Attentive Readers of Earth,

Greetings from Inner Space! We’re so glad that you agree with us that the ocean is too small. With your help, we’re planning a mass migration into your parking lots and condominiums. Thanks for thinking of us!

We’re already sending our eight-legged real estate agents into your coastal cities to assess their value. We’re not too impressed yet, but there is potential. You know, the kind of potential that says “just add water.”

By the way, we’re smarter than you. But you knew that already.

You know, we used to live in your neighborhoods—all the way into Kansas and beyond. But when we weren’t paying attention, the Earth’s temperature dropped, the ice formed, and too much dry land appeared. Bummer.

Now you’re helping the planet get back to the way things were—you know, warm, dinosaur-friendly temperatures. We’re with you, and we pledge allegiance to the United States of Fossil Fools. We love to clap our suckers together and cheer, “Drill, baby, drill!”

We can’t wait to see what the next decade brings. Your flood is our gain!

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Without speaking, Pepe is saying a lot. 

It’s funny when you get laryngitis. People around you stop talking too.

It’s as if imitation is the highest form of communication. You talk a lot, I talk a lot. You stay silent, I stay silent. We are the same.

It happens within cultures that are highly oral, or highly symbolic, or highly ritualistic. People imitate what they see and hear, from generation to generation. We act the same to show we are the same.

When someone stops talking, there’s a disruption in the system. We all stop, because something is amiss. We just can’t be different.

It’s some kind of instinct—perhaps sympathetic, or perhaps cautious. Does difference mean weakness, or danger?

When I got laryngitis this week, I tried to switch into an improvised sign language. But it wasn’t taken well. People could not understand it, so I gave up quickly. I tried to force myself to talk, but it hurt.

In my mind, I was telling others: “Go ahead and talk. Have a conversation with yourself, out loud, without asking me questions. I can hear perfectly. I can nod my head.”

But I could only think these thoughts, not say them. There was no choice; all I could do was listen and try to use body language. I became still.

It made me realize: Words are important, because they get repeated. Monkey hear, monkey repeat. Words of love inspires more words of love. Hate inspires hate.

Actions get repeated too. Somehow it’s all very reflexive, and unconscious, and there’s truth to the saying of “money see, monkey do.” A choice to do something is also a choice for others to repeat it.

Now that I’m starting to talk again, I hope to recognize and leverage the power of the voice. It travels far beyond the ears that hear it, and it gets repeated again and again. Words and actions reverberate in ways we can never understand.

Everything we do has an echo.

img_3693Donald Trump has the foulest mouth and the dirtiest mind of anyone elected president.

Decency is dead.

Since his election, protesters have been chanting “Fu** Trump.”

Decency is dead.

At least the anger of the protesters makes sense. They are so shocked and so angry that they are seeking the most violent words possible. Violent words are less harmful than violent actions.

For me, the only reaction right now that makes sense is No Words. A Blackout on social media, #NoWords. Silence and Mourning. No arguing, no explanations, no justifications. No Words.

Obviously I’m breaking my own rule by writing these words right now. I want to get beyond the period of mourning, the wake of silence, and find a voice. You have to start somewhere. But my gut reaction for now remains No Words.

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.” No Words.

“The next president of the United States of America is…” No Words.

“Mommy, what’s an immigrant?” No Words.

Someday soon I’ll find some words to place on my black sign. I’m waiting until they can be decent.

Action Number One

On Veteran’s Day, I rode my bike into central Washington, D.C. and walked around with my black sign with No Words. I tried to hear what the great presidents and the great monuments were trying to say. They gave me No Words.

I kept walking.

Sitting outside the new Trump International Hotel, just two blocks from the White House, I still felt too heavy to speak. But I did find an action.

I took my black sign with No Words and I walked around the hotel. In the back I found a construction area with a large dumpster. I took a photo of my sign, and then I tossed it into the dumpster.

I dumped my silence, my shock, my lack of words into one of Donald Trump’s very own trash cans. Now he owns it.

Trump will have to pay to have it removed. It’s the decent thing to do.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention” – Frank Sinata singing “My Way”

I did it my way for eight years, and I still reign supreme as the world’s greatest park critic. (I’ve never met another). Here’s my final column: “And the Winner Is …“.

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Where’s Robin Hood? You’ll never find him or this park, but I did.

Patrol Patrol was my creation, although the idea started with Biscayne Times editor Jim Mullin, who simply presented the idea and said, “You’ll figure it out.” I guess we did.

My craziest park experience was in downtown Miami’s Bicentennial Park (now transformed into Museum Park) where a homeless man gave me the “insider’s tour” of the best spots for pooping and pimping.

Check out my penultimate column in the Biscayne Times, where I review Miami’s worst parks in “Good Park / Bad Park.”

The most serene moments happened in almost every park, because they were rarely crowded, and I made a habit of walking the full perimeter to appreciate the park’s scope. Every park has a tree or a corner or a bench that you can claim. Better yet, keep walking and absorb the sensations flowing over you.

Every park has wildlife, and Miami is especially blessed with spiders and amazing aquatic creatures. One time while kayaking back from an island in Biscayne Bay, a man-sized wild dolphin repeatedly performed 10-foot leaps into the air and landed on its back. Probably no more than five people witnessed that feat, even though many thousands live and work in the nearby skyrises. As busy urbanites, we miss almost every moment of wonder.

What nuggets of wisdom did I learn by visiting and analyzing a new park every month for eight years? I guess I could sum it up by saying:

  • Nature creates masterpieces, and humans can only build frames. Light frames around large spaces work the best.
  • The Everglades is not a park, because an ecosystem has no gate. But it needs a park to save what little remains.
  • All children deserve a safe playground in a walkable community. We are not civilized because we’re far, far away from that dream—although a true leader could make it possible (go for it, Donald Trump).

Goodbye my devoted fans (all three of you). Step away from your computer and go take a walk in the park. Now!

Four weeks have passed since my father passed away early in the morning of July 3. Right now a candle burns near a family photo and the thank you note he and my mother wrote to me, about the recent father’s day in June we spent together.

To all readers who have lost a parent, I want to say that I sympathize with you, and that I simply didn’t understand the trauma it causes until it happened to me.

Thank you notes mean a lot. The real, paper ones that you send by snail mail. Thank you so much to the friends who sent notes of condolence to me and especially to the many who supported my mother with kind words. Words on paper that you can hold, place on a mantle, and look at every day. Thank you.

You can read the obituaries I wrote online, and the long version is here, from the funeral home.

Maybe later I can pull together some photos and memories of dad. Suffice it to say, for now, that he is my hero. We celebrated his life on his 85th birthday, July 9, the same birthday as his father, my Popo.

Popo wrote a poem for me when I was born, and the handwritten framed page is my most prized possession. The one I’ll grab when the house burns down. In it he writes: “In you, James, flows the past of all your ancestry, and stronger still the past of your parents and their continuous present; as all has been before, so be you.”

Taped to that framed poem is a note, hand written by my dad after his grand 80th birthday celebration (Popo the lawyer had better handwriting than dad the surgeon). Dad ended the letter with this line:

“It has been my privilege to have you as a son and my love for you can only grow as time passes!”

Thank you, Dad, thank you, Popo, for writing these things for me. I am still here, and you are with me.

Miami—The legendary wisdom of anglers is changing with the times, according to groundbreaking new research published Thursday in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. The first study to use personal seafood budgets to reveal environmental orientation shows that South Florida’s recreational fishers have a newfound recognition of climate change and a strong will to open their wallets for high quality seafood.

Old timers remain stingier than newer generations, reveals researcher James W. Harper, who surveyed a selection of Florida’s more than one million registered marine fishers for the the scientific article The New Man and the Sea. But one of the study’s biggest surprises is that poorer people are not stingy when it comes to paying more for sustainable seafood. The online survey found middle to lower class households were just as willing as upper classes to pay a few dollars extra to purchase fish with a sustainability label on it. These residents living near the Florida Reef especially want local seafood, because 80 percent were in favor of higher costs to guarantee seafood caught nearby.

Registered anglers are very wealthy, as they reported income twice as high as the average Floridian. The study’s survey was limited to five counties in southeastern Florida, including the Florida Keys of Monroe County, and the majority of participants owned a boat, went fishing and scuba diving, and expressed high concern about climate change damaging Florida’s coral reefs, a new finding for this community.

The study finds that greater concern about climate change inspires greater spending on sustainable seafood. But Florida’s large community born abroad is not inspired to spend more for seafood from Florida.

More than 90 percent of Florida’s seafood is imported, and imports are the norm across the Caribbean. Commercial fishing in Florida has been shrinking while the recreational boating and fishing industries have grown steadily for decades. New research is finding that recreational fishing has an equal or greater impact on coastal ecosystems as commercial fishing, even though recreational fishing has no federal regulation. Florida’s recreational fishing sector is more than twice as large as the next closest state. But little scientific research has illuminated how this community thinks and acts for the environment it uses.

The open access scientific article is available for free online at: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/3/2/299/html

For more information, contact the author at:

James (Jim) W. Harper

jharp002@fiu.edu

786-423-2665