Dive gear – The Do’s And Don’ts

Some of you will know I’ve been a diver for many years, the more astute of you will know of my love of underwater photography.

So a little about my policy on gear.. I tend to choose a manufacturer after doing a bit of research and stick with it, for everything. Its called brand loyalty…

Photographic equipment, I went with Nikon, and have gear worth in excess of €25,000, underwater housings, Sea and Sea worth a not insignificant amount. Dive gear, Oceanic, even my computer gear, all Apple (and no I’m not a “fan boy”.). I have just found if you stick to a brand everything “just works”.

Well unfortunately it seems I was wrong to trust brand loyalty is not a great thing for some brands as they have no customer loyalty.

This, therefore, is the story of Oceanic. Regulators, BCD, computers (three of them), masks, fins, even wetsuits, all of which I have despite certain items being better with other manufacturers I was sucked in by the “lifetime warranty” initially, and the deal was sealed when their “medium large” size for the wetsuit fit me perfectly.

Oceanic – Australia

Without fail in Australia I took my gear back to Nautilus SCUBA of Brisbane an authorized service center/dealer for Oceanic and all was fine. I then moved from Brisbane to Canberra and found myself visiting Norm Green from Indepth SCUBA who is both a good friend and great dive shop though this is where my problems started. They serviced my regulators one year and some mixup resulted in the Warranty being voided because I had supposedly no serviced the regulators one year… of course this I balked at and persisted in chasing Norman over the issue and after showing receipts and numerous emails from him to Oceanic the Warranty was reinstated due to me keeping to the service records over the years (turns out it was a late submission of paperwork that caused the problem.)

Oceanic – Malta

Then in 2009 I moved to Malta, and searched out a local Oceanic dealer.. world wide warranty? Pfft! From day one they told me there was no world wide warranty and I would have to pay in full for all servicing and parts, so I did, even when I had to stop diving because of a bout of cancer… Every year the regs, computer and BCD was serviced.

8 years later I returned to Australia and went to Dive Jervis Bay to get my gear serviced … especially after getting wet and finding my regs started free flowing. After waiting months for servicing and repair I was informed that the regulators were missing 2 parts, one of which was a critical O-ring and, in the words of Dive Jervis Bay, I was lucky to be alive as the regs could have failed at anytime.

The battery died on my Oceanic OC1 (not the first time), so I took it to Dive Jervis Bay and asked them to replace, test and service it. A couple of weeks and a few hundred dollars later it was returned to me and I booked a dive.

30 seconds into the dive I found the computer going into “calibrate compass” mode and buttons failing, then the dreaded water droplets. Dive aborted, and waited the first dive out, second dive I went with a backup. On return to shore I gave the computer back to the shop and asked them to look at it, they said they sent it back to Oceanic.

Weeks later (6-8 weeks) I was informed the computer was out of warranty and it was a write off as they were an obsolete model and $1000+ would need to be paid for a replacement. I suggested they should reconsider, and several weeks later received the reply that no, that was that, new computer at $1000 or I should go with another manufacturer. In shop I was asked to consider the Suunto range.

Well upshot of all this, after months of asking for the return of my now dead computer it was returned to me, and finally tonight I got around to opening it up. To my astonishment I found the computer very obviously had not even been opened, as it was still full of water, and the reason for the flood was the seal on the battery cover was both damaged and had debris on it.

So the do’s and don’ts …

Don’t trust a world wide warranty particularly by Oceanic, it’s not, and it will be cancelled at the drop of a hat, even if it is not your (the consumers) fault.

Don’t trust authorized service agents (particularly in Europe) to actually safely service your gear, let alone honor service agreements.

Don’t trust the manufacturer or their authorized service agents to care about you respecting brand loyalty (they don’t give a crap, it’s all money to them.)

Do research what you’re buying.

Do research “authorized service centers” to see if they have mandatory training.

Do learn how to service your own gear so you can at least check the work done by the agent.

Don’t assume because you are paying top dollar for gear you’re getting top quality.

Don’t bother with brand loyalty, it used to be worth something, but nowadays its worth nothing, the only thing brands care about are the number of greenbacks you can give up.


So as I don’t expect to hear anything from Oceanic or any other Dive gear manufacturer, I’m now ridding myself of Oceanic stuff and going with what ever suits the purpose by which ever manufacturer I feel is not offering the best deal/value for money… Starting with a new air-integrated Computer.

Out with the Old, in with the New…

So as usual my New Year’s post, this one comes with a heavy heart, and hope for the future.  It comes with some reflexions and observations that I hope some will be able to take away and use to protect themselves from hurt, or just learn about happiness, and unlike previous posts has some clearly defined parts… Love, Government etc..  It is a little long, but worth the read (I hope.)

On the subject of of Love..

So this year started badly, I was in Canberra and was told I was going to get a divorce in 2017, well that’s happening now (and 0started in 2017), I should have known then the writing was on the wall, but instead I listened to my heart.  So to my first tips to a happy life, or at least getting out before you get hurt is watch for the signs.

First tip to something is wrong…

When you find, “Tinder” on the home screen of your partners phone, your partner is screwing around, or at least trying to (and no I didn’t go stalking her phone, she opened her phone to read a message whilst sitting next to me.)

Second tip…

When your partner spends all their time texting on their phone, but clicks the home button, clicks the power button to lock it, then puts it in its case and finally places it face down on the table on the opposite side from you (and it’s always the opposite side – ie change sides next time) when you walk into the room.  Another sign that your partner is screwing around.  The psychiatry of this is very simple, someone with nothing to hide may close their phone and put it away, but they will nearly always use the same hand to do it, they will nearly always place it in the same place (their left, their right, their handbag, their back pocket etc), they won’t do it when you walk into the room they’ll do it when they have finished speaking/texting.  If you’re unsure, leave the room, count to 30 and walk back in if they do it again, you know there is something they don’t want you to know about going on, the look on their face will tell you how bad it is.

Third tip…

When your partner dislikes everything you suggest, tells you they are bored all the time, but wants to go out ‘with their friends’ and when they do you note there are photos of their friends minus your partner put up on Facebook… you know the drill.  Of course the excuse will be that something happened, they had to go elsewhere, they got bored, went with a different friend etc…

Forth tip…

Love is a partnership, this means there are two (or more, but generally two) in the relationship.  If you’re the one doing all the work, giving all the love, there is an even better chance that that you are in a bad relationship. To break this down more, if you find yourself doing all the cooking, cleaning, organising of nights out, working, even initiating intimate contact you are in a one sided relationship, and it doesn’t matter how much you love the other person, they do not love you.  The person you are with cares nothing about you, they care about themselves and what they can get out of a relationship.

Fifth tip…

(This is a general one, not just when it comes to ‘love’.)

When you are to blame for everything, and facts are manipulated to make you the blame, the person is looking to absolve themselves of any responsibility rather than take responsibility.  Applying this to love, remember love is a partnership, you are responsible together.  An example in point, if you have an argument and the person you are with gets physically violent and you call the police and they get an arrest record that causes them to lose their job.  They have *NO RIGHT* to blame you for them losing their job.  Similarly, if they told you two weeks before they wanted a divorce, then similarly got violent and you email a immigration and they lose their visa or right to work they *CANNOT* lay blame on the writing of the email (especially where the legal requirement of a partner sponsor is to notify changes in a relationship.)

So the take away, don’t just accuse your partner/friend because something happens like above, however do remember if it feels wrong there is probably something wrong, trust your feelings not your heart.



Donald Trump” … need I say more?  .. probably not but I will.

For those that are so smitten by his hard line on immigration and how he is making America great again, think on this.  My employer suspended all travel across the USA borders for non-essential trips.  My employer subsequently employed more staff around the world.  Net result:  United Airlines got less revenue from this American company, more staff were employed outside of the USA than within.  Say no more.


Well most of you I left Malta for good in the latter part of last year, well unfortunately Malta didn’t leave me.  There are things that I cannot talk about here because they will prejudice the court case that is going to start against those involved in the purchase of my house, but suffice it to say if you are a foreigner in Malta you are subject to all sorts of corruption and even when you have done everything you need to, they’ll find something to take more money from you without any apparent risk to themselves.

What I can tell you about Malta is after being there for eight years and making some really good friends, there are also some of the most two face back stabbing hypocrites I have ever met in the world living there, and for the size of the island the the proportion of genuine people vs bad people is highly disproportionate.  Worse, the selfishness and corruption I came across extends to a high percentage of the population and if you’re a foreigner you are a target.  Examples of this, just take a walk through Paceville, go into the stores and look for prices, where there are none, come back later with a friend that is Maltese and ask both of you separately ask how much for the same item.  The foreigner will nearly always see a higher price, you should also note that this practice is completely illegal in Malta.  Same thing happens when it comes to work on your house ask for your bathroom or kitchen to be tiled, you’ll get multiple quotes that turn out to be estimates depending on whether you speak Maltese, whether you are male or female etc.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are some honest builders, but not many.

This selfishness doesn’t just extend to services, it will also extend to personal relationships, many people I met only want to know you for what you can do for them, and don’t expect that your service to them will be in anyway reflected in their services to you.  I for example and a computer programmer, service technician, a network engineer and security engineer (ie I cover most things anyone can ever want or ask for at home.)  I have spent hours, sometimes days working to solve peoples’ computer troubles, and charged them very very little if anything as they are a ‘friend’, however when I needed help from them, I had to wait sometimes weeks, I would be quoted higher prices than *any other* quote and I wouldn’t always get the job I had asked for.  According to my ex, this is a very Italian trait and all Italians are worse than Maltese, and the Maltese get it from the Italians.

Corruption in government and their departments continue, many of you heard about the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia being assassinated in the latter part of 2017.  Make no mistake, this was an assassination, not murder.  Her death was paid for by persons currently not disclosed, we may never know who paid for her assassination, we certainly will never see justice done.  

Personally I was the subject of corruption, I had my truck and bike stolen under the guise of a legal government transaction.  I had the government, the prime minister himself Dr Joseph Muscat, tell the police department to look into it.  I was told by the then Commissioner of Police, that they had seized my vehicles from the thieves they had inspected them and found that there were a number of immediate anomalies like engine and chassis numbers being altered (badly), false number plates fitted, the documentation said the vehicles had been scrapped (aka garaged), that they were batched up with other vehicles for sale as a job lot instead of being sold off individually…etc…  The then Commissioner of Police was then told to resign/fired just a few months later and that was almost the last I heard of the investigation.  The only further contact was with Detective Jonathan Ferris who refused point blank to consider my case consistently referring only to the illegal modification as the end of the investigation, and ignoring the first part of the case where the ADT Manager of Hall C, on the 20th June 2010 refused to sign the ‘ok to proceed’ customs form without a €1000 bribe.  This resulted in the start of the paperwork that resulted in the theft of my vehicles.  It should be noted that the vehicle that was refused was my English purchased Toyota Hilux (which is exempt import tax or VAT under EU rules) which I had also obtained an import tax exemption in place because I was told I needed to, and the same manager refused to sign the release even with these in hand.  The people of Malta know that they can keep any court case going for many years and that if at any point you miss a case they can permanently dismiss it in their favour, and that it costs in excess of €50.000 to get a case in to the European court so you will lose regardless.

When it came to ARMS this corrupt organisation is legalised mafia flouting EU rules, general decency and stealing from the public.  They over charge electricity ever single day for every single customer, they refuse to refund when you over pay saying that you can have the money off future bills, but they won’t pay interest to you even though they are fast to take it from you (which is actually questionable when it comes to European Credit law.)  However, my little story which I explained way back here the culmination of which was a €76,900 bill which resulted in them cutting power to my premises, stopping my business, and I still refused to pay as the courts had already told ARMS more than 3 years earlier that they had to change my tariff to the commercial tariff.  They hadn’t even changed my tariff from ‘holiday home’ to ‘normal household’ even though I had a certificate of residency. An email to Fredrick Azzopardi the CEO and a meeting was called.  At the meeting, it was not expected by them that there would be my ex, my lawyer and witness and myself.  They planned the same intimidation tactics they tried in court by filling the room full of lawyers and staff, however to his credit Fredrick Azzopardi realised I was not going to backdown.  He realised that my next step would be going back to court, so came to the table and arranged for the power to be reconnected immediately and the bill corrected on the the condition I paid some €23,000 within 3 days.  Power was restored and I paid a revised but still incorrect bill.  They refused to backdate the change to when I had originally requested the change, and they refused to acknowledge my residency to the start of the bill costing me an estimated extra €5,500 and charging me some extra €3,000 in interest.

Lastly, selling my house, Promise of Sale signed, however despite having all the paperwork the notary told my Power of Attorney that if they did not sign an extension both myself and they would be liable for damages by the buyer.  Legal advice has been taken, more on that later after court.

A general piece of advice if you are looking at moving to a new country, unless you have €500,000 to lose to corruption don’t even look at Malta.  It used to be a nice place, now it’s just continual replacement of all architecture, and anything green (eg trees) with concrete and tiles in the name of profits.


Only been here for 2 months, but I have already seen the true spirit of Australia, and oh how I have missed it.

Almost immediately on arrival I was presented with the opportunity to attend a meeting about the National Broadband Network (NBN) and challenge a number of people about the implementation.  On entering the hall I had the opportunity to speak to the local ABC radio reporter whom chose to interview me about the NBN as it was obvious to her and others that I knew a lot more about the NBN than even some locals.  This then led me to meet Debby and Michelle who are labour party supporters who subsequently introduced me to the local mayor, and various politicians, and Dawn an advocate and campaigner for the Same Sex Marriage bill.

The following day every news report seemed to contain my  interview and statements from reporters about events completely ignoring the politicians.  Seems they like my style of interview, and therefore on the announcement of the Same Sex Postal Survey (not allowed to call it a Vote or a Referendum 🙂 ) they brought the TV cameras and I had my say on ABC TV.  Of course those that missed it, the result was a big resounding ‘Yes!’ and the Same Sex Marriage bill was the subject of debate in Parliament and the Senate over the next few weeks eventually making it into Law with no amendments.

The sad fact of this development for me personally is that my ex-partner, soon to be ex-wife was so impatient, (selfish?) so without personal responsibility, didn’t wait for the result before calling for a divorce for the second time because she wanted to be in Australia, to have her visa.  This time I haven’t argued and won’t, despite us being legally married and despite the rules changing with immigration so she now cannot be refused a visa, despite me being in love with her… she has shown that she does not love me, she has shown that her life is a constant complaint about what she should be entitled to, and how she is so hard done by that I’m done running after her.  She has her bed, she has made it how she wants it, she is determined to lay in it, so I have given up trying to change that.

Personal thoughts for 2018…

So if you got here after reading it all, well done, it’s long and I can only apologise for that, what comes next for me you might think?

This year, I honestly don’t know, this year what I thought was going to happen won’t happen.  I was looking forward to moving into the new house with my now ex.  We were planning a family, to have a child, I was looking forward to this, even enquiring about the IVF that we would need.  I was looking forward to spending less time on the computers and more time relaxing with nature all around.  Well that all went down the proverbial, so now I’ll knuckle down with work, see if I can come up with a new idea/project/company that can generate money (my retirement plan) and I’ll get on with a couple of environmental projects that I have been thinking of over the years.

One thing is for sure, I won’t be leaving this area anytime soon as the people here have been super-friendly and supportive absolutely no discrimination or comments.  Everyone within days introduced themselves, the local club welcomed me and invited me to join their snooker club (I politely declined, though I do play against them in the Friday night pool competition.)  People wave and say, “Hello” all over the local area and greet me with a smile…  After 8 years of people talking behind my back and stares in supermarkets etc I must admit that I’ve been a little uneasy at how nice everyone is.

Regardless of everything, I wish everyone the New Year you deserve, look at yourself and think why did I say that?   It means if you are genuine to yourself and those around you, that you are kind to those around you, and you are selfless in your actions I wish you all the success and happiness in the year to come.  If you are selfish (and only you will really know, so be honest with yourself because I don’t care) then I hope you meet selfish people and you all experience the misery of your selfishness.  If you are greedy (particularly developers) I wish that the housing market collapses and you lose every penny you have so you have to live the misery that the ordinary people and their lives that you have destroyed… Unfortunately it will probably take someone else of greater greed to take that wealth off you.  You should however take note, you cannot take your wealth and properties with you, and people only remember people that are good, you will die like the rest of us, but you vanish into oblivion, some of us will be remembered for the good we do.

Happy New Year, friends, relatives and all the truly good people I have met.

2015 Now that’s done, what happened and where to now?

So at the beginning of last year I made some resolutions… well not so much resolutions but goals (New Year’s resolutions tend to last only a few hours-days so I don’t do that…)

The …umm.. goals:

  • To cut down on Facebook usage.
    • Wish a ‘Happy Birthday’ personally not using Facebook.
    • Not to sit reading ‘Newfeeds’.
    • Not to post when I’m going to the toilet, or blowing my nose.
  • To cut down on helping others before looking after myself.
    • In past years I have run myself to the point of getting sick taking photos, helping people out, etc.
    • This year only doing stuff for people that look after me and are concerned with my health.
    • To allow people to join me in my life (share my life) rather than follow everyone else in theirs.
  • To treat everyone with the respect and attitude that they treat me (for better or for worse.)
  • To cut down the amount of time that I work (for my employer) to something closer to resembling the actual times/hours I am supposed to work (using the hours to look after my family and friends.)

So how did it all go?  Well a mix of both success and failure, the easier ones were a complete success, the more difficult and controversial not so much. ie Facebook a no brainer, some took offence, some didn’t realise, some followed suit.  Some people treated me with complete disrespect and bad (awful) attitude, but I couldn’t bring myself to return the feelings no matter how much I wanted to.

2015 In Review…

Michelle Proposes to Gabie
The proposal…

The beginning of the year began with a proposal just a few seconds into the new year…  I tried to make it the stroke of midnight but this in reality was never going to happen, so it happened with the first minute of the new year.  This I think is how everyone should start a new year…  Not a proposal of marriage, but to start it with a happy note: Start in the way which you intend on going on.

I find in my life that no matter how hard you will try to keep everything on a positive note, there will always be those who try and spoil things, there will always be a negative, 2015 was no different.  Within a few weeks we (Gabie and I) lost a bunch of friends.  Some closer than others.  Some didn’t like the fact we were getting married.  Some didn’t like to see us happy. Some people just have to ensure everyone else is as miserable as they are in their lives.  Some people are just unfathomable and are just better left to wallow in their own self pity.  The result was after a great deal of stress and angst Gabie changed jobs to avoid someone who was poisonous in our lives, not to forget she hated the job.

After that little upset was dealt with, Gabie set her heart, with my full support, on pursuing an ambition of hers… To teach again.  For this she needed a TELT (Test for English Language Teachers) course to begin the process and in February she took the course, she thoroughly enjoyed it, at least until the exam and the early start preceded by an anxious and therefore sleepless night.  We found later, as I expected, she had passed it.  We booked the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course so that she may continue with the dream.

Michael, his lovely wife Anna, and the two beautiful children with us in their garden at Easter.
The family… Michael’s.

Easter was the next point in the year when things happened and fortunately it was also good.  We headed to the UK to visit my family, first my mother in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, then later my brother and his family in Mirfield, Leeds.  My sister came for Easter Sunday dinner with Mum so Gabie got to meet her then.

The Easter trip was a really good one as we found a great hotel, the Holiday Inn, Leeds-Brighouse… definitely on the list of places to stay!  (In fact we went back there at Christmas 2015 – more on that later.)

Next event was Gabie’s course, the May 2015 TEFL course and the resulting certificate (for those successful.)  A potentially stressful time, but  with the exception of Wedding plans I had managed to remove as many as possible sources of stress for Gabie, and this paid off as she also aced the course and got her certificate.

Attacked by a bouncer..

You’ll note at this point I haven’t mentioned a lot about me or what I have done, well that’s because there is not a lot to tell.  After a number of court events the case against the bouncers that had attacked me  was dropped because I couldn’t identify him as the attacker (when you’re attacked from behind and kicked in the back of the head it’s a tad difficult to identify the attacker) and it was obvious that he had friends as none of the witnesses – even the police witness – stepped up to identify him and the CCTV footage was mysteriously absent… apparently for the hour when the attack happened… apparently the system malfunctioned… as is often observed when its the staff being prosecuted.

On the work side of things I was not following my goal and was doing many many hours fighting to get things working correctly at the OS level, leaving me to blog a warning about FreeBSD particularly for production use…

So towards the end of May we had good news and bad news in the papers, first was Ireland who became the first country to approve same sex marriage by popular vote.  The local papers reported on the problems in Swieqi started happening again, this time not only vandalism but also thieves… and again it was my CCTV video that resulted in the capture…  Much to the annoyance of some people, but the residents were very happy which is all that matters.

July would mark one of my few photographic events of the year where I covered XMA 2015, it also marked the ‘full steam ahead’ on the wedding plans.  It also made for a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit the good people from ‘Your GP‘ who wrote medical reports that resulted (eventually) in me obtaining my GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate) which also gave me my new Birth Certificate…. all of which was a pre-requisit to getting approved for marriage in Malta.

August went with a blur, and was marred by an insult or two.  Won’t go into the details of who here, but suffice it to say, if you’re invited to someone’s Wedding it is polite to either attend or at least say that you can’t.  Similarly if you’re invited to a stag or hen night and you don’t want to deliver one of the biggest insults in Malta, you tell people you can’t make it, you don’t just not show up.  Lastly for the wedding you don’t tell people you never received the invite “a week before and it was too late” if you’re going to show it to other people who might actually tell the happy couple two-three weeks before!!!  Weddings in Malta are a personal thing and the bride side of the event is very very personal.

So September and the wedding itself, well what more is there to say…?

The vows captured by The Malta Independent.
The vows captured by the photographer from The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Well quite a lot, but not for this post.  Things didn’t go according to our desire, but according to the wedding planners design, despite our being quite specific.  The important thing though was we got married, and most of those people important to us were there to witness it.

Our honeymoon took us to Iceland, mainly chosen as a location as its spectacular and very difficult/expensive to get to if you live in Australia.

Panoramic View of Iceland on the way back to the Airport
Panoramic View of Iceland on the way back to the Airport

Iceland was rather different and brought some disappointments, it was very expensive for a lot less… especially considering it is ‘part of Europe’ .. the year before I spent less money on our holiday for more days in the Seychelles than our fleeting visit to Iceland where we seemed to spend all the time driving from place to place.  What topped off the whole experience was getting back to Malta and having Europcar Iceland try and accuse us of putting a massive dent in the roof of the car and try to charge us an addition €3500 to have it repaired….!  Worst part of the whole ordeal is that we had already read about various rental companies trying this on in Iceland, so we went with Europcar because we figured “Big well known name, will be reputable” … how wrong we were.  Result was we informed the bank they had no permission to make such a withdrawal and told them to take us to court.  They no doubt figured with me having photos of the vehicle before and after they would end up with a fraud charge in court and I haven’t heard from them since.  My advice in all such cases, always get evidence, and always stand your ground.  In most countries if you are innocent you can claim all costs associated with a lawsuit (legal fees, flights, hotels etc)…

So skipping to Christmas 2015, for the first time in many years, I did not put up the Christmas decorations, we knew we were going away and the house was a bit of a mess with everything that has been going on renovations wise so figured ‘why bother’.  That said, lights went up on the outside of the house, though in a diminished set.

So at the end of 2015, despite haven attended court several times against both defendants, “Sean Borg” and “Xelinu” nothing has progressed, every time the case has been adjourned, quite literally. So I am no further forward in reclaiming either my truck or bike, though I have a new lawyer on the team.  For those who have forgotten what this is about… A previous blog entry…

The ARMS saga is still going on, they finally just 3-4 weeks before our wedding decided they want to talk to me about the rates.  They had to wait until I got back from honeymoon as I was way too busy to deal, and they agreed I should be on commercial rate but insisted only from the point of the March 2012 telephone call… some 18 months (and €15,000 later.)  They have told me that if I supply paperwork on older forms than I have currently found then they will reconsider… I have so far found 8 forms of various different revisions (though plenty from 2011 and 2013) .. and have 3 more boxes of paperwork to review.  The problem being there, is that there is half a tonne of concrete slabs in front of the boxes which was supposed to have been removed already.. didn’t stop them threatening to cut the power over Christmas, or adding nearly €300 in ‘other charges’ which in the fine print was for ‘legal services’… next thing for me is to charge them for the legal services relating to the fact they *still* are billing me on the incorrect rate and charging me interest on the invalid bill, and without a credit contract or credit control…. and they have the audacity to threaten me when they are illegally charging fees against an account they have failed to bill.  (Note: a judge confirmed my case as stated in December 2013, they are trying to negotiate a change to that judgement.)

Anyhow so there you go 2015 in a nutshell, the only thing I haven’t covered is I’ve changed from doing 70(ish) hours per week for my employer to more like 45 hours per week this has had a *massive* difference… nothing new has been developed by me, my paperwork has been done when other things have gone the wayside, and visa versa.  Finally with all the failures of the network most of the time I have had has been wasted trying to fix other peoples’ problems just so I can actually do my job.  Good job the service I am responsible for is in my control and not the control of others or the entire service would be long dead and gone by now.

Here’s hoping 2016 will bring more success.

Thoughts on the “Spring Hunting” vote..

Lets preface this with the line: I hunt and shoot and would vote “NO” if I could vote…

I will still hunt and shoot even if the “NO” vote wins. Hunting and Shooting as I do takes a lot of skill and is very demanding. My weapon of choice is different from the average hunter though (which is what makes it a lot harder)… Here’s the results of my shooting:

Maltese hunters target passage Spoonbills

Mark Sultana also shot a few and the Times of Malta posted the results of his hunting… (which if you click the photo you’ll see more and you will see the skill level is so high that when in flight getting the results is significantly more difficult.)

Spoonbills shot, BirdLife to protest to EU after Spring hunting decision

Oddly enough it seems there are many like me that enjoy hunting and shooting, and we can quite legitimately and legally hunt and shoot protected birds as well as non protected birds…

Pity the “YES” vote chooses to show people crossing fields with not a bird in sight, after all isn’t that what they are in favour of?

Pity the “NO” vote feels the need to post all the blood and gore of birds that have been blasted out of the sky being carried by tree huggers and the likes.

Pity the church (which seems to play politics here in Malta on items like Same-Sex marriage whenever it feels like it, yet) don’t seem to care that a “YES” vote means legitimising the killing of God’s Creations FOR FUN….

When it comes to voting on 11 April, don’t vote how people tell you to vote, don’t allow people to tell you how to vote, vote with your conscience… i.e. what you really feel is right, if that means vote “YES” then do it without worry, if that means “NO” then vote “NO”, the point of a referendum is to allow *YOU* to choose for yourself!

(And for those people whom their family and/or friends are being pressured into voting “YES” or “NO” just remember when it comes to voting, it is your choice, tell them what they want to hear, then when you get into the booth, tick the box *YOU* want to vote for. Remember, it’s YOUR vote not THEIRS!)

Moving time… (well soonish)

So many have just found out I plan on leaving Malta for good next year (and more will know when they read this.)  Many have asked why, and asked me to reconsider, rather than having these conversations with everyone let me tell you all why at the same time.  (Feel free to ask questions in comments on here or on Facebook, I will answer them.)

About me (to put some things in context for the rest of the post)

I am a dual national of both Australia and Europe, I am 44 years old, transgender (male to female), single, and have been living in Malta for almost 4 years now.  My job is programming, managing and maintaining the Spam and Open Relay Blocking System (SORBS) for Proofpoint Inc.  It is a specialist position that no Maltese (or anywhere else in the world) person can have or probably do.  The job was created here for me by an American company who wanted to make me happy and has not taken anything from Maltese persons, in fact it gives Malta more than €50,000 in taxes every year that it would not have had if I had not chosen to stay in Malta.

So why am I leaving?

Well basically there are many reasons, some trivial, some not, but here they are in no particular order (and perhaps someone/everyone should post this to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as many of these relate to Malta… oh and the Police Commissioner Mr Peter Paul Zammit as some of these concern him…)


My truck and bike: I have been living in Malta for nearly 4 years now (I landed here October 20, 2009) and around 6 month later my personal effects turned up in two containers, one which was the household stuff, the other which was my Truck, my Bike and a few other personal effects in the truck.  I spent weeks going to and from Transport Malta and Customs Malta trying to get the last of the paperwork signed so these could be released to me.  Customs at this point were helpful and Transport Malta (then the ADT) were not, they were blocking the process by not signing off on one piece of the paperwork.  Their excuse I needed to get the truck inspected and valued and pay the tax on it (some €8000+ on the truck and another €2500 on the bike) before they would sign, I even got a personal import exemption for the €8000 in tax, and presented this letter to the Manager at the ADT Hall involved, and he said it was only a temporary exemption and therefore would not sign.  The permanent exemption/exemption process was not possible to complete until after the police inspection.  Customs on the other hand would not unseal the container or allow the inspection until after the release form was signed…  Stalemate.  over 40 hours of waiting in lines at the ADT hall to get told the same thing over and over again – even with signed and stamped letters from Customs saying they need the signature for the release before the truck and bike could be inspected.

The Truck just before going to a show..
The Truck just before going to a UK show in 1999..

I got a lawyer involved and started proceedings with the European Court, only to be told that the case had to be resolved (for better or worse) in Malta first… another dead end…

I employed a local agent who was familiar with these things… 12 month later he was no further forward.

I was on the point of giving up when a friend told me he was the customer services manager for Transport Malta and I told him of my woes, he offered to take a look and help, 6 month later I finally got all the paperwork back from the agent and presented it to my friend, who went about looking into it, he said we should (will need to) wait until after the general election as most of the computer systems were frozen pending the un-certified/approved budget from the old government.  We waited, he then got to work on it in his spare time, he could find no reason why the paper was not signed and suggested we get all the paperwork together and he would ensure it would be signed.  All I would need is to get the letter from the tax department for the exemption renewed, so I started getting that together, but before I completed it I was driving back from Naxxar, when low and behold my truck drove past me.  I pursued it until the driver finally pulled over to ask me what was the problem, I told him the truck was supposed to be in a bind yard in Hal-Far, he told me it was bought at a customs auction some 18 month prior by one ‘Xelinu’ for just €6500 the pair (they had the bike as well)…!

I went into action and called everyone I knew, lawyer, friend at Transport Malta, friends in the Malta Police and a couple of friends of the new ‘owner’ to confirm what had happened.  I (on instruction) went to see each individually, and found out a number of things…

  1. The truck and bike were indeed sold at auction in June/July 2011 for around €6500.
  2. The truck had been registered as a 2.2 Diesel Toyota Hi-Lux from Europe (no tax paid, even though customs know it was a nitrous oxide powered 3500cc petrol v8 custom from Australia.)
  3. There is no paperwork regarding the notification of auction (or intent to confiscate) at customs (they have since asked my lawyer for the dates I was not in the country, rather than just providing the receipt, no doubt so they can cover the sale and make it ‘legal’ by producing fake letters (as in not sent at the time) and date stamps for the period I was away.)
  4. The vehicle inspection by the Pulizija failed to see the big V8 or hear the roar of the race engine with 3 inch custom build racing exhaust, instead marking it off as a noisy old (1987) 2.2 Diesel Toyota Hi-Lux.
  5. I have no chance of getting any of them back, my only option being to sue the government of Malta for their value (and to replace them, that will be around some €100,000.)
  6. Customs are stone-walling my Lawyer requiring her to provide the dates I was out of Malta around the time they say they sent the confiscation notification.

Everyone who has looked at it suspects there is corruption involved, whether it be a complete ‘inside job’ or whether it was just paying off people to sign the right forms and ignore what is right in front of their eyes I doubt no-one will know.

It should also be noted that the truck had been mine since 1999, and I had hand built the engine myself I bought it and paid the Tax (VAT) on it in the UK, I then moved to Australia and the truck went with me, where I paid, GST on it (GST = VAT for Australians).. I still hold all the paperwork in relation to the tax paid, and no person in Malta has the authority or knowledge how to retrieve copies of that information, so as far as Malta knows (and can prove) the truck is an Australian 3500cc Custom V8 Toyota Hi-Lux, which would require some €18,000 in tax (still €8000+ when you know it came from the UK.)

Finally on this topic, a few days after making my inquries and posting the pictures of my Truck and it’s new number plates, I received a visit from the local police telling me to remove the photos and posts.  I refused, but was told in no uncertain terms I may be taken to court over it as, and I quote, “You can’t post things like that on the Internet”… someone obviously is worried that a V8 Australian Truck being registered as a UK born 2.2 Diesel is going to cost them their job.

EDIT: Some have asked about the truck, here’s a couple of pictures of it here in Malta now with it’s new “Owner”..

The Rear view..
The “new” number plates..

Side view..
The side view with the new “Owner”..

Dating and Love life: It has become very apparent there is no chance of me finding happiness in Malta,  being a Pre-Op Transgender person (Male to Female) I am a girl in real life, those that have lived and/or know me extremely well, have said I am predominantly Female in both looks and actions, but with a few Male traits (eg my voice, my competitive nature, and my control over my life – I know where I’m going, and how to get there and by golly I’m going to do it!)  So to all intents and purposes I am a woman, even though I am ‘Pre-Op’ (ie I still have working ‘boy bits’).

Being female every day of my life and having female on my ID card and passport is my attained goal… so I am happy.  However, that means as I date girls and only girls I am a lesbian (by definition) and here lies the problem.  ‘Straight’ girls, whether they like me or not, see me as a woman and therefore will not risk the views of others by dating me.  ‘Lesbian’ girls on the other hand see me as ‘male’ because I still have my ‘boy bits’ and therefore they will not date me based on the sole premise of what happens in the bedroom.

Then there is men, I’m not interested (sorry) but I really am not… and it’s especially insulting and degrading when those horrible little fat Mediterranean men that cannot admit they are gay want me to help them ‘experiment with their sexuality’ .. Seriously?  You want me to jump in bed with you so you can date ‘a girl that is not’ so you can fulfil your sexual desires at my expense?!?!?!?

Since being in Malta I’ve dated three people, all of which are foreigners, and for less than 2 months in total (physical contact – 5-6 months if you include the 3 months with Jessica when she and I were dating over the phone as she’s in America) and all of which broke up because of the involvement of other people from Malta.  The one person in Malta who I think would/wants to date me, has told me outright she dare not because she would lose her career, and as such she has had to be very careful even being seen with me (and they will remain nameless, even to friends to respect her safety!)


ARMS (Automated Revenue Management Services): Well the latest bill is some €38,799, apparently their lawyer wants to meet me and mine to try and come to a resolution, but I’m sure they will not change anything apart from raise the stakes.  Personally I have had 2 additional meters added to my electrical system, the first of which is to check the accuracy of the ARMS’ meter and the second to tell me what is actually used by my business and office… and it’s around 80% of my bill… This means that if ARMS actually tries to charge me for the business and home separately (as I suspect might be their intent to try, and the reason they are refusing to change me to commercial rates) my bills will be reduced to 25% of their original.

I’m waiting for the lawyers to sort out a date and will update later.


MEPA (Malta Environment and Planning Authority): So I want to make some changes to my house, and despite houses getting torn down and ugly flats several times the height of my house being built in their place they have (to date) refused my plans on turning the top floor of my house into a rooftop garden and master bedroom (not increasing the height I might add.) However, apparently my plans are no in conformance with the local policy… seems I can’t have a roof top garden, but I could knock it all down and turn it into a 6 story monstrosity that blocks the views of all my neighbours.


Continual Discrimination and Racism: Now, I have some wonderful Maltese friends and I know none of them are guilty of the following, but I also know many of them also suffer because of the people I am going to refer to, and some of them are Maltese themselves.  These are the people that refer to me as a ‘weirdo’, as someone ‘un-holy’, as a ‘non human’ and/or ‘a gay man’.  These are the people that are of the opinion that they are Maltese and anyone with Tattoos, Piercings (other than ears only), that are gay (or lesbian), that listen to rock and heavy metal music, or just are not Maltese are all horrible foreigners that destroy society and should go home.  These are the people not only that some will call ‘peasants’ but also those in government positions who keep holding on to policies like paying 30% more for electricity and water (even though some of us foster 3-6 Maltese children, or like me pay more in a month in income tax than most Maltese do in a year)… On the subject of my job it is not taken from a Maltese person, it was brought here, it is not from a Maltese company, it is from a US based company that created a company in Malta specifically to pay me and for me to live here to keep me happy rather than force me to move to the USA…. Yes guys, gals, all you readers, my job is paying tax (a considerable amount) into the Maltese community because I chose to be here in Malta rather than live in the ‘land of the free’.. at no point have I gone out of my way to avoid tax, nor do I do as most others and employ an accountant to strip every little cent back I can from my tax… I could, if I wanted to, recover some €40,000 a year in paid tax, however I believe that people should contribute to the community and not be selfish… I guess people are right, I am a weirdo… when have you heard of anyone happy to be paying more tax to the community than necessary.

EDIT:  …and who can forget yet another example of discrimination, arrogance and racism us ‘Alien’s get..  the Joe Debono Grech incident at Malta International Airport!


The church and religion: A tough subject, one that commenting will probably upset some.  My father was Catholic, my mother is Church of England, I was baptised in the Church of England.  I am not religious, I am a firm believer that the church and religion (all of them) are man made devices to make other men richer in the guise of everlasting after life… to give people hope that there is something after dying, that they won’t just cease.  Well newsflash, I don’t know whether there is something after we die, I don’t really care (I do hope there is) but I am also sure that none of the religions on this planet are right, and I am firmly in the belief that my rights as a person allow me to think and live that.  I am also firmly in the belief that anyone else has the right to believe in religion of any different type they choose.  I also believe no-one should be persecuted because their belief is different from yours.  Deal with it!  Live and let live appears in most scriptures of most religions… so why do you criticise others?  Leave me to my beliefs and I will leave you to yours, providing you do not interfere with others’ choices. 

For the record, I had a discussion with a policy maker of the Catholic Church (appointed by the Vatican) and he told me as someone Transgender God loves me and I would not be denied the Catholic faith, because I date Girls and not Guys and that I was born male, the church they do not consider me gay and in fact would allow me to get married to a woman – in Church!  This leads to a lovely situation in Malta… Legally (according to the government) I cannot get married to a girl however, the catholic church in Malta will marry me! (The church’s position is on the provision that I do not have any body mutilating genital surgery, which policy would prevent me from entering the church after such.)


My Birthday and the Aftermath: Well Saturday was my birthday and as previous years I arranged a birthday party, and as usual I chose to organise it in Remedy (upstairs of Coconut Grove in Paceville) and like other years it was well attended, though unlike previous years it was not without it’s drama or problems.  Some uninvited people turned up, and whilst I didn’t have a problem with that, one person chose to bring drama, and as such successfully upset me (they will remain nameless here, but they know who they are.)  Others I was surprised about and whilst I had put a ban on the ex-boyfriend of because I knew they would be the root of some drama, I wasn’t sure if it would be drama free.  I was very pleasantly surprised when Joan therefore enjoyed the party and at the end when I was so drunk I fell asleep in the street she was one of the people that asked if I needed help and offered to take me home and make sure I got there safe.  Joan, my thanks, very unexpected and appreciated!

The other drama that happened was the police got a complaint about the noise, and they decided that rather talk to the organiser of the party they would just report the bar owner and manager to the justice system, and now it is expected that a fine of around €1200 will be levied, not to mention that both persons will be required to take a day off to attend court.  So Commissioner of Police, my call for you is to have your people contact me (see http://www.mhix.org/ for my details) and cite me as the party organiser and squash/release the owner and manager of the bar as it was nothing to do with them, I was the organiser, and the person responsible as it was a private party, I had hired the room and my staff ignored the sound level provisions so it is my fault and my fault alone.   Please allow me to take responsibility under the law and make things right by removing the charges against the innocent!


What I do for the community (and the resulting jealously): Many of you know me though my photographing of various events and bands.  Some people have been going out of their way (recommending to boards and committees) that I am refused photographer passes to some events, some have been traced back to specific people who run their own photographic businesses and are therefore unable to charge for attendance because I offer my services for free, for the community.  Others do it because they fit in the class of the racist and discriminatory people, some I suspect are both.  Well to stop that, it requires those who would have me attend to stop those that would stop me, but they are often too afraid of saying or doing anything because they themselves may loose their passes or in some cases may be replaced with other acts.  Personally I think those responsible are the lowest of the low and should be removed from their positions as should happen to people in jobs of power like the government offices that continue to discriminate.


So where does that leave me?  Well I’ve decided Malta will not be right both politically and socially for many years yet.  The discrimination and racism in Malta will continue unabated with people blaming everyone else rather than take responsibility for their actions.  I will never be personally happy here in Malta, and as such I have spoken to my employer and told them I intent to leave Malta for good soon, and they have a choice of where I go.  They can request a permanent residence VISA (green card) for the USA and I will move to the head office, or if they fail to obtain that, I will move back home to Australia.  When will it happen?  Well today (August 29, 2013) my boss should be getting a meeting together with the HR department and starting the process, it is likely to take at least 6-12 months, and is certain not to be before Christmas 2013.  As soon as I have an answer on my USA VISA (approval or refusal) my house will be put up for sale and when the sale completes I will leave Malta for good… I will miss many people and some wonderful friends, but for once I need to be selfish and think of me instead of others.  Thank you all the wonderful people that have made Malta my home over the last few years and I hope to see you all in the future some time.


Final note:

I do not expect things to change, but in the highly unlikely event of major changes to the above (ie most of them getting resolved – not just empty promises of change) I will reconsider leaving.