Yes…It’s Time For More Trump Moments

To be in the presence of the President of the United States could be an awesome thing.

To be in the military and in the presence of the President/your Commander-in-Chief could also be an awesome thing.

ellington_01Unless the President/ Commander-in-Chief is Trump.

Recently Trump was at Ellington Airport in Houston, TX.  After a Coast Guard briefing on tropical storm Imelda, he appears in a video with about a dozen Coast Guard members.

The video is not quite 15 minutes long, which is no time at all if you’re on a fabulous first date and don’t want the evening to end.

Or, 15 minutes can seem like forever, when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office doc_01 croppedwaiting for good news or bad news.

If I’d been one of those dozen Coast Guard members?

Definitely the doctor’s office.

That’s my interpretation, as are all of the following – because of course, I have no idea what the Coast Guard members were thinking.

Trump, regarding his telephone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky:  “And, by the way, the conversation was absolutely perfect.  Absolutely appropriate.”

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Trump, on Joe Biden:  “Joe’s got a lot of problems.”

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Trump, on his visit to Texas:  “These are incredible people – the people of Texas.  That’s why I’m here today.”

Final 3 (3)

Bless their hearts, these brave Coast Guard members, for standing tall and enduring Trump’s bullshit.

And bless their hearts for volunteering to serve and protect our country, and us.

Coast Guard aircrew assists infant during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
In a single year, the Coast Guard responded to 19,790 Search and Rescue cases, saved 3,560 lives and more than $77 million in property.  Here, a Coast Guard aircrew assists a baby during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, August 2017.

Airline Announces New Charge For Ticket Changes

“Good afternoon, SoLow Airlines, how may I help you?”

“I need to change my flight from San Diego to New York.  My trip is departing on Sunday and I have to change that to a Tuesday departure.”

“I’m happy to help you with that, sir.”

(SoLow customer service person gets his name and flight number, and then…)

“All right, I do see you scheduled for a Sunday departure, let me check the Tuesday flight, woman_02 largerSan Diego to New York, for you.  Did you want the same departure time?”

“Yes, please”

“One moment.”

(Pause)

“I can schedule you for that Tuesday flight, departing San Diego at 10am.”

“That’s great!  Let’s go ahead and do that.”

“Before we do, sir, I’m required by SoLow Airlines to advise there is a $550 charge to change your flight.”

“What?  Did you say $550?”

“Yes, sir.”

(Pause)man cropped

“That seems like a lot of money for a simple flight change – $550?”

“Yes, sir.  And one kidney.”

(Long pause)

“I must have misunderstood you.  Kidney?  Did you say a kidney?”

“Yes, sir.  If you wish to make that flight change the charge will be $550 and one kidney.”

(Long pause)

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.  You’re telling me that if I fly on Tuesday instead of Sunday, you’re asking me for a kidney?”

“And $550, sir.”

“That’s outrageous!”

“Sir, your flight change involves that Monday holiday, which impacts the cost of your flight change.”

“I’m not talking about the money, I’m talking about the kidney!”woman_01

“And I should advise, sir, that SoLow requires your kidney 24 hours prior to your Tuesday departure.  Shall I go ahead and book that flight, so you can start making arrangements?”

“What in the hell – Look, this is ridiculous.  You and I both know that selling human organs is illegal.”

“On the contrary, sir, selling a kidney is perfectly legal in Iran.  The average person in Iran can sell a kidney for $4,600, all government sanctioned.”

“Wh – what kind of crap is that?”

“It’s true, sir.  I can send you links to several articles, including one by the Associated Press, if you’d like verification?”

Headline (2)

“You’re telling me that you’d take my kidney and sell it to the Iranian government?”

“SoLow Airlines doesn’t use the word ‘sell,’ sir.  We think of it as a donation, in return for a consideration.  Like all airlines, we’re constantly developing new revenue streams.”

(Long pause)

“Look.  I must change my flight.  I…I…  Oh, God.  All right.  I’ll do it.”

“Very good, sir.  Now – did you want to change your return flight as well?”

“Of course I have to change my return flight!  Instead of leaving New York on Wednesday, I need to return to San Diego on Friday.”man cropped reversed

“I’m checking that return flight on Friday…yes, I can schedule you for that change, a Friday flight, New York to San Diego.”

“All right.  Do that.”

“Again, sir, I’m required by SoLow Airlines to advise there is a $550 charge to change your flight.”

“You already told me that.”

“No, sir.  That was for your San Diego to New York flight.  There will also be a $550 charge to change your return flight.”

“Another $550?  But there’s no holiday involved, and – ”

“Yes, sir.  And a kidney.”

“What?  WHAT?”woman_02 larger

(Long pause)

“You’re telling me you want both of my kidneys to change both of my flights?”

(Long pause)

“And as advised earlier, SoLow also requires that kidney 24 hours prior to your New York to San Diego flight.”

(Long pause)

“This is insane.  But…I suppose I should be grateful this won’t cost me an arm and a leg.”

“No, sir.  SoLow only charges that for international flights.”

arm_02 cropped fixed larger

Rant:  Seriously…

Ahhhh, Downton Abbey:  I enjoyed every minute of every episode of every season.

downton

And with six seasons – the TV mini-series ran from 2010 to 2015 – and 56 episodes, that was a lot of enjoyment.

Playing the role of Downton Abbey itself was Highclere Castle, a “stately home,” as the English like to say…

Highclere with people

Located in Hampshire, about 70 miles southwest of London, and owned by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon.

Months ago, I was delighted when I learned that the actors had gathered again, this time to create a Downton Abbey feature film that would premiere September 20.

And to get me even more enthused, the evening before the movie opened, NBC was airing a one-hour special, Return to Downton Abbey.Woman-watching-TV

So I had a date with NBC.

I couldn’t wait to see those familiar upstairs and downstairs faces, enjoy clips from the movie, and admire the gorgeous settings and glorious scenery.

What I hadn’t counted on was having to endure the most obnoxious, inane, banal, annoying, incompetent and useless show host I’ve ever seen.

I had no idea who this guy was, but when the show opened, the first word out of his mouth was “I.”

And throughout the hour, it was all about him.

Who the hell is this guy?

The inanity began immediately.

We see him walking:

Walking (2)

Why?

We see him dancing:

Dancing 1 (2)

Why?  Why is this guy dancing, and what does his dancing have to do with this program?

We see him mugging for the camera:

Mugging (2)

Who the hell is this guy?

And:  Could we see some stars, and not this moron?

Early on, we see the guy – whom I’ll call “Host” – talking with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Host:  Your grandmother is the queen, correct?duh cropped fixed

(The Earl and Countess burst out laughing.)

Host:  Is that wrong?

Yes, idiot, it is.  No, the queen is not the Earl’s grandmother.

Was this stupidity scripted?

And if not, did Host just wing it?  Did he truly neglect to do even a modicum of research about the owners of Highclere before he showed up to interview them?

Yes, Host did neglect his research.  Here’s another exchange.

The Countess had asked Host to guess how many rooms Highclere Castle has:

Host:  I’m gonna guess…40?  Thirty?duh cropped fixed

Countess:  Between 250 and 300.

Host:  Wow.  So I was way off?  OK.

I suspect Host is accustomed to being “way off.”

Research skills:  F Grade cropped darker 30 px

I can’t even begin to imagine what the creators of Return to Downton Abbey were thinking when they chose this jerk.

Host added nothing to the program – in fact, he detracted from it.

His incompetence continued.

At about half-way through, we see the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon giving Host a tour.  They pause before a large painting.

Countess:  That’s a painting by Anthony Van Dyck of Charles I on horseback.

Host:  The real king and queen have actually visited here before.  So what is that like?  What’s that preparation like?

(The countess laughed, and indicated she wasn’t alive when it happened.)

Sidebar: Charles I reigned from 1625 to 1649.duh cropped fixed

Host:  Whoops!  Put my foot in my mouth there!

I suspect Host is accustomed to having foot in mouth.

In addition to no research, was there also no script?  Was host ad-libbing all this?

Ad-libbing skills:  F Grade cropped darker 30 px

Every time this doofus spoke, I cringed.  Every time he appeared, I groaned.

If eye-rolling was an Olympic sport, I was a gold medalist, no question.

doofus croppedAnd how’s this for Host’s mastery of grammar:

“Over the next hour, myself and some of the cast members are going to indulge ourselves with the cream of high society.”

As I said – it was all about him.

Somehow, I was able to watch Return to Downton Abbey despite more Host dancing:

Dancing 2 (2)

Plus posing:

Posing (2)

And attempting – and failing – to play the Downton Abbey theme song:

Piano (2)

What does his piano playing have to do with this program?

Later, I fell sleep still wondering who bonehead Host was, so the next morning I went online and found out.

His name is Derek Hough.

His apparent claim to fame is winning Dancing With The Stars competitions.

Wow.

If Return to Downton Abbey was an example of his hosting skills…

Hosting skills:  F Grade cropped darker 30 px

Memo to Derek:

don't

No Worries, They’re Just…

The phrase “white lies” is common, and it’s been around a long time – its origin can be traced back to a 14th-century letter:

“I do assure you he is vnsusspected of any vntruithe or oder notable cryme (excepte a white lye) wiche is taken for a Small fawte in thes partes.”

Yes, that’s how people wrote and spoke English in the 1300s.

And yes, my spellcheck went bonkers with it.

“White lies” recently appeared in this headline in the The Baltimore Sun and other publications:

Headline 1 (2) fixed

Tell white lies at work?

Duh.

The article was based on a survey done by SimplyHired.com, and “98% of respondents admitted to telling an untruth at work.”

Like I said:  Duh.

The Simply Hired website had several interesting graphics, and I feel compelled to share a few.  This one because some of these white lies are new to me, and I’ll be adding them to my repertoire:

Image 1 (2)

Though I don’t know if “I’m just tired” would work well in today’s workplace.

Because a lot of people are tired at work, according to an article that appeared soon after the white lies story:

Headline 2 (2)

This article suggests that “many people feel their jobs have been devalued by employers that increasingly assign a higher priority to shareholders and customers,” and notes:

  • Around one in three workers said they now face too much work to do everything well.
  • About three-quarters said they had to work extra hours beyond their usual schedule at least one day a month.
  • About one in five said they held a job other than their main one.

Are we “tired”?

You bet.

Here are some additional reasons employees feel devalued:

  • Middle-income households have less home equity.
  • Median household income, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged in two decades.
  • Businesses looking “to get out of the messy job of employing people” hire outside firms to do work formerly done in-house.  These outside companies hire people at lower pay with fewer benefits and job protections.
  • The wealthiest Americans now hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth.
  • Corporate profits have far outpaced employee compensation since the early 2000s.

Vox (2).jpg

  • The median pay of CEOs of companies in the S&P 500 index who have been in their job for at least two years jumped from $9.6 million in 2011 to $12 million last year. To earn as much as the CEO, a typical employee at most big companies in 2018 would have to work 158 years.

“158 years”?

Now I’m really tired.

The article also notes,

“Keeping workers happy is a very low priority,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor and labor movements at the City University of New York.

So we’re not happy at work, and we lie.

Lies that aren’t just a coping mechanism, but a survival strategy.

We lie, and lie often, says Simply Hired:

Image 2 (2).jpg

And a lot of this is in proportion to job satisfaction:

Image 3 (2)

And the biggest days for lying are Mondays and Fridays:

Image 4 (2)

And sadly, many workers have multiple circumstances to lie, because they’re working multiple jobs:

Image 5 (2)

So, before I apply for a job I’d better update my resume “Skillset” list:

Extensive experience telling white lies to direct reports, colleagues and supervisors.  Lying reasons include:

  • To avoid hurting a colleague’s feelings (though her new haircut really is ugly).
  • To secretly attend a job interview (hey – their HR told me to lie).
  • To take a day off without using vacation or sick days (and make up for all the unpaid time I’ve worked).
  • To improve my chances of receiving a raise or promotion (I’ve been here five years without either).
  • To avoid being reprimanded for a mistake (not that I make any).
  • To take credit for someone else’s work (my manager does this, therefore I can, too).

If this doesn’t help, then I guess I’ll just settle down and plan on working those 158 years.

And end up like this woman…

Woman Dies (2)

But wait!

This just in cropped

In mid-August the Business Roundtable made a huge announcement:

hang on cropped larger FINAL

Well, they sort of said this.

The Business Roundtable – a group of 181 corporate CEOs – announced a new approach to the way corporations are going to do business.  They said…

kiss it cropped

That’s right!

Here are a few of those Roundtable CEOs, and their total annual compensation (TAC) as of April 19, 2019:

bezos cropped 500 gorsky 500 Moynihan 500
Jeff Bezos
CEO, Amazon
TAC:  Richest person in the world
Alex Gorsky
CEO, Johnson & Johnson
TAC:  $20,097,572
Brian Moynihan
CEO, Bank of America
TAC:  $22,434,351
muilenburg cropped 500 stephenson 500 corbat cropped 500
Dennis Muilenburg
CEO, Boeing
TAC:  $23,392,187
Randall Stephenson
CEO, AT&T
TAC:  $25,600,312
Michael Corbat
CEO, Citigroup
TAC:  $24,179,166

They said, “We feel your pain,” and when you look at their total annual compensation, you know that’s true!

They said, “So we’re going to change the way business does business!”

You know that’s true!

According to this article in The New York Times:

NY Times (2)

The article says that,

“…the Business Roundtable issued a statement on ‘the purpose of a corporation,’ arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders.  Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”

And Brian Moynihan (pictured above), Bank of America CEO said,

“You can provide great returns for your shareholders and great benefits for your employees and run your business in a responsible way.”

what larger cropped fixed

But…how will they do that?

They didn’t say.

What else didn’t they say?  As the Times article noted,

“There was no mention at the Roundtable of curbing executive compensation, a lightning-rod topic when the highest-paid 100 chief executives make 254 times the salary of an employee receiving the median pay at their company.”

So even though, for the past 20 years, the Business Roundtable’s published principles have stated that “corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders…”

Suddenly, that’s all changed!

Or it will, “soon”:

“Several of the executives…said the group would soon offer more detailed proposals on how corporations can live up to the ideals it outlined, rather than focusing purely on economic policies.”

The Business Roundtable hasn’t told us how, or when, they’ll “invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.”

I do hope this isn’t more…

white lies_04 cropped larger

And until we learn more, this is me, waiting…

worker_03 cropped

Book Review:  Let Us Buyers Beware

Review, short version:  Four skunks out of four for typos, punctuation errors and more.

Review, long version:

william
“The greatest knight that ever lived.”  Sir William Marshal, first Earl Pembroke, is buried in the Temple Church, London.

I’m a nut for English royal history, and when I encounter a book by an author I’ve never heard of, I want to know more.

I appreciate a new point of view, or a fresh take on familiar information.

The author was Juliet Dymoke and the book, A Pride of Kings.  It’s a novel about William Marshal, a fascinating man who was born in 1146 or 1147 and died in 1219 – and he saw, and did, amazing things in his 70+ years.

I’d read other books about Marshal, and looked forward to Dymoke’s perspective.

MAJOR disappointment.

I’d like to tell you where I stopped reading.

But the book’s pages weren’t numbered.

Seriously!  Have you ever read a book with no page numbers?

(Kindle doesn’t count.)

This was my first clue that the book had proofreader/editor/publishing problems.

Other clues quickly followed, so many that they became a real distraction from reading:  typos, missing or incorrect punctuation, run-on sentences.  Here’s an example of the Red-Pen-300x300 croppedlatter on page seven (which I know only because I numbered the pages myself):

“William Marshal was to his mind everything a man should be – well-made and strong with a face not handsome but with even pleasing features and a skin turned brown from the outdoor life he lived and with eyes that were blue, steady, and unflinching, and a mouth that could smile suddenly when one least expected it.”

Is your hand itching to reach for that red marking pen?

You can use it on this one, too:

“The song was catchy, the tune such that every page would be whistling it on thered pen morrow, and the words a clever mixture of fairy tale and fact William, though he had little interest in music except for dancing which he had grown to enjoy – one moved about in the dance and he preferred that to merely listening to tedious readings or poems – nevertheless found himself startled by the words.”

Here’s just one of the typos:  “…torn by loyalty to a stem master.”

“Stem master”?  Should that be stern master?

Then there’s the page where some of the text was justified – and some wasn’t.

Sloppy.  Amateurish.  Distracting.

Disgruntled, I went online to read about Juliet Dymoke.  She was born in 1919, died in 2001, and published more than 30 books, including a six-book series that included A Pride of Kings.

editor croppedIn the front of the book I learned that A Pride of Kings was “first published in Great Britain in 1978 by Nel Books,” but my version had been published in 2017 by Three Castles Media Ltd.

The Internet didn’t have much to offer about Three Castles Media Ltd., and the company doesn’t appear to have a website.  I did find something on CompaniesHouse.gov.uk that listed two employees and a street address in London for Three Castles Media.

But I don’t know how reliable that is, since that website has a disclaimer, “Companies House does not verify the accuracy of the information filed.”

So here’s what I suspect:  Three Castles is a two-person, two-bit publisher that somehow got permission to reproduce Dymoke’s six-book series.  That meant a new printing, but they failed to have a proofreader and editor check the galley proofs.

If Three Castles even got galley proofs.proofreader cropped

Or have a proofreader.

Or have an editor.

Three Castles put the Kindle edition of the series on Amazon, and printed the first two – A Pride of Kings and The Royal Griffin.

They saved money with look-alike covers:

Pride of Kings No. 1 Royal Griffin No. 2 cover Lion of Mortimer No. 3 cropped larger.jpg
Lady of the Garter No. 4 cropped larger.jpg Lord of Greenwich No. 5 cropped larger.jpg Sun in Splendour No. 6 cropped larger

But the hard copies of the first two bombed – the books were #2,363,763 and #3,475,715 on Amazon the last time I checked.

So, yeah – I’m disgruntled.

Because I paid for this mess.

True confession time:  I know my blog posts aren’t perfect, either.  And it’s not due to a lack of proofreading/editing on my part.

Writers are notoriously bad at editing and proofreading their own writing.

My blogs aren’t perfect because I’m not perfect.

But…no one is paying to read my blog.

My takeaway?

The next time I’m buying a book, I’ll check to make sure it isn’t from Three Castles Media Ltd.

book in trash