California Is Going To The Dogs…And Cats

nutsWhen people talk about California being the largest nut producer in the U.S., they aren’t referring to almonds.

Though California is the largest almond grower in the country.  In the world, in fact.

No, the “nut” they’re referring to are the nuts in the legislature.

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California Legislators discussing, debating, sleeping…

Specifically, the nuts who are spending their time, and our tax dollars, creating, discussing, debating, sending to committee, amending, discussing, debating, sending back to committee for more discussing, debating, lathering, rinsing, and repeating…

Senate Bill-1305 Emergency medical services providers: dogs and cats:  immunity.

Or, as it’s more affectionately known, the “Mouth-to-Snout” bill.

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Seriously?  Like anybody cares this is illegal?

Yes, that’s right.

Mouth-to-snout resuscitation for dogs and cats.

The bill’s purpose is to allow first responders to provide this service.  Currently, only licensed veterinarians can perform resuscitation on dogs and cats.

Not all cats, mind you.  SB-1305 specifies:

(1) “Cat” means a small domesticated feline animal that is kept as a pet.  “Cat”does not include non-domesticated wild animals.lion_02 cropped

So if a first responder encounters, say, an injured mountain lion, the responder is under no obligation to perform mouth-to-snout on an animal that might misunderstand and rip out the responder’s throat.

OK, I’m being facetious.  SB-1305 doesn’t obligate any first responder to give mouth-to-snout to a dog or cat.  Instead, it takes a procedure reserved for licensed veterinarians and makes first responders exempt from prosecution, should they voluntarily provide mouth-to-snout on a dog or cat in an emergency situation.

I don’t want to go so far as to say the idea of giving a cat or dog mouth-to-snout is horrifying to me, but…

The idea of giving a cat or dog mouth-to-snout is horrifying to me.

Let’s get real.  You are aware of where dogs and cats spend a lot of time licking themselves, right?

dog licking cat licking

But then, I’m not a pet owner.  So I can’t identify with the pleasure of knowing my petdog licking woman just did a thorough crotch cleaning, and is now licking my face.

Yum, yum.

To get to the bottom (get it?) of this, I did some research and learned that pet mouth-to-snout resuscitation is taken seriously by organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the American Red Cross and many others.  The online guidelines include:

  1. For large dogs:  Close the animal’s jaw tightly and breathe into the nose.  The animal’s chest should rise.  Give two breaths.
  2. For small dogs and cats you may be able to cover the nose and mouth with your mouth as you breathe. The animal’s chest should rise.  Give two breaths.

My responses are:

  1. No.
  2. No.
infrastructure
Collapsed bridge on US 10 near Palm Spring, CA.

I’m sure the legislators will spend lots more time discussing, debating and et cetera-ing SB-1305 rather than focusing on, for instance, California’s:

  1. Deplorable infrastructure.
  2. Widespread immigration challenges.
  3. Ongoing homeless issues.

In the meantime, I’ll be pondering:

  1. Does anybody think, if a first responder saves a dog or cat’s life, the pet owner is going to complain it wasn’t “legal”?
  2. Does anybody think law enforcement officers have nothing better to do than arrest fellow first responders for saving a pet’s life?
  3. Does any pet owner think, “I’m responsible for my pet, so I should learn how to do mouth-to-snout resuscitation”?

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Can I Get Fries With That?

A restaurant recently mentioned in a magazine caught my eye because it’s located in Sonoma, CA and I have family in Sonoma.  “Have they been there?” I wondered, and “If not, would they like to?”no

The answer to both questions is…

No.

Unless they want to spend $586 for “an 11-course meal for two, without drinks but with a built-in service charge,” to quote a review in The New York Times.

Yes, this small (52-seat) restaurant in a small town was deemed worthy of the estimable New York Times’ notice, with a headline that described it as “Pricey But Not Pretentious.”

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SingleThread owners:  “Will that work in our ‘early spring hillside in bloom’ main course?”

I beg to differ.  About the “not pretentious” part.

And not only The New York Times – Forbes magazine also designated the restaurant dine-worthy, and overnight-worthy as well, since the establishment is both a restaurant and hotel.

Excuse me, it’s an inn.  I guess when you have only five rooms, you get to call yourself an inn.

And the list of raving media goes on:  CNN, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, even The Telegraph in the United Kingdom.

And the cause of all the attention, raving and drooling?

SingleThread.

Yes, that’s the restaurant/inn’s name, all one word.  Talk about pretentious?  You’re so cool you can’t even put a space between “Single” and “Thread”?

Apparently, you are.

So what do you and your companion get for $586, tip included but no drinks?  Which, by the way, you can secure only with a pre-paid, non-refundable ticket?  Here’s a sampling:

flowers
Is that a vase of flowers or our next course?

The poached foie gras is served with “tea of last year’s tomatoes, Tokyo turnips and their greens.”  Sonoma Grains are a mix of “Nettles, Kasu-Zuke, Faro Verde Beignet, Rib Cap and Herbs from the Garden.”

 The donabe contained black cod and chanterelle with shaved radishes, carrots, lacy greens, miners lettuce and flower petals that replicated an early spring hillside in bloom.

 Juice from rhubarb is aerated and caps layers of shiso granita and a warm rhubarb compote.  It’s like spooning through a cloud into an ice storm and, finding the rhubarb compote at the bottom, ending up in a warm room. 

I’m guessing you don’t get fries with this stuff.

Reviewers didn’t confine themselves to rhapsodizing over the food.  The hotel – I mean, inn – got raves as well:

bathroom-singlethread-healdsburg-california_lg
Where’s the toilet?  I need to do my laundry!

The trashcan lids lift upon approach as if by magic.

 The complimentary toothbrush has bristles of binchō-tan charcoal. 

Then there’s the multi-function Toto smart toilet with so many heating and cleaning and rinsing modes it practically does your laundry.

So if you and your companion are in the mood to eat “an early spring hillside in bloom,” make friends with mind-reading trash cans, and do your laundry in a toilet, by all means book a visit to SingleThread.

After you show them the money.

And don’t ask for fries.

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SingleThread:  Dinner, $293 per person.  Pay in advance.  No refunds.  No drinks.  No fries.

Are You Out Of Your Mind(fulness)?

Here’s a recent article that caught my eye:

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Mindfulness, in case you were wondering, is defined as “The state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.”

The article suggests to managers that when employees practice mindfulness, it can “lead to a happier and more efficient workplace.”

This goes on the assumption that managers care whether or not their employees are happy.  Efficient, yes, but happy?

I’ve never encountered a manager who had “employee happiness” on his or her priority list, but I can imagine the conversation:

Manager:  So, Rob, are you happy here at XYZ Tech?

Rob:  Well, uh, now that you uh, asked, I –

Manager:  Are you going to have that summary finished by 2pm?  That will make me happy, and that’s what matters.

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The article goes on to suggest both how and where employees can practice mindfulness.

How?  Meditation, exercise or listening to music.

Meditation:

Manager:  Sam, what are you doing?

Sam:  I’m mindfully meditating.

Manager:  Unless you want to meditate yourself into an unemployment line, get back to your computer.

man meditating cropped.jpg
Exercise: 

Manager:  Joe, what are you doing?

Joe:  I’m mindfully exercising.

Manager:  Unless you want to exercise yourself out of a job, get back to your computer.

man exercising at work_02.jpg
Listening to music:

Manager:  Jack, what are you doing?

Jack:  I’m mindfully listening to music.

Manager:  Listen to this:  You’re fired.

man listening_02

Where?  The article suggests that, “As a leader, you would be smart to provide employees with a place to enjoy quiet time,” ideally an unused room that can become the office “quiet space.”

Employee:  Sir, some of us were talking, and we thought we’d suggest turning that unused room at the end of the hall into a quiet space where we can practice mindfulness.putting green_02 cropped

Manager:  That room at the end of the hall?  Hmmm.  Now that you mention it, that room would be perfect for my private putting green.  Thanks for suggesting it!

The best part of the article focuses on finding a mindful way to identify and vent about tensions, and that’s addressed with a suggestion from Amanda Slavin, the CEO and founder of CatalystCreativ, described as an “experiential marketing agency.”

catalystcreativ croppedNow, the first thing I noticed is that “Creativ” was spelled incorrectly, so I headed for the company’s website and discovered that no – CatalystCreativ is its actual name.  I’ll bet that wreaks havoc when they spellcheck!

Or perhaps misspelling words shows how creativ they are?

And what the hell does “experiential” mean?

Anyway, Amanda says, “We have monthly meetings where each and every individual on the team can bring up tensions.”

Now, there’s an idea that could really produce some mindfulness:

Manager:  Let’s start with you, Rob.

Rob:  I’m mindful that I have a lot of tension about Sue because she’s such a suck-up.  In fact, we all call her “Suck-Up Sue.”  I could vent about her for hours.

Manager:  And what would you like to contribute, Suck-Up?  I mean, Sue?

smarmy guySue:  Just that I love working for you, sir, and I love our company.  You are a fantastic leader!  Can I get you a refill on your coffee?

Manager:  Rob, I don’t see what your problem is.  Sue, can I show you my new private putting green?

The article concludes by suggesting that however employees practice mindfulness – “Employees decide for themselves.”

So I’ve decided I’ll practice mindfulness at work as follows:clock-watcher_02

  1. I’ll be mindful of when it’s break time, lunchtime, and go-home time.
  2. I’ll be mindful that it’s OK to misspel, as long as I’m creativ.
  3. I’ll be mindful to steer clear of our manager.

And his putting green.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Are People Panicking?

“Panic buying!”crowd cropped

“People suddenly hoarding!”

“Consumers trying to get their hands on whatever they can!”

“Frantic phone calls!” 

“People shocked and scared!”

Is this some kind of bank run?  Are panicked people suddenly hoarding cash or gold or some other precious item?

Not exactly.

What people are scrambling for is…

Candy.

sweethearts-1Necco candy to be exact, including:

Sweethearts – those little heart-shaped candies so ubiquitous around Valentine’s Day, with words on them like Puppy Love, Love Bug and more recently, Tweet Me.

Squirrel Nut Zippers – a name I would not even try to begin explaining.

And most in demand…necco iconic

NECCO Wafers – called “America’s Iconic Candy” by its creator, and called “tropical drywall” and “plaster surprise” in a recent Wall Street Journal story.

Why the panic?

Because the creator of these and other candies, Necco – or the New England Confectionary Company – announced last month 17 seconds stopwatch croppedthat it would have to shut down if it couldn’t find a buyer by May.

That would be a sad end for a company that’s been around for 170 years in a country where most things hold our attention for maybe 17 seconds.  Maybe.

One retailer explained the massive demand as “People are really trying to stockpile a connection to their youth and their past.  You’re trying to hold onto a little piece of a time in life when things were cheaper and life was easier and sweeter.”

And I thought that was a sweet sentiment.  Until I read the following:

“Candy wholesaler Candyfavorites.com sold more NECCO Wafers on Wednesday than it would normally sell in six months.”

“We’ve had people offer to purchase our entire inventory.” 

“Today alone we probably sold 30 cases.” 

“The candy is listing on eBay for up to 10 times its normal retail price.”

“I’m stashing them like BitCoin.”

Tweet
I’m guessing ol’ Stevie isn’t stockpiling to “hold onto a little piece of time.”

OK, now I get it.  People aren’t scooping up massive amounts of NECCOs because they like chewing on chalk.

It’s just good old American greed.

So here’s my hope:squirrel_nut_zippers-bag

The Necco company finds a buyer, and all you hoarders are stuck forever with massive amounts of NECCOs and Squirrel Nut Zippers other candy that nobody will buy from you.

And I hope you like chewing on chalk.

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This Time, I Hate That I Was Right

Hurry_01On March 20 I did a blog about receiving an offer in the mail for a “$250 Amazon gift card…just call this number!  Limited time offer!  Hurry!”

Well, I didn’t “Hurry!” but I did call, and as I’d suspected, to get the gift card I had to allow a company I’d never heard of give me a sales pitch for a product I didn’t want.

I passed.

I’m a long-time Amazon customer, and in my blog I suggested that Amazon had sold my information to a marketing company “…and now I’ll get inundated with more offers I don’t want.”

I believe my prediction has come true.  And I hate that I was right.telemarketer_01

Since I received that mailing in mid-March, there’s been a significant increase in phone calls.  I use my voicemail to screen calls, and most of the calls disconnect when they go to voicemail – a sure giveaway for robocalls, i.e., telemarketers.

And I’m getting inundated with emails including:

  • Cheap Cruises Up To 80% Off
  • The Easy Way To Support Your Prostate Health
  • Save Up To 27% On Baby Products
  • Can The Flex Belt Make Your Abs Sore Like Crunches After Only One Use?
  • Are You Looking To Love Again?
  • Burial Insurance Get Peace Of Mind
  • This Pill Unlocks The Power Of Your Brain
Barge_04
Cheap Cruises…on the Detroit River!

These offers range from silly to downright bizarre.  I suspect the “cheap cruises” that are “80% off” probably go up and down the Detroit River.  And no, I’m not remotely concerned about my “prostate health” since I do not and never have had a prostate.

All this speaks to the recent news stories about the tech giants – Amazon, Google, and the one we’re hearing the most about, Facebook.  As one writer succinctly put it, each story

“…underlines companies’ rapaciousness and their determination to monetize every scrap of information they can stockpile on anyone.”rich guy_02

That “anyone” is you and me.  Let’s remember that these guys are in the business of making money, not providing us with a free service.

And let’s take comfort in Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) making a statement on April 2 about how Facebook and other social media platforms had better “fix” their scandalous behavior or face government intervention.

Especially since we’ve seen how effective “government intervention” has been in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Syria, and, and, and…

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You’ve seen “government intervention” here…now watch for that same success with the tech giants!

Show Us The Money…Now?

Um…Blake?

Blake Farenthold?  Former Republican Representative in our country’s illustrious Congress?

Website.jpg

You can shut down your website now.

You resigned on April 6.

You’re no longer “Representing the 27th District of Texas,” proudly or otherwise.toast

You’re history.

You’re…

Toast.

Except for one thing.  Or rather, 84,000 things.

“Things” meaning “dollars.”  Meaning $84,000.

Meaning $84,000 of American taxpayer dollars.

lauren greeneIt seems that back in 2014, your aide, Lauren Greene, leveled accusations against you including that you’d subjected her to sexually suggestive comments and behaviors.

She complained, and you fired her.

You posted a video denying her accusations.

All normal so far.

Greene filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment.  You privately settled the case in 2015.  The settlement was $84,000.

All still normal.

On April 7 CBS News said your “estimated net worth in 2015, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, was $5.8 million.”

And yet you used you’d used taxpayer dollars for that $84,000 settlement.

blake swearing cropped
Blake, you promised you’d show us the money!

And you didn’t even both to deny it – in December you publicly promised to reimburse the Treasury Department.  Again, according to CBS, you said, “I’m doing my best and am going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan or somebody and say look here’s the amount of my settlement, give it back to the taxpayers.”

Apparently back then no one questioned why you used taxpayer money.  I suspect your answers would have been, “That’s what everybody around here does.”  And, “I thought I could get away with it.”

So that was last December.

You were facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee, and on April 6 you “abruptly resigned.”

As of today the Speaker has not received the $84,000.

And neither have we taxpayers.

In your resignation video you said, “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve.”

Yes, our Congress is a great place to serve.

Serve yourself, that is.

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What’s Your Disease du Jour?

I read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies.

lisa
Lisa “Badass” Genova

But I never, EVER read disease books or watch disease movies.

One example:  Still Alice by Lisa Genova, published in 2009.  The book has 4.3 stars on GoodReads with almost 25,000 reviewers.  It was made into a movie in 2017 starring Juliana Moore and won numerous awards, including an Oscar for Moore.

Moore plays a 50-year-old woman with a wonderful life until she’s diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s.

Disease book.  Disease movie.no

No.  And no.

I recently heard Lisa interviewed about her latest book, Every Note Played.  This time her lead character has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  I had no interest in reading it, but I did start to wonder why Lisa had written another book about a horribly afflicted person.

In turns out that Lisa is making a career out of this:

still alice Left neglected

Still Alice, 2009, Alzheimer’s

Left Neglected, 2011, brain injury

love anthony.jpg Inside every.jpg
Love, Anthony, 2012, autism

Inside the O’Brien’s, 2015, Huntington’s disease

Every Note Played, 2018, ALS

Some Internet cruising revealed that Lisa was divorced in 2004.  I imagine her thinking, “Well, here I am, a 34-year-old single mother.  I have a BS degree in Biopsychology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.  I’m tired of all this science stuff.  I want to try something easy.  Hmmm.  I know!  I’ll be a writer!”

But…why disease books?Nowheresville

Lisa self-published Still Alice in 2007, which, as all writers know, is a pretty certain road to Nowheres-ville.

But then Simon & Schuster – a ginormous, prestigious publishing house – bought the book for six figures and published it in 2009, which, as all writers know, never happens.  I imagine the head of book acquisitions at Simon & Schuster wondered, “Who wants to read book about a woman with Alzheimer’s?”

It turned out a lot of people did.  Still Alice was on The New York Times best seller list for 59 weeks, which, as all writers know…

Lisa’s next three books were also New York Times best sellers.  She’s four for four, with the fifth book no doubt on the same path.

Her website uses a number of words to describe her, including “Badass,” and I’d say sheYour people_02 cropped is.  How do I know?  She has “people”:  one person who schedules her book events, another her speaking events, a film agent, a literary agent, a stylist (whatever that is), and more than 50 photos of her badass self.

Lisa’s Amazon page notes that:

Lisa’s writing focuses on people living with neurological diseases and disorders who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is accessible to the general public.  Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research.

Call me cynical, but back in 2004 I doubt that was Badass Lisa’s original intention.

No, Lisa found a niche and filled it:  Disease books.

Damn.

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