Saturday, February 21, 2015

My First Visit to Margaritaville Grand Cayman

One of the most important goals I have in retirement is to drink a beer (or two?) in every Margaritaville property on earth. Currently they stretch from Sydney Australia to the three Airport Cafe's in San Juan Puerto Rico.  As the verse in "Tryin to Reason With Hurricane Season" goes, its a "mightly long airplane ride" to get to all of them.  But I will.

In July 2010 I was bored wondering what to do the following weekend so I decided to go to Grand Cayman island to have a beer at Margaritaville. I searched the Cayman Airways website and found a manageable airfare and bought the ticket.  I flew down there on July 8, 2010, and after clearing Cayman customs and immigration I walked from the airport to the cafe where I had a few beers but didn't get too drunk to karaoke.  After dinner I walked to my nearby hotel and crashed.  The next morning I awoke, walked to the airport, checked in and flew back to Tampa.  I was out of the country about 22 hours.

At US Customs in Tampa I was asked how long I'd been out of the country. I said "one day."

Customs said "What were you doing in the Cayman Islands for a day?"  

I said "I went to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe for a beer."

He said "You flew all the way to the cayman islands for a beer?"


"Ok, what were you really doing in the Cayman Islands?"

"I went to have a beer at Margaritaville."

"I need to see what's in your backpack."

I was carrying a simple backpack in which I carried my passport, a book to read, a change of clothes and a tooth brush.  Nothing more.

"That's all you took to the Cayman Island?"

"I was only there overnight."

"And what did you say you were doing there?"

"I went to have a beer at Margaritaville."

By now he figured something sinister was up but he couldn't figure out what. 

Finally to remove his angst I showed him evidence that I am a retired US government employee and said "Look, I used to be a Fed just like you are. My goal in retirement is to drink a beer in every Margaritaville cafe in the world and that's why I went to Grand Cayman for a night."

The Customs guy thought a second and said "I've been doing this job for 24 years and heard a lot of bullshit stories but yours sir is the most bullshit one I've ever heard.  Welcome home." 

I guess now if Jimmy ever mentions Tampa when singing Volcano he can say "Customs there they hassle Craig."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Its Time to Choose Choice in Florida

Florida has the distinction of offering its residents 122 different specialty or "vanity" license plates. Funds generated from these license plates support the efforts of all manner of organizations and causes from sea turtle conservation to the Special Olympics to saluting fire fighters.  A recent summary of data from the Florida government revealed that the University of Florida gator license plate was the most popular with 96,701 plates in 2013 followed by Florida State University with 64,270 and sea turtle conservation (which I have) that was chosen by 63,308 Floridians.

Ranking 13th on the list with 27,528 license plates is one called "Choose Life" which supports an anti-choice group called "Choose Life America." Among its various purposes is the denial of the constitutional right of a woman to make her own reproductive choice(s).  

I regularly see these license plates and this morning it occurred to me that there is no counterbalancing "Choose Choice" alternative license plate and I wondered why not..  Given that we live in an allegedly representative democracy where all points of view should have a voice it only stands to reason that a Choose Choice alternative be available.

This morning I emailed the following message to the American Civil Liberties of Florida encouraging either them or Planned Parenthood of Florida (or both?) to pursue a Choose Choice license plate to help fund their efforts to protect not only a woman's right to choose but also the Bill of Rights.  That email follows.  If anything happens from this I will post more here.  Cross your fingers.

Dear American Civil Liberties Union of Florida

As I drive around Florida I regularly see a specialty license plate that contains a yellow background with the face of a smiling kid on it and the words "Choose Life" sprawled across the front.  Funds generated from this license plate go to aid the efforts of an anti-choice group called "Choose Life America."  The license plate is apparently popular because I often see it so the organization must be taking in large sums of money to assist their efforts to deny women the right to choose what they do with their bodies.

Although this license plate is all over Florida highways there is no counter license plate that reads something like "Choose Choice" and its because of that I am writing you.  

Have you or Planned Parenthood considered petitioning the state legislature to approve a Choose Choice alternative to the Choose Life license plate?  We supposedly live in a representative government where all sides should be heard. Its sad that the side of choice isn't being heard.   Recently a Federal court ruled that North Carolina's "Choose Life" license plate was unconstitutional because there was no counterbalancing Choose Choice alternative.  Granted the story is from Fox News so its probably suspect but assuming its legitimate, a case could be made that Florida's Choose Life license plate is unconstitutional as well.

My vision for a Choose Choice license plate is one with an image of the United States Constitution on it and the simple words "Choose Choice" next to the constitution.  My guess is that ACLU Florida would generate huge sums of money from similar progressive thinking people who would want this plate.  I currently have a sea turtle conservation plate and would change it to Choose Choice in a heart beat.

If this is not something ACLU would be interested in could you perhaps suggest it to Planned Parenthood for the same reasons?  If you or Planned Parenthood are interested and need some help getting it off the ground I'd be more than happy to donate some of my time to making that happen. Thanks much for considering my suggestion.