Why Is Jeff Bezos Embarrassed?

To:  Mr. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Great strategy!  You have 200+ cities and regions in a lather, hoping you’ll bless them with your second Amazon headquarters, now nicknamed HQ2:

Map 2 cropped

All the free publicity is generating, well, more publicity, along with fierce competition to have the privilege of offering you “the largest possible package of subsidies and tax breaks,” to quote a recent article in Forbes.  The article goes on to say that “some simple math suggests cities should pass on this contest.  The winner of HQ2 will almost certainly be a financial loser.”

But no matter!

Because I’m writing for a different reason:  To suggest that before you spend all that money on HQ2, and before you spend another $13 billion+ buying another company like grammar_02Whole Foods…

Could you please spend some money on grammar lessons for your team?

I recently made a purchase on Amazon and it arrived with a small problem.  I used your online procedure to send an email to Customer Support, describing the problem in two succinct sentences.

Later that same day…

Amazon Email 1 croppedI received a response that was so generic, it was laughable.  And full of grammar errors, which was not.  Examples:

First, please accept my sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience that this situation caused to you.

… there are some informations that cannot be discussed via e-mail for your account security.

I realize that at this point of time asking you to contact us again would be disappointing, but in a situation like this, it is very important for us that we provide you with accurate resolution and make sure the security of your account and in my experience, this is the best way to be certain that your issue is address more appropriately.Amazon Email 2 with arrow

I know, I know, Mr. Bezos – you’re cringing with embarrassment.  To quote another part of the email, you’re trying to “build the Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company,” and here’s your representative using such uncustomer-centric grammar.  Truly cringe-worthy!

English Grammar croppedBut don’t panic – on your very own website you have, in stock, the recently published English Grammar for Dummies, list price $19.99, your price $13.85, that’s a 31% savings of $6.14!

Not that you’ll need the $6.14, with all those subsidies and tax breaks that are coming your way…


Your Friendly Grammarian



Book Review: “The Identicals” – There’s No Fun in Their Dysfunction

Publication Date:  June 2017Book_01

Review, short version:  Three skunks out of a possible four.

Long version:

If I’m going to stick with a book, I have to care about what happens – with the characters and with the plot.

It was hard to find anyone to care about in The Identicals, or to care what happened to them.

angry reversedThe identicals are 39-year-old twins, Harper and Tabitha.  They loathe each other.

Harper is stupid, shallow, irresponsible, childish and a liar.  She’s having an affair with a married man and stringing along a nice, single cop when she’s not rendezvousing with Dr. Married.

angryTabitha is superficial, super-neurotic, a rotten parent, childish and a liar.  She works in her mother’s (see below) boutique on Nantucket, and apparently doing a poor job of it, as she owes the landlord $80,000 in back rent.  She also owes her ex-lover $40,000.

Tabitha is the mother of Ainsley, her 16-year-old daughter, whose extracurricular activities include drugs, stealing, lying, being boring, and loathing her mother.

The matriarch of this family is has-been fashion designer Eleanor,older woman_02 who is snobbish, supercilious, cold, distant, and harshly judgmental of pretty much everyone.  Eleanor divorced their father years ago and the couple split the twins – Harper to her father, Tabitha to her mother.

And yes, the plot is a rip-off of the 1961 movie, The Parent Trap, remade in 1998 – separated twins, and what happens when they trade places.

I’m supposed to care about these people and their hackneyed storyline…why?

What happens takes 418 pages to unfurl, none of it interesting or surprising.  Harper continues to be a flake.  Tabitha continues to be a rotten parent.  Eleanor continues trying to sell clothes that are 40 years out of date, and criticizing the twins, whichever one is handy.

teen girl drinking beer reversedAinsley does evolve somewhat – she goes from using drugs and alcohol to also planting them in an ex-friend’s school locker as a revenge thing.

The twins, like all twins, have a number of things in common, like their long, dark hair.  Yes, though nearly 40, they’ve done nothing to differentiate themselves, hairdos included.  In fact, physically they’re so similar that few can tell them apart, from their lovers to their mother.

And they’re equally lacking in the integrity department.  On page 164 we learn that angry-woman-phone reversedTabitha continues to work for, and accept abuse from, her mother because “There will be a payoff:  Tabitha will inherit the empire.  And even if that empire is diminished, Eleanor still owns a mighty fortune in real estate:  the house here, the house on Pinckney Street.  Tabitha will not relinquish her claim to that.”

Then there’s Harper, her married lover, Reed, and time-filler police officer, Drew.  Reed is her dying father’s doctor, and Harper is at angry-woman-phonethe hospital when her father dies.  Harper (page 17) calls Reed, who’s at a family gathering.  “Come to me,” she demands.  Reed resists:  “I have to stay here with my family.”  “So you won’t meet me?” she whines on page 23.  “You’re going to make me call Drew?”


The story (I use the word loosely) is mostly told from three points of view – Harper’s, Tabitha’s and Ainsley’s.  The final chapter is told by a dog whose name is Fish.  The reason for the dog’s name is not explained.  The reason for the dog’s contribution is not explained, either.husky 3

You may have heard the phrase, “So many books, so little time.”  I often think, “So many books, so many dysfunctional families.”  And I know that without dysfunctional families we wouldn’t have stories – no one wants to read about happy, well-adjusted people, after all.

But did this family have to be this dysfunctional?

The Melania Trump Pop Quiz!

Melania Trump called it a “daunting task.”

Was she talking about recovery efforts in:

Hurricane Harvey, Texas
  1. Texas, after Hurricane Harvey?
  2. Louisiana, after Hurricanes Harvey and Nate?
  3. Florida, after Hurricane Irma?
  4. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria?
  5. California after the October wildfires?
  6. All of the above?
  7. None of the above?

When Melania said, “…we were very busy with all that goes into” was she talking about:

Hurricane Irma, Florida
  1. Rebuilding in Texas?
  2. Rebuilding in Louisiana?
  3. Rebuilding in Florida?
  4. Rebuilding in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands?
  5. Rebuilding in California?
  6. All of the above?
  7. None of the above?

When Melania referred to “poor Hervé” was she referring to a resident of:

  1. Texas?

    santa rosa_01
    Wildfires, Northern California
  2. Louisiana?
  3. Florida?
  4. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands?
  5. California?
  6. All of the above?
  7. None of the above?

If you chose #7 for all three, you’re right.

Our  First Lady was referring to…

Melania on right, dummy on the left_01
Dummy on left, Melania on right

Creating her inaugural ball gown.

That was the “daunting task” that kept her “very busy,” as we learned at the gown donation ceremony at the Smithsonian on October 20, 2017.

And “poor Hervé”?  That’s Hervé Pierre, the gown designer.

No worries about the cost, though, since we taxpayers weren’t on the hook for it – the gown was “gifted” to Mrs. T. by poor Hervé.  So at least those tax dollars can go toward helping (see #1-5, above).

trivial cropped Melania on right, dummy on the left Resized

Definition of “trivial”

Picture of “trivial”

As Mark Twain Put It…

Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself.

Mark Twain died in 1910, but our politicians have continued consistent for the past 100+ years.

The latest:  Tim Murphy, the formerly distinguished member of the House of Representatives, formerly proudly representing Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district since 2003.

MurphyOfficialPortrait113 tim-murphy-x750_720


Tim’s official portrait… and unofficial portrait.

Until he not-so-proudly resigned in October 2017.

Because…he’s an idiot.

Even scarier, he has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, plus a PhD in clinical psychology.

And he’s still an idiot.psychologist

And was a practicing psychologist.  He actually sat in an office and doled out advice to schlemiels like you and me about our various mental, emotional, and/or behavioral disorders.

If I’d been a client of Tim’s, I’d ask for my money back.

This guy is married, has a kid, and a cushy congressional job making $174,000 plus benefits including a pension.  He was in his eighth term and on track for another.

Then he blows it.

shannon edwardsNot because he had a lover named Shannon Edwards – he admitted that back in early September.  This news elicited some headlines, and some yawns from Capitol Hill.

But then on October 3 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about a January 25 text from Shannon to Tim which said that he had “zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.”

The newspaper goes on to say that “a text response from Murphy’s cellphone number that same day said that his staff was responsible for the antiabortion messages:  ‘I’ve never written them.  Staff does them.  I read them and winced.  I told staff don’t write any more.  I will.’”

idiot_03It wasn’t his asking – that’s just typical hypocrisy.Tim Murphy

It wasn’t his texting – though most five-year-

olds know that texts live forever and can be accessed by others.

No, it was Tim’s getting caught.  That’s what makes him an idiot.

On October 4 Tim announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.

On October 5 he announced his resignation.

Guess the folks in that 18th congressional district will have to find themselves another idiot.

Won’t be difficult.


You Know Toothpaste…Now Meet Butt Paste!

My drug store, CVS, occasionally sends me a flyer with coupons, but not just any coupons – they’re based on products I’ve bought in the past, and the flyer’s even personalized with my name.  So thoughtful.save_07 Resized.jpg

As I perused the latest flyer I found…good, $3 off on those things I like…great, $4 off on that stuff …and oh, here’s $3 off on…

Butt Paste.

This gave me pause.

I had no recollection of buying Butt Paste before, had, in fact, never heard of the product.  The picture on the coupon was too small to discern what the product actually was, and the text on the coupon gave no clue as to what I’d do with it.

question marks._02jpgSo my mind wandered.

Butt Paste.

I use toothpaste to clean my teeth, so is Butt Paste…oh, surely not.

I use paste to stick one thing to another thing, so would I use this to stick my butt to something?

Or stick something to my butt?

A quick online query answered the what:

Butt Paste is diaper rash ointment.

Butt Paste is a diaper rash ointment with a website.  I don’t have a website, but a product for diaper rash does, which says something.  I haven’t the slightest idea what.

Not only a website, but icons that invite you to visit Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, kick some rashTwitter and Facebook so you can read about/watch videos about/share thoughts about…

A diaper rash product.

But not just any diaper rash product.  To be specific, this is Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, motto:  Let’s Kick Some Rash.

Pictures of doting young mothers with cherubic babies offer captions including,

  • “Kicking diaper rash one day at a time.”  Mama Dani.
  • “I swear by Butt Paste.  Talk about game changing.”  Mama Jess.
  • “Keeping them smiling since day one.”  Mama Angelica.

There’s a diaper Rash-O-Meter where you’re invited to choose the severity of the rash:  Mild, Moderate or Severe.  A simple click and up pop pictures of the best Butt Paste for your situation:  Original, Natural, or Maximum Strength.starfish

There’s also an illustration of a cherubic butt inflamed with diaper rash in the shape of a starfish.  A very red, very angry starfish.

Scroll just a bit further and you’ll see a photo of three babies, back view, from the waist down, perfect little butts free of those nasty starfish.

Which is all very interesting.  Well, not really, since I’ve never bought any diaper rash product and have no expectation of every buying a diaper rash product.

I have no idea why the drugstore sent this coupon to me.

I don’t mean to act rashly (get it?) and make light of what I’m sure is a very serious situation.

Well, yes I do.

Or maybe not the rash situation, but the name:  Butt Paste.

mad scientist._03jpgBut (get it?) wait, there’s more.  According to Wikipedia (motto:  Everything you need to know, true and otherwise), Butt Paste was invented by a pharmacist named George Boudreaux in the 1970s, who named it “after a physician told him a story about a patient who had referred to the product as such.”  Boudreaux wisely included his last name to avoid confusion with any other…butt products.

And there are other “Butt” products out there, including the Butt Enhancer Padded Panty; the Butthurt Care Package; and Bad Byron’s Butt Rub barbecue seasoning, “used by champion barbecuers everywhere,” but not, I hope on their butts.Not just for anymore

From those modest beginnings the use of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste spread (get it?) and apparently is now also used for psoriasis, jock itch, shingles, cold sores, acne, and chapped lips.  Alternate motto:  Butt Paste, “It’s not just for diaper rash anymore.”  Possible commercial:

“Oh, Sally, my lips get so chapped.  But yours don’t.  What’s your secret?”


“Ashley, it’s no secret – what else would I use on my sexy, smooth, kissable lips but…Butt Paste!”

Two women whispering and smiling

And more:  In 2004 Butt Paste became a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) sponsor.  Apparently the sponsorship was short-lived, but for a while, professional drivers Kim Crosby and Kevin Ray proudly drove race cars immortalized with, and wore clothes emblazoned with, the Butt Paste logo:

Kim Crosby and her #24 Butt Paste Chevrolet Kim Crosby Kim Crosby car _01
Kevin Ray and his #90 Butt Paste Ford kevin ray.jpg Kevin Ray Car ButtPaste

According to the writer at jacobnovo.wordpress.com, “This sponsorship may go down as one of the most unusual in history, but in the end*, I’m sure neither party will ever regret being the ‘butt’ of a good joke.”

*Get it?

















Rant: Tom Perez, You Talkin’ to ME?

To:      Mr. Tom Perez, Chairman, Democratic National Committee (DNC)Perez_03

During your interview on the PBS NewsHour you talked at length about what Democrats have to do to start winning elections.

Excuse me, I mean to start improving our lives.

Early in the interview you said,

“I think the Democratic Party, we have always been fighting for ordinary Americans, whether it was fighting for the Social Security Act in the 1930s, fighting for Medicare and Medicaid.”

Man shouting with chalk speech bubbleIf you and your colleagues would really like to turn things around, here’s my suggestion:

Stop referring to Americans as “ordinary.”

This reminds me of something Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said a few years ago during a hearing of arguments about the federal campaign finance law:

“By having these limits, you are promoting democratic participation.  Then the little question left_01people will count some and you won’t have the super-affluent as the speakers that will control the elections.”

“Little”?  “Ordinary”?

You talkin’ to ME?

Mr. Perez, in this faux pas you’re far from alone – other politicians, pundits and the media all use the word “ordinary” to describe Americans who aren’t among you favored few.  Here’s a smattering of the many examples to be found:

“By referring to millions of Americans as ‘deplorables’ and ‘irredeemable,’ Hillary Clinton is showing her outright contempt for ordinary people and proving yet again why Americans overwhelmingly regard her as dishonest and untrustworthy.”

                                                            Reince Priebus, The Hill, September 2016

clinton1“But if you look at it, I mean, African-Americans watch the same news at night that ordinary Americans do.”

“We’ve begun to make the Government work for ordinary people.”

President Bill Clinton, November 1994 interview

“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.”

“That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.”

President Barak Obama, Farewell Address, January 2017

Malkin-gag(Is this getting old?)

“So many Republicans were elected. They had  one job:  repeal ObamaCare.  It’s fairly clear to most ordinary Americans what ‘repeal’ means.”


Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, June 2017

 “Ordinary Americans Caught Up in NSA Sweep, Report Claims”

                                                                                CBS News online in July 2014

 “Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump”

                                                                                The Guardian online March 2016

 “Here’s What Ordinary Americans Did When They Were Given Control of the IRS”

                                                                                                    Inc.com June 2017

And just recently:

“When the judge refused to allow a jury, she refused to let ordinary Americans speak.  So now they have to speak, through their president.”

Jack Wilenchik, attorney for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, August 2017

“Donald Trump…in tune with ordinary Americans.”

Telegraph online August 2017

(Yeah, really old.)

This becomes even more offensive when I consider the definition of “ordinary”:dictionary

  1. Of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional (Dictionary.com).
  2. Of common quality, rank or ability (Merriman-Webster.com).
  3. With no special or distinctive features; not interesting or exceptional; commonplace (OxfordDictionaries.com).

Mr. Perez, would you, perhaps, care to name the Americans of your acquaintance who fit these definitions?

I’m betting you wouldn’t include yourself among the “ordinary.”

So, if you talkin’ to me…


Dave Roberts Says “Thanks!” For Your Lovely Parting Gift

Roberts hurting his right arm
Careful, Dave, that’s your injured arm!

Dave Roberts served as a San Diego County Supervisor for one term, from January 2013 to January 2017.

During those four years, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, he experienced “a repetitive use injury to the right side of his body, which he developed during four years he spent using a computer, talking on a phone and doing the other regular duties of his office.”owie_02

Poor little Davie got an owie at work.

Then he lost his bid for re-election this year, but as they say on the game shows, he’s not going away empty-handed.

Because our Dave had filed for workers’ compensation, received “examinations over two money_02years with five physicians,” and will receive “a $12,250 settlement from the county” as a lovely parting gift.

That’s $12,250 of public money, i.e., your money.

The Union-Tribune received records of Roberts’ case from the state Department of Industrial Relations under the California Public Records Act.  “In those records physicians all agreed that Roberts had pain from his right hand to his right shoulder and that his job activities contributed to his symptoms.”

Said one doctor, “This can arise out of his work as a county supervisor with his frequent use of the computer and a smart phone, and it also appears to have occurred during the course of his employment.”

roberts left arm
Thumps-up, left arm – better idea, Dave!

This suggests that Roberts, who was 53 when he was elected, had never before touched a computer or smart phone, because otherwise he could have gotten his owie prior to taking office, right?


Thanks goodness Roberts’ pain wasn’t too severe for him to fill out those workers’ compensation forms.  Or to endorse his paychecks, which amounted to $153,289.60 annually by the time he left office.

And I was relieved to know that “supervisors are paid a flat salary regardless of whether or not they are at work, or are out for a medical issue, vacation, or other type of absence, and they would not lose pay if they had to leave to receive care for an injury or illness.”

Sounds exactly like the same deal the rest of us get.great idea_01

So here’s the process:

  1. Go to work for four years, use a computer and smart phone.
  2. File a workers’ compensation claim for “cumulative trauma of repetitive tasks and stressful work environment.”
  3. Collect workers’ compensation.

Since I find work a “repetitive” pain in the ass, that should be no problem.

Book Review: “The Alice Network”

Publication date:  June 2017Alice-Network-cover-530x800

Short version:  Four roses out of a possible four.

Long version:

It’s been ages since I’ve said, “This is my kind of book.”

And, “This time I agree with Amazon’s 4.5 stars.”

And, “I hope this author has more books.”

I didn’t feel any of the above when I started reading The Alice Network.

The story takes place in two eras with two female narrators:  Charlotte, or Charlie, in 1947, and Eve, 22, in 1915.

woman 1947 fasion_03Charlie St. Clair is American, a math whiz, single and pregnant, the last of which spelled Doom with a capital “D.”  In that era all the blame and disgrace fell on the female, and Charlie is indeed blamed and disgraced.  She loathes herself.  As Charlie puts it, “…1947 was hell for any girl who would rather work calculus problems than read Vogue, any girl who would rather listen to Edith Piaf than Artie Shaw, and any girl with an empty ring finger but a rounding belly.”

I groaned, “Not another pregnant single woman story.”  Plus, I don’t read books starring teenagers – too much teen angst.

So, not a promising start.

Charlie, accompanied by her mother, is in Europe for “The Appointment,” a euphemism for an abortion.  But Charlie has her own agenda:  To track down her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared somewhere in Europe during World War II.

Now to Eve in 1915.

Europe is embroiled in The Great War.  Eve grew up in France but is living in Office of Emma Wold Standing Headquarters Secretary 1919London, grateful to be there instead of in her war-devastated homeland, grateful to have a crappy office job which she wouldn’t have except all the young men are off fighting the war.  She’s grateful to have any job at all, because she’s got a serious stutter.

Though she’s grateful for her job, she wants to do something more:  “She wanted to fight.  Prove that stuttering Eve Gardiner could serve her country as capably as any of the straight-tongued thousands who had dismissed her throughout her entire life as an idiot.”

So both Charlie and Eve have their own agendas.  How their paths cross, and how those agendas mesh, turned out to be an intense, engrossing, and captivating story.

There are plenty of great books with characters who remain basically the same throughout the story; Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind comes to mind.

Then there are books where the characters evolve, some for better, some for worse, but they change.  Charlie and Eve go through plenty of changes, and going along with them grabbed me and held on right to the end.

Kate Quinn

Speaking of the end, the Author’s Note after the story was also fascinating reading, and made me want to learn more.

And speaking of the author, I’m delighted to report that Kate Quinn does have other books, all of them four stars+.

no spoilersLooks like my reading list is squared away for now.

There’s so much more I could say about The Alice Network but then I’d have to include a spoiler alert.  And I’d much rather leave it to you to sit back and savor every well-written word, reach the end, and say, as I did,

“This is my kind of book.”

woman yes_01