Time for a Change, for a Tree Change

May 4, 2016



My wife took up a hobby last year: doll rescue.

Seems a lot of people were distressed over the image of young women being portrayed by new doll lines for young females – like the Bratz dolls.

Some think the dolls were promoting an image of… well, let’s just say it: streetwalkers.

Of course, some people don’t see it that way… to each their own.

What is interesting though is what is happening on the business side of this niche industry. And mostly on the Etsy shopping platform.

One of the most successful promoters in this market is Sonia Singh, and her business called “Tree Change Dolls”. And apparently the success has gone to her litigious bone.

Any vendor on Etsy that uses the word “tree” in their product name is shut down. Same with the word “change”. BAM! Shut down.

One store, Channeling Martha, was closed by Etsy because their keywords included “tree house” and “spare change”… Whoa! Doesn’t that just sing!? Unfortunately, that is dangerously close to “tree change”, isn’t it? (other terms others seem forbidden to use now include “repaint” & “made-under”. Sheesh! What’s next?)

Then there is another store that sold knitting patterns for doll-sweaters. She had been selling these things even before Ms. Singh came along. Apparently, since the late-coming Tree Change dolls wear knitted sweaters – and other sweaters might present something like… you know, competition… so naturally Ms. Singh had that shut down as well.

Perhaps Sonia got her break-out from forcing other shops to bend to her interpretation of the universe although perhaps this attitude only came about after she had achieved success. Perhaps this is the only method of protecting her marketshare she can think of. And it works, most certainly, the Mafia used it quite successfully in the twenties when they were running booze and guns. And if it worked so well back then, why not?

But I’m not exactly sure how long Ms. Singh is going to allow people to keep using her other favorite word: “dolls”.

I should imagine that soon anyone wanting to sell dolls on Etsy will have to use some other identifier meaning “dolls”. What it might be, I don’t know, but I am sure some creative people will… well, get creative.

Meanwhile, Etsy has become the storm-trooping arm of the Tree Change Dictatorship. (Hey, does anyone know if this lady is related to Kim Il Jong? Uh, maybe not.)

I told my wife, next time find a safer hobby, like skeet shooting in Tehran.



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Natural Acts, Public Places

March 21, 2016



[an (almost completely) imaginary scene]



An older couple sat eating at the table to our right as we were seated and given menus. We engaged in small talk after making our selections, waiting the waitress’ return.

Meanwhile, to our left, a young mother was given a seat and she propped her baby-carrier on the table. The infant seemed to be content or was sleeping quietly.

Presently, the waitress arrived and took our drink orders. We both took water.

On our left, the infant began to make some noise. The mother stood, unstrapped the baby, and sat again. Then proceeded to open her blouse, drop a cup, and begin to feed her child.

To our right, I heard a gagging noise. I turned to see the old fellow was having a hard time swallowing something. Before I could rise and offer the Heimlich, he had regained control of his faculties. He signaled the waitress over.

I thought perhaps he was going to order a large glass of water but what he asked for instead was a request that the young woman should be removed from the restaurant, either to a restroom or a private area not in full public view.

The manager got involved and she told the old fellow that she saw nothing wrong with the public display.

“It is a completely natural function, you know.”

After a moment of working his jaw, the old fellow nodded. “In that case, my dear, would you please bring me a chamber pot.”

My wife and I departed even before the water arrived. Or the chamber pot.

Nor did we know if he ordered toilet paper on the side.

Some natural functions are meant to be private.





A Weight Watching Clusterf- oops!

December 28, 2015

 

 

 

My wife has been in Weight Watchers for many years (doing quite nicely, thanks) and recently learned of the new program WW has rolled out.

 

There have been a few complaints about the new points structure and the removal of the activity points as well as reduction bonus points for the week.

 

Most egregious of all is the favorites (products, recipes, and such) each member kept on the Weight Watchers website to aid in tracking their points have been summarily erased.

 

Yes, it would seem that each person has to re-enter ALL that data again!!

 

But the problem really isn’t that great for many… really! Quite a lot of people have simply exited the program. Hey, how easy was that, huh?

 

WW isn’t too worried, however, because they know the people will be back. Yes, they’ll come crawling back and take the inexorable amount of time to re-input all their favorites, recipes, and so forth.

 

And the best part – at lest for the company – is that the stress all this has caused will create… you guessed it: weight gain!!!

 

Stress is probably the single-most major contributor to weight GAIN and Weight-Watchers has added this vital tool to their arsenal of prolonging memberships.

 

Man! The guys over in marketing are probably getting great big, FAT bonuses this year.

 

You bet!

Another Reason to Avoid Kentucky

September 2, 2015





Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis, still refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite losing two court battles to uphold her position.

She even called the local sheriff’s office to have the malcontents removed from her office after they said they would not leave without a license.

Yes, you heard that right: in Kentucky the Sheriff uses his force to uphold law-breakers.

The author of the article I read said the woman cannot be fired because she was elected.

Hmmm… Most elected officials I have seen have to take an oath on taking office to uphold the laws of the state and the nation in the conduct of their duty. Since she is obviously in violation of her “sacred” oath, her removal from office should be a no-brainer.

The clerk’s husband, Joe Davis, said she has received death threats but remains committed to her faith and is “standing for God.”

Joe Davis said he believes in the Second Amendment and is not afraid: “I’m an old redneck hillbilly, that’s all I’ve got to say. Don’t come knocking on my door.”

He pointed to the gay rights protesters and said: “They want us to accept their beliefs and their ways. But they won’t accept our beliefs and our ways.”

By “our ways”, I assume him to mean “whatever else they decide to uphold whether or not it runs counter to the laws of Kentucky and the United States.”

Anyone – except I suppose for one who is “an old redneck hillbilly” – would see this has nothing to do with “accepting their beliefs” but rather following the laws of this great nation as they have been entrusted rather than follow the opinions of some random opinion maker handed down from a pulpit somewhere.

When asked to show where in the Bible it is that God forbids same-sex marriages, these people are at a general loss. You see, it’s more of a generalized religious opinion than any hard-and-fast laws… you know, like the laws of the nation they are violating.

I wonder if someone coming in for a license to marry multiple women would find an easier course in Rowan County. All they would have to do is point out all the people in the Bible who had multiple wives.

I’m sure that would suit Ms. Davis and her trigger-happy hubby just fine.

God Bless America!

(But I will avoid that state on any future travels. Having a law enforcement agency that supports the law-breakers and having elected officials using personal beliefs rather than national laws…

Hey, is that banjo music I hear coming through the trees?

I’m outta here!)





Tebow Still Flying in Philly

September 1, 2015

(Seems I am taking the whole Monday-morning-quarterback thing to extremes. Except that it is Tuesday.)

As much fodder as the Redskins have given the pundits in the off-season, there is one story that has gotten even more attention: the never-ending (or rather, near-to-ending) saga of Deflategate, a situation created out of thin air (pun intended).

But I won’t address that on-going legal circus as I want to talk about the third-favorite item of the off-season: Tebow’s journey to become a player in the NFL… again.

I have watched all the preseason games for the Eagles and can see some good stuff going on there. As usual, Chip Kelly offenses just keep on chugging along, and quickly.

Having four QBs fighting for roster spots seems a bit of a stretch for most teams but Kelly is not your typical coach. Not even in the same ballpark.

Bradford has the #1 spot sewn up and he looks sharp. About what you’d expect for a guy who has been the starter for another team for several years now. Sanchez is adequate as a backup, I suppose, but he didn’t especially wow me. But then, I’ve watched him in other seasons before and he looks really good in preseason but tanks in real time.

And that brings us to the two fellows battling for the highly coveted 3rd string QB position. Barkley has a bunch of supporters and they make a pretty good case. We will have to wait and see what Kelly’s choice will be.

As good as many have claimed Barkley to be – sometimes even looking better than Sanchez – at other times, Tebow has looked better. Yes, Barkley (and Sanchez) have had quite a few of their throws miss the intended receivers by a wide margin.

In the passing category, it is obvious Bradford is the standout favorite.

But this isn’t just any other team in the NFL, this is Kelly’s team. One of the often used plays in their arsenal is the option play – where the QB turns to give the ball to the running back and can decide to keep it and run with it himself if the defense looks good for him to do so.

I am sure Kelly has that play in his repertoire because he wants the QBs to run on occasion. From what I have seen in the three preseason games thus far, only one QB playing for the Eagles actually uses the play. Bradford, Sanchez, and Barkley simply hand the ball off and take a couple of steps like they actually had the ball, or something.

The defenses weren’t fooled. They keyed on the runner and took him down.

The only QB for whom that play was successful was Tebow because, you know, he actually thinks of that play as an “option”… not just a chance to hand off the football.

I’m not saying those other guys are above anything like trying to actually run with the ball but… Hey, Bradford’s had injury issues, y’know, and Sanchez is… well, Sanchez, and Barkley… who knows?

Hopefully, looking at the situation in this light might make Kelly’s choice a little easier.

(Not that anyone’s listening to me, of course!)





Lies, Stabs, and Videotape

September 1, 2015

I have spoken previously of Gruden’s rather transparency – actions speak so much louder than words – and the shenanigans at Redskins Park continuing even after the Shanahanigans have gone.

A couple of weeks ago, RG3 made headlines with his quote about being the best quarterback in football.

The news mavens were all over that statement like white on rice. Many ran with it while others, more circumspect, did not take it out of the context in which it was said but complained about Robert not learning how to talk to reporters and allow such misquoting to go on. It’s Robert’s fault for all the scorn heaped on him, they claimed.

Seems like the fellow is damned if he don’t, huh? If he didn’t talk to the press they’d have a field day over that as well, claiming he was a prima dona or a Marshawn Lynch. If he speaks with a positive spin, they chide him for that. The guy can’t win.

What’s really funny, when I read the full quote, I was struck by a phrase he used a little earlier in the statement: about all the back-stabbing that goes on in the business.

A really sharp reporter – and there seem to be so few of them covering sports – would have followed up on that comment.

No one did.

Now, it seems a little too obvious what he meant.

This morning we were greeted with the news about yet “another RG3 misstep”, supposedly. An instagram by one xtramambosauce, ranting about the antics of the owner and coaches in this situation and placing the blame entirely on them. One of the persons who “liked” the post was RG3.

Very quickly the “like” was removed and RG3 had to explain that it was a media intern who had liked it, not himself.

Now why would a media intern working for the Redskins organization go out of his way to like a post knocking the owner… you know, biting the hand that feeds him?

Unless, or course, someone like the coach ordered him to do so…

Griffin did mention something about “backstabbing”.

After reading the rant, I thought why would this fellow include Snyder as one of the RG3 haters – wasn’t he the one supposedly in the QBs corner against the coach?

Then I recalled the amazement with which Gruden’s hiring was met over a year ago. Why would Snyder hire a man who was not “hooked on” Griffin if the man was slated to be the QB for the future?

It didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Now it does.

Backstabbing.

It seems what we know coming out of the organization is nothing more than spin. It certainly does make trying to understand what’s going on a little more difficult.

Seems everyone is just lying.

Oh, and backstabbing.





Another Inconvenient Truth

September 1, 2015

Ooops! Gruden spilled the beans.

“It’s a good problem to have, to have three quarterbacks who are competing.”

Seems strange, doesn’t it? Since February – yes, seven months’ worth – Gruden has been telling us that there is no QB competition: RG3 is the starter. Now, suddenly, we discover there has been a competition…

Actually, there hasn’t been one. Gruden did not want RG3 to begin with but if you are working for an owner who wants RG3 so adamantly, and you want to keep your job, what do you do? Obviously, you have to mouth the party line and try every trick at your disposal to sabotage the situation.

Yes, Gruden “wanted” RG3 but… well, shucks, seems like it was not to be… act of God and all that.

Yeah, like a guy who ties his victim to the railroad tracks and says the train running him over was just an act of God, right?

I am not exactly sure how the Creator of the Universe likes being hung with the rap on this one but I think it belongs completely on the shoulders of the spineless coach.

Any coach who would send a star player out to get injured in a preseason game behind a second-string porous defensive line just so they did not have to deal with the fellow is not a person worthy of any respect in my book. I have already seen this “coaching” gimmick used by Rex Ryan, Jeff Fisher, Steve Spurrier, Greg Williams, and more. Gruden is, sadly, not in a class by himself.

And some of these coaches think they are doing what is “best”… for the team or for their paycheck, either way it is still an under-handed way to remove the thorn in your side.

“I have nothing against Robert, I like Robert as a quarterback, there’s no doubt about it,” Gruden said. “His future with the Washington Redskins is what it is. There have been no discussions of letting him go or any of that stuff.”

And there you have it. It “is what it is“, understated prophecy from the all-seeing Gruden, and not “any of that stuff” (whatever the hell that means) in that all-seen future.

I don’t know why anyone hangs on this fellow’s every word. I have not heard any truth pass his lips yet.

But I guess that falls under the “is what it is” tag.

The Real Problem, as I See It

June 10, 2015




Since my wife works for Fairfax County Public Schools, I quite often have a bone to pick with the way things are run. I would try writing a letter campaign to the administrators but I sometimes doubt they would be able to read it, understand it, or both.

Sure we have the wonderful SOLs that have to be taken because of national mandate and we all know how good those things are. When I was young, we had the tests the last week of school and had maybe one half-day afterwards.

Today they have two weeks of school AFTER the end of the tests. And what exactly do the teachers do in that valuable block of time? Play movies, have parties, and the like. You know, real constructive use of the teachers and the children’s time.

I don’t know, maybe they are contracturally obligated for a certain number of days, even if the time spend is wasted. Who knows?

Anyway, near the start of the year, wife planned an event at the school (one she does every year) and it has always been held in a certain room. The week before the event, someone in the office called her and said she couldn’t have the room.

Seems they instituted a new rule that all room requests had to be approved and set on the “Master Schedule” and someone else had requested that date just a week before – several weeks after the event had been announced. So she had to contact the parents and students and move the event to another, less favorable, venue.

Fast forward to today. It is nearing the end of a long and exhausting school year and the final event planned is due to occur next week. It was approved to be held in the gym and put on the “Master Schedule” three months ago.

Well, apparently the schedule is really master of nothing. The thrid grade teachers decided they wanted to hold their year-end celebration in the gym and, since parents are coming as well, they simply erased the name of the “scheduled” event and penciled in their own, with the administrators’ approval, of course.



*************



See why I think the administrators might not be able to read anything I wrote to them?

Another PR Fiasco? Au Contraire!

May 12, 2015




I would be sadly remiss as a football fan if I did not weigh in on “deflategate”, as the multi-faceted fiasco is being called.

Brady-haters are cheering the comish for knocking the fellow down a few pegs even if he did stop short of reversing the Super Bowl win. They think the punishment is a good start for treating Brady.

On the other hand, the Patriot faithful are howling at the grave injustice of it all, especially since the Wells Report contained absolutely no evidence of wrong-doing. They claim Brady is being railroaded.

The majority of the press corps is talking about the adjudication by Goodell is not about the present case but includes all the former shenanigans the Patriots have pulled over the years. In short he is trying to stop the arrogance of the Belichick way of doing things.

Well, at least they are right in one respect, I think. This is all about the past.

No, not the past missteps of the Patriots organization… if I recall correctly, they have been penalized for every one of those things previously. They are being penalized for the missteps of one Roger Goodell, and all the disciplinary missteps he has made over the past season or so.

Goodell claims that the “deflategate” mess, that he claims (without any evidence) was created by the Patriots and as such besmirches the great name of the NFL. They, he crows, have tarnished the legacy… yada yada yada.

Perhaps he is most upset that they have infringed on his territory as “tarnishing the legacy of the NFL” has been mostly in his bailiwick for the past couple of years. And, if I might add, he has done an exemplary job of mucking things up.

So all the Brady-haters can gloat – who cares? the guy will be in the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible – and all the Patriotic folks can rail – the penalties will probably be overturned by an impartial panel, just like all the other proclamations on high by the Comish – because it all comes together to serve the MAJOR pirpose behind what Goodell really does extremely well:

It keeps the NFL in the news, center stage, being talked about. And, all things being equal, that’s really what is most important to Goodell, Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, all the other owners and all the other players.

The NFL is front and center in the news, in chats around the water cooler, and on a billion-and-one blogs (though this one might be the billion-and-second).

Everybody’s talking about the matter. Which means (of course!) that everyone cares.



***********************



Thanks again, Roger. You’re doing a marvelous job. (And there’ll be a little something extra in your next paycheck. [wink])



To Err is All Too Human

May 2, 2015




Well, after my recent quasi-apology to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Fairfax County, I thought I should get this one off my chest as well.

Seems I had RG3 and Coach Gruden all wrong. I had thought – silly me – that RG wanted to play the game like he did in the first year when he was dynamite, explosive, tantalizing. I thought he was being saddled with this idea of being a pocket passer and I thought ill of Coach Gruden for forcing the issue.

Then came an interview with Mike Shanahan, the former coach of the Redskins. He was talking about the falling out he had with RG3 and the reason was… are you ready for this?… being a pocket passer.

Yes, RG3 saw how Shanahan had changed up the play calling when his backup played and RG said he wanted those plays as well but when he returned to the lineup, it was with the earlier playbook he had used previously. Yes, he wanted to be a pocket passer and Shanahan wouldn’t let him.

So it looks like I was wrong.

Sometimes it seems like you know what you know but it’s not what you know, you know?

And I’m glad we’ve cleared up that little bit.

Now that he wants to be a pocket-passer and Gruden wants a pocket-passer, it makes it easy to see why they’ve picked up the option on his contract.

* * *

But, for some reason… call me crazy here, but I think there is still something we are missing from the equation. Why is Gruden calling in so many backup QBs?

I guess we’ll just have to wait for the season to see where this is all going to go… or going to go wrong, again, as usual.

That’s me, always the optimist.