I’m Celebrating Halloween… Almost Being Over

It’s hard for me to decide what I dislike most about Halloween – my list is that long.

Top of the list is the idea of parents allowing – no, encouraging – their children to approach home the homes of strangers and get candy. 

Teaching kids at an early age to take candy from strangers.

What a bad idea.

Next on the list is it the fact that Halloween-related TV food shows start in July

Shows with names like Halloween Wars, Halloween Cookie Challenge, Halloween Baking Championship, and Outrageous Pumpkins, the latter of which brings together…

“Four of America’s best pumpkin carvers for a Halloween pumpkin carving competition that defies expectations.  In three rounds of challenges, the spectacularly talented artists use carving and sculpting tools ranging from toothpicks to saws to execute their amazingly intricate Halloween designs.  The carver who impresses the expert panel of judges the most takes home a $10,000 prize.”

Based on the online images, what appear to be normal-looking people come together with pumpkins…

And create something like this:

And quickly take pictures before the pumpkin is carted off to the local landfill.

I’ll have more to say about Halloween TV offerings later.

Another item on my What-I-Dislike-About-Halloween is this:

Not candy itself, but that people are buying it for Halloween.  According to Statista.com:

“In 2022, consumers in the United States expected to spend a combined total of roughly three billion U.S. dollars on trick-or-treat candy for the Halloween season.”

Food prices are way up, and that’s going to continue, says this recent article:

And – understandably – people keep complaining about the high cost of food.

And yet they’re loading up their shopping carts with around $3 billion in Halloween candy? 

To give away? 

To strangers?

Here’s a graphic from the Statista.com article that shows – in billions of dollars – what people are spending overall on Halloween in 2022, including the aforementioned candy:

It adds up to more than $10 billion, on stuff like yard decorations:

And costumes for humans:

And costumes for pets:

And to what end? 

So they can take selfies and post them on Instagram?

And speaking of pets…

I’m circling back to Halloween TV offerings…

And pets.


A bit of backstory:

At one time there was a television station called the Travel Channel.  At one time it actually was a channel that aired…

Travel shows.

Over the years the station went through a series of logos:

The current logo – bottom row, far right – is now missing the “a” and “e” which I guess leaves viewers asking, “Should we see what’s on Tervil?”

But the Travel – I mean, Tervil – Channel changed, as this writer lamented:

“What happened to travel television?  Growing up, I used to watch the Travel Channel for hours on end.  Yes, as a child, I loved watching shows about travel.  I would sit in awe, learning about fascinating places around the world.  I specifically recall the first time I saw a show about Angkor Wat and couldn’t believe such an historic place was never mentioned in school.

“These were the good days of travel television.  Viewers were entertained, informed and inspired.  Oh, how times have changed.”

And this writer:

Explained what happened to the Trvl Channel:

“TV networks show what works, so even if you don’t love paranormal shows, that’s what’s been driving revenue for the Travel Channel since 2018.  When they started showing these types of shows, the Travel Channel had their best year ever!  Sorry to say, these types of shows don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.”

And what better time to air “paranormal shows” than at Halloween?

Let’s take a look at Trvl’s offerings for today – Halloween.

Start your morning out right with these masterpieces:

Grab your lunch and settle in for the afternoon:

And now…as it’s getting dark…hunker down and get ready for your best Halloween night ever, right up to midnight:

Want to make your best Halloween night even better?

Then add in this:

Now, I’ve heard of humans being possessed, or thinking their possessed, or their families thinking they’re possessed.

The Catholic Church is very big on dealing with evil possession – just go online and request and exorcism:

But possessed pets?

Here’s the indisputable evidence, brought to you by Eli Roth, a sort of actor who evolved into a sort of director/producer and apparently – according to the Trvl Channel – is now the “master of horror.”

My Possessed Pet is a four-part series that concluded 10 days ago, but don’t despair – it’s streaming on discovery+.  And if you’re not set up for that, you’ll get set up for it after you read Trvl’s program description:

“Few things are more profound than the quiet bond between a person and their pet.  But what if an evil presence takes hold of the animal and uses the trusted companion to get to us?”

“ELI ROTH PRESENTS:  MY POSSESSED PET explores the true, terrifying tales of what happens when evil spirits, curses and demons take over family pets and turn them against their terrified owners.  Each episode will follow the chilling and deeply personal story of someone who has had their profound and loving relationship ripped apart by supernatural forces beyond their control.”

Here’s an image from the show about a “possessed” dog:

Though Eli Roth also could have used this one:

So – there’s just a partial recounting of my What-I-Dislike-About-Halloween list:  people spending $10 billion on Halloween crap while they whine about inflation, a proliferation of Halloween TV shows that start in July, the craziness of parents encouraging their children to take candy from strangers…

The craziness of it all.

Is it over yet?

In Chula Vista, Democrats Want Voters To Say…

I’ve heard of the 1996 movie Dead Man Walking.

But how about a movie named Dead Man Running?

That’s what’s happening in Chula Vista, CA, a city located between San Diego and the U.S./Mexico border:

The dead man is Simon Silva, who was – and still is – running for Chula Vista City Attorney.  He died on September 3 and, due to election codes, it was too late to remove his name from the ballot or add new candidates.

Silva was – is – a Democrat.  His opponent is Dan Smith, a Republican.

When I saw this story on October 25, it noted that Silva’s website is still up and running – almost two months after Silva’s death.  On October 26 I went online and sure enough:

You can still volunteer for Silva’s campaign.

You can still donate to Silva’s campaign.

And according to this October 20 article:

Silva’s website isn’t the only platform that’s continuing to support the Dead Man Running:

“The Democratic Party’s official endorsement voter guide, as listed on their website, does not include the Chula Vista city attorney race, but campaign mailers sent recently to voters listed Silva as their choice for the seat.  On September 18, they also held a campaign kickoff event with canvassing for its selected candidates that included Silva.

“There has been no mention in their communications of Silva’s death.”

And as you can see from the above headline, Silva’s Republican opponent wants this to stop:

Dan Smith.

“Dan Smith, a lawyer running for Chula Vista city attorney, is demanding the San Diego County Democratic Party stop promoting and encouraging voters to elect the late Simon Silva, who died last month.

“In an October 17 letter mailed to the Democratic Party and Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, Smith said the Democratic Party must cease ‘all advertising, promotions and endorsements for Mr. Simon Silva.’”

Smith’s reason for wanting “advertising, promotions and endorsements” to cease is simple:

If voters elect the deceased Silva, Smith loses.

Smith, of course, isn’t saying that.  Instead he’s expressing his concerns in I’m-just-looking-out-for-taxpayers terms:

“‘Misinformation by perpetuating this fraud on the voters of Chula Vista is potentially causing the expenditure of millions of dollars, which is a substantial amount of taxpayer funds.’”

And in this instance, he’s speaking the truth.

According to this story:

“If Silva beats Smith in November, that will force Chula Vista to hold a special election to replace Silva.  That could cost the city upwards of $2 million.”

A special election would give the Democrats an opportunity to run another candidate – presumably a living one – and win.

Sounds like there’s enough sleaze to go around for both Republicans and Democrats.

The Republican candidate is positioning himself as the champion of taxpayers, and the Democrats are endorsing a candidate while neglecting to mention he’s deceased.

Deceased candidate Silva who, the NBC 7 story noted, is “still the front runner” as of October 25.

So where are we today, October 28, less than two weeks from election day?

Republican Smith is getting the word out with mailers with Silva’s picture and the word “DECEASED”:

Democrats aren’t getting the word out – Silva campaign signs are still very much in evidence:

And the Democratic Party “did not respond” to the Union-Tribune’s requests for comment on this issue.

Lots of sleaze – both parties are running veritable sleaze machines.

But at least the City of Chula Vista and a Silva colleague took the time to remember that Simon Silva is more than a pawn to be used by Democrats and Republicans to get votes:

“‘His quiet leadership, ethics, unparalleled knowledge of personnel and housing laws as well as his prior experience as a Sheriff’s deputy and as a Marine made him a force to be reckoned with.  He will be greatly missed,’ the city wrote in a statement.”  

“‘Simon Silva was a profoundly good person who lawyered the way he lived, with intelligence, humility, and the highest degree of integrity,’ said City Attorney Glen Googins.”

“‘He clearly loved what he did, and he was beloved in return, both by his colleagues within the City Attorney’s office and throughout the ranks of his City family.’  

“‘The great loves of his life, though, were his wife, Claudia, and their two daughters, Gabriela and Isabel.  I feel incredibly blessed to have had him as a close colleague and friend these past 12 years.  We are all heartbroken by his sudden passing,’ Googins said.” 

Oh – No, No, No.  This Cannot Be Good.

Carlsbad, CA is on the coast about 35 miles north of San Diego.  It’s a nice town…

…with lovely beaches:

The population is about 116,000; their median income is around $113,000; and the median home price is $1.3M.

And this article:

Included Carlsbad among its “10 U.S. Cities” where the rich love to live.

That would not be me.

My husband and I were passing through Carlsbad, stopped at a traffic signal, when I noticed a building sign. Part of it was obscured by trees; this is what I saw:

“What the hell,” I thought, “is that?”

A brothel, thinly disguised?

Not in downtown-upscale Carlsbad.

A revival of a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers 1930s musical?

Don’t think so.

A school for those wishing to sharpen their alliteration skills?

Because, gosh – “Lovely Little Ladies” is practically the definition of alliteration.

I made a note of the name, looked for a website when I got home and…

Here’s the full sign:

Lovely Little Ladies is a company that targets young girls…

…and younger girls…

…who are in dire need of, as the website puts it:

“…signature spa services – manicures, pedicures, facials, make-up and glam-hairstyling…”

Calling all 10-year-olds!

Lovely Little Ladies is the go-to place for…

Facials, including cucumbers (or pickles?) on the eyes…

…manicures and makeup…

And the “Doll Me Up” hair salon…

…where girls get “glam-hairstyling” like these for just $65 and $70.

All this because 10-year-olds are so frazzled by life that they need cucumbers (or pickles?) on their eyes?

Apparently yes – all of this is clearly fulfilling every young girl’s dream.  It says so on the Lovely Little Ladies Facebook page, so it must be true:

Their Facebook page also says (here’s the image at the top of this post, this time full-on):

To be one of the “cool kids” you must come to Lovely Little Ladies.


You’re not one of us.

And this all pisses me off – from the first word of the company’s name to their images (yuck, all that pink) to their online language.


Because the Lovely Little Ladies’ message to young girls from the get-go is:

You are all about…

Sure, the owners pay lip service to how Lovely Little Ladies…

“…has created a space where she can feel whole, complete and comfortable to be her best self.”

And how this experience will help girls:

“…follow their passion and conquer their dreams, feeling fabulous, fearless, and fierce!”

But only if they come to Lovely Little Ladies to focus on…

Lovely Little Ladies also invites moms to join their daughters; for example, at the “Boujee Babes Group Spa” for oh, maybe $500 or $600…

Because, says the website:

“We are an all-inclusive company of everything Mother & Daughter needed for lasting memories.”

But…if the moms are otherwise occupied that day – say, joining other ladies-who-lunch and posting foodie pictures on Instagram (where they secretly aspire to become influencers) …

Moms can pass their daughters the plastic…

And send the girls off for a full day of focusing on…

And don’t forget:  Hanging out with the “cool kids.”

Speaking of being inclusive, let’s go back to that “all-inclusive company” quote.

Here’s my suggestion for the Lovely Little Ladies company:

If you’re sincere about being “all-inclusive…”

Why not include boys?

Why not?

You have stereotyping-pink bathrobes for the girls – just stock up on blue bathrobes for the boys and you’ll double your stereotyping and your business!

Then girls and boys can buy those bathrobes for just $55, or go for the robe and slipper combo for a mere $80; throw in some personalized party swag bags at just $25 each; and add that perfect finishing touch:  Bling!  A tiara and sash for just $65 are sure to be a big hit with all the kids:

Now that would be all-inclusive.

How about it, Little Lovely Ladies?


The folks at Lovely Little Ladies don’t seem warm to this idea.

Well, if you prefer to keep your environment all-female, how about if you suggest to moms – parents – that they encourage their girls and boys to have equal time in this environment:

What’s that?  You’ve never heard of STEAM?  Or STEAM Camps?

STEAM camps are in-person camp programs for kids that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math – hence the acronym.

According to this and other articles:

Exposure to STEAM learning can help generate better test scores and an improved sense of well-being, and also help children succeed in both school and real life by combining the scientific method with the creative process.

The “scientific method” – for girls, too?

What a concept!

And…STEAM Camps are lots of fun – and all-inclusive.

So, Moms – how about it?

If you’re going to send your daughters to Lovely Little Ladies to focus on…

How about equal time at a STEAM Camp, where they can focus on…

How about it, Moms? 

Moms…are you listening?

This Soup Was Not Mmm, Mmm Good

I reckon that for as long as humans have been around, protestors have, too.

Currently you’ll find protestors in many countries, most with serious causes, some less serious…

This was a protest in London in 2017, and I’m not sure what their cause was.

Recently there’s been a different group of protestors in London. 

Their cause is serious.

And so is their vandalism:

On the left is Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh, a treasured part of the collection of London’s National Gallery.  The same painting is on the right, defaced on October 14 with the contents of two cans of tomato soup.

Heinz Cream of Tomato soup, to be specific.

Here’s a larger image of one of the protestors holding a soup can, with the painting behind her:

Here’s the same protestor with her colleague – also holding a soup can – now with their hands glued to the wall:

According to this and many other articles:

“The two young women [were] from the campaign group Just Stop Oil…which represents a coalition of groups working together to stop the UK government from committing to new licenses concerning the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels.”

This led me to the Just Stop Oil website, where the vandalized painting was the lead story:

“The actions this month are timed to coincide with the planned launch of a new round of oil and gas licensing in which over 100 new licences for oil and gas projects are likely to be awarded and an energy price hike on October 1st, which means almost 8 million households are expected to fall into fuel poverty by April 1st 2023.”

There’s no doubt that the thoughts expressed on the website are strong and sincere; here’s a quote from one of the London Gallery protestors:

“Is art worth more than life?  More than food?  More than justice?

“The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels – everyday life has become unaffordable for millions of cold hungry families – they can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.  Meanwhile, crops are failing and people are dying in supercharged monsoons, massive wildfires and endless droughts caused by climate breakdown.  We can’t afford new oil and gas, it’s going to take everything.  We will look back and mourn all we have lost unless we act immediately.”

Hence the Heinz soup tie-in.

And according to this article:

The Just Stop Oil protests weren’t limited to the October 14 painting defacing: 

“A group of protesters from the same group later gathered at police headquarters and sprayed yellow paint over the rotating ‘New Scotland Yard’ sign in front of it.  Several also glued themselves to the road, blocking traffic.  Police said 24 people were arrested.

“Just Stop Oil has drawn attention, and criticism, for targeting artworks in museums.  In July, Just Stop Oil activists glued themselves to the frame of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and to John Constable’s The Hay Wain in the National Gallery.”

So the protests are widespread, but I’d like to focus on the two Heinz Cream of Tomato soup throwers:

I’m wondering if either of these women ever gave any thought to how those cans of soup came to be in available to them.

Let’s start with the tomatoes, which were grown in a field and then likely harvested with equipment like this…

Equipment powered by…

Oil. Fossil fuel.

Then trucks loaded with tomatoes…trucks powered by oil…

…went to a Heinz canning factory – maybe this one:

A factory probably powered by oil.

The canned soup was shipped all over England, perhaps this time by a freight train…

…powered by oil.

And the soup would then be loaded onto trucks…powered by oil…for delivery to our protestors’ grocery stores:

A store with lights and heating and cooling likely…powered by oil.

I’m thinking that without oil, the protestors would not have had cans of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup to throw at van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

I’m also thinking that thought didn’t cross their minds.

You may have noticed that one of the protestors has a hair color…

That looks like it came from a product like this one:

We could go through the whole drill again – from factory to store and how it got there – but I think I’ve made my point.

I say this emphatically – I’m not unsympathetic to the goals of the Just Stop Oil protestors.  I wish our world’s dependency on oil was a thing of the past.  I wish climate change was something kids learned about in history books, instead of living with it every day.  I wish all our energy came from clean, renewable sources.

Headlines like this infuriate me:

And I live in California, where we’re getting no relief on the price of gasoline as this recent article attests:

But…I don’t think this:

…is the way to reduce our dependence on oil.

On October 15 – the day after the painting was defaced – the BBC reported:

“One of Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers paintings has been cleaned and is back on display, after climate activists threw tins of what appeared to be tomato soup over it.

“London’s National Gallery confirmed it is now back in place, about six hours after the soup incident.”

If the goal of Just Stop Oil was to get attention – they got it.


They also got this:

I fear the warning in this article:

“University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann said he worries that the vandalism ‘alienates many people we need to bring into the fold.  People who are natural allies in the climate battle but will draw negative associations with climate advocacy and activism from such acts.’”

I also fear protestors like this:

And most of all, I fear this:

Update:  Taking a page from the soup throwers’ handbook, on October 23 in the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, …

“Two climate activists threw mashed potatoes on a glass-covered painting by the celebrated French Impressionist Claude Monet…the latest art attack intended to draw attention to climate change.”

The activists each glued a hand to the wall:

And then:

“…the woman shouted in German that the world was in ‘a climate catastrophe, and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes in a painting…’”

The article concluded:

“The activists appear to be targeting artworks with global resonance, hoping that notable names and paintings will garner more publicity.”

I have two thoughts.  The first is regarding what the activists are “hoping”:

Or as they say in Germany:

The second:  Those mashed potatoes came from potatoes that grew in a field and were harvested by a machine…fueled by oil…

Have I Learned My Lesson About Brevity?

Despite my recent negative comments on this blog about the San Diego Central Library, I will readily say that the San Diego Library system – which encompasses the Central Library and 34 branches – is doing something that’s pretty cool:

This event presents a very real challenge to many writers, including me – that challenge being…

San Diego Public Library’s Matchbook Story Contest is the opposite of this writing contest:

The Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest honors Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel Paul Clifford begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.”  The contest challenges participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to the worst novel never written, and here’s the 2022 grand prize winner:

This is just the opening sentence of an imaginary novel, and at 70+ words it’s a perfect example of the opposite of brevity, which is:

Instead, the Matchbook Story Contest invites writers to create an entire story that’s so short, it will fit on the inside of a matchbook cover:

Figure 40-50 words…

To tell an entire story.

Now, that’s brevity.

I first learned about the Matchbook Story Contest – now in its sixth year – only recently, in this article:

The article included the 2021 contest winner, described as “a playful twist on the supposed serenity of meditation apps”:

“Imagine yourself as a frog on a lily pad,” the soothing voice murmurs in my ear.  Obediently, I picture it:  Slimy and cold, I am adrift in a polluted pond.  A heron’s lethal beak looms.  My legs prepare to leap but it is too late.  I delete the meditation app.

This sent me to the library’s Matchbook Story Contest website for more examples.  Here’s the 2020 winner:

After their date he turns to her, pausing.  Smiling, she gets ready to say:  I had fun too, or yes let’s do this again, or even, I love you too.  But he says, “This has been really weird.”

Here’s the 2019 winner, pictured on the matchbook cover above:

Who stole my youth?  The detective I hired uncovered the truth.  “They were in it together,” he said, passing me photos.  Father Time showed no remorse, his face kind and gentle.  Mother Nature was unrepentant.  “Honestly, darling,” she said when questioned, “what did you expect?”

These winners’ word count?

2021 winner:  50.
2020 winner:  38.
2019 winner:  45.


The contest website had more examples, and I liked the second-place winner from 2017:

My life in six words:
Cursed with happy childhood;
No bestseller.

While I didn’t care much for 2017’s third-place winner:

January Thaw
At last, skates off.  Kicking, gliding, she
Rocketed up toward the light, but she could
Not find that broken surface in the ice.

But whether or not the Matchbook Stories resonated with me, they were, indeed, stories and they were, indeed, short.

A challenge.

Brevity can be anathema to writers – some of us consider every word we write as gold, so how dare an editor suggest that we cut a word…a sentence…an entire paragraph?

Like an experience I had with an editor.  I’d worked hard on a magazine article and was delighted with the finished piece.  I presented it to the editor, and sat with him in his office as he read it.  I was aglow with anticipation of what I was sure would be his forthcoming lavish praise.

“Well,” he said. 

And then, “I want you to get rid of the third and ninth paragraphs.”

I gasped, turned pale, and clutched my throat in shock.

“And the last paragraph needs to be shorter – much shorter.”

“But…but…” I stammered.

Then the editor said something I’ve never forgotten:

“Nobody but you and I know those words are there.  And nobody will miss them but you.”

I may not always apply that lesson in brevity, but I’ll always remember it.

So – could I write a short story worthy of submission to the San Diego Public Library Matchbook Story Contest?

And submit it by the contest closing date:  November 15, 2022?

And if I expend my time and energy – and $5 entry fee – attempting this, what might my reward be?

Here’s the payoff, says the contest website:

  • The winning short story will be printed on 2,000 matchbooks available for purchase at the Library Shop:
  • The winning author will receive 50 matchbooks…

…a $50 Library Shop gift card, publication of their story in the Library Connections e-newsletter (circulation 200,000), and exhibition of the Matchbook in the Hervey Family Rare Book Room’s tiny book display:

  • The winning story will be announced at the Third Annual Shorties, “San Diego’s Shortest and Quirkiest Awards Gala,” on Thursday, December 8th:

That sounds like a pretty great payoff.

But the competition will be tough:  The 2021 contest drew about 400 entries, the most ever, with writers ranging in age from 8 to 92.

So:  Am I up for the challenge?

I am!

I’ve written a story of 45 words and I’m going to enter the contest!

And on December 8, when my story is announced as the 2022 Matchbook Story Contest winner…

And I’m up on stage making my acceptance speech…

I’ll endeavor to remember that editor’s lesson about brevity

So as to avoid this…

When It Comes To These Guys, I’m All NIMBY:

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September was a stately, solemn occasion, a dignified celebration of the life of England’s longest-reigning monarch:

I’m repeating the above image below so you can take note of the bouquet, and the white card on top of it:

Invitations to the ceremony for Queen Elizabeth were desired by many but given to only a few.

And it seems that some of those in attendance weren’t paying much attention to the funeral, but rather to this – uninvited – guest on the white card on top of the bouquet:

According to this:

And many other articles:

“Eagle-eyed royal watchers couldn’t help but notice a crawling creature on top of a letter that was placed onto the coffin.”

And apparently these royal watchers also “couldn’t help but” sharing their thoughts after spotting the creature.

And isn’t that just the way of our world?

Instead of respectfully bowing their heads and reflecting on the life and death of the queen – and perhaps their own lives and mortality – some at the queen’s funeral were gawking, taking pictures and videos, and quickly posting on every possible social media platform.

And the posts – these people were practically obsessed by this spider:

“Throughout the full of the Queen’s funeral I keep thinking about the spider I saw on her flowers and where the f – – k it is now????  Wouldn’t catch me picking her back up I’d be out of there.”


“Bro there’s a spider running across the card on the queen’s coffin.”

“Bro”?  Glad you let Bro know.

“The most famous spider in the world right now.  God save the Royal Spider.”

God save us from all this arachnid attention overload.

There were many more examples but I thought I’d spare you – and myself.

Honestly, the only redeeming thing to come out of all this attention on the spider was this rather punny headline in the Washington Post:

Otherwise…come on, folks!

We’re talking about an uninvited, unwelcome pest that, had I spotted it in my house, I would not have immortalized it forever on social media but would instead have done this:

I hate spiders.  Arachnids.  Whatever you care to call them.

And my theory is that one – probably more – spider may have seen all the social media fuss and attention their funeral-crashing colleague got, and decided to make their presence known on my side on the world.

Not long after the Queen’s funeral, a spider took up residence in my back yard.

The spider was huge.

Bigger than my head – see?

Terrorizing me.

I was living in constant fear that this spider was going to make itself comfortable in the back yard, and then invite itself into our house, like that “Royal Spider” invited itself into the Queen’s funeral.

Oh, this all started out looking innocent enough:

You see that single, silver spider web strand glinting in the sun? 

Just a single strand, no big deal.

Except for one thing:

That single strand stretched from a structure in our back yard to an awning on the back of our house:

A distance of 15 feet.

If a spider needs a web that starts out at 15 feet across, how the hell big is that spider?

In an effort to discourage the spider from further web-building (and while I hid behind the sofa), my knight-in-shining-armor husband went outside, rolled out the awning and rolled it back in again.

That single silver strand rippled and bounced and waved, and then stretched right back to its full 15 feet – undamaged.

Spider:  1.

Humans:  0.

Nighttime fell, and we gave up our efforts.

We slept, but the spider didn’t.

And the next morning…

That non-paying guest had made a web in the back yard:



And lest you think I’m exaggerating, let’s have a look at the world’s biggest (though I now know better) spider:

Meet the goliath birdeater.  Yes, it’s venomous, and it has inch-long fangs.

Its bigger cousin was living in our back yard.

No wonder I hate spiders.

But…I also know it’s true that spiders are an important part of our ecosystem.  This article, for example:

Says that spiders provide incredible services to our ecosystem and to humans, including:

  • Spiders survive on insects like fleas, flies, and mosquitoes – many of which have the capability of destroying produce crops and carrying potentially dangerous diseases.
  • Spider silk is so strong, scientists and developers have even experimented with integrating spider silk in bulletproof vests.
  • Spider venom has been used in medical research, and has helped in creating painkillers, cancer treatments, and even male contraceptives.

While this site:

Notes that:

“Spiders are a food source for other animals:  Its top predators include lizards, birds, and fish.  In desert climates, spiders are valuable food for mammals.”


“Spiders are crucial in controlling insect populations in every ecosystem they’re a part of.  If spiders vanished, it would set off a domino effect of problems that would harm and eventually destroy the world as we know it.”


“Eventually destroy the world as we know it”?


Maybe I should rethink my strategy of…

Maybe I should leave that monster spider in my back yard alone.

OK, Resolved: 

An armistice is declared.

With this caveat:

Spiders can live up to two years.

I’m thinking of all the nasty mosquitos it can eat – good news.

And maybe it will become a lizard’s lunch – also good news…


If there’s bad news – if that spider comes into my house…

I’m am SO outta here…

This Pain On The Plane Is Talking About Spain:

Not content with pouring his lies into the ears of gullible Americans, on October 9 Donald Trump spewed his verbal diarrhea at a far-right political rally in Spain.

According to this article:

“Former U.S. President Donald Trump threw his weight behind Spain’s far-right Sunday in a video shown at a rally in Madrid that also featured messages by the leading stars of Europe’s populist right like Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.”

I couldn’t help but imagine the prep work that was involved when Trump’s toadies approached him about recording the video.

Toady #1:  Good morning, sir.  Are you enjoying your breakfast Big Macs?

Trump (mouth full, chewing):  Mummphe jogabvile mmm (swallow) can’t a guy (chewing) plubemink laj-ing breamck around here?

Toady #2:  Sir, we’re here to suggest you record a video for an upcoming rally in Spain of far-right leaders.

Trump (still chewing):  Whaddaya mean(belches), “far-right leaders”?  I’m the far-right leader!  Right?  I’m right – right?  Not left.  I can never keep that straight.

Toady #3:  Yes, sir, you are the first and foremost far-right leader.  These are…ah…secondary far-right leaders.

Trump:  You’re damn right I am.  So what are these – a bunch of guys from those shithole countries?

Toady #4:  No, sir!  These are European far-right leaders.

Trump:  Oh, Europe.  Yeah.  They love me over there.  The queen?  You know, what’s-her-name?  She loves me.  She told me that, when I was talking to her the other day.

Toady #5:  Sir, are you…referring to…um…Queen Elizabeth?  The queen who died on September 8?

Trump:  She did?  She croaked?  Why didn’t you dumbasses tell me?  What the hell am I paying you for?  Fucking overpaying you, I should say!

Toady #1:  Sir, ah…we did tell you.  And sent a lovely floral arrangement in your name.

Trump: Why didn’t I go to the funeral?

Today #3: Ah…um…Sir. You, ah…weren’t invited.

Trump: Oh, yeah, I remember. I was too busy to go.


Trump (belches again):  So what’s this rally crap?  Did you say something about Spain?  Oh, yeah – that’s in South America.  I’ve been there.


Toady #5:  The rally is this Sunday, and will also feature messages by some of Europe’s populist right leaders like Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Trump:  Never heard of ‘em.

Toady #2:  Um, sir?  You met with Viktor Orban in August?  Here, I’ve got a picture on my phone…

Trump:  Nope.  Never met him.  What was that other name?  George somebody?

Toady #4:  Giorgia Meloni, sir.  Last month her party won the most votes in Italy’s national election, and she’s likely to be Italy’s first female premier.

Trump:  A broad?  Another broad in charge, like that #@!%&*#! Pelosi?  Goddamnit, voters are so stupid!  I’ve said that a million times.  Another broad.  So, you got a picture of her?

Toady #3:  Yes, sir, that’s Ms. Meloni, sir, right there!

Trump (incredulous):  Her?  Are you fuckin’ kidding me?  She’s fat! 

Toady #5:  Sir, if we could get back to your video for the rally…

Trump:  Forget it.  I don’t wanna share the stage with no friggin’ fat lady.

Toady #2:  Sir, the rally is for Spain’s far-right party Vox and its leader, Santiago Abascal.

Trump:  Abba what?  What is with these people and their weird names?

Toady #4:  Santiago Abascal, sir.  Here, I’ve got a picture…that’s him on the left.

Trump:  Abascal, you said?  Where’s this guy from?

Toady #1:  Spain, sir.

Trump:  A spic, right?  What the hell kind of rally is this?  Spics are all drug dealers and murderers, throw in some fat ladies – what is this?  A circus or something?

Toady #3:  No, sir!  And –

Trump (interrupting):  And who’s that other guy in the picture?

Toady #5:  On the right – that’s Viktor Orban, sir.  The president of Hungary?  You met him in –

Trump (interrupts):  Who?  Nope, never met him.

Toady #4:  Sir, your video would be a short, congratulatory message to Santiago Abascal that will be seen at the Vox party’s annual rally.  Vox is the third-largest force in the Spanish Parliament.  Its platform is described as anti-immigrant and anti-Islam, and among other things, it’s sought to roll back legislation aimed at protecting women from gender violence, claiming it discriminates against men.

Trump:  You’re damn right that gender crap discriminates against men!  All a guy has to do is say “pussy” a couple a times and women are screaming about their “rights” and whining about “misconduct” this and “assault” that, and –

Toady #2 (coughs to interrupt):  Vox also embraces the legacy of General Francisco Franco’s 20th-century dictatorship.

Trump:  Franco?  Franco!  Now, there’s a guy I can get behind.  He invented those SpaghettiOs, you ever had them?  With meatballs?  Good stuff. 

Trump:  I think I’ll have that for lunch today.  Is it lunchtime?  Will one of you dummies tell what’s-his-name I want SpaghettiOs for lunch?

Toady #3:  So the video, sir?  We’ll have prepared remarks that will last about 40 seconds, and it will all be on cue cards.  We’ll shoot the video while you’re on the plane going to the rally in Arizona.


Toady #1:  Sir?

Trump:  Who else is gonna be at this spic rally?  Anybody important?  I mean real important, besides me?

Toady #5:  Sir, I’m told there will also be video appearances by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, Chilean right-wing politician José Antonio Kast, and –

Trump (explodes):  Spics!  They’re ALL SPICS!  I said IMPORTANT people!

Toady #4 (quietly):  Ah, well…sir?  Um…Senator Cruz is also preparing a video?

Trump:  I said IMPORTANT people and…Wait.  Cruz?  Cruz is one of the speakers?  Texas Ted?  Lyin’ Ted?

Toady #3:  Yes, sir, and –

Trump (interrupting):  You want me to share stage time with Lyin’ Ted Cruz?  You want an example of his lies?  Here, I’ve got plenty of ‘em on my phone…Yeah!  Here’s what he said about me in 2016:  that I’m a “pathological liar, a narcissist, a serial philanderer, a sniveling coward…”

Toady #1:  Sir, if you’d like to review your script for the video –

Trump (interrupting):  And Cruz said, and this is a direct quote:  “If I were in my car and getting ready to reverse and saw Donald in the backup camera, I’m not confident which pedal I’d push.”  Cruz said that!  He threatened to kill me!  To kill the president!

Toady #5:  Sir, that was during the presidential campaign before you were president, and –

Trump (enraged):  I WAS PRESIDENT THEN AND I’M PRESIDENT NOW!  The 2020 election was stolen!  Ask Mike Lindell, the Pillow Guy!  He’ll be at the rally in Arizona – ask him!

Toady #3:  Sir, I’m sure Senator Cruz was speaking metaphorically.  In his video he’s going to talk about conservative populists, who share the values of God, and country and family and freedom.”

Trump:  Oh, fine – now Cruz is stealing my lines.  What the hell am I gonna talk about?

Toady #2:  Well, sir, you’ll thank Santiago Abascal for the incredible job he does, and how we all have to make sure we protect our borders and –

Trump (interrupting):  And yadda yadda yadda.  Jesus!  And I suppose I’m supposed to talk about how great Spain is and all that crap?


Trump:  All right, all right!  I’ll do the frigging video.  Now get out of here and get me my goddamn lunch!

Toadies (in unison):  Sir, yes, sir!  (the toadies exit)

Trump (yelling):  And tell ‘em I want some Franco Ravioli, too!  The Garfield stuff!

Trump (to himself):  That Garfield, he’s a huge fan of mine.  HUGE.  I’m gonna get him to come to my next rally!

Just Another Day At The Office For Them – But A Big Deal To Me

This story appeared on September 30 and then disappeared:

ABC 10 News San Diego appears to be the only local media outlet that covered the story.

And the story didn’t run until four days after the humpback whale was rescued in late September.  According to the ABC 10 News story:

“A private boater spotted the whale and alerted authorities on Monday, September 26.  Soon after, SeaWorld San Diego Rescue quickly arrived at the scene.”

The media didn’t treat this as a big deal – so I will.

I think rescuing a humpback whale is a big deal, every time.

According to my research:

“Humans once hunted humpback whales to the brink of extinction; the population fell to around 5,000 by the 1960s.”

Illegal humpback whale hunting is still going on, and the species is also facing these human-made threats:

  • Underwater noise which interferes with whale communication.
  • Pollution.
  • Vehicle collisions.
  • Over-harvesting of prey such as krill.
  • Habitat degradation.
  • Climate change.
  • Marine debris.
  • Getting caught in fishing gear.

“Getting caught in fishing gear” – as in this rescue story.

The ABC 10 New story was short and the details were scanty, including no information about the whale’s size.

So I’ll offer this graphic comparing a humpback whale to an elephant and a human:

In this image the humpback is 46 feet long, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “humpbacks can grow to 60 feet long, and they can weigh a whopping 40 tons.”

Now, our whale (and yes, I am thinking of him or her as “our whale”) may not have been that big, but considering the fact that at birth, humpback whales “are between 10 and 15 feet long and weigh up to a ton…”

There are no small humpback whales.

And when the SeaWorld Rescue team goes out in a little inflatable boat like this:

They’re way outmatched in terms of size.

The article said the humpback was “entangled in a rope,” which was understating the case.  Here’s just one image of the piles of ropes and floats and who-knows-what-else the humpback was caught in:

And it’s worth noting that while the humpback was spotted off the coast of Carlsbad, a town located about a half-hour north of San Diego:

That’s not where the rescue took place:

“With help from NOAA, Oceanside Harbor Police Department, California State parks staff, and Del Mar Lifeguards, [SeaWorld] crews were able to safely relocate the whale to San Elijo State Beach area.”

The article doesn’t say why the groups relocated our humpback, but it was a distance (on land) of about 12 miles:

And I suspect “relocating” a humpback whale anywhere is quite a feat.

I’m pretty sure humpbacks tend to not listen to stuff like “Head south!” or, “Turn left!” or “Slow the hell down!”

Now the teams had our whale where they wanted it, and SeaWorld Rescue approached it in their boat.  And then…

“Using a knife on the end of a long carbon fiber pole…

“…the team made a single cut, freeing the whale from the entanglement.”

Just imagine the skill that took – wielding a long pole with a sharp knife at the end while you’re standing in a boat that’s moving forward and up and down at the same time.

Knowing that one wrong move and the knife could cut the whale.  And yes, while the whale wouldn’t be seriously injured, if the injury caused bleeding, well…

We know what lives in the ocean and is attracted to blood:

Instead, the knife sliced the rope and our whale was freed.

The alternative to our happy ending?

According to this article:

“Once entangled in the fishing line, whales may suffer for months, dragging heavy fishing gear behind them that hinders their ability to feed.  Many entangled whales eventually die from infection, severed appendages, starvation, drowning or a combination of these impacts.”

I think SeaWorld Rescue demonstrated great skill, courage, and compassion.

For SeaWorld Rescue, it was just another day at the office. 

And SeaWorld was quick to credit their fellow rescuers:

“‘The successful rescue of this whale was made possible by the collaborative efforts of all parties involved,’ SeaWorld San Diego Rescue said in a statement.”

Now:  I am aware that SeaWorld and other marine parks get a lot of negative publicity:

As do zoos:

And I’ll leave the pros and cons to wiser heads than mine, because I don’t know the answer.

What I do know is this:

SeaWorld does important work:

I also know this:

That on September 26, SeaWorld Rescue saved a humpback whale, leaving it free to – hopefully – join friends for dinner…

Maybe have offspring…

And just live its life:

Book Review:  You Can Skip This One

Publication date:  May 2022

Category:  Historical Mystery, Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, Historical Thrillers

Review, short version:  Two skunks for two of the three lead characters.

Review, long version: 

The authors of The Lost Summers of Newport are Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White. 

These are three authors I’d given up reading, but when they joined forces to write The Glass Ocean in 2018, I read it.  Not because they’d written it, but because the setting intrigued me – the Lusitania, a British luxury ocean liner that was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1915 during the first World War.

I thought The Glass Ocean was good, so when Lost Summers came out, I wanted to read that as well.

The setting is the fictitious Sprague mansion in Newport, RI.  In its heyday – the Gilded Age (1870s-1900s) – the seaside town of Newport was THE place for the richer-than-rich to spend their summers:  Vanderbilts, Astors and the like.  They built summer “cottages” like these:

And the rich gathered to revel in their conspicuous consumption, and delight in excluding those who didn’t measure up.

The premise of Lost Summers is three interlinked stories about three women in three different centuries:

June 1899:  Ellen Daniels, who arrives at the Sprague mansion to give singing lessons to Maybelle Sprague.  Ellen – not her real name – has no family or friends to help her, and she’s on the run from someone who wants to kill her.

July 1957:  Lucia “Lucky” Sprague is married to Stuyvesant Sprague, scion of her Sprague stepfamily.  Lucky is Maybelle’s granddaughter – or is she?

September 2019:  Andie Figuero is an architectural historian, television producer and host of a home renovation show, on site at the crumbling Sprague mansion to do a show about the makeover of three of its major rooms.  Which Andie is hoping will save her show, her career, and her family.

The book’s chapters rotate among the three women’s stories, and I have to give the authors kudos for mastering the art of a cliffhanger ending to almost every chapter.  They’ve nailed it.  This kept me reading, even Andie’s chapters, and I didn’t care much for her.

Andie – the 2019 character – has a six-year-old, Petey, whom she treats more like an accessory that she only sometimes remembers.  On page 10 Andie gets a call from Petey’s school, reminding her that today is her turn to provide snacks for his class, but…

She forgot.

Not long after, Andie brings Petey to the Sprague mansion because she can’t find a babysitter.  Only…Petey wanders off because Andie forgets to watch him.

Panic ensues.

Petey is found and eventually Andie takes him home, driving a car that has bald tires, something she keeps forgetting to replace.  Her phone dies because she forgot to recharge it and forgot where she left the charger.

This is how I picture Ellen – a scared but strong survivor.


On the other hand, I liked Ellen, the 1899 character.  She’s scared for her life, but still strong and brave and resourceful.  Her plan is to hide out at the Sprague mansion, give Maybelle singing lessons, regroup, and figure out her next step.  Ellen is a survivor and she’s smart, and you can’t help but root for her.

Then there’s Lucky in 1957, best described as a socialite, married to Stuy, best described as an alcoholic.  Lucky will also appear in Andie’s chapters – Lucky, by now around 90, still lives at the Sprague mansion.  But the rooms Lucky occupies, and Lucky herself, are off-limits to Andie and her film crew.  Or are they?

People mysteriously disappear near the mansion, things mysteriously disappear in the mansion…

And Lost Summers mysteriously appeared on the June 5 New York Times best seller list…

And by the next week, it, too, had disappeared.

Perhaps, considering everything…

That’s probably not so mysterious.

Let’s Say You Owe Me $6.5 Million

Seriously – don’t panic.  We can work this out.

You owe me $6.5 million.  I’ve got all the proof I need – the auditors came in and caught you red-handed.

You’re in all sorts of trouble – mismanagement, misuse of public funds, conflicts of interest and potential fraud.

You’ve systematically misspent my money, and overbilled the me for years.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

First, I’m going to reduce that $6.5 million to $3.9 million.

Don’t ask me why – just say “Thank you!”

Now, for the balance – instead of giving me the $3.9 million, you’re going to transfer ownership of two buildings you own to me.

The assessed value of those two buildings is $4.1 million, which is more than the $3.9 million you owe me.

So now – I owe YOU money!

What’s that?  Yes, I know – those two buildings are going to need a lot of repairs and upgrades.

About $10 million in repairs and upgrades.

But that money I’m paying you?  And that money for repairs and upgrades?  Hell, it’s not coming out of my pocket.

It’s taxpayers’…


Welcome to San Diego County.

Where our County Board of Supervisors…

Took in our county tax dollars, and did this:

And before you snicker and think, “Those supervisors really stick it to San Diego County taxpayers!”

Think again.

The County of San Diego gets state and federal tax dollars, as well.

Here’s a handy graphic that shows the county’s sources of revenue.  It’s a few years old, but I think it’s safe to assume that the sources are still the same:

So it appears that every taxpayer has the pleasure of being part of the financial FUBAR I’m about to share.

It started with this story in May 2021:

It involves this nonprofit organization:

Volunteers of America Southwest (VOASW). 

They’re a chapter of Volunteers of America (VOA) and, according to the VOA website…

…VOA is an accredited Better Business Bureau charity and a “Great Place to Work” certified organization.

I did some checking and it appears that Volunteers of America Southwest is neither an accredited Better Business Bureau charity or a “Great Place to Work” certified organization, and the reasons soon became clear.

Here’s a more recent Voice of San Diego story by the same reporter, May 2022:

According to the article,

“In 2018, two employees within Volunteers of America Southwest’s San Diego office noticed suspicious payments from the nonprofit to three different companies.  They discovered the companies were owned by two women who worked for Volunteers of America Southwest, and were also the sisters-in-law of the charity’s chief financial officer.

“The companies billed for a wide array of goods and services from skin cleanser to sofas and gym weights.  It’s unclear any of those goods or services were ever provided – and some products sold for more than their market rate.

“The two whistleblowers raised their concerns to the nonprofit’s Chief Executive Officer Gerald McFadden repeatedly, they said.  But no one stopped the alleged double-dealing – and ultimately both whistleblowers lost their jobs.”


I reckon that means no “Great Place to Work” certification VOASW, at least from the two whistleblowers.

The article goes on to say that Volunteers of America Southwest had been one of San Diego’s largest charities serving marginalized populations.  VOASW ran several treatment centers for those struggling with mental illness and addiction, as well veterans and those experiencing homelessness.

San Diego County officials audited Volunteers of America Southwest, and there were allegations that the charity’s managers engaged in mismanagement, misuse of public funds, conflicts of interest and potential fraud:

“Officials demanded Volunteers of America Southwest refund the county $6.5 million in payments made to the nonprofit between 2018 and 2020.”

That where that $6.5 million figure in this post’s headline came from.

I reckon that means no Better Business Bureau accreditation for VOASW, either.

And since then?

In addition:

  • The Volunteers of America Southwest chapter was subsumed by Volunteers of America’s national office.
  • The charity’s president/CEO was forced to resign and its volunteer board of directors was disbanded. 
  • VOASW is under criminal investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
  • The county no longer provides any funding to Volunteers of America Southwest.

I beg to differ with that last bullet.

Remember that $6.5 million that San Diego County officials were demanding be refunded by VOASW?

On September 10 came this story:

“…the county Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve a settlement that calls for Volunteers of America Southwest to transfer ownership of two National City properties to the county portfolio.”

“After months of negotiations, the county agreed to reduce the debt owed by Volunteers of America to $3.9 million.

“The county will pay just over $227,000 for the two properties – the difference between their $4.1 million assessed value and the amount owed by the charity.

“But the buildings need up to $10 million in repairs and upgrades before they can reopen for public services.”

The two buildings were constructed in the 1960s (asbestos, anyone?) and were most recently used as a 120-bed alcohol- and drug-treatment center operated by Volunteers of America Southwest.  It closed in March.  The facility will be used to accommodate a new behavioral health facility.

And I have no argument with that – we need the services this facility will provide.

My argument is with the County of San Diego supervisors who – for reasons unstated – lopped off $2.6 million of that $6.5 million they were demanding be refunded.

Why did the supervisors just blow off $2.6 million – a good chunk of it our tax dollars – instead of holding Voice of America Southwest accountable?

So, the $6.5 million was whittled down to $3.9 million, but instead of demanding the cash, the county supervisors are instead taking two very old, crappy buildings that need an estimated $10 million in repairs and upgrades – and come on!  We know these government-managed projects NEVER stay on budget.

Taking the buildings PLUS giving Volunteers of America “just over $227,000” more?


And apparently the county supervisors are unanimously happy about all this.

The September 10 Union-Tribune article says:

“The settlement received unanimous preliminary approval at a Board of Supervisors meeting last month, so it is likely to pass at its second hearing.”

So this bunch:

Is high-fiving each other over this brilliant deal they made.

And speaking of our county supervisors, isn’t this interesting?

Back in May 2021, Nathan Fletcher, the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, was quoted in a Union-Tribune article as saying this about Volunteers of America Southwest:

“There is a special place in hell for those who betray the public trust of the public by committing fraud with funds designated to help our veterans and the least among us.  We will continue our work to recover all misused funds and hope those responsible face the full weight of the law for their actions.”

But, in this August 2022 article:

Nathan Fletcher – the same guy who in 2021 was yammering about recovering “all misused funds,” now in May 2022 – said:

“I wish we could get every dollar they defrauded from taxpayers at a one-to-one rate, but the reality is you can’t get blood from a turnip.  The value is not just dollars and cents…When we get this [facility] running, it will help the entire region.”

The “turnip” Fletcher is referring to is Volunteers of America, the organization that “subsumed” its Volunteers of America Southwest chapter.

According to Volunteers of America 2020 Annual Report “Statement of Financial Position”:

Page 30:  Total assets:  $2,963,972,255

Page 31:  Total net assets:  $1,309,991,606

This is the “turnip” that Nathan Fletcher, the chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, declared you “can’t get blood from.”

But Fletcher obviously has no qualms about getting blood from us turnip taxpayers.

So, My Fellow Turnips, remember this graphic?

With this FUBAR, I’m on the hook for San Diego County property taxes and state taxes and federal taxes.

How about you?

I think it’s clear this is officially FUBAR…

Update:  As anticipated, the San Diego Board of Supervisors approved this financial FUBAR:

One of the county supervisors said,

“It’s not ideal.  It would have been better to recover the money, but this is a good deal given the options available.”

“A good deal…” for whom?

Not us taxpayers.

As for that nagging question – Why did the supervisors go from demanding that $6.5 million repayment in May 2021…

…to reducing that amount to $3.9 million?

The September 13 Union-Tribune article said:

“The initial $6.5 million identified by auditors was pared to $3.9 million under a recalculation of the debt reached during the settlement negotiations.”

“A recalculation.”

My response:

To:  San Diego County Tax Assessor

Re:  2022-2023 County Taxes

Dear Sir:

I am in receipt of your tax bill for fiscal year 2022-2023 in the amount of $2,452.58:

Emulating the policies and procedures recently involved in the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ settlement with Volunteers of America Southwest, I have done a recalculation of the amount billed to me.

According to my recalculation, the County of San Diego owes me $4,183.22.

This amount is due and payable in full to me within 30 days of today’s date.

Thank you.

P.S.:  To quote a county supervisor, this is a…

Of All The Options Out There, I’d Never Heard Of This One:

We know there are many ways to die, but who knew there were so many after-death options?

Such as those described in this undated article:

“Burial alternatives” aren’t something I spend time thinking about, but a recent article about yet another after-death option caught my eye:

Are they talking about composting as in:


This sounded so weird…and even creepy…that I was curious.

According to the above Los Angeles Times article, the human composting process is:

“…natural organic reduction, a method in which human remains naturally decompose over a 30-to-45-day period after being placed in a steel vessel and buried in wood chips, alfalfa and other biodegradable materials.  The nutrient-dense soil created by the process can then be returned to families or donated to conservation land.”


I guess they are – sort of – talking about this:

The article said that California is joining Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Vermont in allowing human composting, and mentioned a Seattle, WA company, Recompose.

Here’s what happens, according to the Recompose website.

If the deceased, family and/or loved ones so choose, Recompose offers what it calls the “laying-in ceremony”:

“The laying-in ceremony is similar to a graveside service or a green funeral and allows you the opportunity to honor your loved one with care and respect.”

“The body is present on a dark green bed – the cradle – and shrouded in natural cloth and greenery for the laying-in ceremony.

“At the end of the ceremony, the cradle is moved into the threshold vessel, where the transformation into soil begins.”

The next step is “soil transformation” – the “composting” part:

“Your loved one’s body will be surrounded by wood chips, alfalfa, and straw in a vessel where microbes will naturally break the body down.  The entire process, from placing your person into the vessel to finished soil, takes between six to eight weeks.”

I’m surprised to say that I thought I’d be feeling squeamish at this point – but I wasn’t.

How about you?

And now the last step:  Soil transformation/giving back:

“Once complete, similar to ashes from a cremation, the soil can be used however you choose – to enrich a garden, plant a tree, or spread across multiple locations.  If you prefer not to keep all, or any, of the soil, we will donate it to Bells Mountain, 700 acres of conserved land in southern Washington.”


As with every topic these days, there are widely differing points of view.  Again from the Los Angeles Times article, here’s a pro-human-composting opinion:

“Supporters say it’s an eco-friendly alternative to traditional end-of-life options.  Cremation, for example, is an energy-intense process that produces carbon dioxide emissions, while traditional burial uses chemicals to embalm bodies and a nonbiodegradable coffin to store them.”

“…for every person who is composted versus buried or cremated, the environmental impact is immediate.  The companies that offer human composting say that for every person who chooses the option over burial or cremation, it will save the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon from entering the environment.”

And – not that anybody asked them – but the Catholic Church chimed in with their anti-human-composting point of view:

“The California Catholic Conference opposed the bill, saying the process ‘reduces the human body to simply a disposable commodity.’

“‘The practice of respectfully burying the bodies or the honoring the ashes of the deceased comports with the virtually universal norm of reverence and care towards the deceased,’ said the group, which is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in California.”

I could comment about the Catholic Church comporting with the “virtually universal norm” of not allowing priests to sexually abuse children, but I won’t

Recompose and other companies that offer human composting aren’t in this business for entirely ecological reasons, of course – this is a business, after all.

In this article:

The Seattle Times called Recompose “the first full-service human-composting funeral home in the United States,” and said:

“Recompose costs $5,500 for everything:  the body pickup…the paperwork, the process itself and an optional service.”

That doesn’t seem out of bounds, when you consider the figures from this 2022 article:

“A 2021 study from the National Funeral Directors Association shows the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and burial is $7,848…The median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and cremation is $6,970.”

And really – human composting doesn’t seem any stranger than some of the options offered in the above Lexikin article, like these: 

There’s this option if you like bling:

And this option if you like to sing:

And…What the hell is this thing?

(The above three after-death options involve using cremated remains for a Memorial Diamond, a Vinyl Compression record, and Plastination, in case you were wondering.)

Now that I’ve had some time to process all this, human composting doesn’t seem all that weird or creepy to me, as I’d thought earlier.

How about you?

My normal modus operandi for closing a blog post is to have the last word, but this time I’ll turn that over to Katrina Spade, founder of Recompose.  Below are excerpts from this interview:

I think Spade’s use of the phrase “death care” as a natural follow-up to “health care” is worth noting:

“…the problem is that people choose their death care, or they – I should say, they don’t choose their death care.  They just go with the default.  A lot of the time, it’s not a meaningful choice.  It’s just, I guess I’ll cremate Grandma.”

Katrina Spade.

“…it is worth noting that when you look at the avoidance of pollution from cremation and conventional burial…we’re saving about a metric ton of carbon per person.”

“…because we use so much plant material to cocoon the body, the final result is a cubic yard of soil…”

“I set out on a plan to redesign death care.  Could I create a system that was beneficial to the Earth, that used nature as a guide rather than something to be feared, something that was gentle to the planet?  That planet, after all, supports our living bodies our whole lives.”

Part 2 of 2:  I Love Learning…

(This is the sequel to Part 1 from Friday, September 30.)

I started Part 1 by talking about the new word I’d learned:


And how well it applied to Trump’s fake coats of arms.

How did I first learn about Trump’s fake coats of arms? 

I was doing research for an earlier blog post and happened across this article:

The article is about Trump’s Boeing 757 which he modestly calls “Trump Force One,” and recounts many details about the plane’s interior including this:

“Fabrics were flown in from Paris, including the Trump family crest embroidered into the headrests of the seats with gold thread.”

Trump family crest?” I thought.

No, no, no, no, no.

No family crest, no coat of arms, no, none, none of the above.

There was absolutely no way Trump has been awarded a family crest (that is, a coat of arms) by a monarch.

Of course not.

As I said in Part 1…

Trump stole it.

In Part 1 I said that Trump has two fake coats of arms:

Now let’s move on to Trump’s fake coat of arms #2, above on the right.

In 2008 Trump was marketing his new golf course in Aberdeenshire, on Scotland’s east coast.  But the above fake coat of arms #2 he was using in his marketing materials ran afoul of the coat-of-arms authorities in Scotland – and I mean really afoul – and it was big news.

In Great Britain:


And internationally:

According to this article:

“The crest used by the billionaire to promote his controversial proposals has fallen foul of a 336-year-old law.

“He faces being brought before an Edinburgh court, fined, and ordered to remove the insignia and any flags bearing the design.”

Now, this is where things get confusing, and things often do when Trump in involved.

The above Daily Record article described Trump’s law-breaking coat of arms as follows:

“The crest shows the Trump name along with a spear-wielding fist above a knight’s helmet on a shield of lions and chevrons and is understood to have been designed by the tycoon himself.”

That describes the image on below on the right, which was copied (stolen) from Joseph Edward Davies’ legitimate coat of arms on the left:

The image on the right was clearly not designed by “the tycoon himself,” though I have no trouble imagining Trump saying exactly that.

While this article:

Says that Trump began promoting his golf course in Scotland:

“…with a coat-of-arms that someone in the Trump Organization designed:   a shield with three chevrons and two stars, with a helmet above the shield and a crest of a lion waving a flag…”

Which clearly is this image:

The closeup on the right is a variation in living, lurid color.

This is the fake coat of arms #2 is what Trump was using in Scotland.

Mistakenly – in my opinion – the Scottish authorities eventually granted Trump permission to use fake coat of arms #2.  Probably because they were enraptured by this description, no doubt also concocted by “someone in the Trump Organization”:

“Three chevronels are used to denote the sky, sand dunes and sea – the essential components of the [Scotland golf resort] site – and the double-sided eagle represents the dual nature and nationality of Trump’s heritage.  The eagle clutches golf balls, making reference to the great game of golf, and the motto ‘Numquam Concedere’ is Latin for ‘Never Give Up’ – Trump’s philosophy.”

I’m sure Trump was pleased with this description, especially the Latin part.

Renowned Latin scholar that he is.

Though perhaps Trump a bit less pleased that he now had a coat of arms legitimatized by Scotland.

In this instance he was no longer breaking the law, and we know how Trump loves doing that.

The Trump toady who wrote the above description failed to mention that the “double-sided eagle” – more correctly know as a “double-headed eagle” – has long been a symbol of royalty, and material and spiritual power.  For example, the imperial Romanov dynasty of Russia used it:

As did the Habsburgs, imperial emperors of Austria-Hungary:

Were they still around, I doubt either imperial house would have welcomed this Trumpiest connection.

Trump’s coat of arms with the double-headed eagle clutching golf balls…

…is without a doubt the Trumpiest part of this Trumpiest travesty.

Seriously?  The eagle is clutching golf balls?

Now I’m imaging that “someone in the Trump Organization” who designed phony coat of arms #2:

Toady #1:  Trump told me to, like, come up with a new coat of arms for the Scotland golf course.  Like, yesterday!  What am I gonna do?

Toady #4:  Just google coat-of-armsy stuff and throw it together – like lions!  Lions are hot on coats of arms.

Toady #1:  Lions, OK.  What else?

Toady #4:  Oh…stars and bars and crap like that, you know? 

Toady #1:  Yeah, got it.  Hey – what about an eagle, like on the one-dollar bill?  You know, holding stuff in its feet, right?

Toady #4:  Right.  And…(thinks for a moment).  Why not give the eagle, you know – two heads?  Cuz two heads are better than one?

Toady #1 (snickering):  I thought you were going to say because Trump is so two-faced.

Toady #4:  Shhh!  Don’t let anyone hear you say that!

Toady #1:  Yeah, yeah, you’re right.  Hey, what should our two-headed eagle be holding in its feet, like on the one-dollar bill?

(Several moments of silence, and then…)

Toadies, in unison:  Golf balls!

And fake coat of arms #2 was born.

The ball-clutching eagle can be seen at Trump’s gold courses in Scotland and Ireland:

Which clearly are benefitting from displaying Trump’s fake coat of arms:

Where’s does this all leave us?

Well, I learned a new word – Trumpiest – and if I may say so, used it widely and, I hope, well.

Trump will continue waving his flags with his fake coats of arms at his U.S. and European golf courses:

And pissing off people:

And remember Mr. Tydings from Part 1, the former United States senator from Maryland who is the grandson of Joseph Edward Davies? 

Joseph Edward Davies married Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1935 – she was the socialite who built Mar-a-Lago.  In 1939, British authorities granted the legit coat of arms (below, left) to Davies which Trump then stole after he bought Mar-a-Lago, slapped his name on it, and has used it ever since – without permission (below, right).

In the 2017 New York Times article, Mr. Tydings was asked what Ms. Post and his grandfather would make of Mr. Trump.

“‘I knew him and the way he operates,’ Mr. Tydings said.  ‘And the way he operates, you don’t sue Trump, because you’ll be in court for years and years and years.’

“His grandfather, he added, ‘would be rolling over in his grave to think Trump was using his crest.’”

As for me – I think I’ve just found a Trumpiest that may out-Trump the coats-of-arms Trumpiest.

This has to do with Trump’s claim of declassifying the government documents he’s been illegally hoarding at Mar-a-Lago.

According to this September 22 article:

This from Trump:

“If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified – even by thinking about it,” Trump said.