With Pence It’s…

I rarely mention Pence in my blog posts because there’s not much to say about him.

He’s a greedy, self-seeking, selfish liar – so he’s suited for his current role as Trump Toady #1.

I’ll also add “hypocrite” to that description, after his behavior on April 28 during his visit to the Mayo Clinic:

Masks no masks

Everyone – everyone around Pence was wearing a face mask.

If Pence doesn’t want to protect himself – so be it.  But what about wearing a face mask to protect other people?

Or does the simple fact that there are people just…not occur to him?

Here’s my take on a possible follow-up conversation between Pence and a member of the media:

 Interviewer:  Mr. Vice President, you visited the world-famous Mayo Clinic on Tuesday, April 28, and didn’t wear a face mask.  Since then you’ve been excoriated in the press, on Twitter, on late-night talk shows and by medical experts, for your disregard of the Mayo Clinic’s face mask guidelines and the guidelines of your own Coronavirus Task Force, which you chair.  How do you feel about that?hypocrisy_meter cropped

Pence:  While our hearts are with the families of those who have lost their life to the coronavirus and those who are struggling with serious illness today, our team informs us that the data continues to show promising signs of progress.

Interviewer:  The Mayo Clinic had made the wearing of face masks mandatory on April 13, and said – in a now-deleted tweet – that they had informed you of their masking policy prior to your arrival.  How do you respond to that?

Pence:  Our only conclusion is that we’re getting there, America, because the American people have put into practice the President’s guidelines of social distancing because you’ve been listening and adhering to the guidance of state and local officials.

Interviewer:  You said “social distancing,” Mr. Vice President, yet at the Mayo Clinic you were seen elbow-bumping with a patient:

elbow bump

Interviewer:  Social distancing guidelines are six feet separation, so how do you explain that?

Pence:  We want to thank the more than 270 leaders of organizations dedicated to housing, homelessness, and improving the lives of people across our urban communities for the way they have partnered with our administration and partnered with state and local officials to put the health of all of their constituencies first.

Interviewer:  Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, pointed out that you were in “a hospital in the middle of a pandemic,” and that this, above all times, was “the time when you wear a mask.”  How would you respond to that?


Pence:  Since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be there, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health-care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you.

(long pause)

Interviewer:  Mr. Vice President, you are aware that a face mask doesn’t cover your eyes, or in any way prevent your looking someone in the eyes…aren’t you?

Pence:  Let me just end where I began, and to say thank you to the American people.  The progress that we are seeing is a testament to what all of you have done; to our extraordinary healthcare workers; to a partnership between the federal government and to state and local officials.  And I’m confident it’s also owing to the prayers of millions of Americans each and every day.

Made For Each Other:

pence trump_01 fixed

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You’ve Heard Of “Fox & Friends” – Here’s…

A friend mentioned that in my blog posts about Trump, I often use the words “toady” and “toadies” to refer to the people around him.

And why not?  It’s the perfect word:

Definition (2)

And here are some excellent synonyms:

Syn (2)

I use “toady” and “toadies” for people like Pence, Mnuchin, Pompeo, McConnell, Kudlow, McCarthy, Mulvaney, Kushner…

toads multiple

…Barr, Graham, Miller, McEnany, Wheeler, Conway, Trump’s offspring, other Cabinet members…the people you see on TV who, when asked a question about Trump, get that acolyte glow on their face like they’ve just had a religious experience.

And for them – they have.

I mention this now because of a recent example of just how obsequious (“obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree”) Trump’s toadies are, and how truly afraid of him as well.

On at least three recent occasions, when Trump was talking about the pandemic crisis, he referenced the flu pandemic of the early 20th century.

And while I’m no expert, I do know that that pandemic began in 1918.

It’s commonly referred to as the “1918 Flu Pandemic” – for example, on the Centers for Disease Control website…

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In reference materials…

Brit (2)

In the media…

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It’s tempting to say that everyone with a basic knowledge of 20th century American history knows it was the “1918 Flu Pandemic.”

Tempting, but inaccurate.

Because – no surprise – the Ignoramus-in-Chief does not.

Trump referred to it as occurring in “1917.”

Over and over and over again.

Here’s one example:

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The article recounts,

“Trump was responding to a question about what he would say to children, many of whom have been stuck at home while the coronavirus pandemic has forced schools across the country to close temporarily.when cropped fixed

“‘I would say you are a citizen of the greatest country anywhere in the world.  We were attacked like nothing that’s happened possibly since 1917.  Many, many years ago.  We were attacked.’”

Same error, different quote, from a March 27 New York Post article:

“Swine flu is pretty bad, but it wasn’t to the extent of this.  I think you probably when cropped fixedhave to go back a long ways to go to this one.  Who would think – I read about the Spanish Flu – that was 1917 – which killed anywhere from 75 to 100 million people.”

And yet another one, from an April 4 Newsweek article:

“Trump said thousands of military soldiers, doctors and nurses will be directed to hot spots around the country to help supplement local physicians and nurses treating the virus.

“‘We’ll be telling them where they’re going.  They’re going into war, they’re going when cropped fixedinto a battle that they’ve never trained for.  Nobody’s trained for, nobody’s seen this, I would say since 1917, which was the greatest of them all.’

“The 1917 reference was for the 1918 flu pandemic, which was the most severe pandemic in world history, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

And while I was noticing this repeated error, so were others:

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I’m certain at least one or two of Trump’s toadies noticed as well, and that’s my point:

Not one of the toadies corrected him because they’re all too busy sucking up to him.

And they’re all too afraid of him.

Because such a conversation would have sounded like this:toad cropped

Toady #1:  Fine pandemic briefing today, Mr. President, so well done, your best yet.

Trump:  I nailed it, didn’t I?

Toady #2:  You did, indeed, sir, you did indeed.

Trump:  I gotta call Hannity and see what he says.  Did you want something else?

toad cropped reversedToady #3:  Yes, sir.  I mean…well, not exactly, but…it’s…um…

Trump:  And tomorrow morning I’ll call Fox & Friends – they love me on that show.  You’ve seen how much they love me, right?

Toady #2:  Yes, sir.  It’s just that…that…over the past few days, when you’ve been talking about the coronavirus pandemic…

Trump:  Yeah, that Chinese flu thing.

Toady #1:  …and you’ve been referring to the Spanish Flu pandemic and saying “1917.”

Trump:  Yeah, and something else happened that year, too.  1917, war or something, right?toad cropped

Toady #3:  Yes, sir.  Yes, but not the flu.  That didn’t happen until 1918.

(Long silence)

Trump:  Are you…saying…I…MADE…A…MISTAKE?

Toady #1:  Oh, no, sir, never!  Ever!  We just thought you’d want to know…

Trump:  I don’t pay you to #@%!#!ing think!  You’re #@%!#!ing fired!  You’re ALL #@%!#!ing fired!

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None – not one – of Trump’s offspring, his Cabinet, his chosen advisors had the huevos to offer this tiny correction to help Trump look just a tiny bit less ignorant.

Because if they do…

you're fired

Update April 28, 2020:

Here’s perhaps the worst toady of all:

Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the Trump Administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force.

On April 23, there she sat on the stage at Trump’s briefing as he talked about disinfectant and suggesting getting it into the lungs was a coronavirus treatment option:


He turned to her several times as he spewed out more of his ridiculous, unproven, dangerous and in this case, deadly theories.

Let’s take a closer look at Dr. B:

Birx cropped larger

There she sits, eyes lowered, head bowed, hands clasped in her lap, looking like a first grader who’s getting a shellacking from the teacher.

Now let’s imagine…

Imagine that instead of sitting like a spineless lump, Birx stands up and says, “No, sir, absolutely not.  What you’re talking about – getting disinfectant into the body – is dangerous and could be deadly and it’s totally wrong.”

Then she turns to the camera and speaks to the TV audience:  “I ask – I beg – the American people to disregard what the president just said.  Never, ever, under any circumstances should you inject or ingest any kind disinfectant into your body.  It will not kill the coronavirus but it could kill you.”

But…she didn’t.toad cropped


Because she’s another Trump toady.

And because of that – we have this:

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Do NOT Try This At Home

Trump, March 6, 2020:

“You know, my uncle was a great person.  He was at MIT.  He taught at MIT for, I think, like a record number of years.  He was a great super genius.  Dr. John Trump.  I like this stuff.  I really get it.  People are surprised that I understand it.  Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’  Maybe I have a natural ability.”

Trump, April 23, 2020:

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute.  And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.  So it would be interesting to check that.”

April 25, 2020:

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NOT Recommended For Shelter-In-Place TV Viewing

There is no end to the articles and expert interviews advising us on how to best cope with what is now being called “coronavirus-related anxiety,” like this one:

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Exercise, meditate, hug someone, make lists, take an online class for fun, call a friend, declutter your home…

I say:  Get out of your TV-bingeing rut…

And find some new TV stations to binge on.

Two that I’d seen in my TV listing book – but never watched – are LIFE, short for download croppedLifetime, and LMN, the Lifetime Movie Network.  Research revealed that LIFE “features programming that is geared toward women or features women in lead roles,” while LMN “carries movies and exclusive shows aimed at women, especially made-for-television movies.”

Well, I’m a woman, so maybe there’s something of interest here.

I perused LIFE and LMN in the TV book and found these movie titles all listed in one week:

Mommy is a MurdererMommy is a Murderer
His Fatal Fixation
My Daughter’s Psycho Friend
Psycho Nurse
A Daughter’s Plan to Kill
Anniversary Nightmare
Murder in the Suburbs

“Geared toward women”?  “Aimed at women”?

This is what television networks think women want to watch?

Appalled – and sensing an opportunity to heap scorn on someone (another good reliever of coronavirus-related anxiety), I decided to learn more.

lifetime-movies-vector-logoMy TV book listed titles only, so I went on the LIFE and LMN websites.  I discovered that all these movies were produced by LMN, but that week were aired on LMN or LIFE.

I decided to dive deeper into the three movies with “psycho” in their titles – I figure that word guarantees a peaceful and enlightening evening’s entertainment, right?


My Daughter’s Psycho Friend
When Sierra moves to Los Angeles with her family and goes to a new school, she encounters the devious and psychotic Lexi and her posse of friends.  Soon afterwards at a party, a teenager dies as a result of a Lexi prank.  When Lexi tries to frame Sierra for the kid’s death, Sierra fights back, putting her own life in danger.


Psycho Nurse
Mira and Todd are struggling to come to terms with their son’s newly diagnosed psycho nursecondition requiring a special diet and physical treatment in order to live.  They hire a live-in nurse, Gwen, who plans to take Todd and their son from Mira in order to become the new mother of the household.  When Mira feels constantly fatigued and nauseous, it becomes clear Gwen is an “angel of death” who is intent on turning this family into her forever home.


When a selfie goes fatally wrong, Gwen must protect her daughter, Maddie, from her social media-obsessed best friend.


Clearly this is what you want to be watching while you’re desperately struggling to concoct homemade face masks and wondering if that CARES Act check is ever going to show up.

As for me, I think I’ll skip LIFE and LMN and keep perusing the TV book.  Let’s see…

Oh – reruns of The Jerry Springer Show.  I wonder what that’s about?

jerry cropped

Update, April 24:

If you missed the movies I listed above, don’t despair – my TV book says you can catch these treasures starting tonight:baby monitor

Friday, April 24 on LMN
10pm:  The Babysitter’s Revenge

Saturday, April 25 on LIFE
6pm:  Baby Monitor Murders
8pm:  Dying for Motherhood

Saturday, April 25 on LMN:
8pm:  Homekilling Queen
10pm:  Deadly Daughter Switch

I’m Considering Disowning My Home State

Recently there’s been a wave of protests in our country about shelter in place and social distancing.

Protesting is a time-honored and important tradition here, and I respect that.

The protest that especially caught my attention occurred on April 15 in my home state, Michigan.  Specifically, in the state’s capital, Lansing.

Here are some pictures:

MI protest_01 larger

mI protest_04 smaller

MI protest_02 smaller

But it was this Lansing image that stayed with me:

Michigan protestors

Apparently, in my home state, it’s legal for your protest to include guns.

Guns that are, I presume, loaded.

I find that sickening.

Here’s what I find particularly sickening – the person on the right:

Michigan protestors cropped

What a coward you are.

You have a legitimate right to protest, and a legitimate reason – you don’t agree with Governor Witmer’s decisions about the coronavirus lockdown.

So why cover your face?

Why the disguise?

Were you there to protest, or because you bought some really cool stuff at Isis Look-Alikes R Us?

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In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked 27 hate groups in Michigan.  The groups have names like “Patriot Front,” “American Identity Movement” and “Blood and Honour Social Club.”

Are you a member of one of those?

For sure you’re a member of his team:

trump tweet_01

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“Look!  My Check Has HIS Signature!  I’m Gonna Vote For Him!” Said No One, Ever

If there’s one thing our Congress loves to do and does well, it’s to take its time.

If there’s one thing Trump loves to do and does well, it’s to sign his name.

Those two things have now come together in a confluence of partisan politics and massive ego, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

First, Congress.

CARES-ACTA bill to give emergency relief to Americans suffering from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic was introduced in the House on January 24, 2020.

It was called the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act,” acronym “CARES Act,” because we don’t want Trump to have to memorize the title of a bill with more than three words in it.

But even with that nifty acronym, Congress pissed away two months going back and forth and forth and back before the CARES Act was ready for Trump’s signature.

Relief to Americans was delayed for more than two months before Trump, surrounded by his toadies for this photo op, could reach for his reliable black Sharpie to sign the CARES Act on March 27, 2020:

Trump and others

“Help is on the way!” Trump and the politicians crowed, and while the money has finally begun appearing for some via direct deposit, it won’t be until the week of May 4 that the mailing of 70 million paper checks begins.

That’s right – not until the week of May 4, according to numerous online sources including this one:

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And from another source, quoting a memo from the House Ways and Means Committee regarding paper checks:

“The checks will be issued starting with the lowest-income people, and they will be issued at a rate of about five million checks per week.  It could take up to 20 weeks for all of the checks to be issued, according to the memo.”

That means many Americans won’t receive relief checks until September.

Second, Trump.

Trump loves signing his name so much that he then came up with an idea that ONLY his monumental ego could, or would, have.

According to an article in the April 14 Washington Post:

“Trump had privately suggested to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, to allow the president to formally sign the checks, according to three administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.”

What a great idea!

Trump wanted to “formally sign the checks,” which requires:

  1. Trump must be in the Oval Office, appropriately made up, coiffed, and dressed, including his overhang tie.trump handing pen cropped
  2. Trump must be surrounded by toadies (as in above photo) and media.
  3. Trump must have supply of black Sharpies nearby.
  4. Trump must secure Sharpie, sign, then hold up signed check, posing for photographers.
  5. Trump must hand Sharpie to toady (right).
  6. Toadies must applaud.

Just think – if Trump was busy doing this five million times a week until September, he might not have time to do this:

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Or say things like this, as he did at his April 13 coronavirus briefing:

  • “When somebody’s the President of the United States, the authority istrump angry_02 total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.”
  • “The authority of the President of the United States having to do with the subject we’re talking about is total.”
  • “They [local governments] can’t do anything without the approval of the President of the United States.”

But then somebody at the IRS remembered that Trump is not authorized to sign these checks.  Mnuchin oversees the IRS, and he’s such a total toady that we know for sure it wasn’t him.

But someone did, so Trump and toadies came up with the next best thing:Check (2)

His signature will be printed the left side of the 70 million paper checks (pictured).

Never mind that the IRS’s information technology team, working from home, now must race to implement this programming change, revise computer code, and test the system.

Never mind that this last-minute request will create a downstream snarl that will result in even more delay in issuing the paper checks.

Never mind that following the Nixon era, “Congress enacted laws to ensure that the agency [IRS] conducts itself apolitically,” said the Post article.never mind cropped

Never mind that is move reeks of partisanship.

Never mind that your tax dollars are paying for government resources that could be put to a much more important purpose than pandering to the monstrous-ego-driven, “the-pandemic-is-all-about-me,” “total-authority” Trump.

So, for those of you who receive the much-delayed relief money by direct deposit, and thus will not see the paper checks…

Here’s a close-up sneak preview of what will appear on those paper checks:

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Everything’s In Lockdown Except Government Spending, And There, It’s…

Have you ever thought about how an airplane toilet works?


Me, neither.

Or I didn’t, until I saw this recent story:

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It appears that, as the Navy was building some of its newest ships, some brainiac designer said, “Hey, why don’t we try using toilets like they have on airplanes?  You know, those vacuum toilet things?”

Vacuum toilets, according to Science.HowStuffWorks.com, “use an active vacuum instead of a passive siphon…When you flush, it opens a valve in the sewer line, and the vacuum in the line sucks the contents out of the bowl and into a tank…They can flush in any direction, including upward.”

“Yeah,” said the brainiac, “you can flush ‘em up, down and all around!  We could change our motto to:

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Apparently this sounded good to the Navy, so in went the vacuum toilets on the new ships.

And in went the crews to use the toilets.

But what went in the toilets…

Wasn’t coming out.

Or, as a March 2020 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report put it, there was an “unexpected and frequent clogging of the system” when too many crew members flushed simultaneously.

This in-but-no-out was occurring on the Navy’s two newest aircraft carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS George H. W. Bush.

Let’s pause for a moment and compare toilets to toilets.

The world’s largest commercial airplane is the Airbus A380-800, which can be configured to carry up to 835 passengers:


The plane has lots of vacuum toilets, and lots of passengers.

And plenty of flushing that happens simultaneously.

Airbus did the math, and figured out that this airplane with this many people and this many toilets needed this kind of pipes for the system to work, especially when some/all the toilets were flushed simultaneously.


And their system does work.

At least, unlike the Navy, I haven’t seen any headlines about backed-up Airbus toilets.

Now let’s talk about the two ships.

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the world’s largest aircraft carrier and carries about 4,500 people:


The USS George H. W. Bush, also an aircraft carrier, hosts about 3,500:


The Navy’s brainiac designers did not do the math, did not figure out that this ship with this many people and this many toilets needed this kind of pipes for the system to work, especially when some/all of the toilets were flushed simultaneously.

And the system does not work.acid_01 cropped


How repeatedly?

The new toilets on the new ships clog so frequently that the ships’ sewage systems must be cleaned periodically with specialized acids costing about $400,000 for each cleaning.

According to the Bloomberg article, quoting from the GAO report,

“The Navy isn’t sure the toilet systems on the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS George H. W. Bush can withstand the demand without failing frequently…the ‘unplanned maintenance action’ will be needed ‘for the entire service life of the ship.’”

Shelby Oakley, a GAO director, put it this way:

“The pipes are too narrow and when there are a bunch of sailors flushing the toilet at the same time, like in the morning, the [vacuum] suction doesn’t work.

“The Navy didn’t anticipate this problem.”

thank you cropped

Ships like the Bush and Ford are predicted to have a service life of up to 50 years.  Figure two ships, with toilets that fail “frequently,” and need this “unplanned maintenance action” at $400,000 each time, over that span of 50 years and…

That’s a lot of our taxpayer dollars.

Going, and I mean, literally going …

Person dumping money into a toilet bowl --- Image by © Rubberball/Corbis

So that was March.

In April there was another report:


According to the GAO, this time the brainiacs were immigration officials who decided they needed a private protection facility for detainees in Tornillo, TX.  This was, according to the article, in “May, when illegal crossings were up 140% over the previous year and administration officials were clamping down on granting bond to asylum seekers.”

“However,” the article continues, “by the time the facility opened in August, border crossings were down.”

So what did our government do?

They kept spending our tax dollars on it, of course.

This facility, built to hold 2,500 detainees, never held more than 68:


Before Customs and Border Protection (CBP) closed the facility in January, they’d spent $5.3 million for 650,000 meals that were never ordered, and $6.7 million on unnecessary private security guards for the facility.

Between August and November, the latter averaged out to each detainee being guarded by an average of eight officials – or, the article suggested, “one immigration officer, threePerson dumping money into a toilet bowl --- Image by © Rubberball/Corbis contracted guards and four members of the Texas National Guard.”

What’s it all mean?

It means for once – inadvertently – back in February Trump was telling the truth.

Trump was speaking at a White House Business Session with governors from across the country about his administration’s proposed budget:

“We’re doing a lot of things that are very good including waste and fraud – tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.  So, we’re doing that.”


Need A TV Show?  This Guy Is…

(Warning:  This program contains content that is carnivore-friendly.  Vegan viewers discretion is advised.)

A few years ago, if you’d told me I’d be hooked on a TV food show, I would have laughed.  No way!

boring_01 croppedNo way would I spend my time watching a show with someone slaving away in a kitchen, mincing and chopping and dicing and braising and sautéing and putting stuff into a salamander, which I thought was a type of lizard but turns out to also be a type of oven.

Watching people preparing food is boring.

Eating food – now, that’s fun.

But one night, apparently desperate for something to watch, my husband and I were channel surfing and encountered a guy who made us wonder…

Who was this guy?Guy

He had peroxided blond porcupine hair in a “do” I don’t know the name of.  And tattoos.  Major tattoos.  And bling – lots of bling.  A mustache, a goatee, and a vocal style that ranged from loud to histrionic.

Who was this guy?

He looked like a hungover Hell’s Angel and sounded like a Wolfman Jack wannabe, not like anyone who knew anything about food.

We watched him with the same fascination you experience watching two cars crash – stunned, yet unable to look away.

Who was this guy?

This guy was Guy Fieri, and his show was the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.


And by the end of the show…

We were hooked.

Fast forward a few years and we’re still hooked on Guy and Diners.  Fieri is a chef but doesn’t prepare the food – he talks to chefs in diners, driver-ins and dives as they’re making the food.  He’s silly and serious and super-knowledgeable about food ingredients and interactions.

But what we like about him best is – he’s always, always complimentary.  No matter what the chef is serving up, Guy finds good things to say about it, such as:

“This is the fast lane to Flavortown!”
“This scallop is out…of…bounds!”
“Chef, you’re the bomb!”
“That slice is so thin, it only has one side!”

And my favorite…

shut cropped

I’ve never heard Fieri say one negative thing on Diners, and bottom line, that’s why we like it – and him.

Plus, Fieri is fun.  He takes the fine art of food preparation seriously – but not himself.

guy_01 croppedSo now, in these lockdown-shelter-in-place times, Guy and Diners are especially welcome.  Also welcome is that recently in my area, the Food Network is carrying the show on both Friday and Saturday evenings.

And we look forward to it.

I don’t envision my hub and I watching other Food Network shows.  Delicious Miss Brown?  Ew.  Chopped?  Ouch.  The Pioneer Woman?  What does she do – rope a wild steer and butcher it while birthing a baby and battling a locust storm?

Although, depending on how long the lockdown lasts, I may be driven to look at that Pioneer Woman thing.

Skewered locusts, anyone?

pioneer woman larger Skewered_locusts


Thanks To Trump, We’re The World’s Leader





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February 23:
“We have it very much under control in this country.”

 March 6:
“Anybody that wants a test can get a test.  That’s what the bottom line is.  And the tests are beautiful.  Anybody that needs a test gets a test.”

March 10:
“And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it.  And it will go away.  Just stay calm.  It will go away.”

The Journey Of Grandma’s Seven Scarves

packing_02Mom pulled a stack of neatly folded fabrics from a drawer, held it up and said, “These are Grandma’s scarves.  Do you want them?”

She was emptying out her recently deceased mother’s apartment, and I’d gone along to help.

“Yes,” I said.  I didn’t really – I’m not a scarf person – but what would happen otherwise?  The giveaway box?  The trash?  Mom was there to clean out, not collect keepsakes.

I recognized a few of the scarves and remembered Grandma wearing them.  So, while I’m not a scarf person, I am – sometimes – sentimental, and I took Grandma’s scarves.

Eventually I’d pack the stack in my suitcase for my trip home to San Francisco.  The stack would reside in a drawer, not used and not thought about, until I packed the stack to move to Dallas.  Same with moving to Michigan, and then San Diego:  the stack of scarves went into a box, then out of the box and into a drawer.

Not used and not thought about, until news stories started appearing suggesting that medical personnel may be forced to resort to wearing scarves:

Headline_02 (2)

And for the general population, health experts began suggesting that just about any face covering was better than none.  Like William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, in this NPR story on March 31:

“Homemade masks, shawls, scarves and anything that you can conjure up at home might well be a good idea.  It’s not clear that it’s going to give a lot of protection, but every little bit of protection would help.”

I don’t have a sewing machine so I can’t do homemade masks, and I don’t own any shawls.

But scarves – I had scarves somewhere, didn’t I?

I did.

Grandma’s seven scarves.

I found them in a drawer, spread them out on my bed, and actually looked at them for the first time since Mom had handed them to me:

IMG_20200406 fixed

Large and small, squares and rectangles.  Two were silk, the rest untagged or tags removed.  I decided to wash and dry them, except the one marked “Dry Clean Only.”  That one went back into the drawer.

For the most part, Grandma liked color in her scarves, like this one:

Asian lighter

And this one:


How did this pale thing sneak into the group?


I decided that based on the news stories I was watching and reading, Grandma’s scarves would do as well as these:

scarf_01 cropped scarf-02 cropped Scarf_06 cropped

I wondered what Grandma would think about her scarves as potential face masks.

I wondered what Grandma would think about these dangerous, uncertain times.

But dangerous, uncertain times would not have come as a big shock to Grandma.  She lived a long life, and here are some of the world events she lived through:

Panic of 1893 (1893-1897)
Spanish-American War (1898)
Philippine-American War (1899)
Panic of 1901 (1901)
Panic of 1907 (1907)
World War I (1914-1918)
Polio Epidemic (1916-1955)
Influenza Pandemic (1918-1920)
Great Depression (1929-1933)
World War II (1939-1945)
Korean War (1950-1953)
Vietnam War (1955-1975)
Asian Flu Pandemic (1957-1958)
Hong Kong Flu Pandemic (1968)
London Flu Pandemic (1972-1973)
AIDS Pandemic (1981-present)

Grandma grew up on a farm near Madison, South Dakota, one of 13 children, and they experienced plenty of local challenges, too.

Invasions of grasshoppers “resembling clouds of dust darkening the sky” would damage or destroy crops.  Droughts and prairie fires in the summer, blizzards and sub-zero temperatures in the winter, and the first few years of Grandma’s life are described in local history books as a “period of great depression and hard times.”

Grandma wouldn’t have scorned the scariness of COVID-19.  Instead, I think she would have offered one of her favorite phrases – one I heard her say often:

“You just keep on keepin’ on.”

So today, for the first time in 10 days, I’m going to venture out, grocery list in hand, armed with one of Grandma’s scarves wrapped around my face.

I will keep on keepin’ on.

We will keep on keepin’ on, because that’s what we do.

scarf_05 cropped

While One Gets It Right, One Million+ Get It…

How is it that one individual does this right thing, and helps dozens, perhaps hundreds of people…

While a million+ federal employees and contractors can’t do this one thing right, and instead hurt hundreds, perhaps thousands of people?

Let’s start with…

The Bad News:  Your Tax Dollars At Work

Here’s a federal government entity that until recently, most of us never heard of:

The Strategic National Stockpile

It does not have its own logo, but it does have its own acronym:  SNS.

And many photos, like this:

strategic national stockpile
Um…Maybe you could stop posing…and start shipping?

And the SNS has many, many federal employees and contractors, whose responsibility, according to this government website:

Website (2)

Is “to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies.”

When you click on “About the Stockpile,” you are assured that those employees’ and contractors’ mission is:

“…to support any public health threat.  Stockpile staff represent a variety of specialties, and all work together to ensure the right resources are ready and can get to the right place at the right time.”

All that sounds good, until you see recent headlines like this:

Time (2)

Some examples, according to the story:

  • Nearly 6,000 medical masks sent to Alabama had dry rot and a 2010 expiration date.
  • More than 150 ventilators sent to Los Angeles were broken and had to be repaired.
  • In Oregon, it was masks with faulty elastic that could cause the straps to snap, exposing medical workers to the disease.

Sounds like those federal employees and contractors aren’t ensuring “right resources are ready and can get to the right place at the right time.”

Perhaps that’s because the SNS – according to the website, on the “Sustaining the Stockpile” page – somehow came up with this policy:

“The SNS participates in the Federal Shelf Life Extension Program (for federal stockpiles) which is managed by the Department of Defense and the FDA.  Once the expired image croppedFDA conducts stability testing and determines that products are stable and safe for continued use, the program will extend the use-by dates of pharmaceuticals beyond their original expiration dates.  Testing typically provides an added 12 to 24 months of extended shelf life.  More testing can lead to even longer extensions.  Products that fail FDA testing are removed from stockpile inventory.”

The SNS has about 200 employees, and now we’ve added the Department of Defense (1.4 million) and the FDA (15,000)?

Yet states are getting items that are rotten, broken and faulty?

poison_01 croppedAnd what’s up with extending use-by dates?  If I have ground beef and eggs in the fridge and the use-by dates are two years ago, is this bunch suggesting, “Sure, go ahead, make a scrambler, it’ll be fine”?

Of course not!

So why is the government OK with doing that with lifesaving equipment and medications?

Well, according to yet another page on the website, replacing items “can be very costly.”

And our government has cared about something being “very costly” since…


So says Senator Rand Paul (R-KY):

Rand Paul (2)

A million+ federal employees and contractors can’t do this one thing right, and instead hurt hundreds, perhaps thousands of people.

The Good News:  This Guy Did The Right Thing And Gets A Four-Way Win

Jeff Larabee is, according to his website, the Broker/Owner at Larabee Real Estate, a family-owned business in San Diego.

He’s also the owner of this office building:

Larabee building

And Larabee had a problem.

Or rather, 18 of them.

His 18 tenants.

In late March, three of his tenants called with concerns about their ability to pay their April 1 rent.  He knew if these three were struggling, his other tenants likely were hurting as well, as their customers stayed home under the coronavirus lockdown.

His tenants weren’t the only ones feeling pressure.  Larabee is still paying off the loan that helped him afford the building, and no rent income means he’d default on his loan.

can't sleep croppedA four-way lose:  During the lockdown, the tenants’ clients can’t get the services they want/need.  The tenants get evicted.  Larabee defaults and loses the building.  The bank loses money.

Said Larabee, “I went to bed that night thinking if these tenants have to move out, it is not really them who failed.  It is me who failed.”

The next day, Larabee began negotiating with his lender, First Republic Bank.  After long and detailed discussions, they came up with a structure that allowed Larabee to give all 18 tenants three months of free rent.

Several loan modification options were considered, including interest-only payments forapproved_02 a time.

In the end, the bank agreed to remove the next three months of Larabee’s mortgage payments and tack them onto the end of his loan term, extending the pay-off date by 90 days.

“Pick up these three months and tack it on the back,” he said.  “If we do that the bank wins, the owner wins, the tenant wins.”

And the tenants’ clients win, because the tenants will be there for them when the lockdown is lifted.

On his Facebook page Larabee said:

Facebook (2)

One individual does this right thing, and helps dozens, perhaps hundreds of people…

A four-way win.

Union Trib (2)

Movie Review: A Disney Cliffhanger? Yes!

Release Date:  1956

Review, short version:   All thumbs up.

Review, long version:

If you had told me that I’d get really caught up in a Disney movie…

no way cropped fixed

…made in 1956…

no way not me cropped

But I did.

It was The Great Locomotive Chase, based on an actual event in 1862, during our Civil War.

The plan then, and the movie’s plot, was for a group of 22 volunteer Union soldiers – led by James J. Andrews, a civilian scout and part-time spy – to cross into Confederate-held territory dressed as civilians.

They’d steal a Confederate train near Atlanta, GA and head north, sabotaging the railroad tracks between Atlanta and Chattanooga, TN, and rendezvousing with Union forces at Chattanooga:

Map (2)

And any bridges they encountered – burn those behind them, too.

This plan was fraught with challenges; if the soldiers were caught behind Confederate lines in civilian clothes, they could be charged with spying and hung.  There were too few men and they were too poorly equipped with the proper railway track tools and demolition equipment.

And the chase for them began immediately, led by train conductor William Fuller who started off after them on foot, until he, too, commandeered a train to continue his pursuit:


But despite the many challenges, as portrayed in the movie – and I have no doubt, during the actual event – while it lasted, it was a wild chase.

And I got plenty tense.

From a Walt Disney movie made in 1956!

yes me cropped larger

And since it was 1956, one aspect I noted in particular was that the trains looked like the real deal – no computer wizardry here.

Research revealed the cast of trains included one built in 1856; a 1937 replica of an identical locomotive built in 1836; and other built in 1875.  I’m no train aficionado, but even I could appreciate these beautiful machines:

Movie_02 cropped

Reviewers at the time noted that The Great Locomotive Chase offered excitement, a swift pace and several tense sequences, but didn’t have a Disney feel-good ending.

It didn’t, and neither did the actual event.

But the movie was one heck of a story, and so was the actual event.

Movie cropped

At Home, With Time On My Hands, I’ve Been Wondering…


Every home has a drawer or a box or a bin,
Where we hang onto stuff and just drop it in.
junk drawer cropped
They’re things I might need, but just – not today,
So they go in the drawer cause I’ll need them – someday.
someday cropped
But today I am cleaning and now I will see,
What treasures this drawer has been holding for me.
question marks
Here’s that carryout menu from some place named Bill’s,
I’ve never used it but – maybe I will.
There are keys to the front door, my cars old and new,
And six other keys for – I haven’t a clue.
Shoe laces, toothpicks, a cell phone that’s dead,
A rainbow of Post-its in blue, green and red.
post its
I dig a bit deeper and what’s in my hands?
A twelve-year collection of old rubber bands.
rubber bands
Pens that are broken and batteries that died,
And one lonely sock over there on the side.
Recipes for food that I’ve never made,
And bills for things I sure hope that I’ve paid.
An old silver dollar, a quarter and dime,
And a watch that would work if I fixed it sometime.
Oh, good, here’s that snapshot I wanted to frame,
It’s such a good picture, but what was their name?
Now the drawer’s almost empty and I’m almost done,
It’s taken awhile, and it hasn’t been fun.
At the back of the drawer and no wonder I’m tired,
My winning lottery ticket – too bad it’s expired.


Need a Book? Book Review:  Skip This One

Publication date:  July 2019book

Review, short version:  Three skunks out of four (because it wasn’t a total stinker)

Review, long version:

A friend of my parents – who was also an avid reader – said, “I give a book 40 pages.  If it hasn’t grabbed me by then, I’m done with it.”

I took that to heart, and don’t waste my time on a book that doesn’t grab me.

While I can’t say Mary Ellen Taylor’s Spring House actually grabbed me, it was holding my interest – to page 40 and beyond.  It’s of a genre I like – Young-Woman-Uncovers-Secrets-From-Her-Past – and there are lots of these books out there.

The blurb on the back cover reads, “The lives of two women, generations apart, converge in this enthralling novel of love, mystery, memories, and secrets,” and that description pretty much covers it.

Except for the “enthralling” part.

A more accurate adjective would have been “confusing.”  Or “muddled.”  Or, “Who the hell?”  I did a lot of “Who the hell-ing?” with this book.

Taylor starts out with a family tree:

Family Tree (2)

And when a book has numerous characters, I appreciate that and refer to it.

A family tree is a good road map for who’s who, except when there are a lot of whos (relatives) who aren’t on the tree, yet play roles – some of them significant – in the book.

For example (brace yourself – this will get exhausting), the lead character, Megan NOFT-02 croppedBuchanan, has a cousin, Hank Garrison, who is on the family tree.  Hank has a sister, Rebecca, but she’s not on the family tree.  (From now on I’ll abbreviate that to NOFT, so I don’t get even more exhausted typing it over and over.)

Megan’s great-grandmother, Claire Hedrick, has parents, Addie and Isaac (NOFT) and siblings Diane, Jemma, Michael, Sarah, Joseph and Stanley (NOFT).  Then there’s Samuel NOFT-02 croppedJessup, a relative of Megan’s who is on the family tree.  Samuel has four brothers (NOFT) – Stanley, Joseph, Michael and Aaron, though Aaron marries Adele (NOFT) who’s the daughter of the above-mentioned Diane (NOFT), who married Gilbert (NOFT).

Confusing?  Muddled?  Who the hell?

NOFT-02 croppedThat same Samuel Jessup was Helen’s (NOFT) late husband’s grand uncle.  Helen is the mother of Scott (NOFT).

Scott and Megan are somehow blood relatives, and they’re engaged.

And Megan is…not very bright.  She’s engaged to Scott, “But she had known from the beginning they were not really suited.”

So what does Megan do?  She gets pregnant.

See?  Not bright at all.

In addition to trying to connect and keep track of all the NOFTs, Spring House jumps around to many different time periods:  2018, 1903, 1939, 2017, 1914 and 1918, and then I lost track.

Then there’s Spring House itself, which was the caretaker’s home on the grounds of a mansion called Winter Cottage.  Both were built by Megan’s great-great grandfather, but not for his first wife, Megan’s great-great grandmother, but for his second wife, who is on the family tree but is not a blood relative, and by now…

who the hell cropped

A friend was reading my book reviews on this blog and said, “You read a lot of stinkers,” referring to my skunk rating system.

I start a lot of stinkers, but I don’t finish them.

Spring House is another one, which begs the question:

Why did I finish it?

Because the stinkers are such fun…

make fun cropped larger

Family tree comments (2)