Meet The Birdman Of Rancho Bernardo

rancho bernardo croppedRancho Bernardo is a community in San Diego, located about 20 miles northeast of downtown.

It tends to be a quiet place – not much making headlines in Rancho Bernardo.

That all changed recently, when an important story was covered by several august media outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and NBC.

Life is pretty good in Rancho Bernardo – the average annual income is around $129,000 and the average household net worth is almost a $1 million.  The median age is 38, and the population about 88,500.

Plus 84 cockatiels.

Make that 84 apparently horny, definitely dirty, and probably very pissed off cockatiels.

That’s what put Rancho Bernardo in the national headlines:

wash post (2)

ny times

That’s right – 84 cockatiels plus one human were living in an apartment in Rancho Bernardo.

A small, one bedroom apartment.

It seems the vastly outnumbered human resident of the apartment – who was unnamed in the coverage so I’ll call him The Birdman – had purchased a few cockatiels awhile back but had forgotten the famous lyrics about “birds do it…”

birds do_01 croppedThe birds did.  And then did some more.  Confined in that small apartment, what else was there to do?

The birds were rescued by Humane Society officials, one of whom said, “The birds were free-flying so there was bird feces everywhere.”  And by “everywhere,” said a TV reporter, it was “on the man’s bed, the walls, the floors, and even his clothes left around the apartment.”

Neighbors said the bird problem had been going on for years:

tweet (2)

So I can’t help but wonder – what The Birdman was thinking in the interim?

“Oh, well, what’s another cockatiel or two?”
“I wonder why Mom never comes over for dinner?”
“Will anyone at work notices this stuff all over my clothes?”

Or maybe The Birdman doesn’t work.  Since PetSmart.com recommends spending “at least one hour a day holding or playing with your cockatiel,” with 84 of them, this guy had his…er, hands full.

And as everyone knows, a bird in the hand…

cockatiels

The birds were brought out of the apartment in individual boxes:

officer with bird boxes cropped

The Birdman was brought out in handcuffs by the San Diego police:

birdman photo (2)

Stories noted that the San Diego Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) was also on site.

Though whether PERT was there for the birds, or The Birdman, was not clear.

OK, I’ll stop making fun of The Birdman.  He obviously has some issues, besides his dirty windows:

window (2)

I should be more empathetic – you know, put myself in this guy’s shoes.

If they’re not covered in bird shit…

dirty_04

How Bad A Cook Am I?

Chicken RecipeBut wait.

I have a recipe that’s almost foolproof.  And when it comes to my cooking, trust me – the emphasis is on “fool.”

The recipe came from Mom, who – bless her heart – knew I didn’t care for cooking.

Normally I’m not one who talks recipes.  But this Crusty Chicken Casserole is so easy and so good, I’ll make an exception.  Another plus – it all goes into one dish, with no mixing, mincing, slicing, dicing, sautéing, deglazing or other such foolishness.

RiceYou can tell I’ve used this recipe many times – the stains, tears and fading are for real.  And every time I’ve made this – success!

Here’s the recipe, with my alterations:

Chicken Recipe Typed

“OK,” you’re thinking, “that does look easy.  And good.  But it’s not a full meal.”

You’re right – so here’s what’s on the backside of Mom’s recipe, again, another one-dish wonder:

Rice Recipe Typed

 

Talk about easy!  And it bakes right along with the casserole.

There’s not much cleanup and, since you cooked – someone else is doing the cleanup.

Yes?

Hell Yes 2 cropped

Guess Who’s Getting A 10% Raise?

Are you getting a nice, fat 10% raise this year?empty wallet woman cropped

Me, neither.

Nor anyone I know.

Or anyone you know.

Unless it’s your CEO – CEO salaries rose by more than 1,000% between 1978 and 2017.

Our wages?  Up 11.2% between 1978 and 2017.

And in 2018?

August 2018:

headline 2

September 2018:

headline 3 cropped

October  2018:

headline 4 cropped

But the United States Postal Service – hereafter referred to as USPS – is getting a 10% increase effective January 27, 2019.

First-class stamps are going from 50 cents to 55 cents.

That’s right.  USPS is getting a reward, and I can only assume it’s for their stellar delivery service, like these examples:

damaged package damaged package_02
damaged package_01 damaged we care package

I especially like the “We Care” example.  USPS is so accustomed to trashing our stuff that they have pre-printed letters to go along with your damaged goods.  It reads, in part, “We sincerely regret…we hope you understand…hope this did not inconvenience you…”

looking under car hoodCan you imagine any other organization doing this?

Like an automobile dealership.  You’re driving your brand-new car away from the lot and when you’re a mile away, the engine dies.  You lift the hood, and there’s a pre-printed letter that says, “We sincerely regret…you got stuck with this lemon…hope you have road service coverage…”

Back to USPS.  Here’s how they’ve done over the past 10 years:

  • 2018: $3.9 billion lossmoney toilet
  • 2017: $2.7 billion loss
  • 2016: $5.6 billion loss
  • 2015: $5.1 billion loss
  • 2014: $5.5 billion loss
  • 2013: $5 billion loss
  • 2012: $15.9 billion loss
  • 2011: $5.1 billion loss
  • 2010: $8.5 billion loss
  • 2009: $3.8 billion loss

Just imagine if you or I had a record like that.  We go to the boss and say, “Boss, I know I’ve lost a gagglegazillion dollars over the past 10 years, but I’d like a 10% raise in 2019.”

yowzsaWell, USPS went to its Board of Governors or the Postal Regulatory Commission or whoever’s in charge, asked for that 10% increase.

And whoever’s in charge said, “Yowza!”

And if we, the people stuck with paying for that increase, protest, here’s what USPS will say:

we care not

What Is It?

purse with kid croppedThere’s a price to pay for not having kids.

If I had, say, an eight-year-old, I would have known about the hottest-selling item this past Christmas.

Instead I was left to wander in the wilderness, ignorant and uninformed.

So it came as a total – but welcome – shock when I happened upon a recent news article, and the blinding light of knowledge cut through the darkness of my ignorance.

purse interior croppedNow I’ve learned.  Now I know.

About Poopsie Pooey Puitton.

Seriously, I never knew about this crap.

And I say “crap,” literally, because that apparently is what Poopsie Pooey Puitton is all about, albeit in somewhat more refined language:

“MGA Entertainment’s Poopsie Pooey Puitton purse is the ultimate unicorn poop kit!  Magically make scented, unicorn poop slime in a rainbow of colors!  With a little unicorn magic, sparkle, and crunch, you can customize your unicorn poop again and again!”

So now I know:

  • MGA Entertainment decided kids weren’t making enough poop, so they created a new poop source.
  • The Poopsie Pooey Puitton purse is the ultimate unicorn poop kit vs. your average unicorn poop kit.
  • The purse retails for $59.99, enabling parents to pay to encourage their kids to make – and play with – poop.

This item is so popular that, according to one website, it was sold out at Target over the recent holidays.  And no wonder – look at all it includes:

amazon page

A “rainbow of poop”!  Wow!

It’s the purse, however, that’s drawing the national spotlight.

The purse, in case you hadn’t noticed, is shaped very like poop.

And its name – Puitton – is spelled very like that of a famous purse designer:

Louis Vuitton.

cave_woman1 cropped
Me?  Buy a cheap Brontosaurus knock-off?  No way!

Louis Vuitton purses cost thouand$ are considered luxury goods, which means there are also ne’er-do-wells out there making cheap imitations.  This chicanery has been going on since an early cavewoman claimed her new purse was genuine Tyrannosaurs rex skin, but her mother-in-law knew it was a cheap Brontosaurus knock-off.

So nowadays, many luxury goods makers file lawsuits or threaten litigation to stop companies from piggybacking off their names and customer goodwill.

Just in case Louis Vuitton had any ideas about suing over Poopsie Pooey Puitton, MGA pre-emptively sued Vuitton to ensure MGA can keep making their Puitton without interference from Vuitton:

headline puitton

MGA is seeking a court declaration that Poopsie Pooey Puitton does not infringe on Louis Vuitton’s intellectual property rights, and is protected parody and fair use.

That “protected parody,” said MGA, is “designed to mock, criticize, and make fun of that kid croppedwealth and celebrity” associated with Louis Vuitton products

Which is exactly the message any eight-year-old would appreciate finding under her Christmas tree.

Instead of considering a lawsuit, I think Vuitton should be grateful for Puitton.  Get the youngsters hooked on the look now, and in a few years they’ll be begging to transition from Puitton to Vuitton:

purse_01 vuitton purse image used more often
This Poopsie Pooey Puitton retails for $59.99. This Vuitton City Steamer retails for $55,000.

Where To Go When…

I have never taken a selfie, or been in a selfie with others.

I have, therefore, never posted my image on social media with a clever caption such as, “I’m eating tomato soup for lunch right now!!!”

You’re probably thinking, “Well, then what do you do all day, if you’re not taking/posting selfies and talking endlessly about yourself?”

Well, gosh.  Work?  Eat?  Sleep?  Face time with significant other and friends?  Read?  Pay bills?  Clean the bathroom?

However, I may have to rethink all that and switch to major narcissistic mode because of this important announcement:

Headline

The Museum of Selfies, or TMoS for those in the know, originally opened as a pop-up, but apparently was so popular that it’s now found a permanent home on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

TMoS promises to:

“Share the unseen depths and history of this cultural phenomenon, with roots going back 40,000 years!”

chauvetI’m going to hazard a guess that they’re referring to cave paintings, some of which are, indeed, estimated at 40,000 years old.  And what treasures explorers have found – like these gorgeous horses from Chauvet cave in France.

However, depictions of humans didn’t come along until centuries later, like when this bunch of guys in what’s now Argentina decided to portray themselves giving each other high-fives.Cave Painting SantaCruz-CuevaManos-P2210651b

And while the guys might have gotten a bit carried away, you’ll notice there are no faces in this painting, and faces are the point of selfies, aren’t they?

Sure, people do take photos of other body parts, but no matter how…um…stunning those parts may be, they remain anonymous without a face to go with them.

Without my face it isn’t me.

If it isn’t me, it isn’t a selfie.

The museum website lets us know all the exciting things we can do at TMoS including:

David better“You can take really cool photos in our interactive exhibits that explore the various types of selfies and what they mean.”

I suppose by “interactive exhibits” they mean something like this?

Note the genuine imitation statues of Michelangelo’s David, complete with pink phones and strategically placed pink fig leaves.

The website offers other well-known images, like this one:

vincent better cropped

News Flash:  The phone was not included in the original 19th-century Vincent van Gogh self-portrait.  And van Gogh painted selfies because he was too poor to pay a model.  At least he had a good excuse.

But perhaps it is time to re-think my No Selfie Strategy.

I’ll grab a selfie stick – yes, they’re welcomed at TMoS!  And pay the $25 entrance fee and…oh…did I forget to mention there’s a charge to do this?

And “take really cool photos” of myself.  Then I’ll upload them to Facebook and Twittereating-amazing-tomato-soup-with-bacon cropped and Instagram and Flickr and Pinterest, and wait for your wildly enthusiastic responses.

Here I am eating tomato soup while I’m waiting.

Whoops!  Forgot to include my face!

selfie_03 cropped museum_02.jpg logo
Selfie:  A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media. Museum:  A building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited. Selfie Museum:  A building in which selfies but NO objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.

The Revolution No One’s Hearing About

On December 21, 2018 a revolution took place in this country.

prelude to revolution croppedAnd nobody heard about it.

Why?

It was the day before the partial government shutdown, and that’s all anyone was talking about.

Unlike 10 days earlier when the revolution was getting plenty of media coverage.

On December 12, for example, the Washington Examiner reported that “a bipartisan agreement has been reached in the House and the Senate.”

That, in itself, should have captured everyone’s attention because, as everyone knows, our esteemed politicians rarely agree on anything.

viva the croppedThe agreement – a bill – was intended to modify the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 and would, among other stipulations, hold “lawmakers liable for harassment and retaliation settlements.”

This was truly revolutionary, because ever since the Congressional Reform Act was passed, the law required taxpayer dollars to fund these settlements.

That’s right.  For nearly a quarter century we, the taxpayers, were on the hook for settlements stemming from Congressional inappropriate sexual conduct.

And not only that – the law allowed for the settlements, and the names of the accusedharass Congress members, to be kept secret.

How many offenders?  How many tax dollars?

We’ll never know.

One of the rare exceptions is Blake Farenthold, a Republican Representative from Texas.  He was accused of sexual harassment, and the matter was settled out of court for $84,000.  That was our tax dollars, and Farenthold promised to repay it.  Then he harass_06abruptly resigned in April 2018 without repaying us, and to this day has not done so.

But if the Reform Act passed, the members of Congress would pay their own settlements.

And, by law, we’d learn who, when and how much.

The revolution began the day before the partial government shutdown.

On December 21, S.3749 – the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act – became law:

act passed darker arrow

Try as I might, I cannot find any media outlet that covered this revolution.

Why?

Because of this:

shutdown final

And when I say “try,” I googled “S.3749 – Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act” and “Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act becomes law” and scrolled through the first four pages for each.

Nothing from the media.

So it gives me the greatest of pleasure to share with you the full first page at congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/3749, followed by an easier-to-understand one-page summary from Crowell & Moring, and international law firm based in Washington DC:

Law Final Final (2).jpg

Crowell Final with Header (2).jpg

viva cropped

Is This What We’ve Come To?

Yondr+system
Welcome to Yondr.

As I was reading an article about Ellen DeGeneres’ upcoming appearances in San Diego, a sidebar about “Do’s and Don’ts” gave me pause.

Is this what we’ve come to, to attend a live show?

The performances are phone-free, and all phones and smart watches will be secured in Yondr cases, which will be unlocked after each performance.

I didn’t know what a Yondr case was, but now I do:  A pouch that locks when you close it, and requires a device for unlocking it.

yondr piles of
Stand in line to get your Yondr…

Security staff lock your phone in this pouch, which you keep, and can be opened only with the unlocking base.

Attendees can access their phones throughout each show at designated phone-use areas in the theater.

So if you have to use your phone, you go to this designated area, unlock the Yondr, do whatever with your phone, return it to the case and security staff lock it again.

Prior to the show you stand in line to get the Yondr, and after the show you stand in line to get the Yondr unlocked.

yondr unlocking_01
Stand in line to unlock your Yondr.

Inaccessible phones also prevent the disturbance of ringing cell phones and conversations during the performance, and we know there are plenty of people whose phones ring and have conversations during live performances.

No use of cameras or any recording devices is permitted.  Anyone using such devices during the show will be removed and will not receive a ticket refund.

recording with phoneDeGeneres, and any person who creates something, is proprietary about it, and rightfully so.  They own what they created.  They don’t want us recording their material and repurposing it – like posting it on social media – without their permission.

And we know that happens.  I recently noticed an entire Broadway show, shot with a cell phone and posted on YouTube, and that’s just one of thousands of examples.

Food or drink will be available in the lobby, but are not permitted inside the venue.movie-theater trash_01

This was a new one for me.  I’ve never been to a live performance that didn’t at least allow me to take a beverage to my seat.

But food and beverages can be a distraction for both the audience and the performer – especially when we spill something.  And the trash we leave behind can cause a mess, and even damage, to the venue.

No exit and re-entry will be permitted during the performances.

This was another new one for me.  If you need to go to the bathroom, better take care of that before the show – especially since this show was two hours with no intermission.

metal detector_01Walk-through metal detectors will be used on all attendees, and all parcels are subject to search.

Of course I understand this.  After the horror of the October 2017 massacre at the concert in Las Vegas – and all the other horror stories – all safety precautions must be taken.

I suppose it’s only a matter of time – and money – until all public entrances have metal detectors, from movie theaters to bowling alleys to churches.

And it makes me sad, that yes – this is what we’ve come to:

It’s no longer enough to ask attendees to turn off their phones before the show, becauseusing phone in theater we can’t be trusted, and we don’t.

It’s no longer enough to make an announcement before a show, forbidding the use of recording devices.  We can’t be trusted, so now our phones are locked up.

It’s no longer enough to request attendees pick up their bottles and other trash from food and drinks – we can’t be trusted to do this, because we don’t.

searching_01We can’t be trusted not to bring guns or other weapons to the theater, so we have to walk through metal detectors, our purses and parcels searched.

As I said – sad.