This Time Around, I Had To Learn Some New Terminology Before I Could Mock Melania

BIG hullabaloo in mid-December.

And it was just in time for Christmas – if you hurried:

Of course, we remember Melania – try as we might to do otherwise.

Melania…who, during her four years in the White House was admired for:

  1. Her heartfelt assistance to people suffering from hurricanes and other disasters.
  2. Her heartfelt assistance to families who were food insecure.
  3. Her heartfelt assistance and holiday spirit in December 2020 when she was recorded saying, “I’m working my ass off at the Christmas stuff…who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” 

The answer is:

None of the above.

The highest of the highlights during Melania’s White House residence was this:

Building a tennis pavilion at the White House.

During the pandemic.

But even that Main Event may be superseded by Melania’s December 17 announcement:

Her New NFT Endeavor

What the hell is an NFT?

This article was the first of many I read for guidance:

“An NFT – a non-fungible token – is a piece of data verifying that you have ownership of a digital item, such as a piece of artwork.  The items can also include a video clip, a tweet and more.”

“A digital item.”

That means it exists electronically and has no physical presence.

So when you purchase an NFT, you’ve pruchased an electronic thing that says you own another electronic thing?

The article goes on to say,

“NFTs are recorded using blockchain technology.  A blockchain is a decentralized, digital ledger that tracks transactions of items and assets.”

So you’ve purchased an electronic thing that says you own another electronic thing, and then yet another electronic thing tracks the other electronic things?

And, says the article, Melania’s NFT makes her…

“…the latest personality to embrace the hot digital collectible trend.”

I have two issues with that:

First:  Melania is not a “personality.”  To be a personality, one must have a personality.

Second:  What “hot digital collectible trend”?  What’s that all about?

It turns out that being an owner of, or better yet – a collector of digital art, is very trendy.

And being the creator and/or seller of that digital art and can highly profitable.

Just to be clear:

Someone decides they’re an artist.  They create a digital file and call is “art.”  It doesn’t exist anywhere except as an electronic file.  You could buy it and print it and hang it on a wall, and only then does it become physical art.

But otherwise, it exists only out there, somewhere.

Examples abound, including this:

“…the viral 2007 video Charlie Bit My Finger fetched more than $760,000 in May.”

The what?

Yup – here it is:

“Seen by over 880 million people, Charlie Bit My Finger is the most-viewed viral video of all time.  The beloved clip has become a household name and holds a special place in the hearts of many.  Now, the iconic video will be removed from YouTube and one person will have the opportunity to own it in its new form as a 1/1 NFT, memorializing them in internet history forever.”

So someone paid more than three-quarters of a million dollars to buy a 56-second video of two kids because it was the “most-viewed viral video of all time”?

And now, when the buyer is at a party, they can say to anyone who cares, which I suspect isn’t a plentitude of people, “You know that Charlie Bit Me video?  Well, I am the exclusive owner of it!”

But the owner isn’t holding up a CD with the Charlie video – the video exists only electronically.

So, what is the owner doing?  Flashing the video around on his phone?  Whipping out his iPad and pointing to it?  Herding everyone over to his laptop and standing next to it, like a proud dad outside a hospital nursery?

But this story gets even more bizarre. 

Despite the Charlie website assuring us that “the iconic video will be removed from YouTube and one person will have the opportunity to own it in its new form as a 1/1 NFT,” according to this article:

The father of the children, Howard Davies-Carr, said: 

“After the auction we connected with the buyer, who ended up deciding to keep the video on YouTube.  The buyer felt that the video is an important part of popular culture and shouldn’t be taken down.  It will now live on YouTube for the masses to continue enjoying as well as memorialized as an NFT on the blockchain.”

So the buyer not only doesn’t have a physical video, they don’t even have an exclusive, one-of-a-kind, either?

Anybody can go look at Charlie Bit Me on YouTube, anytime they want?

Yes, they can:

One more example:

“…a JPG file made by Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist known as Beeple, was sold on Thursday by Christie’s in an online auction for $69.3 million with fees.  The price was a new high for an artwork that exists only digitally…”

Let’s digest that for a moment.

Someone paid almost $70 million dollars for an electronic file.

Because someone else decided “I am an artist,” and decided his electronic file was “art.”

And Christie’s, that venerable auction house, agreed.

Here’s the image, entitled Everydays The First 5000 Days:

“Beeple’s collaged JPG was made, or ‘minted,’ in February as a ‘nonfungible token’ or NFT.” 

I’m assuming that for $69 million+, the purchaser has the bragging rights to a one-and-only, to flash on his phone or point to on his iPad or display on his laptop.

But…anybody can look at Everydays – The First 5000 Days, anytime online, so what’s the big deal?

Anybody can go to Google images and download it, so why pay $69 million+ for it?

Bragging rights?


I think this limerick sums it up well:

And speaking of crazy, let’s circle back around to Melania, her NFT, and becoming “the latest personality to embrace the hot digital collectible trend.”

According to this article:

Melania’s NFT looks like this:

  • It’s called Melania’s Vision, and it’s a watercolor of her eyes by somebody named Marc-Antoine Coulon.
  • It includes a 10-second message in Melania’s disembodied voice saying, “My vision is:  Look forward with inspiration, strength, and courage.”
  • She said it would provide “the collector with an amulet to inspire.”
  • You can purchase the eyeballs and voice amulet/NFT for 1 SOL (around $180) on the Solana blockchain. 
  • Credit cards also accepted.

But you better hurry:

Melania’s Vision is on sale only through today, December 31

Why, oh why, would anybody buy this?

It’s not the most-viewed viral thing of all time, like Charlie Bit Me.

It’s not exclusive – anybody can look at it online, anytime.

It’s not even good art.  Hell, I question the use of the word “art” at all.

And seriously, at that New Year’s Eve party tonight, are you going to pull out your phone and say, “Hey, everybody, look what I own!  It’s Melania’s eyes, and listen up – she talks to me!”

If you do, don’t be surprised if other partygoers avoid you for the rest of New Year’s Eve.

I suppose some will point to the charitable angle mentioned in Melania’s press release – that some of the proceeds will…

“…assist children aging out of the foster care system by way of economic empowerment and with expanded access to resources needed to excel in the fields of computer science and technology.” 

Though I thought this article:

Had an interesting quote about that:

“Aaron Dorfman, president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, says when a company says ‘a portion of the proceeds’ will go to charity without indicating specifically what amount, ‘It’s a huge red flag.’

“‘It means that charity is not a serious part of their plan,’ Dorfman said.  ‘It’s a marketing ploy.’”

A Trump?  Involved in a “ploy”?


I started this post knowing nothing about NFTs and blockchains and creating, collecting, buying and selling “digital art” – what’s being called the “hot digital collectible trend.”

But now I’m in the know.

And armed with my new knowlwedge, I’m working on my own NFT, with a little help from this article:

Which says,

“…anyone can sell an NFT, and they could ask for whatever currency they want.”

And now you, too, can own…

My Melania’s Vision knockoff.

And just like Melania’s NFT, mine will talk to you, as well:

This Wasn’t On My Christmas List – Can I Get A Refund?

When it comes to our government’s spending, we hear the word “billion” used freely.

Actually – lately – we’ve heard “trillion” quite a bit, as in the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act.

But I’m going to focus on “billion” before I even contemplate “trillion.”

A “billion” is such an enormous amount of money that I can’t get my head around it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Fortunately, I found this website:

And they helped me put a “billion” in perspective.  Here goes:

“The area covered by 1,000,000,000 (one billion) one-dollar bills measures four square miles.”

That’s a perspective I can relate to.

Here are two more:

“The length of 1,000,000,000 (one billion) one-dollar bills laid end-to-end measures 96,900 miles.  This would extend around the earth almost four times.”

“If you went shopping and spent $20 per second, to spend $1 billion would take you one year and 214 days.”

A “billion” is a bunch of money.

And it catches my attention when I hear about our government spending billions, like this recent story:

OK, let me check my Christmas list again…

Nope.  Nowhere on my list do I see the item “new keyhole into the earliest moments of our universe.”

Especially not a “keyhole” that cost $10 billion of our…

Lay those out on the ground, and now you’ve covered 40 square miles.

For this:

The James Webb Space Telescope.

Also known as “JWST,” or simply as “Webb” – among intimates – this thing launched on Christmas Day:

Amidst a plethora of artist’s rendering of what NASA thinks Webb will look like someday, including these:

Here’s Webb’s mission, according to its website,

“…its revolutionary technology will study every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.  Webb’s infrared telescope will explore a wide range of science questions to help us understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.”

NASA sounds very confident that this thing is going to do what it was designed, built and launched to do.

Of course – sounding confident is NASA’s job.

But as I read other articles, I couldn’t help but notice the frequent appearance of less-than-confident words like “if” and “hope” and could” and “should”:

“It’s hoped that Webb will help solve mysteries in our Solar System, closely study exoplanets and probe the structures and origins of the Universe.”

“But if nothing breaks, JWST will start streaming scientific data back to Earth this summer…”

“…could provide important clues to when and how the supermassive black holes that squat in the centers of galaxies form.”

If all goes well, the sunshield will be opened three days after liftoff…the mirror segments should open up like the leaves of a drop-leaf table…”

If all goes well, astronomers will start to see the universe in a new light next summer.”

“It’s a high bar, but hopefully the science contributions of Webb will be up there.”

One of the rocket scientists – Alison Nordt, the space science and instrumentation director at aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, who has been a part of the Webb team since the beginning – did admit that Webb is fraught with failure possibilities in this article:

“‘If NIRCam doesn’t work, the telescope doesn’t work,’ Nordt said.”

“‘If the sunshield doesn’t work, we don’t get cold enough and none of the detectors will work,’ said Nordt.”

“‘…we can’t fix it up in orbit,’ Nordt said about Webb’s busy record of launch delays.”

And that “busy record of launch delays” Nordt referred to?

The December 25 New York Times article summed it up this way:

“When NASA picked the Northrop Grumman company to lead Webb’s construction in 2002, mission managers estimated that it would cost $1 billion to $3.5 billion and launch to space in 2010.  Over-optimistic schedule projections, occasional development accidents and disorganized cost reporting dragged out the timeline to 2021 and ballooned the overall cost to $10 billion.”

Almost 12 years behind schedule and WAY the hell over budget.

And as far as I can tell, NASA doesn’t care, and I’m unaware of anyone ever holding NASA accountable for anything.

Certainly not this bunch:

And even one of their own committee members couldn’t avoid using one of those less-than-confident words:

“Today’s success and the ones to hopefully follow will undoubtedly inspire an entire generation of students excited to learn and grow from this observatory.”
– Don Beyer (D-VA) Chairman, Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

And NASA and others involved sure aren’t holding themselves accountable – they’re too busy congratulating themselves for getting Webb off the launch pad, and saying ridiculous things like this:

“We have delivered a Christmas gift today for humanity.”
– European Space Agency Director General Josef Aschbacher

“What an amazing Christmas present.”
– Thomas Zurbunchen, NASA’s science mission chief

“I’m like ‘Wow, what are we about to do?’  We’re launching this amazing engineering feat into the cosmos.”
– Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History in New York City

“…like nothing we’ve done before.”
– NASA program director Greg Robinson

“This is a great day, not only for America, but a great day for planet Earth…We are going to discover incredible things we never imagined.”
– Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator

“It is a gift to everyone who contemplates the vastness of the universe.”
– Kenneth Sembach, director of the telescope institute

With regards to that last quote?

Kenneth, it’s a gift I didn’t ask for, and don’t want.

Especially since, according to the aforementioned rocket scientist Alison Nordt:

“And after about a decade, when Webb’s fuel runs out, the telescope’s carcass will remain there for a very long time.”


Meaning our $10 billion in…

Will then be…

Yup, I want a refund.

A refund for those 40 square miles that my $10 billion in tax dollars in one-dollar bills would cover.

Let’s see…40 square miles.

That’s the size of the city of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, east of Los Angeles:

I want refund but…

I’ll consider an exchange, instead.

Instead of that $10 billion…

Give me Rancho Cucamonga:

Monday Was My…

Back in mid-June I did a post entitled, And What To My Wondering Eyes Did Appear

That’s a line from the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Why was I quoting a Christmas poem in June?

Because I was watching the PBS NewsHour and saw this:

Something I hadn’t seen in many, many months:

NewsHour host Judy Woodruff had been joined by guests in the studio.

Her two guests were sitting across the desk, no masks, doing their interview face-to-face.

No talking from their home offices or living rooms on sometimes-less-than-reliable equipment.

These two guests were live and in-person!

In my post I said,

I was transfixed.

It was, I realized, a real, true sign that we are on the road to recovery.

It looked so normal.

Happy days were here again!

Fast forward six months, to Monday, December 20.

‘Twas a few nights before Christmas.

On that evening’s PBS NewsHour came this:

“…COVID and the Omicron variant…to join us remotely.”

No more guests in the studio.

No more face-to-face.

I’d heard, read and seen endless stories like this:

But this…

What I was seeing on the NewsHour was my crash and burn moment.

We’ve taken a monstrous step back.

Back to the bad old days.

And the predictions are worse than bad – they’re dire:

And yet millions of people are acting as if “Omicron” is just a word, and “Delta” is just a memory:

On December 18, 2021 on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said,

“People are going, ‘I’m so sick of hearing this,’ and I am, too.  But the virus is not sick of us, and it is still out there looking for us…”

Here’s why it is this way:

You’ve Heard Of RINO – Republican In Name Only

When a Republican dares to disagree with Donald Trump, he calls him or her a “RINO” – Republican In Name Only:

I think it’s time we call Joe Manchin what he is:

A “DINO” – Democrat in Name Only

Remember the old “If it walks like a duck and looks like a duck…”?


If Manchin goes on Fox News on December 19 to announce his betrayal like a Republican…

And talks like a Republican…

“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’  Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation.”

And acts like a Republican…

And acts like a Republican…

And acts like a Republican…

And raises money like a Republican…

And is loved by this Republican…

Then it’s pretty clear he’s…

Joe Manchin…

Book Review:  There’s No “Fun” In This Much Dysfunction

Publication date:  September 2021

Category:  Domestic thrillers

Review, short version:  I usually limit myself to four skunks, but for this I made an exception.

Review, long version:

Imagine you’re standing on a corner at a busy intersection, waiting for the light to change.

You see a car entering the intersection, doing the speed limit.  The driver has the green light.

Then you see a car in the cross street, approaching the intersection at a high rate of speed, and a red light the driver isn’t slowing down for.

In that split second you know three things:

  1. The two cars are going to be in a horrible crash.
  2. There’s nothing you can do to stop it.
  3. You can’t look away.

The cars do; there wasn’t; and you didn’t.

This is how I felt – over and over again – throughout the 464 dreadful pages of Liane Moriarty’s Apples Never Fall.

The horrible crashes kept happening and, for reasons I haven’t figured out, I couldn’t look away.

The lead characters are the six Delaney family members:  parents Stan and Joy, and four adult children ages 29 to 39.

This family is so dysfunctional, they make my family look like a walk in the park – and believe me, my family was and is dysfunctional.

Into this mix comes an interloper named Savannah.  She presents herself as a stranger, but it will turn out that she has a long-ago connection to the Delaney family.

A – no surprise here – completely dysfunctional connection.

Savannah, we’ll learn, is a psychopath:

All the characters are so depressing to be around, I don’t understand why I spent all that time with them.  I’m beating myself up for the precious time I wasted reading Apples, when I could have been doing something worthwhile.

Like changing the stale air in my car tires.

And I don’t understand why Moriarty would want to create such depressing characters – so I went online and read some of the numerous interviews she did when Apples came out.

In this one, for example:

Moriarty said,

“The trick with her was not to make Joy too annoying; I wanted her to annoy her children, but not annoy the reader.”


Joy annoyed me a lot, all the way through the book.

Here’s a sample of Joy speaking, after she’s met Savannah (page 24):

“Savannah.  That’s a pretty name,” said Joy.  “I have a friend called Hannah.  Quite similar!  Well, not that similar.  Savannah.  Where do I know that name from?  I know, I think Princess Anne has a granddaughter called Savannah.  She’s a cute little girl, a bit wicked!  I don’t think she’s Princess Savannah.  I don’t think she has a title at all.  Not that you’d be interested in that.  I’ve just always had a special interest in the royal family.  I follow them on Instagram.”

Why, oh why, did I stay with this book?

Then there was this interview, in the Sydney Morning Herald (Moriarty is a native Australian):

The author references the “dark humor” in Moriarty’s writing, and yes – that final, sickening, drawn-out scene, where Savannah sets her mother up to die a long, slow, painful death?

That was a side-splitter, for sure.

I never did find an answer to, Why did Moriarty create such unlikable characters?

I do understand that a story without drama isn’t a story, and dysfunction is a sure-fire way to create drama. 

But this dysfunctional?  Characters this unlikable?   This…this…


After reading and liking her first seven books, I disliked Moriarity’s eighth, Nine Perfect Strangers, and said so – emphatically – in a post, including referring to it as a “super stinker.”

Perhaps someday I’ll figure out why I stayed with Apples, but in the meantime…

Eliza And Her Iterations

The “Eliza” I’m referring to in the title is Eliza Doolittle, the lead character in the musical My Fair Lady.

The show was recently in San Diego, and while I knew it had been around for a long time, this got me wondering – just how long?

Research required.

Eliza Doolittle wasn’t created for My Fair Lady.  She was created for a play written by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, pictured), a prolific Irish playwright, critic and political activist.  He wrote Pygmalion in 1912, and the story is set in London at around that time.  The play was described as “a study of language and speech and their importance in society and in personal relationships.”

Eliza was Shaw’s lead female character, which brings us to…

Eliza Iteration #1:

When Pygmalion opened in London in 1914, she was played by British actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell.

Eliza was of indeterminate age, a poor, working-class English female who sold flowers on the street – hence the costume and flower basket.

Shaw’s male lead character was Professor Henry Higgins, described as a “brilliant linguist who studies phonetics and documents different dialects and ways of speaking.”

When they meet, Eliza’s working-class way of speaking greatly offends Higgins.

So Eliza becomes Higgins’ experiment:  He will teach her to speak like a lady.

Many consider Pygmalion Shaw’s most popular play, and regular revivals attest to that – as recently as 2011 in Dublin.

From its opening in 1914 and still going strong nearly 100 years later – the story of the flower seller and the professor has “legs.”

Eliza Iteration #2:

In 1938, a British film version of Pygmalion was released, starring British actress Wendy Hiller as Eliza.

The creative folks tinkered some with the script for the adaptation.  The movie was a financial and critical success, earning an Oscar for Best Screenplay and three more nominations:  Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress (Hiller).

I have not seen Pygmalion in either of its forms – this is where I came in:

Eliza Iteration #3:

This time around, the creative people did a lot more than tinker with Pygmalion – they changed the title to My Fair Lady and turned it into a musical, starring British actress/singer Julie Andrews as Eliza.

The show opened in New York in 1956 and was a critical and popular success – winning six Tony Awards including Best Musical – and set a record for the longest run of any musical on Broadway up to that time.

And the stage version also has “legs.”  As I said at the top, it was recently in San Diego, 65 years after its Broadway debut.

I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Andrews, but years later I enjoyed revivals of My Fair Lady a number of times.  I bought the soundtrack and know every lyric by heart, and I’m enchanted every time I hear Andrews sing Eliza’s story in her incomparable voice.

Eliza Iteration #4:

The 1964 film version of My Fair Lady was Hollywood all the way, with Audrey Hepburn as Eliza.

The film won eight Oscars.  And though this image is black and white, the film was not.

If you’re wondering why Julie Andrews didn’t just slide into her Eliza duds and star in the movie – The Powers That Be decided she wasn’t well-known enough in the U.S. to be a big box office draw.  And Hepburn was, even though…

She couldn’t sing.

So her singing was dubbed by “ghost singer” Marnie Nixon.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the movie on TV.  Between the movie and stage version, I’m sure I’ve seen My Fair Lady a dozen times.

I know My Fair Lady

But it seems I didn’t know it as well as I thought.

Eliza Iteration #5:

When I started seeing ads about My Fair Lady coming to San Diego in early December, I knew I wouldn’t see it.  I’m not yet comfortable with the idea of sitting in an audience, especially with a new coronavirus variant rearing its ugly head.

But I did read a review in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

I noted the word “surprises” in the headline.

What kind of surprises? I wondered.

The first surprise – a very big surprise – appeared in the first paragraph:

“There are a handful of old plays and musicals that many feminists detest, including Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ and Lerner and Loewe’s musical ‘My Fair Lady,’ in which female characters return to misogynistic men who treat them abominably.”

For all the times I’d seen My Fair Lady, never – not once – had the idea of “female characters return to misogynistic men who treat them abominably” occurred to me.

It was like a punch to the gut.

Yes, Professor Higgins treats Eliza badly.  But to me that was a story device – to contrast with how, as the story progresses, we see Higgins come to care for Eliza.

And he comes to care for her a great deal.

What was I missing here?

I consider myself an enlightened woman.  I abhor men who abuse women in any way.  When the #MeToo movement got started, I cheered.  When an abuser goes to prison, I cheer some more.

It was time to educate myself, and I found a number of relevant articles, including one by this theater critic:

What an eye-opener.

Through this critic’s lens, I came to see that yes – Professor Higgins is an abuser and Eliza is his victim.

And the abuse starts early on, at Eliza and Higgins’ first encounter:

Higgins:  “A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere.”

Eliza has, he says, has “no right to live.  Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech; that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and the Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.”

1938: Eliza and Higgins – her abuser?

Further into the show:

Higgins decrees that Eliza is a “squashed cabbage leaf” and an “incarnate insult to the English language.”

When a series of examples is cited by the critic, the abuse is overwhelming:

“She’s so deliciously low – so horribly dirty!”

“I’ll make a duchess of this draggle-tailed gutter-snipe!”

Violence is airily invoked; Eliza is nothing to him:  “Take her away, Mrs. Pearce.  If she gives you any trouble, wallop her.”

And at the end of all this?  “When I’m done with her, we can throw her back into the gutter…”

And in case there’s any doubt about Higgins’ attitude toward not just Eliza but women in general, the critic reminds us of these famous lyrics in one of Higgins’ songs:

Women are irrational, that’s all there is to that!
Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags.
They’re nothing but exasperating, irritating,
Vacillating, calculating, agitating,
Maddening and infuriating hags!

1956: Eliza and Higgins – her abuser?

And since I know the lyrics to well, this reminded me of more from the same song:

Why is thinking something women never do?
Why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do.
Why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?

Did the people appearing in and watching and writing about the 1914 play, the 1938 movie, the 1956 stage musical and/or the 1964 musical movie find the insults funny?

When I saw the stage musical and movie, did I? 

Some in the audience and the Daily Beast critic did not:

As this critic left, an elderly-looking woman said to her husband of Higgins, “Why would you want to stay with him?  He’s so abusive.”

…you do not wish for Eliza and Higgins to be together; you want her to get the hell away from him.

1964: Eliza and Higgins – her abuser?

But…but…the music and the singing and the costumes and the sets are so wonderful and…and…

And the abuse is so obvious.


Earlier I referenced Eliza Iteration #5, and this is it.

At the end of the stage musical and movie versions of My Fair Lady, Eliza has abandoned Higgins, but returns to him.  We don’t know what their relationship will be, but she’s back.

In this iteration…

The majestic My Fair Lady has been given a #MeToo makeover.  Or, more accurately, it has reclaimed the ending that George Bernard Shaw intended for Pygmalion, the play it is based on, in 1913.

Eliza Doolittle finally leaves Professor Henry Higgins; and she does so with a smile on her face and a mixture of bruised peace, equality, and resignation thrumming between them.

So, Eliza got a new ending.

And I got…

Trump Immortalizes “Toilet Paper” Moment On His New Book Cover

If you write a book and no respectable publishing house will touch it, what do you do?

Well, if you’re Donald Trump, you hire two bozos with no publishing experience:

And tell them to publish your book.

On the left in the above image is, of course, Donald Trump Jr., who is much more widely known as a killer of animals…

…than as a rising star of the publishing industry.

The other image is of Sergio Gor, and I had to do some digging to learn about him.  I did find this…

And apparently Gor has evolved from a boring fringe nonentity into a boring chief of staff for the Trump campaign’s finance committee, and now a boring pseudo-publisher.

Neither this article nor any other mentioned Gor having publishing experience.

The bozos named the company “Winning Team Publishing” – I don’t know why, since the “team” lost in 2020.

This image on the right appears to be their logo – I don’t know why they’re calling him “President,” since he lost in 2020.

The company – such as it is – has a website, where we get a preview of the book’s contents:  photos and captions, some of the latter handwritten by Trump:

We learned about Trump’s book in mid-November, and I enjoyed reading this:

And this:

And this:

Here are a few of those Twitter critics:

The book’s title is Our Journey Together and it was released on December 7.

I assume it includes some of Trump’s finest moments (with handwritten captions), like when he mocked a disabled reporter:

And when he threw paper towels at people after the 2017 hurricane in Puerto Rico:

And during his July 4, 2019 speech…

… when he talked about 1775 revolutionary soldiers “taking over the airports”:

The price of the book is $74.99, or $229.99 for a signed copy.

Remember when Trump had COVID and was in Walter Reed Hospital in October 2020?  And he posed for this picture, signing blank paper?

Now we know:

He was practicing his signature for his new book.

Which you can’t have.

Yup – according to the Winning Team website,

“The first batch of 100,000 has already sold out!  The second print will start shipping out in January 2022!”

True or otherwise – and I vote for the latter – this is repeated elsewhere on the website:

So, there goes my Christmas, and yours.

No Trump book under the Christmas tree.

There is an upside, though.

Our Journey Together can be ordered now, and as a consolation prize, buyers will receive this holiday card, at no charge.

Complete with toilet paper:

Here’s A Perfect Example Of…

There’s an old axiom, “A friend in need is a friend, indeed,” meaning, that a friend who helps someone when help is needed is a true friend.

By that definition, those who have a “true friend” are fortunate.

I’m sure that a 37-year-old German man recently felt that way when he asked a friend for help, and the friend helped him.

The German man was not named in the story I read – a story that briefly made headlines in numerous media outlets in late November.

So let’s call the man Stefan.

And his friend – Jan.

Here they are:

Hey – I’m not stereotyping.  I think guys in lederhosen are sexy.

And I’m not the only one – check out this article:

Back to Stefan and Jan.

Stefan wanted to borrow something from Jan:  his car.  And Jan, being that “friend in need,” said “Jawol!” which is German for “Yes!”

(Don’t worry – I won’t overdo the German/English thing.)

Jan tossed his Opel Zafira keys to Stefan, and off Stefan went.

And now Jan…

Is being investigated by the German police.

Jan’s good deed is not going unpunished.


Because Jan loaned his car to Stefan…

So Stefan could drive to the German DMV – the Kraftfahrzeugbehörde – and take his driving test:

This begs the question, “What was he thinking?”

If Stefan told Jan that he was borrowing his car to drive to his driving test – what was Jan thinking?  That this was eine gute idee?

A good idea?

And Stefan – what was he thinking? 

According to the article, Stefan said:

“…he had only driven because he wanted to make sure to get to the driving test on time.”

I’m a major fan of punctuality, but in this case?

We’ll never really know what Stefan and Jan were thinking, but it’s pretty clear what the driving instructor was thinking when Stefan arrived:

Which needs no translation.

The driving instructor cancelled the test and called these guys:

I’m pretty sure polizei needs no translation, either.

It’s too bad Stefan didn’t read this article before he borrowed Jan’s car and headed to the DMV:

Here are the 15 Tips:

And nowhere does it say anything remotely resembling…

“If you’re running late for your driving test, no prob – just borrow a friend’s car.”

And as for #12…

“Don’t assume that your mistakes are critical.”

I’d say getting busted, and getting your friend busted, constitutes a critical mistake.

Well, at least some headline writers had a few moments of fun when they came up with this headline:

That “Auto-ban” in the title is a play on the German word “autobahn,” which is what they call their highways in Germany:

But don’t be looking for Stefan and Jan on the autobahn anytime soon…

This Goat Was No GOAT:

Every time I use the word “idiom” I have to check the definition to be sure I’m using it correctly:

Idiom:  a figure of speech established by usage that has a meaning not necessarily deductible from those of the individual words.

One such idiom:  “That really gets my goat.” 

Or, “That statement really got John’s goat.”

Of course, I don’t have an actual “goat” for someone to “get,” and neither does John.

What the idiom means is to bother or annoy someone.  So, “That really bothered me” or, “That statement really annoyed John.”

I was curious about the origins of getting my/his/someone’s goat, and while I found a lot of information online, none of the writers seemed certain of where the phrase came from.

This writer, for instance…

…wrote more than 500 words about the topic, only to conclude at the end,

“In short, we don’t really know it comes from.  Do you have any ideas?”

While this website:

Suggested that,

“This expression comes from a tradition in horse racing.  Thought to have a calming effect on high-strung thoroughbreds, a goat was placed in the horse’s stall on the night before the race.  Unscrupulous opponents would then steal the goat in an effort to upset the horse and cause it to lose the race.”

I thought that sounded plausible, but this writer:

Said, or rather, sneered at the horse racing story:

“That’s just the sort of tale that gets the folk etymology juices running.  Let’s just say that there’s no evidence to support that story.”

The catalyst for my curiosity was this recent headline:

This “goat” was referencing both the idiomatic “get their goat” and the literal – the U.S. Naval Academy football team’s mascot is a goat, which appears in both animal form and human-as-animal form:

The goat’s name is Bill, and according to the Times article, Bill is “the 37th in the line of goats of various breeds to hold that distinction” over the last 70 years.

The “Army Cadets” in the headline refers to people enrolled at United States Military Academy West Point, also known as Army West Point or just West Point.

West Point also has a mascot – mules, also in two forms:

According to the West Point website:

“The tradition began as a response by the academy when the Naval Academy adopted the goat as its mascot.  Mules, the obvious choice for our mascot, had served in the Army for generations by hauling gear for our soldiers.  The Mules today are Ranger III and Stryker, and they are cared for entirely by the cadet Mule Riders.  One Mule Rider is chosen from each incoming class of cadets, making of a team of four that care for them every day.”

And, again according to the Times, there’s a tradition of West Point cadets stealing the Naval Academy’s mascots and vice versa:

“Army cadets have stolen Bill at least 10 times, beginning in 1953…Navy midshipmen once nabbed the Army’s mule mascots as well.”

Score:  West Point 10, Naval Academy 1.

“The pranks, euphemistically called ‘spirit missions,’ are generally timed to precede the annual Army-Navy football game, where both sides’ mascots are expected to appear.”

This year, the annual Army-Navy football game is December 11.

With the game date approaching, clearly someone had to kidnap something.

Thus the Times headline, “Army Cadets Tried to Get Navy’s Goat, Again.”

This all sounds like your typical college pranks, ha, ha, West Point stole the Navy’s goat! 

And I suppose it was.

Except for two things:

The first, said the Times, is that “Officially, mascot stealing is forbidden by a high-level formal agreement signed in 1992.”  The Times provided a link to the document, and here it is, in part:

“Will not be tolerated.”

I’d call that unequivocal – wouldn’t you?

And yet, says the Times, with regards to the kidnapping activities:

“…leaders of the schools have never been able to stamp them out.  And privately, the military leaders that forbid the missions at times have also chuckled with glee.”

That New York Times headline said, “Commanders Were Not Amused,” but it appears that the opposite is true.

So we have cadets deliberately and with much forethought disobeying that almost-20-year-old Memorandum of Agreement, and their superior officers laughing about it?

This does not elevate my confidence in our military and its operations.

Here’s the second thing, and it also does not elevate my confidence:

The current cadets and their strategic and leadership skills.

We’ve established that over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, the kidnappers from West Point got the Naval Academy’s goat.

Now let’s talk about the fact that it was…

The wrong goat:

“West Point raiders reconnoitered a private farm near Annapolis, MD and tried to sneak up to the paddock where the current goat mascot, a young angora with curly white wool, was pastured with others, including at least one retired Bill.

“The noisy assault team spooked the goats into a run, though, and when the fumbling cadets gave chase, they managed to grab only one goat – and not the right one.  After a four-hour drive back to West Point, they unveiled not Bill No. 37 but Bill No. 34, an arthritic, 14-year-old retiree with only one horn…”

The “noisy” and “fumbling” “West Point raiders” couldn’t tell the difference between a goat with one horn and a goat with two horns? 

I found this Times observation especially disturbing:

“…both service academies have tried to keep the incident quiet.  While many military leaders privately admire the ingenuity and determination needed to swipe a mascot, they do not like how it looks in public – especially when animals get hurt.”

The good news is that retiree Bill No. 34 was unhurt and returned safely and on the following Monday.

The bad news is that it appears the military leaders not only didn’t object to, but admired what the cadets did.

They objected only when the kidnapping-the-wrong-goat story went public.

And it did, in both civilian and military media outlets – a few of many examples:

And though the story was a grand opportunity for jokes – “Feeling sheepish” in the Daily Beast, “They took the wrong kid” from, and “Get Navy’s Goat” in the Times

I’m not laughing.

Here’s why:

  1. Military cadets knowingly violated a rule, which indicates a lack of discipline and respect.
  2. Military leaders appear both unable and unwilling to enforce the rule, which indicates pretty much a lack of everything.
  3. My tax dollars, which right now I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy about spending.

I did some research and confirmed that cadets at both West Point and the Naval Academy get a four-year free ride, courtesy of us taxpayers, in return for a commitment to serve in the military following graduation.

That free ride includes tuition, spending money, room, board, medical and dental care.

And of course, all sorts of spiffy outfits at West Point, like these:

And these:

And, of course, these:

Which costs us taxpayers plenty, according to a 2015 article in the Bangor Daily News:

“It officially costs around $205,000 to produce a West Point graduate, although a 2002 Government Accountability Office (GAO) put the cost at over $300,000; officers at the Naval Academy are minted for $275,000.”

In 2020, 1,113 cadets graduated from West Point.  Multiply that by $300,000 = $333,900,000.

In 2020, 1,017 cadets graduated from the Naval Academy.  Multiply that by $275,000 = $279,675,000

And that West Point cost for just one cadet was over $300,000 almost 20 years ago…

What is it now?

To educate, feed, clothe and house some – let’s be frank – bozos who were so good at breaking the rule, but so bad at planning and carrying out a simple kidnapping, and then couldn’t even discern the difference between a one-horned goat, and a goat with two horns?

This does not bode well for the success of future military missions.

Now, I’ve never given much thought to our military academies – they’ve always just been there.  West Point since 1802, and the U.S. Naval Academy since 1845. 

And while we’re naming military academies – the Coast Guard Academy since 1876, the Merchant Marine Academy since 1943, and the Air Force Academy since 1954.  And though we’re doing just fine without a Space Force Academy, there are those who are agitating for one.

And there are those who are agitating to get rid of all of them, like this writer:

“But they [military academies] are not the hallowed arbiters of quality promised by their myths.  Their traditions mask bloated government money-sucks that consistently underperform.  They are centers of nepotism that turn below-average students into average officers.  They are indulgences that taxpayers, who fund them, can no longer afford.  They’ve outlived their use, and it’s time to shut them down.”

I’m not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bathwater (idiomatic expression) and close all the military academies because some inept West Point cadets stole a goat, and the wrong goat at that.

But when I think of what we taxpayers are on the hook for, well…

You know I have to say this:

So, in an effort to assist the cadets at West Point on their future kidnapping forays – unless, of course, their superiors crack down and start enforcing that “kidnapping will not be tolerated” rule…

Here’s a visual aid to help the cadets in their goat selection:

A Reminder To These Two Thieves:

This happened in the North Clairemont neighborhood in San Diego, but it could have happened just about anywhere in 100 countries worldwide.

Five years ago a nice lady, Mary Williamson (pictured), and her husband built and installed a free little community library in their front yard, similar to these:

The idea is simple.

You install the little library, stock it with books, and anyone is welcome to take one – for free.  Patrons are encouraged to “take a book, and return a book.”

No fines, no fees, just take a book, and leave a replacement.

It’s such a nice thing to do.  It’s neighborly.  It encourages a sense of community – people who love to read stop and browse, and meet other like-minded people who do the same. 

And it encourages people of all ages to read.

Library hosts have fun with their little libraries.  Sometimes the libraries are mobile:

Sometimes multi-level:

And this host went all out, replicating their own home right down to the Halloween decorations on the front porch:

So, what’s not to like?

This story:

On a Friday afternoon in mid-November, Mary Williamson’s husband saw a man at their little library.  The man was emptying the almost 40 books out of the library and into a box. 

“My husband came out and the guy threw the book box that he had of our books into his car, and his wife and he got away,” Williamson said.

And it gets worse:  This is the “third time in as many months the library has been emptied.”

“‘They had a whole car of books, so they’re clearly selling them on eBay, or a flea market,’ Williamson said.  ‘They’re making money off these free community libraries.’”

This cloud did have the proverbial silver lining:

Generous neighbors were restocking the little community library, and Williamson said it would be up and running in a few days.

But that silver lining has another cloud:

Now, after three robberies in three months, the Williamsons “are thinking about adding surveillance cameras and a lock,” and that’s sad.   

It’s surely understandable, but – a lock defeats the spirit of the little library.  That spirit is welcoming – it says, “Open the door.  Take a book.  Read.  Enjoy.  Come again.”

The spirit of little community libraries appears to have started in 2009, when Todd Bol of Hudson, WI built a model of a one-room schoolhouse (pictured).  It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read.  He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.  His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away.

Bol and another Wisconsin resident, Rick Brooks, agreed that they’d like to see the little library idea spread, and they formed Little Free Library “to share good books and bring communities together.”  By the end of 2012 there were more than 4,000 Little Free Libraries; in 2020 they “surpassed 100,000 registered Libraries in more than 100 countries worldwide,” according to

But you don’t have to be a registered member of Little Free Library to start one – there are lots of people like the Williamsons who build their own.  And if do-it-yourself isn’t your thing, no worries – there are plenty of online options available.

If a little library is registered with, the host has the option of the location appearing on a map:

When you click on a location, the address of the Little Library may be displayed:

A great idea, if you’re looking for a Little Free Library.

Unfortunately, also a great idea if you’re thinking of robbing a Little Free Library.

And if a little library’s address isn’t available, like the Williamsons’, all thieves have to do is drive around and they’ll find them.

Like they did three times in three months, at the Williamson house.

To the two thieves – to all thieves – who steal from little community libraries, I say this:

First, you are assholes.

And, second:

Where Am I???????

Let’s say you – and your family or friends or whatever companions you choose – are going to take a trip on California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway.

Pacific Coast Highway runs the length of California:

You’re starting in San Diego, heading north, and ready for an adventure!

On the Coast Highway you’ll eventually approach the last three northern coastal towns in San Diego County – Encinitas, then Carlsbad, and then Oceanside:

You enter Encinitas and soon you see this landmark sign arching over Coast Highway:

No doubt about where you are!

You continue to head north, and you’re greeted by the Carlsbad sign, also arching over Coast Highway:

And then – Oceanside.  You’re on Coast Highway at Mission Blvd. in the heart of downtown:

Or are you?

No sign.

Where’s the sign?

Your guidebook has this picture of the Oceanside sign in the 1920s, right there at the same intersection, Coast Highway and Mission Blvd.:

And it says that sign was taken down in 1925 – it was in the middle of the street and drivers kept hitting it.

Sure, that makes sense.

But Encinitas and Carlsbad have those landmark signs on Coast Highway…

That look so cool, especially lit up at night:

Shouldn’t Oceanside have a sign like that?

It should.

But it won’t.

Apparently the Powers That Be – in this case, an organization called “MainStreet Oceanside” – have decided that Oceanside will have a landmark…


But…it won’t be on Coast Highway.

It won’t say “Oceanside.”

It won’t even say “O’side,” the city’s widely used nickname.

In fact, in won’t say anything but…


And it won’t actually be a sign, either.

Let’s start with the where.

According to this November 17 article:

Rather than on Coast Highway at the main downtown intersection (blue circle) it will be a block north and a block west (white circle) at the intersection of Tremont Street and Pier View Way:

So anyone driving – or walking – the Coast Highway won’t even see it.

Now let’s talk about the what.

Instead of Oceanside’s name or nickname – O’side – the sign will be a big “O” suspended over the intersection:

Which someday may or may not look like this artist rendering:

The design was the creation of partners Ann Worth and Sarah Hirschman at Object Projects, a San Diego-based architecture firm. 

Apparently MainStreet Oceanside couldn’t find an architecture firm in Oceanside, though I found a half-dozen with a quick visit to the city’s Chamber of Commerce website.

The Object Projects website offers this description of their design:

“The Oceanside ‘O’ is the winning competition entry for new sculptural signage and placemaking element…The project…is composed of a series of delicate discs suspended above a frequently activated intersection. The stainless-steel discs represent the numerous constituent groups which make up the City, while the discs’ mirrored finish reflects the surrounding cityscape and sunlight as it disappears over the Pacific nearby.  The elements are held in a delicate balance of tension, a phenomenon integral of the office’s ongoing research…construction commencing in Spring 2022.”

Yeah, I can envision a visitor to Oceanside looking up at this thing:

And saying, “Obviously, the stainless-steel discs represent the numerous constituent groups which make up the City.”

Actually, I envision visitors – and residents and anyone who sees this thing – saying:

“How the hell do I take a picture with that???”

You know – an easy photo op, like this:

And if a photo op looks like this…

What about this says “Oceanside”?


Which is especially interesting, considering that the December 2020 “Request for Proposals for Oceanside Landmark Sign…”

…specifically says in its “What We Are Looking For” section:

“Sign should be ‘Instagramable’ – i.e., accessible to take photos of and/or with to promote walkability of Downtown”

I guess the architects at Objects Projects missed that.

I guess the architects at Objects Projects also missed this, also from the “What We Are Looking For” section:

“The word ‘Oceanside’ or ‘Oside’ should be the main focal point”

But instead of that…this:

No “Oceanside.”  No “Oside.”


They might as well install a sign that looks like this:

What Oceanside is getting, said architect Worth,

“It’s almost like an urban-scale chandelier.”

Nowhere in that Request for Proposals did I find anything that suggested the city’s landmark sign should look like a “chandelier.”

“Urban-scale” or other-scale.

So, a sign that isn’t a sign, that doesn’t say “Oceanside,” and that’s not located on the Coast Highway.

You may have picked up on the fact that I think this is a really bad idea.

It’s also a really expensive one.

According to The Coast News article,

“The original budget for the project was $100,000 but jumped to $115,000 due to equipment upgrades…The sign will be mostly funded by the Downtown Business Improvement District, which is an assessment district managed by MainStreet Oceanside…Any other costs beyond that $115,000 figure will be picked up by MainStreet Oceanside or potential grant funding.”

But lest you think taxpayers are off the hook for this, I’ll mention this mess also involves Oceanside city staff, the Oceanside City Council, and the California Coastal Commission.

All of whose salaries are funded by…

Lastly – but far from leastly – let’s go back to that Coast News headline:

It’s hard for me to believe that whoever wrote that headline was unaware that Big ‘O’ is a common term for orgasm.

We talk about it, we agonize about it, we joke about it, but the point is – we say “Big O.”

And we write and/or read books about it:


Maybe that’s what the folks at MainStreet Oceanside intended?

And instead of people saying, “Meet me at Tremont and Pier View Way,” they’ll say, “Meet me at the Big O.”

Now that will be a photo op.

And The Winner Of The Year Is An…

There are lots of “(fill in the blank) of the Year” awards.

For instance, Time magazine began its “Man of the Year” in 1927, with international hero/aviator Charles Lindbergh.  The designation is regarded as an honor, and spoken of with high regard.

And though I think Time made some shitty choices over the years…

…Time did change its language from Man of the Year to Person of the Year and has honored a few women as well.

“Of the Year” awards abound:  There’s the National Teacher of the Year; Wildlife Photographer of the Year; Toy of the Year; Innovation of the Year; Game of the Year; Product of the Year; Book of the Year, and many more.

But the ___________ of the Year award that recently caught my attention was the MotorTrend Car of the Year, on the cover of their January 2022 issue.

Which is weird, because cars are of no interest to me.  Yes, I gladly own a car, but all I care about is that it’s dependable and gets me from Point A to Point B.  How sexy the car looks, and how sexy the car makes me look…

My car is 11 years old, so – sexy?


But my husband reads MotorTrend, so I asked what car the magazine had chosen.

“The Lucid Air,” he said, which meant nothing to me.

But I thought choosing an electric vehicle – or EV, as I learned from the article – was very cool.

And yes, I did read the article.

OK – I’m lying.

I tried to read the article, but early on, when I encountered this paragraph, I lost my way:

“Then, instead of multiplying the motor’s torque and then sending it through beefy differential gears, Lucid packages a small, light diff inside the rotor.  Yes, this design requires two reduction gears, but placing a compact planetary unit on each side of the motor keeps things light and results in a complete drive unit with triple the power density of the leading competitors.”

A “diff”?  “Planetary unit”?  “Power density”?

Knowing I’d require a carspeak-to-English translator to understand this, I skimmed – until I got to the last part of the last paragraph, and this resonated with me:

“In the long run, we believe electric vehicles are the way forward for cars and mobility, and the way forward for electric vehicles is continuous improvement of electric batteries, motors, and charging.  That’s why the great looking, strong performing, tech-leapfrogging Lucid Air is MotorTrend’s 2022 Car of the Year.”

I, too, believe electric vehicles are the way forward for cars.

Electric vehicles – no gasoline.

No more dealing with this:

Or this:

Or this:

But instead, just this:

My next car will be an EV, though it won’t be a Lucid, with an “entry-level model”:

That, according to MotorTrend, will start at $77,000.

This Nissan Leaf is more me:



But never doing this again?

Now, that is…