Ask And You Shall Receive…But You GOTTA Ask – First, Nicely; And Then…

I’m $103.46 better off, and not because these companies raised their hand and offered me the money.

I had to ask.

I was not satisfied with two online transactions, but I could have shrugged and decided, “Oh, well, I’ll just live with it.”

Or, “It’s not worth the hassle.”                              

Or, “I don’t have time for this.”


I won’t just “live with it,” it is “worth the hassle” and I’ll find the time.

First:  DoorDash.

My husband and I have ordered meals with DoorDash a few times and been happy with the results, but this last time – three strikeouts.

Three items were missing from the order.

Three items!

We ate the rest of the meal, and I could have left it at that.

Happy Bear!

Instead, I went online and “chatted” with a DoorDash representative.  To their credit – no hassle.  They offered a $40.68 DoorDash credit toward my next order, which was significantly more than I’d imagined.                             

I gladly accepted.

If I hadn’t asked – no $40.68 credit.

Second:  Amazon.

Happy Bear!

A $62.78 credit from Amazon was a different story.

A professional acquaintance sent us a gift he’d purchased through Amazon.  We couldn’t use it, so I went through the Amazon return process, which in this instance – like earlier instances – was very easy.                          

Then I waited for the credit to show up on my Amazon account.

And waited.

And waited.

I went on the Amazon website and spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to talk to a customer service person.  Somehow I found it, and then all I had to do was click a button and my phone rang a minute later.


The customer service person was very pleasant, but also adamant that the credit would be issued to the sender, not the receiver.

This was not right, and I knew it wasn’t right.                

We went back and forth about this, including at one point, my saying, “If the sender had ordered the gift from Macy’s and I walked into Macy’s and returned it, then Macy’s would give me a refund.  Are you saying this is not Amazon’s policy?”

Really-Not-Happy Bear.

She insisted it was not.

I insisted that the refund should come to me.    

I don’t know if she just got sick of my insistence, or if it was coffee break time, or what, but she asked if she could put me on hold. 

A few minutes later she came back on and advised that the $62.78 would be credited to my Amazon account.

Happy Bear!

If I hadn’t asked, nicely at first, and then…

So – one online chat, one conversation:

Total back in my pocket:  $103.46. 

Ask and you shall receive…

By now I’m…

Loaded for bear, as they say, and it’s a good thing – I have another Amazon return, this time for items that I purchased.

Back story:

I ordered three packages of undershirts for my husband, and specified the size.  I didn’t notice that the seller was “Star Hills” – I rarely notice the seller’s name.

Amazon charged my credit card for the purchase.

Not-So-Happy Bear.

When my order hadn’t arrived 13 days later, I decided to cancel and look elsewhere.  I went online and typed in my cancellation request, and received this reply from Amazon:

“I sent your message to Star Hills.  Give the seller a couple days to respond.  If you haven’t heard back from Star Hills in 48 hours, or if they haven’t been able to help you, please contact us again.”


I hadn’t had this experience with Amazon before – telling me I’d be contacted by a seller?

So I waited.

The next day, Star Hills responded:

“Dear Buyer, It seems like a lost shipment.  Would you like a replacement sent asap?  Kindly advise.”

I immediately responded, “Yes, please send a replacement asap.”

Not-So-Happy Bear

I waited.

And waited.

Nine days later, when my order still hadn’t arrived, I requested a cancellation and refund.

Instead, Star Hills sent me tracking information and it appeared that the order would arrive the next day, which it did.

Really-Not-Happy Bear.

Twenty-four days after I’d placed my order.

And the order was wrong.

There were two packages of undershirts instead of the three I ordered, and they were all the wrong size.               

So, I went through the Amazon return process again, and this time Amazon accepted my return request.                     

Happy Bear!

Now I’m on my way to the UPS store to drop off the undershirts. 

From here on in, it should all be easy-peasy, right?



The paperwork indicates I’m returning three packages of undershirts, and I’m returning only two – which is all I’d received, and all that Star Hills is going to receive.

Is this going to get complicated?

Well, if it does…

Bring it on.

Like I said, I’m…

You Want Fries With That?

I make no claim to being an art expert.

But that doesn’t stop me from writing about art.

I learn a lot every time I research a blog post topic, and here’s something that I believe is true:

There are such extremes in the art world that the phrase from the sublime to the ridiculous is completely appropriate.

The sublime, for example, was a mid-July story about the discovery of a previously unknown van Gogh self-portrait discovered on the back of another van Gogh painting.

The ridiculous, for me, is just about anything connected to the world of contemporary art, like a recent story from this and many other sources:

Yes, you read the headline correctly.

Welcome to Michael Lett, “a contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand” according to the gallery’s Facebook page.

As the story goes, an Australian guy who considers himself an artist named Matthew Griffin ordered a McDonald’s cheeseburger, walked into Michael Lett Gallery, took out a pickle from his burger, and flung it onto the gallery’s ceiling:

Fine Arts, Sydney – the gallery that represents Griffin – refers to this as a “sculpture” in their press release.

I know this image of the press release is impossible to read, so I’ve enlarged the important part:

The sculpture’s title – showing very creative thinking here – is:


The Fine Arts, Sydney gallery explains:

“The show includes four new works by each of the four artists the gallery represents, each exhibited for the first time.  The themes these works touch upon, including Pickle, are related to transience, distance, and time.  From here, flinging the pickle from the ground up is an example of distance.”

I know that when I first saw this image:

The thought that immediately came to my mind was, “Distance! Yes, of course!” and I’m sure that’s true for you, too.

Actually, the thought that came to my mind was…


Here’s yet another so-called contemporary artist creating his so-called contemporary art, and being treated as though he has credibility, if the price tag on this “sculpture” is anything to go by:

That’s $10,000 in New Zealand dollars.

And what do you get for your $6,275/$10,000?

Not Griffin’s Pickle, according to this story:

“…any purchaser of the work won’t receive the exact pickle from the exhibit but will be given ‘instructions on how to recreate the art in their own space.’”

So you give “artist” Matthew Griffin $6,275/$10,000 and he says,

“Go to McDonald’s, buy a cheeseburger, go home, extract a pickle from the cheeseburger, and throw it at the ceiling.”

See Matthew Griffin.  See Matthew Griffin pictured right.  See Matthew Griffin pictured right, laughing all the way to the bank.

Lest you think the art world isn’t taking Pickle seriously, let’s hear from Ryan Moore, the director of Fine Arts Sydney, the gallery that represents the pickle flinger:

“‘People don’t have to think it’s art if they don’t want to.  Anything can be an artwork, but not everything is,’ he told  ‘What makes an artwork is when whatever an artist makes or does is able to be used as art:  when the object or action is thought about or talked about as an artwork.  And that’s what we are doing here, which I think is great.’”

I’m sure Moore thinks his commission on this $6,275/$10,000 “sculpture” would be “great,” too.

Here are some additional enlightening comments from Moore about Pickle:

“…a deliberately ‘provocative gesture’ designed to question what has value…’”

“…questions ‘the way value and meaning is generated between people.’”

Reminder:  What he’s talking about here is a pickle, clinging to the ceiling with nothing but the assorted sauces and inherent stickiness it was served with.

“Generally speaking, artists aren’t the ones deciding whether something is art is not – they are the ones who make and do things.  Whether something is valuable and meaningful as artwork is the way that we collectively, as a society, choose to use it or talk about it.

“As much as this looks like a pickle attached to the ceiling – and there is no artifice there, that is exactly what it is – there is something in the encounter with that as a sculpture or a sculptural gesture.”

The “gesture” that comes to my mind involves my middle finger, but I’ll let that go for now.

And here’s the last of gallery director Moore’s insights:

“It’s not about the virtuosity of the artist standing there in the gallery throwing it to the ceiling – how it gets there doesn’t matter, as long as someone takes it out of the burger and flicks it on to the ceiling.”

Let’s thank Ryan Moore for providing us with many examples of artspeak, and if you want to know more about that, just google “artspeak sucks” and this and other articles will clarify:

“True artspeak is impenetrable to any sane person, who will recognize it as words arranged nonsensically and purported to be profound.  People don’t know what artspeak means, because artspeak means nothing.”

And how about reactions from people who speak intelligible English, rather than artspeak?

Reviews of Pickle – as the Newshub headline suggested – have been mixed.  According to this article:

Pickle viewer comments included:

“I got kicked out of a McDonald’s by the police for doing this when I was a teenager, now it’s art.”

“That thing is going to leave a nasty stain on the ceiling.”

It appears that the nay-sayers were outnumbered by Pickle lovers:

“…many praised the artist for his brilliant work with one simply calling it ‘superb’ and another saying ‘love it.’”

“One commenter added:  ‘I’m siding with the genius crowd on this.  Genius.’”

“Another added:  ‘I hate pickles.  I love this.’”

At this time, it’s unknown if anyone purchased Pickle.

Or rather, purchased the right to be “given instructions on how to recreate the art in their own space.”


Before you book your plane tickets for Auckland, New Zealand to visit the Michael Lett gallery and view Pickle

The exhibition closed on July 30.

But – to help alleviate your disappointment, a reminder:

Your space has ceilings, and your town has McDonald’s, and McDonald’s has cheeseburgers, and cheeseburgers have pickles, and that leaves us with just one burning question…

NASA’s Mission Of Educating Us Just Educated Me About A New Late-To-Work Excuse And More:

Are you, like me, having trouble finding good excuses about why you were late for work?

The old excuses of traffic, weather, being arrested, etc. just not working for you anymore?

Well, NASA has now given me new language for being late to work:

This came from a story about NASA’s Artemis 1 which, according to many online articles like this one from CNBC…

“Artemis is the name of NASA’s lunar program.  It represents a series of missions for which the agency is developing its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule, which would deliver astronauts to the moon.  Boeing is the lead contractor building SLS, while Lockheed Martin is leading Orion development.”

The mission of Artemis is to put the U.S. astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972. 

It was begun by NASA in 2012 and scheduled to launch in 2017.

Now, according to this article:

“The space agency is aiming for a lunar-orbiting flight with astronauts in two years and a lunar landing by a human crew as early as 2025.”

See?  Artemis launch delayed from 2017 to 2022. This is what NASA calls a…

So I’ve got my new late-to-work excuse ready for next time:

“Ms. Colby, I had a schedule slip this morning.”

She’ll be so awed by my originality, she’ll probably give me a raise.

Otherwise, I can’t say I’ve learned much of anything from NASA except how to waste money, and I’ll reference Artemis 1 for that, as well:

“Paul Martin told a congressional subcommittee today that each of the first four Artemis missions will cost $4.1 billion and projected the agency will spend $53 billion on Artemis from FY2021-2025.”

“That does not include development costs.  His office projects the total cost for Artemis from FY2012, when the Space Launch System (SLS) program began, through FY2025 will be $93 billion.  Of that, $53 billion is for FY2021-2025.”


There is something more to learn from NASA.

Specifically, that the above-mentioned Paul Martin said each of the four missions will cost “$4.1 billion,” and that “$93 billion” total…

With a straight face:

NASA Inspector General Paul Martin.

Martin’s straight face is especially impressive, considering the first of the four Artemis 1 missions – which is supposed to launch Monday, August 29 – is unmanned.  Again, according to the AP article:

“No one will be inside the crew capsule atop the rocket, just three mannequins swarming with sensors to measure radiation and vibration.”

So instead of sending humans, we’re paying $4.1 billion for three dummies to go on this dress rehearsal?

Shouldn’t there be some kind of discount for no humans on board?

And can I pick the dummies?  I’ll start with this guy:

Elon Musk being a space enthusiast, and all.

And a dumb idiot, and all…

At that same hearing NASA Inspector General Martin also…

“…pointed to ‘varying degrees of technical risk that will push launch schedules from months to years’ beyond current plans, leading to his estimate that the first return to the Moon ‘likely will slip to 2026 at the earliest.’”

Now the 2025 astronauts-on-the-moon launch “likely will slip to 2026 at the earliest”:

Armed with my well-rehearsed straight face, I’ll say:

“And Ms. Colby, my arrival time tomorrow will likely slip to noon at the earliest.”

This is good stuff I’m learning.

Here’s another Artemis-related article and more good stuff to learn:

This goes back to November 2021 and NASA Administrator/Head Honcho Bill Nelson…

…who was explaining that “bumps” in the above AP headline as follows:

“Congress did not provide enough money to develop a landing system for its Artemis moon program and more money is needed for its Orion capsule.”

Here we’ve got a combination straight-face-and-more-money request:

“Ms. Colby, this company does not provide enough money for me to live in the lifestyle to which I could become accustomed, and more money is needed…”

NASA Administrator Nelson also “made note of China’s ambitious and aggressive space program, and warned it could overtake the U.S. in lunar exploration.”

Way to go, Bill! 

Blame China for needing tons more money for Artemis 1!

Why not?  We blame China for everything – the mega-billion-dollar trade deficit, building better high-speed rail systems, for hogging all the pandas…

Yeah!  Blame China!

“Ms. Colby, my schedule slip this morning was due to vomiting up the three-week-old leftover Chinese food I ate for dinner last night.”

By now you may have gathered that I am not a NASA fan.

Or NA$A, as I like to spell it.

I don’t deny that there’s much to learn beyond the confines of our planet, but $93 billion to put astronauts on the moon?

Hell, we’ve already done that a half-dozen times…

But – $93 billion taxpayer dollars aside, I have learned lots of good stuff from NASA.

And if NASA Administrator Bill Nelson can say this with a straight face:

“NASA is committed to help restore America’s standing in the world.”

I’m confident that I can now say, straight-faced:

“Ms. Colby, I’m committed to help restore America’s standing in the world, and that requires my taking the rest of the week off to get started.”

Yet Another Reason To Dislike Diane Keaton… Correction: Two Reasons

I don’t recall the first time I saw Diane Keaton in a movie, but I do recall how unimpressed I was.

Keaton’s hat is from her self-named clothing line.

Since then, I haven’t seen a movie because Keaton was in it, but rather despite that.

My impression of the characters Keaton has chosen to play include words like shallow.  And vacuous.  And ditzy.  Same character, over and over again.

And inevitably, there would be a scene in the movie – often more than one – where an actor would ask Keaton’s character a simple question, and her response was this or some version of it:

Actor:  Do you want a salad?

Keaton:  Oh!  Well…hmmm.  Y-e-s-s, but, uh…Well, I…I…don’t…I…well.  You know?  I, ah…no, but I…well…maybe if…hmmm?  OK.  OK!  I mean, maybe, unless…I…uh…What?

Pity the poor actor who then had to ask what she wanted for an entrée.

So I didn’t like Keaton’s acting, and…

And what’s with the hats?  Are these some sort of trademark?  Some reminder to all of Keaton’s…what?  Endearing eccentricity?  Wonderful sense of whimsy?  Forgetting to wash her hair?

I hadn’t seen Keaton in quite awhile – which was fine with me – and then she appeared at my Sunday breakfast table, included with my newspaper on the cover of a recent Parade magazine.

No hat this time, but with her hair looking like it had been styled at the nearby wind farm:

No need to waste time on Keaton’s interview. I’ve seen her interviewed and she’s as shallow and vacuous and ditzy in person as she is on screen.

“Well,” I thought, “I can skip this issue of Parade.”

And I mostly did, except to page through it because I do like to read the weekly Ask Marilyn Q&A by Marilyn vos Savant.

And on my way to Marilyn, something in the upper-right corner of page seven caught my eye.

And gave me yet another reason to dislike Diane Keaton.

Two reasons, actually.

In the Keaton article was a sidebar entitled Keaton Cues, and here was the first “cue”:

Interviewer:  “Fashion must-have?”

Keaton:  “Turtleneck.  My neck is disgusting, and I hate it.  But I don’t want to chop it off because I want to stay alive!”

Dislike #1:  Keaton has just engaged in…

Body shaming:  the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about some aspect of their appearance.

Dislike #2:  Keaton has just engaged in the worst kind of body shaming:

When Keaton referred to her neck, I assume she’s referring to the fact that as a 76-year-old woman, her neck has transitioned from how it once looked to how it looks now.  This is a part of aging for many women:

It’s just a fact of life.  We age, our skin ages and can lose elasticity, muscles can weaken, gravity can play a role.

And the neck can be the first, and most noticeable, place it shows.

So Keaton is self-shaming her body for showing signs of aging (Dislike #2) and in a larger sense, suggesting that all women with aging necks should feel likewise (Dislike #1).

What she’s saying is,

“My neck is disgusting and yours is, too, and I hate my neck, and you should hate yours, too.”

Referring to part of her body as “disgusting” instead of…

  • Celebrating that she’s had 76 years of life – which many people don’t get to have…
  • Appreciating that she’s still appearing in movies – when most actresses her age were discarded by Hollywood long ago…
  • Expressing gratitude that she’s rich, and doesn’t have to choose between paying for food or paying for her medications…

Keaton instead felt compelled to share with the Parade magazine readers – an audience that ranges from 50-80 million, depending on what website you’re reading – that her aging neck is “disgusting…”

And your aging neck is, too.

And you should hate it, too.

I suppose that maybe we should applaud Keaton for demonstrating her firm grasp of the obvious with her final sentence:

“But I don’t want to chop it off because I want to stay alive!”

Well done, Diane.  You’ve connected the dots and comprehended that chopping off one’s neck is not conducive to staying alive.

But you sure don’t comprehend that an aging body is the privilege of a continuing life.

Not disgusting. 

Not hate worthy.


This really goes against the grain, but I suppose that maybe Keaton deserves a second chance.

Let’s hit the rewind button and ask her again about her “fashion must-have,” and see if she can come up with a better answer.

Me:  “Diane, what is your fashion-must have, and this time, without the body shaming of yourself and others?”

Keaton:  Oh!  Well…hmmm.  Y-e-s-s, but, uh…Well, I…I…don’t…I…well.  You know?  I, ah…no, but I…well…maybe if…hmmm?  OK.  OK!  I mean, maybe, unless…I…uh…

I Hate It When People Get Scammed – Especially…

Let’s call this couple George and Linda Smith.

According to this article:

  • Older people are swindled out of more than $3 billion each year.
  • More than 3.5 million older adults are victims of financial exploitation each year.
  • Seniors targeted by fraudsters suffer an average loss of $34,200.

I’m reasonably certain these statistics do not include seniors targeted by this fraudster:

According to

“Save America is a leadership PAC (political action committee) created by President Donald Trump on November 9, 2020, following the 2020 presidential election.”

This article:

States that:

“Former U.S. President Donald Trump raised $250 million in donations in the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election for an organization ostensibly intended to fund court challenges in support of his false claims that the election was fraudulent.  Instead, he directed that money to an unrelated political action committee, or PAC, according to congressional investigators.”

“The committee said some of the money Trump’s campaign raised in the weeks after the election went to paying down campaign debt and into the coffers of the Republican National Committee.  A large amount also went to a new leadership PAC called Save America, which was formed three days after the election.”

“It was grift, pure and simple, but on a massive scale,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, in a prepared statement.  “Donald Trump was not content to just ignore the will of the American people and attempt to steal the 2020 election in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy.  He was determined to make a lot of money doing it.”

And many of those “American people,” according to this article:

Are “retirees” like the couple pictured above.

The scammed couple pictured above.

And the money continues to pour into Save America from retirees, and people of all ages. states that as of June 30, 2022, Trump’s Save America PAC had raised almost $104 million in 2021-2022.

Let’s do the math:  $104 million divided by 20 months.

That’s averages out to $5.2 million per month.

Most – perhaps all – of those donors think they’re supporting Trump’s bid for the White House in 2024.  They believe he’s their man, the only man who can Make America Great Again, the only man who can SAVE AMERICA.  And even if it’s only $5 or $20 or $30, they’ll give what they can to help Trump win.

They donate money, and they also buy stuff like this:

Here’s the problem:

Trump isn’t running for president in 2024.

Not yet.

And until Trump declares that he’s running for president in 2024, he can spend the Save America PAC money pretty much any damn way he wants to.

And he is.

A sampling from this article:

“The money in the Save America PAC, unlike money contributed to a standard campaign committee, can be used to benefit Trump in innumerable ways.  Memberships at golf clubs.  Travel.  Rallies.  Even payments directly to Trump himself, as long as he declares it as income.”

From Politico:

“According to Save America PAC’s new filing, tens of thousands of dollars were paid to law firms representing top Trump aides who have gotten subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill.”

In addition…

“Out of $1.35 million the PAC spent on ‘like-minded causes and endorsed candidates,’ $1 million went to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows’ new nonprofit organization, the Conservative Partnership Institute.”

And back to the June 14, 2022 Washington Post article, and more Save America spending:

  • $1 million to the America First Policy Institute, an organization that aims to be the core advocate for Trump’s political vision.
  • More than $200,000 to hotels owned by the Trump Organization.
  • $5 million to the company that ran Trump’s January 6 rally outside the White House.
I wonder what Kimberly gets paid to act as this guy’s babysitter?

The article goes on to note:

“Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle (pictured), ‘was paid for the introduction she gave at the speech on January 6.  She received compensation for that’ – to the tune of $60,000.  The speech was a little more than two minutes long.”

Did George and Linda Smith know the money they took from their retirement savings was going toward paying Kimberly Guilfoyle close to $30,000 per minute to speak?

I doubt it.

I also doubt that the Smiths know about this recent Save America spending:

“Donald Trump’s Save America political action committee…gave $60,000 to a fashion designer associated with former First Lady Melania Trump. 

USA Today reported that according to the Federal Elections Commission, from April 7 to June 24 of this year the Save America PAC made six payments totaling $60,000 to Hervé Pierre Braillard, the French designer who styled Melania during the Trump presidency.

“…nearly 2.5 million people donated to the Save America PAC, which formed just days after Joe Biden’s victory.  Of those 2.5 million, two-thirds of them stated their occupation as retired.  Instead of cracking down on voter fraud, however, some of the retirees’ money was used to settle the bill with a fashion designer.”

I wonder if ole Hervé is the one who “styled” this memorable garment of Melania’s:

I’m betting that Save America also paid for this recent update:

“It appears that Trump’s 757 is airworthy and ready for campaigning once again…the substitution of the ‘T’ for the American flag on the tail gives us a good clue that Trump is not ready to step away from political life.”

Here’s the new paint job with the flag on the tail:

The article is referencing Trump’s Boeing 757 that he narcissistically calls “Trump Force One.”  It’s the plane he used during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Back in 2021, the plane that, according to this article:

“…today it sits idle on an airport ramp in Orange County, New York, about 60 miles north of Manhattan…One engine is missing parts.  The other is shrink-wrapped in plastic.”

“Flight records accessed by CNN show the 757 hasn’t been flown at all since Inauguration Day.” 

That would be Inauguration Day, 2016.

At some point, Trump decided off with the old and on with the new, and in March 2022 we learned this:

Trump’s Save America PAC blasted a question to supporters:


“‘Do you remember Trump Force One?’ the email reads.  ‘Before becoming the greatest President of all time, I traveled the Country in my plane, known as Trump Force One.  I have a very important update on my plane but I need to trust that you won’t share it with anyone:  my team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One.’”

The article noted, “The box making a donation recur month-to-month was pre-checked.”

(In Trump World, the box making a donation recur month-to-month is always pre-checked.)

Did George and Linda Smith and others donate towards Trump’s new plane?

The above July 2022 Live and Let’s Fly article says now it’s back on with the old plane, and forget about “building” the new one.

Estimated cost to fix the old plane:  high six figures.

This begs the question:

Trump has now spiffed up his old plane, so what happened to the money that George and Linda Smith and others donated back in March to buy him a “BRAND NEW Trump Force One”?

Maybe the Save American PAC repurposed the money to update the old plane?

Because after all, says the December 2020 Washington Post article:

“‘…there’s no prohibition on how they use the money.’”

“Donors to the committee, of course, probably don’t know any of this.  Yes, there’s some fine print once you get to the contribution page explaining that the money given will go to Save America up to a certain point, but the impression one gets from the campaign’s voluminous emails is that the money will go to Trump’s dubious efforts to wrench a second term from the jaws of electoral defeat.

“What has obviously happened so far is Trump and his team have figured out a way to parlay his base’s concerns about the election – concerns Trump has been hyping for months – into a well-stocked bank account with few limitations on how it is used.”

And let’s not overlook this:

The day after the Department of Justice – with a valid search warrant – entered Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, Trump’s Save America PAC sent an email with this headline,


Only Trump and his toadies would figure out how to monetize Trump’s criminal acts.

The email included that personal touch, without which no Trump communication would be complete:

“Please rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to publicly stand with me against this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT.”

And – unfortunately – people do keep rushing in donations:

People like George and Linda Smith.

The next time they and others like them walk over to their computer or pick up their phones and see this or something like it…

…will they reach for their credit cards and checkbooks?

It makes me sad to think how many nice people – retired and otherwise – are continuing to get scammed by the greatest con man of all times.

But folks, I have to say it:


Conclusion:  California Says:

(On August 17 Part I of this post began as a California issue, but it turns out – this problem is nationwide.)

Gas and oil well owners just walk away from their wells, and somehow we taxpayers are responsible for cleaning up their mess?

Yes, says this article:

“When oil and gas companies go bankrupt or stop taking care of their equipment, their wells fall into the state’s hands.”

This makes no sense to me.

I wondered if all these wells were on state lands, and since states issue drilling permits, in some twisted way that makes the states (and the state taxpayers) responsible?

Not so.

In this story:

We meet a guy in Wyoming named Bill West.  There are “more than a hundred defunct natural gas wells on his 10,000-acre property.”

Two decades ago West gave a Michigan-based company permission to drill for coalbed methane on their land.  “We got quite a lot of money out of it, lease money,” said West.

Orphan well, Wyoming.

The wells changed hands, and the company that bought the wells – High Plains Gas, Inc. – went out of business four years ago, leaving behind fuse boxes, internet boxes and thousands of feet of underground pipe.

West made a lot of money from the drilling on his property, so surely he’s now responsible for at least some of the mess, right?


“‘They just walked away and left everything sitting,’ said West.  It’s up to the state to take care of it now.’

What’s wrong with this picture?

The NPR article quote Jill Morrison, executive director of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, an environmental group in Wyoming:

“‘…the industry has not been held accountable by the regulators and by the government to pay the cost of doing business.’

“‘We’re going to quickly be in the tens of millions of dollars responsible for plugging and reclaiming oil and gas wells if we don’t require upfront bonding,’ she said.”

Orphan well, Louisiana.

“That means making companies pay the full cost of plugging wells even before they start drilling.”

In other words, when companies get a permit to drill, they should pay a hefty bond that covers the cost of plugging and reclaiming the well.  If they plug the well themselves, they get the money back.  If they don’t, the state would have the money on hand to do the job.

The companies are – of course – opposed to this idea.

You and I are handed the tab.

My takeaways?

First:  I did not know there were 35,000 orphaned gas and oil wells in California.  I didn’t know that some of them are leaking methane.  I didn’t know that when that happens, other chemicals like benzene, a known carcinogen, and volatile organic compounds that are the building blocks of smog, are also often being emitted.

Second:  California taxpayers (but NOT just California taxpayers – keep reading) appear to be on the hook for fixing this mess.  According to the earlier Associated Press article:

Orphan well, Kansas.

“In June, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a budget that includes participation in a global effort to slash emissions call the Methane Accountability Project.  The state will spend $100 million to use satellites to track large methane leaks in order to help the state identify sources of the gas and cap leaks.”

Um…excuse me?  The “state” will spend $100 million?


The state taxpayers will spend.

In addition, says the Associated Press article,

“A new [California] Senate proposal would provide hundreds of millions of dollars to plug wells and reduce pollution from them, especially in hard-hit communities.”

Just put it on my tab.

Third:  Orphaned oil and gas wells aren’t unique to California – they’re all over the country:

According to this news release:

“The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are 3.3 million abandoned wells around the country that are orphaned or idle.”

Enter your federal tax dollars!

This news release says the federal government…

“…has allocated $4.7 billion for orphaned well site plugging, remediation, and restoration activities.”

That would be $4.7 billion of our tax dollars allocated to 26 states to “address orphan wells” that you and I didn’t create, didn’t profit from, but somehow are responsible for.

And it appears we are responsible, because if we don’t clean up the orphan wells that the companies abandoned…

Then some, or many, of the estimated three million+ orphan wells in this country will keep on leaking methane and other gases into the air, increasing climate change; causing health problems and even death; and possibly causing explosions.

Bad for climate change, bad for our health…

And bad for this homeowner:

According to the story, a man named Bruce George owned three abandoned natural gas wells in Bradford, PA.

In February 2011, according to the Department of Environmental Protection’s investigation, one of the wells, about 300 feet from the home, caused an explosion.

The explosion destroyed the home.

Fortunately, homeowner Thomas Federspiel was outside of his home.

And at least – in this rare case – the abandoned wells owner was held accountable.

And perhaps more companies will be held accountable by states, starting with Colorado:

“Oil and gas companies in Colorado will now have more financial responsibility to plug aging wells and remove contaminants from surrounding areas under new rules approved by state regulators this week.

“It’s the first overhaul of the financial assurance process for oil and gas companies in decades, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which unanimously passed the rules Tuesday.  The commission requires oil and gas companies drilling in Colorado to secure bonds as a guarantee to plug wells that are no longer being used.

Orphan well, Colorado.

“In a statement, Commission Chair Jeff Robbins called the regulations, ‘a model that is now the most robust in the country with by far the highest financial assurance requirements.’” 

So – circling back around to my home state…

Heads up, California – Colorado is way out in front here.

In this situation, Colorado is proving itself the most proactive, forward-thinking, lead-the-way, first-in-the-nation state.

Not only is California not measuring the amount of methane gas leaking from orphan wells, now it’s lagging behind Colorado in addressing future wells issues.

The story above about Colorado is hopeful news, going forward.

But what about those millions of abandoned wells already in the U.S.?

Congratulations, taxpayers!

You’ve just become new parents…

Part I:  California Says:

I love living in San Diego County.

I’ve lived in other places, and I know this is the right match for me.

And I’m glad I live in California, the super-blue state.

One reason I’m glad is because California considers itself a forward-thinking, proactive state.  And it does, in fact, often lead the way, becoming the “first in the nation” as these examples show:

And when it comes to climate change, we like to think we’re leading the way there as well.  For instance:

Anything climate-related, California considers itself front and center.

And in May, when Governor Newsom proposed a budget:

It included a:

“$47.1 billion climate commitment – an increase of $32 billion this year – to tackle pollution, build climate resilient water supplies, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, ensure grid reliability and accelerate clean energy solutions, and protect communities from extreme heat.”

A big “climate commitment.”

What’s not to like about that?

How about this:

“California claims to know how much climate-warming gas is going into the air from within its borders.  It’s the law:  California limits climate pollution and each year the limits get stricter.

“The state has also been a major oil and gas producer for more than a century, and authorities are well aware some 35,000 old, inactive oil and gas wells perforate the landscape.

“Yet officials with the agency responsible for regulating greenhouse gas emissions say they don’t include methane that leaks from these idle wells in their inventory of the state’s emissions.”

First:  How can California calculate how much climate-warming gas is going into the air from within our borders if leaking wells aren’t part of the calculation?

Sounds like a Do As I Say, Not As I Do on California’s part.

Second:  Why are there “35,000 old, inactive oil and gas wells” littering California’s landscape?  If they’re not in use, why haven’t the oil and gas companies removed them and plugged them and done whatever else responsible owners should do?

Here’s what one of California’s inactive – often called “orphan” – wells looks like:

Now multiply that by 35,000.

Oil and gas wells are all over the state:

That’s a lot of ugly.

And, apparently, dangerous.

Let’s talk a bit about what some (perhaps many) of these orphan wells are leaking – methane gas:

  • Methane (CH4) is a colorless, odorless and highly flammable gas, composed of carbon and hydrogen.  It is a potent greenhouse gas, meaning it affects climate change by contributing to increased warming, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Methane traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.  Nearly 20% of the planet’s warming can be attributed to methane.
  • Methane reductions are crucial to slowing today’s unprecedented rate of global warming and helping avert our most acute climate risks including crop loss, wildfires, extreme weather, and rising sea levels.

And these methane-leaking oil wells aren’t new news – according to this May 23 article:

“‘We’ve been trying to get the state to address idle orphan wells for years,’ said Maricruz Ramirez, a community organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment.  ‘All these issues have been brought up time and time again, and we’re sure this is not a unique occurrence among the thousands of idle oil and gas wells that go unchecked every year.  The state can’t continue to drag their feet on matters like this while simultaneously preaching their climate leadership.’”

“Climate leadership”?

California touts its “$47.1 billion climate commitment” and how proactive we are about anything climate-related, yet the state is allowing methane gas to leak from abandoned wells?

So there’s the methane/climate change issue.

Orphan wells, Bakersfield, CA.

The USA Today article above also mentions methane health-related issues, including:

“…blurry vision, vomiting, headaches and in extreme cases, asphyxiation.”

Plus, there’s the possibility of the wells leaching toxins into groundwater, which is used for drinking water by close to 50 percent of the people in the U.S.

And again from the USA Today article, there’s the danger-of-explosions part:

“…the levels detected in spot readings at four of the long-dormant wells reached 50,000 parts per million – high enough to explode – within a few yards of each of those wells…”

“The real risk, the state engineer said, lies underground, with unknown amounts of methane possibly building up in tight spaces and exploding.”

That story was about six leaking oil wells Bakersfield, CA in May.

Here’s an update from June:

“A total of 21 oil wells have been found to be leaking methane in or near two Bakersfield neighborhoods, and more than two dozen are being tested by state and regional air regulators.”

The 35,000 wells are described as “abandoned” and/or “inactive,” but the “orphan” wells have “parents” – the owners – and three of them are mentioned in the article:

And yet, says the Desert Sun,

“Idled wells are a burgeoning problem in California’s century-old oil fields.  A state study concluded two years ago that taxpayers could be saddled with more than $1 billion in cleanup costs if operators walk away from their responsibilities to properly plug and abandon them.

“A report released Thursday by a consumer advocacy group and a coalition of environmental justice groups concludes costs associated with the industry to the state could top $10 trillion by 2045.”

“Taxpayers could be saddled”?

Yes:  And not just California taxpayers, but federal taxpayers as well.

Orphan wells, Texas.

Conclusion:  Friday, August 19.

Book Review:  “Truly, Madly”…Sadly

Publication date:  March 2022

Category:  Performing Arts; Rich & Famous Biographies; Actor & Entertainer Biographies.

Review, short version:  Three out of four roses.

Review, long version:

A woman and a man. 

Big egos, big insecurities, big romance.

Infidelities, notoriety, divorces, abandoned families, mental illness, more infidelities, more divorces, heartbreak.

All the elements of a blockbuster movie.

But when all these elements are combined in real life…

More often than not, the outcome is…

The book is Truly, Madly:  Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century by Stephen Galloway.

I added the “Sadly” in my post’s title because that’s how it ends.  And I already knew that, but…

It was even sadder than I’d realized.

The “Romance of the Century” in the book’s title was what the French would call une grande passion – a great passion, a can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other attraction between two people.

Une grande passion is très épuisant:

Very exhausting.

Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) was a British actress, famous for starring as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

Laurence “Larry” Olivier (1907-1989) was a British actor, famous for both his roles on stage and in films.

Their romance was not just big – it was headline-making, dramatic, loving, despairing, sometimes loud, sometimes whimpering.

And for more than two decades, millions of people found it…


When they met, both Leigh and Olivier were married to others and each had a young child.  They abandoned their families and ran away together, which might work well in a movie script but in real life, a lot of pain was inflicted on innocent bystanders.

But – Leigh died 55 years ago.  Olivier died 33 years ago.  

Why, I wondered, write a book now about these two people when – according to some online sources – nearly half the world’s population is under 30?  Which means half of the people in the world were born after both Leigh and Olivier were gone, and plenty of them have never or barely heard of the actors and seen their movies?

Olivier starring in “Hamlet,” 1948.

The logical place to go for answers was author Galloway’s website, but it appears he doesn’t have one.

Next, I looked online for magazine and newspaper articles about Galloway.  I found book reviews, but nothing about the why now?

I did find a 45-minute podcast, StoryBeat, on YouTube.  And while Galloway did talk about Truly, Madly at length, the show host didn’t ask and Galloway didn’t say why he wrote about Leigh and Olivier.

And why now?

Galloway did offer this about Truly, Madly:

“The book was an exploration of not so much love, as passion.”

“I wanted the book to be a biography of their marriage, not two biographies.”

I guess my why now? will go unanswered.

Leigh and Olivier are tragic figures, Leigh due to suffering from bipolar disorder that was then called “manic depression.”  It was little understood, there were no medications for it, and as one article put it:

Leigh in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” 1951.

“Leigh’s moods would swing from vertiginous highs to debilitating lows.  During the highs, she never seemed to sleep and would indulge in extraordinary excesses, sexual and material; during the lows, she could barely function.”

Olivier’s suffering was due in part to watching Leigh suffer and being unable to help her, and also from dealing with her highs and lows.  After 20 years of marriage (1940-1960), they separated, then divorced.  Both continued to work, Olivier achieving much, Leigh achieving much less due at least in part to her illness.

Leigh and Olivier:  une grande passion

Intense.  Extreme.  Overwhelming.  

And from my perspective, exhausting.

Better to read about it, than to live it.

These Two Guys Think They Can Get Away With Murder:

In January 2016 during the presidential campaign, Donald Trump said,

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?  It’s, like, incredible.”

I’m not aware of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – also known as MBS – making the same statement publicly, but apparently he believes he can also get away with murder because apparently, he has.

Jamal Khashoggi (pictured), a Saudi Arabian journalist and dissident and a columnist for the Washington Post, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Less than a month later, came this:

Shortly after that, came this:

The G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, November 30-December 1, 2018, where the world’s leaders didn’t seem to mind posing with MBS:

And doing this:

Time passed, as time tends to do, and nothing changed, as it sometimes doesn’t.

Seven months later came the June 2019 G20 Summit in Japan.

Where again, the world’s leaders didn’t seem to mind posing with MBS:

And posing for more pictures:

MBS and the late Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan.

And more “exchanging pleasantries”:

And more time passed.

Then came this, February 2021:

And nothing changed.

Then came July 2022:

President Biden and MBS, July 15.
Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and MBS, July 26. 


French President Macron and MBS, July 28.

Of the Macron handshake, according to this article:

“Rehabilitation tour”?

I doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman thinks of this as a “rehabilitation tour.”

I doubt that needing “rehabilitation” has ever crossed his mind.

Because, as the Washington Post article summed it up so well:

“…the war in Ukraine and a downturn in the global economy have reaffirmed the Saudi kingdom’s status as a critical source of global energy and investment and brought world leaders pleading for assistance, including an increase in oil production.  

“Macron, Biden and some other Western leaders have also argued there is no way to address global crises, such as the war in Yemen, without the help of the crown prince, who could rule Saudi Arabia for decades.”

And as for Trump committing murder…

So far he hasn’t shot someone “in the middle of Fifth Avenue.”

But he has, perhaps, gotten away with murder, too

Multiple murders.

Including this man:

The man above is Mark Urquiza of Arizona, with his daughter Kristin. 

Mark was 65 with no known pre-existing conditions when he contracted COVID in June 2020.  He passed away on June 30, 2020, three weeks after initially contracting the virus.

In August 2020 Kristin was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention.  She said:

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old.  His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump. 

“And for that, he paid with his life, by trusting the President’s repeated insistence that the pandemic would go away.

“My dad, like so many others, should not have died from COVID-19.” 

Kristin’s Facebook page, Marked By COVID, was started to build “an awareness campaign so fewer families are forced to endure this”:

Did You Grow Up With This In Your Kitchen?

If you grew up, as I did, when salt and pepper shakers made a daily appearance on the dinner table…

Then it’s quite possible that one of these young ladies resided in your kitchen:

These are the Morton Girls, found on…

Morton Salt.

Motto:  When It Rains, It Pours.

Morton is the salt I grew up with and still use every day…

And when I opened the door to the kitchen cupboard where that iconic, cylindrical, navy blue container of Morton Salt resides, I got to thinking…

I know nothing about Morton Salt.

Time to rectify that.

First, let’s get the scientific stuff out of the way.

Healthwise, salt gets a bad rap these days; some restaurants don’t even put salt and pepper shakers on their tables and if you want salt, you have to ask for it. 

And when you use that saltshaker, sometimes other diners give you The Look – you know the one I mean – as if you were sprinkling your fries with cocaine.

But the truth is – salt is necessary for human life. 

It’s too much salt that’s the problem.  Too much salt can contribute to all sorts of health issues – high blood pressure, which is linked to conditions like heart failure and heart attack, kidney problems, fluid retention, stroke, and osteoporosis.

Here’s why salt is necessary for human life, according to this and many other articles:

“As salt dissolves in a solution or on food, it breaks into its component ions:  sodium and chloride (Na+ and Cl, respectively).  The salty flavor primarily comes from the sodium ions.

“Salt plays a crucial role in maintaining human health.  It is the main source of sodium and chloride ions in the human diet.  Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the body.  Sodium also plays a role in the body’s control of blood pressure and volume.

“Chloride ions serve as important electrolytes by regulating blood pH and pressure.  Electrolytes are compounds, often salts, which dissociate into their ionic components in solvents like water.  Chloride is also a crucial component in the production of stomach acid (HCl).  Humans excrete salt when sweating and must replenish these lost sodium and chloride ions through their diet.”

OK, Science class dismissed!

Second, something else about salt.

It’s been used by humans for thousands of years, from food preservation to seasoning.  Salt’s ability to preserve food helped eliminate dependence on seasonal availability of food, and made it possible to transport food over large distances.

Salt was often difficult to obtain, so it was a highly valued trade item, and was considered a form of currency by certain people.  Many salt roads – routes by which salt was transported to regions that lacked it – had been established by the Bronze Age (3300 BC to 1200 BC).

Nobody knew about salt’s health benefits, but the financial benefits were huge.

Third, back to Morton Salt.

According to the Made in Chicago Museum:

Meet Joy Morton (pictured), born in Nebraska Territory in 1855 (his first name was a tribute to the maiden name of his mother, Caroline Joy).  Joy’s daddy was rich, but instead of following his footsteps into the newspaper business, Joy went to work in the railroad industry.  This work brought him to Chicago, where 25-year-old Morton went into business in Chicago, eventually buying his way into a salt firm called E.I. Wheeler & Co.

The museum’s website says,

“By 1885, Joy and his brother Mark took over full financial control of Wheeler & Co. and rechristened it Joy Morton & Company.  As with hundreds of other businesses, Morton benefited from a right place/right time element, as Chicago was the rapidly growing central hub between the big salt mines of the East and the new ones in the expanding West.”

“The Morton Salt Company was already the undisputed top dog of the industry by the early 20th century…”

And the Mortons were innovators:

  • In 1911 they added magnesium carbonate to prevent their salt from caking.
  • They created a new container with a pour spout and a blue paper label.
  • The Mortons adopted the When It Rains, It Pours slogan, based on an old saying, It never rains but it pours, a clever reference to the fact that Morton’s salt wouldn’t cake together when the humidity rose.
  • From this concept, the first Morton Girl, with her yellow dress and umbrella, emerged, to look like this in 1914:

Another Morton innovation:

Goiters – an enlarged thyroid (pictured) – is something we don’t hear much about anymore, but at one time they were a major health problem. 

During the early 1920s, Dr. David Murray Cowie of the University of Michigan had championed a theory that adding iodine to common table salt could help combat goiters.  Since goiters were linked to iodine deficiencies, making small doses of iodine more readily available in an affordable, everyday food additive seemed the ideal course of action.

By the fall of 1924, Morton became the first company to sell iodized salt nationally, and it quickly emerged as a new prominent selling point.

The advertising was updated but the Morton Girl remained, though she has changed her fashions six – or possibly more – times, including this 1930s version:

Which, according to the Made in Chicago Museum,

“The full-scale Morton Girl logo on the back of this 1930s container includes far more intricate Shirley Temple-esque detailing than the simplified miniature logo on the front side.”

Morton Girl’s last fashion change was in 1968 – here are six of her iterations:

And here’s something that hasn’t changed.  Let’s go back and look at the front of that 1914 Morton Salt container:

The weight in 1914 was “26 OZ. (1 LB., 10 OZ.).”

And in 2022, it still is:

No shrinkflation here.

But of course, Morton Salt has evolved, or at least its packaging has.

The side panel now contains “Nutrition Facts”:

The Morton Girl on the back of the container has shrunk, to make room for other stuff:

And Morton Salt has a website – something not even imagined back in 1914:

It also has a Facebook page:

And an Instagram page with more than 11 thousand followers:

Now let’s circle back around to my growing-up years, for on last change.

Mom’s disposal of the empty Morton Salt box, and mine:

I’m betting Joy Morton would approve.

Now that I’ve read so much about salt, Morton-wise and otherwise, I can state unequivocally that I am an expert on the subject.

Though somehow, I’m guessing you’ll take that with a grain of…

Or, better still, with…

I Have An Honest Question And I’m Hoping Someone Will Give Me An Honest Answer:

This is a question that’s puzzled me for a long time.

I’m not in any way denigrating or minimizing the efforts of Americans who go to other countries to help people and/or animals.  I’m certain the work they do is worthwhile, and often lifesaving.

One medical example:  Americans affiliated with Doctors Without Borders:

One helping-animals example:  American author Delia Owens.

According to a July 19 New York Times article, in 1974 Delia and husband Mark Owens…

The Owens in the North Luangwa National Park in Zambia in September 1990.

“…moved to Africa to study wildlife, an experience they wrote about in their co-authored nonfiction books, The Eye of the Elephant, published in 1992, and Secrets of the Savanna, released in 2006.  At their research camp in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, they studied the migration patterns and social behaviors of lions and hyenas.  In 1985, they moved to Zambia, where they maintained a 5,000-square-mile preserve to prevent poaching of elephants and other wildlife.”

The Owens were in Zambia until 1996, when they moved to Idaho.

So – important work by Doctors Without Borders, important work by Delia and Mark Owens.

It’s just that…

Doctors Without Borders is spread out over 70 countries.

While here in this country, according to government agency HRSA (Health Resources Services and Administration), there are millions of medically underserved people.

Here’s a 2021 HRSA map of U.S. medically underserved counties in green:

Why would a U.S. doctor or nurse go to Haiti, for example, when her/his services are so desperately needed for so many people right now in the U.S.?

This article from 2019 demonstrates what I’m talking about:

“In the medical desert that has become rural America, nothing is more basic or more essential than access to doctors, but they are increasingly difficult to find.  The federal government now designates nearly 80 percent of rural America as ‘medically underserved.’ 

“It is home to 20 percent of the U.S. population but fewer than 10 percent of its doctors, and that ratio is worsening each year because of what health experts refer to as ‘the gray wave.’  Rural doctors are three years older than urban doctors on average, with half over 50 and more than a quarter beyond 60.  Health officials predict the number of rural doctors will decline by 23 percent over the next decade as the number of urban doctors remains flat.”

Then there are Delia and Mark Owens, and others who leave the U.S. to help animals in other countries.

While in this country, in September 2021 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service…

…proposed delisting 23 species from the Endangered Species Act due to extinction.

While the Owens were in Africa (1974-1996), here are three of those 23 species that were going extinct:

It’s not my intention to single out the Owens – many people go to other countries on behalf of animals, and this article lists 10 ways to do that:

Options include:

Why are people going to other countries, while animals are going extinct here and now?

The Owens story came to my attention in a roundabout way.

Delia Owens today.

I’ve mentioned that Delia Owens and her husband co-authored two nonfiction books about their African experience.  They also wrote a bestselling 1984 memoir, Cry of the Kalahari.

Then in 2018 Delia published her first novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, and it’s been phenomenally successful:  168 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and 15 million copies sold.  A movie based on the book opened in mid-July and brought in $17 million on its opening weekend.

All of this has drawn a lot of attention to Delia, some of it not what she was looking for, according to this article:

“…the novel’s, and now the film’s, commercial success has been clouded by renewed questions about Owens’s conservation work in Zambia, which was clouded by controversy following the death of a suspected poacher in 1995.  The death happened during an anti-poaching patrol, which was part of a conservation project run by Owens and her then-husband, Mark Owens.  The shooting was recorded by an ABC crew that was filming a documentary about the work the Owens did there.  After the episode aired in 1996, Zambian officials opened an investigation, but the victim was never identified and the case was never solved.”

When Delia was asked about the incident during an interview with the New York Times in 2019, this was her response:

“I was not involved,” she said. “There was never a case, there was nothing.”

The July 19, 2022 New York Times article above references this article:

Author Jeffrey Goldberg says, in part:

“The country’s director of public prosecutions, Lillian Shawa-Siyuni, confirmed what officials at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Zambian national police told me:  Mark, Delia, and Christopher Owens [Mark’s son] are still wanted for questioning related to the killing of the alleged poacher, as well as other possible criminal activities in North Luangwa.  ‘There is no statute of limitations on murder in Zambia,’ Siyuni said.  ‘They are all wanted for questioning in this case, including Delia Owens.’”

While in this review of the Crawdads movie, the author notes:

“The release of the film version of Where the Crawdads Sing has drawn fresh attention to Owens’ troubled past as a wildlife conservationist and bestselling nonfiction author in Africa.  In short, Owens’ husband Mark ran what was effectively a lawless armed militia while battling poachers in Zambia and eventually the couple was forced to flee the country, where they are still wanted for questioning in a 1995 murder case.”

Perhaps it would have been better for the Owens to stay stateside and help keep the Bachman’s warbler and those 22 other species from going extinct.

Perhaps it would have been better for these three aid workers from Doctors Without Borders to have stayed home, as well:

So, circling back to the beginning of this…

If anyone out there can answer my question – and educate me – I’d be grateful:

Is The Only Good Fly A Dead Fly?

When I look for a video on YouTube, I also get a vertical row of additional videos on the right-hand side of my screen:

Most/all of these videos have no relevance to what I was searching for, and I have no idea how the YouTube whatchamacallits select these videos to accompany my search results.

Normally I ignore the videos, but one of the above caught my eye and sparked my curiosity:

I like stories about art, and the headline got me wondering…

Why does that lady have a fly on her head?

My mind then jumped to a story from 2020 about a fly landing on the head of then-vice president Mike Pence:

Which then brought to mind the expression…

Which then got me wondering – how many other idioms include the word “fly,” meaning the insect, not (for example) a “fly” in baseball?

And then that got me wondering – why do we use flies in idioms when flies are such nasty, filthy, maggot-laying, disease-carrying pests?

Which then got me wondering – do flies deserve their bad reputation?

This is how my mind sometimes works.

Sometimes it’s scary.

But sometimes it leads me on a journey of learning new things, and I love that.

So here’s some of what I’ve learned, if you care to join me on the journey.

Why Does This Lady Have A Fly On Her Head?

There are plenty of articles online that attempt to answer that question, including this one:

The official title of this painting is Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family, and it was painted around 1470 by an unknown artist. It resides in the National Gallery in London.

Why-the-fly theories from the articles include:

  • The fly might have been included as a symbolic element.  Flies have been used in art as a symbol of mortality, and the woman is holding a forget-me-not flower, so it’s possible that this artist is using the fly as an expression of remembrance for this woman after she has died.
  • Flies were sometimes seen as a symbol of sinfulness, so its presence might be intended to ward against evil and illness.
  • The artist added the fly looking as realistic as possible to puzzle the viewer, to make them wonder if a fly has landed on the painting. 
  • The artist may be showing off his skill in creating a three-dimensional image on a flat panel.
  • It’s a joke – the fly has been tricked into thinking this is a real headdress, fooled by the painter’s mastery.

The answer to, Why does this lady have a fly on her head?

No one knows for sure.

What Was The Fly Seen Round The World?

The painting led me to remember former vice president Mike Pence and the fly on his head (pictured) during the only vice-presidential debate of the 2020 election.

I discovered I wasn’t the first person whose brain had made that leap:

“After this week’s vice-presidential debate in the United States, the fly that landed on Vice President Mike Pence’s head was more of a sensation than the details of the debate – at least on social media.”

The author, an art historian, goes on to talk about why-the-fly-in-the-painting theories, and concludes with, “The point is that flies still remind us of unpleasant things.”

And yes, watching Pence suck up to Trump for four years was unpleasant – sickening, actually – but I must give him credit for showing some spine on January 6 and not caving in to Trump’s relentless bullying. 

Segueing to…

How Many Idioms Include The Word “Fly”?

“No flies on us” is an old British idiom used to describe someone who’s quick to understand things and not easily fooled:  “Yeah, he’s a smart one – no flies on him!”

There are many “fly” (as in insect) idioms – here are a few you may have heard/used:

The only fly in the ointment in an otherwise perfect wedding was that the bride tripped when walking down the aisle.

I wish I’d been a fly on the wall at the meeting when you said that!

Yes, you’ve got some money issues, but filing for bankruptcy would be killing a fly with an elephant gun.

So you (well, I) can’t help but wonder…

Why So Many “Fly” Idioms When We Think Flies Are So Disgusting?

To ascertain just how disgusting flies are I needed to look no further than this website:

Orkin, an American company that provides residential and commercial pest control services, has been around since 1901.

So I figure they know a thing or two about flies:

“House flies…create an eyesore in homes and often fly in people’s faces or hover over food.  While these behaviors are frustrating on their own, these insects also carry a variety of bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.

“With their diet of feces, trash, rotting produce, and spoiled meats, house flies constantly pick up pathogens.  The insects then carry these germs and leave them behind wherever they land.  The transfer process only takes a matter of seconds.

“In addition to spreading the bacteria that cling to their bodies, these flies often vomit and defecate where they land and feed.  These pests often gather in kitchens and buzz around food, so this behavioral tendency adds to the potential spread of house fly diseases.”

The article goes on to suggest that house flies can carry at least 65 illnesses that infect people including food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, anthrax, cholera, salmonella, tuberculosis and typhoid.

After reading this I was feeling borderline queasy, but I still wanted to know…

Do Flies Deserve Their Bad Reputation?

I say flies do deserve their bad reputation, but in the interest of equal time, I decided to discover if flies have any redeeming qualities.

These folks say flies do:

“Although they so often share an antagonistic relationship with humans as an annoyance or a potential carrier of diseases, these insects also serve many important ecological roles. 

“They are the second most common pollinators, behind only bees.  They help to keep the environment free of decomposing animal flesh.  And as a common subject of genetic research, they also help to advance the frontiers of human knowledge.”

And according to this 2019 article:

Dr. Erica McAlister, who was interviewed for the article, is the Senior Curator of Diptera at Great Britain’s Natural History Museum.

“Diptera” being “a large order of winged or rarely wingless insects including the housefly, mosquitoes, midges, and gnats.”

Dr. McAlister thinks flies are “the best animals on the planet.”

The article goes on to say,

“Perhaps most compelling is the direct role they have in our lives.  Although few of us realise it, without flies and other decomposers we’d be up to our eyeballs in poo and dead bodies.”

(Those Brits do have a way with words, don’t they?)

“‘Their larvae are cleaning up after us and the adults are pollinating for us.  This is why you’ve got to love a fly,’ enthuses Erica.”

Well, “love a fly” is a stretch even for my imagination, but I’ll now concede that flies do have some redeeming qualities.

Just as I thought I’d completed my why-the-fly journey, one last question occurred to me:

Why Is The Opening Of Men’s Pants Called A “Fly”?

Any guesses?

I had none, so back to the internet I went.

And found Unzipping the Origin of “Fly” by Rob Kyff at

Fly, derived from the Old English flowan (to flow), has acquired many meanings over the centuries, e.g., a winged insect, a baseball hit high into the air, the space above a theater stage, and a late-1960s word for cool.

Fly also came to mean something attached by one edge, like a flag or banner flying from a rope or pole.  With this meaning in mind, 19th-century tailors used the term fly for a flap of cloth attached at one side to cover an opening in a garment.”

Kyff also noted,

“Interestingly, fly seems to be used exclusively for the opening on MEN’s trousers.  Has one woman ever told another that her fly (or barn door) is open?  I think not.”

And Google Books brought me Why Rattlesnakes Rattle…And 250 Other Things You Should Know by Valeri Helterbran, who says, in part:

“…a fly is not the buttons or zipper but, more correctly, the flap of material used to hide these mechanisms of closure.  The distinction has been all but lost, and the flap and fasteners are now almost universally called a fly.”

So – my why-the-fly query is now at least somewhat satisfied.

But now that I think about it…

Am I about to start on another journey?

Why Does A Rattlesnake Rattle?

Here’s An Entrepreneurial Option I Hadn’t Considered

(This is a story that involves an incident at a homeless encampment, but it is not a story about homeless issues.)

There was a time when I thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

I’d grown weary of the 9-to-5, five days week.  Weary of horrible managers, and coworkers who were more slackers than workers.  Weary of endless meetings, and office politics, and work that was sometimes mind-numbingly boring.

“I want to work for myself,” I’d think.  “I want to be an entrepreneur.  And get rich, like these guys…”

But doing…


That’s where I was stumped.  I couldn’t think of anything I was burning to do that I could turn into a viable business.

Silly me:

I never considered…

Like one group of entrepreneurial folks recently did.

These were not your everyday thieves.  You know – break into a home or business, grab the goods, get caught on video, get caught, arrested, convicted.

No, sir.

This group demonstrated a number of the qualities described in this article:

The 20 Signs list includes:

#1:  You plan your work, then work your plan.
#2:  You are self-motivated.
#4:  You are a risk-taker.
#6: You’re a self-starter.
#8:  You take advantage of available resources.
#9:  You love to juggle many tasks at once.
#11:  You’re not afraid of failure.
#12:  You’re a creative problem-solver.
#17: You’re a go-getter.

Here’s the story, from San Jose, CA:

But before anybody stole acquired anything, the thieves entrepreneurs built an underground bunker to house their acquisitions:

Clearly an example of…

#6:  You’re a self-starter.

And they didn’t just pick any old location to build their bunker – they chose a homeless encampment, knowing that homeless encampments are places most people avoid. 

Nobody’s going to stroll into a homeless encampment as say, “Anybody seen bunker around here?” – right?

So again yes, from the list…

#12:  You’re a creative problem-solver.

Then our group built their bunker.  Various articles described it as “elaborate” and “sophisticated,” and it is:

Walls and a ceiling and sturdy wooden beams for support.

#1:  You plan your work, then work your plan.

And not only that, there were also electric cords that were “plugged into somebody’s else’s source.”

Another source, like a home or business.  And when that family or business saw their electric bill increasing for no apparent reason, well – California utility companies increase our rates on a regular basis for no apparent reason.  We’re used to it.

#8:  You take advantage of available resources.

While the bunker building was going on, our entrepreneurs were also conferring about whom to rob acquire items from, and when.  This would have required extensive research, a careful assessment of potential gains, and probably an excessive amount of whiteboarding, because no meeting is complete without that.

Yet another entrepreneurial quality checked off our list:

#9:  You love to juggle many tasks at once.

A date was chosen:  Monday, July 11.

A source was identified:  An electrical contractor business.

The potential gains identified:   Power tools, hunting shotguns, ammunition and other items.

#17:  You’re a go-getter.

Transportation would be needed to move the items, so our group stole acquired three pickup trucks from the same business, a real time-saver.

#4:  You are a risk-taker, and #11:  You’re not afraid of failure.

Monday, July 11:  Our entrepreneurs acquire $100,000 worth of power tools, guns, ammunition and other items.

True entrepreneurs, one and all!

But then, alas…

On the very day our group implemented the heist Part II of their business plan…

One of our entrepreneurs exhibited a quality that definitely was not on the 20 Signs list:


According to this article:

“Officers saw one of the stolen trucks in the area and stopped a man near the vehicle on Monday, after the theft was reported to authorities.

“Police said that man was searched by officers because he was on probation for auto theft and that he had a ghost gun, the term used for privately assembled firearms that are usually impossible to trace because they are not registered and do not have serial numbers.”

Oh, dear.  Our entrepreneur was already on probation for auto theft, and now he’s found with a stolen acquired truck and a ghost gun?

One thing led to another, and on Tuesday, July 12 the bunker was searched, and five more people were arrested:

Police tweets were tweeted:

Pictures of guns, ammo and power tools were taken:

Shadows were interviewed:

Headlines were made, including internationally, this one from the United Kingdom:

And this one, from Fox News:

Fox News suggested that our thieves entrepreneurs were left-wing Democrat communist deep state pinkos led by Hilary Clinton who were going to foment an uprising to reverse the November 2022 election results if any Republicans won.

I’m not sure how power tools would fit into that plan, but since it’s Fox News, it must be true.

And it fulfills the last item on our 20 Items list:

#2:  You are self-motivated.

Based on all this, I guess I’ll have to accept the fact that I’m just not entrepreneur material.

Nevertheless, if I may…

I’d like to make one suggestion that was not included in the 20 Items article for our San Jose entrepreneurs to consider:

#21:  You love putting together a business plan
and meeting with venture capitalists

If your business plan is going to include a team photo, you might want to consider a different image than this one: