioned to protect the innocent and guilty alike.

Stay tuned for more on man-eating Southwest Floridian bridezillas, next time.


Richard Alan is a designer/ goldsmith/ bridezilla slayer and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith on Marco Island and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275. Check out our new web site




Tulip Time in Holland

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:33pm

Vickie Kelber

Variegated tulip at Keukenhof.

One of the best times to visit Holland is when the flowers, for which it is known, are in their full splendor, on display at Keukenhof Gardens, from mid-March through mid-May.

Although people often use the terms “Holland” and “the Netherlands” interchangeably, Holland refers to only two of the twelve provinces that comprise the country of the Netherlands. North and South Holland are home to the Netherlands’ major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and other popular destinations such as Leiden, Delft, and Haarlem.

Tulips are not native to Holland; they were imported from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in the sixteenth century. Their popularity led to a period of “Tulip Mania” in the following century, and what was one of the first economic bubbles in recorded history. Until the market collapsed, their price increased to the point of one highly prized bulb being worth as much as a canal house in Amsterdam or 12 acres of land.

Keukenhof Gardens, located in Lisse between Leiden and Haarlem about 30 miles southwest of Amsterdam, features a display of more than seven million flowers from the major Dutch growers. There are some 800 varieties of tulips, along with a multitude of other blooming bulbs including daffodils, narcissi, hyacinths, bluebells, crocuses, lilies, and amaryllis. Azaleas and rhododendrons add to the profusion of color. Hosting more than half a million visitors during its nine-week season, on the grounds of what was the estate of a countess in the fifteenth century, there are indoor pavilions, a windmill, ponds with swans, ducks, and water spouts, and about 3,000 trees that provide shade along the nine miles of pathways. Artists are invited to display their sculptures throughout the garden; many of the pieces are available for purchase.

Some of the more than 800 varieties of tulips at Keukenhof Gardens.

The varying species and luxurious colors of the blooms, not to mention their fragrance, can be dizzying. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but I think mine are the parrot tulips, with their frilly, feathery, multi-hued petals. Keukenhof has a theme each year. This year’s was Van Gogh and included a flower mosaic self portrait of him, made of thousands of tulips.

A free guided tour is offered once a day. There is a 45 minute “whisper” boat trip that traverses the area’s canals. So named because of its quiet electric motor, it leaves from a dock behind the windmill. It is relaxing, but not optimal for taking photos or even viewing, as one’s level of sight is below the blooms. For a more unique experience, there are flying tours over the gardens and surrounding flower fields in a classic DC-3 plane.

Visitors can fortify themselves as needed in one of the five restaurants and other food stalls, which offer such Dutch delights as waffles, herring, and smoked hot dogs, as well as those wonderful pofferties, mini pancakes. Yes, there is shopping; sixteen shops feature goods such as cheese, bulbs, Delft ceramics, and other traditional Dutch souvenirs. There is WIFI in Keukenhof, so visitors can send instant picture postcards. There are lockers for those who bring backpacks but don’t wish to carry them. Wheelchairs are available free of charge and scooters can be rented for a very reasonable fee. Both require a deposit and can be reserved ahead of time.

Bus transportation to Keukenhof is available from Leiden, Schipol Airport, or The Hague. Purchase of an all-in-one ticket for transport and entry prevents having to queue up at the garden’s ticket booth. From Amsterdam, via Leiden, it takes a bit less than an hour and a half. The most popular option from Amsterdam is to take the quick train from the city to the airport and then Bus 58 to the gardens. The combination bus/entry tickets can be purchased at the VVV Amsterdam tourist information offices. At the airport, Bus 58 leaves from the second island outside the arrivals level entrance.

One of the more exotic tulips in Holland.

To see tulips in their natural growing stage, visit the 10 mile-long, 4 mile-wide Boolenstreek region. Bikes can be rented outside of Keukenhof for a ride through the fields; maps are included with the rental. For those driving, there is a 37 mile signposted Bolenstreek Route. Along the way, roadside stands sell bouquets and garlands that many people use to decorate their cars. I’ve taken a train whose path traversed the growing fields, and it was amazing. The neat swaths of red, pink, purple, orange, white, and yellow, as far as the eye could see, as the train chugged along, were mesmerizing.

A visit to Aalsmeer, the world’s largest flower auction, can complete the Dutch flower experience. In what may be the largest single roofed building in the world, the size of 50 football fields, more than twenty million plants and flowers are sold daily. Although the rise of internet bidding and increased growing markets in other parts of the world have affected some of the activity at Aalsmeer, more than half of the world’s cut flowers are sold through this auction. A large clock counts down from a high price per stem until it reaches a lower price at which an interested buyer presses a button to lock in his/her purchase price. A raised platform gallery allows visitors to observe all the activity below, including workers biking from one end of the huge structure to the other, and trucks and carts whizzing by to deliver flowers.

There are information points along the gallery (tulip shaped, of course), with explanations in four languages including English. Known as the VBA (Verengde Bloemenveillingen Aalsmeer), the auction is open weekday mornings from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM (9:00 AM on Thursdays). Mondays are the busiest, Thursdays, the quietest and early arrival (by 8:00 AM) is essential. Located near Schipol Airport, Bus 198 from there takes about twenty minutes. From Amsterdam, Connexxion Bus 172 from Centraal Station takes just under an hour.

Among the tulip fields of Holland.

It’s not too early to think about and plan a trip to Holland for next year’s tulip season. Tours, cruises, hotels, and apartments during prime viewing season can fill quickly. Selecting a date to go can be tricky. Too early in a cold year, and the flowers will not have fully blossomed yet. Too late in a warm year, and the height of the blooming season may be over. The unconfirmed dates for next year are March 24 to May 22, 2016. Remember that Easter will be March 27 next year and April 27 is King’s Day, a national holiday in the Netherlands.

Mid-April seems to be a popular time to visit. The only drawback to tulip season in the Netherlands is that the weather can be somewhat chilly and rainy. We spent a week there once in spring flowering time and never took off our raincoats. We missed the opportunity to sit and relax in sidewalk cafes, but the sight of the magnificent blooms was more than compensation.

If you happen to be there April 23, 2016 (unconfirmed date), there will be a flower parade from Noodwijk to Haarlem which passes by Keukenhof in the afternoon. Visitors are allowed to leave the gardens to watch the parade and then return. Even if you are there the day before or after, look for special events revolving around the season.

My thanks to Art Manburg for sharing his beautiful photos from his and wife Delores’ recent visit to Keukenhof.


Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is presently on the board of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education.


Memory Man

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:31pm

Maggie Gust

By David Baldacci, Genre: Suspense

Grand Central Publishing, April 2015, 406 pages


A horrific scene is encountered by the reader at the very beginning of this latest novel from the prolific Mr. Baldacci. It is the memory of the murder of Amos Decker’s family in their own home – his wife Cassie, almost 10-year-old daughter Molly, and Cassie’s brother Johnny Sacks (is Baldacci a “Sopranos” fan?). Amos remembers coming home from work and finding the grisly scene that destroyed his life. He cannot not remember because he can forget nothing.

For a few brief moments, 22-year-old Amos was a defensive back in the NFL. Then he was slammed by an opponent in a hit so vicious that his brain literally bounced around in his skull. He died twice there on the field, but his team’s head trainer refused to let him go. He was not supposed to survive, but he did. It took months of treatment and rehabilitation, but Amos Decker emerged with an inability to forget anything, and a vocation to be a police officer. He had an overwhelming need to protect and help others.

The inability to forget anything is called hyperthymesia. Amos doesn’t need a To Do List or mnemonics to help him remember the names of the planets, the Seven Dwarves, Santa’s reindeer, or the names of the 43 US Presidents. If he reads it or experiences it, he remembers it forever. The football injury also left him with synesthesia which in his case means that he sees time in pictures, counts in color and sometimes associates color with people or objects. For Amos, death is blue, nine is violet and five is brown, etc. Synesthesia is a benign neurological condition in which people’s cognitive and sensory channels of the brain are not separate, but somehow trigger each other, i.e., a letter or number will evoke a color, smell, feeling, or taste, etc. It is being studied extensively because it has many variations. Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel and Geoffrey Rush are among today’s celebrities who have the condition. Most people who have it were born with it, but it can also be acquired by trauma, as in Amos’ case.

After the introductory scene of Amos’ remembrance of finding his family killed, we next see him in the present, 16 months after that fact. The bank took his house back because he could not make the payments without his wife’s salary, and eventually he left his job as a detective on the Burlington Police force to grieve full-time. He started picking up work as a private investigator. He had no car but used the bus or walked. To say he had “let himself go” would be a gross understatement. The only thing that made him feel at all, even if just for a few minutes, was eating. Baldacci describes his new protagonist: “He was fifty pounds overweight, probably more. Probably a lot more. Six-five and a blimp with bum knees. His gut was soft and pushed out, his arms and chest flabby, his legs two meat sticks. He could no longer see even his overly long feet.”

He is at the breakfast buffet at the Residence Inn where he lives when his ex-partner Mary Lancaster approaches him to explain they have made an arrest in the deaths of his three family members. Someone has walked in and confessed. She promised to keep him updated. Amos decides he needs to talk to this guy in person. Conveniently for him, a shooting has taken place at the city high school, so the police department is stretched thin and he actually pulls off an interview with the confessed killer. Amos is positive the man did not do it.

Thus the story really begins. How could the murders of Amos Decker’s family be related to the high school shooting? Why does someone walk into the police station and confess to a triple murder, which for 16 months had left the cops stymied, at the precise time of a school shooting? Read all about it. Baldacci takes the reader on a raucous roller coaster ride to the conclusion with plenty of his plot twists and character enrichment. Amos Decker’s mind is wondrous to observe. Even though he has an infallible memory, he still has to use his smarts to figure out how events, places and people fit together. The climax of the story near the end when Amos faces off with the bad guys, earns Baldacci a perfect ten for creativity. I have read a lot of mysteries and thrillers in my lifetime, but I have never read a scene like the one served up in Memory Man.

The over-riding theme of this book is release of suffering and healing. The major characters have all experienced psychological and/or physical trauma. The motivations for their actions are based on their need to “even the score” in hopes of finding some peace, quelling their psychological turmoil or just getting revenge. This is a definite change for Baldacci from his usual theme of power, domination and political intrigue.

Memory Man is listed as a standalone, but I doubt it. The final chapter hints heavily that we will see Amos again, along with some of his cohorts. With the huge success this book has had so far, barely two months from publication, it is clear that Baldacci fans love this new character. Amos is a thoroughly decent man with just enough foibles to make him likeable to the rest of us poor humans with our feeble memories. He has, perhaps, an over-developed sense of responsibility. Physically and cognitively he is not the average mystery/suspense hero, but that is exactly what makes him so appealing. With Baldacci’s excellent writing skills and storytelling ability, Amos Decker will be thrilling readers for some time to come.

Rating: 4/5.0. Available in e-format, hardcover and audio format everywhere. Also available at the Collier County Public Library.

Of note: Flannery O’Connor fans, the USPS issued a 93-cent stamp in her honor on June 3. Flag Day is June 14. Have a wonderful Father’s Day on June 21.


Maggie Gust has been an avid reader all her life. Her past includes working as a teacher as well as various occupations in the health care field. She shares a hometown with Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, but Florida has been her home since 1993. Genealogy, walking on the beach, reading, movies and writing, are among her pursuits outside of work. She is self employed and works from her Naples home.




What is an architect?

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:29pm

Hector C. Fernandez

So you may be asking yourself; “What is an Architect?” “What do they do?”, “Do I need one for my project?” Let me start by providing some background on what an Architect is and the services they provide.

Architects have been with us for a very long time. The role of the Architect traditionally has been to act as the creator or designer of ideas for all kinds of buildings, structures, dwellings, bridges and even entire cities and towns. In today’s modern world the Architect’s role has become much more diverse and encompasses a broader range of technical aspects. The modern Architect still plays the principal role of the creator or designer of an idea as well as the person that executes the drawings or instructions that the builder will use to build that idea. However, modern day Architects work much closer with a broader group of team members and consultants such as Engineers and General Contractors, depending on the complexity of a project, to see the project thru.

So you may ask yourself “When do I need the services of an Architect?” Although admittedly I am somewhat biased and do believe that any construction or remodeling project would greatly benefit from the input and involvement of an Architect, let me paraphrase what the State of Florida says on the matter:

“An Architect is required on any project that is intended to be used for human habitation or human use including but not limited to multi family buildings commercial buildings industrial buildings etc.”

Although an architect is not required for single-family homes duplexes or townhouses it is strongly recommended that one be used. In fact many municipalities have stricter guidelines and ordinances that do require the use of an Architect for the design of all structures, including those exempt by the State of Florida. Make sure to check with your local Building Department and Zoning and Planning Departments.

So if you’re thinking of remodeling or perhaps you want to undertake building that dream home, I strongly urge you to seek out the services of a licensed Florida Architect. Some of the immediate benefits of using an Architect for the design of your new home would include an original custom design that is exclusively developed for your needs and tailored to your tastes. Another advantage is that you have the security of working with a licensed professional in the state of Florida that is backing up their design and coordinating that design with the builder. By using an Architect the client is assured that a professional will oversee all aspects of construction and ensure that the highest level of quality is maintained at all times without compromise to design or cost.

The cost of an Architect is typically a very reasonable percentage of the overall cost of the project. Logically your next question may be: “How much will an Architect’s services cost me?” Good question, but it does not always have a one-size fits all answer. It is important to understand that costs vary from project to project depending on size, location, complexity and details.

Typically for residential design the Architect will base their fee using one of two industry standard methods. First one will be based on a percentage of the assume cost of construction. Typically that percentage ranges anywhere from 5% to 10% in the South Florida area. Another method is a simple price per square foot calculation. Again this typically can range from $5 to $10 per square foot depending on the projects’ complexity and the level of detail required. Services in either scenario will include the design of the home as well as the execution of the technical drawings that will include structural engineering, electrical engineering, plumbing engineering and site design.

With detailed drawings of the design in hand a client can submit for a building permit and can also seek prices from various contractors on the cost to build the design. In some cases the Architect may also be a licensed contractor who can provide full and complete “design build” services to the client. Think of this as a “One Stop Shop” type scenario. In my experience I have found this to be a very successful business model for clients to use.

I hope I’ve helped shed a little bit light on what an Architect’s role is and what they can do for you on your next project. I hope you will consider contacting an Architect before you undertake your next remodeling or design project. Remember projects first start with a great idea.

There are some great resources for those of you out there who may be looking for an Architect. You may want to contact either the local or state chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for a list of licensed architect in your area. You can also visit the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to verify an Architects’ license and to make sure that they are in good standing with the State of Florida.

So remember after you’ve dealt with your realtor and before you call a builder… “Ask an Architect.”;;; .


Hector C. Fernandez, AIA, can be reached at, or by calling 239-330-8124.

Goodland Goes Automated; AED Volunteers Ready to Assist

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:28pm

By Barry Gwinn

From left: Board member Theresa Morgan, Goodland Civic Association and Noemi Fraguela, AED Coordinator for Collier County.

The Goodland Civic Association (GCA) really cares about the well-being of our residents. The GCA actually does something about it. The following is one such story. There are others, but none involve life and death like this one.

Theresa Morgan is a personal friend of mine. She also sits on the board of the Goodland Civic Association and puts in countless hours of community service here. In her spare time she runs a thriving CPA business, which among other things, does my taxes. She has spearheaded the effort to coordinate with Collier County, and educate Goodlanders about the AEDs (automated external defibrillator) in Goodland.

An AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm to a heart that has gone into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a condition that usually causes death if not treated within minutes. According to the National Institutes of Health, each minute of SCA leads to a 10 percent reduction in survival, so using an AED on a person who is having SCA may save the person’s life.

I asked Theresa to give me a summary of the successful drive to obtain AEDs for Goodland, and then to educate Goodlanders on their use. I can do no better than to quote her reply, which follows:

In April of 2014, GCA President (and physician) Greg Bello invited Collier County EMS to come speak at the association’s monthly meeting regarding the merits and use of AED devices. Noemi Fraguela, AED Coordinator for Collier County, came and gave a fascinating presentation – laced with humor and hard facts – leaving all in attendance wishing they had one of these devices in their homes! Greg’s invitation to Noemi Fraguela had a purpose – he believed that it was critical for the Village of Goodland to have one or more of these devices available to the community, as we are a distance from Marco Island EMS, and like much of Collier, have an aging population. We learned at that presentation that, in an emergency situation, a life is much more likely to be saved if measures, including possible use of an AED, are taken while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. So, in the aftermath of the compelling presentation, the GCA board decided to pursue this endeavor.

Fraguela diligently navigated the involved departments in Collier County, enabling the placement of not just one, but two AED devices in Goodland; one at the county boat ramp and the other at the county’s Margood Park.

Following placement of the devices, Fraguela and her team returned to Goodland to give two AED and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) general training classes – enthusiastically attended by over fifty Goodlanders. Attendees at the class were offered the opportunity to sign up for the AED ‘call list’ – meaning that in the event of a cardiac emergency, a call goes out to everyone within 1,200 feet of an AED device, in hopes that life-saving measures can be applied. Unbelievably, such a call went out just a few days after the first class. Less unbelievably, over ten Goodlanders responded and arrived well in advance of the ambulance! What a village!

Wait, there’s more! That first emergency brought to light a different problem. The historic old homes in Goodland are not well marked. Because of this, even the ten neighbors who responded had difficulty finding the address! Undaunted, Bello and fellow Goodlander, Glen Lester, performed a Village-wide reconnaissance and created a general mapping format which was presented to the community at an association meeting, along with a call for volunteers to help digitize and refine the map. Well, Goodland being Goodland, neighbor Justin Brown stepped up, and with his mapping software created a digitized map of every home on the island, ready for laminating and presenting to our call list volunteers. Even EMS requested a copy for distribution to ambulance personnel.

Thus ends the saga of the Goodland AED project. Timeline: one year, start to finish. So, perhaps you are thinking, “isn’t it great how a community can come together.” Well, it’s true, but that’s Goodland folks. That’s how we roll.

Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years. Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association


Life After the Test

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:27pm

Jane Watt

Many schools across the country have spent the last eight months preparing for the end of year high stakes tests. For example, at Marco Island Academy (MIA), a public charter high school in Southwest Florida, we have administered countless numbers of tests in the past couple of months to comply with the state mandates. Out of ninety full-time instructional days in the second semester, we have administered tests forty-nine of the days.

Since we are a small school, the logistics of the testing have been a nightmare. The teachers have juggled their lessons and classroom space to accommodate the chaotic testing schedule. The principal, assistant principal, dean of students and guidance counselor have set aside their regular duties to become testing experts. They have poured hours upon hours of time to arrange the test schedule, work with the IT experts to prepare the computers, and make sure the testing days flow smoothly.

At our high school, students have taken a barrage of standardized tests including FSA, EOC, AICE, and IGCSE examinations. Most days multiple tests are given. Not all the testing is bad. In fact, I think our students are learning how to minimize the stress associated with testing, which will help them in college and on college entrance exams. They are also learning the importance of studying to reinforce what they learn in the classroom. However, the volume of tests and the amount of time that must be spent to prepare and administer them defy the rules of common sense. One of the biggest issues I have is what happens after the test. To be more specific, the reason that not much happens in the class after the test.

One problem is that many of the end of course exams are not given at the end of the course. In fact, at MIA, we utilize a block schedule. Students take four ninety-minute courses first semester, and four additional ninety-minute courses second semester. The block schedule offers many distinct advantages to the teachers and students. The teachers have an opportunity to go further in depth during the class, and there is more class time for labs and hands-on activities. Since students only have four classes each semester, they can focus their study time on the most rigorous courses. Although the block schedule works well for our school, it does not work well with the test schedule. When our students take an end of course exam in March, they are actually only half way through the course. Once the test is over, the teacher is less motivated, since much of his or her pay is based on the results of the test. In addition, the students become less engaged, because much of their grade is based on the test. Instead of continuing to push further ahead in the class, students and teachers tend to become more complacent. The testing schedule is spread out over several months, so students focus their time and energy on the tests they still have to take in other classes.

The logistics of administering the tests are a complete nightmare. The testing sheets that show which student is taking which test on which day at which testing station is more complex than a design for a rocket engine. Perhaps, I am exaggerating a bit, but I want to emphasize how complicated it is. Teachers are pulled out of classrooms to proctor the exams. Substitute teachers have to cover the classes while they are gone. Students are excused from class to take their tests. On several days, the students don’t attend any classes at all because they are testing the entire day. If the teacher continues to teach in Biology while a student tests in Geometry and History, when the student returns to class, the teacher must re-teach the material to the student who was absent.

The other key issue is what I would describe as “test fatigue.” Once a student has completed a rigorous test, the child wants down time to decompress in the following class. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get the students to engage in learning additional material, because they are mentally drained from the test. In fact, the stress and anxiety caused from taking the test often has a physical effect on the students. They are literally exhausted. So what is a teacher to do? Often times, they will lead the class in a discussion or allow students to watch a movie or the student news. The bottom line is that the level of teaching and the ability to learn drops dramatically after a test is administered.

Throughout the year, many educators have cried out for help as they navigated the difficult and complicated testing process. As I look back, I am thankful that our school has survived another year of the testing madness. However, I am concerned about the number of instructional days we lost this year to testing. Students and teachers lost precious time that we can never get back. As I look ahead, I hope the policy makers in the state will take into account the dramatic affect testing has on schools and give teachers more time to do what they do best ~ TEACH.


Jane Watt is a mother of three children in the public school system. She is also the Founder and Chairperson for Marco Island Academy, a public charter high school. Recently she wrote the book, “Fighting For Kids: Battles To Create a Charter School.” Her mission is to help improve educational opportunities for children.




Great Southern Whites

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:23pm

Mike Malloy

Great Southern White.

No, this is not another article on sharks on the west coast of Florida, which seems to have dominated the news since the summer started. Funny, “Jaws” was one of my favorite movies. Anyway, it’s about a couple of South Florida’s beautiful butterflies.

Well this is another great year butterfly gardening in South Florida. It seems every year has a new surprise. This year the white butterflies in South Florida are more abundant then I have seen. Actually, I have seen more great southern whites, Florida whites and cabbage whites this year then I have seen in 25 years in South Florida. Every year is different and exciting. The whites stand out against the greens in the garden, making them really noticeable.

The zebra longwings, which are the Florida state butterfly, are abundant in my garden this year. Their motion in flight makes it so easy to distinguish them from all other butterflies. They could be my favorite. They float like the old paper airplanes we made as kids, but when disturbed they can fly like a rocket. Who knows, they are all great. People always ask me “what is my favorite?” Honestly, I cannot decide. To me they are all special.

Monarch butterfly. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

As I have always said, plant the right plant for the right butterfly; they will come. Each butterfly has a specific plant it lays its eggs on. This is very important because butterflies can smell the plants up to two miles away, and they will appear. Nectar plants feed adult butterflies, and this list is almost endless in Florida. To be real, almost any flowering weed or cultivated flower will provide nectar for adult butterflies. Actually, a lot of weeds here in Florida are both host and nectar plants.

So far here in the end of May, the butterfly counts are really high. All the very abundant butterflies in South Florida are coming in as usual, maybe above normal. In my garden, the giant swallowtails have arrived, and they are so noticeable because they are the largest butterfly in South Florida. Gulf fritillary, zebras, white peacocks, and many different sulfurs (yellow butterflies), black swallowtails, queens, gold rims, and just for fun there are numerous skippers and day flying moths, and of course, monarchs. And in the fall, the hummingbirds will return, which is a bonus of butterfly gardening.

I could continue this article and add tons more of information, but I’m trying to keep it simple.

These butterflies are some of the most abundant here in South Florida and the easiest to attract. A follow up article will go into more difficult host plants to find and butterflies they attract. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!


Plant the right plant for the right butterfly and they will come! Keep butterflying. 

And don’t forget the hummingbirds in the fall.

Milkweeds will attract monarchs, queens and soldiers

Cassias will attract yellow butterflies (sulfurs).

Passion vines will attract zebra, gulf fritillary and julias.

Frog fruit will attract white peacocks.

Wild lime will attract giant swallowtail.

Parsley, dill and fennel will attract black swallowtail.

Cabbage, kale, pepper grass and capers will attract cabbage white, great southern white and Florida white.

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF.



Missing the Man

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:20pm

Laurie Kasperbauer

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.” Clarence B. Kelland


As Father’s Day approaches, I suppose it’s only natural that my thoughts float to memories of my dad more frequently than usual. He passed away nearly two years ago of complications from a neurological disease that was never definitively diagnosed. One day he fell in the kitchen of my parent’s home and throughout the 3 years that followed, his body cruelly failed him; one muscle, one nerve ending, one electrically-charged synapse at a time. In the end he was a much-exaggerated version of his former self. Unfortunately, the characteristics that amplified were not those that were most endearing, resulting in grief for the loss of my dad years before he left the earth.

In his lifetime, the man was able to ingrain in his four children some very important words of wisdom, and to set an example of exemplary work ethic, faithfulness and honesty. When my dad did something, I knew it was the right thing to do. And when he spoke, I never doubted his sincerity. So as I honor the memory of my dad this Father’s Day, I’d like to share the top two lessons he taught and reflect on their relevance in today’s world.

“Work before pleasure.” Chores were plentiful in my home growing up. We mowed and trimmed our yard, scooped snow and raked leaves. We washed dishes, sorted laundry and contributed to keeping the house clean. And every summer, from the time I was 9 or 10 years old, we detassled corn as a family. I doubt this would be considered a family activity in our current world. Without going into full detail, corn that is grown for seed has the top tassel removed to control pollination. It’s difficult work, but the money we earned working as a family was used to vacation as a family. My three siblings and I piled in the car, towing our pop-up camper, packed heavy with groceries and lawn darts, fishing poles and bug spray. With dad at the wheel and mom reading the map, we drove to Minnesota or Colorado and sometimes South Dakota, where we spent two full weeks camping. We fished and hiked and swam by day. We roasted marshmallows and slapped at mosquitos by the campfire each night. And it was worth every sweaty step; walking acres of corn, tugging at the tassels, to explore lakes and mountains and the pine forests of the upper Midwest.

However, my dad’s most famous quote, at least in my mind, was “Never let your desires get the best of your better judgement.” This saying was a mantra in my mind for a very long time. Which is not to say that I always followed the rule it implies. As a young child I often chased my desires with little regard to the consequences. If it looked like fun, I jumped in. I preferred the sweet chocolate of M&M’s over the bitter bite of spinach any day. I found sitting mesmerized in front of the TV was so much easier than opening a book and concentrating on the written word. But it wasn’t until I reached my teens that I made the conscious decision to frequently ignore my “better judgement” and allow my desires to rule. Not an anomaly during this transitional period, and fortunately my desires never led me too far down the path of poor judgement.

Even now the words of my dad continue to roll through my mind whenever a pivotal decision arises. I weigh the pleasure of what I want against the circumstances of actually having it, or doing it. Only now I recognize it as my conscience, though sometimes it still bares the image of my father.

For a man who never knew the theory of yoga, a man who probably never uttered the word more than twice in his lifetime, there was a pocket of his mind where yoga existed. He tapped into mindfulness while sitting in his fishing boat with bait loaded on the hook. It wasn’t really about snagging a fish. He seldom netted a trophy catch. I believe it was more about the calming effects of the water, and the quiet isolation he sought.

My dad was authentic. He did not conform to the conveyed pressures of others. He was faithful to his own character; privy to its fissures, yet unapologetically accepting of who he was. Yoga, in the form of authenticity, inhabited his spirit.

My father followed his own advice. He walked the talk. For him, work always preceded pleasure. And I can’t recall a single time when I saw him allow his desires to get the best of his better judgement. He was true to his beliefs. He was honest to his very core. And he loved us, his family, with intensity.

As this Father’s Day approaches I will honor my dad quietly through meditation and prayer. But each day of my life I openly miss the man who guided me by example, and stays with me through spirit.


Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.




Naomi’s “Meow Power”

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:19pm

Naomi &Karina Paape

New mom Scarlet Rose. PHOTOS BY KARINA PAAPE

Dear Fellow Felines:

It’s official! My triathlon team has a name – “Meow Power.” A big thanks to all of you who answered last month’s call for team name submissions. The winning name was submitted by Claire Baumler, one of my volunteers. What do you, dear readers, think of a minor team name modification, something along the lines of “Naomi’s Meow Power?” I think this is only fair since I am responsible for thinking this whole endeavor up in the first place. Moreover, I have to whip my team of three into peak condition via my intensive training drills and strict adherence to an athlete’s diet (we’ll get to this in upcoming issues), during the four months leading up to the October 4 Fitness Challenge Triathlon at the Marriott.

Our team mascot is the unforgettable Mr. Kitt, who lived out his last five years here at For the Love of Cats. I got here a few months before Mr. Kitt, in 2008, and grabbed the title “Shelter Supervisor.” When I saw what a hit this charismatic Maine Coon cat was with my staff of 80 (yes, cats have staff, dogs have owners), I appointed him “Assistant Kitten Manager.” Kitt the Kitten Manager was 16-years old when he first crossed the shelter’s threshold. He only worked part-time and had my entire staff under his sweet, furry paws. Kitt’s favorite thing in the whole world was to be brushed. He even had his own special brush in the grooming tools drawer. I labeled it “Kitt’s Brush.”

Bodie and Fernando, 10-day old kittens delivered by Scarlet Rose.

Kitt and I arrived here at For the Love of Cats within months of one another in 2008. I was an incorrigible “biter,” and ultimately my person kicked me to the curb. That’s when I became the island’s most talented “dumpster diver.” After rescuing me, shelter founders Jan and Jim Rich quickly discovered that they could not break me of my anti-social biting habit. After many excruciating months of behavioral evaluations, I was labeled “unadoptable” and issued a one way ticket to a cat sanctuary in north Florida. I refused to get on the bus, however, and have been here ever since. I have even been granted “house privileges” by Jan and Jim I love tormenting their other three cats: Danny, Zoleyma and Max. And yes, of course, I’ve spent many hours in time-out.

Mr. Kitt, on the other hand, had a heart touching story of losing his family, who in turn had lost their home when he was 16-years old. Starting with the economic meltdown in 2008, we found ourselves taking in dozens of adult cats who’d been abandoned after families lost their homes. From 2008-2012, we took in 150 adult cats! We found everyone new “fur-ever” homes, except for Kitt. Unbeknownst to me when he arrived, poor Kitt was in bad shape, due largely to the fact that his diabetes was untreated, as was his kidney disease.

Kitten Dane, being very cooperative about getting his medication.

He had a few other, less serious health issues, including food allergies. Given his age and medication requirements, my staff campaigned to let him stay. We enjoyed five great years with Kitt, who had the gentlest temperament in a cat that I’ve ever witnessed or heard of. When his sweetness crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2013, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. To show Kitt how much he’d enriched our lives, Jan and Jim held a memorial service for him at the shelter, which included a video loop of his days and nights with us. Once again, not a dry eye in the house. In fact, Kitt had such a captivating spirit that local quilter Deb Crine was inspired to make an absolutely gorgeous “Kitt quilt.” I hope to use this artwork for our t-shirts, which will be available for purchase as we get closer to the event.

The October triathlon had 325 entries last year, and is open to individuals as well as relay teams. I opted for the team relay option because For the Love of Cats is all about team work. Sammy Miller will do the quarter-mile swim, Karina Paape will do the 15-mile bike ride, and Maria Lamb will do the 3.1-mile beach run. I know my gals could win this thing if they put their minds to it. However, team Meow Power is focused on reaching its $5,000 fund raising goal. All monies raised will be donated to For the Love of Cats, who, in turn, will use it to fund its “Help ‘em Keep ‘em” program.

This program is for low income families who are on unemployment, disability or otherwise unable to pay for veterinary services. The cats taken in by these kind folks are strays and/or friendly cats they’ve been feeding. A few times monies from this program have been used to treat an injured cat that someone wants to give a safe home. Last year the shelter raised $3,700 for this program, the bulk of which was used to save the life of Rascal, the victim of a nearly fatal bobcat attack in February of this year.

Dinah, a 12-week old kitten
in search of a home

Rascal ultimately lost one of his hind legs, but is still one happy boy, according to Jan who recently paid him a visit. A known “door dasher,” Rascal continues to stalk the front door in hopes of making yet another run for it. Didn’t this handsome black and white kitty learn his lesson? He is especially frustrated by the baby gates strategically positioned at the front door, but he loves his new window perch. His favorite wildlife to watch are rabbits.

I got a lovely “love” letter from Nestle, one of our most recent adoptees:

On the new arrivals front, we took in two 10-week old kittens: Smitty and June. They’re up for immediate adoption if they haven’t already been snapped up by the time you read this. We also took in a litter of four frightened kittens. No other rescue group in Collier County would take them in because they are considered to be “too feral.” But my staff knows how to turn-around these types of kittens – it just takes lots of patience, love, and TLC. Unfortunately, momma cat is very feral and will be returned to her home outside to be a community cat, after she is spayed, vaccinated and ear-notched (a notched left ear identifies feral cats who’ve been sterilized).

Now that I’ve shared all my happy news with you, I have a confession to make. While Jan and Jim were on their three week foray to Italy and other faraway parts of the world, I was a VERY BAD TORTIE! I sprayed the back of their walk-in closet (yes, girl cats can indeed spray), and peed in the sinks and on throw rugs. Boy are they disappointed in yours truly! Especially since this is the number one problem cat staff encounter, and I’m the go-to girl for answers. So now I’ll give you the lowdown from the perspective of a confessed out-of-box, urine marking offender.

Naomi taking inventory of
what her staff is eating.

I was angry at being left behind, so it really wasn’t my fault. So what if I didn’t have a Kitty Passport? You don’t just leave your shelter supervisor to fend for herself while you jaunt around Europe. All I’ve done is make it hard for anyone to forget my existence. As a result, Jan and Jim have increased their play time with me, having rightly concluded that my bad girl antics are attention seeking. Much has been written on this topic, including the fact that out-of-box urinating/pooping is the number one reason people get rid of their cats. I sure don’t want to get the boot, and I know Jan and Jim can’t live without me, so I’m putting up with Jan’s problem solving measures.

The first step was to slather urine marking deterrents on every surface I’ve marked, or just thought about marking. Then I found her crawling around the bedroom closet using some fancy cat urine odor neutralizer. She then tackled the throw rug at the front door using same. Should these efforts at odor eradication fail, the next level of prevention will be to strap one of those purple “calming” collars around my tortie neck. Anyone whose met me knows that purple is my best color. There is also a calming dry food Jan may resort to, along with one of those scent plug-ins with “Feliway” gently filling the air to calm my shattered nerves. I really need to get my act together so I can effectively coach team Meow Power to greatness.

Love, nips, and purrs…


Naomi is a 6-1/2-year-old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website,


Dear Naomi,

Thanks to you, Jan, Jim, and all the volunteers that helped me when I was scared and homeless…
I have a warm, loving,
caring, exciting home and furever purrfect family
and life! I will NEVER FORGET ALL OF YOU! You will ALWAYS be a part of who I am. I hope all your rescue kittens, old and young, are as fortunate as me and my family have been to have found each other.

Kisses and purrs, Nestle.



Interns Help Protect Sea Turtles at Rookery Bay Reserve

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:16pm

Renee Wilson

Interns and volunteers place cages over turtle nests to protect them from predators.

With 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters that protect 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has a big responsibility– and a devoted team of volunteers that work daily with staff to help achieve it. Through the Reserve’s citizen support organization, Friends of Rookery Bay, volunteers and interns are assisting with a variety of duties, from taking care of the butterfly garden at the Environmental Learning Center to maintaining beach-nesting bird area postings, and even monitoring sea turtle nests at the Cape Romano complex.

Two young women, Sarah Norris and Anna Windle, filled this summer’s internship positions in the sea turtle monitoring program and are conducting their work from the Ten Thousand Islands Field Station through October. This facility also serves as the hub for the Team OCEAN stewardship program, many of the reserve’s monitoring programs, and research conducted by visiting scientists.

Sarah Norris, from Bradenton, Florida, is a 2013 graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. She enjoys the beach, being outdoors, reading and crafting. She will be returning to FGCU this summer to pursue a master’s degree in environmental science. Her internship is funded by the Friends of Rookery Bay.

“I really love Southwest Florida and turtles,’’ said Norris. “I would love to have a career in marine conservation, specifically with sea turtles. I think they are fascinating creatures.”

Norris lucked out on her first week on turtle patrol when she and Jill Schmid, one of the Rookery Bay researchers, found the first nest of the summer on the northern tip of Morgan Beach. A short, faded out crawl led to the eggs, which they secured by putting up a wire cage to deter predators, such as raccoons.

Sarah Norris found the first nest of the season on May 8. PHOTOS BY RENEE WILSON

Anna Windle is from Elkton, Maryland, and is a student at Washington College. She is studying environmental science and enjoys reading, running and crafting when she’s not monitoring the Southwest Florida turtle population. She chose the Rookery Bay Reserve internship because of its location. Windle hopes to get her master’s degree in marine science and one day research the biology of marine animals.

“I would love to do more research on sea turtles in the future or get a job working to protect them,” Windle said.

Windle applied for the Reserve’s internship through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Internship Program. This program connects students at several colleges around the nation with research internships at marine laboratories and other institutions, such as Rookery Bay Reserve. Interns from this program demonstrate a high level of commitment and professionalism, and gain valuable experience working in a research lab, performing data analysis and conducting field work. This is the third year the Reserve has received a student from a NOAA program for the summer sea turtle internship.

The Reserve works in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Collier County Natural Resources and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to protect threatened sea turtles nesting on area beaches. Team OCEAN volunteers and summer interns serve an important role by helping patrol the beaches of Sea Oat Island, Cape Romano, Kice Island, and other islands in the Ten Thousand Islands five days a week during nesting season (May through October), rain or shine. All volunteers are trained to locate nests and place cages over them to protect the eggs from predators.

The monitoring crew scour beaches on Cape Romano looking for turtle crawls,
which usually lead them to the nest.

While interning at the Reserve, these young women will have the opportunity to be involved in many activities, working alongside researchers and other staff to gain knowledge and experience. They are also developing outreach skills by hosting a monthly website blog and delivering a final presentation to staff and volunteers to share the results of their work and the knowledge they gained.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office, in cooperation with NOAA, and serves as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for students and scientists from around the world.

For more information on the Reserve or to volunteer with the sea turtle monitoring program, visit


Renee Wilson is Communications Coordinator at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. She has been a Florida resident since 1986 has joined the staff at the reserve in 2000.



The Teapot and the Scorpion

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:14pm

By Mike P. Usher

Tonight the two brightest, or at least the easiest to find, constellations of the zodiac are riding high in the sky; Sagittarius the Archer or Centaur (actually it’s both) and Scorpius the Scorpion are easy to locate. Sagittarius has the famous teapot asterism that really jumps out of the jumble of stars that fill this region of the sky; and Scorpius is one of the very few constellations that actually look like the thing they are supposed to represent.

The teapot asterism consists of eight stars, all roughly equally bright. This time of year the teapot appears level, as if sitting on a stove, but in the fall it tips over and appears to be pouring out its load of tea. Fairly close to the tip of the teapot’s spout is the direction to the center of our galaxy, and the giant black hole at its heart. We see nothing of this, as this whole area is choked with gas and dust obscuring our view, but astronomers can use infrared cameras and radio telescopes to get a look.

Here in Florida, Scorpius rides fairly high in the sky. From the northern U.S. or Canada the tail grazes the trees on the horizon; on Marco we can even see the rather faint constellations underneath the stinger. Antares is the bright red eye of the scorpion, one of only two red supergiant stars visible with the naked eye. (The other one is Betelgeuse). Antares has a faint green companion, discovered by accident when the Moon briefly covered the bright red star, allowing the faint companion to shine out on it’s own. Such an event is called an occultation, and is not uncommon, although bright stars like Antares being covered are modestly rare.

If you happen to be out earlier in the evening, be sure to check out the show happening in the western sky. Venus and Jupiter are approaching each other more closely every night this month, until finally on June 30 they will be less than the diameter of the full Moon apart! Such an event is called a conjunction and is not uncommon. This one will be spectacular due to the brilliance of the two planets, and their proximity to each other.

See you next time!


Mr. Usher is a Director of the Everglades Astronomical Society which meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 PM in the Norris Center, Cambier Park, Naples. E-mail:




Producing Different Trajectories

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:12pm

Todd Elliott

High trajectory: the lead wrist is slightly extended at impact, and rapidly moving into more extension post impact.

There are so many variables in a golf swing. If I were to go back to college, I would take physics, kinesiology and biomechanics classes to become a better golf instructor. I study all the aforementioned now, but it takes me a couple reads or views to let the information soak in. A couple years ago I started studying how the golfer’s wrists movement heavily affect all the variables in the golf swing. The golfer’s wrists are most influential at impact. They affect loft, club face direction, and many other parameters that affects how the ball flies. There are many so-called “methods,” taught by instructors around the country. Different methods prescribe different wrists movements throughout the swing. I am a believer that there is no one method, or mold, to playing better golf. We are humans that have different bodies and minds, we cannot be put in a mold and expect to excel. As golfers we need to understand how our wrists work in all parts of our swing, especially impact.

There are three wrist movements to know, extension/flexion, ulnar/radial deviation and supination/pronation, as seen in the picture. Supination/pronation is technically a forearm movement, but since your wrists are attached they are affected significantly by this movement. Extension/flexion has the greatest impact on loft at impact, ulnar/radial deviation on club path, and supination/pronation on club face direction. First and foremost, you should make these movements, as seen in the picture, to test your range of motion. Any limitation in these movements will need to be addressed with a physical trainer or medical professional.

Extension/flexion has many effects on the golf swing, but today we will discuss how extension/flexion affects the loft of the club at impact. For this discussion we are going to assume that all golfers have all other variables alike; more weight on their lead foot at impact, lower body has slight tilt towards target, upper body has slight tilt away from target, the player makes contact in the middle of the club face, the player has proper sequence and all other factors are equal. I know that is tough to ask for, but for learning purposes, let us assume those items are equivalent in all cases.

Mid-height trajectory, as demonstrated by Tiger Woods hitting a pitch shot.

At impact the more flexion in the lead wrist a golfer has, the reduced amount of loft there will be at impact. For example, take your address position and forward lean the club shaft as much as possible, while keeping the club head just behind the golf ball, this is flexion in the lead wrist, or delofting the club as much as possible. Again, all else being equal, this is as low as you can make the ball take-off with the club in hand. Spin on the ball, wind and other considerations might change ball flight after initial launch, but this is as low as it gets for the club you are using. The results will be a ball flight that will take off low, and then when it hits the ground, will roll father than a shot with more loft, all else being equal. If you are trying to hit a low chip or pitch shot with your 56 degree club, you must have flexion in your lead wrist at impact.

For a mid-height trajectory the lead wrist should be in a slight flexion or a neutral position at impact. See picture of Tiger Woods hitting a pitch shot for a visual of this impact position. All three pictures of wrist angles show a player hitting a pitch shot. A player can easily manipulate the wrists in a pitch shot, because a pitch shot motion is performed at a lower speed than the full swing motion.

For a higher flighted shot the lead wrist should be slightly extended at impact, and be rapidly moving into more extension after impact. You do not want too much extension at impact for any golf shot, because too much extension will start to bring the leading edge into play, and thin shots will occur.

How do we use this information to help us work on our golf game? Everyone finds impact slightly different. The important factor is knowing your tendencies so you can adjust if a different trajectory is needed. Even if you do not feel comfortable changing wrist angles on a full swing, that is acceptable, but this concept is a must when chipping and pitching to perform better on the course.

Low trajectory: more flexion in the lead wrist at impact.

What wrists alignments do you have at impact? Ball flight should tell you the story, assuming that you hit the ball in the center of the club face. Wrists alignments have a major impact on distance control. You must realize your normal wrists alignments at impact, and understand how to change them to control both trajectory and distance. Many “methods” teach a lot of flexion in the lead wrist at impact, which delofts the club, as explained earlier. However, many golfers need more loft at impact to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, because they lack the club head speed to launch the ball at a needed height. Loft at impact gives the same golfer a chance to stop the golf ball on the green. There is no perfect answer to what is best, it is what is best for you. Producing different trajectories could be about fixing your normal trajectory, and/or it can be about trying to produce different trajectories on shots that require such variation.

To determine what is best for you, go see your local PGA professional who understands wrist movements, and can help you discover the correct wrist alignments at impact to control your trajectory and distance.


Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titlteist-certified fitter and a Titliest staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email


Don’t Fish for What You Can’t Swallow

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:10pm

Tara O’Neill

We’ve all done it. Maybe in a moment of insecurity, maybe just needing a little attention, but, at one time or another, we’ve all fished for compliments. Does this dress make me look fat? How’s your dinner (that I slaved over)? Do you like my haircut? Pretty harmless stuff, right? No one really expects a negative answer, what would be the point? You look beautiful. This is delicious. Yes, it’s very attractive. It’s just a matter of kindness – until it isn’t.

I have a friend, an imaginative composer and true piano virtuoso, who publishes a new collection of music every 2-3 years; When he does, I get a CD for Christmas. I am the proud owner of six collections that I adore. Several years ago, however, I received my gift of his latest work and found it (as usual) lovely, but (and this was unusual) not over-the-moon-outta-da-park innovative lovely. I would not have said this to him except, when I called to thank him, he asked my opinion and I assumed, artist to artist, he wanted the truth. Wrong. Big time wrong. Over-the-moon-outta-da-park wrong. But it was only partly my fault.

Anyway, it was many months after my conversation with the pianist that I learned my remarks had devastated him. I was shocked. “What did you expect?” asked his wife. “He considers you his biggest fan, he wouldn’t even touch his piano for weeks after your conversation.” I felt terrible and promised to apologize for my insensitivity.

Only I didn’t. Not really. I started to, but ended up scolding him instead. Why on earth would he give me that much power? I’m not a musician, I’m a painter! (Which probably means I should have kept my trap shut in the first place, and for that I did apologize). But did he think I would take offense if he said he didn’t like this painting as much as that one? Of course not! What does he know, he’s a musician! (And I wouldn’t ask him anyway).

You see, while I may not be above a little harmless compliment fishing (don’t you love my hat?), I will not ask someone for their opinion of my work unless I really want it, and then I’ll expect the truth. Usually I’ll only ask this of other artists, or someone in my field capable of an educated critique. A constructive critique requires searching out specific elements for strengths and weaknesses, and that usually requires a trained and well-practiced eye (or ear!).

Fast forward to last winter. I was exhibiting work at a local gallery when a fellow artist said of a painting I was standing next to, “What you’re missing is some cadmium yellow right there. Don’tcha think?” I explained that if I thought so, I would have put it there. She bridled at my chilly response, and suggested I not be so sensitive about a critique. “I wouldn’t be,” I replied, “if I had asked you for one.” If memory serves, she bridled right out of there. Well, she asked for it.

I shared that story with the piano player and he thought it was hilarious. “Not only should people be careful about what they ask you,” he said, “but also what they tell you!”

Maybe so, but I don’t think this applies to just me. I’m certain that etiquette frowns on dispensing unasked for criticisms, as certain as I am that you better have a stiff spine if you do ask. That’s fair, isn’t it?

Unless I’ve just prepared dinner for you, then, even if it tastes like pencil shavings, you will love it and say it is delicious. And I’ll tell you I like your dress. And we’ll both say thank you.


Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at


Will Nadal Show Up at Wimbledon?

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:08pm

Doug Browne


In the last few years, Rafa Nadal has bowed out in the early rounds at Wimbledon to Steve Darcis of Belgium, Lukas Rosol, Czech Republic and Australian teenager Nick Krygios.

Curious, indeed? How can such dramatic upsets occur to one of the greatest players of all time?

The Nadal camp will site Rafa’s recent struggles with his ailing knee but many other tennis enthusiasts point to possible doping. Say it isn’t so, Rafa.

In today’s heavily scrutinized sports world, fans tend to be suspicious when unusual events surface. Let’s simply examine the Lance Armstrong bicycling fiasco. Armstrong was allegedly drug tested 500 times and NEVER failed a test! Even though the Tour de France organizers had their suspicions, no one could prove Armstrong’s guilt.

Unlike Armstrong and his repugnant reputation, Rafa Nadal is one of the most popular athletes in the world. Nadal is gracious in victory and defeat, as he always credits his opponents for a fine performance. His never say die attitude on court, and his eloquence off-court, sits well with fellow competitors and fans of the sport.

However, one would have to either be blind or just uninformed not to be leery of Nadal’s early Wimbledon defeats or unexplained absences from the ATP Tour.

The grueling clay court circuit, culminating with the best three out of five set matches at the French Open would be a heavy fitness test for any competitor and often with little to no break before the Wimbledon Championships begin.

“Like everyone, I saw some things. For me, it is inconceivable to be able to play five hours in the blazing sun one day, and still run like a rabbit the next day,” Christophe Rochus explained.

So, do Uncle Toni and his team gradually build up the body with HGH (human growth hormone) right before the clay court season? Does Rafa take a dive at Wimbledon before any new tests are administered? Does he avoid future doping tests when he is away from the game due to injury?

Factoid: Athletics boasts 496 tests annually (392 out of competition, 104 in competition); tennis conducts just 19 – all out of competition. For comparison, curling could report 35 tests and luge 25, while darts and fishing had only 15 fewer tests than tennis.

It is important to note that all players in the top 50 in the rankings must be subject to random testing; there is no proof that Nadal gains any type of advantage when he is on hiatus from the game. But, there are loopholes in the testing procedures and one has to wonder if the insiders have information benefiting their cause?

Remember, there are several examples of tennis professionals who have been suspended for violations: Petr Korda, Wayne Odesnik, Guillermo Canas and Viktor Troicki.

“We don’t know what is true, what is not true,” said Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. “Personally, I just don’t know who I believe anymore. Everybody is lying, even the institutions. I don’t know if it is true but this is the feeling I have.”

The other interesting sidebar concerning drugs and suspensions on the ATP Tour involves two prominent stars. Andre Agassi (in his autobiography) admitted that he avoided a suspension by concocting a ridiculous story about ingesting meth from his assistant’s spiked drink.

Richard Gasquet

And if you think Agassi’s fib was outlandish, how about Frenchman Richard Gasquet’s outrageous tale. And believe me; you just can’t make this stuff up.

The tribunal, which met in London, bought the story. “His denial was convincing and, in our judgment, completely truthful,” they wrote.

“We conclude…more likely than not that the cocaine detected in the player’s urine sample entered by means of Pamela’s kissing in the period between from about 2 AM to 5 AM that morning. If the cocaine was ingested earlier, the quantity was so small and the half-life of the drug so short, it would have been undetectable in the player’s urine.”

Armed with this type of information, it behooves athletes to test the limits of the rules. Most of us in the tennis world are so uncomfortable criticizing the popular Rafa Nadal, because he is perceived as such a good guy, as he always exhibits exemplary sportsmanship.

In summary, the tennis world must drastically improve their drug testing system and be as vigilant as possible to enforce the rules no matter the popularity of the player. In a few short weeks, I hope that Mr. Nadal is in the Wimbledon semi-finals competing for yet another Grand Slam title.


Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.


Tigertail Life’s a Beach, Man!

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:00pm

By Steve Gimmestad

Above, this photo of the Hut from 1995 shows how much the landscape has changed over the years at Tigertail. The hut, below, has changed too. SUBMITTED PHOTOS UNLESS NOTED

“It was the lowest point in my life,” laments Tony Smith (smiling). “I applied for a dishwasher position at the Pewter Mug here on Marco and was turned down. Try telling that to your girlfriend. Man, it was tough!”

Luckily, it turned out to be a serendipitous moment for all of us.

Tony Smith is the person who now runs the show at Tigertail Beach. But it didn’t start out that way. He played a lot of tennis as a kid and parlayed that into a gig at the Hilton as an interim Tennis Pro.

“While I was doing that, I kept peering down the beach thinking, man, that’s where I want to be.” When the Hilton hired a full-time pro, I went into partnership with the guy at Tigertail in 1988. Soon after that, he wanted to get out of the business entirely and rather than spend a small fortune on legal fees to dissolve the corporation, I offered to buy the company for a dollar.” The paper’s were signed the next day and Tony took over.

Tony is a Brit (which means he’s from England) and his native brogue never faded. I tried typing his quotes the way they sound and the auto-correct burned out on my computer.

For the first five years at Tigertail, Tony worked without any employees. The operation was in major disrepair when he took over and he used all the revenue to get things up to speed.

“It was tough actually, very tough,” says Tony. “But having gone from being an infantry soldier, and in many hostile environments, to working on a beach in Florida, I was loving every minute of it.”

Many celebrities have visited Tigertail over the years. Gina Davis has been a visitor and her kids played on the beach with Tony’ kids. Tony even sat next to Tom Cruise’s mother at a wedding. “She’s a hoot,” laughs Tony. “Great person.” But while celebrities are idolized by so many, Tony’s real heroes are the Veterans. Tony served in The Inkerman Company (Grenadier Guards) as Team Commander. Veterans hold a special place in his heart and he honors their service every chance he gets when they visit Tigertail Beach.

Tony has an amazing wife (his words) and three great kids (also his words). His wife, Martina, an Italian from south Philadelphia, runs the concession stand. I told you that so I could tell you this; the food is wonderful. Now that I have had a chance to sample the fare at Tigertail, it is on my list of regular places to dine. Solid burgers, fresh ingredients, outdoor seating and some friendly faces behind the counter are all part of the perfect beach experience. It made me miss the drive-ins that were such a wonderful part of Americana. It’s great to see Tony and his crew perpetuate that culture.

Reminiscent of the beach party movies in the 1960s, Tigertail is as close as you can come to that true beach scene while still adhering to local, state and federal laws. While you won’t find Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello tearing up the sand to “Swingin’ and Surfin’”, you will find Tony and his guitar part of many impromptu jam sessions down at the hut.

Tigertail is THE place to paddle board and Tony makes sure all the gear is top of the line.

From sunup to sundown, Tigertail displays a bounty of moods. Tony gives full credit to Mother Nature for those displays, and he certainly knows how to help people enjoy them. One of the most popular ways is with a paddle board. They are all the rage and every age group is getting in on the action. The equipment at Tigertail is top of the line. They offer free lessons with every paddle board rental, dry boxes and more to make every experience fun and adventurous.

“We’ve had paddle boards here for twenty years,” says Tony. “A father-son team from Michigan dropped off two of them a long time ago. We had them a couple of months, rented them a few times and eventually sawed them up and tossed ’em out. Who knew it was going to just take-off like it has?”

So many people, including celebrities, sports stars and millionaires from around the globe, have commented to Tony “Man, you got the life here, you’re a lucky guy.” But only once did Tony disagree with them. That was when a race car driver came to visit. Tony loves motor sports.

Tigertail is a family place and hosts many group activities for kids of all ages. Throw a stone into a group of a thousand people, and you would be hard pressed to hit someone who wouldn’t enjoy Tigertail. Tony and his crew are tireless in their efforts to accommodate everyone who wants to enjoy a true beach experience. If you have a question – Ask! If you need something – Ask! Have a problem – Ask! You get the idea. They are there to make it a perfect day on the beach.

Tony is looking to add a beach party luau to the activities next season. He is continually looking to enhance the menu offerings. It is a wide open place to make of it what you will. This is where you should stop reading this story and head to Tigertail to create your own story. Tony, his family, and his entire crew will always be there to help you write it.