Have Computers Simplified Our Lives?  Sometimes, Yes.  And Sometimes…

Back in the mid-70s, as computers were becoming more common in workplaces and homes, some brainiac wrote an article for Business Week in which he predicted we were heading for what he called the “Paperless Office.”

Most record handling would become electronic, he said, so big supplies of this in office storerooms…

… would become unnecessary.

That was then.

This is now.

Realty check:

If your workspace doesn’t look like this, obviously you’re slacking off:

Every office has lots of these, full of guess what?  Paper:

Here’s an attorney with his 15 boxes of 50,000 pages of documents for just one case in 2019:

Instead of paperless offices, according to this article…

“…Between 1980 and 2000 global paper consumption doubled.”

And according to Statista.com,

“…the global consumption of paper and board amounted to an estimated 399 million metric tons in 2020.  It is expected that demand will increase steadily over the next decade, reaching approximately 461 million metric tons in 2030”:

So much for the “paperless office.”

Granted, not all of those metric tons of paper are used for printing in our offices and homes – there are lots of other products like toilet paper, paper towels, books, magazines, newspapers, boxes, egg cartons, six-pack beer carriers, postage stamps…

And, once upon a time, if you were really stylin’, this Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup paper dress:

Which FYI, is now available, framed, on eBay for just $4,999.

So paper is used other than for office and home printing, but let’s get real here.

The paperless office idea became so ludicrous that books were written about it, like The Myth of the Paperless Office, in 2003.

Again, back in the mid-70s, another widely accepted belief about computers was that they’d make our lives much easier.  And it’s true – in some ways computers have made our lives easier.

But in some ways…

Take, for example, computer usernames and passwords.

Take, for example, for my home computer.

I have more than 40 passwords for my home computer.

Why so many?

Because according to computer security experts, Rule #237 in their guidelines for strong passwords is:

Never use your password for other websites.

So, I have a different password for my phone, my bank, my Amazon purchases, my email account, my wireless account, my car insurance account, my library account, this blog account…

And before you know it, you’ve got more passwords than you’ve got family members and friends combined.

I don’t have those 40+ passwords written down, because that is also an absolute no-no, according to Rule #632:

Never write your password down; a password that has to be written down is not strong, no matter how many of the above characteristics are employed.

The “above characteristics” for strong passwords are actually below, and of course you’ve seen them many times:

  • At least eight characters – the more characters, the better.
  • A mixture of both uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • A mixture of letters and numbers.
  • Inclusion of at least one special character, e.g., ! @ # ? ].

I swear, if I did everything the experts told me to do, each of my 40+ passwords would look like this:


But even that’s not enough.

I’m supposed to change my passwords every three months.

I barely remember to change my smoke detector batteries once a year, and I’m supposed to remember to change all my passwords every three months?

And commit them to memory?

But wait!

Before I hammer my computer, I’m remembering that lots of websites ask if I want the website to remember my password:

Isn’t that nice?  Shouldn’t I do that instead of trying to remember 40+ passwords?

Absolutely not, say security experts in rule #981:

While the fact that we’d no longer have to remember each different password for our online accounts may seem ideal, relying on the browser to remember them for us presents a security risk.  Browsers leave an opening for a hacker to review a user’s list of passwords.

I figured I’d pretty much run out of options when I remembered something called an “offline storage device.”  

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes:

And these devices – not me – will remember my 40+ passwords!



My match made in Heaven?

Because before I can access my passwords on my spiffy new offline storage device…

I must have…

Another password.

Book Review:  These Women Were The Power Brokers Of Their Day

Publication date:  April 2021

Category:  Biographical Historical Fiction

Review, short version: Three roses out of four.

Review, long version:

Shortly after I started reading Renée Rosen’s The Social Graces, I realized I needed to give myself a good, swift kick in the mindset.

“Ew, ick!” I’d been thinking.

“These women are SO trivial!”

And to my 21st-century eyes, they were.

So the mindset kick I required was to put myself back in the book’s time period, 1876-1908, and think about not just what these women were doing – but all the things women couldn’t do.

Mother and children, 1880s; if she got a divorce, she’d be shunned by society, but the husband would not, and he always got custody of the children.

Back then, if a woman owned property when she married, the property became her husband’s.  A married woman owned nothing, not the clothes she wore, the chair she sat on, or the glass she drank from.  If she had children, they were her husband’s property.  She couldn’t sign a contract.  If she earned a wage, it belonged to her husband.  A woman had only the money her husband chose to give to her.

It was almost unheard of for a married woman to pursue a divorce, and if she did, she was shunned by society forever.  But for a married man, divorce was much easier and with little – if any – ostracizing.  If a man divorced his wife, he got custody of the children – always. 

A woman couldn’t get her own passport – it was issued jointly in her and her husband’s name.  A woman couldn’t serve on a jury, or devise a will, or go shopping without an escort, and a woman couldn’t vote.

But a woman could be a leader of high society.

The leader of high society.

And that meant New York high society.

This female leader of New York high society could decide which people were worth knowing, which clothes worth wearing, which social customs worth practicing, which social events worth attending:

Enter one of the book’s female lead characters:

Caroline Astor (1830-1908):

Mrs. Astor was the undisputed leader of New York high society, and that society embraced her:

“Mrs. Astor says…Mrs. Astor thinks…Mrs. Astor wants…”

And Mrs. Astor remained the undisputed leader until we meet our other lead character:

Alva Vanderbilt (1853-1933):

Vanderbilt was born into wealth, her family lost everything, then she married wealth.

Astor was born into wealth and married wealth.

They were what today we’d call “socialites.”

Socialite:  a person who is well-known in fashionable society and is fond of social activities and entertainment.

The Astor “cottage” in Newport, RI.

Astor was the leader of New York society.

Vanderbilt aimed to replace her.

If The Social Graces was simply a book about two rich women doing battle over who’s hosting the most expensive parties, wearing the most extravagant clothes and owning the most ostentatious houses – it wouldn’t have held my interest.

The Vanderbilt “cottage” in Newport, RI.

But this story is based on real people and real events, and I enjoy that, especially when the author takes it a step further and suggests their motivations and thoughts.

Astor and Vanderbilt’s motivations were complex.  As were their thoughts, sometimes straying into the realm of wondering if all their machinations to stay #1 or become #1 were worth the time, effort and massive amounts of money:

“Life was so fleeting, so fragile, and in the grand scheme of things, what difference did it make if someone used the wrong fork, or served the wrong wine?  …In the end – did any of this matter?”

Good insights, and an all-around…

Part II:  California’s Recall Election Is A…

On Monday I did a lengthy post about California’s gubernatorial recall election on September 14.

This post is not lengthy, but still…

I get it if you live outside of California and are wondering, “Why should I care about who’s governor in California?”

Here’s why.

It has to do with the U.S. Senate, and California Senator Diane Feinstein (pictured), who’s served in the Senate since 1993.

She is 88 years old.

But it’s not her life I’m writing about.

It’s her possible death.

As of 2020, female life expectancy in the U.S. was 80.5 years.

Consider this potential scenario, which transitions the recall election from a hot mess to a horror story:

  1. In the September recall, a majority votes to oust Democrat Governor Newsom.
  2. In the September recall, Newsom’s replacement is also voted on, and a Republican wins.
  3. The Republican replacement governor serves out the remainder of Newsom’s term – until the November 2022 election.
  4. In the time between the new governor being sworn in and November 2022 election, Senator Feinstein dies.
  5. The Republican governor appoints a Republican replacement senator to finish Feinstein’s term.
  6. The U.S. Senate goes from a 50/50 split to a 51/49 GOP majority.
  7. This guy in back in power:

This horror story occurred to me only after I’d written the Monday post.

The author of this August 10 article was way ahead of me:

The article says,

“In a sort of worst-case scenario for the party, a successful recall could lead to Democrats losing their majority in the U.S. Senate, and have ramifications on some of the biggest issues facing the nation today, according to analysts.

“‘It could potentially grind President Biden’s agenda to a halt for the foreseeable future,’ said Julie Edwards, a local political consultant and former communications manager for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley from Oregon.”

California Democratic Party Vice Chair David Campos said this:

“One vacancy in the U.S. Senate could alter the course of history and, in the near-term, create some real issues for people.  That’s why people need to understand how critical this is and how much is at stake.”  

Democratic legislation blocked…Democratic appointments blocked…a Biden nominee to the Supreme Court blocked…

And not just this guy back in power:

But with that, comes this:

Part I: California’s Recall Election Is A…

We humans like to have choices.

We may not always like making choices, but we like having choices.

In our country, we have lots of choices.

From which used car company to buy from, to which boutique beer to sample, to do-you-want-fries-with-that – we have choices.

And in California, where we’re hosting a gubernatorial recall on September 14…

We have lots of choices.

I recently received my Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet in the mail, and it lists all the people who are running to replace Governor Gavin Newsom.

There are 46 people who are running to replace Governor Gavin Newsom:

An overwhelming number.

Our current governor, Gavin Newson, is a Democrat and as expected, many of those running again him are Republicans.  But there are also Democrats, Libertarians, candidates who identify their party preference as Green, and at least a half-dozen who identify “None” as their party preference.

I’ve also received my ballot in the mail, and it’s so long I could use if for an awning over my front door:

But I won’t, because I’m going to use it to vote.

And therein lies the rub.

Our choices are:

Shall Gavin Newsom be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?

We vote “Yes” or “No.”

If we vote “Yes,” we’re then supposed to select one from that list of 46…

Candidates to succeed Gavin Newsom as Governor if he is recalled

That’s pretty straightforward.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

If we vote “No,” we’re maybe also supposed to select from that list of 46…

Candidates to succeed Gavin Newsom as Governor if he is recalled

Depending on who you listen to.

The governor and the Democratic Party are telling voters not to respond to that second question:

The article said,

“California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks said in a tweet that leaving the second question blank will save voters time, energy, self-respect and ‘from casting your vote for a candidate who isn’t worthy of your support – or the support of California voters.’”


Other experts are telling us yes – even if we vote against the recall, we should respond to that second question:

According to the article, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said,

“Even if you vote no, you should pick a person, because you would still want to have input into who becomes the governor.”

So if the recall part of this process gets a majority, the governor is out.  Of those 46 candidates, says the Examiner article’s author, 

“…the winner is not one who gets a substantial majority, but just plus one vote or more.”

“…a new person can be instated by a margin of a single vote or more.  Think about that for a moment.  A solitary extra vote could determine the fate of the largest economy in the United States and the fifth largest economy in the world.”

It’s a very scary idea. 

And it’s a very badly done process – one single vote, and this candidate could be our new governor?

This is Billboard Queen Angelyne, who describes herself as a “gorgeous blonde with big boobs.”  An LA Magazine article about her included this exchange:

LA Magazine:  What are your hot button issues?
Angelyne:  Hot button?!  Ooh! (squeals)

Just a single vote could make her governor.

Now, there are many who are calling for a revamping of the whole recall process:

And clearly, this is needed.

But it will be too little, and too late, for our September 14 election.

I know I’ll vote against recalling the governor, but then – do I do what the California Democratic Party says, and not answer the second question about who should replace Newsom?

And if I do answer that second question, who gets my vote, out of those 46?

OK:  45 candidates.  I’m fairly certain I can eliminate Angelyne.

But who?

To help with that decision, on August 15, the San Diego Union-Tribune began a series of Q&A articles focusing on six of the candidates whom the newspaper described as having “better fundraising and poll results.”

Five are Republicans, and one a Democrat.  In the August 15 article, each candidate’s article leads with a quote.  What I read was so unoriginal, so predictable, and so cookie-cutter, I was not encouraged:

“Time for an outsider to get it done.”
John Cox, Republican businessman and accountant.

“We need a governor, not a tyrant.”
Larry Elder, Republican talk show host and author.

“I can fulfill our promise.”
Kevin Faulconer, Republican former mayor of San Diego.

“Recall will restore integrity.”
Kevin Kiley, Republican state Assembly member.

“Newsom not up to the challenge.”
Doug Ose, Republican former congressman and small business owner.

“We need someone to be honest.”
Kevin Paffrath, Democrat, YouTube personality


On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t cross Angelyne off the list. 

In that LA Magazine article, at least she showed some originality when asked why she wanted to run for governor:

“When I was little I wanted to rule the universe but I wanted to make sure everybody was happy.  Who wants to be the ruler of a bunch of sad sacks?”

And as for the one Democrat in the Union-Tribune article, Kevin Paffrath?

CNBC and a number of other media outlets are saying this about him:

And it wouldn’t be the first time Californians have elected a media “star” as governor.  Remember these guys?

In a different article, Paffrath broke with the governor and other Democrats over that second ballot question about choosing a Newsom replacement:

“No matter who Californians support, Paffrath encourages everyone not to ‘squander’ their vote and to weigh in on both of the questions that will be on the ballot.

“If Democrats don’t make both choices, Paffrath noted, they’ll be letting only Republicans and no party preference select the next governor.”


This seems as good a time as any to recall how the recall hot mess got started.

According to a Union-Tribune article earlier this month, “Many saw the recall as a smear of Newsom by bitter supporters of defeated Donald Trump.”

I’d amend that to “bitter, rich supporters of defeated Donald Trump,” since the recall supporter list of Trump fans includes, to name just a few:

  • John Kruger gave $500,000; he opposed Newsom’s restriction on indoor worship during the pandemic.
  • Geoff Palmer gave $200,000; he donated $5 million to Trump’s 2016 election.
  • Douglas Leone gave $99,800; he gave $50,000 to support Trump in 2020.
  • Susan and Howard Groff gave $75,000; they gave more than $500,000 to support Trump in 2020.
  • Dixon Doll gave $100,000; he’s a longtime GOP donor.

Then, according to the CNBC article above,

“The recall effort picked up momentum during the pandemic as frustration mounted about the state’s shutdown of schools and small businesses, and the slow pace of the reopening even as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations plummeted.

“Newsom critics pounced at the opportunity to highlight the worsening homeless problem and increasing crime rates while taxes and living costs remained among the highest in the country.”

And, back in November 2020, this added fuel to the recall fire: 

Newsom’s boneheaded behavior, now infamous, of appearing – maskless – at a dinner party at the posh French Laundry restaurant, as he was telling the rest of us to mask up and practice social distancing.

So infamous, the incident even made it into a skit on Saturday Night Live:

Alex Moffatt plays Newsom on “Saturday Night Live.”

The Newsom recall has morphed into a one-size-fits-all, “Whether you’re unhappy about the pandemic or high taxes or homelessness or crime or immigration or gun laws or the bullet train or the unemployment fraud or wildfires, or your just plain pissed off that Trump lost in 2020 – it’s all Newsom’s fault, so let’s recall him!”

And speaking of just plain pissed off, I am, when I read about the cost to us taxpayers for the recall.  Estimates are running as high as this:

And some of that cost – in addition to the Sample Ballot & Voter Information Pamphlet and the ever-so-lengthy ballot – is for this:

This 33-page, 8” x 10” booklet was mailed to around 22 million registered voters in California.  It includes “Recall Replacement Candidate Statements,” some of which are lengthy, and some of which are somewhat less enlightening:

“Leadership for a brighter tomorrow.”
Holly L. Baade, Democrat

“Can you dig it?”
Dan Kapelovitz, Green Party

“Love U.”
Adam Papagan, no party preference

Is it any wonder that the Sacrament Bee newspaper opined,

“We think the motley list of Newsom’s challengers are unprepared, uninformed, dangerous or all of the above.” 

And if the recall is a Republic power grab – as some suggest – and if they manage to get a Republican elected to replace Newsom, how much do they think their new governor will get done in a state as blue as California with a legislature that looks like this:

As the Union-Tribune said,

“Such a governor would have no grounds to claim any sort of mandate and would find it difficult to lead.”

Now, let’s go back to where we started: 

We humans like to have choices.

The first ballot question is an easy choice for me:  Do I want Newsom recalled?


As for the second question – choosing Newsom’s replacement – first I must choose if I’ll vote on that.

Then, if I choose to vote – for which of the 46 candidates?

I like having choices.

But I won’t like making this choice.

And speaking of media “stars,” in summary, here’s my “Statement” – to all those responsible for this situation:

Up next: Wednesday, Part II


IKEA was in the news recently, and it occurred to me that I’d never been to an IKEA store.

Not for lack of proximity – IKEA has been in the U.S. since 1985, and there are 52 of them, one practically in my backyard, in San Diego.

So why haven’t I been to an IKEA store?

And why was IKEA recently in the news?

First thing first.

I hadn’t been to an IKEA store because I was pretty sure they sold stuff that was DIY – do it yourself.  For example, you buy a box of components for a chair, take it home and assemble it.

Simple for some.

But – DIY is not my middle name.

I don’t even have a nodding acquaintance with DIY.

If I tried to assemble a DIY chair, I’d end up looking like this IKEA customer:

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not good at some things, like understanding and following complex written instructions.

And that’s OK, because I am good at other things.

Maybe I can’t assemble a chair, but I’m a master at sitting in a chair and…

But there are many – maybe millions of – IKEA fans who are ready, willing and eager to buy and assemble items like these:

And I’ve now learned that, as of a few years ago, there’s been a surge in what are called “IKEA Hacks.”  That is, customers change, alter, or intentionally tweak how a given design is meant to be assembled.

A rather plain chest of drawers was hacked and transformed:

This ordinary bed became a cool beach shack:

And after a hack, this IKEA…thingy…is now a new…thingy:

So, IKEA does sell DIY items, but I’ve learned they also sell no-assembly-required items, like bathmats and knives and plants:

And I’ve learned they sell my favorite thing to shop for:


Which brings us back to this post’s title, and IKEA being out of GRÖNSAKSKAKA:

Which I didn’t want to buy, but I was intrigued by a food item that ended in…

One food item I expect IKEA never runs out of is their famous – according to their website – Swedish Meatballs, which they call HUVUDROLL:

And I guess the meatballs are famous, because in 2020 when IKEA released their recipe, it was the meatball heard round the world:

And which, to spare you too much more of my meandering, leads us back to the second question:  Why was IKEA recently in the news?

Because IKEA has now done their own “hack,” and transformed their meatballs into this:

The reason, according to many articles – this also made news round the world – is:

“The candle is part of the ‘IKEA Store in a Box,’ a limited-edition collection of all of the most indelible sensory experiences of going to IKEA.  An IKEA spokesperson declined to comment on what other items would be included, telling Food & Wine that it would be ‘a surprise and a delight.’ 

“The HUVUDROLL meatball-scented candle and the rest of the ‘IKEA Store in a Box’ items were all created for the 10th anniversary of IKEA’s free loyalty program, IKEA Family.”

So it appears that IKEA has pushed the envelope of its current candles with names like HÖSTKVÄLL, VANSKLIG and MEDKÄMPE, and is bringing you that “indelible sensory experience” of lighting a candle and – to paraphrase the Food & Wine writer – filling your home with the mouthwatering smell of…

Something you can’t eat.

But that’s OK.

Because I finally decided it was time to push my own envelope, visit IKEA, buy something simple to assemble, and do it myself:

You’re Making A List, Checking It Twice…

You are feeling so virtuous on this fine August Saturday morning in the San Fernando Valley.

You’re up early, dressed, grocery list in hand, and headed to your local Ralphs.  It’s around 6:30am, and you’re going to get this boring task done so you can relax and enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Traffic is light, you make good time, and park in the lot.  You grab a cart, head inside, and as you decide where to start, something catches your eye.


There’s a bear.

In the grocery store.


Is this your fault?

You wrote “Bear” on your grocery list – did you somehow magically conjure up what’s there, before your very eyes…

But that “Bear” on your list was just your shorthand for a grocery item:  Haribo Gold Bears…or maybe it was Bear Claw pastries…or was it Bear Bush cannabis…

Oops, no – wrong store for that last item.

But you’re not standing and staring at a bear while you try to remember why you wrote “Bear” on your list.

To hell with the groceries.

You beat-feet out of that store so fast, it’s like you were bearly there.


Smarter than these people just standing around in the aisle, gazing at the bear that just walked by them:

Smarter that the people who, according to this article:

“…tried to pet and feed the bear.”

You’re smarter than anyone who stayed the store that Saturday morning, taking pictures and videos of a 125-pound wild bear.

Including actress Tisha Campbell, who daringly paused long enough to shoot video of herself in the store with the bear, AND post her encounter on social media:

Then, and only then, did she leave the store, filming herself as she was in her car in the parking lot:

And assuring us:

“I made it to my f—ing car, but this is some bulls—.  It’s not like I’m in a secluded area.  I’m in my f—ing local grocery store!”

Ah – the sacrifices one makes for one’s social media followers.

Now, some stories I read referred to this 125-pound bear as a “cub.”

This is complete disinformation.

At birth, a bear cub is so small, its weight is measured in ounces – see?

That is a bear cub.

This 125-pound bear has long, sharp teeth, and long, sharp claws, and a voracious appetite for just about anything, including…

But you, oh Smart One?

You are out of the store and into your car, windows closed, doors locked.

You head for home, making one quick stop.

And later that day, you hear on the news that some of the grocery store staff chased the bear out of the store…

…after which it was tranquilized and transported by California Fish and Wildlife into the Santa Susana Mountains.

You hear, though you’re not paying all that much attention.

Because that one stop you made earlier, on your way home?

Was to pick up these, to commemorate your safe escape:

My Salute To Steve

This isn’t the first time I’ve saluted Steve Breen in this blog, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Steve Breen is the brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who’s been with the San Diego Union-Tribune since 2001.

Breen’s work appears regularly – almost daily – in the Union Tribune, and regularly – almost daily – my husband or I will say, “Great Breen today!”

This past Saturday, the cartoon was a take-off on this iconic image of actor W.C. Fields in the 1940 movie, My Little Chickadee:

Here’s the Breen cartoon:

In the cartoon, Fields is holding a fake vaccination card.

Death is looking over Fields’ shoulder and saying, “Good hand.”

And for good reason:

Though perhaps not such a “good hand” for people who are caught using fake vaccination cards, like the two in this recent story:

The article says, 

“Gary Yamashiroya, a spokesperson for state Attorney General Clare Connors, said that the two tourists were arraigned Thursday morning and face up to one year in prison, as well as a maximum of $5,000 in fines.”

The tourists were Norbert Chung, 57, and Trevor Chung:

This News Is SO Last Week.  But Still, It’s …

I know this news is so last week.

And I know I did a post about unruly airplane passengers not that long ago.

But what happened to this unruly passenger is so satisfying, so enjoyable, so it’s-about-damn-time, that I did a high five, a fist pump, and a happy dance, all at once:

NOT a frequent occurrence for me, but well-warranted in this case.

What prompted all this physical activity on my part?

This August 3 story:

Maxwell Berry got SO out of line that he ended up duct-taped to his seat, and remained so till the end of the flight, when he was arrested and charged with three counts of battery.

I particularly like the juxtaposition here, of 22-year-old Berry duct-taped, and later in his mug shot:

Here’s another view of taped Max:

SO satisfying.

The story is, on the evening of July 31, Berry boarded Frontier Airlines flight #2289 from Philadelphia to Miami.  I presume he’s not generally allowed out in public without supervision, so he must have somehow escaped his keeper.

Accounts vary somewhat, but it appears that during the flight:

  • Berry consumed two alcoholic drinks and after he finished them, he brushed his cup against a flight attendant’s buttocks.
Berry winds up to punch a flight attendant.
  • Berry ordered a third alcoholic beverage but spilled it on his shirt.  He went to the bathroom and when he came out, he was shirtless.  The flight attendant told Berry he needed to be clothed and helped him get an extra shirt out of his carry-on bag.
  • Berry walked around the plane for 15 minutes before he groped a second flight attendant’s breasts.  She told him to sit down and not to touch her.
  • Berry then approached both the first and second flight attendants, put his arms around them and groped their chests.
  • A third attendant asked Berry to remain seated and Berry punched the attendant in the face.

It’s as if Berry had a checklist of offenses he wanted to complete before the flight landed:

Passengers intervened by using duct tape to “tape him down to the seat and tied him with a seatbelt extender for the remaining flight.”

(Though in a video I watched, it appeared that a flight attendant was also involved in the duct-taping.)

Passengers cheered and jeered.  Berry called for help several times…

…until his mouth was taped shut:

For reasons that are unclear, at some point during his performance Berry loudly advised everyone on board that his parents were worth “two million goddamn dollars.”  According to the most recent online articles, “Messages left by phone at his family’s home in Ohio and by email were not answered,” so Berry’s parents’ net worth has not been verified.

And, says the Miami Herald, Berry’s statements also included:

“You guys f—ing suck!”  

“You know what?  You f—ing suck!”  “Shut the f— up!”

Berry was charged, alas, only with misdemeanors, but, according to this article:

“The FAA has fined several passengers tens of thousands of dollars this year for clashing with airline crews over mask requirements and other safety instructions.  Earlier this year, the agency imposed a zero-tolerance policy for interfering with or assaulting flight attendants that carries a fine of up to $35,000 and possible jail time.”

Here’s a July 6 news release from the FAA:

According to the release, since January 1, 2021 the FAA has “proposed more than $682,000 in fines against unruly passengers.”

I think a fine for Maxwell Berry sounds like a fine thing:

This Makes…

We have a family member who lives in Texas.

You know – Texas, where the recent headlines look like this:

And this:

And this:

This past Saturday, we and other family members got this email from the Texas family member, leading me to think that maybe there aren’t enough COVID opportunities in Texas – so she and her husband are traveling 7,355 miles to find more:

“If everything goes as planned here, we are getting on an airplane Monday with an ultimate destination of Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  Following a ten-day tour we fly to Baku, Azerbaijan from whence we will spend 12 days in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.  Then we go to France for 2½ weeks, flying home on September 22.”

In case the travelers are interested – which they obviously are not – here are the most recent fully vaccinated rates for those first four countries:

Uzbekistan:  3.7%

Azerbaijan:  22.5%

Georgia:  8.6%

Armenia:  2.1%

We couldn’t help but wonder why the hell they were taking this trip now

Her email continued,

“In the midst of COVID, one may well wonder why the hell we are doing this.  Well, I guess it’s because it was all planned long ago and has already been cancelled once.”

That makes about as much #*?@%$! sense as my suggesting there wasn’t enough COVID in Texas for them.

She closed with this information:

“Assuming our Covid tests (first one this afternoon) are clean we can get on a plane Monday afternoon, and then we will be day-to-day for each segment of the trip and each new COVID test.  We’ll keep you posted.”

Oh, great!

A trip planned around getting multiple tests for COVID and then waiting for the test results.

And if they test positive, then what?  Maybe quarantine for 10 days in a cozy little B&B in the Nagorno-Karabakh area…

…where Armenia and Azerbaijan were at war, until a November 2020 ceasefire that’s been described as “unsettled – the conflict has only been postponed, not resolved.”

I guess the Texas travelers weren’t interested in that, either.

Well, they’re both fully vaccinated, and all I can do is hope they stay safe and come home to healthy to Austin, Texas.

Of course, Austin is no walk in the park, either:

I Don’t Like Sharing The Road With People On Bicycles.  There.  I’ve Said It.

This past Friday my blog post about bicyclists was benign.  This post?  Not so much…

When I’m driving and up ahead I see a cluster of people on bicycles…

I dread it.

Even a solo bicyclist on a back road fills me with dread:

I’m convinced that someday, some bicyclist somewhere is going to sneeze or hit a rock or a pothole, and fall under my car tires…

And it will be my fault because in California, bicyclist tule the road.

Or so it seems to me.

OK:  I get that a bike doesn’t pollute our world like gasoline-driven cars do, and every person who’s on a bike instead of driving a car makes for less congestion, and riding a bike is a healthy thing to do…

Well, most of the time…

But in California, I think it’s gotten out of hand.

Take this, for example:

Yes – the city of San Diego removed 400 parking spaces to accommodate bicyclists.

The article didn’t say anything about San Diego creating 400 other parking spaces nearby.

Bicyclists: 1. Drivers: 0.

Then there’s this law, passed on behalf of bicyclists:

According to the article,

“…vehicles must stay three feet away from cyclists when passing them on the street…Breaking the law carries a $35 fine.  If a collision results from breaking the law and a bicyclist is injured, the motorist can be fined $220.”

So I have to stay three feet away from people on bikes – but there’s no law that says they have to stay three feet away from me?

Suppose I’m the mandated three feet away from a bicyclist and she/he suddenly swerves toward my car?  Am I supposed to swerve to the left to avoid a collision?  Maybe I can have a head-on collision with an oncoming car, but at least the bicyclist is safe?

Biyclists: 2. Drivers: 0.

And how about the fact that before I can drive, I must possess a driver license, but bicyclists?


They’re occupying the same streets that I am, but they don’t have to take a written test and a driving test and have their eyes checked and a hideous picture taken and pay for a driver license.  They can just hop on their bikes and ride into the street and do this:

Apparently this bicyclist is unaware of VC 21205, “must leave a hand on the handlebars at all times.”

But then, most of the bicyclists I see seem unaware of those pesky laws that apply to them, just like they apply to us drivers.  You know – obeying traffic signals and stop signs and stuff.

When I approach a traffic signal that’s red, here’s what I see:

When bicyclists approach a traffic signal that’s red, here’s what they see:

They just roll through that red light like it’s not there.

And stop signs?  For drivers, no ambiguity here:

But for bikers?  Here’s what they see:

And did you know that in California, it’s illegal for me to hold a phone and talk on it when I’m operating a vehicle, but it’s perfectly OK for a bicyclist to do the same?

So, if I’m driving and an on-the-phone distracted bicyclist falls under my tires, no doubt that will be my fault.

Bicyclists:  3.  Drivers:  0.

And then there’s VC 21208, about bicyclists using the appropriate hand signals to alert drivers that the bicyclist is about to turn, slow down or stop:


Bicyclists do this…

I’ll also mention CVC 21210, “Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians.”

So, here’s my Memo to All Bicyclists:

I accept that driving near a group of you or even just one of you will always fill me with dread.

I accept that I’m going to be seeing more – not less – folks on bikes.

I’ll do my best to keep my me and my 3,500-pound car from coming into contact with you and your 20-pound bicycle.

This works better when it works both ways:

Ah, August…Our Time For Sweet Corn On The Cob, National Lazy Day (August 10), And The Philly Naked Bicycle Ride!

I like to think that I’m not prudish…

But I confess I was taken aback by this NPR story:

Not the part about covering their faces.

The “Naked Bike Ride” part.

Masses of people riding bikes, naked?

I’d never heard of this. 

Time to educate myself.

I went online and sure enough, there’s a website…

With a colorful poster…

And a Philly Naked Bike Ride scheduled:

Saturday, August 28

So…why a naked bike ride?

According to the website, the Philly Naked Bike Ride – or PNBR – is about “Riding together to promote fuel-conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy.”

I can’t argue with any of that.

You don’t have to ride naked – it’s a “Bare As You Dare” event.  You don’t have to pre-register, just show up.  You don’t have to pay to participate, but donations are welcome.

And you don’t have to work up a sweat – the ride is not a race:

“The ride is a slow, conversational pace.  It meanders through the city of Philadelphia for a total of about 10 miles.  At this rate, it typically takes 2-3 hours for the front of the group to get from the starting location to the ending location.  It is NOT a race by any means!”

OK, but…the naked combined with the bicycle seat sounds like it could be…uncomfortable?  Worse?

That’s addressed on the PNBR website as well:

“You should try it!  Otherwise, we recommend wrapping something soft around your bike seat, such as a t-shirt, a bandana, a swatch of velvet, or anything else that will make your bum feel happy.  If you are renting a bike, we strongly recommend wrapping your seat.”

That last is a particularly good suggestion.

It turns out that the Philly event is part of something much bigger:

The World Naked Bike Ride – WNBR – is “an annual, worldwide bike ride that highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport.  It’s also a lot of fun and it’s free for all!”

Again, I can’t argue with any of that.

On the WNBR site I learned that:

“…the World Naked Bike Ride originated as a protest against society’s dependency on oil.  Today, especially in Portland, Oregon, many people ride to promote cycling not only as a viable mode of transportation, but a form which should be celebrated!”

And when they say “World,” they mean it – it’s easy to find images of participants from Vancouver to Zaragoza, Spain to London to Cape-Town, South Africa:

And not everyone is naked.  Some wear clothes, and some get pretty creative with body paint…

…Others with hats and costumes and anything else they think of:

Riders are cautioned, however, to…

“Carry your clothes with you, in case you wind up having a bike malfunction or needing to stop at a store to use the bathroom or grab some water, etc.”

So, naked bike rides.

Something I knew nothing about – I now know at least a bare minimum.

(I had to make at least one “bare” joke, didn’t I?)

The Philly Naked Bike Ride:  A good cause, could be fun.

So, if you happen to be in Philadelphia on August 28, stopped for a red light, and see this…

…You can close your eyes.

Or you can just…

I Can Bring Home The Bacon…Except In California

Back in the last millennium a woman recorded a song, I’m A Woman, that proclaimed,

I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…

“Bring home the bacon” is an old idiom for earning money.

When that song came out, the reality of a woman bringing home the bacon was not widespread.

Today we’d sing,

I can bring home the bacon, but YOU can fry it up in the pan…

Except in California where, come January 2022, it may be that no one is bringing home the bacon:

The “pig rules” in the headline are explained in the article:

“At the beginning of next year, California will begin enforcing an animal welfare proposition approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018 that requires more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves.

“National veal and egg producers are optimistic they can meet the new standards, but only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules.

“Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose almost all of its pork supply, much of which comes from Iowa, and pork producers will face higher costs to regain a key market.”

A funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box back in 2018.

Nobody told us that voting “Yes” on this:

Could mean, come 2022, no more of this:

I guess we Californians figured the pork and veal and egg producers had plenty of time to get with the guidelines, so no interruptions to having my favorite, the BLT:

That’s right – pile on the bacon, lettuce and tomato, plenty of mayo on that toasted bread, and I’ll show you what “bringing home the bacon” really means.

And when it comes to eating pork, I’m not alone – again, according to the article, Californians consume roughly 15% of all pork produced in the country, about 255 million pounds.  Our farms produce only 45 million pounds, so we’re dependent on out-of-state producers not just for a lot of ham and bacon and sausage, but these, as well:

Seriously – no more sausage and pepperoni on my sausage and pepperoni pizza?

And what about this icon:

Did we – unwittingly – vote all 13 varieties SPAM out of our lives?

What about all those luscious, made-from-pork deli meats, served up on charcuterie boards and in antipastos – pancetta, prosciutto, mortadella, salami, capocollo and soppressata?


And what about Dr. Seuss’ famous book:


It sounds like I’m making light of this subject – and I was.

But – what were we Californians thinking, back in 2018, when we voted in favor of Prop 12, but never considered the unintended consequences?

Was our hubris, or arrogance, or just plain ignorance so great that we assumed all the pork, veal and egg producers outside of California would just nod and say, “Sure thing, Californians, we’ll comply with whatever you say!” with no negative impact on us?

Again, from the ABC News article – it appears that veal and egg producers will meet our new standards; however…

“…only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules.”

And the reason is simple:


ABC News:

“In Iowa, which raises about one-third of the nation’s hogs, farmer Dwight Mogler (pictured below) estimates the changes would cost him $3 million and allow room for 250 pigs in a space that now holds 300.

“To afford the expense, Mogler said, he’d need to earn an extra $20 per pig and so far, processors are offering far less.”

If Mogler and other farmers don’t comply with the Prop 12 guidelines, they can’t sell their pork in California.  This will cause a pork shortage here, and that will cause pork prices to increase.  Those increases will be paid for by us, in grocery stores and restaurants.

If Mogler and other farmers do comply with the Prop 12 guidelines, then to cover their increased costs, they’ll pass those costs on to us in grocery stores and restaurants.

After Prop 12 passed, Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said:

“California voters have sent a loud and clear message that they reject cruel cage confinement in the meat and egg industries…millions of veal calves, mother pigs and egg-laying hens will never know the misery of being locked in a tiny cage for the duration of their lives.”

I get it. 

Hell, I voted for it.

But when I cast that ballot, I – and I think most of us – just didn’t think about those…

And come January 2022, if – when – this prediction comes true…

…It appears we Californians will be faced with three choices:

  1. Pay more – a lot more – for pork.
  2. Eat less – a lot less – pork.
  3. Head across the state border to buy pork.  Perhaps Nevada, Arizona and Oregon are even now getting ready for us…

Quotes Are Cool

I love a good quote.

I love when someone puts together the just right words (not too many, not too few) in just the right order, and says something that’s wise or funny – or both.

It might be something I read, or something I hear.  I’ve been known to pull my car to the side of the street so I can write down a great quote I heard on the radio.

I’ve collected quotes for years, and what follows are a few of them.  When I know the attribution, I include it:

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.  – Unknown

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.  – Charles de Gaulle

I don’t mind getting older – it’s the aging I hate.  – Unknown

I can forgive and forget…it is so much less exhausting.  You only have to forgive once.  To resent you have to do it all day, every day.  You have to keep remembering all the bad things…I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount…No, we always have a choice.  All of us.  – M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans

I never learned anything while I was talking.  – Larry King

Children are smarter than any of us.  You know how I know that?  I don’t know any children with a full-time job and children.  – Bill Hicks, Readers Digest

Teachers don’t teach for the income; they teach for the outcome.  – Unknown

Don’t look back – we’re not going that way.  – Unknown

A bad breakup is pain from a onetime source, like surgery; a bad relationship is every day and indefinite, like torture.  – Carolyn Hax, advice columnist

When science finally locates the center of the universe, some people will be surprised to learn they’re not it.  – Bernard Bailey

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.  – Oscar Wilde

We never gave each other presents, either, because every day we spent together was a gift.  – Isabel Vincent, Dinner with Edward

And, because we are…still…in a pandemic: