It was a warm, sunny, Spring morning. I had just finished driving my son to the sheltered workshop which had just reopened after being closed on and off for over a year due to the Covid 19 pandemic. I was rushing back home, zipping along the mountain roads that I know so well, with a thousand thoughts on my mind, with a ton of wishes and worries bouncing around my brain.
I wouldn’t say that I was speeding but I wasn’t driving as safely as I normally do either. Suddenly, I saw a dark form in the road ahead. I stepped on the brakes and saw that it was a big, black dog standing right in the road. I stomped down on the brakes harder and came to a full stop.
The dog just stood there looking at me in a strange sort of way. Then he shook his head disapprovingly and walked slowly off the asphalt and up into the woods.
I drove away slowly wondering about that dog. Then for the first time that day, I noticed the sunshine glowing off the light green leaves of the trees. I noticed the thousands of buttercups blooming along the side of the road. I noticed the butterflies floating above them. I noticed the birds soaring in the sky.
For the first time that day I felt the Love of our Creator and felt the happiness of Heaven while still here on Earth. I drove on with a clear mind and a warm heart thanking God for sending that Divine dog to slow me down and to wake me up.
Looking back now I see I needed that reminder. I was getting too lost in my own life again to notice the real LIFE all around me. I needed to see again that life is short and I shouldn’t rush through it. I needed to see that life is precious and I should cherish every second of it. I needed to see that life is beautiful and I should welcome that beauty into my heart, mind, and soul. I needed to see that life is LOVE. Life is God’s LOVE expressed in a trillion different ways.
May you enjoy every second of it and may you add your own love to it as well.
Joseph J. Mazzella
Some images just scream The United States of America, such as baseball, hot dogs, and fireworks! Experience all of these on three consecutive nights during the upcoming Mussels home stretch this Fourth of July Holiday Weekend, there will be fireworks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.... as well as every Friday evening all this summer during home games, with a trip to Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex to see our home town team, the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, the minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins!
All three Independence Day Weekend games against the Bradenton Marauders of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization begin at 7 p.m. As soon as each game ends, the fireworks spectacle immediately explodes over the right-center field wall, without dragging out any suspense for the youngsters or the young-at-heart! The crowd joins the stadium Public Address announcer in a countdown from 10 to 1, then the display bursts clear and loud, with the Mighty Mussels blaring rock-&-roll music over the speaker system to accompany the shows. so remember that this Sundays game will not start at noon and will also be an evening game due to the fireworks following the game on the 4th.
If your comparison is the fireworks extravaganzas off the Fort Myers Beach pier on The Fourth of July, the Mighty Mussels shows are generally lower on the horizon, with the exception of its Grand Finale blasts. The fireworks do not last as long, ranging in length from 7 to 9 minutes, though this year’s Fourth of July performance will be approximately twice that long.
What you may sacrifice in length, however, you make up for in proximity, as you feel as though the shells are exploding right over your head, for a very audience-participation type of sensation!
After their win last Wednesday of last week, the Mussels had extended their winning streak to seven games and were going 22-4 in their last 26 games, but the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels ultimately split a six-game series with the Palm Beach Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium last week.
This week, The Mussels drop opener to Bradenton 7-2 and were rained out on Wednesday, the game was made up as a single-admission doubleheader Friday, July 2 at 4:30 p.m. and the Mussels swept it to tie the series at 2-2.
Part of the charm of minor league baseball in general and the Mussels in particular are there are so many fun activities and things to do throughout the evening, in addition to the game itself, that you literally have to tell many fans, and especially the kids, who actually won! This is particularly true on Fireworks nights, where no one roots for extra innings that might possibly delay the displays in favor of additional baseball. Parents hope for a regulation game as well, as game time is at 7 p.m., meaning most fireworks shows begin at roughly 9:45 p.m. and are done by 10, getting the children back home and to bed at a reasonable hour. While Sunday games ordinarily start at Noon, due to the 4th falling on that day this year, the Mussels will move the first pitch on Independence Day to 7 p.m., to host their fireworks extravaganza that evening.
Light Up The Night
In addition to The Fourth of July Holiday Weekend shows, remaining 2021 fireworks displays will be on Fridays, July 16 against the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Miami Marlins organization; July 23 versus the Daytona Tortugas of the Cincinnati Reds system; August 6 playing the Dunedin Blue Jays; August 27 once again against the Bradenton Marauders; September 10 while hosting the Palm Beach Cardinals; and September 17 when the Mighty Mussels take on the Tampa Tarpons, the affiliate of the New York Yankees.
The Mussels are home two more weeks in July; thanks to the pandemic, the Mussels play 6-game home-stands, Tuesday through Sunday this season, hosting the Jupiter Hammerheads from July 13 through 18 and the Daytona Tortugas from July 20 through 25.
The Mussels offer a different promotion each game, with “2-for-1 Tuesdays” for domestic drafts, sodas and hot dogs; “$1 Hot Dog Wednesdays”; “Thirsty Thursdays” with $1 and $2 beers; fireworks follow Friday games; “Saturday Giveaway Nights,” and Sundays featuring a Brunch for just $10 on top of the price of your ticket from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with kids running the bases after the game.
Tickets range from $9 to $12; purchase them online at www.milb.com, at the box office that opens 60 minutes prior to each game, or over the telephone at 239-768-4210, with parking $10-per-car.
The Mighty Mussels play at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex at 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway. If you haven't been to a game... you're missing out on a good time that doesn't break the bank!
The rumor was that since society is lifting so many pandemic restrictions, Major League Baseball is rethinking its plan not to have Minor League Playoffs this year, so maybe there will be a pennant race after all!!
Okay............. maybe we are the ones starting that rumor but someone has to get that ball rolling, after all what's baseball without playoffs........ actually we can't take all the credit, but we did start saying that we hoped there would be playoffs right from the start of season!
And I'm happy to announce that Minor league baseball did not falling in to the lame abyss of "everyone gets a trophy" there will be playoffs in September, by the top 2 contenders!
Play-by-play announcer and PR extraordinaire, John Vittas broadcasts each Mussels home game worldwide, and will do many 2nd Half road games as well, beginning 15 minutes prior to the first pitch at www.mightymussels.com, through the MiLB First Pitch App, and at milb.com/fort-myers/fans/audio-listen-live.
Educator Steve Backus recently authored a remarkably interesting and relevant commentary titled “The dea(r)th of critical thinking.” Backus is Director of the Rose Warner Writing and Critical Thinking Center at the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth Minnesota. His comments appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune.
Backus described his concern with these words: “Critical thinking simply means drawing an objective conclusion from a set of facts……I teach critical thinking. Or try to, anyway. It’s a tough job; most students want nothing to do with it. They think it involves conflict, which is taboo in our culture. They also don’t care if something makes sense or not. We see this happening in our everyday lives and it’s a bit disturbing.
Let’s face it: America’s critical thinking skills are toast.”
That dramatic conclusion provides a sense of finality. Nevertheless, Backus reports experiencing some renewed hope by observing students during the recent George Floyd murder trial. He observed their uncharacteristic laser focus on arriving at objective fact-based conclusions.
Critical thinking has numerous definitions, and they all revolve around ideas such as: rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. The goal is to form an “objective” conclusion.
Backus is observing what I think is a new attitude in America, particularly in our education system. There’s an old but energized movement afoot. It’s opposing, and thereby effectively discouraging, objectivity.
Dedicated CRT advocate and leader, Ibram X. Kendi wrote this in his book “How to be an antiracist”: “I thought I was stupid, too dumb for college……intelligence is as subjective as beauty……I kept using ‘objective’ standards, like test scores and report cards, to judge myself.”
During a recent forum including Ibram X. Kendi and antiracism leader and journalism scholar William Jalani Cobb, these men pointed out that journalistic objectivity comes from a history of reporting one person’s claims, then reporting the opposing side. Contrary to what’s best for journalism, they encourage budding journalists to prioritize “fairness” over “objectivity.”
That instruction is very nuanced and difficult to understand or accomplish. It begs some questions: What is meant by “fairness”? Do we want news reporters making subjective judgements as to fairness? If not, who should be designated as the ultimate judge and authority on the subject?
Smithsonian’s African American History Museum exhibited an unflattering series of charts listing “whiteness” characteristics. These included two interesting characteristics: emphasis on scientific method and objective thinking. In fact, many of the other characteristics listed on the charts are commonly considered favorable national values. Due to its controversial nature and overwhelming push-back, the exhibit was short lived.
Kendi and Cobb are “antiracism” leaders, and Kendi’s book became a philosophical “shot-in-the-arm” for the controversial Critical Race Theory (CRT) used in developing school curricula. The museum exhibit I described was a CRT project. Another example of CRT resisting objectivity comes from Oregon’s Department of Education. They’ve begun training math teachers to deemphasize “finding the right answer.” Valuing an objective emphasis on accuracy is considered a manifestation of “whiteness” or perhaps even “white supremacy.”
I’m going to risk appearing a bit sophomoric. Is America ready to say “begone Socrates”? He’s the guy who, about 2500 years ago, introduced and emphasized “seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, analyzing basic concepts, and tracing out implications……” (quote from The Foundation of Critical Thinking). “And while you’re on your way to obscurity, Mr. Socrates, you might as well take your buddies Plato, Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas with you.”
OK, I admit my drama is a bit silly, but please understand the point I’m making – CRT isn’t merely critiquing these ancient fellows and their ideas. Rather, CRT is making good on its habit of simply “canceling” anything and anybody it disagrees with.
Sadly, CRT seems to be rejecting the value of objectivity, and by extension, critical thinking. Whether he realizes it or not, Backus is competing against CRT, and it’s going to be a difficult up-hill battle. If Backus and those like him are unsuccessful, critical thinking will be sorely missed. Current and future generations will be denied the benefit of important traditional sources and methods of gaining knowledge and arriving at reasonable conclusions. myslantonthings.com
In my humble opinion, James Comey, without a doubt, almost single handedly, is responsible for the collapse of the FBI…bringing it from the finest Crime Fighting Agency in the World to a 2nd rate, intelligence gathering agency…a politically driven, crime committing, activist, RICO violating group of underachievers!
He accomplished that in 4 years, 2013 to 2017!I say “almost” because he did have a great deal of help.
Allow me to explain…What made the FBI great was the dedication of its people lead by a “strong” (that’s an understatement) Director J Edgar Hoover (1924-1972). Hoover recognized the importance of the American Citizens trust and confidence in the FBI if we were to obtain information to find Fugitives, solve crimes and catch enemies of the United States…those seeking to destroy America as a Constitutional Republic!
He firmly believed that the FBI had to be extremely well trained, well disciplined, very selective in appointing Agents…that he designated as Special Agents… an insignia that caused some problems with brother law men feeling that Agents believed they were better than others. Hoover required college graduates, with 3 years of work experience after college, a minimum 23 years old, 5ft 10ft, and physically fit. Only Lawyers and Accountants were recruited, for years, and then he opened up to, former Military and Police with 4 years of full resident college as well as those with Science Degrees. Hoover opened it up because the Viet Nam war engaged too many potential Agents…but he never lowered the qualifications.
After Hoover’s passing, things started to change…some for the better but most for the worst. The “better” was for the treatment of employees…big changes! The worst was the lowering of qualifications…mostly the physical requirements. Those changes would never have happened under Hoover because he had the POWER that few enjoyed but he used that power to keep the FBI clean and powerful and not for personal gain. When former VP Nixon told Hoover he decided to drop out of politics and take an Executive position with the FBI, Hoover handed him an application and told him to apply and explained the rest of the requirements including training at the FBI Academy…Nixon stormed out!
Hoover recognized the importance of OJT, on the job training, and insisted that all Agents work criminal cases and make arrests, learn to fight, shoot and mix it up. He demanded that all Agents have confidential informants and stay in shape. He devised a group of 15 criminal violations that he believed were vital to keeping the FBI in the public’s eye! They were such crimes as Bank Robbery, Kidnapping, Interstate Thefts of various commodities and Fugitives were high on his list of top priority Crimes… as they taught Agents how to handle dangerous developing situations. He devised the Identification Order Fugitive Program (IO Fugitives)… the Wanted Flyers you saw in post offices. They were violent Felons so dangerous that rookie Agents were not allowed to work IO cases, except in a few limited set of circumstances.
After Hoover’s death the Fugitive program was turned over to the US Marshals Office. That was the single biggest mistake that was made as it was the beginning of the end for the FBI, in my opinion! In 1979 whoever allowed the Marshals to take away fugitives was an idiot…pure and simple and I don’t know who did it…but it took a popular, great, useful, crime category which offered great OJT for young and old and reduced the opportunity to make a significant number of arrests. The only real way to safely learn to make arrests is to do it…lots of times. Safer for the public, safer for the fugitive and safer for the Agents…period…and there is no argument!
Then to make matters worse, Bob Mueller turned the FBI away from Crime Fighting and more towards Intel gathering. Mueller was Director from 9/4/2001 to 9/4/2013…9/11/01 was under his watch which explains, why he did what he did. Mueller over reacted because of his lack of any experience on the street as a Law man! It takes street savvy…combat experience.. to be a Military General, the Chief of Police, Director of the FBI, ATF, DEA or any other Law Enforcement Agency or Military Organization. Mueller had no law enforcement experience.
He took away the crime fighting categories that built honest, hard hitting, criminal investigators and started creating, FBI gatherers…The FBI always had Security Agents who were gatherers, running surveilling and taking photos… for the State Department. When they needed investigations they called on the Criminal Agents. That’s a fact!
Judges, defense Attorneys, Prosecutors, don’t know a damn thing about “Law Enforcement”, they have no idea when to shoot or not, they have no idea how to “make an Arrest” nor do they know how to investigate…because of their lack of the proper training.
Just because you know how to hold a baseball bat doesn’t mean you can hit!
Just because you know the law doesn’t mean you know how to enforce it!
Then came James Comey…an agenda driven, opportunist with no moral ethics. He lied, cheated and sent equally ignorant “Agents” who were chosen by him, for they lack of experience in criminal matters , lack of integrity, and lack of commitment to their Oaths of Office…placed them in charge of the biggest criminal cases in the FBI’s history so they could ,would and did, screw them up…which they did. These sorry ass “FBI Agents” broke every rule in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure as well as every evidence handling law as well as chain of custody laws and evidence reporting rules in the book.
Comey admitted, under oath, that he leaked information to the press for personal reasons, said he never told others to leak but they said, again, under oath that Comey told them to leak info. He said, she said! Comey took official records home to leak them…that’s a crime.
Comey took steps to remove the ability of the public to have direct contact with FBI Agents through his methodology of handling calls from the public. He did that by re- routing calls to a call center type of situation... “If this is an emergency call 911”…don’t call us! He created an FBI of non-criminal investigators (MaCabes and Strzoks, Pages and Bakers) who end up not knowing what being a real FBI Agent is like. I have spoken to manner of the new breed of Agents and heard from many Police Officers who have worked with the new Bureau and it’s not very complimentary.
Comey and his former followers made it almost impossible for those of us who would never have allowed an investigation like the Hillary debacle to take place…to proudly say, “We were FBI Agents”. We must qualify that with, “When Agents honored their Oath of Office”. They obtained illegal wire taps on US Citizens, put their personal agenda ahead of the law, like they were judge and jury. They were instrumental in obtaining Immunity for criminals who never put forth a proffer or testified before a Grand Jury. That’s unheard of! They ignored the laws they swore to enforce.
To those Agents who were not involved with what they did…where the hell were you? Why didn’t you speak up?
Before you say I don’t know what I’m talking about…answer me this…how many arrests did you make last year? How many convictions? How many Agents do you know who don’t carry their gun?
I never had a single year of no arrests in my 3 decade career…and made 57 arrests my last year on the NYO Br Squad, drew up most search warrants and arrest warrants on every squad I was on and in my first office rescued a 5 year old kidnap victim, Tondaleya Jones, kidnapped from Brooklyn, NY. Ray Gilbart and I found her at 3am in Charleston SC…Dennis Wicklein and I caught a Bank Robber 1 ½ hours after a BR in Myrtle beach with shotgun and loot, and I caught an IO fugitive after solving a Bronx deli armed robbery where he shot and killed a uniformed NYPD officer. That was my first year, in Charleston and in between the over 200 Fugitive –Deserters and UNLAWFUL flight Fugitives , Wick Jim Colegan and I caught. You won’t believe how successful the rest of my career was so I’ll leave you with this thought…in my 2nd year in my 2nd office, the NYO, I had two secret meetings with Director Hoover regarding a confidential source I successfully developed into, what Mr Hoover said, was the best source in the FBI at that time . How was your FBI career?
J. Gary DiLaura
After last year’s lack of Independence Day due to COVID, big events are making a comeback. That includes most of the major annual fireworks shows in Fort Myers, Naples, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs but not Sanibel Island this year.
Downtown Fort Myers Freedom Fest:
The downtown Fort Myers block party returns with fireworks, food trucks, vendors and the Thunder Beach Band. It all starts at 6pm and the fireworks will be launched off Lofton Island in the Caloosahatchee River about 9 p.m. this is a Free event in Downtown Fort Myers.
FORT MYERS BEACH
Fort Myers Beach Fireworks:
Choosing to err on the side of caution, the annual Fourth of July festival and parade were canceled, but the fireworks show is On. It starts at about 9 p.m. Sunday, July 4.
Beach chairs are encouraged.
The Matanzas Bridge (a great place to see the fireworks if you don't want to be down in the crowd) will be closed from 9-11:30 p.m. Big Carlos Pass Bridge on the south end of the island will remain open. Personal fireworks are prohibited. Times Square, Lynn Hall Park and Fort Myers Beach Pier, 1000 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. fortmyersbeach.org
Naples Pier Fireworks:
Bring chairs and blankets to watch the fireworks launched from a barge north of Naples Pier. The fireworks can be seen from all along the Naples beach. Personal use of fireworks and sparklers is prohibited. Parking is very limited, so spectators are urged to plan ahead, carpool, find parking on the street or in downtown parking garages, or to walk, take bicycles or use a ride service. Fireworks start after 9 p.m. This is a Free event. Naples City Pier, 12th Avenue South, Naples. 213-7120 4th of July Fireworks Celebration:
Collier County Parks & Recreation hosts this annual Fourth of July celebration. 4-10 p.m. Sunday, July 4. Fireworks at 9 p.m. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. This is a Free event. Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. 252-4000
Star Spangled Bonita and Glow Parade:
The annual event will feature fireworks, a laser-light show, food and live music. Sunday, July 4. This is a Free event.
The live music will start at 7 and go till 9 p.m. The Glow Parade with illuminated golf carts will start at 8:30. and the fireworks and laser-light show start around dusk, since the sunset will be at 8:25, fireworks should be closer to 9, if timed right, just after the parade.
Parade participants will decorate their golf carts with various lighted items. This too is free to enter, but pre-registration is required.
Old 41 Road will be closed from Wilson Street to Ragsdale Street from 6:30-10 p.m. Riverside Park, 10451 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs. 949-6262 or cityofbonitasprings.org/july4th
Red, White & Boom:
The fun starts early with a 5K fun run, participants run or walk across the Cape Coral Bridge, which will be closed to traffic starting at 3 a.m. Sunday. The registration starts at 6am and the 5K takes place at 7 a.m. $20-$40 registration, $10 for the Kids Fun Run (ages 11 and younger). Race starts at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge, 2051 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral. freedom5kcc.com
The Cape Coral Bridge, as well as Cape Coral Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard to the bridge, will be closing at 3:00am on July 4. Please plan your day accordingly and arrange for an alternate route during your travels. Vehicles attempting to turn east or west on Cape Coral Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard will be directed to make a u-turn and head north.
Live entertainment starts at 5:30pm with Chris Bandi, followed by DJ Sinister at 6:45, Country singer Carly Pearce headlines the annual Independence Day celebration at 8pm, and "American Idol" semifinalist Casey Bishop will sing the national anthem. around 9:30.. This is a Free event. All VIP tickets are sold out.
The fireworks display will also be around 9:30 p.m. and will be synchronized to music that can be heard from the stage, on radio station Cat Country 107.1 FM or under "Cat Country" in the iHeartRadio phone app.
The event takes place in downtown Cape Coral the city's side of the bridge. The bridge and the north end of Cape Coral Parkway will be closed from 3 a.m. Sunday to 3 a.m. Monday. This is a Free event!
NORTH FORT MYERS
Early Bird 4th of July Fundraiser for Cape Coral Animal Shelter:
Hosted by Three Fishermen Seafood Restaurant, 13021 N. Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers. This fundraiser starts at 3pm with Yard Dog Charlie provides his usual Florida swamp music for this patio party with raffles, a 50/50 drawing, barbecue and food and drink specials. Everyone who donates food, supplies or money gets free raffle tickets. 3-6 p.m. Sunday, July 4. this is a Free event, but it's a fundraiser so .......not really, if you go, expect to participate and fund raise!
Learn more about the shelter’s needs at:
We included this event because we are dog people!
The concept is simple enough: match the world’s best bull riding athletes against the toughest animal athletes on the planet in an 8-second man versus beast duel.
Put the cowboys against one another in a season-long battle to claim the year-end title of PBR World Champion, and with that, a share of more than $10 million in prize money including the $1 million year-end bonus and the golden buckle for the season’s best bull rider.
Of course, it’s only simple until you strap a tough and determined 159-pound cowboy to the back of a temperamental 1,600 - 2,000-pound bull, a beast, 10 times or more their size, only to see the bull get up off the ground and climb into the air, snort, kick, buck, twist & turn, ...... well .... it's one of those 'you have to be there, to truly appreciate it' moments!
You say you've never have seen it live? Then check out these athletic beasts yourself when PBR returns for its annual visit to Hertz Arena on Friday and Saturday, July 23rd, & 24th, these tickets go fast so if you want to get in, you'd better hurry!
Both riders and bulls will compete to earn points and money while working to move one step closer to the World Finals.
Bulls get points for bucking and kicking and generally putting up a good fight. The riders get them for staying on board long enough — at least eight seconds — and for looking good while doing it too. Good form is everything.
The result is unparalleled action, where danger, drama and heroic accomplishments................ are just a part of the game.
Hertz Arena is located at 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero, FL
For more information, call 239-948-7825 or visit:Hertzarena.com.