Monthly Archives: September 2018

“The Hunger Games” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” come to life


On August 9, 1974, when Nixon resigned the presidency of the United States, I watched the peaceful transition of power from Nixon to Ford. Of course, they were of the same political parties, so peaceful was expected, notwithstanding the Watergate mess and Ford’s pardon of Nixon.

After each presidential election where the new president was of a different political party than the preceding president, I watched a peaceful transition of power, even when it was pretty obvious that the two people pretty much disliked each other. Something about the rule of law….

Whenever a presidential administration moves to far in either direction, left or right, the midterm election usually offers a correction – Clinton in 1994 with gays in the military, Bush in 2002 with weapons of mass destruction, and Obama in 2010 with health insurance.

I’m predicting an explosive correction on November 6, 2018, led by

  • women watching the Kavanaugh confirmation;
  • the young who have experienced mass death and destruction at their schools, movie theaters, and concerts;
  • minorities of all types, including LGBTQ like me;
  • and middle class (is there still a middle class?) people who have lost their health insurance due to actions of the current president (I call him Twitler because, to me, he is an incarnation of Hitler using Twitter as his main means of dividing the populace), lost their livelihood or a significant portion of it due to Twitler’s trade wars.
  • Sure, there will be Republicans (hereafter, “Regressives”) who win, but they will be in areas that have a supermajority of Regressive supporters. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that even in those areas, the spread will be much lower than usual, and you might even see some moderate Democrats or Independents elected in those areas where the lack of health insurance and income has hit particularly hard.

In today’s world, watching Twitler and his core supporters leads me to believe that there will be no peaceful transition of power this time. They don’t seem to care about anything Twitler does, as long as the blame is placed squarely on Democrats, women, non-Christians, immigrants, blacks, gays, and anyone else who is not straight, white, and Christian. They are violent, as seen in Charlottesville a year ago. They are violent as seen in mass shootings where the shooter always seems to be a “church-going Christian.”

The period between 2018 and 2020 will decide on whether or not there is a peaceful transition of power when Twitler is removed from office in 2020, possibly earlier through impeachment. I really think that Twitler and his ilk will not give up power through peaceful election results. I think there is going to be a Civil War, or at least a very bloody period to rival any war in our past history.

With the Twitler wannabe in Ontario, Canada; Putin and his social media army; and ultra right-wing regressives throughout the world finding a core group of people who hate everyone else, I think we are seeing “The Hunger Games” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” come to life.

With that depressing dissertation, I leave you with cats to help with the depression that I have caused. Starting and ending with, of course, Zoey the Cool Cat; all the other pictures are of cats at Friends of Cats where I volunteer for 1½ hours each day, Sunday through Thursday.

Zoey the Cool Cat welcoming me home
after I had been gone for three hours.
“Welcome home! Now rub my tummy!”
Zoey the Cool Cat

This little one crawled up on my lap, put his head on my chest,
rested his paws on my chest, and stayed that way for 20 minutes.
Friends of Cats

I love pictures of animals with their mouths wide open
because then I can anthropomorphize them.
Friends of Cats

What can be better than being welcomed by a black cat on a white pedestal?
Friends of Cats

One of the office cats, this one ready to answer the phone.
Friends of Cats

Cat yoga.
Friends of Cats

This little one is blind, yet still finds a box.
Friends of Cats

This little gal is in hospice care. She has scratched her neck so badly
that it is raw and bloody. She loves to be petted but it’s difficult to do
because of her condition. Poor little girl.
Friends of Cats

More cat yoga.
When you’re good enough, you can reach out and touch,
uh, Russel’s shoe!
Friends of Cats

Coco welcomes me to her house each day.
Friends of Cats

Anyone know what breed this cat is?
Friends of Cats

I often get up with sunrise intent on going outside and work in my gardens.
Sometimes, Zoey the Cool Cat has blocked my exit, forcing me to call
emergency personnel to rescue me. The only good thing is that I get to
go back to bed while waiting on first responders to arrive. And don’t tell me that I can get out through the windows. They are locked!
Zoey the Cool Cat

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post


Sending thoughts and prayers….

I live in my own little world

I almost feel bad today.

I went to Walmart at 6:00 this morning to get some cat litter for Zoey the Cool Cat. When I checked out, the machine asked me if I wanted to donate to disaster relief. For the first time in my life, I said no.

The only disaster that everyone is collecting for is Hurricane Florence and the floods.

Well, Twitler has shown me that I need to look out for myself because he’s trying to destroy people like me, as well as other people typically called “minorities, people of color, women, etc.”

Since red states like North Carolina already get way more money from the government than they contribute, money which comes from blue states like California, where I live, I just decided to keep my money, especially since my tax burden under the Twitler tax giveaway to the rich is going to increase significantly for 2018.

Good luck over there on the East Coast. Sending thoughts and prayers…..

(Yeah, I’m cynical under Dictator Twitler and his regime.)

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post


Maybe some day mine will be B&B

Gardening logo

When I left College Station TX on April 15, 1993, intent on never returning to Texas, I left behind my three prized plants: a Norfolk Island Pine, a Schefflera, and a Pony Tail Palm.

All three had been with me since 1966, and all three were about 3 feet tall. I was so proud of them.

When I settled in San Diego on April 27, I noticed that Norfolk Island Pines (called Star Pines here) grew to 30 or 40 feet; Scheffleras grew to 20 or 25 feet, and bloomed!—and Pony Tail Palms grew to 15 to 20 feet, and also bloomed!

Pony Tail Palm

Zoey the Cool Cat enjoying her catioAt our new home in the East San Diego County boondocks, I have a Schefflera, but it froze when we had two consecutive days of 28°F in February. It recovered, but then it almost died of heat stroke when we had a couple of weeks of 100°F daily temperatures, including 118°F on Zoey the Cool Cat’s shaded catio.

Today I planted in the ground a Pony Tail Palm which is 3 feet tall. This one has multiple branches on it, which I really like. I have never had one with multiple branches before because they are much more expensive the bigger they get and the more branches they have.

Pony Tail Palm

Maybe some day mine will be B&B (big and blooming).

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Let sleeping cats lie


The first time I ever got scratched by a cat was in 1966 when I saw one sleeping in the alley by our trash cans in Kingsville TX.

I went to pet it.


My wise old grandmother told me as she poured hydrogen peroxide on the wounds:

“Let sleeping cats lie.”

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

Let sleeping cats lie

All pictures by Russel Ray Photos at Friends of Cats sanctuary in El Cajon, California.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

One of them might be unique

Railroads & Trains logo

Whenever I go out I’m always on the lookout for trains. When I was over in Palm Springs on August 21 with the Pacific Photographic Society, our bus came home via the Salton Sea. I have a few billion pictures of the Salton Sea but across from where our bus stopped, I saw this:

CSX 7679

Union Pacific enginesYou might say, “Meh. A train engine.” and that would be true in a sense. However, to train fanatics like me, it’s interesting. It was the fifth engine on that freight train, trailing four Union Pacific engines. What makes this interesting is that Union Pacific is the largest railroad in the nation, operating 32,000 miles of track, and this was deep into Union Pacific territory. Here is a map of the Union Pacific rail network:

Union Pacific Railroad network

CSX Transportation is the nation’s second largest railroad, operating 21,000 miles of track. Here is a map of its rail network:

CSX Transportation

Notice that it is a pretty good distance from the CSX tracks on the East Coast to Palm Springs, California, on the West Coast.

Although not unheard of, it is somewhat unusual for an engine from one railroad to be found on the tracks of another railroad. If such occurs, it often means that the competitor’s engine has been borrowed short-term or perhaps leased for a extended period.

There are various web sites where we train nuts can track the movement of train engines, and when I went there, I found that CSX 7679 had been built in May 1991 by General Electric. It is GE model C40-8W. You didn’t know train engines had model numbers and years, did you?

The first picture that shows up anywhere is from January 1, 1995, when it was in Huntington, West Virginia. It was seen in Fort Worth, Texas, on February 3, 2006, and then, six months later, back on the East Coast, in Selkirk, New York. It stayed on CSX tracks through June 1, 2017, when it was seen in Hamilton, Ohio. Thence, it disappeared until showing up in Norden, California (a southern suburb of Palm Springs) on February 12, 2018. My picture also was taken in Norden, but on August 21, 2018, pretty much indicating that CSX 7679 is on a long-term lease to the Union Pacific.

Next time you’re waiting for a train, check out those engines. One of them might be unique.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Book Review—Deadly Times

Book Review

My wise old grandmother always told me that “those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it.” She also told me that “history is written by the victors.”

I have always loved history, so much so that as late as a graduating senior in high school I thought I wanted to be a history teacher. Then, after doing research and discovering that (1) teachers in Texas didn’t make enough money to get me out of the poor household that I was in, and (2) if I wanted to make enough money and be a history teacher, I probably would have to go to college and get a bachelor, master, and doctorate degree.







It wasn’t until the last decade or so that I came to agree firmly with what my wise old grandmother said as I watched the Texas State Board of Education remove any mention in their textbooks of history events like the KKK and Jim Crow laws. According to the social studies textbook, “United States Goverment,” Brown v. Board of Education only happened because sometimes “the buildings, buses, and teachers for the all-black schools were lower in quality.”

Deadly TimesWhen I was at the public library a few weeks ago, there on the New Books display was one titled “Deadly Times—The 1910 Bombing of the Los Angeles Times and America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror” by Lee Irwin.

Since I live just 100 miles south of Los Angeles, the title intrigued me. With 55+ years of history reading and research under my pillow, I had never heard of this bombing, and certainly not “America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror.” Nothing about it in my Texas high school and college history books….

After reading the dust jacket, I checked out the book.

Between 1907 and 1911, there were more than 200 bombings carried out in the United States, East Coast, West Coast, and everywhere in between. It was the longest period of sustained terrorism in the nation’s history. The bombings were carried out by Union men against non-Union companies.

Although labor unions can be traced back to 1349 in England with the Ordinance of Labourers, the first effective nationwide labor organization in the United States was the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor, founded in December 1869. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions began in 1881 and eventually morphed into the American Federation of Labor.

When reading Deadly Times, it is important to know—the book does not tell you directly—that Democrats in 1910 were pro-big business and against the working man. Republicans were mostly pro-working man, pro-union, anti-big business, anti-rich. Exactly the opposite of what the two parties stand for in today’s United States. In 1910, many newspapers actually WERE foes of the working class. Perhaps this is the time that the current U.S. President wants to take America back to.

Los Angeles Times building after being destroyed by a bomb in 1910In 1910, the Los Angeles Times was an open shop business, and the owner, General Harrison Gray Otis (1837-1917) was so anti-union that he proposed making unions, strikes, and picketing illegal in San Francisco (a pro-union city, and the largest city in California at the time) and Los Angeles. General Gray’s proposal ultimately made the Los Angeles Times building a prime target, and early in the morning of October 1, 1910, a bomb exploded and killed 21 people (some accounts say 20; some accounts say that the number is not known because of the carnage the bombs created).

Lee Irwin’s research creates a fascinating story of the bombing, the search to identify and catch the bombers, a nation polarized by labor issues and the bombings, and the trials that ensued. The search for the bombers was conducted by William J. Burns (1861-1932), known as “America’s Sherlock Holmes,” and his William J. Burns International Detective Agency, acquired in August 2000 by Securitas AB of Sweden.

In April 1911, Burns, along with Los Angeles and Chicago police, arrested brothers John J. McNamara (1876-1941) and James B. McNamara (1882-1941). Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), eventually to become famous for defending John T. Scopes (1900-1970) in 1925 in the “Scopes Monkey Trial,” was hired by the labor unions to defend the McNamara brothers.

Before the case could go to trial, a plea bargain was reached in which both brothers would plead guilty. John, admitted to placing the bomb at the Los Angeles Times building, would serve life in prison. J.B. would serve 10 years albeit for a different bombing; the judge would modify the plea bargain so that J.B. would serve 15 years in prison. Interestingly, the plea bargain was first mentioned at the home of E.W. Scripps, a name well known here San Diego County where we have the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Scripps Health, Scripps Research, Scripps Ranch housing subdivision, and more.

The Los Angeles Times trial ruined Clarence Darrow who himself was indicted and tried, twice, for attempting to bribe jurors. His first trial, a state trial where Darrow was defended by Earl Rogers, (1869-1922) ended in acquittal. The second trial, a federal trial, resulted in a hung jury. A plea bargain, in which Darrow agreed to leave California and never come back, was reached in order to avoid a third trial.

Darrow left public life for many years, returning in 1924 to defend Nathan Leopold Jr. (1904-1971) and Richard Loeb (1905-1936), teenage sons of two wealthy Chicago families, accused of kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks for the thrill of it (resulting in the term “thrill kill”). A year later was the Scopes Monkey Trial.

I have always been fascinated by people killing people, under the guise of religion, social progress, thrill, or whatever, and this book certainly brought to my attention lots of events where people killed people that I had not been aware of. I now have several other books, autobiographies and biographies, on my reading list.

Considering where the current U.S. President and his ilk are taking the nation, I would not be surprised if the common laborer ultimately rises up, perhaps again resorting to death and destruction….

More interesting facts I learned from “Deadly Times” and subsequent research:

  1. Ossian Sweet (1895-1960) trial. In September 1925, a white mob in Detroit tried to drive a black family out of the home they had purchased in a white neighborhood. During the melee, a white man was killed. The eleven black men in the house all were arrested and charged with murder. Darrow’s closing argument to the all-white jury:
    “I insist that there is nothing but prejudice in this case; that if it was reversed and eleven white men had shot and killed a black man while protecting their home and their lives against a mob of blacks, nobody would have dreamed of having them indicted. They would have been given medals instead….”
    The first trial of all 11 defendants was a mistrial.
    The second trial involved Henry Sweet, Ossian’s brother, who had admitted firing the shot. Henry was found not guilty on grounds of self-defense. All charges were dropped against the other ten.
    Darrow’s closing statement, lasting over seven hours, is considered a landmark in Civil Rights history and is included in the book, “Speeches that Changed the World.”
  2. The book, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle, a professor of history at Ohio State University, is about the Sweet trials. It became a bestseller, won the National Book Award for non-fiction, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It also is on my reading list now.
  3. The judge overseeing the Sweet Trials was a young Frank Murphy (1890-1949) who would go on to serve as the last Governor General of the Phillippine Islands, Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, and as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. The court building in Detroit is the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
  4. The television show “Perry Mason” is based on the life of Earl Rogers (1869-1922).
  5. Los Angeles Times bombing memorial in Hollywood Forever CemeteryThere is a memorial in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery honoring 20 people killed in the Los Angeles Times bombing. General Otis also is interred at the Cemetery. It has 20 names on it, not 21.
  6. The labor movement in Los Angeles crashed after the guilty pleas of the McNamara brothers, languishing until the 1950s.
  7. Samuel GompersThe head of the American Federal of Labor at the time, Samuel Gompers, who approved tens of thousands of dollars of Union money to defend the McNamara brothers, was honored by the United States Post Office on a 3¢ postage stamp issued on January 27, 1950.
  8. The kidnapping and murder of Bobby Franks was the basis for Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 play “Rope” as well as Alfred Hitchcock“s 1948 movie of the same name. Other film, theatre, and fiction works based on Bobby Franks include Meyer Levin’s 1956 novel Compulsion and the 1959 film adaptation; Nothing but the Night by James Yaffe; Little Brother Fate by Mary-Carter Roberts; Never the Sinner, a 1988 play by John Logan, which included an explicit portrayal of Leopold and Loeb’s gay relationship; Native Son by Richard Wright; Swoon, a 1992 film by Tom Kalin; Funny Games, a 1997 Austrian film by Michael Haneke, and its 2008 remake; R.S.V.P., a 2002 black comedy film; Murder by Numbers by Barbet Schroeder; and Stephen Dolginoff’s 2005 Off Broadway musical (muscial? really?) Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story.
  9. Leopold’s autobiography, Life Plus 99 Years, published in 1958, is on my reading list now.
  10. In 1959, Leopold sued to block production of the film version of Compulsion on the grounds that Levin’s book invaded his privacy, profited from his life story, and defamed him. Eventually the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against him, stating that Leopold, as the confessed perpetrator of the “crime of the century,” could not reasonably demonstrate that any book had injured his reputation.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post