When Do We Finally Decide to Call in the Experts?

I should be feeling a great deal of security over the past several months as I have come to the realization that our elected officials, particularly those competing for the presidency, apparently have advanced degrees in physical and political sciences, sociology, economics, and now, military strategy. Obviously they must because they are able to rapidly analyze just what is wrong with our country…and the world…and then accurately propose quick, easy and inexpensive fixes to correct all these problems. They can even assure us that some things we think may be problems are no more than fairy tales. But they lament that sadly; the lack of implementation lies in the White House where our president refuses to listen to them and instead continues to ignore their “right way” to do things, purposefully dragging us further into the depths of becoming a third-world country, his ultimate objective. Some of them further inform us that even God is NOT on the side of the current administration and has commanded several of them to rectify this.

Our recent presidential debates clearly tell us just what is REALLY important to our citizenry. There is an abundance of discussion of Hillary’s e-mails to her daughter, Trump’s corporation bankruptcies, Bernie’s religious affiliations, Carson’s embellishment of his childhood violence, plus the evils of Planned Parenthood and birth control, our unmanaged international borders, and a lack of enforcement of the rules set down in Leviticus. The biggest audience applauses come after diatribes regarding gun rights, abortion and same-sex marriage with global warming and Wall Street corruption getting a real “Ho Hum!” While other issues of national and international importance are briefly addressed, the solutions the candidates provide involve “just doing things a lot differently” but don’t provide any definitive detail as to how or what. “Trust us…we know best. We’re going to build a great wall at no cost to us; we will round-up and deport 11 million non-Caucasians quickly and humanely; we will eliminate welfare, Social Security and Obamacare; lower (or even eliminate) taxes; quadruple military spending; calm the Middle East; repeal all environmental regulations; shrink government spending to less than that of a taco wagon in San Diego; make friends with Putin and eliminate Kim Jong-Un; give everyone a free Ivy League college education; greatly increase the GNP and eliminate the National Debt”; and on ad infinitum. And it all will be done at no cost in a matter of weeks, beginning immediately after the next inauguration. Then money will flow and our crops will grow. Wow! How can I not be excited about the future?

Isn’t the American public smart enough to witness a REAL debate? Aren’t we mature enough to hear the REAL facts? Regarding terrorism, why can’t we have the professional military personnel in our armed forces debate how best to deal with ISIS instead of having to listen to those with no military experience at all? Can we honestly examine the true costs of another war, both monetarily and in American lives? How long will we have to occupy these countries? Forever? Which ones? Can we afford it for the long term? (Rome tried it and it resulted in its collapse). And, please, at least realize, those rhetorical “boots on the ground” will be actually worn by our children and grandchildren, not by disposable and replaceable robots.

I fully realize there’s an overwhelming threat to world peace due to terrorism and religious fervor and something definitely needs to be done to alleviate it. My hawkish genes even admit that what might be required involves huge sacrifices in lives and economic stability. But I also understand that our country’s infrastructure is rapidly collapsing; our schools are in serious need of funding; our climate is changing by the minute; the middle class is disappearing (and dying earlier at an increasing rate); domestic poverty is on the increase; and I want to hear debates on solutions by the true experts, not from evangelical preachers or secularists; not from junior Senators from Florida, Texas and Kentucky ; not between Exxon and Greenpeace; not MSNBC and FOX News; not Solar City and the Koch Brothers; not between the NRA and Michael Bloomberg; not between Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz; and definitely, not involving those adjusting their rhetoric daily in order to garner increased campaign donations. I want to listen to the real honest-to-goodness professionals with the education and experience to effectively analyze these issues of dire importance to the future of this country…and the world, and provide well thought out options for potential solutions. Maybe then I can better decide on how I should vote.

We claim to be the most advanced, educated, and enlightened country on earth but we sure have ceased to function like it.

American Exceptionalism????

Hey Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and all you “Christian” members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans –who voted to turn your backs on Syrian refugees, let me quote YOUR Bible to you:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Matthew 25:35-40

Your piousness seems to only matter when it serves you politically.  SHAME!

Costa Rica

Costa Rica…my third visit and they say the third time’s the charm.  Maybe so, but if you want sun, don’t go to 3 different rain forests.  Of course, that’s where all the neat birds hang out so it’s a push.  My first 2 trips were sunny and few birds, this time it rained a lot but I got good images of at least 35 species in my 10 day trip.  And, with 2 superb workshop leaders, I got a wealth of knowledge of my equipment and how to best use it.


Atlantic rainforest


Catarata del Toro Falls

Tucked back in to jungle, the lodges were adequate…but not luxurious…and NO AIR CONDITIONING (fans do poorly in high humidity!)  Mornings began sunny but rains usually began late morning and into the afternoon.  Humidity was awesome and temperatures ranged into the 80’s.


Laguna Lagarto Lodge


Laguna Lagarto Lagoon

But it sure did rain!  Fortunately, the birds were accustomed to it.


Black Vulture


Montezuma oropendola

Bananas and mangos enticed the fruit feeders to the feeding sites.


Collared acari


Keel-billed toucan


Chestnut-mandibled toucan


Montezuma oropendola

The tanagers weren’t as numerous as in Panama


Blue-gray tanager


Palm tanager


Golden-hooded tanager


Olive-backed Euphonia


Yellow-throated Euphonia

But there were recent migrants from North America to add to the colors


Baltimore oriole


Summer tanager

All 3 species of honeycreepers were active at the fruit trays


Red-legged honeycreeper


Shining honeycreeper


Green honeycreeper (male)


Green honeycreeper (female)

And the kiskadees learned to enjoy over-ripe bananas


Great kiskadee

The ground birds occasionallky came out of the forest


Great curossow


Black guan

Flash set-ups for hummingbirds drew in several species


Green hermit


Violet saberwing


Black-bellied hummingbird

Stopping at a ranch we found a lot of action. The rancher had been rehabilitating injured macaws which drew the wild ones in to his properties.


Scarlet macaw


Green macaw


Macaws flying

But my favorite bird of the trip (and the one I most wanted to photograph) was the king vulture.  An area was baited with cow heads from a local butcher shop which drew in many black vultures to the area where a permanent photo blind had been set up.  In time, a few over-cautious king vultures began to appear.  I think I shot over 1,000 images of them.


King vulture


King vulture


King vulture

Besides birds, there were a number of  frogs, lizards and snakes


Red-eyed tree frog


Poison dart frog


Green Basilisk




Eyelash viper


Green tree viper



But not many mammals






Pallid long-tongued bat

 All in all, it was a great experience.  Next destination…BRAZIL!