There’s an old adage, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.”
I’m updating that to, “If you have to ask if you’re a bully boss – you are.”
What brought this to mind was this letter sent to a work advice columnist:
I don’t think I’m a work bully. But my team is treating me like I am. They don’t tell me what they really think when we discuss strategies at work and seem to avoid me a bit. Overall, I’d say I don’t have many satisfying personal relationships at the office. What should I do?
The columnist had some – I guess – OK advice:
It doesn’t matter that you just have a bad temper, or you had a hard childhood, or that your past bosses were difficult, so you don’t know better. You are responsible…Don’t change because of the results you want to achieve. Change because you want to be a better person.
First, stop thinking of your colleagues as “my team.” You, for whatever misguided reason, are their team leader, paid more than they are, have little or no understanding of what each person does, and couldn’t do their jobs if your life depended on it.
Second, you don’t want your employees to tell you “what they really think,” because you’d run screaming from the room if they did.
Third, what do you mean by “personal relationships”? Work is for work relationships. If you’re looking for personal relationships, try an online site. Losers.com sounds like a good place to start.
It’s gotten so bad that there’s actually an organization, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), “dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying.” WBI founders state that “60.4 million Americans are affected” by workplace bullying…
And nobody bullies better than a Bully Boss.
So are you? Let’s make it easy for you to find out.
Here’s a handy checklist of typical Bully Boss behavior. See how many of these you can check off:
Wow, look at all those checkmarks – you definitely are a…
The skies, surf and sand are glorious – so much so that California is the most popular state for vacations.
The California Legislators, however…not so popular.
Especially since the above story broke earlier this month.
Just think…more than $1.8 million of our tax dollars were spent in 13 months investigating sexual misconduct in our legislature. That’s almost $141,000 per month.
And $141,000 is more than twice the annual median household income in California.
Spent every month from January 2018 to January 2019.
I’m betting more than a few Californians are not happy about this.
I’m betting more than a few could come up with better ways to spend $1.8 million+.
A number of current or former lawmakers faced allegations of misconduct during those 13 months and here are nine of them. Keep in mind that these were not the only persons investigated for sexual misconduct; they are just the legislators on a list thoughtfully provided by The Sacramento Bee:
Investigators substantiated allegations he followed a lobbyist into a bathroom and began masturbating in front of her at an event in Las Vegas in 2016. The Democrat resigned but denies the allegations and sued the lobbyist for defamation.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia
She was cleared of allegations she groped a former legislative staff member in 2014 but investigators found she used vulgar language in violation of the chamber’s sexual harassment policies. The Democrat won re-election in 2018.
Assemblyman Devon Mathis
He was reprimanded for making sexual comments about other lawmakers, described by investigators as “locker room talk.” The Republican won re-election in 2018.
Investigators say he harassed several women while serving as an Assembly staff member about a decade ago. In one case, he put a subordinate’s bracelet down his pants and asked her to retrieve it. The Democrat resigned in late 2017 but maintained his innocence.
Investigators found he likely forcibly kissed a woman. The Democrat denies the allegations but resigned in late 2017, citing health reasons.
Former Senator Tony Mendoza
Investigators say he likely engaged in unwanted “flirtatious or sexually suggestive” behavior with six women, including four subordinates, a lobbyist and a young woman in a fellowship program. The behavior included offering a 19-year-old intern alcohol in a hotel suite at a Democratic Party event. The Democrat resigned in February 2018 but denied wrongdoing.
Senator Bob Hertzberg
Investigators found he gave people hugs that made them uncomfortable but concluded it wasn’t meant to be sexual. The Democrat stayed in office.
Senator John Moorlach
Investigators say he gave a woman a “noogie,” but did not intend it to be sexual. The Republican still is in office.
Former Senator Joel Anderson
Investigators say he threatened to slap a lobbyist at a bar near the Capitol, which he denied, and rubbed her shoulders. Anderson, a Republican, was termed out of office in 2018 and lost a bid for a seat on a state tax board.
We have to spend taxpayer money on state senators and assembly persons and staff persons who think…what?
I can’t tell you what they were thinking, but I can tell you what they (or their mouthpiece) were saying:
Oh, I get it. They’re the victims.
And…it gets worse.
In February 2018 the Los Angeles Times provided this helpful graphic summarizing allegations of sexual harassment by California legislators and staff by from 2006 to 2017:
The LA Times called it “the most detailed information, to date, of workplace sexual misconduct investigations at the Capitol in Sacramento and legislative district office across the state.”
But make no mistake. See that spike in 2017? While there may have been an increase in misconduct, that spike was also due to the increase in reported misconduct.
Remember 2017? The year of the #MeToo movement?
And oh, how people talked. Here are some (but far from all) of the allegations:
Sharing pornographic photos.
Sticking his hands in a women’s blouse at a nightclub.
Sexually explicit talk in the workplace, including inappropriate conversation regarding anal sex with Capitol office staff.
Inappropriate bodily contact.
Faced with a tsunami of misconduct allegations – and the #MeToo movement – our politicians did what politicians do:
Spend more money.
Form a committee.
That committee eventually led to the formation of another committee, though in this case it’s called a “unit.”
Specifically, the “Workplace Conduct Unit,” or WCU:
On January 18, 2019 Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins proudly announced the California Legislature’s “landmark independent Workplace Conduct Unit, along with a panel of legal experts to review cases,” beginning effective operation on February 1, 2019.
Atkins’ announcement clarifies that:
The Workplace Conduct Unit will:
Receive all reports alleging workplace conduct violations that affect protected groups in the Senate and the Assembly.
Assure independent and confidential investigation of allegations.
Summarize the evidence for the panel to review.
And then the Workplace Conduct Panel will:
Review investigations referred by the WCU, working in subgroups of three panelists.
Make recommendations to the relevant house, Assembly or Senate, consistent with the facts found by the panel.
What Atkins’ announcement didn’t talk about was the cost of these units and panels and subgroups and stuff.
But the Associated Press did.
Remember that original $1,831,000 spent on sexual misconduct investigations from January 2018 to January 2019?
Our politicians also spent $1.5 million to get the Workplace Conduct Unit office up and running.
And the Workplace Conduct Unit has a proposed annual budget of $1.7 million.
And some investigations could still be sent to outside lawyers.
And we taxpayers aren’t off the hook yet.
Because every time there’s a substantiated allegation of sexual misconduct and a settlement is paid…
We pay for that, too.
And nobody knows – and the Legislature mostly isn’t telling – what’s been paid out over who-knows-how-many years in settlements.
The Associated Press article did cite one instance of the Senate paying “a $350,000 settlement to an employee who said the chamber failed to accommodate her needs after she alleged an Assembly employee raped her.”
And an April 2018 article in the Sacramento Bee listed a $20,000 settlement in 1996; a $117,200 settlement in 1998; and a $117,000 settlement in 2001.
Rest assured, this is just a smattering.
It is possible that someday we taxpayers will be off the hook from paying for sexual misconduct settlements – in February, Assemblyman Steven Choi introduced a bill that would ban the use of taxpayer money on settlements:
AB-1094 “would, in an action alleging conduct by a Member of the Legislature that constitutes sexual harassment, as defined, prohibit either house of the Legislature from paying any compromise or settlement of the action.”
But there’s some irony in that, as we speak, we are paying California legislators to pass a bill that says we can stop paying for their sexual misconduct settlements.
And we’re still on the hook for at least $1.7 million a year for the Workplace Conduct Unit.
Perhaps legislative staff member Elyse Gore put it best when she said, “We have work to do…The best outcome is we create a culture in which this doesn’t happen in the first place.”
Based on my extensive though not-always-discerning reading, it seems that when authors write a novel about an actual person, they do one of two things:
Stick to the facts as much as possible, and use their imaginations for the rest.
Use their imaginations extensively, and include facts on occasion.
As I read That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron I kept wondering, “Did this happen or did the author make it up?” I’ve decided the book is a mash-up of both.
The woman in That Churchill Woman is Jennie Jerome (1854-1921) daughter of wealthy American Leonard Jerome. In 1874 she married Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill, an English aristocrat and second surviving son of the Duke of Marlborough.
In doing this, Jennie initiated the trend of young American women from wealthy families marrying titled but somewhat impoverished – or very impoverished – European men. The daughter attains the status of a title, the nobleman gets a large financial settlement, and everybody’s happy.
Jennie’s marriage entitled her to be called “Lady Randolph Churchill,” and her behavior during that marriage earned her the unflattering sobriquet, “That Churchill woman.” Apparently Jennie had many lovers – possibly 200, according to one biographer. Among the aristocratic class, extramarital affairs were frowned upon by some, but indulged in by many.
Or as Mrs. Patrick Campbell said at the time, “One is free to do as one pleases, as long as they don’t do it on the street and frighten the horses.”
One of Jennie’s lovers was Count Charles Kinsky, and this brings me my first example of my “How much is fact vs. fiction?” question.
Randolph had contracted syphilis prior to marrying Jennie, something Jennie learned only afterwards, but long before Kinsky became her lover. On page 262 Kinsky bluntly asks, “Did he give you syphilis, Jennie?” She assures Kinsky that Randolph “never touched me after that first time,” meaning the first time they had sex, during which she supposedly became pregnant with her first child, son Winston.
Yes, that Winston Churchill.
If it’s true that Lord Randolph and Jennie had sex just that one time, how do we account for her second son, John? My research indicates that while there were some who believed John was fathered by one of Jennie’s lovers, Randolph’s life appears to show that he had no doubt about either sons’ paternity; on the contrary he went to a great deal of trouble to secure a good future for them.
Then there’s also John and Winston’s striking likeness to their father and each other:
The Churchills, left to right: John, Jennie, Winston, Randolph. Sadly, it appears that the Churchills never posed for a family portrait.
So which is it, Ms. Barron? Jennie never had sex with Lord Randolph “after that first time,” or Lord Randolph was in truth, her second son’s father?
Here’s another fact-or-fiction question. Barron portrays and Jennie and Kinsky as passionately in love over a long period of time, with Kinsky repeatedly begging her to leave Churchill and marry him. After Jennie’s repeated refusals, Kinsky married a German countess.
Let’s do the numbers:
Randolph Churchill died in 1895.
Jennie remarried 1900, and divorced 1914.
Kinsky’s wife died in 1909.
So after the death of Kinsky’s wife in 1909, and Jennie’s divorce in 1914, she and Kinsky were free to marry. If they were so madly in love – why didn’t they?
Fact or fiction?
Jennie married someone else in 1918, and Kinsky died in 1919.
Barron’s portrayal of Jennie is not flattering. In her Acknowledgements Barron allows that most historians consider Jennie a “bad mother and wanton lightweight,” and much of this book reinforced that.
Like the scene that starts on page 115 and really summed up Jennie for me. It was 1886 and 12-year-old Winston, who’s away at school, was deathly ill with pneumonia. Jennie briefly visits him, then hurries back to London because she and Randolph are planning an elegant dinner for 24. “There was no question of remaining there with Winston – a thousand details required her attention in London.” Jennie tells Randolph, “Sick child or no, the dinner must go forward.”
No Mother Of The Year, here.
Jennie, as portrayed by Stephanie Barron, was lovely and possibly loyal; selfish and shallow; artistic, impulsive, and in Barron’s words, “a profoundly modern woman who lived and died by her own choices, without regrets – a century before that was either forgivable or commonplace.”
“Without regrets.” Fact – or fiction?
It is worth remembering that that woman was the mother of that Winston Churchill.
So somewhere along the way, she must have done something right.
Review, short version: DON’T, unless you like ear-splitting noise and over-priced faux French food.
Review, long version:
My qualifications to be a restaurant reviewer are the same as my qualifications to be an astronaut:
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
But…haven’t you ever eaten at a restaurant that annoyed you so much that you just had to tell somebody about it?
Well, I’m annoyed, and you are the somebody I’m telling.
I’ll start by mentioning an online blurb about Jeune et Jolie that uses the word “unpretentious.”
And a fawning review in the San Diego Union-Tribune that also used the word “unpretentious.”
Because “pretentious” (or prétentieux, as the French would say) is exactly what I thought after I was seated and looked at the brunch menu:
Oeuf? Pommes Puree? Lardon?
Oh, c’mon! This is Carlsbad, not the Côte d’Azur.
And Beignets. I know what those are – I’ve had them in New Orleans, where they were invented.
They look like this:
And how about “limited”? Though to call the brunch menu “limited” would be like calling the Grand Canyon a “sinkhole.”
I know the theory of “less is more,” and I wasn’t expecting Richard Walker’s Pancake House “with more than 100 items made from scratch daily!”
But the entire brunch offering fit on one side of a maybe 7” x 7” card, with plenty of white space between the items:
The only one that appealed to my dining companion was the aforementioned beignets, “jam, cream.”
I guess that comma is more français than “and.”
And the beignets were $8, not $6.
I opted for the Salad Lyonaisse, “frisée, poached egg, lardon, green goddess.”
Now, I know adding an egg to an entrée – from burgers to pizza to soup – is très de rigueur, but I passed on seeing a drippy, gooey yolk on my frisée.
And the frisée was fine. There wasn’t much bacon – excusez-moi, lardon – and the green goddess was more oily than goddessy.
And though the Union-Tribune reviewer sounded enamored of the restaurant’s “adding a touch of whimsy to the plating,” I reach the bottom of the salad bowl without a touch of whimsy in sight.
One of the attractions at Jeune et Julie – again, according to the reviewer – is the “full open kitchen smack in the heart of the room.” And I get that attraction – watching a well-run, professional restaurant kitchen is like watching a thoroughly rehearsed play, or Fred and Ginger dancing.
And Jeune et Jolie’s kitchen may have been exactly that – but I couldn’t see it. We were seated at one of these tables:
And since I was in the chair, my back was to the kitchen. So, though I was five feet away and could hear the kitchen, I couldn’t see it unless I turned my back on my companion.
Likewise for most of the 90-seat restaurant; more booths along that same wall, most of kitchen view blocked by the bar. The bar seating – yes, on high bar stools, but only some with a kitchen view. Patio seating, no kitchen view at all, though an up-close view of the street.
So if diners can’t see the kitchen – what was the point?
Speaking of my dining companion, I could speak of him…
But not to him.
It was so noisy that conversation was next to impossible. The restaurant wasn’t full, but between the taped music, the people, and the crying, whining children (more about them in a minute), this is not the place for any meaningful dialogue except,
“Wha (inaudible) -ay?”
“I (inaudible) -oo.”
The children. Perhaps it’s the restaurant’s name, based on the two owners’ young daughters, that prompts parents to think, “This must be a great place for kids – like Chuck E. Cheese!”
Throughout our meal there were at least a half-dozen small children, newborn to three-year-olds, making their presence known.
Now, the median annual income in Carlsbad is around $100,000, so I’m pretty sure these parents could afford a babysitter. Instead, they chose to schlepp their young children and all their accoutrements, including strollers – one of which nearly blocked the front door – to this already small, noisy restaurant.
They certainly added to the ambiance – in the worst possible way. If the place had been packed – merde!
Back to our table. My companion and I like to share a bottle of wine with a meal, usually a mid-priced chardonnay. We don’t feel that an expensive wine equals a great wine.
Well, the low-end was a $50 Scribe chardonnay, which I call pricey, and it wasn’t nearly as good as $25-$35 chardonnays we’ve had elsewhere. The reviewer said, “There’s a 70-bottle program of mostly French wines,” which makes sense, since everybody knows there are no local wines to be had in California.
And speaking of pricey, the reviewer (who was there for dinner, not brunch) mentioned a dinner item:
“The restaurant’s bread pricing, which at $9 for a small baguette and single brioche roll may be the most expensive bread service in San Diego. A month after opening, the price was pared down a dollar from $10, but it still needs rethinking.”
The reviewer summed up her experience by comparing the restaurant to her many dining experiences in France: “Jeune et Jolie captures both the nation’s classic flavors as well as the its joie de vivre.”
I would have enjoyed a bit more joie de vivre and a lot less of the…
You may be by yourself, or with some combination of Significant Other, children, family members and/or friends.
You’ve lit candles on the table; otherwise your home is in complete darkness…
And it’s hot as hell in the house…
And nobody’s cooking…
And nobody’s eating…
We’re in San Diego and it’s between 4pm and 9pm.
And sometime in March, San Diego, “America’s Finest City,” may become “America’s Darkest City.”
Because 4-9pm will be “on-peak” electricity time, which means using electricity during this time costs the on-peak – highest – rate.
You’ll wait until after 9pm and then turn on the A/C and lights, make dinner, and eat sometime around 10pm. Your dinner guests, if any, have given up and will stop at McDonald’s on their way home. The kids, if any, will do their homework till midnight.
This evening of heat, hunger, darkness and disappointment was brought to you by…
San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E).
In an attempt to be fair – which, when it comes to SDG&E, I rarely attempt – I can’t blame this entirely on SDG&E.
SDG&E is one of the three investor-owned utilities (IOU) in California – the other two are Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE). These three have about 20 million customers.
All three IOU have been directed by California Legislature and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to move customers from a tiered billing system to a time-of-use (TOU) format.
Hence, time of use = peak time = 4-9pm = most expensive electricity.
And it isn’t just California; utilities – investor-owned and otherwise – all over the country are considering, or already transitioning to, TOU formats.
What is time-of-use, TOU?
The simplest definition I can find is, “When you most need to use electricity, you’re screwed.” Sure, it’s cheaper to do my laundry at 10am, but I’m at work at 10am. It’s cheaper to leave off the lights, but I tend to fall over furniture when I do that.
So, no – a TOU format wasn’t another one of SDG&E’s bad ideas, like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) which they had to shut down in 2013. SONGS is now home to 3.5 million gallons of nuclear waste, just waiting for an earthquake to shake, rattle and roll out that waste all over San Diego and Los Angeles and into the Pacific Ocean.
Not that we have earthquakes in California.
And time-of-use pricing actually has some proponents; the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), for one, said TOU pricing,
“…If done right, is a low-cost strategy to help meet California’s climate and clean energy goals. This innovative tool can help the state rely more on clean energy and less on fossil fuels, at the same time delaying the need for new infrastructure and reducing costs and harmful emissions.”
But therein lies the rub: that “if done right” phrase.
Because I’d define “done right” as “a simple, straightforward, and clear.” And SDG&E’s plan – the roll-out begins in March and continues into 2020 – is anything but.
What is clear that if you come home from work and do the normal things – fix dinner, throw in a load of laundry, put on some lights, watch TV – you’ll pay the highest charge for electricity.
Or, you can sit in a hot, dark house and wait for the time to pass.
Hence, The Scenario, above.
Based on many hours on SDG&E’s website, the following is my take on the new time-of-use plan, with this heads-up: To make sense this you’ll either have to:
Ask Albert Einstein, or
Be Albert Einstein.
First, SDG&E doesn’t have a time-of-use plan – it has five of them:
Time of Use (TOU-DR2)
Time of Use (TOU-DR1)
Time of Use Plus (TOU-DR-P)
Time of Use (TOU DR)
I requested my options and got the five plans and the cost differences:
Let’s take a closer look at my per-year savings:
TOU-DR1: $13 per year.
TOU-DR2: $11 per year.
TOU-DR: $6 per year.
Now I wanted to look at the particulars of each plan and – oh, joy! – SDG&E narrowed it down to four:
From now on I’ll mostly be talking about these plans that apply to me.
I see that my TOU-DR1 and TOU-DR have three time period plans; my TOU-DR2 has two time periods:
I also stumbled across a graph for TOU Plus:
Now, “TOU Plus” doesn’t match any of the acronyms in the numbered items above, so more confusion. But unlike Standard (DR), TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR, TOU Plus does include Reduce Your Use, which you can read about here:
Ready for more?
The Standard (DR) plan has something called “higher usage charge”:
TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR are not subject to the higher usage charge.
Then there’s something called your “baseline allowance,” which does apply to DR, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR:
Here’s the formula, which depends on where you live and either summer or winter:
And here’s a handy graph showing “How Time of Use and Baseline Work Together”:
And if you can figure all that out, you either asked Einstein or are Einstein.
Going back to those time periods in TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 and TOU-DR, they have names:
SDG&E’s website adds, “Energy costs are lower during the off-peak and super off-peak (TOU-DR1 only) time periods and highest only during the on-peak period.”
But, wait – in my “Compare Plans” image, it says TOU-DR also has “Three time period plan: on-peak, off-peak, and super-off peak”:
I’m so confused.
But help is on the way! Because SDG&E cares about us (not), they’ve started airing a commercial starring “Whendell,” a talking watch:
Whendell whispers, “Soon I’ll be sharing SDG&E’s new energy pricing plans with you. They’re all about when you use energy. And who better to talk about when than me?”
Whendell. Clever (not).
Well, let’s try applying what we’ve learned so far to a real-life situation.
This handy graph, provided by our newspaper, shows a TOU plan with three time periods: on-peak, off-peak and super off-peak. Is it TOU-DR1 or TOU-DR?
Let’s go with TOU-DR1:
Now let’s say I’m going to make some toast. Using this graph and the other information I’ve fumbled through, we can figure out the cost per kilowatt hour (kh) for using the toaster.
Note: SDG&E has established that summer is June 1-October 31; winter is November 1-May 31.
Reminder: We’re talking about TOU-DR1; TOU-DR2 does not have super off-peak rates.
And – oh, joy, again! – according to the newspaper’s graphic, TOU-DR1 has an extra super off-peak rate time: Monday-Friday in March and April, during which 10am-2pm is also super off-peak.
Ready? It’s toast time!
If I’m on plan TOU-DR1 and I make my toast on a weekend in winter at 3am which is super off-peak time, it’s 22ȼ per kh.
If I fire up my toaster on a Tuesday in summer at noon which is off-peak time, it’s 21ȼ per kh.
And if I give in to my craving for toast in summer on a holiday at 5pm which is on-peak time, it’s 44ȼ per kh.
See? Easy peasy!
But…and of course, there’s a “but.”
Remember when we talked about “baseline allowance”? All this changes if I exceed my baseline allowance. When I do that, then with our TOU-DR1 option, making my toast during the summer and during the on-peak rate time, the cost goes from 44ȼ to 65ȼ per kilowatt hour.
Whew! That’s some pricey toast!
Now let’s do a quick recap of what I’ve learned but don’t comprehend so far:
Five plan options: DR, TOU-DR2, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR-P, TOU-DR; where TOU-Plus fits into this is unknown.
Five plan options for me, three with annual savings ranging from $6 to $13, the last being almost enough to buy a large, three-topping pizza.
A veritable alphabet of acronyms: EDF, SDG&E, CPUC, IOU, PG&E, TOU, SONGS, SCE.
Lots of new terminology, including:
High usage charge
Reduce Your Use
One last note. The four plans I reviewed – DR, TOU-DR1, TOU-DR2 AND TOU-DR – all have something called “1 Year No Risk Pricing.” That means over the course of the first year, customers can switch to a different plan at no cost.
Probably because it will take us a year to figure out what this all means.
And just when we’ve finally gotten it right – surprise!
In late February the San Diego City Council voted to move one step closer to that “alternative to SDG&E,” something called “Community Choice Aggregation” (CCA). This system allows “any city, county or combination to form an entity to take over the responsibility for purchasing power for their community.”
If San Diego goes ahead with CCA (likely) and pulls other local cities into the program (also likely), and CCA goes into effect 2021 (iffy), everything above about DRs and TOUs and Super Off-Peak and all the rest is out the window because SDG&E customers will have a choice between staying with SDG&E, or signing up for CCA.
If one chooses CCA there will be all sorts of new things to compare and figure out and commit to, and all I can say is…
The day after I looked at my plan options on SDG&E’s website, I looked again – and the savings had changed: The savings on two of the three plans were less the second time I looked:
How did that happen? How did I lose money before I even chose a plan? If I look tomorrow, will it change again?
Now you, too, can be featured on the highly esteemed CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News – on the same day!
Just answer these three questions:
Are you narcissistic?
Are you stupid?
Are you a whiner?
If you can answer “Yes!” to all three questions – get ready for your close-up!
Actually, it’s been multiple close-ups; this story was covered not just by CBS, but by NPR, CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, AP, U.S. News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, People, Washington Post, USA Today, and The Guardian, to name more than a few.
And yes, The Guardian is a British daily newspaper, so, girl – you’ve gone international!
The story I’m referring to involves “Leanne,” who asked that her last name not be revealed for reasons that will soon become obvious.
And the coverage I’m quoting is mostly from the March 11 CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News for the reason that I was too lazy to change the TV station.
It appears that last Saturday, Leanne No-Last-Name was at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park near Phoenix. Note the word “Wildlife” – it’s relevant.
Leanne was strolling past a big cat enclosure containing a black jaguar like this one:
Well, rather than just pulling out her phone and taking a few pictures, apparently Leanne thought the jaguar would look even more impressive if she was also in the picture.
In other words, if Leanne got up close and personal with a wild animal, and took a selfie.
So, according to CBS This Morning, she crossed this concrete barrier:
The barrier that was put there to protect humans from the wild animals. You see, Leanne, it’s called the “Wildlife Zoo” because wildanimals live there.
The jaguar reached through the fence and grabbed Leanne’s arm, and here’s where the media got creative. Depending on who’s telling the story, she was:
Severely scratched (or)
Mauled (but whatever, she was…)
Injured (and her)
Arm was ripped open (or she got)
Minor arm injuries (but either way, Leanne got…)
This led to a rescue by some bystanders, while another bystander shot video of Leanne on the ground:
And recorded her groaning, “It hurts. It hurts.”
Leanne later told CBS News she’s grateful to her rescuers but “unhappy” their video was made public.
And I’d agree, Leanne, this probably wasn’t the best angle for your close-up:
But she was not so “unhappy” that she declined doing another video, this one with the CBS Evening News:
In the interview Leanne said, “I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier.”
Note, Leanne says, “leaning over the barrier”
But the zoo, “citing witness accounts, has said the woman crossed over a barrier.”
This is a three-foot barrier which does meet federal guidelines, so unless Leanne has excessively long arms – I’d say yup, she crossed it.
“But I do think,” Leanne whined, “that maybe the zoo should look into moving their fence back.”
Gosh, Leanne. I do think that maybe you should have looked into moving your selfie-taking self back outside the barrier.
And gosh, Leanne. Wildlife World hosts about 500,000 visitors annually, but it was you who thought crossing that barrier for a selfie with a wild animal was a good idea.
Perhaps Gayle King put it best on CBS This Morning when she said, “At least she knows it was a bonehead move…”
The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) recently took a trip without the President of the United States (POTUS).
It was, in fact, “her first solo domestic overnight trip in her official capacity,” according to Time magazine.
Now, POTUS was inaugurated January 20, 2017, which, by my count, was two+ years ago, so I think it’s safe to say our FLOTUS is not one to rush into anything.
The purpose of FLOTUS’ trip was to promote her BE BEST campaign, which she launched back in May 2018.
Yet another indication that our FLOTUS is not one to rush into anything.
On this trip her destinations were:
The Dove School of Discovery, a Tulsa, OK elementary school that the White House says incorporates character education in its curriculum.
Microsoft in Redmond, WA to learn about programs and apps designed to teach children how to be safe online, and about technology to help children with disabilities.
A town hall meeting in Las Vegas on the opioid crisis.
In addition to Time, other important members of the media covered FLOTUS’ trip, such as Footwear News.
How has this important publication escaped my notice?
Upon FLOTUS’ arrival in Tulsa, Footwear immediately got to the bottom of things by focusing on…
The article described FLOTUS’ shoes as “a pair of yellow plaid pumps from Manolo Blahnik’s fall ’18 collection. The brand’s signature BB style, which is named after French movie star Brigitte Bardot, features a yellow multicolored plaid flannel upper, a sky-high 4-inch stiletto heel and a classic pointed-toe silhouette.”
Add, for those of you who must have them, “The same model is available in white, black, gray and red for $695 on Barneys.com.”
Highlights, Day #1:
At the Dove School in Tulsa a student held up this poster and asked FLOTUS if it was an example of cyberbullying:
FLOTUS had no comment.
As FLOTUS departed, one student summed up her visit succinctly: “She is, like, the first lady, and I was like, whoa.”
Apparently this school “incorporates character education in its curriculum” but not, I guess, grammar.
FLOTUS then flew to Seattle and visited the Microsoft campus in Redmond. While at Microsoft, employees demonstrated how they use technology to limit their teenagers’ screen time…
And control the websites kids can access and who can see what they’re doing online:
Highlights, Day #2:
FLOTUS arrived in Las Vegas and happily, so did Footwear News:
This time FLOTUS was wearing “Christian Louboutin pumps featuring a low-cut topline and vamp on a 4.7-inch stiletto heel. Louboutin’s pointy So Kate pumps retail for around $675.”
And USA Today noted that FLOTUS’ ensemble included a “belted navy-blue dress with a pussy bow.”
“Pussy bow”? What the hell is a pussy bow?
As FLOTUS made her way to the Westgate Las Vegas Resort for the town hall meeting, POTUS was doing his part, tweeting an offer of “Free admission for the first 1,500 people!” to the already free event:
Distinguished guests in the half-filled theater included an Elvis impersonator, which no meeting about the opioid crisis should be without.
FLOTUS responded to challenging questions with thoughtful answers including:
No, she “hasn’t had time to do any cooking yet in the White House” (remember, she’s only been there two+ years), and “a good meal for the Trump family is spaghetti.”
Yes, she “just renovated the White House bowling alley and it looks beautiful.”
And at some point, talked about the opioid crisis.
Then FLOTUS went home, and the Elvis impersonator realized that inspired by her – he, too, could BE BEST:
It’s disappointing to reach the end of a book and know I’ve wasted my time.
It’s hugely disappointing to reach the end of an almost-500-page book and know I’ve wasted my time.
That’s how I feel about Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter.
My modus operandi is to give a book 30-40 pages and if I’m not caught up in it – I move on to a different book.
And apparently I was caught up enough in The Clockmaker’s Daughter to stay with it and get my questions answered:
Does the Radcliffe Blue exist and if so, where is it?
Will Elodie ever discover her connection to the sketchbook and the mysterious woman in the photograph?
Is Birdie/Lily/Mystery Real Name a thief or is it Lucy or Leonard or Juliet or Jack or Martin or Mrs. Mack or Edward or James or Ada or Thurston or Frances or, or, or?
As you can see from #3, along the way I encountered way too many people. And too many storylines, and too many timed periods. For the latter, the book jumps around in at least six: 1862, 2017, 1899, 1928, 1882 and 1992.
I could have used a flow chart to keep track of who was doing what to or with whom and where and when and why.
In the Author’s Note, Morton says the book is:
“About time and timelessness, truth and beauty, maps and mapmaking, photography, natural history, the restorative properties of walking, brotherhood, houses and the notion of home, rivers and the power of place, among other things. It was inspired by art and artists, including the English romantic poets, the Pre-Raphaelite painters, early photographers…and designers…”
I think Morton had a list of “My Favorite Things” and decided to throw them all into one book. What she ended up with was too much of too many people going too many directions and ultimately failing to, as she put it, “…to tell cohesive stories about the disjointed past.”
And plenty of Amazon reviewers agreed with me – check out these headlines:
And yes, there were many more positive reviews – the book’s overall rating was 3.5 out of 5 stars.
But it’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only one who was baffled, befuddled and bummed out.
Early in January in statement from your office you described the DMV as:
“…chronically mismanaged and failed in its fundamental mission to the state customers it serves and the state workers it employs.”
Governor Newsom, I respect and admire your ambitious plans for addressing the DMV’s multitudinous issues, including appointing Marybel Batjer to lead your new DMV Reinvention Strike Team for six months.
DMV, which also stands for Damned Messy Venue.
May I suggest, as a first step, that you teach the DMV to tell time?
The DMV team obviously can’t, based on my recent call.
At 9:13am the recording said my “wait time would be approximately five minutes.”
You could start by telling the team that 9:13am is when the little hand is a bit above 9, and the big hand is between the 2 and 3. Here’s a picture the DMV can use as a visual aid:
My call was finally answered at 9:41am.
Tell the DMV that 9:41am is when the little hand is between 9 and 10, and the big hand is just past the 8, like so:
Twenty-eight minutes is not “approximately five,” even by the DMV’s finger counting.
Governor Newson, the DMV has lots of problems, and as our leader I know your role is to prioritize the…um…priorities. To do my part to assist, here’s a quick recap of some recent DMV issues.
Excessive Wait Times: As of December 2018, the average wait time was 69 minutes, though there are many reports of waits lasting many hours. Plus there’s the potential two- to three-hour wait outside the DMV office for customers who didn’t make an appointment. The DMV blames this on people applying for REAL ID, which, as of October 1, 2020, will be required to board a domestic flight unless you have a passport.
Unfortunately, to obtain a REAL ID we must apply in person at the DMV. When thousands of people started doing this, the DMV was – to say the least – caught with their Calvins down, even though the REAL ID Act has been around since 2005.
Next, and relevant to the REAL ID issue:
Incorrect REAL ID Requirements: To obtain a REAL ID, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires at least two documents to prove where you live. The DMV was requiring only one proof of residency. In December the DMV received a letter from the DHS saying California’s process for proving residency did not align with REAL ID regulation.
At that point the DMV had issued 2.3 million REAL IDs, and the DHS says it will accept those IDs. But if you were among those 2.3 million people who went to the DMV with only one document, are you going to take the chance of going to the airport for your once-in-a-lifetime trip and having someone from the DHS or TSA say, “Nope, not valid”?
The Motor Voter Law: It was a good idea: Make it easy for people to register to vote. And it would have worked, except it involved the DMV. Californians doing certain tasks at the DMV would be automatically registered to vote unless they opted out.
Since the program launched in April 2018, the DMV has acknowledged three batches of mistakes:
A software error affected 77,000 registrations, resulting, in some cases, in two registration forms indicating different party preferences being issued for one voter (May 2018).
A window-toggling error affected 23,000 registrations, resulting in changes to voters’ party preference, vote-by-mail options and language choices (September 2018).
A data-entry error resulted in 1,500 people being registered to vote even though they were not legally eligible because they were not U.S. citizens, were under 18 or were on parole for a felony conviction (October 2018).
Then there are those pesky problems like the all-too-frequent computer glitches that shut down the DMV’s antiquated systems and extend wait times by hours.
Between January 2017 and mid-August 2018, the DMV experienced 34 IT outages, including six statewide office system outages, ranging from 15 minutes to nine hours. And let’s not forget of that very pesky outage in 2016 when more than 100 DMV offices were knocked offline for several days.
No wonder DMV customers often look…
Governor Newsom, you described the DMV as “chronically mismanaged” without naming the person who’s been mismanaging the DMV for the past five years, so I will:
Director Jean Shiomoto.
Jean retired rather abruptly at the end of 2018, but it was under her watch that these and other problems came to light.
While Jean, I might mention, was earning about $233,000 a year in salary, benefits, and “other pay,” whatever that means, and is now collecting a nice, fat pension.
I acknowledge a retired Jean is beyond our shaming reach, so I welcome this opportunity to badmouth her.
Which segues nicely to my final item:
According to the state auditor’s report, this DMV worker napped at her desk for an estimated 2,200 hours of work time between February 2014 and December 2017, costing the state more than $40,000.
The auditor’s report added that “The employee’s behavior may have prevented DMV from providing the public with an appropriate level of service.”
Multiple news stories said the employee’s name was not released.
Logic indicates that you can’t do a movie review unless you’ve seen the movie.
I haven’t seen Isn’t It Romantic. But I hate it.
How do I hate it? Let me count the ways.
I hate it because it’s derivative.
There’s so much room – and need – for new ideas in the movie industry, but Isn’t It Romantic lifted its premise straight from the 2018 movie I Feel Pretty.
They didn’t even wait a year to do their rip-off.
I hate it because that premise is, a woman who’s unhappy with herself and her life can become happy with herself and her life…
IF she suffers a head injury.
I hate it even more because one of the reasons the woman in Isn’tIt Romantic is not happy with herself or her life because she’s overweight – just as in I Feel Pretty.
Blatant body shaming, in both.
It’s so obvious. If the lead character’s weight isn’t a factor in the story, why not cast a thin actress in the role?
Rebel Wilson (left) and Priyanka Chopra star in Isn’t It Romantic. Guess which one gets the head injury? Hint: It wasn’t the one chosen Miss World.
I watch a lot of movies so I’m always interested in new movies, and I watched the trailer for Isn’t It Romantic. In the first 13 seconds we see an overweight young girl, up close to the TV watching Pretty Woman. The girl is smiling and enjoying herself until…
Her mother walks in, sees what her daughter is watching, and admonishes, “Natalie, life’s not a fairytale. Girls like us don’t get that.”
“But why?” Natalie asks.
“Well, look in the mirror, doll. We’re no Julia Roberts.”
Nice. Thanks, Mom.
We fast-forward 25 years, and grown-up Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson, is working in New York and now a romantic comedy hater. In quick succession: mugging, the head injury, and waking up to discover her life has become a romantic comedy.
From there, according to one reviewer, Isn’t It Romantic “simultaneously ridicules and embraces the many, many clichés of the rom-com genre. It knows these movies are pure formula, and it makes fun of that formula in myriad and amusing ways…”
Another reviewer described theme of both Isn’t It Romantic and I Feel Pretty as “the rather unfortunate high-concept subgenre we could call ‘the head injury attitude adjustment,’” and cited yet a third recent movie – What Men Want – as also in the head injury mode.
This female head-injury thing just transitioned from derivative to epidemic.
Hollywood, I repeat: New ideas, please!
The reviewers I read were too sensitive – or too afraid of being politically incorrect – to mention the parallel of overweight Rebel Wilson in Isn’t It Romantic and overweight Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty, but there’s no need to mention it. It’s right there on the screen: Schumer in her underwear, staring at herself in the mirror and starting to cry:
Wilson dressed in Julie Roberts’ outfit from Pretty Woman, where the contrast is obvious:
One of those “myriad and amusing ways,” yes?
I don’t know if Natalie ends up with one of the male leads, goes back to loving rom-coms, or if her life goes back to what it was pre-head injury, and I don’t care.
I do know that Isn’t It Romantic is derivative. And deplorable.