Today’s Politics — The Musical Ass

The Musical Ass

— by Tomas de Iriarte y Oropesa

The fable which I now present,
Occurred to me by accident:
And whether bad or excellent,
Is merely so by accident.

A stupid ass this morning went
Into a field by accident:
And cropped his food, and was content,
Until he spied by accident
A flute, which some oblivious gent
Had left behind by accident;
When, sniffling it with eager scent,
He breathed on it by accident,
And made the hollow instrument
Emit a sound by accident.
“Hurrah, hurrah!” exclaimed the brute,
“How cleverly I play the flute!”

A fool, in spite of nature’s bent,
May shine for once, by accident.

The above at least partly expresses my views on today’s politicians.

And I wonder if I am the only one who sees a comparison between our current leader and one from Asimov’s Foundation novels.

Fraud, Scams and Oops! A Friday Morning in January

Fraud? Scam? or merely Oops?

Yesterday I received an email from Citizens One Personal Loans telling me that I had taken out a loan to purchase an iPhone X and my first payment of $49.91 was due on 1/8/18.


No, I haven’t purchased an iPhone X.

No, I had neither obtained nor attempted to obtain such a loan from Citizens Bank.

Bogus email: Rule #1 — Don’t click on any of the email links.

Okay, so how do figure out what’s up with this email?

Forward the email to Apple: [email protected] — with appropriate comments.

Look up Citizens Bank on Google. Hmmmmm . . . looks like a legitimate business.

Call the number I get from the Google search.

Well, I spent some 40+ minutes speaking with three people (two of the seemingly competent and understanding of my situation) and being on hold before being told that: yes, there was a real loan with the account number and payment that was on my email; no, I was not the person who had obtained the loan and was not obligated to pay it (as though I was going to); no, it did not appear to be a matter of fraud but of an error in the email address; yes, Citizens Bank was going to contact the account owner by means other than email and (attempt to) clear up the situation.

Cleared up? Hope so — Oooo – Rah!

Other Thoughts

Barcelona is paying Liverpool $192,000,000 (£142,000,000) for Philippe Coutinho.

Raiders are paying Jon Gruden $100,000,000 over the span of a 10-year contract.

What is Nick Saban going to get on his next contract if Alabama wins on Monday?

Alabama state minimum wage/Federal minimum wage = $7.25 / hour

The Trump Administration and its supporters appear to be tearing themselves apart. It seems as though there is no loyalty to each other nor to President Trump himself. And, Mr. Trump appears to reciprocate this loyalty, or lack thereof.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


Amazon delivered my copy of Lee and Miller’s Neogenesis on Tuesday — finished it Friday — Thumbs Up.

Stopped by the Huntington Beach Public Library on Thursday and found a copy of Sue Grafton’s last novel: Y is for Yesterday. Read the first four chapters while on the exercise bike this morning. It’s a bittersweet reading experience — for the alphabet ends with Y.

Cat Food — Feeding Mist & Smoke

Cat Food — Which to Pick?

Merlin and Magic
Merlin and Magic

Mist and Smoke are now about four and a half years old and, knock on wood, are in good health. Magic and Merlin — Di’s “Burmese boys” — lived to be 18 and 15, respectively, and passed away some ten days apart.

Not being raised a cat person, I purchased what ever food Di wanted or was on sale and didn’t pay particular attention to what was in it or how it was rated. If the cats liked it, I kept buying it. Magic and Merlin did quite well on the regimen of Iams, Nutro, Friskies, Science Diet and Royal Canin. Their diet consisted of wet foods at breakfast and dinner with dry food available 24/7.

With Mist and Smoke, however, I’ve taken a different tack. Di’s inability to shop on her own and my retirement give me both the responsibility for the purchase of cat food and the time to research both brands and individual products.

I’ve continued to feed Mist and Smoke both wet and dry food. Breakfast is at 7 am and dinner is served at 6 pm.

Dry Cat Food

After four years testing what they like and what I’ve researched, I currently feed a combination of Wellness Core, Open Farm and Science Diet Indoor.

Like people, cats have individual likes and dislikes. While cruciferous vegetables and kale might be good for me, I cannot stomach them and just the smell of some of them cooking nauseates me.

Neither cat likes Acana or Orijen, but both happily munch the Science Diet, which I consider to be much less healthy.

So, I’ve settled on feeding the cats with a mixed diet.

I have a large plastic box and periodically pour in a half dozen cups of the Wellness and Science Diet and three cups of the Open Farm. Then, I mix these together and dispense into their bowl when necessary. They “cherry pick” the Science Diet but also eat the rest of the mixture without demure.

I occasionally get coupons for other foods and, after checking the ingredient list to exclude those with wheat and/or corn, may add one to the mix to see how they like it. (Recently got a coupon for a “Free” 4-lb bag of Fussie Cat and got it for the cost of the sales tax. They ate it but didn’t prefer it over the others.) The same goes for samples occasionally given out at our neighborhood pet shops.

Wet Cat Food

Just like our previous cats, we feed Mist and Smoke wet (canned) food twice a day. I give them each about an ounce and a half in the morning and again at night. Brother Smoke, who is a couple of pounds heavier than his sister, would like more, but Mist often leaves a bite or three in her bowl.

Smoke and Mist asleep on Joe's lap.
Smoke and Mist asleep on Joe’s lap with Smoke using his sister as a pillow.

Smoke happily gobbles up Mist’s leavings when I don’t pick up her bowl in time, but he tends to throw up the meal when he eats more than his share. I also put away the dry food bowl. About two hours after the meal, I put out the left over wet food, which has been sitting in the fridge, and the dry food bowl from its drawer. Smoke usually eats the left over wet food right away and Mist has a few nibbles at the dry food.

Smoke will eat wet food that has been open and stored in the fridge, but Mist won’t. Neither cares for food warmed in the microwave for a few seconds. Therefore, I purchase most of the wet food in the the smaller 2.8 – 3.0 ounce cans. Yes, it’s more expensive, but the cats eat it and none goes to waste.

Currently, their wet food mix consists of: Wellness Morsels Tuna Entree, Wellness Sliced Salmon Entree, Wellness Signature Selects Skipjack Tuna & Wild Salmon Entrée in Broth and Wellness Signature Selects Skipjack Tuna & Shrimp Entrée in Broth.

Neither cat likes any of the patés I’ve tried; so, most of their food is sliced, flaked, cubed, morsels, etc.

They also prefer seafood to chicken, beef and other meats. Smoke will eat some of them but Mist just sniffs and turns away to “bury” her bowl.

I purchased some individual Tiki Cat cans a couple of weeks ago and three of the tuna versions were approved; they are on my next Chewy order. Neither of the cats would deign to even sample the Weruva cans I purchased at the same time I got the Tiki Cats, so they are off all future lists.

As I was about out of wet food and the next Chewy order isn’t due until the end of this week, I bought some cans of Blue Healthy Gourmet at Target the other day. The Flaked Tuna Entrée was quite favorably received this morning by both Smoke and Mist and the others will be sampled over the next couple of days.

Conclusions and “Advice”

I don’t know that there is any one food which will satisfy any cat’s needs or wants over its entire life. Likes, dislikes and needs change with experience and age for our feline family members just as ours do.

I believe that feeding our cats both what they really enjoy (even if it is the feline equivalent of ice cream or french fries) and what they like a little bit or merely tolerate (albeit what I think is higher quality food) will keep them in good health for a long feline lifetime. And, I’ll keep on trying out new/different foods to add into the mix.

If you need “advice” on what to feed your cat(s), go to several different sources. Try your cat’s vet — although, s/he may steer you to what the clinic stocks and sells. Pet shops and markets may stock many foods but be aware that some may be more profitable to them than others; this may influence what they try to sell you. Ask your friends; ask your Facebook friends and groups.

Also, check the Internet. Type: cat food ratings into your search engine and you’ll end up with millions of results — many, unfortunately, will be biased; so, check them out carefully.

I like CatFoodDB (Cat Food DataBase) and read several others.

Read the reviews of the foods on Amazon and Chewy — some of them have got to be legit.

And, don’t be afraid of buying a dozen or three different cans of food from a store’s shelves, your cats may like them. If they don’t like a particular brand you bought several of, give them away. Your next door neighbor’s cat may like them and a local shelter or rescue group will love them.


Yes, I know the Science Diet contains wheat and corn, but the cats love it. I had fish for dinner last night and “chips” and plenty of tartar sauce to go with. I will survive and so will they.

Thoughts on a Sunday in this Christmas Season

It’s Christmas time in SoCal. The temperature is in the low 70s; the sun is shining and the Santa Anas are blowing (Di, with English sinuses, has the humidifier on). And, quite unfortunately, the Thomas Fire (260,000+ acres) is still burning.

In little over a month we have two birthdays, Christmas and our anniversary (30th) to celebrate. This year the gifts are practical, well, with one exception and already purchased.

We spend most of our time at home. Di’s peripheral neuropathy and Parkinson’s negate a great deal of what we wanted to do when we retired. Golf and walks along the beach are out of the question; even going to the bathroom is difficult (and impossible without her walker/rollator).

Sunroom Interior South and West
South and West

She spends 90%+ of her time in the sunroom we had built on our old patio foundation. She smokes and refuses to do so in the rest of the house.


I upgraded our WiFi so there are no longer any reception problems in the sunroom. There are fans, a heater and a humidifier as well as a TV, BD/DVD, cable box, Apple TV and an Amazon Firestick.

Christmas, Birthday and Anniversary for Di

So, gift number one: a universal remote (that is not too complicated). And, she likes it. Four remotes replaced by one.

Gift number two: she likes music and I have all of our music stored on the computer: some 19,000+ songs and tunes. All of these are playable through the Apple TV but the TV’s built-in sound ain’t great and there isn’t enough room to put in a sound system like we (I) have in the main house. So, I looked around and went listening and finally settled on a soundbar and sub-woofer. It arrives this week — update after I’ve got it up and working.

Gift number three: surgery. Di, courtesy of her father’s DNA, has some extra skin around her eyes and eyelids. She is having surgery this week to get rid of the extra skin which will allow her to both look and see better.

Christmas, Birthday and Anniversary for Joe

My Gifts? Well, I’ve re-done the sound system in the living room. Two new floor speakers with built-in sub-woofers and a new amp/receiver. And, to say it sounds great, is an understatement.

Next month I’m going to have a dental implant installed in the lower left of my jaw to replace a cracked tooth removed three or four years ago. In four-to-six months, after the area has healed, I’ll have a new tooth placed thereon and again be able to chew on my left side. (I was going to do this way back when but Di’s forced retirement and time needed to care for her got in the way.)

And, sometime in the next couple of weeks while we’re out, we’ll stop by Total Wine and I’ll get to choose some whisky/whiskey. Di says price doesn’t matter, but I’m too practical to have her purchase something “too” expensive. As usual, I’ll look for a couple of somethings I’ve never before had to drink and have her get those for me — and, maybe, a bottle of good and dependable Old No. 7.

No, we may not have many gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning and what we have may not seem romantic, but . . .

Aren’t gifts supposed to make both the giver and the receiver happy?

I’ve seen too many gifts given that reflect the wishes, needs and wants of the giver rather than those of the receiver. This year all of our gifts will be “things” we want.

And, in this turbulent and uncertain world, we still have each other — which may be the best gift of all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. May you have a joyous holiday season — whichever holiday you celebrate.

Drug Prices — Predatory Pricing: at their mercy

Drug Prices

Just about all of us have to take drugs, at least, occasionally. Some of these are legal and others are not so. Some are prescription and others are over-the-counter (OTC). Some most of us don’t consider drugs like tobacco products, coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages.

Drugs are expensive, both in terms of monetary cost and the cost to our bodies and psyches.

Although my wife and I have good health insurance, which comes through her former employer, we still have to pay for these drugs.

Health insurance costs money. My wife’s former employer deducts her costs directly from her retirement check each month the same way Medicare deducts my premium from my retirement check each month. This happens the same way the federal and state governments withhold our income tax payments from our checks — just as if we were still employed.

Drugs for an instance

Drug pricing is an arcane science (i.e.: it is impossible for a reasonable person to figure out) and prices of individual drugs seem to bear no relationship to dosage or where they are on the government schedules.

  1. Qty: 30 Cash payment: $35.99 — Insurance copay: $10.00
  2. Qty: 150 Cash payment: $87.69 — Insurance copay: $20.93
  3. Qty: 90 Cash payment: $87.69 — Insurance copay: $10.00
  4. Qty: 60 Cash payment: $378.69 — Insurance copay: $25.00
  5. Qty: 60 Cash payment: $46.99 — Insurance copay: $6.93
  6. Qty: 30 Cash payment: $37.99 — Insurance copay: $14.49
  7. Qty: 30 Cash payment: $33.69 — Insurance copay: $10.00
  8. Qty: 28 Cash payment: $222.69 — Insurance copay: $50.00
  9. Qty: 30 Cash payment: $17.69 — Insurance copay: $1.51

Prescription mouthwash:

  1. Cash payment: $14.99 — Insurance copay: $6.58 (If we buy this directly from the dentist, the cost is $15 — not a bargain.)

Dental mouth paste:

  1. Cash payment: $84.99 — Insurance copay: $10.00

The Insurance copays come into effect after we’ve met minimums at the beginning of each year.

Numbers 1 – 10 above repeat each month and #11 was, hopefully, a one-time thing for me.

If we had to pay cash for the drugs we need each month, we’d have to pay about $960/month or over $11,000/year. OUCH!

As it is our totals come to about $150/month and about $1,800/year.

Quite a difference, huh?

I know some people whose drug expenses are in the high four digits/month and may even go into the five digits /month category.

What do people who cannot afford their drugs do?

Go without and die? Something needs to be done about these costs.

What to do

As individuals there is little we can do. If we choose not to pay — the drug companies choose not to give us their drugs. Not a good option.

Think the drug companies will lower their prices or adjust prices to a patient’s need and income? Yeah, right — I think I can hear their laughter from here.

We need to pressure our elected representatives to rein in drug prices dictated by these predatory entities. If our elected representatives refuse and continue to take money from these predators, we need to elect others who will.

The rich 1% of our population votes not for ideology, but for self-interest — witness the current tax reform bills before Congress. These bills are not tax reform but another massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1% and, via another trillion — or more — dollars in deficits, a continuing transfer of debt to our children and grandchildren.

Surely, our democracy can do better than this.

Eventually, the bottom, massive and getting poorer will rebel. The rebellion (revolution) will either occur at the ballot box or in the streets. If it occurs in the streets, the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will make sure that it is not bloodless.

We are not yet the modern equivalent to the France of 1789, but we are also no longer the United States of the Eisenhower and Reagan years.

Want to make a difference? Vote. Write. Tweet. March. But most important: VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!!!