Let’s Compare and Contrast

This past Friday I received a piece of mail that reinforced my satisfaction about living in California.

Sure, California has its problems – high taxes, a housing shortage, the politics, homelessness, earthquakes and more.  And according to this article:

“All 58 counties in the state have seen a drop in out-of-state entrances and most counties saw an increase in the number of people leaving the state.”

But that piece of mail I received reminded me of the proverbial silver lining:

In 2021, 19 states passed laws that make it harder for people to vote:

Here are the 19 states:

And there’s much more to come:

“The push to impose voting restrictions at the state level is poised to continue next year as Republicans drive forward with an array of new proposals – ranging from legislation that would eliminate ballot drop boxes to bills that would establish new ID requirements to vote.”

While Republican legislatures were and are rushing to pass restrictive voting laws, last September the California governor signed Assembly Bill 37 and said:

“For every voice to be heard.”

Back to that piece of mail – here it is:

(I’ve removed my name and address.)

This pertains to our Gubernatorial Primary Election on June 7, 2022, and I received it on February 25, 2022, more than three months ahead of time.

Plenty of time for a voter to address any problems with their registration.

On this panel I’m asked to verify my address:

“If everything is correct, no further action is needed.”

How easy is that?

And if my address isn’t correct, there’s the web address – sd.vote.com – to update my information.

This panel also invited me to “Look inside to learn more!” and I did:

The inside clearly shows that even though I will receive my ballot by mail, I don’t have to return my ballot by mail – I can also use a drop box, or drop off my ballot at a Vote Center.

I don’t even have to use the mail-in ballot – I can vote at any Vote Center in San Diego County.

At the Vote Centers I can also register to vote or update my registration.

Let’s go back to those ballot drop boxes – they’ve become a target for Republicans:

And in Wisconsin – this won’t be the only state – they’ve been banned:

How easy, I wondered, will it be for me to find a ballot drop box?


At sd.vote.com and I found a list of ballot drop box addresses in San Diego County.

I also had the option of finding my closest drop-off location here:

I put in my zip code and got four locations in my town, one a short drive from my house.

I also learned that for the June 7 election, some Vote Centers will be open for 11 days, and all Vote Centers open for four days.

That piece of mail also included information for voters with disabilities, and for voters who want to request election materials in Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese or Chinese:

Seriously – I can’t think of anything California could do to make voting easier, other than someone coming to my house and showing me how to fill in my ballot:

And in many states, I suspect Republican legislators would like to do exactly that.

But they don’t have to.

Local Republican legislators can follow Texas’ lead and just toss ballots:

And those local Republican legislators’ counterparts in Washington, DC are making sure that the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – two bills that would set national standards for federal elections – aren’t going to happen:

Bottom line?

Even with the problems we have in California, I’m glad I live here, especially when it comes to voting.

So many Americans are facing this:

But California is the Land of the Free – free to mail my ballot or drop it off, free to not use it and vote in person, free to choose from plenty of options as to when and where I vote.

And come June 7 (or earlier) I’ll be wearing one of these:

How many Americans will be wearing one of these?

Make No Mistake:  Putin Won’t Stop With Ukraine

As I watched the news yesterday about Russia and Ukraine – and the world’s response to what was happening – I was reminded of another dictator in another time:

Adolph Hitler.

In March 1938, Hitler “annexed” Austria, a country with which it shared a border.

In September 1938, the Munich Agreement – a settlement reached by Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy – permitted Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland in western Czechoslovakia, which also shared a border with Germany. 

With the Munich Agreement, Neville Chamberlain, Great Britain’s prime minister, said he had achieved “peace with honour.  I believe it is peace for our time.” 

Hitler said he had “No more territorial demands to make in Europe.”

Germany defeated and occupied Poland (attacked in September 1939), Denmark (April 1940), Norway (April 1940), Belgium (May 1940), the Netherlands (May 1940), Luxembourg (May 1940), France (May 1940), Yugoslavia (April 1941), and Greece (April 1941).

In his sick mind, Hitler justified every invasion and every conquest.

In his sick mind, Putin has justified his invasion of Ukraine.

Putin won’t stop with Ukraine:

Let’s Take A Timeout For A Sweet Story

This is one of those stories that appears in the news for a day and then disappears.

But I think it’s worth spending some time with it, because it’s a sweet story.

And isn’t that a sweet relief?

We’re going to travel to La Mesa, a town of about 60,000 residents, nine miles east of downtown San Diego:

I’ve never been to La Mesa and don’t know much about it, so it was research time.

“La Mesa” means “the table” or “the plateau” in Spanish, so named because it’s located among rolling hills and mesa tablelands (a broad, high, level region), and is part of a larger area that was settled by Spanish missionaries.

La Mesa also has a nickname:  Jewell of the Hills.  I wasn’t able to learn how or when that originated, but according to one article, “most who grow up there say it lives up to that reputation.”

Among its attractions, La Mesa can claim:

The Secret Stairs:

The Walk of Fame:

And the Walkway of the Stars:

What La Mesa could not claim was one of these:

Unlike many local cities and districts, La Mesa does not have an archway sign.

So several years ago, the La Mesa Village Association (LMVA) decided to do something about it.

And now, after countless meetings and many focus groups and the inevitable pandemic delays, the La Mesa archway is on its way to becoming a reality.  Here’s an artist rendering, complete with the Jewel of the Hills:

Pam Rader, with the La Mesa Village Association, was firm in delineating that the archway was a district sign, not a gateway sign:

“Gateway signs are normally placed at an entrance or exit to a city.”

Rather, this district sign will welcome you to The Village, La Mesa’s quaint downtown area on La Mesa Boulevard.

We’re coming to the sweet part of this story.

Actually, there are two sweet parts, and I’ll start with the second.

According to this article:

“The cost of project is currently estimated to be $400,000 total, which includes design, construction, marketing and administration costs.”

But, says Rader, “We feel we will be able to fund this project through fundraising efforts without the need of public funds.”

No public funds – sweet part #2.

So how will the archway sign be paid for?

According to the La Mesa Courier article,

“The La Mesa Village Association has raised 63 percent of the needed funds to complete the sign through pledge sales of tiles and plaques.”

Let’s take another look at the artist rendering.  The plaques (right) being sold will be located here, at the top of the two support columns:

The LMVA website says the “personalized plaques are a great way to honor family, friends, loved ones, a branch of service or promote your business for decades to come.”

Here comes sweet part #1:

Below the plaques on both columns there will be artwork – 756 hand-painted, 4-by-4-inch tiles (left).

And who is going to hand paint those 756 tiles?

“It will be children, adults, it will be businesses,” said Rader.  “Anybody will be able to hand paint the tiles.”

The community artwork tiles are $125 for the public and $200 for businesses, and are limited to four tiles per family or business, “thus ensuring everyone can participate.”

Can you imagine the fun families could have, planning how to decorate a tile and then making their plans a reality?  And once the archway is completed, strolling around The Village and stopping to admire their artwork?  And perhaps, when the kids are grown, taking their children to see the tiles?

“In 15, 20, 100 years they can see how great they are,” said Rader.

Kids will paint those tiles, and adults will have fun with the tile painting, too.  They can be silly or serious and either way, they’ll make their mark on the La Mesa archway.

Truly making the archway a community project for all to enjoy.

As I sit here on this Wednesday morning, worrying about Russia in Ukraine, worrying about another coronavirus mutation, worrying about Republicans taking back the House and the Senate and the presidency…

It’s been sweet, instead, to spend a little time thinking about a community of people coming together to support the funding of their archway.

And actively participating in its appearance:

Book Review:  A Book About Writers…By An Insider

Publication date:  2009

Category:  Humorous American Literature

Review, short version:  Three roses out of four.

Review, long version:

It’s been a long, long time since I finished a book, closed it, and…


No – grinned.

Then I went back and reread the ending, and smiled…

And grinned…


The book is The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax.

It’s about four women writers who are great friends, and of great support to each other.

It’s about where their writing takes them, and the trouble they get into.

Their friendship is tested, and their future – both as writers and as friends – is in doubt.

Sounded like a winner to me, and to me – it was.

The only thing that kept me from giving it four roses was Kendall.

Kendall is one of the four writers, and while the other three – Mallory, Tanya and Faye – get plenty of time in the book, Kendall is the lead character.

Kendall has an agent, a publisher and an editor, she’s published a number of books, and she’s considered a “midlist” author, which means her books sell, though we’re not talking New York Times bestseller here. 

What Kendall has is a writing career – what so many writers can only dream about. 

But Kendall isn’t happy.  Her beloved editor left the publishing house, and her new editor is the Bitch from Hell.

And the Bitch has decided against signing another book contract with Kendall, which means Kendall is being dropped by the publisher.  Kendall is under contract to produce one more book, and the deadline is in a few months.  If she doesn’t meet the deadline, she’ll have to return her $30,000 advance.

A $30,000 advance – again, just a dream for so many writers.

But instead of grinding out the book, Kendall goes into a funk. 

While Kendall is moping around, she learns that her husband of 23 years is having an affair.  He leaves her for the other woman.

The other, younger woman.

Kendall transitions from a funk into a major tailspin.  She holes up in her house.  She binges on junk food, she doesn’t shower, and she sure isn’t writing.

And her three writer friends?

Kendall doesn’t respond to their concerned texts and emails.  They’re trying to offer Kendall their love and support, and – reasonably – looking for Kendall’s in return.  But this two-way street has turned into a dead end.

Kendall is too busy having her Pity Party.

Kendall’s husband is gone, her kids are at college, so she decides to get away, to a home in the mountains she inherited from her grandparents.

Sure – we all have one of those to run off to.

Kendall doesn’t have a day job and do her writing on the side, but apparently she somehow has an inexhaustible source of funds.

Just like you and me, right?

And at the house in the mountains?  New location, same scenario:  Junk food, no showering, no writing.

I got very weary of Kendall and her Pity Party.

Fortunately, it comes to an end when Mallory, Tanya and Faye collectively push, pull, and finally drag Kendall back to life.

And then…

Let the games begin!

Wendy Wax does a good job of delineating her characters, and they’re very different from each other except in their need to write and desire to be published.  Wax also gives us an insider’s look at the book publishing business, and it is…


There are references to “the arbitrariness and brutality” of the industry; how producing a finished manuscript is like “giving birth,” and then putting “the baby in the hands of people who would either ignore it or abuse it”; and how authors “were thrown out there, much like shit flung at a wall, while the publisher waited to see who ‘stuck.’”

And Wax would know – she’s published 18 books, which means she’s been flung at that wall a lot.

So we come to The Accidental Bestseller’s ending, and my smiles and grins. 

I hope you read it, and do the same.

“Sanctuary”…“Beacon”…I Hope California Gets This Right…

When Texas Senate Bill 8, or SB8 – which bans almost all abortions in Texas and delegates enforcement responsibility to citizens – went into effect on September 1, I wanted to better understand it.

I started with this article:

I thought the article was comprehensive, fair…

And sickening.

Especially when I read this:

“It is within the realm of possibility that a Wisconsinite could sue a Californian for abetting a Texan’s abortion.”

How could this be within the “realm of possibility”?

So, if a pregnant woman from Texas comes to California for an abortion and I, a California resident, assist her by, say, driving her to her appointment, then a person in Wisconsin or any other state can sue me?

That person having absolutely no connection to the woman from Texas, or to me?


The law is being challenged, of course, but the conservative majority on the Supreme Court “declined for a second time to put the law on hold,” according to this December 10 article:

So I was heartened to learn that well before the Court’s December 10 decision, something monumental had been going on behind the scenes in California:

“With more than two dozen states poised to ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court gives them the OK next year, California clinics and their allies in the state Legislature on Wednesday revealed a plan to make the state a ‘sanctuary’ for those seeking reproductive care, including possibly paying for travel, lodging and procedures for people from other states.”

The article talks about the formation of the California Future of Abortion Council (CA FAB) started by Governor Gavin Newsom and “made up of more than 40 abortion providers and advocacy groups.”

The CA FAB released a list of 45 recommendations for the state to consider if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade:

The Union-Tribune article says,

“The recommendations are not just a liberal fantasy.  Some of the state’s most important policymakers helped write them, including Toni Atkins, the San Diego Democrat who leads the state Senate and attended multiple meetings.”

“We are a beacon,” said Atkins.

Beacon:  someone or something that guides or gives hope to others.

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” said Newsom.

Sanctuary:  a place of refuge or safety.

These are noble goals.

The 45 recommendations, according to the article:

“…recommend funding – including public spending – to support patients seeking abortion for travel expenses such as gas, lodging, transportation and childcare.  It asks lawmakers to reimburse abortion providers for services to those who can’t afford to pay – including those who travel to California from other states whose income is low enough that they would qualify for state-funded abortions under Medicaid if they lived there.”

Here is the CA FAB report’s conclusion – it’s worth reading:

On December 1 the Supreme Court heard the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centers on a Mississippi law that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and – believe many – effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.

The decision is not likely to come until the end of the term in Spring 2022.

On January 10, California Gavin Newsom announced his budget for fiscal year 2022-2023.

On January 12 the California Future of Abortion Council leadership issued a statement on the Planned Parenthood website:

 The statement says, in part:

“The budget put forth by Governor Gavin Newsom shows California’s continued commitment to reproductive health, right, freedom, and justice.”

“…we intend to work closely with Governor Newsom, legislative leaders, and other California policymakers to ensure California continues to protect and expand access to abortion amid increased efforts by other states to implement extreme and dangerous restrictions, regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court may decide in the cases before them.”

“This year is perhaps the most consequential year for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.  It is essential that California policymakers take significant action in order to ensure Californians and those forced to seek care here are impacted as little as possible when accessing an essential and timely service like abortion.”

I think this graphic makes clear what’s going to happen when the Supreme Court makes its decisions.  It’s from the Guttmacher Institute, whose website says it’s “a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide”:

The need for what California is doing is clear.



I am 100% behind this, including with my tax dollars.

I hope California gets this right.

We Know Trump Is A Potty Mouth – Now We Learn He’s A Potty Disposer

Until recently, unbeknownst to me – and you, too, I hope – Trump has a website.

I’d never been on it – nor you, I hope – until this story began appearing:

I found this and other stories on the toilet topic highly credible – I can easily picture Trump tearing up documents and tossing them in a toilet, flushing the toilet, and then complaining to his toadies that the toilet was clogged.

This story comes from a new book, Confidence Man:  The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman.

According to Amazon, the book isn’t available until October 2, 2022.  It appears there was a leak somewhere, if you’ll excuse the plumbing allusion.

Haberman (pictured with the Disposer in Chief) appears to have good cred – according to various online sources, Haberman came to significant prominence during the Trump campaign and presidency, frequently breaking news about the administration.  She’s “a White House correspondent who joined The New York Times in 2015 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on Donald Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia.”

She’s also a political analyst for CNN; she previously worked as a political reporter for the New York Post, the New York Daily News and Politico; and she continues to cover Donald Trump and politics in Washington.

Plus you know Haberman is doing something right, judging by this headline:

Trump comes up with denigrating nicknames – especially for women – when he’s afraid.

And according to the Newsweek article:

“Appearing on the View on Thursday, former White House communications director Alyssa Farah said…that according to those people that she still speaks to in ‘Trumpworld,’ the former president is reportedly ‘terrified of Maggie Haberman’s book.’”

Back to Trump’s website.

It looks like this:

No need to read it – it’s just more of the same as his time in the White House:

But do read what he said about using toilets as his personal disposal:

Having read all this, I know that I – and you, too, I hope – will not be adding Trump’s website to my desktop shortcuts…

What Will $50,000 Get You These Days?

If you, like most of us, have $50,000 just laying around that you don’t need for boring stuff like food or clothes or a place to live…

And that $50,000 is burning the proverbial hole in your pocket…

And you’re ready to spend it but you’re not sure on what…

I can help.

What will your $50,000 get you these days?

How about an umbrella?  Everyone needs one of those.

At $50,000, the Billionaire Couture Umbrella is the world’s most expensive.  Made of black top-quality, water-resistant crocodile skin, every umbrella is also given its own complex detail, guaranteed to be “completely unique.”


How about this $50,000 diamond-encrusted Bluetooth headset from Plantronics?

This limited-edition gold and diamond treasure was created for the hands-free phone user who has everything, especially those concerned that the ugly plastic Bluetooth is overpowering their gold and diamond earrings.

Of course, all lists of $50,000 items should include a car, like this one:

Now, a word of caution:  This BMW Z4 is listed at around $50,000, BUT it’s a 2020.  And, says the website, “Prices will increase as you choose a trim with more features or add options.”  But if you don’t mind a stripped-down second-hand car, for $50K it’s yours.

Here’s a recent $50,000 option:

According to the article,

“UC San Diego’s Birch Aquarium is selling the naming rights to its Little Blue Penguins for $50,000 apiece.”

I’m a great fan of penguins, but I became aware of Little Blue Penguins only recently.  I did some research, and these guys are pretty darn cute.  They’re the smallest penguin – only about a foot tall – and they really are blue:

The Birch Aquarium is home to 10 Little Blues, but the naming rights have already been claimed for five of them, so – you’d better hurry.

There are four suggestions for how to spend that $50,000 of yours.

But if none of them resonates, here’s one more suggestion:

No, no – not the entire jet.

Your $50,000 will buy you a 1/2000th share of one of these $100,000,000 F-35C Lightning II jets.

Hopefully, it wasn’t this F-35C Lightning II jet:

On January 24, that jet crashed on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.

Then, according to this image…

The crash injured seven sailors including the pilot, when he ejected.  The jet skidded off the side of the aircraft carrier and into the South China Sea:

Where it promptly sank.

A Navy spokesperson referred to the incident as an “landing mishap.”

The story was all over the news for a day or two, and then we forgot about it. 

Until recently, when the January 24 crash was suddenly back in the news because this happened:

The article refers to the “harrowing crash” seen on the 51-second video, and “the jet’s rear erupting into flames as it hits the deck.”

The video was leaked onto social media.

A different Navy spokesperson talked about the “ongoing investigation” into the “unauthorized release of the shipboard video footage.”

The Navy isn’t happy about this unauthorized video release.

But you can be happy, because you didn’t invest your $50,000 into that 1/2000th share of that $100,000,000 F-35C Lightning II jet.

What’s that you say?

You did invest in in?

Oh…you’re right.

We all did.

We invested our…

And we’re not finished investing our tax dollars in this “landing mishap”:

The Navy wants to recover the F-35C Lightning II jet from the South China Sea because it’s loaded with all sorts of secret technology that our government doesn’t want China to access.

As if they weren’t already doing just that:

According to the CNN article, as of January 26, “U.S. salvage vessels are 10 to 15 days transit time to the site, and recovery once there could take up to 120 days.”

Another article quoted Carl Schuster, a retired U.S. Navy captain and former director of operations at the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, who detailed what’s involved in an operation like this, and added, “We’re looking at several million dollars to do the recovery.”

“Several million dollars” is military lingo for, “Countless millions, but who cares?  It’s not our money.”

Case in point:

This $10,000 item, says the article – more military lingo here – is a “cover-center wall, troop compartment latrine…required to protect the aircraft from corrosion damage in the latrine area.”

It looks like this:

If the Air Force had asked me – which they’ve yet to do, about anything – I would have suggested they reconsider that $10,000 choice and check out this alternate on eBay:

“Velvet…washable…” and they could have bought 263 of these for $10,000!


We started with the question, “What will $50,000 get you these days?”

I know what that $50,000 will get me.

And I’m going to send a note to the IRS as follows:

To:  Mr. Charles Rettig, Commissioner, IRS

Re:  My 2021 and Future Tax Returns

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

In lieu of paying the IRS my taxes for 2021 and for the foreseeable future, I am instead directing a total of $50,000 toward the purchase of naming rights of a blue penguin presently residing at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego.

I consider this a much better use of my tax dollars, as I am certain the penguin will never, ever have a landing mishap on the deck of the Carl Vinson.

I’m Going To Have A LaughFest And…

I think some things never go out of style, and laughter is one of them.

I like to laugh.

I love to laugh.

I love to snigger, and snort, and giggle.

Chuckle, chortle, and guffaw.

And there’s something that’s guaranteed to make me laugh, but…

It has gone out of style.

And guess what?

I don’t care.

These days, I’ll take my laughs anyway I can get them, as long as they’re not at someone else’s expense.

What is that out-of-style-but-makes-me-laugh thing?

Definition:  Any word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary, but should.

I don’t recall when I first encountered sniglets, but I soon realized that when I wanted a guaranteed laugh, to just go online and google them.

And oh – how I laugh.  Sometimes to tears.

Let’s get started with a few, just to get warmed up:

Furbling:  Having to wander through a maze of ropes at an airport or bank even when you’re the only person in line.

Lactomangulation:  Manhandling the “open here” spout on a milk carton so badly that one has to resort to using the “illegal” side.

Slackjam:  The condition of being trapped in one’s own trousers while trying to pull them off without first removing shoes.

Are you snickering?

You can see how old this sniglet is – “20¢ stamps,” 1981!

Maybe even…chuckling?

I am. 

Even after repeated readings, sniglets still make me laugh.

But – why did I say sniglets are out of style?

Because they originated 1980s, and that’s SO last century.  (See coffee mug.)

During the ‘80s on HBO, in the comedy Not Necessarily the News, a guy named Rich Hall came up with the word “sniglets” – and the sniglets as well.  Singlets became so popular that Hall went on to write five sniglets books, a daily panel in newspaper like this one…

…and create a sniglets game and calendars. 

Hall inspired people to create their own sniglets, and they challenged others to do the same.

Like these:

Destinesia:  When you get to where you were intending to go, but forget why you were going there in the first place.

Brakenoia:  The act or urge of stepping on the brake on the passenger side of the car.

Afterclap:  The last person who claps after everyone else has stopped.

Chairdrobe:  Piling clothes on a chair in place of a closet or dresser; see also floordrobe.

Profanitype:  Symbols used by cartoonists to replace swear words.

Cheedle:  The residue left on one’s fingertips after consuming a bag of Cheetos.

In my research I learned that a sniglet is a neologism, “a newly coined word or expression” like webinar, malware and blogosphere.

And I got inspired to create a newly coined word:

Blinkerblind:  Turning a corner in your car and then failing to notice that your blinker is still on.

I also learned – hurrah! – that sniglets aren’t as out-of-date as I’d thought!

Here are some more recent additions:

Textpectation:  The anticipation felt when waiting for a response to a text.

Unlightening:  Learning something that makes you dumber.

Columbusing:  When white people claim to have discovered something that’s been around for years, decades or centuries.

And some creatives are concocting pandemic-related sniglets:

Pajamaflauge:  The article of clothing you keep by your computer to hide the fact you are still wearing your pajamas.

Zoomkeeping:  Cleaning only the parts of your house visible behind you when your webcam is turned on.

Zoomgloom:  Extreme and unending videoconference fatigue.

Coronarage:  The feeling when every giant corporate entity insists “We’re all in this together” when in fact you are home alone in your apartment.

Maskectomy:  Ripping your mask off your face as soon as you get into your car.

Forgetties:  Sort of like memories, but you want to forget them.

I’d be hard pressed to single out my favorite sniglet – my spellcheck hates them, but I love them all.

But I am especially fond of this one, probably because – I’ll admit it here, for the first time ever – I have done this:

In Case You Were Wondering…

I was in…probably seventh grade. 

The boring science teacher was droning on about the solar system.

He pointed to a chart and slowly read out each planet’s name: 



And that’s where the snickering started.

The snickering almost drowned out the teacher’s recitation of the remaining planet’s names:


What was so funny? I wondered.

I was later to learn that the teacher had pronounced “Uranus” as many people do:


And, since I needed to know this for a test, I learned to pronounce it that way, too.

Sidebar:  Yes, the teacher included Pluto as one of the planets – it didn’t lose its planet status until 2006.  Which it now appears is up for debate:

Anyway, I didn’t get the joke until years later, maybe in high school biology, where I first heard the word “anus,” a part of the gastrointestinal system.

And it was referred to by many as the “asshole.” 


“Your-ANUS!  I get it!”  Snicker, snicker!

After that, when Uranus occasionally made the news, like in this old article:

I could join in with the snickering. 

“Dark rings of Your-ANUS!”  Snicker, snicker!

Then came the day I saw a scientist interviewed on TV, and he pronounced the planet’s name “YOOR-un-us.”

“He’s pretty dumb for a scientist,” I thought.

Eventually I learned that I was the dummy, and that the correct pronunciation is, in fact, “YOOR-un-us.”

So, life went on, I knew how to correctly pronounce “Uranus,” and I didn’t think much about it.

Until recently, when a very small article in the newspaper (right) caught my attention:

“Chemical processes in the deep interior of Uranus.”

I resisted the temptation to snicker and instead wondered, “Why is Your-un-us pronounced that way, and who the heck came up with that name in the first place…

“And why?”

Research time.

I learned that Uranus makes serious headlines, like this:

And this:

And this:

Oh, come on – that last one?  You didn’t snicker…even a little?

Well, some people are still snickering over the planet’s name, like here:

But this serious article answered my why? and who? and why?

“The first six planets in the solar system have been visible to observers throughout human history and were named for Roman gods.  But because it orbits so far from the sun, Uranus was not visible with the naked eye.  In fact, it is the first planet officially identified with a telescope.”

“Sir William Herschel found the seventh planet on March 13, 1781, while scouring the night sky for comets…Ultimately, German astronomer Johann Elert Bode (whose observations helped to establish the new object as a planet) named Uranus after an ancient Greek god of the sky.  Bode argued that as Saturn was the father of Jupiter, the new planet should be named for the father of Saturn.  Uranus is also the only planet to be named after a Greek god rather than a Roman one.”

I picked up more facts about Uranus from this website:

“The seventh planet from the Sun with the third largest diameter in our solar system, Uranus is very cold and windy.  The ice giant is surrounded by 13 faint rings and 27 small moons as it rotates at a nearly 90-degree angle from the plane of its orbit.  This unique tilt makes Uranus appear to spin on its side, orbiting the Sun like a rolling ball.”

“With a radius of 15,759.2 miles, Uranus is four times wider than Earth.  If Earth was the size of a nickel, Uranus would be about as big as a softball.”

While I was online, I decided to look for a description of “anus” besides “asshole”:

That “anus” research also led here, where it appears “Anus” is a baby name option:

And a family name option:

And is, in fact, the family name of this man:

Note the headline below (snicker, snicker):

According to the article:

“Political candidate Luc Anus is standing as a council candidate in Lobbes, south Belgium, but when someone posted a photo of his election poster online, he decided he would have to change his name.

“He is now listed as ‘Luc Anu’ on the social media site, with Luc telling local reporters:  ‘Facebook just does not accept my name.’”

And speaking of headlines, I’ll confess that despite all my new-gained knowledge, and my undoubted sophistication, and the fact that I’m not really a snickering kind of person…

I’ll finish this with true confession time:

I did snicker when I saw this headline:

There Are Almost 117,000 Public Libraries In The U.S., But Only One Has This Book:

When someone writes a book, they don’t do so in a vacuum.

They write, and they want people to read what they’ve written.

Authors dream about their books appearing on the New York Times best seller list and in other prestigious publications. 

I like to think that authors also dream about their books being available at our country’s almost 117,000 public libraries. 

This is a story about an author who dreamed of the latter.

Dillon Helbig wasn’t concerned about his book appearing on the New York Times best seller list.  It’s unlikely he’s even heard of it.

He’s only eight years old, after all.

But he wanted his book to be part of his library’s collection, available for others to read.

So one wintry Idaho day, he walked into his local library and put his book on a shelf himself.

Here’s Dillon’s library – the Ada Community Library Lake Hazel Branch in Boise, ID:

Here’s Dillon:

And here’s Dillon’s book:

The title is The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis.

“By Dillon His Self.”

The book is 81 pages, bound in a red leather cover, and was also illustrated by Dillon His Self.  It describes his adventures putting an exploding star on his Christmas tree and being catapulted back to the first Thanksgiving and the North Pole.

And here’s what I think is the best part of the story:

Instead of dropping off Dillon’s book at the library’s lost and found or tossing it in the trash, a staff librarian read it.  Then, she or he shared it.

The staff librarians who read Dillon’s book agreed that as informal and unconventional as it was, the book met the selection criteria for the collection in that it was a high-quality story that was fun to read.

In other words, they took Dillon, and his book, seriously.

Library branch manager Alex Hartman asked the Helbigs for permission to put a bar code onto the book and formally add it to the library’s collection.

Dillon’s parents enthusiastically said yes, and the book is now part of the graphic-novels section for kids, teens and adults.

But The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis isn’t languishing on a bookshelf.  According to Hartman, by the end of January, 56 people were on the waiting list to check it out.  Ada Community Library patrons are allowed to keep books for up to four weeks, so that’s a waiting list of around five years.

John Grisham can only dream of being in such demand.

The library even gave Dillon its first Whoodini Award for Best Young Novelist, a category the library created for him, named after the library’s owl mascot:

Eat your heart out, Danielle Steele!

Dillon’s story was reported by the Idaho Press on January 2:

And local KVTB-TV on January 19:

And in early February the Idaho Press announced:

And they weren’t kidding.

When I googled “Dillon Helbig” I got 872,000 results, and Dillon’s story was everywhere:

And not just nationally – it went international, including this, on February 2:

Stephen King, you should be so lucky!

From what I can see, Dillon is taking it all in stride.  In a February 2 interview with his parents on The Today Show, Dillon seemed quite relaxed.  He acted like any eight-year-old, his attention wandering a bit, scratching his nose…

…and perhaps contemplating his next book, which he’s already entitled The Jacket-Eating Closet, based on actual events.

Best get your name on the waiting list for that…

What resonates about this story for us?

Maybe it’s Dillon’s innocence.  Maybe it’s that he had a goal – for his book to be in his library – and accomplished his goal.  Maybe it’s that Dylan cut to the chase – if he’d told his parents or the library staff what he wanted, it probably wouldn’t have happened. 

Dillon knew better.

A little child shall lead them.

But here’s what resonates with me most:

The open minds – and open hearts – of staff at the Community Library Lake Hazel Branch in Boise, ID.

They could have gone either way with Dillon’s book, and they chose the high road.

And now, because they did…

  • Dillon’s classmates have told him that he’s inspired them to write their own books.
  • Some of them may become recipients of that Whoodini Award, like Dillon was.
  • Library branch manager Hartman said he heard from someone in Texas who hoped to get Dillon’s book through an interlibrary loan.  The library had to say no, due to the long waiting list.
  • But…Hartman is talking with Dillon’s mom about possibly creating an e-book version of The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis to share.
  • If that happens, that person in Texas – lots of people everywhere – will be able to read Dillon’s book.
  • Maybe more than “lots” – publishers have contacted the library about officially publishing the book, Hartman said.

And all this – all of it – is because a librarian with an open mind and an open heart discovered Dillon’s book, read it, and saw its possibilities.

Librarians are unsung heroes, often unappreciated and unvalued.

So I’m going to do a little singing for them:

24 Years Old And So Smart…29 Years Old And So…

I am a sucker for a great song parody.

When someone combines a familiar melody with their own lyrics, and does it well, it’s a joy to listen to, and more than once.

Well, one guy – more about him shortly – took it a step further.  Many steps further.

And his parody wasn’t just done well – it’s brilliant, and clever, and also offers a message in a way that’s hilarious, topical, and true.

I smile – and nod – every time I watch it.

I first saw the parody video only recently, but story goes back in October 2021.

October 2021…before anyone had heard of “omicron” and now, omicron’s latest variant:

Which only makes the song’s message more relevant.

The video’s creator lives in Topeka, KS and the story got local coverage, include KAKE-TV in Wichita:

And national coverage like this:

And this:

The song he created is Wear a Mask, and the melody is Be Our Guest, from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  He fit his lyrics to the to that segment of the movie in a way that’s so seamless, it really does look like the animated characters are singing them.

And, oh – the lyrics are so great!  Just a sampling…

It’s a mask!  It’s a mask!
Heaven’s sake, it’s just a mask.
Such a shame that asking folks to follow rules gets you harassed.

You can shout, you can glare.
But, listen, Karen, I don’t care.
Never seen folks so dramatic over a f***ing piece of fabric!

“Karen” – HA!

And yes, some of the lyrics are R-rated.

So the creator wrote the lyrics and matched them to the visuals – but wait, there’s more.

He’s the lead vocalist, as well.

He is Noah Lindquist (pictured), a 24-year-old actor and singer.

That’s Noah you hear singing as Lumière:

Noah is joined by friend and local performer Ashley Young, singing as Mrs. Potts:

And Noah and Ashley are joined by singing furniture and kitchenware:

With Noah singing all the characters in the chorus, too.

According to this article:

Noah was working as a barista in Topeka after the pandemic forced the cancelation of his performing jobs in Kansas City.

He’d recently watched Beauty and the Beast, and he’d sold a handmade mask at work.

The pieces came together, and the muse struck.

By the end of his lunch break he’d written almost the entire first verse.  He uploaded his masterpiece on October 17, and the YouTube video has racked up more than 3 million views.

Well done, Noah!

Unfortunately…one of those viewers apparently wasn’t Shane McInerney, a passenger on a Delta Flight in January.

This flight:

If he’d watched Wear a Mask, perhaps McInerney would have heeded the advice and done things differently on that flight.

McInerney (pictured), 29, a former Irish pro footballer, was flying from Dublin to New York, and then going on to Florida for a coaching job at a soccer academy in Daytona.

Instead of a new job at the soccer academy, he may have no job and a rent-free residence here:

It appears that McInerney:

  • Repeatedly refused to wear a facemask despite being asked dozens of times by the flight crew.
  • Threw an empty beverage can, which hit a passenger’s head.
  • Kicked the back of the passenger seat in front of him, disturbing another passenger.
  • Walked from his economy-class seat to the first-class section of the plane, where he complained about his food to one of the flight attendants.

At one point, when the pilot came out of the cockpit to speak with McInerney about his behavior…

  • McInerney twice took off his cap, placed the cap on the pilot’s head, and then removed it.
  • He also put one of his fists up close to the pilot’s face and said, “Don’t touch me.”

And that “Moons” part of the headline?

After his trip to first-class, in the process of being escorted back to his seat, McInerney:

“…pulled down his pants and underwear and exposed his buttocks to the flight attendant and passengers sitting nearby.”

No image of that available.


He concluded his “insane mask meltdown” as the aircraft made its final approach to JFK when he disobeyed the orders of flight attendants, standing up in the aisle and refusing to sit back down.

A true athlete – McInerney covered all the bases when it comes to breaking the law and assaulting people.

When the flight landed at JFK, McInerney was arrested by airport police.  He was admitted to Jamaica Hospital for medical and psychological evaluation after the flight landed, according to prosecutors.

McInerney was released on $20,000 bail pending his trial and was required to seek mental health care at his arraignment on January 14 in Brooklyn federal court.

When your name is at the top of one of these…

…it is some serious shit.

The offenses carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Wear a mask!  Wear a mask!  Get your head out of your ass!
Try to think of someone other than yourself – it’s all we ask!

Well, at least we know Shane is taking all this seriously. 

He’d made it down to Florida by mid-January, posed for some pictures and posted them on Instagram:

Perhaps the lady is his psychiatrist?

On his post McInerney wrote, “Great to be back in the sunshine state.  Blessed to call this place home for the next few months.”

Yes, a few months and then, perhaps…

And it all started because he refused to…

You Think You Have Weather Problems?  Check This Out…

Extreme winter weather in New England made headlines this past weekend, like this one:

With Stoughton, MA “winning” – or losing – the “snowfall jackpot,” depending on whether you’re just reading about all that snow, or shoveling it:

But snow wasn’t the only thing that was falling last weekend.

In Florida, they had a different challenge:

According to the article, the National Weather Service – the government agency that is “tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products” – was also tasked with predicting lizard activity:

“The National Weather Service Miami-South Florida warned the public on Sunday that immobilized iguanas could fall out of trees due to unusually cold temperatures across the region.”

The cause, says the article, is that iguanas are cold-blooded, and they slow down or become immobile when temps drop into the 40s.  “They may fall from trees, but they are not dead.”

Temperatures in South Florida reached a low of 25 degrees Fahrenheit on the morning of January 30, and what was once a nimble tree climber gets cold, passes out…

…loses its grip and flops onto the sidewalk, the patio, or in the case of the headline at the top of this post…

Clobbering somebody.

OK, I’ll admit it – I made up that headline.  It’s fake news.  But it could happen.

And since these iguanas can grow to more than five feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds, they would do some damage.

It appears, though, that Floridians take this reptilian event in stride.

This Hollywood, FL resident calmly shot a video of frozen iguanas littering her yard:

And then calmly picked them up and “moved them into the sun.”

While this lizard lover…

…held a frozen iguana in front of their outdoor heater until, I assume, the thawed iguana slithered away.

Or they had barbecued iguana for dinner.

Helping frozen iguanas may be unwise, since, according to this article:

“Others may try to warm them up, but experts say that’s not the best course of action, since the reptiles can bite when frightened.  It’s also illegal to heat them up and then release them.”

The NBC News article went on to say that these are green iguanas and not native to Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  They were accidentally introduced as stowaways in cargo ships and are considered an invasive species.

So invasive, and there are so many – estimates say more than 20,000 – that some enterprising folks have started iguana wrangling companies, like this guy. He’ll come to your house, catch the critter, and hopefully take it far, far away:

That’s the reporter on the right, who couldn’t resist a reptilian pun:

“And with tomorrow’s forecast back in the 70s, I-guana know…when will it rain like this again?”

Sorry, pal, but the National Weather Service can’t predict when it will “rain like this again.”  Though it probably will – this isn’t the first time frozen iguanas have fallen from trees.

Here’s a Weather Service tweet from January 2020:

While this 2021 article…

…cited this Miami Herald video going back to January 2010:

And though that Today Show story said warming up frozen iguanas was illegal, the SPCA Wildlife Care Center spokesperson in the video suggested that if you do:

  • Wrap the frozen iguana in a warm towel.  (You can put the towel in the dryer for a few minutes – repeat, the towel, not the iguana.)
  • Keep the iguana contained in a garage or bathroom temporarily.
  • When the iguana becomes warm again, it will wake up and you can release it.

“It will wake up.”

And before you can release it outside, it will bite and/or scratch you, then run amok, poop all over your house, claw the sofa to shreds, eat your refrigerator and possibly your pet…

With all due respect to those iguana rescuers…

I think I’ll pass on the rescue bit.

In fact, I think I’ll pass on Florida altogether.

Iguanas aren’t Florida’s only nasty, reptilian species…