Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Local “Foar From Home” Crew Receives National Attention For Military Vets After Rowing Across The Atlantic Ocean

A quartet of Fernandina Beach military veterans that completed a more than 3,000 mile 51-day row across the Atlantic Ocean to raise awareness and money for veteran suicides is gaining national attention for its extraordinary fund-raising effort.

The four — Billy Cimino (US Army), Cameron Hanson (US Air Force), Hupp Huppman (US Navy) and Paul Lore (US Marines) — finished their incredible journey from the Canary Islands to Antigua this past Tuesday, and appeared live on Fox News about 11 a.m. yesterday (Thursday, February 3). The 9 am – 11 am “America’s Newsroom” has been averaging 1.75 million viewers so far this year making it the top-rated morning news show in the country. They also appeared on other Fox News broadcasts nationally and on Jacksonville affiliates throughout the day.

Displaying the colors after 51 days at sea are (l-r) Paul Lore, Hupp Huppman, Camron Hanson, and Billy Cimino.

An amazing aspect of this story is that this isn’t a group of young guys in their 20s or 30s. Those years are behind them. These four are in their late forties and early to late fifties. They are also four of the nicest and most easy-going fellows I’ve ever been fortunate enough to call friends.

The quartet has so far raised some $830,000, which will go toward helping veterans overcome PTSD and prevent the abnormally high number of veteran suicides.

Fox News wisely left the crew’s site on the screen during the more than five-minute national news broadcast co-hosted by Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino each weekday morning. Hopefully that will generate more funds for the veteran cause.

The exhausted crew is expected back in Fernandina this weekend along with friends and family members who met them on the dock when they arrived in Antigua.

The next time you see any of the four guys around town give ‘em a hug or handshake. Better yet, give ‘em a few bucks for the vets. And ask Paul Lore if he rowed that boat across the ocean wearing his trademark vest and long-sleeve shirt.

I didn’t see a word about this amazing feat in the Friday, February 4 issue of the local News leader. I guess the folks that run that alleged newspaper consider the item as newsworthy as the nationally reported story about illegal aliens that the federal government is dumping by the thousands into our community, particularly our school system, that it also ignores.

For more information on the group and its veteran fund raising program go to:


Wait! What? Seven years ago, Robert Allison, a shrewd local investor, who was pivotal in the construction of Fernandina Beach’s downtown marina, bought a chunk of Yulee acreage for $190,000. Seven years later he sold it to Jax Senior Living LLC for $1.7 million earning a tidy $1,510,000 profit.

Mr. Allison should have waited another year as he would have earned almost $2 million more in profit.

Despite the property being appraised at $1.41 million by the property appraiser as “open rural property” the Nassau County School District purchased it recently for $3.6 million.

That number seems excessive. Well, maybe the Nassau County School Board thinks because the money doesn’t belong to them, but to county tax payers, “what the heck!”

How do they explain paying $2 million more than the appraised value? Anybody?


No, Diversity Is Not Our Strength

By Ed Thompson

(This is the second in a series of commentaries by local resident Ed Thompson. The first ran January 21. To read it go to

E Pluribus Unum – the traditional motto of the United States.

The traditional motto of the United States of America was approved to appear on the Great Seal of the United States by an Act of Congress in 17821. The Latin “E Pluribus Unum” translates as “Out of many, one,” and originally served as a reference to the 13 (many) colonies that had united as one nation: the United States of America.

As the United States grew and prospered, it welcomed many from around the world. New immigrants representing many nations, ethnicities, religions, and races added new experiences and richness to the fabric of American culture and society. The United States became The Melting Pot – a place where people of diverse backgrounds all contributed to a new, unique American culture. Assimilation was a two-way street as aspects of immigrant cultures were adopted, and as immigrants became immersed in American everyday life. Much like a good stew, the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. Americans, whether multi-generational or newly immigrant, had the opportunity to share in that continually evolving, yet common culture. The brilliance of The Melting Pot was readily apparent as symbols of American culture spread throughout the world – through movies, television, and music. Immigration to the United States has always flourished as people around the world have sought the opportunity to pursue The American Dream. E Pluribus Unum.

Beginning in the 1980s, a new focus began to emerge. That focus was on the diversity of the many groups that had made their home in the United States. In contrast to The Melting Pot where the focus was on how all contributed to one common culture, the focus shifted to the differences between groups. Rather than focusing on those things that Americans share in common, the emphasis become those things that are unique and differentiated. Rather than treating people the same, we were to treat people differently. Slowly, those things that had united us under a common culture were pulled apart, and a shift was made away from The Melting Pot, and toward Multiculturalism. Assimilation was subsequently cast as ethnocentric or racist, and Americans were told they should hold no expectation that immigrants could or should adapt to American cultural norms. The adoption of any aspects of other groups is cursed as the sin of “Cultural Appropriation.”  Instead of “us” or “we” (first person), people became “they” and “them” (third person). Instead of being united, Americans are being divided by diversity. Indeed, “American culture” is now deemed to be a legacy of “Systemic Racism” and “White Supremacism.”  Ex Uno, Multi.

Diversity is the wedge that has been used to drive the Balkanization of America. The American experiment has been successful largely because we had embraced The Melting Pot that built a common touchpoint for all Americans. We could share based on common ethics, morals, experiences, and expectations. We could all strive for better lives and a better country based on a shared foundation. Diversity and Multiculturalism seeks to destroy that common foundation. Its results can be seen in ethnic enclaves that fail to assimilate and see no advantage in doing so. It’s seen in radicalized politics where political parties find it necessary to appeal to fringe groups rather than “the middle” that it’s increasingly difficult to identify due to a lack of unifying culture. We can see the evidence all around us as the shift has been to the differences between people that define them rather than what we hold in common.

So no, diversity is NOT our strength. Our strength has been the ability to welcome diverse peoples and assimilate all within a common American culture. We need to let go of the deadly embrace of diversity and return to the true strength of The Melting Pot.

E Pluribus Unum.

1 In 1956, the US Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States.

(Editor’s note: Ed’s commentary will continue next week with “Equity is NOT the Same as Equality”)

Ed Thompson

(Ed Thompson earned his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems at Florida International University in Miami while also competing in men’s basketball. A true student/athlete, he completed his degree Magna Cum Laude. He completed his MBA at the University of North Carolina Greensboro while working in Information Technology at Sara Lee/Hanes Brands. He moved into Supply Chain Management Consulting with Price Waterhouse. Combining his IT and business experience, he helped lead the growth of i2 Technologies to become the leading Supply Chain software company in the early 2000s. In 2008, he founded his own consulting organization. In 2011  joined Logility as the Sr. Vice President of Global Services in 2011  Ed retired in 2020 and he and his wife Yohanna now split their time between homes in Fernandina Beach, Florida and Mijas, Spain.)


Paid Vacation: Is your company as generous as ABC, which suspended obnoxious gasbag, Whoopie Goldberg, with a two-week paid vacation for telling her audience on “The View” that the Holocaust was not about race?


This is better than Commanders.

Hail To The Whaaaat? It took two years and probably millions of dollars for the Washington D.C. NFL franchise to come up with a new name – The Commanders — for its football team after it caved to the cancel culture crowd and dropped the “Redskins” moniker. OK, here’s what’s next: Buccaneers = Bucs for short; Patriots =Pats for short; Vikings = Vikes for short; Commanders = Commies for short. And the team song? “Hail to the Commies?” Oh well, Bernie Sanders, AOC and their socialist pals will love it.


Rotten Reviews Sink Cruise Plans: If you’re thinking about taking a cruise do your due diligence. We didn’t and it cost us $1,500.

We impulsively booked an 11-day American Cruise Lines Cruise labeled “Grand New England” for this May.

Only after we booked and paid a deposit did we bother to look at American Cruise Line’s online  reviews. Yikes! They were devastating. Based on many of the reviews you’d think the company’s guests were aboard a German U Boat at the height of World War II’s Atlantic campaign being besieged by depth charges.

Negative reviews ranged from crew members not showing up and unexplained itinerary changes to lousy food and dirty cabins. There were multiple complaints concerning failure to return deposits, unadvertised charges, and numerous rude or ignored calls and letters. Even more disturbing was former employees of the cruise line being among the complainants, verifying customer grievances.

Like us, many of the disgruntled reviewers hadn’t even boarded a cruise line vessel when they peppered the site with complaints. They were attempting to cancel their reservations and get their money back. After reading testimonials from dozens of unhappy and pissed-off reviewers I’ve concluded that the company makes more money off people who never step foot on one of their ships, but who plop down deposits and then never have a chance of seeing a dime of it reimbursed.

Some of the worst reviews were on the Better Business Bureau site. Here’s a small sampling:

  • ” I, like so many others making comments here, will never deal with this company again, and I will do all I can to share this experience with other potential customers.”
  • “My mother and I have taken many river cruises, and this was by far the worst ever. Don’t waste your time and energy with this company. I wish I could include pictures of the ship to prove my point.”
  • My guess is they are in serious financial trouble and are willing to do or say anything to stay in business. I will not book with them again and would suggest others be careful.”
  • ”DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY! I had to write two emails and call three times to even get a response. And I was told that “The people who make these decisions don’t take phone calls.” How convenient.”

The following samples from TripAdvisor and Yelp were even worse:

  • “We never got to take our cruise as it was cancelled the day before we were to check in. We were shocked to be told our refund would take up to 90 days to be credited to our credit card. We paid in full for the cruise months ago and now they will hold our money for 3 months.”
  • ‘Please read all reviews before booking. We call this the dirty cruise. Filthy boat, poor service, awful food. And once on, what do you do? You can’t get off and fly home. It was just awful.”
  • “We were supposed to go on an 8 day/7 night cruise. The ship came back to the port on day 6, so we would have to spend 2 nights stopped at the dock. When my husband and I realized we were back at the port we changed our flight to the very next day so we could end the nightmare that cruise was.”
  • “DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. I have been on several cruises; this was the worst. Doesn’t deserve a one star; 0 star.”

If you’re hesitating because there are some positive reviews beware as the following astute disgruntled passenger warns:

  • “STAY AWAY!!! We have had a horrible experience with American Cruise Line.
    SAIL CLEAR. As if that wasn’t bad enough, after finding all of these scathing 1 star YELP reviews. If you look closely to the 5-star reviews.. you’ll notice something interesting. EVERY 4 STAR REVIEW IS FROM CT WHERE THE COMPANY IS BASED. Imagine that.

If you’re wary of the critical reviews, then ask one of the dour looking American Cruise Line passengers wandering aimlessly down the streets of Fernandina Beach with name tags dangling around their necks, how they like their trip.

Based on the reviews we read the foarfromhome guys that rowed across the Atlantic had a more relaxing and enjoyable experience than the sullen American Cruise passengers.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: If you miss piano man John Springer since his weekly gigs at the now closed downtown Alley Cat are over, you will have a chance to hear and see the personable tuxedo-clad performer and his drummer sidekick, Rob Taylor, Saturday February 26. The duo will be performing at American Legion Post 54 on South 3rd Street from 5-9 p.m. It’s open to the public Italian night so you can also eat and drink for the most reasonable prices hereabouts.

  • Comment (25)
  • “Whoopi Cushion” Goldberg should spend a large part of her 2 weeks off touring the remains of the Nazi death camps, preserved so history never forgets the holocaust.

    • Whoopee Cushion indeed! Sadly though, the flatulence is real, and spews from her piehole,, not the other one. And sadder still is that millions tune in to these nottering nabobs, and hang on every word

  • Dave found a prose that fits the negative mantra of the left. They complain about this country and do nothing about adding positive, constructive comments or actions
    “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, only in expressing personal opinions” Pr 18:2
    Keep up the good work in this community.

  • Thank you for calling attention to Foarfromhome heroes. Mental illness has greatly increased during the Pandemic, and the unscientific practices of our democratic leadership, including the masking of children, have significantly excellerated this disease. Mental illness is a real disease that cannot be ignored. When will our society wake up and stop trying to sweep it under the carpet? When will our government leaders fund Mental health services to a much rather than pay millions of dollars to illegal immigrants and millions of dollars to Incarcerate people, the majority having untreated Mental illnesses. Please David, keep bringing this to the forefront of your readers.

  • Dave,
    I’ve been trying to find out if the City of Fernandina Beach donated to Foar From Home. I know that our City donates our hard earned tax dollars to other charities within the City (without input from the Taxpayers!), but I have not been able to determine if they included FFH as one of them. I hope they did. Do you know?

  • Well stated Ed Thompson. As a kid growing up in Canada my uncle pointed out to me how American people when asked where they are from would ALWAYS say the USA. When you asked a Canadian that it was always where their ancestors came from (Irish, French, Ukrainian, Scot, what have you). Not stating either is right or wrong, but the true strength of America is indeed built on E Pluribus Unum. We need to revive this philosophy and stop pointing out all of our differences and focus on what makes us one and strong.

    • Mr. Thompson misses the key point. The difficulty with the Melting Pot/E Pluribus Unum principle is that some of our citizens arrived here in bondage, whereas the Irish, French, Ukranian, and Scots did not. This is an important distinction and requires a solution that still eludes us….emphasing diversity has not proven a way forward. The answer to true unity is out there somewhere…just how do we find it.

      • I’d argue that Mr. Thompson misses more than just one key point. Like many in recent times, he starts out with a strawman fallacy and then argues in support of it to the cheers of like-minded (or perhaps better phrased as narrow-minded) individuals who exist on the far-right spectrum. Some of Mr. Thompson’s arguments are poorly fleshed out and thus, he winds up contradicting himself. For instance, he seems to think that U.S. culture has arrived at a homogenous state which now is at odds with any attention given to diversity. Yet he starts out by correctly noting, [i]”As the United States grew and prospered, it welcomed many from around the world. New immigrants representing many nations, ethnicities, religions, and races added new experiences and richness to the fabric of American culture and society.” [/i] This begs the question, when did we stick a pin in it and decide that we have arrived at a common “American culture” that no longer needs to be nurtured from the continual growth and transformation that diversity provides? The strawman Mr. Thompson has created is based on a narrow definition of diversity in which he argues that it means focusing on differences and differential treatment to the exclusion of shared beliefs, experiences, and common goals. He defines Melting Pot and Multiculturalism as two distinct terms operating at odds with each other when the reality is that they’re often intertwined. I can’t speak to the corporate cultures that Mr. Thompson has experienced but my entire career was spent with two Fortune 500 companies whose emphasis on diversity meant fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace to achieve a common organizational mission, values, goals and business practices. It doesn’t take much thought to envision how a broader definition of diversity other than the one promulgated by Mr. Thompson can achieve and sustain E Pluribus Unum.

        • “Our strength has been the ability to welcome diverse peoples and assimilate all within a common American culture.”
          Except for those who arrived as slaves. Simple-minded ideas as espoused by Mr. Thompson are just that…simple-minded and jingo-ish.
          We as a nation have not yet learned how to assimilate that enslaved population and their descendants.
          We must find a way to make diversity work for America, not divide America. Any ideas?

          • America was finally post-racial with the election of Obama—turned out not so. Perhaps the next generation can find ways to make diversity a uniter not a divider, we have not been successful.

          • When you have a non-diverse group (old white men) crafting and enacting laws to mold a future that does not belong to them, then the only idea left is for Millennials and Gen-Z to show up to the polls en masse to take back control of their future. Pew research has shown that when it comes to views on race, Millennials and Gen-Z generations are more likely than older generations to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the United States today. They are also more accepting than older generations of some of the ways in which American society is changing and most say increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. is a good thing for society.

  • Congrats to the Foar From Home crew!!! Amazing feat for a great cause!!!
    On a different note, I am not sure I get the name “Commanders”. I actually thought the name Washington Warriors sounded good, but that may be too violent…but wait, we ARE talking about Football, aren’t we? Not badminton. Maybe they could have used the name Washington Presidents (after all, they used to have the Washington Senators, right?). I even got kind of used to the name: Washington Football Team. But for those who think renaming them from Redskins was so horrible, maybe they should have called them the Washington Proud Boys…that has a nice ring, if you are a white supremacist…or for those offended by the name change, they could have gone with the Washington Rednecks. Oh well, I guess Commanders is not so bad after all, I am sure we all will get used to it sooner or later.

    • Dear Lord, you are just a gem of putrid hatred aren’t you Cole? Must really suck to be so unhappy all the time. Oh wait, I forgot you’re a liberal and liberals are never happy. Even when they get what they want…

      • Fred No Last Name (because no one claims you and never gave you a last name). To quote you: it “must really suck” not to be able to have any sense of humor. But then again, humor is a measure of one’s intellect, and clearly, you are a case in point. BTW, Fred No Last Name, Cole is my nephew’s name, and so your apparent attempt to humiliate by using that nickname, is actually a compliment.

        • “Yawn”, boring Cole. If it’s a compliment to you, then why bother explaining it as anything? Case in point, you consider it a compliment, but you’re not happy about it. LOL Still waiting on that pic, so we can avoid you altogether in public. You’re a miserable little coleMAN. But I give you too much time in my thoughts. Adious Felicia…

    • The organization is dysfunctional, starting with Dan Snyder who fumbled and bumbled the marketing of the name change, including the name itself. Informal polls on Washington Facebook groups ranked the name Commanders near last, while RedWolves scored at or near the top. Snyder claims that the name was chosen with input from players and fans. He’s a liar. Fingers crossed he’s forced out of ownership due to new revelations of sexual misconduct brought recently before Congress. Ron Rivera is obviously a man of integrity. It would not surprise me to see him walk away from this circus.

      • Well said! Red Wolves would have been great. Oh well, leave it to Dan Snyder et al, to screw up a beautiful dream.

  • So sorry to hear of problems with American Cruise Lines. We have taken four cruises with them – maybe five – and enjoyed every one. They were more expensive than other lines but then we had an American built boat and all American crew. You pay for things made in America and Americans expect better wages. If all the comments are true – and they seem to be – it is a sad loss.

  • Huge kudos to the Foar From Home team! What an amazing commitment to Vets and what a beautiful tribute to those who have served. Thank you for representing our community in such a positive light.

  • The historical record, in fact, shows that before the 20th century Native Americans frequently used the adjective “red” in reference to themselves and that the term “redskin” may have originated as a literal translation of a Native American term used to differentiate Indians from other Americans.
    The name “Redskins” helped George Preston Marshall’s plan to market the team as one playing in the tradition of “Indian football.” (In the early 20th century, Native Americans were widely believed to be especially talented when it came to football, a fact now lost in our new woke world.)
    So, while it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the meaning of “redskin” moved from innocuous to offensive, there is little reason to doubt that the general meaning of the term has changed (although polling data suggests that Native Americans are divided as to whether the use of the name Redskins by the Washington team is offensive).

  • The skins. It will always be the skins. No matter what anyone says. The Washington Redskins. I will proudly wear my hat and jersey. Unless you were born there like I was, shut your trap

  • The skins. It will always be the skins. No matter what anyone says. The Washington Redskins. I will proudly wear my hat and jersey. Unless you were born there like I was, shut your trap , Dave why are you blocking comments? This site is
    Blocking legitimate comments.


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