ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been all over the television and the Internet via social media. Individuals, corporations and celebrities alike are participating in the challenge, although many participants probably don’t even know what ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is. Despite knowing anything about the condition it is amazing what the media can do for a charitable cause. And while the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is for a very worthwhile cause it is also somewhat foolish and wasteful.

Now I know I'm going to take a hit on this for my negative reaction and opinion to the challenge but it is wasteful.

Water is a very precious commodity and is a commodity that many of us take for granted in our daily lives. Recently Toledo Ohio and its surrounding area had the importance of water brought back in to the forefront of their lives with the toxic algae bloom that occurred in the western portion of Lake Erie. Are they now dumping water over their heads? When just several weeks ago they were at stores trying to purchase water or were standing in lines to receive free water.
California is in the midst of severe drought conditions and is under water usage restrictions and water conservation policy. Are residents of California dumping water over their heads?

Millions of people in Africa walk miles daily in search to find pure drinking water. Are they dumping water over their heads?

 I am certainly not opposed to fundraising for any worthy cause, I personally know of a man that passed away from ALS. And while the challenge has raised millions of dollars let us move on to a more appropriate and less wasteful a way of making money for worthy causes.

I challenge the world to find a less wasteful way to make money for ALL charitable causes.

 
 
What is it about water? Is it because our body is about 70% water or that we can't live more than a few days without water that we are so attracted to it? Even animals know the importance of water and migrate to it.

Water is a precious commodity all around the world. If you look at homes located along any coast or shoreline on any body of water including rivers, lakes and even ponds, they are always more expensive to buy than homes that are located inland.

If you see a house with a built-in swimming pool or hot tub they too are more expensive to purchase.

People’s vacations often seem to revolve around cruising, boating or vacationing on the beach. Even people who say they don't like to go to the beach or go boating tend to migrate somewhere near water, perhaps a mountain cabin along a stream.

Some people say watching the waves or hearing running water is relaxing. Spas often have fountains or play music that portrays the sounds of trickling water or rain showers. Water soothes the restless soul but its movement also reminds us that we are alive and are meant to move.

So bring on the water and let’s move!
 
 
It is Shark Week and everyone's excited, their hearts are racing and the adrenaline is flowing. I'm excited too, not so much to watch but I want to be in water with them. Anyone that follows my blog or website regularly knows that I have a passion for sharks. And I wish the media would stop that damn “Jaws” theme music!

The word shark itself strikes fear through most of the world population. But as a scuba diver I have been all around the world in water with sharks.  I get as excited seeing them underwater as I get agitated when I see them above water on a fisherman's hook or send lying rotting on a beach. I also enjoy hunting for those lost teeth that wash into beaches around the world. 
 I'm also proud to say that I have met one of the top shark researchers in the world, Taylor Chapple. I don't have anywhere near the experience that Taylor has but I am proud to say that I did obtain a shark certification while I was driving in Moorea, French Polynesian. In my eyes Taylor just might have the world's most perfect job.
Sharks are amazingly interesting creatures, even pet stores get a large interest in selling the little Bala Sharks and Rainbow Sharks for your home fish tanks. But unfortunately the media gives sharks a bad reputation; often referring to them as man eating killing machines. Humans are not a normal item on a shark’s diet. But when we enter their world sometimes things happen.

The media sensationalizes every time there is an incident involving a shark. But we don't hear as much publicity about the number of people that are injured or die by other natural causes such as flooding. More people died by flooding water related incidents then by shark water related incidents.

Hopefully after this annual shark week event people will have a greater understanding and appreciation for these magnificent animals and want to keep them around for future generations.
 
 
If you follow my blog you know that I travel, a lot I have traveled to many wonderful places but along the way sometimes there are issues or incidents. But the attitude in how you deal with the issues makes all the difference in the world.

Generally speaking if everything goes well and you have a wonderful time you don’t bothers to contact the supplier and let them know you had a wonderful time. But when something goes wrong everyone is quick to complain. Sometimes the anger is only in the moment and dissipates as time passes. But some of us contact the company and respond shortly after with some constructive criticism and suggestions.

For example, sitting in a formal dining room I should not be seated at a table with napkins that are stained and dirty. If I'm paying for housekeeping services I should not continually have bathmats to use that are ragged and torn. Or if I am on a tour that includes lunch, I should receive a lunch that is appropriate for my dietary preferences if they had asked previously if there were dietary restrictions. Or better yet when I pay for a hotel room and they take my money I expect to have a room available when I arrive.

I can continue to site multiple issues that I've had during my travels. Instead however I wish to tell you what I've done to help correct these issues for future clients.

While the issues are occurring I document the problems, I also notify the immediate supervisors of the situation and then when I return home I write a formal letter to customer relations.

In the letter I tried to avoid the blame game and instead site reasons why I felt the service was poor or improper. I also try to give suggestions as to what would have made me feel more comfortable in the situation and how I feel the problem could be corrected or changed for future clients.

I never forget to also tell them the positive or pluses about the trip or supplier. Consequently by following up with constructive criticism on multiple occasions I have been compensated. I have received cash back and vouchers toward future travel.

So when you travel if you encounter problems please contact the supplier. If they are aware of the problem they can hopefully correct it. Also let them know about all of the good stuff, in the long run it will help all of us to have a better experience when we travel with them. Thanks in advance for your help.
 
 
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A little hard to see from plane window but thousands of windmills!

Something’s are the perfect blend like yin and yang, black and white, old and new. Having just returned from a two-week trip to northern Europe and found most of the cities to be the perfect blend.

Prior to landing in Copenhagen Denmark it was obvious they were a progressive and innovative country. Windmills by the thousands were strategically situated around the city maximizing the wind’s strength. Later I discovered the country’s public transportation system was vast and efficient. They were definitely aware of the benefit of being self sufficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. Oh and did I mention bicycles? There were more bicycle riders than cars, again reducing their carbon usage. They are the best at utilizing the most efficient of manmade (supplied) energy!

Upon further exploration I found the country to embrace its rich cultural heritage with magnificent historic palaces and castles.

While in Germany we passed miles of solar panel fields, again a carbon free option for energy. And later I was again wowed by more splendid protected historic castles.

Why is it that in the United States we seem to be stuck in the middle? We have not preserved much of our heritage; we are more of a tear down and rebuild society. Plus we seem decades behind in energy saving technology. Our windmills and solar fields are few and far between. Our country has definitely not fully utilized the vast sunshine we receive in our southern states; nor have we gained the benefits from the wind from our coastal states.

My home town is nicknamed “The Windmill Capitol of the North Coast”.... We have three!

Let's get out of the mush of the middle and find a better blend. Support saving our heritage and encourage the use of more carbon free options, let us start to blend the old and the new.
 
 
How does a twist of bad luck or possibly fate change your future so drastically? Malaysia Airlines has been in the top 20 world best airlines for the past three years. In two of those three years it is been in the top 10 world’s best airlines. But now in 2014 they are in dire trouble.

 I have flown Malaysia Airlines and to be honest with you it was my favorite airline to fly. The service and amenities were exceptional. I just loved their cute little menus…in economy class!

However now like most of the world I do have second thoughts about flying Malaysia Airlines, if they can indeed survive these past two tragedies. Has someone singled out Malaysian Airlines?

After the tragedies of 9/11 the general public drew back and reduced their flying tendencies. After increased safety precautions were put into affect gradually the public returned to their old ways and increased their airborne journeys.

Will time heal Malaysia's ills? Or will these incidents with Malaysia Airlines be another world changing event? Will we again face major changes in our flying habits and restrictions?

Are you ready to fly in the next week two weeks or even the next few months? Do these events change your attitude about flying with Malaysia or any other airline? Do you have thoughts on what can be done to protect commercial airlines?

Weigh-in and let us know.
 
 
This summer there seems to be a surge of attention on sharks. The news has reported a Great White Shark being caught in New York. Another video shows a paddle boarder paddling directly over a shark. Still other people are using media to follow a satellite tagged Great White Shark affectionately known as “Katherine” and her travels around the Gulf of Mexico.

This trending news, along with reports of dangerous snakes, an overpopulation of bears in urban areas and coyote packs coming into cities make people believe that there are a lot of dangerous animals are on the loose near their homes.

However there is little news about the most dangerous animal on earth ...  the Mosquito! The mosquito kills more people, approximately a million annually, than all of the other animals on earth combined.  This small pesky insect is responsible for malaria, dengue, various forms of encephalitis, West Nile Virus, yellow fever, and Chikungunya. They are even infect horses and man’s best friends, dogs.

So my friends stop worrying about the sharks, the bears, and the coyotes. Leave them alone, we are the ones invading their space; start concentrating on the bigger (tiny) most dangerous problem, the mosquito!

Do your part....

Eliminate standing water, as they are possible breeding grounds.

Use insect repellent and cover exposed skin.

Limit your time outdoors at dawn and dusk

Help stop the true killers!
 

Places

07/07/2014

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New places and new faces, never enough,

Endless exploring can sometimes be rough.

But with joy in my heart, a smile and some grace,

Off on another adventure to another new place!
 
 
A recent study by Penn State University researchers has revealed that people tend to be more stressed at home instead of at work. The researchers had individuals check their cortisol levels, a stress indicator, both at home and at work, the proof was in the saliva!

This discovery just happens to be contrary to what everyone believes. If you poll the general public they will tell you all they are definitely more stressed at work than they are at home. But the researched proved the opposite. The 24/7 demands at home cause more stress than demands in the workplace.

 In my mind that definitely proves to me that I need to be on vacation… instead of staying at home! I think I'll work on that.

Do you agree? Where is your stress?
 
 
A couple weeks ago I wrote about one of Tampa Bay's hidden gems, Fantasy Island. But it is not the only gem in the Tampa area, another surprising retreat is just off shore into the Gulf of Mexico, Egmont Key State Park. Egmont Key is a small barrier island that is located basically just west of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

It is a major historic site on Florida’s west coast. If you're not fortunate enough to know someone that owns a boat you can access the island via a ferry leaving from nearby Fort Desoto State Park.

Egmont Key is home to the Egmont Key Lighthouse and the ruins of old Fort Dade. Complimentary maps on the island are available at the ranger station. The map points out various trails throughout the island and leads to ruins of the old fort. It is an interesting hike as some sections of the fort are quite well preserved.
Besides the lighthouse, cemetery and the old fort, the island is inhabited by numerous gopher tortoises and is a wildlife refuge for nesting birds.

The crystal blue water attracts many afternoon boaters. Since it is a wildlife reserve no pets are permitted, no camping is allowed and they request that you take only photos, and leave only footprints. Unless of course the footprints would be on the sand dunes, walking on the sand dunes is also prohibited.

An afternoon on Egmont Key is a wonderful way to spend a day in the Tampa area. It can fulfill the interest of sunbathers, hikers, history buffs and nature lovers alike.