When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sure They’re…

I’ve never given much thought to lemons.

When I was growing up, there were always a few lemons in the fridge, mainly for my mom to squeeze onto her fish on Friday nights.

No big deal.

Then there was lemonade in the summer, which was a frozen concentrate in a can that you mixed with water.  And sugar.  A lot of sugar.

When my sister got older and started experimenting with cooking, she made lemon meringue pie, and that was yummy.

When I got older and discovered iced tea, I learned that a wedge or two of lemon added to the flavor.  So did sugar.  A lot of sugar.

As time passed I also discovered that lemon was good adult beverages – a twist of peel, a slice, or lemon juice as an ingredient for whiskey sours, Cosmopolitans, and a drink called a “Corpse Reviver” (pictured) which was supposed to cure hangovers.

Lemons have been around forever, so…

No big deal.

Or so I thought, until a couple of years ago when I tasted one of these:

I’m talking about the lemon on the right:

A Meyer lemon.

You’ll notice that it’s not just smaller than the regular lemon on the left, but it’s almost orangey colored.  That’s because, according to this article:

The Meyer lemon is “A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange…”

So the Meyer lemon is smaller, it’s a hybrid, and according to this article:

Appearance:  Regular lemons have a knobby, yellow skin, a thick layer of white pith, and bright yellow inner flesh.  Meyer lemons are rounder, smoother, and more orange in color than standard lemons.  Their thin skin ranges from dark yellow to rich egg yolk, and their inner skin is a deep yellow.  Additionally, Meyer lemons have barely any pith.

Flavor:  Regular lemons are incredibly acidic and sour.  Since Meyer lemon is a hybrid, it has a mellow, sweet flavor. 

And juicy.  Meyer lemons are very juicy.

Sink your teeth into a regular lemon and you do this:

No pucker face with Meyers, due to a flavor that, in addition to the above description of “mellow, sweet” has been described as “slightly floral,” and “fragrant and bright.”

Another interesting thing about Meyer lemons is that in their original use, nobody was sinking their teeth into them.

Instead, says the NPR article,

“In its native China, it was primarily a decorative houseplant.”

Which meant that in their yard and/or home, wealthy Chinese could have these:

Which also meant that they’d have rotten lemons on the ground below:

Until the servants the servants did some lemon aid.

Meyer lemons, said the NPR article, might have remained a mere Asian house/garden decoration if not for this man:

“In the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent Frank N. Meyer [pictured], an agricultural explorer (yes, that was his actual job title) on several trips to Asia with the mission of collecting new plant species.  Among more than 2,500 plants that he introduced to the U.S., the Meyer lemon was named in his honor.”

People in the regions where Meyers could be grown – California, Florida and Texas – took a liking to the lemons, but again – as something to decorate their backyard.

Occasionally someone would show up with a box of Meyers at the local farmers market, but they weren’t a commercial product:  “Their thin, delicate skin and high juice content made them too fragile to distribute commercially,” said NPR.

So that was the life of Meyer lemons, and it would likely have remained so if not for none other than…

Yes!  Thanks to the late Martha Stewart and her CBD Meyer Lemon Oil Drops…

“Martha Stewart CBD Oil Drops combine delicious gourmet flavors developed by Martha herself with the purest, safest CBD isolate.  CBD wellness has never been this inviting, and has certainly never tasted this great!”

Now on sale for just $29.99!

I’m kidding.

Though CBD Lemon Oil Drops are among Martha’s Meyer lemon merchandise, along with her CBD Wellness Citrus Medley Gummies (“Delicious gourmet flavors of Meyer lemon, kumquat, and blood orange!”):

Along with her apparently non-CBD Meyer Lemon Solid Paper Tags:

But these items aren’t how Martha made Meyer lemons famous.

No, her love for the fruit goes back at least to 2016 and to her blog, Martha:  Up Close and Personal:

Where she extolled the wonderfulness of Meyers:

And began featuring them in recipes like these:

Meyer lemons started flying off grocery stores shelves.

That is, when people could find them on grocery store shelves.

Earlier I mentioned the fruit’s thin fragile skin and the difficulty of shipping them.

That meant that for most people, Meyers were maybe available only from early winter through early spring, unless you lived where the lemons are grown:  the citrus growing regions of California, Texas, and Florida.

So I’m lucky – I live in San Diego and for the past two years I’ve been getting Meyer lemons at my grocery store year round.  I asked a produce person at the store exactly where they were grown, and the best he could do was, “In the USA.”

Wherever they’re from – I love ‘em.

And if your grocery store doesn’t have Meyers, don’t despair – I found a number of online sites that will ship Meyer lemons, though it’s unclear whether they’re always available.

If you haven’t tried Meyer lemons, you’re in for a sweet treat.

On that note – and not to be outdone by Martha Stewart – I have my own Meyer lemon recipe to share, and I’ll close with that:

Here’s An Organization I’d Like To See Lay Off Every Employee Due To Lack Of Clients:

It seems like companies announcing layoffs has become a daily occurrence.

While some companies aren’t that well-known, many are high-profile:  Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo, CNN, DoorDash, Hewlitt-Packard, Amazon…

And this, from December 16: 

But there’s an organization that hasn’t joined the layoff rush hour…

And I wish it would.

I wish the California Innocence Project (CIP) had to lay off everyone due to…

Lack of clients.

According to their website, the California Innocence Project in San Diego…

“…is a law school clinic, founded in 1999 at California Western School of Law, dedicated to freeing the innocent, training law students, and changing laws and policies in the state of California.”

It’s “the innocent” I’m referring to, when I say that I wish the California Innocence Project had to layoff everyone due to lack of clients.

The clients – “the innocent” – are people wrongly convicted and serving time in prison.  Since 1999, says their website, CIP has freed 37 wrongly convicted people:

“Our clients do not have the resources to prove their innocence.  The California Innocence Project provides pro bono services and pays all of the investigation and litigation costs for all of our cases – more than 1,500 cases each year.”

I admire the CIP team.

Now, before you accuse me of being a bleeding-heart liberal who thinks prisons are full of innocent people…

I don’t.

People do bad things, and when someone commits a crime, our system says they should serve time for it.

But I also believe there are innocent people who are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.

“Well,” you might ask, “if they’re innocent, how could they be convicted?”

There are plenty of reasons, according to this and other articles…

…and I think it’s worthwhile to consider them:

Mistaken Witness ID
Eyewitness error is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in 72% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.

While eyewitness testimony can be persuasive evidence before a judge or jury, 30 years of strong social science research has proven that eyewitness identification is often unreliable.  Research shows that the human mind is not like a tape recorder; we neither record events exactly as we see them, nor recall them like a tape that has been rewound. 

In case after case, DNA has proven what scientists already know – that eyewitness identification is frequently inaccurate.

False Confession
In about 30% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.  These cases show that confessions are not always prompted by internal knowledge or actual guilt, but are sometimes motivated by external influences including the possibility of a reduced sentence.

False Forensic Evidence
Since the late 1980s, DNA analysis has helped identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent nationwide.  While DNA testing was developed through extensive scientific research at top academic centers, many other forensic techniques – such as hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, firearm tool mark analysis, and shoe print comparisons (pictured) – have never been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation. 

Meanwhile, forensics techniques that have been properly validated – such as serology, commonly known as blood typing – are sometimes improperly conducted or inaccurately conveyed in trial testimony.  In some cases, forensic analysts have fabricated results or engaged in other misconduct.

In 18% of wrongful conviction cases overturned through DNA testing, an informant testified against the defendant at the original trial.  Often, statements from people with incentives to testify – particularly incentives that are not disclosed to the jury – are the central evidence in convicting an innocent person.

Official Misconduct
Some wrongful convictions are caused by honest mistakes.  But in far too many cases, the very people who are responsible for ensuring truth and justice – law enforcement officials and prosecutors – lose sight of these obligations and instead focus solely on securing convictions.  The cases of wrongful convictions uncovered by DNA testing are filled with evidence of negligence, fraud or misconduct by prosecutors or police departments.

While the majority of law enforcement officers and prosecutors are honest and trustworthy, criminal justice is a human endeavor and the possibility for negligence, misconduct and corruption exists.  Even if one officer of every thousand is dishonest, wrongful convictions will continue to occur.  DNA exonerations have exposed official misconduct at every level and stage of a criminal investigation.

There are more reasons – like inadequate defense.  And how about corrupt judges:

When you think of what can go wrong and turn into a wrongful conviction, it makes me…

Here’s what went wrong for Kimberly Long, one of the California Innocence Project’s clients:

I – fortunately – cannot begin to imagine the horror of being in prison.

Being deliberately deprived of your liberty, your dignity, and sense of self.  Stripped of your rights – to vote, the right to privacy, and some of your First Amendment rights.  Decisions about eating what you want, showering when you want, making a phone call when you want – are no longer your decisions.

All this and worse happened to Kimberly Long.

And she was wrongly convicted.

On April 22, 2021, thanks to the work of the California Innocence Project, the Riverside District Attorney formally dismissed all charges resulting in Kimberly’s full exoneration:

You can read Kim’s story on the California Innocence Project website, along with the stories of the other clients the organization has helped.

And you can read about other Innocence Projects online, and the Innocence Network, and all the other organizations whose mission is to free the wrongly convicted.

And you can join me in hoping that someday…

All their employees will face this kind of lay off…

Did Anyone – At Any Time – Pause and Say…

We humans have a propensity for building big things.

Big buildings:

Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

Big ships:

Wonder of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Big burgers:

1,774 pounds, Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar, Detroit.

So back in the early 2000s, when the powers-that-be decided to put an aquarium in the lobby of the Raddison BLU Hotel in Berlin, Germany…

…it’s no surprise that they weren’t thinking…

No, they were thinking big:

It’s called “AquaDom.”

AquaDom opened in 2003 and back then cost about $13.5 million.  There are a variety of statistics online – not all of them agreeing – but reportedly it’s a freestanding, 52-feet-tall acrylic glass aquarium with a diameter of 36 feet that holds 260,000 gallons of water. 

To put that in perspective, your average toilet holds 3.5 gallons of water.  Now picture about 75,000 toilets tanks stacked up…

That’s a lot of water.

When it opened, AquaDom was declared the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium by Guinness World Records, and was home to more than 100 species of 1,500 tropical fish – “clown fish and angel fish, trigger fish and parrot fish, among many other kinds”:

And that isn’t the only thing in the fish tank – AquaDom has a transparent elevator inside where you can get a view of all those fish, and divers feeding them:

So AquaDom has all the bells and whistles:  biggest ever, flashy, expensive, elevator inside, with a walkway above:

And a tunnel below:

Complete with its own shark mascot.

Various media described the AquaDom as “mesmerizing,” “gigantic” and “impressive,” as in this 2016 article:

While this 2017 article:

Described it as “incredible,” “towering,” and “absolutely need to add to your bucket list.”

So things were going along swimmingly at the Radisson BLU’s AquaDom, until Friday morning, December 16, when…

Verbs used to describe what happened to the AquaDom include “bursts,” “explodes” and “ruptures,” but whatever the wording, the results were the same.  AquaDom:

“…burst, spilling debris, water and hundreds of tropical fish out…parts of the building…were damaged as the 260,000 gallons of water poured from the aquarium shortly before 6am.  Berlin’s fire service said two people were slightly injured.”

There were pictures of the damage inside the hotel:

“There are shards of glass everywhere,” said one hotel guest.  “The furniture, everything has been flooded with water.  It looks…like a war zone.”

And outside:

But – thankfully – there was an upside:

“Mayor Franziska Giffey said the tank had unleased a ‘veritable tsunami’ of water but the early morning timing had prevented far more injuries.

“‘Despite all the destruction, we were still very lucky,’ she said.  ‘We would have had terrible human damage’ had the aquarium burst even an hour later, once more were awake and in the hotel and the surrounding area, she said.”

And while the cause of the burst/explosion/rupture is under investigation, it appears that an American company…

May have some explaining to do.

It seems to me that in human’s quest for the big, bigger, biggest, AquaDom was more of an AquaDumb.

Seriously – while this idea was still on the drawing board, did anyone suggest that maybe, just maybe, this was not a good idea?  Putting a monster freestanding water tank in a hotel lobby?  On the assumption that this human-made thing was perfect, invulnerable, and would stand, intact, forevermore?

Another upside:  The police aren’t suspecting foul play…

“Berlin police say they are not seeking suspects following the explosion of the ‘AquaDom’ aquarium on Friday, warning the public about what they say is a fake tweet suggesting they are.”

And speaking of ‘fake tweets’ – enter Elon Musk!

In an attempt to demonstrate what a great, caring person he is and more importantly, placate at least one European country over recent headlines lines this…

Shortly after AquaDom burst, Musk reportedly contacted the Radisson BLU with a suggestion on how to turn the AquaDom loss…

Into a financial win:

Did This Manager Lose Their Mind?  Or Were They Only Saying What So Many Managers Think…But Don’t Say?

This story starts on December 6 when a Reddit user posted something on the r/antiwork subreddit.

For those who aren’t familiar with Reddit and its r/antiwork subreddit – that would include me – according to this article:

“…r/antiwork is a subreddit that’s become a place for people to talk about their dissatisfaction with working conditions and their negative experiences.  In 2021, the subreddit grew to more than 900,000 followers (which the site calls ‘idlers’) and now boasts more than 1.8 million.” 

Here’s the intro to that December 6 post:

What this led to was a news story that, when I googled it, brought me millions of results on December 13 and read like a who’s who in the national and international media world:  CBS, NBC, Fox, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, The Hill, Fortune, the New York Post, MarketWatch, Business Insider, the Today Show and many others.

And as I started reading the stories, I found myself feeling sympathy, and empathy, for the people getting all this attention.

The central figure is unidentified, and the articles refer to the person as the “manager” and “they,” so I’ll do likewise.

The story starts at an Olive Garden Restaurant in Overland Park, near Kansas City, KS.

The manager sent a mass email to the team members.  The email, variously referred to as a “rant,” a “tirade,” and a “diatribe” was about employees who had apparently repeatedly “called off” with various excuses for why they were unable to show up for work.

As you read the manager’s email, it doesn’t take a psychologist to see that the manager was angry.  Enraged.  Seething with frustration.

Here’s the local media outlet that broke the story:

The article included the rant/tirade/diatribe in full.

And yes, the “dog” part in the headline is an excerpt from the email.  Here’s how it starts:

“Our call offs are occurring at a staggering rate.  From now on, if you call off, you might as well go out and look for another job.  We are no longer tolerating ANY excuse for calling off.  If you’re sick, you need to come prove it to us.  If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us.  If its a ‘family emergency’ and you can’t say, too bad.  Go to work somewhere else.”

Is the manager angry, enraged, and seething with frustration?

Oh, yeah.

And this is where my sympathy and empathy kicked in:

I’ve been on both sides of this – as a team member and in management.

I’m a Team Member

I’m sick and I’m not going to work.  First, because I feel too rotten to get out of bed.  And second, because I don’t want to come into work and spread whatever I’ve got.

And in our current “tridemic” of COVID, the flu and RSV, any sane manager would agree I should stay home.

And if I call in sick and I’m not actually sick, well – I’ll call it a “mental health day,” or something like that.  (Everyone does this.  Well, practically everyone.)

I’m a Manager

Any absence – of even just one person – puts a burden on the entire team, including me.  They and I will have to do our jobs and pick up the duties of the absent person.  This increases the stress level, and when the business is a restaurant and the restaurant is busy, the stress level goes way up.  Orders get botched, food gets cold, customers don’t tip and may not return.

And if an employee is “calling off” – calling in sick – multiple times and/or multiple employees are calling off, that restaurant’s day could be a disaster.

As a manager, I’ve had it.  Enough is enough.  I know these people aren’t sick.  This is…


The manager’s email – two paragraphs and more than 300 words – includes multiple invitations to unhappy employees to find work elsewhere. 

As a manager, on more than one occasion I’ve felt like saying the same.

The Olive Garden’s manager’s email cites themself as an example – how they’ve never called in sick in their “11.5 years” with the company; how they came to work after being in a wreck that totaled their car; and how, at night, they’d “rather be home with my husband and dog, going to the movies or seeing family.  But I don’t, I’m dedicated to being here.”

I suspect this manager had reached their limit of one too many staff calling off one too many times.  So they grabbed their phone or sat down at their computer and dashed off the email – whatever thoughts came into their head.

Including that part of about bringing in the dead dog.

Did the manager pause and think twice before hitting “Send”?

Was the satisfaction of writing and sending that email worth losing their job?

Did the manager regret the email after they were fired?

Would Olive Garden have fired the manager if this story had not gone viral?

The manager was fired…

“A spokeswoman for Darden restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, confirmed to The Washington Post that the missive had been sent to employees and said that the ‘restaurant fired the manager after learning about it.

“‘We strive to provide a caring and respectful work environment for our team members.  This message is not aligned with our company’s values,’ read a statement from the company.  ‘We have parted ways with this manager.’”

Now I’ve got my team member hat back on, and I’m rolling my eyes about that “caring and respectful work environment for our team members.”

Yeah, sure.  What a bunch of…

So, the restaurant manager and Olive Garden have “parted ways.”

The team members will get a new manager who may be great – or far worse than the one they had.

Life will go on, including at the Olive Garden Restaurant in Overland Park, near Kansas City, KS.

And as for me…

I’ve learned a new phrase:

“Recreational Ranting”

Gosh – I’ve been doing that since I started this blog!

Judges, how am I doing?

Trump’s Latest Rip-Off Features “Really Incredible Amazing ART Of My Life & Career!”

There are stories making the rounds that, following Trump’s November 15 announcement that he’s running for president, what we’re seeing is…

“Four weeks after declaring his 2024 White House bid, former President Trump appears to be a candidate in name only.”

“Since then, Trump has not held any formal campaign events. He has not traveled to early voting states, made any major staffing announcements or done much of anything to scare off would-be rivals.”

I think otherwise.

I think Trump’s advisers decided that since their presidential campaign efforts in 2020 were a dismal failure, they’d revamp their strategy as follows:

No more traveling around the country for rallies, no more media interviews, no more presidential debates.

The new strategy is:

Trump Sits on His Lard Ass at Mar-a-Lago and Makes Headlines

Here’s what I mean.

Since Trump’s candidacy announcement on November 15…

Step #1:  The Trump dinner on November 22:

Step #2:  The Trump declaration on December 3:

Talk about headlines!

And last Thursday, a true pièce de resistance:

Step #3:  December 15:

“Mr. Trump announced an online store to sell $99 digital trading cards of himself as a superhero, an astronaut, an Old West sheriff and a series of other fantastical figures.  He made his pitch in a brief, direct-to-camera video in which he audaciously declared that his four years in the White House were ‘better than Lincoln, better than Washington.’”

Talk about strategy!

But first, the Trump team set the stage:  On December 14, Trump made an announcement that he was going to be making a “major announcement” on December 15:

“Donald Trump shared a bizarre video depicting himself as a ‘superhero’ on his social media platform Truth Social in which he teased a ‘major announcement.’

“The announcement is set to be made on Thursday, 15 December, according to the video posted by the former president on Wednesday.”

The video included this image:

“‘America needs a superhero,’ Mr. Trump says in the footage before an animated image of him wearing a superhero outfit with the letter ‘T’ on his chest appears as beams of light stream from his eyes.”

But, says this article:

“The Truth Social post on Wednesday didn’t give any hints about what Mr. Trump would announce.”

Strategic, yes? 

Not so much as a hint from Trump of what was to come.

Attention – and speculation – was widespread!

Would Trump’s “major announcement” involve something about the Speaker race playing out among House Republicans?  Would he offer solutions for ending the war in Ukraine, ending food insecurity, and ending inflation?

Or perhaps, as politics correspondent Bess Levin at Vanity Fair speculated:

“Would he be letting people know that after giving it a lot of time and thought, he’d come to the realization that his time in office was net negative on humanity, and that he would be both suspending his campaign and retreating to an out-of-the-spotlight life in the country?

“That he was ready to take responsibility for January 6 and whatever legal repercussions that come with doing so?

“That he’d been quietly volunteering at a local soup kitchen since leaving the White House and it had really opened his eyes to how the other half lives, and also taught him that small acts of kindness can have big impacts?”

Alas, it was none of the above.

Instead, Trump’s “major announcement” on December 15 was this:

The New York Times article suggested that…

“…Mr. Trump’s direct pitch for the trading cards underscored how secondary his campaign for president has seemed to his personal efforts over the last month.”

Au contraire, New York Times.

Trump is campaigning for president, intensely but subtly.

Subtly – something Trump is well-known for.

For example, TrumpCards.com says,

Those clever Trump advisors know that everyone will want to “instantly become part of a new league of collectors” – and Trump voters!

Then there’s this:

I’ll get a “rare collectible” and I’ll be entered into a sweepstakes? 

Wow!  What can I win?

They’re glad you asked!  Here’s just a sampling of what you could win!

“Memorable”!  “Luxurious”!  “Unforgettable”!  “Exclusive”!

Clearly, Trump’s digital trading cards will draw in his entire base and add millions to it!

Let’s see…buy 45 trading cards at $99 each, that’s…$4,455…

Hmmm.  That’s a lot of money, especially since, as Trump’s website puts it:

“No inherent monetary value.”

So, what are you getting for all that money?

Trading cards that you cannot hold in your hand, or spread out on your table and admire.

Trump’s trading cards are NFTs – non-fungible tokens.

As I said in a post a year ago, when Melania Trump launched her own worthless NFT:

“A non-fungible token is a piece of data verifying that you have ownership of a digital item, such as a piece of artwork.”

“A digital item means it exists electronically and has no physical presence.”

So when you purchase an NFT, you’ve purchased an electronic thing that says you own another electronic thing.

But – that’s all part of the Trump advisors’ subtlety strategy.

And so is this, from the New York Times:

“…Mr. Trump’s campaign won’t earn any money from the digital cards…Money from the digital cards will instead be pocketed by Mr. Trump under a licensing deal…”

By giving the appearance that he’s not raising money for his campaign, Trump could raise tons of money for his campaign!

And we know this because allegedly Trump’s digital trading cards…

“Former President Trump’s digital trading cards have sold out less than 24 hours after he first announced they were available.

“As of Friday morning, the site selling the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) says they are sold out, and links to purchase the digital cards are no available.”

“OpenSea Data, which tracks the sales and markets for NFTs, indicated there were 45,000 of the Trump cards initially made available for purchase for $99 each.”

Let’s see…buy 45,000 trading cards at $99 each, that’s…$4,455,000.

That’s a nice piece of change for a guy who’s campaigning for president by sitting on his lard ass at Mar-a-Lago.

Big money, but not for actual, physical trading cards you can hold in your hand…

And…maybe…here’s an idea…

Play Go Fish with.

You know – Go Fish?

Where you’re dealt some cards and you take turns asking the other player, “Do you have any aces?” or whatever card, and if the other player does, they have to give you all their aces or whatever, and if they don’t have any, they say, “Go fish!” and you draw a card from the pile:

If Trump’s cards were real cards – and if Trump were anything remotely resembling a real human with a moral compass – you could hold the cards and play with the cards and ask, “Do you have any Trump Cowboys?” and, “Do you have any Trump Super Heroes?”

And win Go Fish Trump!

Let’s go back to that The Hill article from December 16 that said,

“OpenSea Data, which tracks the sales and markets for NFTs, indicated there were 45,000 of the Trump cards initially made available for purchase for $99 each.”

“Made available for purchase.”

Not “were sold.”

And this:

“…the site selling the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) says they are sold out…”

Oh…the site says they’re “sold out”?

So we have only Trump’s word that the cards were sold out?

And just because the “links to purchase the digital cards are no longer available” doesn’t mean they were sold out.

It doesn’t take a marketing genius to know that the greatest way to create a demand for something is to tell us we can’t have it.

Plus, we know that Trump is the biggest liar who ever lived:

So I’m doubting the veracity of the site’s claim that Trump’s digital cards are “sold out.”

And I’m doubting that this digital card enterprise is anything but a trashy, keep-Trump-in-the-headlines-while-stroking-his-ego ploy.

Here is my wish:  This will join the list of Trump’s failed businesses.

Trump is a person with many failed businesses, as recounted in this May 2022 article:

I’ve rearranged the list into bullets to make for easier reading:

  • The Trump Taj Mahal, which was built and owned by President Trump, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991.
  • The Trump Plaza, the Trump Castle, and the Plaza Hotel, all owned by President Trump at the time, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992.
  • Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts, which was founded by Trump in 1995, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004.
  • Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc., the new name given to Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts after its 2004 bankruptcy, declared bankruptcy in 2009.
  • Trump Shuttle, Inc.
  • Trump University
  • Trump Vodka
  • Trump Mortgage, LLC
  • GoTrump.com (travel website)
  • Trump Steaks

The list creators noted,

“The foregoing does not purport to be an exhaustive list.”

They’re darn right the “foregoing” is not “an exhaustive list.”

Among others, they forgot these failures:

And finally…

The Washington Post headline at the top of this post…

Referred to Trump’s digital cards as “laughably bad.”

And they are.

Or so I thought, until I happened across one of Trump’s digital cards that I hadn’t seen on the website.

This one – a perfect example of Trump’s total disrespect for our country, his nonstop narcissism, and his enormous megalomania…

This one is absolutely unacceptable:

This Story Says A Lot About Our Values…But I’m Not Sure What

The other night I was half-listening to a story on the evening news about a cat in an animal shelter and the couple who rescued it.

The cat, variously described as “sad and depressed” and, “chubby-cheeked and sad-eyed” with a “heartbreaking expression…”

…is named Fishtopher.

Again, I was only half-listening, but then something at the end of the story caught my full attention:

“Fishtopher, whose Instagram profile has more than 29,000 followers…”

A cat’s Instagram has more than 29,000 followers?

A profile the new owners only started on November 26, 2022?

When I heard this, I couldn’t help but wonder about our values.

Values that prompt more than 29,000 people to become Instagram cat followers.

 While – for example – my hometown library…

Has less than 2,500 Instagram followers.

I’m comparing apples to oranges, you say?

I don’t think so.

I think it says something about our values…

I’m just not sure what it says.

Why Are These Women Smiling…And Clasping Hands?

This is one of those stories that should have gotten more media attention.  In lieu of that, I’m giving it my attention!


I’ve never really noticed the signatures on our paper money:

I’ve never had any reason to.

But now I do.

And the reason I do is the same reason that the women in the above images are smiling, and clasping hands.

The women are Janet Yellen (left) Lynn Malerba.

Yellen is U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Malerba is the U.S. Treasurer.

And on December 8, Yellen and Malerba made history:

“1st Female Pair to Sign US Currency”!

Here’s the full picture from above:

Yellen and Malerba also made history by doing this:

I’m fairly sure male Treasury Secretaries and male Treasurers don’t do this.

These are firsts to smile about.

And there are other firsts:

Malerba is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Treasurer. 

September 12, 2022:  Another day of firsts:  First female Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen swears in Lynn Malerba, the first Native American Treasurer of the United States.

According to her bio on treasury.gov:

“Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn ‘Lynn’ Malerba became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe on August 15, 2010 and is the first female Chief in the Tribe’s modern history.  The position is a lifetime appointment made by the Tribe’s Council of Elders.”

Regarding Yellen, the first female Treasury Secretary, the article succinctly noted,

“The Treasury Department was created in 1787, and until Yellen only white men had led it.”

The only money-related thing better than two women’s signatures on our paper currency will be three women on our currency: 

Women left, right and center.

And by “center” I mean Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, as announced back in 2016:

There was an artist rendering of how the Harriet Tubman $20 might look:

And since that was seven years ago – surely the Harriet Tubman $20 bill will be in our hands and wallets soon?


Not unless you think this means “soon”:

2030 – that’s 14 years after the 2016 announcement.

I learned this when I was writing this post.  I was doing research online and found this March 2022 video of Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post asking Yellen when we’d start seeing the Tubman $20:

Yellen said:

“2030.  I know it’s a long way off.  It adheres to the original schedule that was announced in 2014 by Secretary Lew and President Obama.  We lost four years during the Trump administration and pushing it forward, but we have made efforts to catch up and we remain on that schedule…I’m looking forward to seeing Harriet on the $20 in 2030.”

So much for “women left, right and center” any time soon.

For now, it seems my vision of three-female currency will exist only in my imagination…

But there’s no imagining this:

When it comes to Tubman, Yellen, Malerba and other extraordinary women, current and past…

We women, today and in the future, are grateful because…

What Is This, And Why Are We Taxpayers Still Paying For Trump To Use It?

Do you know what the above logo stands for?

I didn’t, which sent me on a quest for information.

First:  GSA stands for General Services Administration.

Second:  The General Services Administration is “an independent agency of the U.S. government established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies.”

Could that be any vaguer?

Third:  The GSA headquarters are in this building in Washington, DC:

And though I can see the American flag on its roof, I’m not seeing the GSA’s flags, of which it has at least three:

Why any federal agency requires at least three flags is a mystery to me.

So is the size of the GSA’s budget:

Yes, you read that correctly:

$53.76 billion in FY 2022.

What does the GSA actually do?

What are we taxpayers getting for that almost $54 billion?

Here’s the GSA’s mission statement, from their website:

Could that be any vaguer?

To clarify at least a bit, I found something specific in a December 7 Washington Post article (more from the article to come) that said one role of the GSA is to:

“assist former presidents during their transition to private life…”

This is also a mystery to me.

Former presidents are just that – former.  They’re private citizens.  Why are we taxpayers paying to move them out of the White House to…wherever?

Can’t former presidents pack their own stuff and call these guys:

Like the rest of us private citizens do?

Apparently not.

So in 2021, when Trump was vacating the White House, he had the services of the GSA to transport his stuff.

But not all of that stuff went to his residence, Mar-a-Lago.

No, it appears – again, according to the Washington Post article – that the GSA…

“…helped rent the storage unit at a private facility in West Palm Beach on July 21, 2021.  The unit was needed to store items that had been held at an office in Northern Virginia used by Trump staffers in the months just after he left office.”

I haven’t been to Mar-a-Lago, but it looks like it’s got plenty of storage rooms to me:

Why a storage unit at a private facility was rented…

And paid for by us taxpayers…

Is…you guessed it:

A mystery to me.

And we didn’t pay just for storage – the Washington Post article said:

“…the GSA and Trump staffers worked together to arrange to ship several pallets of boxes and other items weighing more than 3,000 pounds from Northern Virginia to the Florida storage unit in September 2021.”

So the Florida storage facility was rented in July 2021 but Trump’s stuff wasn’t moved until September 2021.

We paid for that empty space.

And we also paid for shipping 1½ tons of Trump’s stuff.

It’s now December 2022, and we’ve been paying for that storage facility for 18 months.

Shipping + storage =

And what is all this stuff in the storage facility?  Washington Post:

“A person familiar with the matter said the storage unit had a mix of boxes, gifts, suits and clothes, among other things.  ‘It was suits and swords and wrestling belts and all sorts of things,’ this person said.  ‘To my knowledge, he has never even been to that storage unit.  I don’t think anyone in Trump World could tell you what’s in that storage unit.’”

So 1½ tons of Trump stuff just sitting while the meter kept running, wasting our…

Stuff just sitting…ignored…languishing…

Until this:

“Lawyers for Donald Trump found at least two items marked classified after an outside team hired by Trump searched a storage unit in West Palm Beach, FL used by the former president, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Over the past almost week, you’ve no doubt heard the story – many times.

What you may not have heard was that to conduct the search, Trump’s lawyers, according to this article…

“…utilized a firm that had expertise in searching for documents.”

Which presents yet another mystery:

What requires expertise about going through boxes in storage and ascertaining that these items over there – they’re wrestling belts; and these items here – these are classified documents?

Here’s a visual aid to help – wrestling belts, left; classified documents, right:

Looks pretty straightforward to me.

The storage facility search was part of a multi-part effort that also included the search “experts” going through other Trump properties.

The Washington Post article said

“The former president’s lawyers have told federal authorities no classified material was found in additional searches of Trump Tower in New York and his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.”

But, according to the New York Times article:

“People close to Mr. Trump had said earlier on Wednesday that no classified material had been found during the searches, a claim that was later proved incorrect.” 

And if the “experts” were “incorrect” about the Florida’s storage facility’s contents…

Who’s to say they aren’t also “incorrect” about Trump Tower and Bedminster?

That’s our last mystery in this post.

The rest is no mystery.

I believe that Trump will never be held accountable for all the crimes he’s committed throughout his life.

But I also believe Trump will be held accountable for some of those crimes.

And by accountable, I mean Trump will be:

United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX), Colorado; also known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” it’s the most maximum-security prison in the U.S.

No more delays, no more appeals, no more suing everyone in sight.

Nothing but a one-way trip.

And this time, when my tax dollars pay to assist this former president “during their transition” to private prison life…

I’ll be thrilled to pay for it.

It’s Wrong, It’s Dangerous, And…

Part III:  Let’s Head Further North

On Wednesday in Part II, I talked about the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located on the coast about 25 miles north of San Diego County, where I live.

Also on the Pacific Coast, about 275 miles north of me, is this:

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach, west of the city of San Luis Obispo.  It began operations in 1985 and is also an investor-owned utility, that utility being the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Ugly, isn’t it?

I was unable to learn exactly how much nuclear waste is stored at Diablo Canyon, though this article from September 2022…


“Each of Diablo Canyon’s two reactors kick out about 80 tons of high-level radioactive waste when the old fuel rods are traded out for new ones every one to three years.”

How much nuclear waste is stored at Diablo Canyon?

How’s this:

Any amount is too much.

Six years ago, according to this article:

“In 2016, PG&E announced plans to close the nuclear plant, noting that the transition to renewable energy would make continued operations too costly.”

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is also located on the coast, also near a major earthquake fault line.

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is also the last nuclear plant in the state. 

And when the closing was announced in 2016, I cheered.

Prematurely, it turns out:

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to keep the two units of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant online until 2029 and 2030 – as opposed to shuttering the facility entirely by 2025 – while also exploring the option of extending the plant’s life through 2035.
  • Proposed legislative language released Friday includes a $1.4 billion loan from the state’s general fund to Pacific Gas & Electric, the operator of the plant, to cover the cost of relicensing the 2.2 GW nuclear plant.  The legislation also outlines the terms of the loan agreement, including the circumstances under which the utility would repay the loan.

“Repay the loan”?

I’m doubtful.

But there’s no doubt here:

We taxpayers are on the hook for an additional $1.1 billion in federal funds:

It’s going to cost federal taxpayers more than a billion dollars to keep Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant operating – and producing more nuclear waste.

And it’s likely it will cost California taxpayers as well.

I was angry, and got angrier when I read this recent article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune:

“…as the U.S. turns to nuclear power to keep the lights on, will President Joe Biden and his successors be equally committed to securing a permanent home for the nuclear waste generated by commercial reactors?

“That was a promise first made to residents of San Luis Obispo County more than 50 years ago, when PG&E assured skeptical residents that they needn’t worry about spent nuclear fuel because the federal government would take care of it.”

I wonder if, 50 years ago, PG&E clued in the federal government that they – the federal government – were supposed to “take care of” the waste generated by Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant?

The article continues:

“The state of California must have seen all this coming.  In 1976, it imposed a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants until such time as the federal government makes good on its promise to accept the spent fuel.

“But where does that leave Californians living in the vicinity of Diablo Canyon, or near shuttered plants like San Onofre, located close to San Diego?

“They are exactly where they’ve been for the past five or six decades:  serving as de facto spent nuclear fuel storage sites, without ever having the benefit of the consent-based siting process.”

(In a consent-based siting process, communities are only considered as potential locations if they agree to “host” a storage facility that would accept spent fuel from commercial reactors.)

The article said plenty more that stoked my anger:

“There is no excuse for the lack of progress in the United States, especially given the renewed interest in keeping plants like Diablo Canyon running.

“Political leaders have been content to leave it to future generations to figure out what to do with spent fuel that will need to be kept safe for tens of thousands of years.

“It’s…unfair to future generations stuck with the consequences of yet another short-sighted decision by those who should know better.”

Part IV: Let’s Head Back South – in the Interest of Equal Time

If I sound locked-in to my opinion that the only good nuclear power plant is a closed nuclear power plant…

I am.

So I was stunned to read a recent editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune that contradicted my locked-in opinion.

I’m a huge fan of the Union-Tribune, including their editorials.  To encounter an editorial that took a position I disagreed with – starting with the headline…

Here it is:

That headline – “Embrace Nuclear Power”?

“Are they kidding?” I thought.

No, they weren’t kidding.  The “CARBON” vs. “NUCLEAR” cartoon above the editorial attested to that.

So did the editorial’s content. 

And – shockingly – some of it actually made sense to me:

“…nuclear power is finally being accepted for the crucial role it can play in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that put human civilization and survival at risk.”

“…ignoring the vast potential of nuclear power to respond to the climate emergency is no longer an option – as should be clear to anyone who believes the emergency is real.”

To the writer’s credit, they did acknowledge…

“…the failure of the U.S. government to find a long-term solution to the need to safely store nuclear waste.”

And then there was this:

“…nuclear plants have continued to be the nation’s largest source of relatively clean power, generating 19 percent of U.S. electricity in 2021.  Despite billions of dollars spent to expand solar and wind power in recent years, nuclear power supplies nearly as much as all the other zero-carbon sources of energy in the U.S. combined.”




This editorial prompted me to stop automatically disagreeing…start thinking…and even reconsidering…

I really was reconsidering…


I read this on November 25:

“The lunar base will likely be powered by nuclear energy, Chinese news website Caixin reported.”

“‘Nuclear energy can address the lunar station’s long-term, high-power energy needs,’ said Wu Weiran, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration programme.’”

87,000 metric tons of spent fuel on Earth now.

Nuclear power plants on the moon.

Nuclear waste on the moon.

If China puts a nuclear power plant on the moon, the U.S. is sure to do the same.

And who’s next?  Russia?  Iran?  And, and, and…

It’s Wrong, It’s Dangerous, And…

Part I:  Once Upon a Time

Once upon a long, long time ago – in the 1950s – a major goal of nuclear research was to show that nuclear energy could produce electricity for commercial use.

Though I suspect the actual “major goal of nuclear research” was how to monetize nuclear energy.

And if producing electricity for commercial use made money – let’s go for it!

And if those scientists ascertained that nuclear energy could generate electricity without the harmful byproducts that coal, oil and natural gas emit – even better!

Not that a lot of 1950s folks had a high level of awareness of the harmful byproducts that coal, oil and natural gas emit.  But a post-World War II growing population meant more people and that meant more electricity was needed, and why not grab a slice of that electricity pie by providing electricity from nuclear energy?

But what those scientists – or it appears anybody – did not think about was the radioactive waste that would be created in nuclear power plants. 

And what to do with it.

Here’s how the U.S.NRC – the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission…

…explains nuclear waste:

“High-level radioactive waste primarily is uranium fuel that has been used in a nuclear power reactor and is ‘spent,’ or no longer efficient in producing electricity.  Spent fuel is thermally hot as well as highly radioactive and requires remote handling and shielding.”

Maybe the movers and shakers who were hot to start generating nuclear-energy-powered electricity did a Scarlett O’Hara and figured they’d think about it tomorrow.  Maybe they figured the waste was someone else’s problem to solve. 

Maybe they didn’t care.

It’s for sure that 1950s consumers didn’t care.  As long as the electricity kept flowing into their homes and businesses, who cared what the source was?

According to this brochure from the Department of Energy:

In December 1957 the world’s first large-scale nuclear powerplant began operation in Shippingport, Pennsylvania:

The plant reached full power three weeks later and supplied electricity to the Pittsburgh area.

Today, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical agency of the Department of Energy…

“As of May 25, 2022, there were 54 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 92 nuclear power reactors in 28 U.S. states.  Of the currently operating nuclear power plants, 19 plants have one reactor, 32 plants have two reactors, and 3 plants have three reactors.”

And all 92 of those nuclear power reactors are generating nuclear waste.

Here’s a map showing the 28 states with nuclear power plants:

If you don’t live in one of the 28 states, please don’t think that the unsafe storage of nuclear waste doesn’t affect you.

Part II:  Let’s Head North

I live in San Diego County, and about 25 miles north of me is this:

Ugly, isn’t it?

This is the Southern California Edison (SCE) San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).  It’s an investor-owned utility that began operating in 1967 and made lots of money for SCE and its shareholders.

SONGS was shut down in 2012 after a series of inconveniences, including a radioactive leak.

Today, according to this article in The Hill and many other articles:

SONGS is the site of 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste.

“The waste is buried about 100 feet from the shoreline…near one of the busiest highways, and next to a fault line that could generate an earthquake. The site could…also be exposed from erosion.”

So earthquakes and/or erosion are possible disasters involving 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste stored at SONGS.

Here’s another possible disaster:

The article says:

“In the event of a severe accident at San Onofre, radiation leaks could create a permanent ‘dead zone’ [extending] beyond Los Angeles, San Diego, Catalina, and Riverside.”

Here’s that potential “dead zone”:

That’s by land – what about by sea, i.e., the Pacific Ocean?

“San Onofre’s ‘30-foot tsunami wall’ is only 14 feet above high tide.”

You can imagine how this potential “dead zone” is of momentous concern to those of us who live here.

So that’s the amount of waste sitting at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.  What’s the size of the total nuclear waste accumulated in the U.S.?

According to this article:

“U.S. Department of Energy data indicates that the spent nuclear fuel discharged and stored by the electric power industry totals close to 85,000 metric tons over the past five-plus decades.”

That was written in April 2021.

The U.S. generates about 2,000 additional metric tons of spent fuel each year.

Let’s put that 87,000 metric tons in more relatable numbers:

Regarding that increase of 2,000 additional metric tons of spent fuel each year, our government’s Office of Nuclear Energy website:

Assures us that:

“This number may sound like a lot, but the volume of the spent fuel assemblies is actually quite small considering the amount of energy they produce.

“The amount is roughly equivalent to less than half the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”

Did that “swimming pool” shit make you feel any better?

Me, neither.

And those 192 million pounds of nuclear waste have nowhere to go.  So says the U.S.NRC, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

“At this time there are no facilities for permanent disposal of high-level waste.”

But wait! 

What about this November 26 article:

I was thrilled when I saw this headline!

The “Waste Isolation Pilot Plant” in southeast New Mexico!

“Finally,” I thought, “finally we’re making progress dealing with the horrendous problem of our unsafe storage of nuclear waste.”

Then I read the article and…


“…the new area consists of seven separate rooms for placing special boxes and barrels packed with lab coats, rubber gloves, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements.”

“…the nation’s multibillion-dollar cleanup program for Cold War-era waste.”

The Cold War ended in 1991 and our government…

Is still cleaning up contaminated crap from it.

I am not opposed to electricity generated by nuclear power plants – I’m opposed to the unsafe storage of nuclear waste.  And I am furious and frustrated that our state and federal governments aren’t working smarter to provide those “facilities for permanent disposal of high-level waste.”

So, for a long time my attitude has been:

The Only Good Nuclear Power Plant is a Closed Nuclear Power Plant.

At least that would stop the generating of yet more nuclear waste.

On December 9:  Part III:  Let’s Head Further North, and Part IV:  Let’s Head Back South – in the Interest of Equal Time

Equal Opportunity In Action!!!  Female Joins The Male Big Leagues!!!  The Big Leagues Of Male…

For a long time, women have been asking for, fighting for and demanding their rights:

For gender equality:

For equal pay:

For freedom from sexual harassment:

And while much progress has been made, much more is needed.

So it’s heartening to learn about one small step for womankind:

A female joining the big leagues!

The big leagues of males.

Male criminals.


Con artists.

Yes, when the door to opportunity opened, she stepped right up and stepped right through it:

Makes you proud, doesn’t it?

Granted, she’s not in the major leagues like Charles Ponzi (1882-1949), whose last name is now synonymous fraudulent investment schemes.  Ponzi’s con cost investors around $20 million in 1920 dollars, or $298 million today.

Or Bernie Madoff (1938-2021), who masterminded the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history, ripping off tens of thousands of people of as much as $65 billion.

But for our con artist –Ruixue “Serena” Shi (pictured) – that $26 million is a respectable con.

And if she hadn’t been caught…

Who knows who far she might have gone?

The Fortune article says,

“Prosecutors said that from late 2015 to mid-2018, Shi was the general manager of a real estate company based in China that had a Los Angeles office.  She solicited investments, mainly from Chinese investors, in a 207-unit luxury complex to be built in the city of Coachella, in the desert southeast of Los Angeles.”

Here’s Coachella:

The location for this luxury complex was not exactly the Garden Spot of the West:

But the location was, as one article put it, “situated in between the Fantasy Spring and the Spotlight 29 Casinos in Coachella.” 

So casinos nearby, but also important, says this 2017 article:

The complex – going by the name of Hyde Coachella Valley Resorts and Residences at the time – would have been the first hotel in the City of Coachella.

This is a long, convoluted story and there’s plenty about it online so I won’t get into all of that.  But here are a few highlights from various articles:

Shi tricked more than 160 people into putting down payments on the condos – the majority of whom were investors from China.  She often gave sales presentations at hotels, and contacted individuals over the Chinese messaging and social media app WeChat.

In 2015 and again in 2017, Shi had sales presentations in China where she was accompanied by Coachella city officials. (It seems investors in far-off China weren’t the only people Shi conned.)

Shi at a sales presentation in China.  Note the “Hyde Coachella Valley Resorts and Residences” behind her.

By 2017 investors were questioning why they weren’t receiving the promised rental income from the condos they’d purchased.  The finger-pointing began, and so did the lawsuits.

The Department of Justice got involved, and Shi was arrested in June 2020, charged with one count of wire fraud:

Up until then, Shi had been living well, as big- and major-league con artists often do:

“‘For example, she allegedly used $2.2 million of investor money to pay a company that provided luxury travel and concierge services, nearly $295,000 to purchase two Mercedes-Benz automobiles, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy clothes, restaurant meals, and hotel stays in Beverly Hills, France, Thailand and China,’ said a Department of Justice press release.”

Note to self:  The next time I buy two Mercedes, make sure they’re color coordinated.

Shi was in federal custody since August 2020 after law enforcement discovered she had been researching how to flee the United States on a contraband iPhone while free on bond in the criminal case.  She remained in custody, and in October 2021 Shi pleaded guilty to that one count of wire fraud:

At her sentencing in November 2022 the judge refused to allow Shi to withdraw her 2021 plea to wire fraud, saying “There has been no acceptance of responsibility; there has been a denial of responsibility.”

And then…

In addition to prison time, Shi was ordered to pay $35.8 million in restitution.


The site plan for Hyde Coachella Valley Resorts and Residences Shi happily shared with the City of Coachella in November 2015…

Never went beyond the drawing stage.

The land she promised to develop for investors…

Remains as it was.

The City of Coachella website…

Lists five hotels – but none of them in Coachella.

And as for Shi’s victims, according to this from the Department of Justice:

“In connection with the sentencing hearing, more than two dozen victims submitted statements to the court, with many describing the substantial financial hardship they experienced.  Several discussed their reliance on Shi’s false promises that their investments would assist them in securing visas to immigrate to the United States.  

“One victim wrote that, after losing his retirement savings to Shi’s scheme, he ‘even contemplated suicide,’ according to court papers filed by prosecutors.”

It’s unlikely Shi’s victims will ever see any of that $35.8 million in restitution she was ordered to pay.

Ruixue “Serena” Shi was smart and brave and bold – good things for a woman to be. 

Then she boldly went where many men have gone before:  into the con game.

Now Shi, 38, is going to where many men have also gone before:

Dear California Residents:  Thank You For Your Generosity!

Dear California Residents: 

Thanks to you, we five major oil refineries that supply most of California’s gasoline – Chevron, Marathon Petroleum, PBF Energy, Valero Energy and Phillips 66 – are going to have our best year and merriest Christmas – ever!

You know that hearing we all skipped on November 29?

Yes, they were all ready for us.  See – five nameplates, and five empty chairs, all set up but no one to sit in them:

We no-showed!


We heard all about the meeting, of course.

Including what that blabbermouth from that advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said.

You know – that part about how our companies posted profits of $67.6 billion in the first nine months of 2022, up from $17.6 billion during the same period last year?

Well, it’s true!  And we’re proud of that! 

Isn’t that…

The American Way?

We’re glad you agree!

No, we didn’t need to go to no stinkin’ meeting to hear those Consumer Watchdog whiners.

Instead, we skipped the meeting, and were we smart!  We told a girl to go as our representative.  We knew those people would badmouth us, but not a girl.  What – and risk making her cry?

So the girl – Catherine Reheis-Boyd, or something like that – she’s the president of the Western States Petroleum Association.  At the meeting she said…

“The factors that determine gasoline and diesel market cost are complicated.  In-state production is artificially limited by government policy and local and state policy is causing for production of fuel to fall faster than production.”

Talk about baffling with your bullshit! 

Some other whiners complained about how California’s average statewide price for a gallon of gas was nearly $5 on Tuesday, about $1.48 more than the national average. 

Tuesday, schmoozday!

Everything costs more in California, dummy!  It’s called “The Sun Tax!” 

And in case you don’t know what that means, it means everything costs more in California, dummy!

And if you don’t want to pay the Sun Tax, move to North Dakota – no Sun Tax there!

And Governor Newsom – don’t get us started on him

On the same day as the meeting, Newsom called a special session of the Legislature for this coming Monday, December 5, to “pass a price-gouging penalty on oil companies that choose to rake in excessive profits at the expense of Californians.”

We’re not worried – it’ll be business as usual at that special session…

Finally, in keeping with the holiday season, we’ll wrap this up with our warmest thanks for a great 2022. 

We look forward to gouging providing you with all the gasoline you want in 2023!