Category Archives: Opinion

A new version of normality


I have had several foreign cars (Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) since I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. I grew up in the muscle car generation in South Texas, so if you would have told me in early 1993 that some day I would be dedicated to foreign cars, I might have gone down to my uncle’s house in Kingsville, Texas, borrowed 40 or 50 of his guns, and went-a searchin’ for ya. That’s how dedicated I had been raised to American automobiles.

I never really regretted buying foreign until I got a 2019 Honda Insight Hybrid on July 21, 2019. To read about my problems with that car, see these two previous posts:

A 5,000-mile review


The problems never got any better. With nothing to do during the pandemic except reading, watching TV/movies, gardening, and, of course, playing with Little Queen Olivia, I decided to trade the 2019 Insight Hybrid in on a 2021 Insight Hybrid . I figured that with my monthly letters to Honda concerning all of my problems, two years should be sufficient for them to get the problems fixed.

I got the 2021 car on July 9 with 63 miles on it. The 2019 was black while the 2021 is cosmic metallic blue.

2021 Honda Insight Hybrid in cosmic metallic blue

2021 Honda Insight Hybrid in cosmic metallic blue

I ended July 2020 with 317 miles on the car, not enough miles to determine if it’s going to have the same problems as the 2019 car.

However, the 2021 has a much bigger problem, in my opinion, concerning cruise control.

I bought my first car, a 1976 Chevrolet Impala, in August 1977. It had a little over 4,000 miles on it and was a test-drive car. In today’s world, there is no such thing as a test-drive car because you only get to test drive the car that you are thinking about buying. In early 1978, cruise controls were making their inroads into cars, mostly as options. I found a cruise control at Sears, bought it, and installed it. My gas mileage in the Impala with its big 400 cubic inch engine climbed from 7.7 miles per gallon to over 10 miles per gallon. I was sold! I have had cruise control in every car since then. I’m pretty addicted to it, especially in long drives.

Sadly, the cruise control in the 2021 Honda Insight Hybrid absolutely sucks.

With the 2019 car, I could use cruise control everywhere, even down to 25 miles per hour in slow rush hour traffic. Cruise control in the 2021 is completely useless unless I’m all by myself. It’s the damned “driver assist” functions, and the “necessary ones” cannot be turned off.

The problem is that driver assist has many options. The ones that cause me problems are related to cruise control, and they cannot be turned off, only modified with Honda-programmed options.

One option is when following traffic. I can set how far behind the traffic I can use cruise control before the car takes over. Even if I set the option for short, I cannot make the distance short enough to allow me to use cruise control at slower speeds in rush hour traffic.

Another option is to set the width of the area that the car monitors for traffic. It has normal, narrow, and wide options. Definitely do not set it for wide. It looks at the whole freeway and won’t let cruise control work if there’s another car within a hundred miles of me. Narrow works best, but if another car pulls in front of me, my car slams on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes in anything other than an emergency can be dangerous, especially on the highway with traffic doing California highway speeds.

An additional problem is that the car does not understand what a curve is. I can be on cruise control on a straight stretch with cars in lanes to both sides of me. As soon as I begin to go around a curve, the car thinks I’ll be going straight and that the cars in the lanes to both sides of me now suddenly are in my lane. Once again, the car slams on the brakes.

The 2021 Honda Insight Hybrid is so dangerous on cruise control that I have decided not to use it unless I’m pretty much the only one on the highway. I’d be willing to bet that all Honda cars with cruise control have the same problem, but I can only speak for my car. Perhaps I have another lemon like my 2019 car.

I was hoping that this car might be my last car purchase but now I’m thinking that I’ll only have it for one to two years, especially if the pandemic ends or we get a viable vaccine and I get to go cruising out in the wide open again. I won’t be able to drive long distances without cruise control, like to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tucson, and Atlanta, where the cactus & succulent clubs want me to do presentations on Nature’s Geometry: Succulents once things return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normality.

I’m actually thinking that there’s going to be a new version of normality.

Die for the Dow


For the first time in my life, I’m actually afraid of the future because I’m too old to be of much help in doing anything about it.

Many Republican leaders are telling me that I’m a burden on the system.
I should be willing to die for the economy.
Die for the Dow, baby, die for the Dow.

I believe that the Twitler Crime Family Administration and its enablers and supporters have done so much damage to the U.S.A. and its standing in the world that the country will not recover for several generations and many decades.

Our allies will be cautious in dealing with us because, well, if it can happen once, it can happen again. Sure, Democrats can reverse the damage, but as history shows us, if any party goes too far in one direction, the opposing party ultimately takes over.

I believe the Democrats are headed for a landslide victory up and down the ballot, as evidenced in Wisconsin last week. And I believe they will restore the CDC, funding to WHO, the EPA, and all the other damage done. But then I believe they will go too far left, too fast, and eventually the Criminal Party will take over again. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

The system is broken, but the system benefits the rich, and to go into politics, you have to be rich or know how to become rich by getting people to give you money. The people who benefit from the system are not going to be the people who change the system.

The rich have seen that they don’t need expensive buildings to accomplish their crimes. They can let everyone work at home, so their employees are on the hook for office space rent, utilities, etc. In fact, it would be better if employees did not come in to an office because then all the criminal activities would not be seen by anyone except the criminals.

Words matter


My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother never finished first grade. Her father had died, and she had to hit the fields to help ensure that the family had crop to harvest and sell. I find that amazing considering all that I learned from her.

One day when I was 11, I had a conversation with her that went something like this:

Me: Can I go over to Jim’s house?
Her: I don’t know. Can you?
Me: I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.
Her: Are you sick?
Me: No.
Her: Can you walk?
Me: Yes.
Her: Then I guess you can.
Me (as I turn to run out of the house): Thanks!
Her: Where are you going?
Me: Over to Jim’s.
Her: I didn’t say you could go anywhere.
Me: Yes you did!
Her: No, I did not. Sit down.

I sat.

After a 5-minute lecture on the importance of words and how words matter, and the difference between Can I? and May I?, I asked her, May I go over to Jim’s house? She answered, Yes, you may.

I bring this up because 54 years later, I still believe in the importance of words, that words matter.

Yesterday on Facebook I posted a link to an article titled,

Your Homophobia Isn’t A ‘Difference Of Opinion,’ It’s Hate.
Don’t tell me, a gay man, just to accept that some people want me dead.

Here is the conversation:

Person 1: I would say more ignorance than hate. These things are often passed on from parents. And they have not been exposed to the beauty there is in all types of people – gender, race, or sexual preference. And, that is sad.

Me: Or sexual orientation. “Preference” indicates a choice. Words matter.

Person 1: Whatever, you know what I mean, Russel. Everyone has beauty and importance them. It is time that people realized it.

Me: I cannot agree with “whatever.” My life is important to me, and when people like Mike Pence want to kill me because of my “choice” and “preference,” well, words matter.

Person 2: Person 1, big difference between preference and orientation. I get the feeling that you don’t understand the difference (e.g, “whatever”).

Person 3: It’s definitely ignorant but it is also hate. The hate is the dangerous part that is sweeping across the globe right now. The hate is the flame that Trump and his minions are throwing fuel on. It is the hate that Bolsonaro and the lumber barons and miners use as they torture and destroy the indigenous people of the rain forest. It is the same hate that Boris Johnson inflames the people with bats to beat lesbians on the streets of London. It is the same ignorance and hate that we remember on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Hate of the other: gypsy, Jew, homosexual, Catholic, neurodiverse, mentally ill, physically disabled, African, African American, South American, Native American, Mexican, Puerto Rican, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, left handed, Muslim, Iranian, Syrian – any group that the masses can be made to hate so they can be manipulated. You know what they are capable of. We have come to a time in our world where we must take a stand. Whatever is not enough.

Person 1: Russel and Person 2- of course orientation. Thanks for the correction.

I have no problem with preferences. Preference is a choice. I prefer margaritas, you prefer wine. I might not agree with their preferences but I’m not going to argue with anyone over them.

Since 1993-94, I have been estranged from thousands of relatives on both my mom’s side (Mormons) and dad’s side (Catholics). None of them could accept my “preference,” and none of them were willing to continue to love me. So we split. No problem. They prefer their religion. I don’t. But I also don’t want their preferences in my life. It’s not like pineapple on pizza, or not (NO!).

Another phrase that irritates me is “gay lifestyle.” A few years ago a Mormon relative with whom I had grown up in Kingsville, Texas, contacted me. She said she was aware of my “gay lifestyle.” Well, here’s a representation of my gay lifestyle:

I get up each day, shower, dress, eat breakfast, brush my teeth.
I feed Little Queen Olivia.
I go to work.
I take a lunch break (pizza, without pineapple!).
I go back to work.
I get off work.
I come home.
I eat supper.
I check Facebook, news, and sports.
I pay bills.
I play with Little Queen Olivia.
My husband comes home.
We kiss hello.
Husband checks Facebook, news, and sports.
We kiss goodnight.
Repeat daily.

O.M.effin.G. That’s so gay!

When I came out to all my relatives and friends in 1993-94, many asked me, “How long have you known you were gay?” and “When did you decide you were gay?” and “What made you gay?”

Well, back when I was pseudo-religious, I thought God made me gay because God made me, and the Mormon and Catholic religions taught me that God doesn’t make mistakes. Maybe making about 10% of his/her creations gay was his/her form of birth control?

If we substitute “homosexual” for “gay,” I’ve known since about the age of ten that I was homosexual. I was always more interested in the boys than the girls, and it was far more than “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls,” far more than getting cooties from the girls.

When my friends brought Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler to school, I was right there with them looking at the pictures (Ooopsy. I mean, reading the articles). However, while they were looking at the women, I was looking at the guys. Hustler was the best because it showed full frontal nudity for the guys. I was a Hustler fan, and it was easy to fool all my friends with my heterosexuality….

We were getting aroused over different things. It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It just naturally happened, and I never really questioned why it happened.

I never decided I was gay. I did decide to try not to be gay. I did that for 38 years. All it did was cause me to be a mess mentally. I’m kind of surprised that I survived, but I did.

With Twitler in the White House and his Crime Family, supporters, and enablers doing everything they can to ostracize people like me, yes, I’m going to speak out when and where I can in a forceful yet respective manner. It’s the least I can do to ensure that people like me never have to live like I did the first 38 years of my life.

Why I don’t donate money anymore—Part 2


I have spent a great deal of my life—time and money—trying to help others. It’s something that I learned from my wise old grandmother.

When my best friend showed up first day of sixth grade with a beautiful Hawaiian print shirt while I was still wearing “old” clothese from last school year, I asked my wise old grandmother if I could get some new clothes. She said,

No. There’s nothing wrong with the clothes you have.

And she was right.

I always had clothes that were clean and pressed, and if I tore a hole in the knee of my pants from playing basketball, that hole immediately got patched that night.

When the benefits check (Social Security Survivor Benefits/Railroad Survivor Benefits/Air Force Survivor Benefits) arrived the next month, we went downtown to get me a new pair of pants, and the patched ones were donated to Goodwill.

One day when I complained about not having something, she responded with a line that has been with me my whole life:

Quit complaining. There are people in this world who are worse off than you.

And there are. Not only in the world, though, but in my state, my county, my city, even my neighborhood.

St Gertrude Catholic Church in Kingsville TexasThat was in 1968, and ever since that date I have been involved in helping people, first through St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church. Then, in 1972, my junior year in high school, I joined Key Club and Student Government. That helped me expand the areas in which I could help.

Alpha Phi OmegaAfter high school, I joined Alpha Phi Omega at
Texas A&M University. When I told friends that I had joined Alpha Phi Omega, they thought it was just another fraternity, asking where the fraternity house was and when our next party was scheduled. I had to tell them that Alpha Phi Omega was a national service fraternity, not a social fraternity. They didn’t understand.

My pledge class namesake, Joseph J. Scanlon, came to my activation ceremony from Kansas City, Missouri, where he was the National Executive Director of Alpha Phi Omega. I had the opportunity to talk with him at length during the course of the weekend. He told me there was an easy way to explain the difference between a social and service fraternity: “A social fraternity spends 80% of its time partying and 20% doing service. A service fraternity spends 80% of its time doing service and 20% of its time celebrating its service (i.e., partying).”

After college, I continued as a Sectional Chairman and Regional Alumni Representative for Alpha Phi Omega. Eventually I also got involved with Kiwanis, Knight of Columbus, Lions Clubs, and Rotary. Through those organizations, I made contacts with American Cancer Society, Red Cross, American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and
Big Brothers Big Sisters.

If I had not given all of those organizations so much of my time and money, I might be a billionaire!

When I came to San Diego in April 1993, I continued to volunteer time and donate money to politicians and groups helping closeted GLBTQ people, those living with HIV/AIDS, and abused women & children who were living at safe centers hidden away from their abusers.

In the past decade I got involved with international micro loans at Kiva. However, when Kiva started supporting anti-GLBTQ organizations, I quit supporting them and looked for organizations closer to home that I could support. That was when I found I started supporting teachers, especially mathematics, science, and music teachers.

Now that I’m in my retirement years with old-age health issues, I’m donating to myself instead of to other people. As my wise old grandmother said, “If you don’t help yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else.”

With the current crime family in the White House, and his enablers in the Congress and Senate, trying desperately to take away my health insurance or, as some of them suggest, simply killing me because I’m gay, I’m looking out for #1, and that’s me.

My other issue with the current crime family is that it and its supporters and enablers are destroying the very fabric of our lives that is needed for the elderly, the sick, the homeless, the hungry. I firmly believe that their goal is to completely destroy government so that their rich friends can create for-profit companies to provide the necessary services. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her company that specializes in collecting student loans come immediately to mind.

Recently there has been a plethora of memes on Facebook showing pictures of children selling lemonade, hot chocolate, and cookies to pay off student lunch debts. I mean, is there anything more dystopian than little children entering the labor market to make money so that other children can eat? WTF is this world coming to?

School lunch debt

School lunch debt

WTF is with “student lunch debts” to begin with? Provide money to our schools, to both teachers and students. There should be no “student lunch debt”! Children need to eat. Feed them!

As much as I despise seeing children go hungry, I am not in a financial position to help them while the current criminal family is in control. I have no thoughts & prayers to offer, but I do have time to write letters to representatives—school boards, city councils, mayors, county commissioners, state and federal.

As my wise old grandmother told me, though: “When you write a letter to complain, don’t just complain. That doesn’t help. Offer a solution. It doesn’t have to be an original solution. It can be one from someone else that you agree with.” I shouldn’t have to write these letters.

Where is the compassion, the empathy, the care that once existed in this nation? It seems that too many people don’t care about anything unless they are personally affected by it. For example:

In 1978, I went to the family reunion on my mom’s side, the Mormon side. (For those who lived through the late ’70s, you might remember shortages—gas, aluminum, sugar, coffee, Kleenex & toilet paper. Probably some others that I’m forgetting.) I was 23. My youngest first cousin was 22. He already had 6 children. My oldest cousin had 14 children. I asked my oldest sister (stepsister, actually) how they could justify having so many children with so many shortages. She looked at me ever so sweetly and replied, “Well, we believe that the Lord will always provide for us.” That was the last time I saw or spoke to her.

I believe rich people are the same way except for one important difference: “We believe that our money will always provide for us.” And it probably will. Their children go to private schools, never have to worry about eating (unless they have been bad and are sent to their room without eating), have all the latest and greatest toys, including iPads, iPods, iTunes….

In the Summer of 1993, the San Diego Reader did an expose on high school graduation gifts, mostly talking with rich people. One 18-year-old got a brand new sailboat. Another graduated—barely, with a C average—and was rewarded with a brand new 1993 BMW 760, a $100,000 car at the time. Just for graduating! I guess his parents wanted to get rid of him so they gave him a fast and comfortable car that could take him away quickly. Bye, bye, son! Be sure to write!

So I am not participating in this idea of me privately taking care of the people around me. Quite often I hurt because I’m spent my whole life helping people, but I believe the government should be doing that, and I’m not going to support the government’s message because then it can say, “See! People are supporting people. We don’t need no stinking government!”

If I disagree with how the government is spending the money that I give them through payroll taxes and income tax, then I’ll write my representatives and, if necessary, vote against them in the next election.

If the current crime family wins and succeeds in destroying our government, I might have enough money so that I don’t have to depend on someone else. If the people win and succeed in getting rid of the current crime family and its enablers and supporters, thereby restoring my confidence in having health care, food, electricity, and water (all of which I believe SHOULD NOT be provided by for-profit corporations), then and only then might I resume donating my money to organizations that I support—NPR, orchestras, and libraries come immediately to mind.

Florida man pays electric bills

Why I don’t donate money anymore—Part 1


I was born and raised in Kingsville, Texas….

Deep South Texas.

A bastion of Republican citizens.

Still is.

Great Nation of TexasI was arch-conservative until 1993 when I escaped the Great Nation of Texas and, after 22 days on the road looking for a place to live in one of those 49 foreign states, wound up in San Diego.

I had been politically active since 1972, my junior year in high school. I even donated a few dollars of my allowance savings to the campaign fund for Richard Nixon. I kept volunteering time and donating money through 2002, Republican candidates through April 1993 and Democrats from 1993 to 2002.

So what happened in April 1993 and in 2002?

In April 1993, after arriving in San Diego and deciding to stay, I starting working for Democrat candidates donating money and volunteering my time to make calls and work on campaigns. I still was a registered Republican, thinking that I would try to work within the Republican system to change it. That never worked. It wasn’t until 2013 that I finally switched my registration from Republican to Democrat.

Texas A&M UniversityWhat happened in 2002 started in Spring 1976 when I was a junior at Texas A&M University.

One of my required courses was Economics 301. My professor was Dr. Phil Gramm. (Google or Wikipedia him for more detailed information than what I will provide in my measly little blog post here.) He was a tenured professor making around $75,000 per year.

Gramm resigned his tenured professorship at Texas A&M University and went into politics. He lost his first election in 1976 when he ran as a Democrat against popular U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, also a Democrat. He decided to start smaller, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, as a Democrat, being re-elected in 1980 and 1982. He was what now is called a DINO, a Democrat In Name Only. The American Conservative Union (ACU) gave Gramm a score of 89 for his first four years in office. That’s extraordinary for a Democrat. Usually the ACU score for Democrats is well below 50%, and during any year averages about 10%, with most of them getting a well-deserved score of 0%. For comparison, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, often gets a 100% rating.

Due to differences with the Democratic leadership in the House, Gramm resigned from Congress on January 5, 1983. He then ran as a Republican in the Texas special election to fill his vacated seat. He won. Gramm became the first Republican to represent the Texas 6th District since its creation in 1846.

In 1984, Gramm was elected U.S. Senator from Texas, as a Republican, and served in that position from January 3, 1985 to November 30, 2002, being re-elected twice.

When Gramm retired, newspapers throughout the world announced that he had $64 million in his campaign war chest. He got to keep that money. Did not have to turn it over to the State of Texas or the U.S. government. Did not have to return—indeed, DID NOT return—any of it to those who had donated to his campaigns throughout the years, or to his constituents as a “Thank you for your support all these years!”

One person who donated consistently to his campaigns was yours truly. I got not a single cent back. It was that $64 million that resulted in me having never ever ever contributed another cent to a political campaign. I have volunteered my time, but not a single politician at any level is getting a penny of my hard-earned cash.

You can easily see the benefits of running for election, raising lots of money, and losing. You have to lose or retire, though. Another caveat is that the money has to be for a specific campaign. If you were a Senator but ran for President (Bernie Sanders, 2016), you had a presidential campaign war chest. If you lost the presidential campaign, the money in the presidential campaign war chest is yours to keep. The money in the senatorial campaign war chest had to remain there because you still were a Senator. All you have to do to verify this is look at Sanders’ tax returns since he released them in his latest campaign for president.

If Gramm had continued as a tenured professor at Texas A&M University through age 65, his salary with no raises would have been $2,126,300. As it was, he retired from politics at age 60 with $64,000,000, an annual salary of about $150,000, and great health benefits. Now you know why even rich people (Darrell Issa, net worth over $250 million) go into politics. They don’t give a crap about you and me. They are in it for the easy money and the power that comes with money.

Yet people continue to ask how Congresspersons and Senators become millionaires on their measly six-figure salaries….

Part 2 tomorrow.

Fight organized crime

“Caught up in the moment”


I find it amazing that many people, both men AND women, are defending Thomas Callaway for slapping the butt of a female reporter during a race.


Callaway is 43, a middle-aged white man from Georgia.

He probably was raised by an old white man who thinks that women are property and that this conduct is perfectly okay.

It’s not.

If he doesn’t understand that after being on this Earth for 43 years, 22 as an adult, I’m all for him being arrested and charged with sexual battery, even if it is only a misdemeanor. The publicity compensates some for it being just a misdemeanor.

I’m wondering if the women who are defending him would be okay with this taking place anywhere else, like a grocery store, or a movie theater. It certainly sounds like they would be.

Callaway said that he was “caught up in the moment.”

I say again,


What kind of a moment allows a man to slap the butt of an unknown woman? Touching another person in this manner and participating in a race are two separate events. There is no “moment” here that is acceptable to me. There might be if they knew each other, especially if they were intimate…. boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife. But even then we know what happens when personal boundaries are not respected.

Guys need to learn to keep their hands to themselves and their dicks in their pants unless invited otherwise.

Why would they want to fix it?


In 1970, my first year in high school (grade 10, though; 7-9 was junior high), I joined Key Club, a national high school service organization. One thing that immediately struck me was that people didn’t seem to care about the hungry, the sick, women and child abuse, animal abuse. (Has anything changed?) When we went to a nursing home (now called assisted living facility), I was playing dominoes with one of my friends and two elderly women. We had a great conversation while we were playing, and something one of the women said has stayed with me all these years:

People don’t care about anything unless it affects either them personally or someone they know.

It’s a generality painted with a huge brush, but I think it’s true. In today’s world, Twitler, his supporters and enablers, the excessively rich, and the big corporations are the epitome of not caring about anything other than what will make them richer in the short term.The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson

I am reading The Andromeda Evolution, by Daniel H. Wilson and a sequel to Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain (I have an uncorrected, pre-published, advance reader’s edition, but it went on sale on November 12, 2019). I came across a very telling few paragraphs on pages 14 &15 (remember that this is a novel, so names and such are not real):

It is a well-established Achilles’ heel of human civilization that individuals are more motivated by immediate private reward than by long-term, collective future benefits. This effect is particularly evident when considering payoffs that will take longer than a generation to arrive—a phenomenon called inter-generational discounting.

The concept was formally introduced by the young French economist Floria Pavard during a poorly attended speech at the International Conference of Social Economics on October 23, 1982:

The average span of a human generation is twenty-five years. Any reward occurring beyond this generational horizon creates an imbalance that undermines long-term cooperation. In short, we as a species are motivated to betray our own descendants. In my view, the only possible solution is the institution of harsh and immediate punishments for those who would be unfaithful to the future.

It has been subsequently theorized that our species’ seeming inability to focus on long-term existential threats will inexorably lead to the destruction of our environment, overpopulation, and resource exhaustion. It is therefore not an uncommon belief among economists that this inborn deficit represents a sort of built-in timer for the self-destruction of human civilization.

Sadly, all the evidence of world history supports this theory.

Although this is fiction, as my wise old grandmother always told me, fiction often is based on reality.

The above brings to mind the current United States president, a person I call Twitler because he acts like Hitler on Twitter. Witness Twitler when he said in December 2018 that he didn’t care about a predicted explosion of the United States’ debt because, I won’t be here.

He doesn’t care about the sick, the dying, the homeless, immigrants seeking a better life, the environment, our water, our skies, the forests, the rivers, the lakes…. He cares only about himself in the short term, and that’s detrimental to everyone except those of a similar ilk: big corporations and other excessively rich people.

The system is broken, but the only ones who can fix it are those who currently benefit from it, which begs the question, Why would they want to fix it?

Movie Review—Amistad, a Steven Spielberg film


Amistad, a Steven Spielberg film starring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and Matthew McConaughey, was released in 1997. I did not know about the film until a few days ago. At first I could not believe that because I have liked every Steven Spielberg movie ever made, and Morgan Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors. However, 1997 was in the midst of what I call my lost decade, ten years in which I lost track of time, lost track of music, lost track of movies, pretty much lost track of life. So here I am, trying to catch up on everything.

Amistad is a long movie at two hours and thirty-four minutes. The subject matter, the slave trade in 1839, is not a matter to take lightly. In great Spielberg tradition, the visual effects were, well, too visual. I had to take a 24-hour break about halfway through the movie.

Movies like this one which are based on true events and show the most evil side of humanity used to leave me wondering how people could be so evil to other people, but now, with Twitler in the White House, it seems evil is not necessarily back (was it ever gone?) but certainly it is out in the open, and welcome.

Morgan Freeman got top billing but I think he wasn’t the lead in this movie. I’d have to give that position to either Djimon Honsou or Matthew McConaughey. Honsou was the leader of the captive slaves and McConaughey was the defense attorney working to get the slaves freed, a task which he ultimately was successful. A lower court ruled in favor of freeing the slaves and returning them to their home in Africa, but President Martin Van Buren appealed the lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. McConaughey sought help from a former president, John Quincy Adams, then a member of the United States House of Representatives, to argue the case in front of the Supreme Court. Anthony Hopkins played John Quincy Adams.

The acting was superb, which I figured it would be since Spielberg requires the best from the best. The ending was excellent—bravo to the British!

Overall I can highly recommend Amistad with the forewarning that there is a lot of full frontal nudity, both male and female, and a lot of cruelty that will make you cringe. Be prepared to take at least one good break during the movie.

Double R Creations & Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Facts, research, science…. meh


Texas A&M UniversityI worked for the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, and University Press at Texas A&M University from April 1, 1984, to May 15, 1987, and the Department of Chemistry, College of Science, and University Press at Stanford University from May 16, 1987 to September 30, 1987.

One of my tasks was to check facts, citations, sources, and references. I questioned everything and verified everything before any press release was released, before any newsletter was sent, and before any book was published.

Once I was satisfied about the integrity of a book, I assigned it an ISBN. In today’s world, ISBN’s can be bought for as low as $4.95. That helps self-publishers, but the whole definition of self-publisher means that no one has verified anything. That’s okay for something like a picture book, but it’s not okay for books relying on facts, research, and science.

Considering the prevalence of digital photos and photo editing software, as well as video editing software, and how those fake photos and videos spread on social media, it might not be good for picture books, either. I fear that the world is going to end as humans revert back to their evolutionary predecessors….

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

Opinion—Cast iron cooking


When I was living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville TX from December 1965 to May 1973, she forced me to do child labor, things like hanging the laundry outside, bringing the laundry in, clearing the table, cleaning the sinks and bathtubs, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the windows…….. oh, the list goes on……… that dastardly woman!

The one thing I hated the most, though, was washing and drying the dishes, especially her huge monster gigantic really really big and heavy cast iron frying pan. I promised myself that I would never have a frying pan like that.

Fortunately, Teflon came along about the same time, and I have been a Teflon fan all my life…. until last month when I bought a huge monster gigantic really really big and heavy cast iron frying pan.

I bought it because our new Samsung range that we bought in July 2017 came with a cast iron griddle. Finest thing ever for cooking pancakes and bacon. That encouraged me to think about a cast iron frying pan. They are expensive, more expensive than Zoey the Cool Cat’s prescription food.

However, while I was at my favorite outlet mall, Viejas Outlets, I went into Kitchen Collection and found a huge monster gigantic really really big and heavy cast iron frying pan for just $38. It came home with me.

Best. frying pan. ever.

Cast iron frying pan

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