Part 1 of 2:  I Love Learning…

I do love learning new words.

I’m not referring to the words that get added to dictionaries each year, as in this article:

Although those words are always worth noting, especially this one:

Click on the word and sure enough, there it is in Merriam-Webster:

Fun…but not where I’m going with this.

The “new words” I’m referring to are words that have been around for awhile, but are new to me.

And the word fitting that description is one I heard only recently for the first time:


My spellcheck sure doesn’t like that one.

It appears that using “Trumpiest” goes back to at least 2020:

It was in use in 2021:

Right up to the present:

And not to be outdone, the New York Times

…jumped in with the three degrees of adjective comparison:  positive (or negative), comparative, and superlative.

Like in ugly, uglier, ugliest but it’s Trumpy, Trumpier, Trumpiest.

But even in its widespread use and all its degrees of comparison, an awareness of Trumpiest eluded me.

Until this article about the results of the recent New Hampshire primary:

And Trump’s reaction to the primary results:

“‘Nice!  The “Trumpiest” people ALL won in New Hampshire last night.  MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!’ Trump wrote on Truth Social on Wednesday.”

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to suggest that Trump thinks describing something as “Trumpiest” is high praise, indeed.

I, on the other hand, would be insulted beyond words if someone described me or anything about me as “Trumpiest.”

And for the purpose of this post – yes, I’m finally getting around to the purpose – I will utilize “Trumpiest” as an insult.

Think “liar.”  Think “cheater.”  Think “fraudster.”

Allow me to introduce my choice for the Trumpiest thing I’ve ever encountered:

The image on the left features three lions and two chevrons on a shield, below a gloved hand gripping an arrow.

The image on the right displays a two-headed eagle, three chevrons and two stars on the shield, below a lion gripping a pennant. 

In my research I encountered articles that referred to these images as a “coat of arms.”  Other articles refer to the images as a “family crest.”

Because I can be a real jerk stickler about these things, I wanted to learn the difference, and which was correct.

It’s actually pretty easy:

A coat of arms is a detailed symbol used to identify families or individuals.

The family crest is a smaller part of the design, often located at the top.


Coat of arms, family crest at the top, plenty of garni all around.

So these are coats of arms:

You don’t hear a lot about coats of arms in the U.S., but this is a matter of serious importance to many people in Great Britain.  It’s called heraldry, which is:

Coat of arms of England’s Duke of Norfolk.  The first Norfolk coat of arms was granted in 1397.

“The art and science of devising, displaying, and granting armorial insignia and of tracing and recording genealogies.  The use of heraldic symbols, or ‘coats of arms,’ as a means of identification spread through European nobility in the 13th century.

“Only the highest classes of people in medieval Europe used coats of arms, as they were the only one with ancestors distinguished enough to have been granted them by the kings of the time.” 

“An individual had to be granted a coat of arms by a ruling monarch to be able to legally use it.”

If you were granted a coat of arms by a ruling monarch, it was a big deal.  Your coat of arms said you’d arrived.  You weren’t just somebody, but somebody important.  You proudly displayed your coat of arms everywhere including on your armor:

Over the front entrance of your castle:

Incorporated into your castle windows:

And people – including people who couldn’t read – recognized your combination of symbols, your high rank, and treated you with respect.

Respect, because you’d earned it.

Unlike the user of these coats of arms:

These coats of arms are the Trumpiest thing I’ve ever seen.

They’re coats of arms used by Donald Trump.

Let’s start with the complete coat of arms on the left:

The emblem is used at Trump’s golf courses across the U.S.  At the Trump National Golf Club outside Washington, it’s everywhere – the pro shop, the exercise room, the sign out front:

You can buy Trump golf balls with the coat of arms:

And in a truly Trumpiest manner, Trump has incorporated his coat of arms into the American flag:

Now, you know and I know there’s absolutely no way a ruling monarch had granted Trump a coat of arms.


Trump got his coat of arms the old-fashioned way:

He stole it.

According to this article:

“…Mr. Trump’s American coat of arms belongs to another family.  It was granted by British authorities in 1939 to Joseph Edward Davies, the third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the socialite who built the Mar-a-Lago resort that is now Mr. Trump’s cherished getaway.”

On the left below is the real deal: Mr. Davies’ coat of arms; on the right – the Trump fake:

“…the Trump Organization took Mr. Davies’s coat of arms for its own, making one small adjustment – replacing the word ‘Integritas,’ Latin for integrity, with ‘Trump.’”

Obviously because Trump doesn’t understand the meaning of integrity, in English or Latin.

“Joseph D. Tydings, a Democrat and former United States senator from Maryland who is the grandson of Mr. Davies, learned that Mr. Trump was using the emblem, at least at Mar-a-Lago, when he visited the property. Mr. Trump had never asked permission.”

Are you shocked?

Me, neither.

Trump bought Mar-a-Lago in 1985, and I’m picturing him walking around, gloating, surrounded by his usual toadies.  He points to something on a wall – perhaps above a fireplace:

Trump:  What the hell is that?

Toady #1:  Sir, that’s the coat of arms of Joseph Edward Davies, who received it when he was married to Marjorie Merriweather Post and they were living here at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump:  What the hell is a coat awhatis?

Toady #2 (frantically waving his hand):  Sir, I know!  I know!  It’s like…an award…I think? 

Today #3 (also waving his hand):  I know, too!  A coat of arms indicates, like, someone who’s powerful!  It was given to Davies by the monarch.  Of England!  Like, only monarchs can do that.

Trump:  It says you’re powerful?  And it’s from a monarch?  Well, what the fuck?  Why don’t I have one of those watch-a-callits? 

(He looks around at his toadies, whose heads hang in shame.)

Trump:  Do I have to come up with all the great ideas?  What am I paying you assholes for?


Trump (pointing to coat of arms):   Take that thing down and put my name on it.  And tell those dummies in the marketing department I want that thing everywhere.  And I mean everywhere

Toadies (in unison):  Sir, yes, sir!

Trump:  Everywhere, goddamnit!  Including the bathrooms!  I’ll show people who’s powerful, including when they’re wiping their –

Toadies (interrupting, in unison):  Sir, yes, sir!

And Trump’s fake coast of arts #1 was born.

But wait – how did I learn about Trump’s fake coats of arms in the first place?

All that and more in Part 2 on Monday, October 3.

This Is San Diego’s New Homeless Shelter:

When:  A recent September morning.

Where:  Park Boulevard and J Street, downtown San Diego, CA.

A tourist stands on a sidewalk, looking at the above building.  As a passerby – who happens to be a San Diego resident – approaches, the tourist asks a question.

Tourist:  Excuse me, hello!  I’ve been admiring this beautiful building – do you know what it is?

Resident:  I do – it’s San Diego’s newest homeless shelter.

Tourist:  That’s…a homeless shelter?

Resident:  Yes!  And (a bit boastfully) I happen to know quite a lot about it.  Would you like to know more?

Tourist:  I would!

Resident:  Well, everyone wants to know “What did that building cost?”  In today’s money, it cost $250 million.  It’s more than 360,000 square feet, and nine stories.  And you see that dome?

Tourist:  Yes, I was wondering about that.

Resident:  That’s a steel-and-mesh lattice dome.  We’ve come to think of it as iconic – it’s recognizable from all over downtown:

Resident:  The shelter has a state-of-the-art theater that seats 300…

Resident:  And a dining room with wonderful views…

Resident:  Free Wi-Fi…

Resident:  And a nice outdoor area…

Resident:  And plenty space around the building if the homeless would rather pitch their tents there than sleep inside:

Tourist:  Well, I am just amazed by all this. 

Resident:  Yes, it’s impressive, isn’t it?  Oh – I didn’t mention, the building has won several awards, and…Hey – since you’re so interested, why don’t you take a tour?

Tourist:  They give tours…of a homeless shelter?

Resident:  Sure do!  Or – kill two birds with one stone!  You like art?  Take an art gallery tour…

Tourist:  An art gallery?  Wow!  I have to say…I’m amazed at what you’re doing here.  My city – well, every city could learn a lot from San Diego about taking care of the homeless. 

Resident:   Well, we do think of San Diego as America’s Finest City.  Although…I should mention that…ah…that this building didn’t start out as a homeless shelter.

Tourist:  Oh?

Resident:  No.  It started out as the San Diego Central Library.


No, this conversation hasn’t happened.  Yet.

According to this article:

“…the majority of patrons at downtown’s Central Library are homeless.”

The article attributes this imbalance – in part – to this:

“The ratio has been amplified, in part, because of a nationwide decrease in library visits over the past several years while the number of people living without shelter has increased.”

The article does not suggest – so I will – that a decrease in library visits may also have something to do with the Central Library becoming a less desirable destination.  The article quotes San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones:

“‘We need to make this a safe place for everybody,’ she said, adding that incidents involving drug use and psychotic episodes are a daily occurrence at the library, and too often the solution is to escort a person off-site, sometimes with instructions not to return.

“There has been a string of overdoses at the Central Library, and a homeless person died by suicide after jumping from an upper floor of the library in August 2019.”

Perhaps Mom is disinclined to take her child to the Central Library in case they encounter this:

This is a big problem – and it’s not a new problem.

In 2015, two years after the Central Library opened, according to this article:

“About 3,000 people visit the library every day, and staff estimates about a third of those are homeless, an issue officials knew existed way before opening the facility.

“But in just a 60-day period, the Central Library had 60 calls to service by the San Diego Police Department.  The types of disturbances included 11 calls involving some kind of violent behavior, four robberies and nine welfare checks.

“[Misty Jones, the San Diego Public Library director] admits they have had to increase the number of temporary suspension letters to patrons because of behavioral issues.  They also see the need to boost their uniformed police presence inside.”

The NBC 7 story goes back even further – to 2010 – and a City Council member saying that the Central Library…

“…would become an economic boondoggle or turn into a gold-plated daycare center for the homeless.

The Central Library may not be a gold-plated daycare center for the homeless – yet – but they’ve certainly rolled out the metaphorical welcome mat for them.

Back to the Union-Tribune article:

“The Central Library already has a Veterans Resource Center staffed by People Assisting the Homeless, and another office staffed with an outreach worker from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“In the fall semester, another office will be staffed by SDSU intern Maria Temporal, who is earning a master’s degree in social work…to provide another level of help for homeless people, as she is a trained mental health therapist who can do one-on-one counseling.”

“San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones welcomes the addition of the social worker…and she is optimistic the move will create a better environment for all library visitors.”

The article also talks about Lianne Urada, an associate professor of social work at SDSU, who’s done research into how libraries can address homelessness in their cities.  She said:

“The public library presents a unique opportunity to access an otherwise hidden population.”

Urada said the Central Library is following a national trend of major cities recognizing the role libraries can play as a type of homeless services provider, and that “a growing number of libraries across the country are providing assistance to their homeless patrons…At least 31 other libraries in the country have added social workers and other social services professionals to their teams.”

And while the Central Library does have a homeless and mental health office, said Urada…

“‘What they need is to have some professional social worker who can really help with crisis management.’”


“Libraries as a type of homeless services provider.”

“Crisis management” at a public library.

“Drug use…psychotic episodes…suicide…violent behavior”

I say:  Enough is enough.

I am aware of how fortunate I am to have a home and food and so many things that homeless people do not.  I have compassion for the homeless, and I know that there, but for the grace of God, go I.

I know that anyone – including me – can become homeless.

I do not – and never have – objected to my tax dollars being spent on helping homeless people, whether the need is temporary and permanent housing services, food, clothing, health care, substance use treatments and more.

And according to, a San Diego nonprofit, my tax dollars are spent to help the homeless.

On a city level:

“In the 2020-2021 San Diego budget, the city spent $64 million through its Homelessness Strategies Department, which oversees and develops homelessness-related programs and services.”

And at the state level:

“$10.7 billion has been earmarked in the 2021-22 budget to fund 50 housing and homelessness-related programs across California.”

And the federal level:

“…in 2021, the U.S. federal government enacted over $51 billion in funding for selected homelessness and housing programs.

But damn it, I do not agree with a library evolving into a “gold-plated day care center for the homeless.”

I say it’s time for public libraries to stop kowtowing to the homeless and start prioritizing the people who pay for public libraries to exist:


The taxpayers.

How to do that?

Here’s how:

Ask people entering the library for current proof of residency.

The California DMV – and probably your state, as well – has a list of documents it accepts as proof of residency including a rental/lease agreement with signatures of the owner/landlord and the tenant/resident; deed/title to residential real property; mortgage bill; home utility bill…

You’d like to visit the library?

Just show your current proof of residency.

Is it a nuisance?

Yes, it’s a small nuisance.

Certainly a smaller nuisance than this:

And if someone is a tourist who wants to visit the library, they’re required to show their out-of-state driver license.

I believe this is worth trying.

I believe this will help us take back our libraries.

It’s time to rescue this:

And all public libraries…

From this:

Memo To Governor Ron DeSantis:  I Can Help You Do Better Next Time!

To:  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Re:  Transporting Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard

Ron, look at the audience, not the camera.

Ron, you’re making lots of headlines these days regarding the events of September 14.

You know – September 14, when you sent two airplanes to pick up 50 Venezuelan migrants in San Antonio, TX to dump take them to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

But before I get to those headlines, this event begs the question:

You’re the governor of Florida, so why did you want migrants from Texas?

According to the Migration Policy Institute:

You have nearly three-quarters of a million “unauthorized population” right there in the Sunshine State.

So, why migrants from Texas, Ron?

I found the answer to that question in a September 19 article, which suggested you somehow knew that those 50 migrants in San Antonio were “intending to come to Florida.”

Were they standing around somewhere in San Antonio with signs reading “I’m Intending To Go To Florida”?

Well, back to those headlines.

Lots of headlines, Ron, and the look – well, may I be frank?

This is not a good look for you.

Here’s just a recent sampling:

Among the above and other sites was this, for example:

A Texas sheriff has opened a criminal inquiry into your “migrant stunt.”

And this September 20 article:

Suggests that what you did smacks of “family separation.”

And, uh-oh. 

You and a bunch of other people are being sued:

“In addition to Gov. DeSantis, the lawsuit also named the state of Florida, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and their accomplices as defendants.”

Ron, you have “accomplices”?  Whew!

And this story, from a TV station in Jacksonville, FL…

…says that sending the two airplanes with migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard cost $615,000.

That’s $615,000 of Florida taxpayers’ money, Ron.

And maybe some of my federal tax dollars, too?

No, this not a good look for you, Ron.  Not a good look at all.

But don’t despair:

I can help you do better with your next move-the-migrants event.

We know you’re going to keep at – you’ve allocated lots of money for exactly that purpose:

“In June 2022, DeSantis signed the 2022-2023 Freedom First Budget, totaling $109.9 billion.  That budget allocated $12 million for a ‘program within the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) to transport unauthorized aliens’ out of the state.

“…the $12 million for that program is allocated to ‘facilitate the transport of illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard and other sanctuary states.’  DeSantis began proposing that Florida send migrants to the Vineyard and other locations as early as April 2022.”

But Ron, what if instead of spending taxpayers’ money to pick up migrants in Texas and put them on expensive airplanes to send them somewhere…

Why don’t you – as they say – think globally, act locally?

Locally, as in – why don’t you pick on pick up migrants right there in Florida?

And then move the migrants via a cheap, short bus trip to a local location?

“Local” meaning – this location:


Ron, it’s right there in Florida, in Palm Beach!

Mar-a-Lago is owned by your good buddy:

And if you just explain what’s going on to Trump, I’m sure he’ll be fine with the idea.

Trump known for being a reasonable, rational kind of guy and all.

Ron, let’s look at the advantages of taking your migrants to Mar-a-Lago.

We’ll start with security.

Mar-a-Lago has a nice, big gate:

And just last year, we taxpayers paid big bucks for a security upgrade:

What’s that?  I know, I know – when it comes to security, maybe Mar-a-Lago isn’t quite the greatest…

But wait!

The migrants you send there won’t have any reason to try and escape, because Mar-a-Lago has everything they need.

For instance, it has nice rooms:

And by that I mean available rooms – it says so, right on the Mar-a-Lago website:

“We will be happy to show any unoccupied room to…those who are interested in overnight stays.  Please contact the Front Desk to schedule an appointment and to discuss room availability and pricing.”

Don’t worry about that “pricing” stuff.

I’m sure Trump will comp your migrants.

Mar-a-Lago has restaurants…

…with plenty of food for three squares a day – guests are…

“…welcome to dine for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and can choose to dine indoors in our opulent, historic Main Dining Room, in the Teahouse, or on the al fresco Patio.”

And if the migrants need a change of clothes and/or some toiletries, the Trump Boutique…


“…plush Frette bathrobes, tee shirts encrusted with Swarovski crystals, aromatic candles, the Trump Signature line of skin care & body products and much more.”

I know the migrants will especially appreciate those “tee shirts encrusted with Swarovski crystals” – just the thing to wear to their asylum hearings, yes?

And Ron, you don’t need to pay for taxis to take the migrants to their hearings, because Mar-a-Lago offers transportation:

“Four (4) types of luxury vehicles from TRUMP National Transportation Service’s fleet will be available to accommodate the various transportation needs of…single individuals to large groups.”

And Mar-a-Lago offers so much more – a fitness center, a spa, and I mustn’t forget the Mar-a-Lago Club:

“…an oceanfront experience unlike anything ever had before.  The complex includes a 132-foot by 50-foot pool, whirlpool, a private beach, and a charming full-service beachfront Bistro.”

Plus, with stunning artwork like this to admire…

And all that interesting, easily available reading material…

By the way, Ron – just between you and me – did you get a load of the ugly carpet?

Talk about tacky!

But other than that…

Your migrants should be quite content at Mar-a-Lago.

And no worries about anyone expecting Trump’s Mar-a-Lago neighbors to open their generous arms and hearts to the migrants, like the folks on Martha’s Vineyard did:

No, no worries about that at all.

And Ron, I’m telling you, if you send your migrants to Mar-a-Lago, there won’t be any talk about pesky “class action lawsuits.”

No sheriffs starting a “criminal inquiry.”

No one suggesting you’re forcing “family separation.”

No, your migrants will happily stay at Mar-a-Lago…

And thank you for it!

What’s that you say?  You don’t think Trump would like your migrants-to-Mar-a-Lago plan?

Look, I know you and Trump have had your differences…

Ouch!  “Gutless”?

Wow, that must have really hurt a sensitive guy like you.

But you and your buddy Trump can work that out.

And then…

Won’t that be great?

And Ron – if, after all this, you’re still fixated on flying migrants out of state, then at least consider saving us taxpayers some money on the transportation and consider this alternative.

Now that you and Trump are BFFs again, don’t pay to charter this:

Just tell Trump you want to borrow this:

He won’t be needing his plane for a long, long time.

Not where he’s going:

How To Body-Shame And Make Million$$$

I’ve written about TV commercials many times on this blog.

And every post included one or both of these laments:

First: Why are these and so many other commercials so stupid?

Second:  Is nothing private anymore?

Now my next offering about commercials, this time around for…

Not to be confused with:

THE LUME Indianapolis is a “multi-sensory experience that will feature nearly 150 state-of-the-art digital projectors showcasing famous master paintings.”

No, the Lumē under discussion here has a macron – a diacritical mark – over the e, which makes the pronunciation of Lumē sound a lot like “looney.”

Which is apropos, as my research soon revealed.

The scene:

I’m at home on a Sunday evening, watching a program on CNN.

Program pause, commercial break, and I see this:

I wondered why, instead of filling the screen, the commercial had all that blank blue space on either side.  It looked like a very amateurish video on an influencer-wannabe’s Instagram site.

Then I started paying attention to what the woman was saying, and the first thing that registered was her suggesting that…

“A pea-sized amount of Lumē applied between your butt cheeks…”

This was a first.

I’d never heard “butt cheeks” used in a commercial.

And then:

“The average crotch has an odor score of five to six out of 10.”

Another first.

I’d never heard “crotch” used in a commercial.

And what determines the “average crotch”?  How many crotches are needed to determine what’s “average”?

And what about “odor score”?  How is that determined?

Is it something that involves judges, like the Olympics?

Now the image changed, making use of that blank blue space…

With graphics including “Stink Level.”

What is this stuff? I wondered.

The 30-second commercial’s last visual answered that – sort of:


I wanted to know more…

Or did I?

I’d already encountered “butt cheeks,” “crotch” and “stink level” in one commercial.  Was spending more in this environment going to improve my life?


But…perhaps this was a too-good-to-miss opportunity for mockery?


My first destination was YouTube, to find the commercial I’d seen and confirm what I’d heard. 

Found, watched, confirmed.

Then I watched a longer Lumē commercial – two minutes and 18 seconds – where an actress began by applying “a pea-sized amount of Lumē” (that sounded familiar) “to your privates,” with this piece of fruit standing in for your “privates”:

Other language included:

  • Kiss your stinky butt good-bye.
  • Butt incense.
  • In bed doing some stinky-winky.
  • Your junk smells so awful, you’re bad at playing hide-and-seek.
  • Use it on pits, feet or any other stinky crevice.
  • You’ll be able to geni-tell the difference (geni-tell as in genital).

Message received:

Our bodies are God-awful smelly but Lumē – and only Lumē – will make us less smelly and therefore more socially acceptable.

And happy.  Buying Lumē will also make you happy.

The commercial encouraged me to go to the Lumē website, which I did:

Where I was exhorted to…

Apply Anywhere You Have Odor
Think pits, underboobs, belly buttons, tummy folds, butt cracks, thigh creases, vulvas, balls, and feet!

Yet another commercial first: “vulvas.”

And wow – who knew “underboobs” was a word?

Who knew our bodies possessed all those odor opportunities?

This person knew:

Meet Dr. Shannon Klingman, Lumē spokesperson and an OB-GYN who, says her website,

“…worked for 10 years to create a solution that would work for ALL body odor, not just smelly pits.”

Apparently not satisfied with her tacky self-made videos, Shannon hired the Harmon Brothers ad agency:

I guess because she wanted to get a “crap-ton of eyeballs” looking at Lumē.

Who knew “crap-ton” was a word?

In this Harmon Brothers news release…

Shannon said,

“…so when we created this revolutionary product, we knew we needed to find a way to talk about it publicly.  Who better than Harmon Brothers, the agency whose success was sparked by making the smell of human odors easy to talk about.”

Who knew that “making the smell of human odors easy to talk about” is the new benchmark for successful advertising agencies?

The news release is dated January 2019 and says that Harmon Brothers launched their first Lumē ad just before Christmas.

The ad:

“…features a made-from-scratch musical number…the leading lady manages to convince the viewers that they actually want body odor – just so they can experience the pleasure of using Lumē to dismiss it away.”

Who knew someone could convince us that we want body odor?

The ad was more than four minutes long, and because I care about you, I watched it so you wouldn’t have to.

Here’s the “leading lady”:

At 1:55 into the commercial I learned that bacteria eat the fluids on our skin and then the bacteria…

But no worries – at 3:20 in we’re assured that with Lumē, your HOO-HA:

Can smell OOH-LA-LA:

But only if we…

Click the link and get Lumē today:

I guess the Harmon Brothers – the folks known for “making the smell of human odors easy to talk about” – were doing something right.

According to the 2019 news release:

“For Lumē, sales are up 526% and the company is on track to grow from $1.5 million annually to $15 million annually based on current indicators.”

And in late 2021, Lumē was acquired:

No financial terms were disclosed, but one website – I can’t testify to its veracity – valued Lumē “in the range of $10M-$37.5M.”

What do I think of all this?

Well, Lumē proved to be something easy to mock, and that’s been fun.

But it also proved to be something ugly and exploitative.

And I think Lumē – and Shannon – stink.

NOT because I object to someone coming up with an idea, bringing the idea to fruition, and making lots of money from it.

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit.

What I think stinks is Klingman’s message that our bodies are disgusting, smelly, and hopelessly repulsive and will continue that way forevermore unless we buy her product.

It’s one more advertising campaign like so many – telling us that unless we purchase their brand of lipstick or shoes or cars or whatever…

We are doomed…

We’ll never be happy…

And we are stupid.

I think this Lumē reviewer …

Said it very well:

“This ad is a direct attack on women and our self-esteem…”

“Calling women’s vaginas ‘stinky crevices’ is not only revolting and insulting but it’s completely incorrect!  Vaginas are self-cleaning, thanks.  When are you going to put out ads about men’s stinky penises? 

The whole thing is absolutely all about creating an unnecessary need and then meeting it.”

Klingman and her Lumē ads are a perfect example of using blatant body shaming – for women and men – to make Klingman lots of money. 

And while she’s body shaming and making millions, she’s mouthing meaningless sentiments like these, from an interview:

“If I can be an inspiration to young girls and women around the world and make the path a little clearer for them to dream and develop and problem solve, then I have done a good thing.”

“It feels great to know that in our small way, we are making a big difference in the lives of women.”

What a load of…

Let’s go back to what I talked about at the beginning of this post – the two laments I have with the commercials I’ve written about, and so many, many other commercials:

First:  Why are so many commercials so stupid?

Because people like Shannon Klingman and her pals at Harmon Brothers advertising think their audience (you and me) is stupid, and they have to dumb-down their message to get us to buy their products.

Second:  Is nothing private anymore?


In summary:

Dr. Klingman, take your Lumē products and stick them in your…

The Nazis: Their Gifts Just Keep On Giving

The Danube River is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia.  It rises in the Black Forest mountains of western Germany and flows for 1,770 miles to its mouth on the Black Sea:

Along its course it passes through 10 countries:  Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.

River cruises on the Danube are popular, like the Viking River Cruise’s Budapest-to-Bucharest trip that follows this course:

You’ll see I marked “Iron Gate” with an arrow.  It’s a gorge on the Danube.

Here’s a Viking River Cruise in the Iron Gate:

It’s not the only ship in the area.

There are others there are well:

According to this article:

“Europe’s worst drought in years has pushed the mighty river Danube to one of its lowest levels in almost a century, exposing the hulks of dozens of explosives-laden German warships sunk during World War II near Serbia’s river port town of Prahovo.”

“The vessels were among hundreds scuttled along the Danube by Nazi Germany’s Black Sea fleet in 1944 as they retreated from advancing Soviet forces, and still hamper river traffic during low water levels.”

“However, this year’s drought – viewed by scientists as a consequence of global warming – has exposed more than 20 hulks on a stretch of the Danube near Prahovo in eastern Serbia, many of which still contain tons of ammunition and explosives and pose a danger to shipping.”

The sunken ships pose a danger not only to shipping, but to the local fishing industry of both Serbia, and Romania across the river.

And the wrecks present a massive threat in terms of human life and the environment – according to an August 23 New York Times article:

“The wrecks contain nearly 10,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance according to the Serbian authorities.”

Ah, the Nazis: their gifts just keep on giving.

Here’s a bit more about Germany scuttling their ships from this article:

“The ships, some still laden with munition, belonged to Nazi Germany’s Black Sea fleet that was deliberately sunk by the Germans as they retreated from Romania as Soviet forces advanced.

“Historians say up to 200 German warships were scuttled in September 1944 near Prahovo in the Danube gorge known as The Iron Gate on the orders of the fleet’s commander as they came under heavy fire from the Soviets.  The idea behind the deliberate sinking was to at least slow down the Soviet advance in the Balkans.  But it didn’t help, and Nazi Germany surrendered months later, in May 1945.”

The appearance of the sunken ships was not a surprise – they’ve been hampering shipping for years.  And for years there were plans to take the ships out of the muddy waters, but the operation was considered too risky because of the explosives they carried and there were no funds to do it.

Fortunately, it appears that’s about to change – somewhat.  Again, according to the Star Advertiser:

“Now, the European Union and the European Investment Bank have agreed to provide loans and grants to finance the operation to remove some of the vessels near Prahovo in order to improve the traffic capacity of the Danube.  The total cost of the operation is estimated at 30 million euros ($30 million), of which about $16 million are grants.

“Alessandro Bragonzi, the head of the European Investment Bank in the Western Balkans…said the project consists of the removal of 21 sunken vessels.

“‘It has been estimated that more vessels are underwater, up to 40, but those that are currently impeding the fairway conditions of the Danube, especially during periods of low water level, are 21’ Bragonzi said.”

On August 30 NBC reported:

“Experts say the salvage operation will consist of removing the explosive materials from the sunken vessels and then destroying the wrecks, rather than dragging the ships out of the river.”

Removing explosives safely, disposing of them safely, destroying the wrecks, cleaning up from destroying the wrecks – a huge, costly, and dangerous process.

Here’s another dangerous gift from the Nazis that keeps on giving:

Riverside, CA 2009:

Charlottesville, VA 2017:

Washington, DC January 6, 2021:

This is Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, of New Jersey.

He participated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol and, according to this article:

Prosecutors portrayed him as:

“…an extremist, who hoped for a second ‘civil war.’  The government presented evidence of Hale-Cusanelli using racist, antisemitic and anti-gay slurs, yelling obscenities at officers protecting the Capitol, and later enthusiastically boasting about breaching the building to a roommate.”

“Video showed how he joined the mob on the west side of the Capitol…Another video taken that day shows him moving a bike rack, which police had been using as a barrier against the demonstrators.  When a group of rioters eventually broke a window on the Senate side and gave the mob access to the building, Hale-Cusanelli followed them in.”

This article…


“One Navy seaman said Hale-Cusanelli told him ‘he would kill all the Jews and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and he wouldn’t need to season them because the salt from their tears would make it flavorful enough,’ according to prosecutors.”

“Hale-Cusanelli was indicted on five counts:  obstruction of an official proceeding, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly or destructive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.  The obstruction charge is a felony.  The rest are misdemeanors.”

Update:  September 19:

I waited to upload this post because Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, September 16. It appears sentencing has been delayed.

Prosecutors are asking for 6.5 years.

Prior to his arrest, Hale-Cusanelli served in the U.S. Army Reserves as a human resources specialist and also worked as a security guard at a Naval base.  In court filings the government said he wore the “Hitler mustache” to work. 

Will he wear his Hitler mustache in prison?

Book Review:  What A Cheap, Cheesy Rip-Off Of Two Dead People

Publication date:  May 2022

Category:  Women’s Friendship Fiction, Mothers and Children Fiction, Women’s Domestic Life Fiction

Review, short version:  The above skunks and more.

Review, long version:

Perhaps, in this post’s title, instead of “cheap” I should have used the word “expensive,” since the dust jacket on Emily Giffin’s Meant to Be says “$28.”

But I got the word “cheesy” right:  “not very good or original, and lacking style in a way that is embarrassing; shabby.”

And I got “rip-off” right, too:  “a cheap, exploitive imitation; an inferior imitation of something.”

Meant to Be is based on two actual people, and I know that authors base characters on actual people all the time.  Sometimes those characters are described as “thinly disguised.”

But there was nothing “disguised” – thinly or otherwise – in Giffin’s two lead characters, Joe Kingsley and Cate Cooper.

They’re straight, direct rip-offs of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy:

JFK, Jr., Carolyn, and her sister Lauren, died in the crash of the plane he was flying in 1999.

But the rip-off wasn’t enough for Giffin.  She also somehow presumes to think she knows John and Carolyn so well that she writes each of them in the first person, as though she’d somehow been privy to their thoughts.

Utter nonsense.

Giffin is nothing more than a Kennedy groupie.  In her author’s note at the end of the book, she writes:

“After I graduated from law school in 1997, I moved to New York, took the bar exam, and went to work at a large firm.

“I had never lived in a big city before, and it was crazy to think that I might at any moment run into JFK, Jr., or his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, whether on the subway, in Central Park, or at their usual Tribeca haunts, from El Teddy’s to Bubby’s to the Odeon.”

Did I say “groupie”?

Maybe I should have said “stalker.”

In just the first few pages of, and then throughout, the book, we’re practically smothered in information Giffin simply lifted from JFK, Jr.’s life:

Joe Kingsley and John Kennedy – same initials.  Joe has a dog named “Thursday,” JFK, Jr. had a dog named “Friday.”  Joe’s family is American “royalty,” like JFK, Jr.’s. family. Joe’s father died when Joe was three, like JFK, Jr.’s father did.  Joe’s father is buried at Arlington, like JFK, Jr.’s father is.  Joe’s father had a rocking chair, like JFK, Jr.’s father did. 

It continues….

Joe’s father served in World War II, like JFK, Jr.’s father did.   Joe’s father ran for Senate, like JFK, Jr.’s father did.  Joe’s mother is a fashion icon, like JFK, Jr.’s mother was.  Joe marries a woman whose first name begins with “C,” like JFK, Jr. did.  Joe is a pilot, just like JFK, Jr. was.  Joe’s plane crashes, just like JFK, Jr.’s plane did.  There’s a “Kingsley curse,” just like the “Kennedy curse.”

And as for the Cate character, I don’t know much about Carolyn’s background so Giffin may – may – have showed a scintilla of imagination there.

It’s almost as if Giffin was on a deadline for her next novel and desperate to come up with a storyline, so she copied some online JFK, Jr. and Carolyn stories, pasted them into Word, then hit the “Find and Replace” feature:

So, I think Meant to Be is tripe.

Even the cover of the book is a rip-off:

I headed on over to Amazon to see what others were saying about the book and – no surprise here – I’m out of step with 83% of Amazon reviewers and the 4.3 out of 5 stars rating.

So I skipped the four- and five-star reviews and went straight to one- and two-stars – here’s a sampling:

Skip this one
In Author’s Note Emily writes that the characters are purely fictional, while she uses John and Caroline’s story to create the story line of this book.  Keeping the story of their tragic loss alive for $$$.  Unoriginal and will not read her books again.

Don’t bother
I hated this book because the author just lazily re-wrote the romance of JFK and Carolyn Bessette, all of which is public record and therefore required zero creativity or real imagination…

An embarrassment for the author and me
I’ve read other Giffin novels. They’re simple and somewhat trite, but I’ve enjoyed the sentimentality.  This one was dreadful.  An embarrassment for the author who spun this pathetic “novel.”  An embarrassment for me that I finished it.  

I, too, am embarrassed that I finished Meant to Be.

There are so many other worthwhile things I could have been doing with my time.

Such as…changing the stale air in my tires…

“America’s Finest City” Isn’t Looking So Fine After This:

This story taking place in San Diego – often called “America’s Finest City” by us locals – came and went in one day.

But it stuck with me.

It has to do with shopping carts

A rather pedestrian item that we don’t give much thought to.

And we’re so accustomed to seeing abandoned shopping carts this that we barely notice this:

Of course, not all shopping carts are abandoned:

We’ll circle back around to shopping carts and the homeless shortly.

This shopping carts story stuck with me because my husband’s parents owned a small grocery store.  When customers walked off with (stolen) shopping carts – to transport their purchases to their homes or to the bus stop, for example…

 …the shopping carts had to be replaced.

His parents had to pay for those replacements, and this wasn’t something they could just write off as “the cost of doing business.” 

That cost had to be passed on to customers – to those who stole and to those who wouldn’t dream of stealing a grocery cart.

And it isn’t just small stores that pass on the cost of stolen shopping carts – most, probably all stores do this:

“The Food Marketing Institute reports that nearly two million shopping carts are stolen each year, translating into a per-store loss of $8,000 to $10,000 annually – and that’s only in the food industry.

“Shoppers wouldn’t think of borrowing a car to get their purchases home, but these same people assume that as customers they are allowed to take baskets and carts with them.”

Stores are fighting back, of course – some turning to companies whose business is shopping cart theft prevention, like this one:

The options might include high-tech electronic systems – for example, the shopping cart is fitted with an electronic locking wheel clamp or “boot…”

…and transmitter with a thin wire is placed around the perimeter of the parking lot.  The boot locks when the cart leaves the designated area, and store personnel must then deactivate the lock with a handheld remote control to return the cart to stock.

Then there are low-tech options such as vertical posts at the store entrance to keep carts from being taken into the parking lot, or mounting a pole taller than the entrance onto the shopping cart, so that the pole will block exit of the cart:

And this news story:

Demonstrated how to get a shopping cart lock to release:  Insert a quarter.  When you return the cart, your quarter pops out of the lock.

High-tech or low-tech, who pays for this theft prevention?

Here’s looking at you, kid.

And me.

A system that isn’t proactive like these, but rather reactive, is the one that’s been around the longest:

A cart retrieval service collects carts found off the store’s premises and returns them to the store for a fee.  Who is that fee passed on to?

Here’s looking at you again, kid.

And me.

Shopping cart retrieval services are all over the country and can range from one guy in his pickup truck to large-scale operations like this:

This is RMS, offering shopping cart retrieval services right here in San Diego.

I said I’d circle back around to shopping carts and the homeless, and here goes.

We all know that some homeless people use shopping carts.  And sometimes those shopping carts end up in homeless encampments:

According to this article:

In recent months in downtown San Diego and other areas where the city has increased enforcement of laws prohibiting sidewalk homeless encampments:

“During cleanups, crews toss shopping carts…into a trash truck, where they are crushed and hauled to a landfill.”

The article also says:

“City officials originally were asked in mid-July why shopping carts found in homeless encampments were destroyed rather than given back to their owners.  The question was referred to RMS, and conversations with city officials on Friday still did not explain why carts were destroyed.”

Yet Matthew Dodson, president of RMS’ cart-retrieval service CarTrac, said he was unaware that the city was destroying shopping carts until contacted for a comment about the policy.

So America’s Finest City ducked the question and referred it to RMS, RMS didn’t know San Diego was destroying shopping carts, and oh, by the way – according to Dodson, “destroying shopping carts is illegal”:

“A section of the California Business and Professions code states cities and counties must notify retailers if shopping carts are impounded, and they must be held 30 days before being discarded or sold.”


“City officials have not commented about Dodson’s claim about the code violation.”

City officials can be amazingly mum when it suits them.

A supervising public information officer for San Diego said the city does contact RMS when people report shopping carts in public places through the city’s Get It Done app.

This public servant also unhelpfully noted:

“Cart owners have the option to install theft prevention devices that would eliminate these carts from ending up in canyons, riverbeds or sidewalks.”

So this person is suggesting that it’s not San Diego’s fault that San Diego is destroying shopping carts – it’s the cart owners fault because the cart owners haven’t installed theft protection devices?

San Diego shoppers are paying for stores to replace stolen grocery carts and paying for San Diego to destroy them.

Does any city official see how screwed up this is?

And continues to be?

The Union-Tribune article was dated August 14 but I haven’t posted about it until now because I kept checking for follow-up articles – something that would indicate that America’s Finest City has stopped throwing away shopping carts.

As of a month later…nothing.

Nothing except a continuation of this:

One more shopping cart crushed, two more to go.

Can Something Be Good And Unpleasant At The Same Time?

I’m partial to penguins, and when I see them, it makes me smile.

So when I saw the above picture, I started to smile.

That felt good.

But then…

The picture reminded me of something unpleasant.

That was bad.

Now, how could a picture of adorable penguins remind me of something unpleasant?

Let’s start with the where, who and what:

The penguin picture is from the ZSL London Zoo’s annual animal weigh-in (ZSL stands for Zoological Society London).

According to this story:

“With more than 14,000 animals in their care, ZSL London Zoo’s keepers spend hours throughout the year recording the heights and weights of all the animals – vital information which helps them to monitor their health and well-being. 

“The annual weigh-in is an opportunity for keepers at ZSL London Zoo to make sure the information they’ve recorded is up-to-date and accurate, with each measurement then added to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all over the world that helps zookeepers to compare important information on thousands of endangered species.”

So it wasn’t just penguins who were getting weighed, but – as in often the case – penguins getting much of the attention.  In addition to the image at the top, there were plenty of others, like this:

I hop on the scale, get weighed, hop off the scale, and get a fish!

These ZSL London Zoo residents are Humboldt penguins, whose native habitat is along the coasts of Chile and Peru in the southeastern Pacific Ocean.  They’re described as “medium sized,” grow to be about 26 to 28 inches long and weigh about 10.4 pounds.

And I’m betting that if one of those penguins weighed in at 10.9 pounds or even 11 pounds, they wouldn’t be banished from the ZSL London Zoo’s Penguin Beach exhibit for being overweight.

They wouldn’t be told, “You’re suspended without pay and if you don’t lose that extra weight, you’ll be terminated.”

But if you were a flight attendant, that’s exactly what could – and still can – happen to you.

I know, because I was a flight attendant.

When I was flying (this was back shortly after the Wright brothers’ first flight), every time my fellow crew members and I checked in at our home base airport to go on duty – work a flight – each of us was weighed.  And the senior flight attendant wrote down our weights.

Just like the zookeepers do:

If you were a pound or two over your maximum weight – as decreed by the airline – you might get off with just The Look from the senior flight attendant.

You know – The Look.

I was never suspended or terminated for my weight, but I got The Look a number of times.

Just showing up for work meant gut-clenching, high anxiety – every time. 

And then…whew. Dodged the bullet again.

If you were 10 pounds over, you could be suspended without pay, and advised to lose the weight and come back in two weeks for a weigh-in.

But more than 10 pounds?

Unemployment:  Likely.

I must mention that weight requirements did not apply to the cockpit crews.  They get FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) physicals and if the FAA says a cockpit crew member is good to fly – regardless of their weight – then they fly.

But not flight attendants.

This article:

Described a weight-related termination case:

“In 1972, Sandie Hendrix, a stewardess at United, was fired after weighing in at a 127 pounds.  (Hendrix was five feet two, and the limit for her height 118 pounds.)

“Her story made the national news, but not everyone was on her side:  one nationally syndicated columnist, writing about the possible end of the airlines’ weight rules, bemoaned a future in which ‘human hippos’ start handing out the trays.”

“Human hippos.”

It was all about female flight attendants, and how they looked.

Nothing to do with the fact – and it is a fact – that flight attendants are on airplanes for one reason:

Your safety.

Whether that’s safety demonstrations before flights take off and land, administering first aid and medical care in emergencies, or saving your life by helping you get off the plane as quickly and safely as possible in the event of a crash or water ditching.

And more recently – and regrettably – flight attendants have also had to deal with a tsunami of “unruly passengers,” many due to face mask and other COVID-related issues.

The beverages, snacks and whatever served by flight attendants are just window dressing.

A flight attendant’s value should never have been, and should never be, determined by their weight or anything else about their appearance.

But it was, and still is.

The above New Yorker article also references Diane Tucker, a flight attendant who has worked for United since 1968:

“Tucker started every workday by hiking her skirt so that an older woman, known as an ‘appearance supervisor,’ could peer underneath.  ‘We lifted our skirt and showed our girdle,’ Tucker said.  ‘They didn’t ask me whether I had my manual or my flashlight, or whether I had enough money to get a taxi if I needed it – they just wanted to know if I had my girdle on.’”

“…some women took diet pills or starved themselves to avoid losing their jobs.  ‘If there was any suspicion that you didn’t look exactly the way the appearance supervisor thought you should look, she would have you hop on the scale in front of everybody,’ Tucker said.  ‘If you were ten pounds over what your maximum was, they would remove you from your flight.’”

If removing a flight attendant from a flight leaves the crew shorthanded according to FAA regulations, then the airline must find a substitute before the flight can take off.  This can cause a flight delay which can cause angry passengers, sometimes passenger compensation, and sometimes trouble with the FAA.

But some airlines thought all that was preferable to having “human hippos” handing out the trays.

In the 1990s airlines began to drop or relax their weight standards for flight attendants, according to this April 1994 article:

“USAir yesterday became the latest airline to drop its weight standards for flight attendants, settling a 1992 lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

“American Airlines, to settle a lawsuit, agreed in 1991 to relax its weight standards overall and to increase the weight limits further with age.  As part of the settlement, American reinstated some flight attendants who had been dismissed because their weights violated the old guidelines.”

In these and other cases, it took lawsuits to bring about changes.

“Weight standards for flight attendants have been the subject of legal battles since the mid-1970s, when flight attendants began to assert that it was a form of sex discrimination to require them to meet weight requirements as a condition of holding their jobs.  Many flight attendants saw the weight standards as a throwback to the era when they were ‘stewardesses’ and automatically lost their jobs when they married or turned 32.”

The article noted that United Airlines was still using weight restrictions for flight attendants, but a few months after the above New York Times article, that changed, according to this July 1994 article:

But the flight attendants weren’t done with United Airlines:

“United Airlines discriminated against female flight attendants from 1989 to 1994 by requiring them to stay thinner than their male counterparts, a federal court ruled Wednesday.

“The court said United’s weight policy was discriminatory on its face.  The rules required women to stay within the ideal weight range for women with medium body frames.  By contrast, men had it easy, the court said.  Even men with small body frames were free to bulk up so their weight fell into the range for men with large body frames.”

“‘They wanted attractive, sexy flight attendants,’ said flight attendants’ attorney Edith Benay, referring to United Executives.  ‘It was just a lack of respect for women who were doing their job well, in some cases for many years.  All of a sudden, when they started to gain weight, they were out.’”

And apparently, some airlines are still showing that sexist, discriminatory mentality.

From 2015:

“According to an unnamed crew member, a flight attendant for Qingdao Airlines was recently grounded from flying because she weighed too much.  The crew member, who refused to be identified, told the South China Morning Post that the airline had previously suspended – or even fired – flight attendants who exceeded the airline’s height-to-weight ratio.”

From 2020:

(Note:  The “9st” in the article is “9 stone,” a British weight measure.  One stone is 14 pounds; “9st” is 126 pounds.)

“A flight attendant who was fired by Malaysia Airlines for being overweight has lost an unfair dismissal case.

“Ina Meliesa Hassim, who had worked for the airline for 25 years, weighed 9st 7lbs when her contract was terminated in 2017.

“The company stipulates that cabin crew’s Body Mass Index (BMI) must fall within the ‘healthy’ range to continue working for the company.

“At 5ft 2in, Ms Hassim needed to weigh a maximum of 9st 6lbs to stay in the ‘healthy’ bracket.”

And this, from January 2022:

“Former employees said it [a ‘glamorous Emirates face’] was so important that there was an ‘Appearance Management Program’ run by image and grooming officers dedicated to ensuring flight attendants meet the airline’s standards.

“But where Emirates appears to go further than industry norms is in its weight requirements.  Former cabin crew said image and grooming officers monitored and punished flight attendants deemed overweight.

“Internally at Emirates, these officers were known by some former staffers as the ‘weight police.’

“‘Weight police’ punishments include taking crew members off flights and job loss, some former employees told Insider.”

So – some foreign carriers are still operating in the aviation Dark Ages, while domestic carriers doing away with weight restrictions for flight attendants are showing some level of enlightenment.

I’ll wrap this up with two wishes.

Wish #1:  That not just more airlines, but more passengers become enlightened as to the qualities that make great flight attendants.  Which is not their weight, or their age, or whatever other “flaw” some ignorant people choose to find with their appearance.

And that we’ll see less crap like this 2015 article – and this attitude:

“As flight attendant Marcia served me water, I caught myself counting the wrinkles on her face.  If I went by the wrinkles on her face, I would say that she was a great grandmother.  Her co-worker Sheila was as round as a butterball turkey.”

And that we’ll see more articles – and appreciation – like this recent story:

“An 86-year-old American Airlines flight attendant was recognized by the Guinness World Records this week as the longest-serving and oldest flight attendant in the world.

“Bette Nash of Boston has been working at American Airlines for 65 years, which Guinness says is a record.”

Nash has her own memories of the bad old days:

“‘You had to be a certain height, you had to be a certain weight.  It used to be horrible.  You put on a few pounds and you had to keep weighing yourself, and then if you stayed that way, they would take you off the payroll,’ Nash recalled.” 

Wish #2:  Now that I’ve done my therapy by doing this post, I wish that the next time I see a ZSL London Zoo story about the penguin weigh-in or any story about penguins, I’ll have only smiling, and not unpleasant, thoughts.

They Just Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used To

A notable news story over Labor Day weekend was the delay of NASA’s second Artemis launch attempt.  It was originally scheduled for August 29, but on that attempt…

Actually, Artemis was originally scheduled to launch in 2017.  But who’s keeping track?

Other than me and millions of other taxpayers?

So the August 29 launch was moved to September 3, and that, too, was scuttled:

This and other articles recounted issues including “engine temperature problems” and “dangerous fuel leak” and “hydrogen leaks.”

When you hear what Artemis costs, you may wonder – as I did…

“I paid #@%!&%@! dollars for this #@%!&%@! thing…and it leaks?”

A September 3 Associated Press article said,

“With a two-week launch blackout period looming in just a few days, the rocket is now grounded until late September or October.”

Of the entire Artemis program, this article noted:

“NASA’s own auditors recently estimated that a single launch of the rocket will cost $4.1 billion – eight times greater than what the agency estimated in 2013.”

And since we’re talking costs, the total cost for Artemis from FY2012, when the Space Launch System (SLS) program began, through FY2025 will be $93 billion. 

So, years late and billions of dollars over estimates, but who’s keeping track?

Same answer as above.

Now let’s compare and contrast that piece of machinery with another piece of machinery our government built – this:

This is the USS Texas, a Navy battleship that was launched 1912 and commissioned in 1914.  According to the Battleship Texas Historic Site brochure:

In World War I, Texas served as part of the Battleship Force of the Atlantic Fleet, participating with the American squadron in maneuvers in the North Sea against threats from the German High Seas Fleet.

Facing the German High Seas Fleet…

…was no walk in the park.

Texas survived World War I and after some modifications, from 1927 to 1939 it served as the flagship of the American fleet in the Atlantic and Pacific, representing American naval power:

Texas circa 1928.

During World War II Texas saw action in the invasions of North Africa (November 1942), Normandy (June 1944) and Southern France (August 1944).  Moving into the Pacific in late 1944, Texas provided support for the landing at Iwo Jima in February and March 1945.  In April it took part in the invasion of Okinawa, the largest amphibious assault of the Pacific theater.

At the end of the war, Texas carried many prisoners of war from the Philippines to Pearl Harbor, and made three voyages from Pearl Harbor to California, bringing nearly 5,000 troops home from the Pacific – troops like these:

Texas was decommissioned in 1948 but instead of ending up in a scrapyard, it survived and is the only battleship in existence today that fought in both World War I and World War II.

Texas is still around.

One hundred years after it was launched.

That’s what I meant by this post’s title: 

They Just Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used To

If Texas was being built by NASA, it would still be sitting somewhere, unfinished and/or unseaworthy, instead of facing down our enemies in World War I and World War II.

While NASA whined about engine temperature problems and leaking fuel and asked us taxpayers for more money.

And more money.

Again, from the brochure:

“Texas was scheduled to be used as a bombing target, but Texas citizens launched a successful statewide fund drive to save the ship.  The U.S. Navy towed it to Texas to become the nation’s first permanent memorial battleship, and it was officially transferred to the state in ceremonies at San Jacinto Battleground in April 1948.  For 35 years, Texas was administered by the Battleship Texas Commission, then it became part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1983.”

I’m not going to pretend that Texas hasn’t needed plenty of maintenance since it took up residence in Texas – of course it has.  But as the above paragraph states, it wasn’t our federal tax dollars that brought the ship to Texas – it was a “successful statewide fund drive.”

The people of Texas wanted Battleship Texas, and they put up their money to make it happen.

Texas was in active service from 1914 to 1948 – 34 years.  It served our country well, and continues to do so.

According to the foundation in charge of its care – the Battleship Texas Foundation:

“The mission of the Battleship Texas Foundation is to preserve and enhance the Battleship Texas and develop this historic ship into a premier museum and visitor attraction.”

Texas has been and will continue to be source of knowledge about our country’s past – and its future.

And to that end, on August 31 the ship was towed from its location in the Battleship Texas State Historic Site:

Texas is in Galveston for repairs estimated at $35 million, to “repair the hull and ultimately restore the ship to its former glory,” according to this Associated Press story:

“In 2019 the Texas legislature approved the funds to fix the hull.  The foundation plans to make other fixes that it’s paying for.”

The people of Texas and donors to the Battleship Texas Foundation are paying, not U.S. taxpayers.


“Travis Davis, the foundation’s vice president of ship operations and who was aboard the vessel during it trip, said Battleship Texas did really well during its journey:  ‘She’s been a champ the whole time.’”

Texas has been a “champ” since it launched in 1912.

While this thing…

Languishes on its launchpad, waiting to try another launch attempt in “late September or October” or more likely…

Waiting until the…

Or perhaps – unlike the long-lived and well-traveled Texas – the only journey Artemis makes will be this one…

This Was An Excellent Landing

I’m not being facetious in the title.

This happened around 10:30am on a recent Thursday morning.

Yes, the plane looks pitiful:

But when we pull back from the picture to see where the plane ended up – in El Cajon, CA – you’ll see why I think this was an excellent landing.

El Cajon is located about 16 miles northeast of San Diego: 

The population is around 107,000 people in 15 square miles – pretty dense.

Now let’s look at where the plane crashed:

The plane crashed on Greenfield Drive.

And do you see those yellow lines on the map?

That’s the Interstate 8 freeway.

The plane crashed where Greenfield Drive and the I-8 intersect.

Freeways in San Diego County – including the I-8 – often look like this:

Now let’s go back and look at the plane…

It crashed on Greenfield Drive between the east- and westbound-sides of the I-8 freeway.

Not on the freeway.

Not on the nearby houses, schools, churches or businesses.

Not like this plane near El Cajon just eight months earlier:

This plane crashed, burned, damaged a home and took down power lines.

There were no survivors in that crash.

In our excellent landing, the pilot survived.

And what about other people – was anyone hurt?

According to this article:

When it hit the street, “the aircraft grazed an SUV.”

That must have been horrifying for the driver.

Fortunately, she was uninjured, able to pull her car over to the side of the street, and later talk to reporters:

One reporter suggested that after such good luck, she should buy a lottery ticket.


I haven’t found any follow-up stories so we don’t know much about the pilot who survived this:

We know he’s a San Diego resident but don’t know his name.  He was taken to a hospital “for treatment of significant but apparently not life-threatening trauma.”

We know that, according to the CHP, “Alcohol or drugs were not considered a factor in the crash at this time.”

We don’t know if the cause of the crash was a pilot error, mechanical failure, both, or neither.

We don’t know if the pilot was trying to land on the I-8 freeway – as some articles have suggested – or if he had another option in mind.

We don’t know where the pilot was coming from or headed to.

We don’t know if the excellent landing was due to the pilot’s skills, a copious amount of good luck, or both.

But considering that aircraft crashes in San Diego County neighborhoods seem to be a regular – and often fatal – occurrence, according to an NBC 7 San Diego recently aired story with these statistics:

And considering that one of those crashes took place this past October in Santee, about three miles away from El Cajon…

And that Santee crash killed the pilot, and a UPS driver who was months away from retirement; several others were injured; two homes were destroyed…

…and at least another five homes were damaged…

I’d say our El Cajon pilot’s landing was…

Let’s Be Honest:  No One Truly Enjoys Having…

There are some traditions I think we should terminate.

One in the presidential pardon for turkeys.

I don’t pardoning mean these turkeys:

I mean pardoning these turkeys:

Here’s another tradition I think we should terminate:

There were two catalysts for this post:

First, today is Labor Day, that end-of-summer holiday when many people are having houseguests or are houseguests.

And second, a recent Dear Abby letter in which the writer described the annual two-week visit from her brother and his wife:

“She is rude, nags my brother and asks him if he has showered, changed his underwear, etc.  She treats him like a child, and ‘reminds’ everyone else how smart she is…She expects everyone to wait on her because of the distance they’ve traveled.  We feel three days is long enough.  How do I tell them without hard feelings this not an acceptable length of time to stay?”

Abby wimped out and said, in part:

“Tell your brother and his wife that while you love them, you are unable to accommodate them for longer than three days and, if they wish to stay in your city longer than that, they will need to arrange other accommodations.”

“…and stick to your guns without arguing or explaining further.”

While I agree with Abby’s last sentence, instead of all that “unable to accommodate” stuff, I will offer this response:

“We don’t do houseguests anymore.”

Five words:  Simple, direct and honest.

Or, if you feel the need to soften the shock of your response, add a preface:

“We’d love to see you, but…”

The BUT is critical.

And so is this: 

There must be NO pause between the “you” and “but.”

No chance for them to interrupt.

Say it like this:

To that response many would cry…

Did you?

When I said “We don’t do houseguests anymore” was your first reaction that I was wrong or selfish or something equally bad, and/or that’s not what nice people say, and/or everyone has houseguests because that’s what people do?

Yes, that’s what people do, and that’s why houseguest horror stories abound:

When I googled “houseguest horror stories” I got more than a million results.

But we continue to have houseguests because…because…

Here’s why:

The worst reason to do anything.

How could you possibly say “No” your parents, your siblings, other family members, your best friend, your sort-of friends, your not-really-friends but they’re going to visit your city, your neighbors from when you lived next door before you moved seven years ago, a person you’ve never met but he’s a relative of the neighbors from when you lived next door…

We say “Yes” because…

Otherwise, they’ll think we don’t love them.  Or…

Otherwise, they won’t love us anymore.  Or…

Otherwise, they’ll think we’re bad people.

Otherwise schmotherwise.

I was going to start this sentence with “The worst houseguests are…”

But I can’t decide which is the worst.

How about the cousins you haven’t seen in years who are in town to take their four kids to the nearby theme park?

They show up at your front door – no call, no text, no heads-up of any kind, and:

“Hi!  I’m your cousin Louise, remember me?  We’re in town to go to WunderWorld and I just remembered you live here, so we cancelled our hotel reservations and…can we come in?”

Or the people who call and invite themselves to your place for 10 days?  You spinelessly succumb, and politely say…

“Well!  Now that we’ve settled the dates, what do you like for breakfast?  Coffee?  Juice?  Toast?…  Oh?  You like Eggs Benedict?  With fresh Hollandaise sauce?  And…what’s that?  You said your girlfriend does too, but she’ll want vegan?  Vegan Eggs Benedict?  And…champagne?  Did you say champagne?”

And then there are the houseguests who – no surprise here – are also the biggest liars:

“We won’t be any trouble, I promise!  You’ll barely know we’re there!”

And the last part is true.  They’ll be nowhere in sight when it’s time to do the dishes or pick up the tab at a restaurant.  But they’ll definitely make their presence felt when shortly after they arrive, they advise that they’re accustomed to having clean sheets and towels…

Every day.

OK.  I have decided on my ultimate worst.  My ultimate horror story of…

In my very first blog post back in May 2017, I recounted a pre- “We-don’t-do-houseguests-anymore” story of a girlfriend who asked if she and her Significant Other could say for one night.

I didn’t want houseguests, but I was spineless and said “Yes” (excuse:  she’s a close friend) and so they arrived.

And it was fine – we had pizza and salad delivered, we chatted, the evening wound down, and we said good night.

And I ended up like this:

Not because my houseguests were snoring – though that would have been bad enough.

But rather because my friend and her Significant Other – in the bedroom right next to mine – were having egregiously loud sex, complete with groans, moans, “Oh, Gods!” and a variety of other sound effects.

The noise seemed to go on forever.

Then…the big crescendo.  A few more “Oh, Gods!”

And finally…silence.

I was furious.

They were guests in my home for ONE night – and they couldn’t refrain for just ONE night?

Or at least…have sex without the sound effects?

Apparently not.

When they left the next day, them thanking us profusely for the lovely visit, and me, smiling and struggling mightily not to give them the Evil Eye for disturbing my sleep…

That’s when I decided:

When houseguests arrive, you can no longer be yourself.  You have to be upbeat and cheerful, even when you’re feeling neither.  When they recount their trip to the local zoo with 133 accompanying pictures, you have to be enthused and impressed, even when you’re feeling neither. 

And when your houseguest arrives with his dog in tow – the dog he hadn’t mentioned he was bringing – you warmly welcome him and his dog, even when you’re feeling warmth toward neither.

I say:

No more…

And I invite you to join me in putting out the Unwelcome mat:

And mastering the response:

And making your sentiments known.

I did.

I have since May 2017.

Right at the top of this blog:

Hey, Guys – Great Example You’re Setting For The Students…

The two guys in the above image should look like they’re ready to party-hearty.

It was a big day and should have been a happy occasion.

Instead, the guy on left – arms crossed, tense, with a surly – even belligerent – expression, does not look like he’s about to don a party hat and hoist a brewski.

The guy on the right – shoulders bowed, eyes lowered – looks like he’s reading a eulogy at his best friend’s funeral.

It was Monday, August 29.

The men are San Diego State University (SDSU) head football coach Brady Hoke (left), and athletic director John David Wicker.

The occasion was a news conference ahead of the Saturday, September 3 start of SDSU’s 100th football season – certainly something to celebrate.

And the game will be played in SDSU’s brand-new $310 million Snapdragon Stadium:

Yet another reason to celebrate.

But Hoke and Wicker weren’t celebrating:

In fact, Hoke looked as if he was about to leap off his chair and throttle the reporter who’s asking a question.

Hoke and Wicker didn’t like the questions that reporters were asking.

The reporters were asking about a local story that’s now gone national:

“Gang rape allegation.”

Gang rape allegations against members of SDSU’s football team.

As the reporters persisted, Hoke and Wicker abruptly got up and walked out of the news conference:

Guys, great example you’re setting for the SDSU students who look to you for leadership.

Instead of answering the tough questions, you ducked them.

When the going got tough, the tough got going – out the door.

According to this story:

“Monday’s sit-down with Wicker, Hoke and several reporters started with Wicker and Hoke issuing statements regarding the allegations.  A school official said the two men would not take questions about the incident, but would talk about football and the upcoming season.”

“But after the statement, the news conference grew heated, with reporters repeatedly asking questions about who knew what about the alleged rape and when, and why the school did not move to address the matter internally.  Wicker and Hoke then walked out.

“About 15 minutes later, Wicker returned and answered questions related to the allegations.”

I’ll give Wicker some – but not a lot of – credit for returning. 

What are the allegations against the SDSU football players?

That multiple SDSU football players gang raped a 17-year-old girl in October 2021.

According to the Union-Tribune:

“News of the rape allegations became public when the Los Angeles Times broke the story in June.”

Much of the media attention is focused on – and suggesting a possible SDSU cover-up of – the alleged gang rape.  Of prioritizing protection of its football team over the possible harm done by some of its players.

When questions about that were raised at the August 29 news conference, Hoke and Wicker walked out.

That story made headlines, too:

Not a good look.

And at the big game on Saturday, if reporters ask Hoke and Wicker more of those #&@!#%!* questions…

Will they walk out again?

This story will continue to play out in the local, national and international media for months.

It’s got all the elements of headline news:  a high-profile football team, big money involved, alleged gang rape of an underage girl by multiple football players…

And as that happens, I hope San Diego State University will put on a better face than the two the guys whose first impulse, when they couldn’t stand the heat…

Was to get out of the kitchen: