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Monday, October 31, 2022


The photo is real. 


The subject is a living breathing entity here on earth. It slips in and out of our homes, offices, and stores. 

They travel in armies. They have an extensive underground network that tries to avoid humans. 

They number in the trillions or more. They go back beyond recorded history—beyond mankind. 

They’re capable of taking over the world if they only could. If humans were the same size we’d be their slaves or extinct. 

Everyone on Earth has come in contact with this face. 

What you’re looking at is a microscopic photo of an ant. Happy Halloween. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022


This photograph from 1894–95 shows a cottage engulfed by wisteria vines and climbing roses on the Carmelita estate owned by Jeanne C. Carr and her husband, Ezra S. Carr, in Pasadena. The author of this posted work Charlotte Perkins Gilman lived “right opposite” from 1888 to 1891, during which she wrote “The Giant Wistaria.” The Carrs lived in the cottage until the completion of their three-story, 22-room home in the early 1880s and moved back in 1892, when they sold the larger house and most of the estate. Ezra died in 1896; Jeanne died in Oakland in 1903. (University of Southern California Libraries) 

From Charlotte Perkins Gilman, novels, stories and poems. 

An analysis of The Giant Wistaria from Feminist Short Stories: Horror & Sci-Fi (Part 1), by critic Jillian McKeown, who writes: It’s shocking once you’ve finished “The Giant Wistaria” to realize that it was published in 1891, when it seems as if it were written not so long ago. 

The story takes place during two time periods, the 1700s and the 1800s. The former century begins with an English family and we’re dropped into the middle of the most scandalous of family dramas — their daughter has just given birth out of wedlock, and the parents are fleeing to England to escape any disgrace to their family name. Fast toward to the late 1800s; the house from whence they fled is now decrepit and has been virtually swallowed by a gigantic wistaria vine. 

The Author.
A wealthy young couple and their friends happen by, completely enchanted by what they interpret as rustic charm, they assume that it must be haunted and rent it immediately. 

As the three couples drink, eat and laugh, they describe the prospect of an eventful summer chock-full of ghosts that hopefully inhabit the house. After the first evening, their fantasies come to fruition as half of the group awakens to find that they’ve had the same dream of a young woman with a mysterious bundle in her arms and a red cross around her neck. 

They soon find that their collective dreams were more than mere case of indigestion (to quote A Christmas Carol). 

The Giant Wistaria is chilling for several reasons. First off, the punch that is delivered is done so in only a few pages; not only is author Gilman a feminist, but she’s also a powerful storyteller and is able to intertwine the two seamlessly. 

Another sobering facet of the story is the juxtaposition of the two time periods, the people who exist in each one, and finally, the full-circle of tragic events. Gilman was a master of collective human emotions and is able to make you feel guilty and sickened by indirectly referencing class and gender inequality. 

FOR THE COMPLETE SHORT STORY. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg Australia CLICK HERE 

Illustration from original edition depicting a scene at the climax of the tale.

Saturday, October 29, 2022


The first time I noticed a new business was going into what had been Glenn's Market in the historic South Park 'nood of San Diego was when I saw garage-style doors created along those street-facing facades.   I figured it would be a restaurant by the looks.

I asked a neighbor about the old Glenn's space.  I was told it was going to be a brew pub.

A week later, a colleague living close by asked me to lunch.  I suggested the new brew pub on Beech near 30th.  

He replied: "yeah, I saw it.  Harland's is a pizza, salad and beer place."

Still curious we agreed to go there because pizza sounded good and a salad, too.

We arrived early for lunch and I managed to corral the last outside-facing table.  The garage doors drawn up showed off that the new Harland establishment was more spacious than the usual storefronts along that stretch of Beech. 

The place was packed.  Harland's is one of those read the menu, order at the coffee bar and a staffer will runner your order to the table.

We discovered Harland's was a coffee shop along the east wall; a pub with a nice sized bar on the south wall that shared space with a small corner selling corporate ego.  Harland t-shirts, caps and other bell's and whistles.  The rest of the floor space was devoted to those omnipresent squatters that bring their computer to the coffee house.  Maybe they order a coffee.  Harland's figured that out by having plenty of tables and high table seating to go around.

The millennial generation restaurateur now has guests ordering at the front desk, which is basically eliminating the waiter/ess.  Communal sharing to help defray costs for the owners.  Did Harland's pass the savings on to customers by having no wait staff.  The menu was reasonable.  

We ordered the best restaurant burger I've had in San Diego and for $13 I'd order it again.   The efficient food runners brought our order quickly.  Burgers came with fries that curled side to side and or a big salad.  The fries were tasty.   The two-pattie burger with lettuce, pickle, American cheese, caramelized onion and a big slice of tomato filled on a Brioche bun filled me up.

Despite rumors that the place was beer friendly.  No beer was available the day I was there.  They haven't got the brew pub part going--yet.  And despite earlier rumors no pizza either. 

I'm going back for the Harland burger, especially if the brewmaster can concoct a rootbeer for the non-alcohol crowd.  But mine is a very minority request; they will do fine in South Park as they have at other locations in San Diego.  They're in it for the beer.  I'm just delighted they brew great coffee, too.

Friday, October 28, 2022


30th & University, North Park (San Diego) circa 1952.

By Thomas Shess, editor in chief of this blog
--This was the happening place in 1952 just before all the shopping malls opened to drive business to Mission Valley and away from North Park.

North Park was the first urban suburb of San Diego going way back to 1907.

The Ramona theatre (look on the left edge of the vintage photo) sold seats at two for fifty cents.  Kids a quarter each.  They had Keno nights on weekends.  We would arrive in our 1947 Chevy with the rear seat occupant (me) needing a raincoat on those fall/winter storms.  It wasn't that bad because rain in San Diego lasts about five minutes unless it's one of those occasional pineapple expresses blowing in from the West.

Don't remember any of the movies, but I do remember one night the chandelier falling mid-showing into the aisles.  My dad thinking it was an earthquake whisked us out of the building.  No earthquake just an old building.  We never went back. The Ramona soon closed, but the frame of the building still stands as a pancake joint at University and Ray Streets.

The big building at the top of the photo was Penney's department store.  Until I moved away after college I bought my blue oxford twill button down dress shirts there.

I always liked blue business shirts.   I digress but when as a magazine travel writer I traveled on assignment for Pan Am Clipper magazine to hilly Asalo, a village outside of Venice, I wore a Brooks Brothers blue oxford shirt to dinner.  The manager of the restaurant inside the Villa Ciprani resort said he'd trade me two bottles of excellent red wine and a soccer jersey if he could have the shirt.

"Why not?"  

The wine was superb.  The stay and the fellowship unmatched.  I finished dinner with my fellow journalists wearing my new futbol jersey.  Later,  I traded that jersey for a T-shirt from the Washington Square Bar & Grill softball team.  The Square was a North Beach media hangout in San Francisco.  I played on that team while I was editor of San Francisco Magazine.  The bar/cafe owner Ed Moose organized his softball team to travel to New York, Paris, Moscow.  I made the Paris and New York trips.  Sportswriter Ron Fimrite wrote about the Paris trip in Sports Illustrated.  Look it up.  I played left field.

Let me take you back to the photo.  The cross street remains 30th Street under the original North Park sign.   It runs left to right (or north to south).  If you flash forward 70 years and make a left turn at the intersection go half a block you'll run into Caffe Calabria.  Caffe is one of the best all around coffee emporiums in the City.

It used to be a branch of Bank of America before becoming a long standing thrift store called Armstrong's Emporium.

I mentioned Italy, which instantly reminded me that a few steps north and still on 30th you'll do yourself great justice by dining at Siamo Napoli.  First rate.  It runs somewhat under the radar outside of North Park.

 How often do you get to dine with Sophia Loren?  Wait (fact check), I haven't been there in a month is she still working the table at Siamo Napoli?

Thursday, October 27, 2022


On YouTube via Jonny Technology.

So, you’re home alone (again) and you’re missing a bit of saloon interaction, but it’s a work/school night. What to do?  Thanks to Jonny Technology there's a live 24-hour camera on a pole hovering over Tini Martini Bar in St. Augustine Florida so can perch on a virtual barstool and gawk at what the uber-casual Augustinians are wearing. 

Click here to catch the YouTube action. Live 24/7.

Maybe you'll see if your significant other is there with someone not you? Actually, don’t know what to make of this surveillance? Might make some of us go down the street to Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House, where they don’t have cameras linked to live feeds on YouTube. What a world? 

Why do we (me) watch this stuff?  

Tini Martini Bar, 24 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine, FLA. sited at the Casablanca Inn Hotel on the Matanzas River not far from the Bridge of Lions, where you crossed holding hands with the air hostess from Brazil last summer. Is that a never mind? Gotcha. 

Tini Martini (above) when the lights are on.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


The High Five interchange, with its decorative etchings on precast concrete elements, along with the visually appealing coloration specified by the Texas Department of Transportation can be regarded as an enormous work of public art.

The Dallas High Five Interchange is one of the first five-level stack (100 ft. tall) interchanges in the U.S. Located in Dallas, TX at the junction of the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway and the Central Expressway (US Highway 75), it replaces an antiquated partial cloverleaf interchange constructed in the 1960s. 

Designed by the HNTB Corp., the $261 million project started in 2002 and was completed in December 2005, and is considered to be one of "The World's 18 Strangest Roadways" because of its height (as high as a 12-story building), its 43 permanent bridges and other unusual design and construction features. 

Construction was by Zachry Construction Corp., the state's largest road and bridge builder. In 2006, the American Public Works Association named the High Five Interchange as "Public Works Projects of the Year". 

The roads on the five levels are: 

 --Level I: US 75, a six-lane highway, three lanes going each way 

--Level II: The junction of the two six-lane frontage roads, each having three through lanes in each direction, left-turn lanes, and turnarounds, and easy access to US 75 and I-635 

--Level III: I-635, ten regular lanes, five going each way, and four HOV lanes (two going each way) separated by barriers 

--Levels IV and V: Direct connection ramps (two levels), eliminating the left exits of the modified cloverleaf The High Five interchange, with its decorative etchings on precast concrete elements, along with the visually appealing coloration specified by the Texas Department of Transportation can be regarded as an enormous work of public art. 

The High Five also incorporates a hiking and bike trail, named the Cottonwood Trail, which runs under all levels of the interchange. The section of the trail passing beneath the interchange was constructed as part of the High Five project.

Monday, October 24, 2022



Here's the answer:
Here's another polling response on another important issue

Special Report from Thomson Reuters. 

GUEST BLOG / By Andy Sullivan and Sarah Slobin, Thomson Reuters-- The year 2022 has seen war in Ukraine, a spate of shootings in the United States, a new surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, and a landmark Supreme Court decision that rolled back the nationwide right to abortion. But ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress, voters clearly have one thing on their mind: their wallets. Reuters/Ipsos survey data shows that inflation and the economy are far and away the most pressing issues among those who say they are likely to vote. 

For answers to your questions:

CLICK HERE for charts, graphs, and texts

Sunday, October 23, 2022


Tasty reading at Caffe La Scala, Walnut Creek, CA.

By Thomas Shess, editor of this blog since its inception in 2011
--Last winter while ensconced in Rossmoor, a scenic senior community in the East Bay region of San Francisco, to put the finishing touches on my debut novel Cantina Psalms, I took a break for a stroll hand in hand with bride through nearby Walnut Creek. 

Morning strolls are best to clear the fog between ears and be able to smell the coffee. In this case it was at Caffe La Scala on Main just of Civic Dr. Early arrival meant the pastries were fresh and the Occupiers (avec computer and who me stare) hadn’t arrived to stake claim to one of the proprietor’s tables for the entire of the day. 

Caffe La Scala (above) spills over into a courtyard of the business complex it shares so there’s plenty of seating. The bride of 37 years picked one of the free outdoor tables on Main Street while I ordered Lattes (and only drooled at the bear claws and chocolate croissants). While we sat enjoying what ended up a remarkable sunny (almost hot) day in Walnut Creek, a woman interrupted us in mid sip just to say we were a “delight” to see: a couple having coffee at an outdoor café. 

Before we wiped the froth off our lips to thank her, she disappeared into the office building nearby. It was nice of her to comment so sweetly with no agenda. Not surprising because Walnut Creek and surrounding Pleasant Hill are Norman Rockwellish communities. 

From coffee to books, we strolled a few shops along Main Street to Flashlight Books, left, where a very helpful young woman pointed out her store offers new and used books. I purchased Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill.” The book still in its original jacket was used but pristine otherwise. It fetched $12. I noticed a small sign that dovetailed with the name of the shop. It was a quote from one of the Harry Potter books “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Thank you, Albus Dumbledore.  Flashlight is a kid/teen retailer but carries its share of grown up titles new and used.  It's a a big store with room for all, well-lit and has that aroma we all love: books!

I mentioned to the genial bookseller that it was a hope that my novel end up on her shelves next time I visited (now that the book has debuted I’ll return to Walnut Creek and our Rossmoor condo in January). Fingers are crossed on finding Cantina Psalms there. All in all, Walnut Creek and neighboring Pleasant Hill both have walkable downtowns, a comfortable mix of shops and cafes. We were there early so parking was not a problem. It was a fun morning. 

Caffe La Scala 1537 North Main Street Walnut Creek, CA 

web: Click here 

Flashlight Books 1537 North Main Street Walnut Creek, CA 

web. Click here 

For more reviews on Cantina Psalms Click Here 


ISBN: 978-1-66784-402-2

Saturday, October 22, 2022


As is its wont, the dining website is the first to feature the latest new restaurant in venerable and historic North Park (San Diego ‘hood). CLICK HERE for the Eater review. 

Called Mabel’s Gone Fishing, a seafood establishment created by the owners of The Rose in South Park, is already a hit one week into its existence. Open Tuesday through Saturday 4 pm to 11 pm. 


On the same block you’ll find Subterranean Coffee House on 30th and Dark Horse Roasters (North Park Way). Mid city’s largest parking structure is half a block north of Mabel’s Gone Fishing. Who’s Mabel? Family pooch. 

Friday, October 21, 2022


Quarterly market outlook: Fourth quarter 2022 > | Member SIPC 

GUEST BLOG / By Edward Jones, Co.
-- Action for investors. With markets broadly expecting an economic downturn, we think now is a good time to revisit your emergency fund and spending levels. A solid financial foundation can help you weather an economic slowdown. Work with your financial advisor to review your overall financial strategy. Looking back at the 3rd quarter. 

Every asset class return in our framework except cash was negative in the quarter. Investors moving into safe-haven assets such as the U.S. dollar pushed the value of the greenback to historically high levels. This was a drag on international performance for U.S. investors. Inflation and monetary policy continue to top investors’ concerns. Markets are now broadly pricing in a contraction in economic growth. 

The Fed continues its aggressive policy cycle — The Federal Reserve is expected to hike rates to 4.25% by year-end and keep rates elevated throughout 2023 to combat historically high inflation. High policy rates and softening global economic growth forecasts were a headwind to equity markets, which saw risk asset sell-offs and lower valuations. 

Strengthening dollar a drag on international investments — The dollar strengthened to historically high levels for a variety of reasons, including the introduction of the U.K. minibudget, fears of escalation in the Russia-Ukraine war, and souring investor sentiment. The strong dollar meant international equity investments were the worst performers in the quarter, while domestic equities outperformed for U.S. investors. Of the international asset classes in our framework, emerging markets and international small- and mid-cap stocks were the worst performers. 

Equity markets reach new lows — The equity market rally early in the quarter quickly reversed, and markets found new lows toward the end of Q3. Technology shares and growth-style stocks, which are more exposed to rising interest rates than value-style shares, have been the hardest-hit this year. Earnings results were mixed during the last earnings season. We expect market volatility to continue until inflation makes significant progress to the downside and the Fed can start to consider pivoting from its aggressive cycle. 

Economic outlook 

Action for Investors. Because equity valuations have adjusted lower and bond yields higher, we believe an allocation in the middle of the equity/ fixed-income range is appropriate. Investors can use the pullback as an opportunity to rebalance portfolios and add quality investments at more favorable prices.

Lingering inflation pressures and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes have increased the risks to the economy. Yet a large amount of monetary tightening has already been priced in at a time when inflation may well have peaked. This potentially sets the stage for a gradual market recovery. 

Strong headwinds ahead — Higher interest rates, elevated inflation and rising geopolitical risks will continue to pose strong headwinds for consumer spending and economic growth in the quarters ahead. As a result, the risk of a recession is elevated next year, especially if the Fed overtightens policy as growth slows. But absent any major economic imbalances, a potential recession will likely be mild. Household finances are solid, banks are in a strong financial position, and pockets of financial excesses have largely unwound, in our view. 

Markets move ahead of the economy — This year’s strong job gains, near-record low unemployment rate and resilient consumer spending are inconsistent with a recession. But the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes have yet to be fully felt throughout the economy, and a slowdown in jobs growth looks inevitable. Stocks move ahead of the economy by about six months. This is why we think the 25% decline in equities since January likely already reflects a mild recessionary outcome. In a less severe downturn, equity markets could stabilize even as economic data underwhelms. 

Inflation holds the key — Heading into Q4, we think inflation will determine the direction of the markets. The Fed likely will want to see three or more lower inflation readings to signal a pause. We believe inflation will start to moderate in Q4, driven by improved supply-and-demand dynamics, but only gradually and not in a straight line. Once central banks become less hawkish, both equity and fixed-income markets are likely to mount a sustainable recovery. 

Equity Outlook. 

Action for Investors. We recommend a neutral allocation to U.S. large caps, with an overweight position in emerging markets and an underweight to small caps. We favor increased allocations within the consumer staples, health care and technology sectors, and reduced allocations to utilities, communication services and materials.

The stock market revisited its lows for the year, with the S&P 500 down 20% to start Q4. While a recession appears likely, a strong labor market, some resiliency in corporate earnings growth and the majority of Fed rate hikes behind us tell us this bear market needn’t last long. 

The Fed remains in the driver’s seat — We think we are closer to the end of the Fed’s current tightening campaign than the beginning. Historically, market performance is quite strong 12 and 24 months after the Fed’s policy rate peaks.* We doubt we’ve seen the end of Fed-driven volatility, but we expect moderating inflation in the coming months will provide the Fed some flexibility. 

Recovery will be a process, not a point — We believe the market will recover in a “U” shape versus the “V” shaped rebounds we’ve experienced recently. We think the eventual recovery will take some time to materialize, and some traditional recessionary conditions may cause disruptions along the way. We continue to watch for these: 

    • Several months of consistently declining inflation — Inflation appears to have peaked, but additional months of evidence will be required. 

    • Resiliency in corporate earnings — With demand slowing, we anticipate downward revisions to corporate earnings estimates, which could trigger further market swings. 

    • A decline in market valuations — Price-to-earnings metrics have fallen more than 25%, indicating the market has already priced in a moderate recession. 

    • Widespread pessimism — Consumer and investor sentiment surveys indicate pessimism is already reflected in financial markets. Historically, when these measures reach extremely negative levels, stock market performance has been positive moving forward. 

Fixed-Income Outlook.

Action for Investors. We see attractive opportunities forming in the fixed-income asset class across bond maturities. We favor U.S. investment-grade bonds, which can offer more stability and exposure to high-quality, longer-duration credits.

Fixed-income markets continued to take their cues from the Federal Reserve and global central banks, as yields moved higher and bond prices moved broadly lower last quarter. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield, which began the year around 1.5%, moved briefly above 4.0%, its highest level since 2008. Perhaps the silver lining for investors is that the income opportunities and forward returns are becoming more favorable as we head toward a potential peak in yields. 

Bond returns after yields peak
— Historically, bond returns in the 12 months after a peak in bond yields tend to average over 16%. History also tells us these peaks generally occur about two months ahead of the last Fed rate hike.* In our view, the Fed’s final rate hike will likely occur in December or February, implying that bond yields may be peaking in the weeks ahead. 

Consider bond positioning across the curve — Although investors have gravitated toward shorter-duration CDs or one- or two-year bonds, there may now be a more compelling opportunity to add longer-term quality bonds. These bonds not only secure higher income for longer, but also may appreciate if yields eventually start to move lower. 

Yield curves still point to economic slowdown ahead — While yields have moved higher, parts of the yield curve have been inverted or negative since mid-July. Although a negative yield curve has been known to signal a slowdown or recession, there tends to be about a six- to 18-month lag before one begins. If the economy does enter a downturn, higher-quality bonds can serve as a buffer and offer income during economic uncertainty. 

International outlook 

Action for Investors. While we remain neutral on international developed markets, we see opportunities in emerging markets and recommend an overweight position in emerging market equities to complement domestic portfolio exposure.

International equities have lagged this year amid a surging U.S. dollar and a material slowdown in global growth. Challenges persist, but lower valuations support international portfolio allocations. Also, a stimulative policy backdrop in China could drive more positive emerging-market equity returns moving forward. 

Global growth set to end the year weak — Despite increased geopolitical uncertainty, high inflation is forcing central banks to raise rates aggressively. The Federal Reserve is leading this charge, but unique headwinds outside the U.S. suggest international economies will stay under pressure in the near term. Europe is dealing with an energy crisis as the war in Ukraine continues. China is held back by its zero covid policy and a slump in the property sector. It’s hard to predict when these risks could abate, but the challenges are well-known, and fiscal policy support can provide a partial offset until global growth regains its footing. 

The surging U.S. dollar is a major drag on returns — With the exception of China and Japan, which are easing policy, most central banks have hiked rates quickly but have not kept up with the Fed. This difference in policies has helped push the U.S. dollar to its highest level in more than 20 years. As it has in the past, the dollar’s strength has weighed on international returns. The silver lining is that because the currency swings appear stretched, even a modest shift in relative drivers away from the dollar could trigger a meaningful trend reversal next year. 

Heavily discounted valuations reflect risks — The deeper pullback in international stocks likely already prices in a higher likelihood of recession in Europe and a material slowdown in Chinese economic growth. In our view, depressed valuations provide a reason to maintain international allocations. International stocks could outperform next year if we see a softening in the U.S. dollar (if the Fed pauses its rate hikes in 2023), a shift in China’s zero-COVID policy, or an easing of Europe’s energy crisis. 

Midterm elections: 3 key questions

Action for investors. Overall, politics tend not to have a substantial impact on longterm market returns. This year, the post-midterm election period may coincide with a potential moderation in inflation and pause in Fed rate hikes, which in our view will likely be the bigger drivers of market performance in the year ahead

1. What are midterm elections, and why are they significant?
The U.S. midterm elections — scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, this year — typically focus on the legislative arm of government, the House of Representatives and the Senate. While all 435 House seats are up for election, only about one-third of Senate seats (35 this year) are up for vote. Historically, the president’s party tends to lose seats during midterms, especially in the House. 

2. What issues are voters and policymakers most focused on this year? Top economic concerns for voters this year include uncertainty about the economy and inflation, while social issues such as immigration and abortion rights could also drive voters to the polls. If Democrats maintain power, they have outlined a post-midterm agenda focused on voting and abortion rights, as well as policies to expand Medicare and increase minimum wages. Meanwhile, the Republicans have vowed to focus on a platform that includes battling inflation and immigration reform. However, the likelihood of a split Congress remains high, in which case both parties will struggle to pass any meaningful new legislation or reform. 

3. How have markets typically performed around midterm elections, and do they prefer a certain outcome? Historically, market performance in the 12 months prior to midterm elections tends to be mixed, with elevated levels of volatility. On average, since 1960, S&P 500 returns have been around 0.3% in the year leading up to elections. However, performance in the 12 months after midterms is generally consistent: Market returns are positive by an average of about 16%. This is the case regardless of the election outcome or whether one party maintains control. In some cases, markets may prefer gridlock (split White House and Congress by political party) as this likely means little or no new legislation or regulation, giving corporations more clarity for planning. 

Investment performance benchmarks. 

It’s natural to compare your portfolio’s performance to market performance benchmarks, but it’s important to put this information in the right context and understand the mix of investments you own. Talk with your financial advisor about any next steps for your portfolio to help you stay on track toward your long-term goals. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022


Here’s Kendall Chamberlin, a muddled thinker with the water utility in Richmond, Vermont, who took it upon himself to lower the fluoride level in the town’s drinking water for the past decade.  

One doctor in the community speaking at a public meeting insisted, “For a single person to unilaterally make the decision that this public health benefit might not be warranted is inappropriate. I think it's outrageous.” 

Chamberlin resigned his post.

Rumors of him becoming a department store Santa Claus in Portland, Ore. are unfounded.


You [Tube] News
broadcast the above news photo on May 23, 2021. Blast turned out to be the responsibility of aleged “foreign” devils. Hearing news this week that Iran is providing Russia with drones, many are feeling a return visit by these devils might be in order. I’m not a hawk, but I certainly wouldn’t want anyone I know to be working at a drone plant in Iran anytime soon. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022


 YES. A cocktail party at the famous Frank Sinatra House. For this, you'll want to get dressed up. Travel via UBER.  


 USModernist Goes To Palm Springs for Modernism Week! February 16-21, 2023 If you're into mid-century Modernist architecture, you don't want to miss USModernist's wildly popular annual trip to Palm Springs for Modernism Week. 

There's no other place in America with as many mid-century Modern houses per square mile - hundreds if not thousands of Modernist houses and buildings. The town shares its crazy fun Modernist design from houses to art to furnishings to lifestyles to fashion to food! 

 It's like the Superbowl for mid-century architecture! So here's the scoop: Our main itinerary, shown here for February 21-27, has long been sold out. So we've created another exciting itinerary for earlier in Modernism Week (which if you're wondering, actually lasts 11 days) 

Proceeds benefit the documentation, preservation, and promotion work of USModernist, a 501C3 nonprofit educational archive. 


Pool side attractions abound during a huge convention week

Party, Party at artist Shag's home

Last year's Modernism Week's opening night gathering

Tuesday, October 18, 2022



Here’s an autumn treat, a live 24-hour YouTube webcam of a covered bridge over Vermont’s scenic Mad River. CLICK HERE. Courtesy of the West Hill House B&B {} in Warren, Vermont.

West Hill House Bed & Breakfast, Warren, Vermont

Central Vermont in the fall

Monday, October 17, 2022


Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac

Here’s on video that tune written and performed here by Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac. Hear “Everywhere” and read the lyrics without the insipid video made back in 1987 to accompany the song. CLICK HERE. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022



By Thomas Shess 

“We Can’t See Each Other Again.” 

from Chapter 2: The Appearance of Impropriety. 

Those framed windowpanes in his kitchen were the windshield of his airship. From there he could disappear into the clouds. Brilliant Van Gogh clouds swirling and twisting from billowing white to shades of gray to black full of more rain. 

Across the street from Gresham’s second floor aerie, he noticed Washington Square Park was empty. At the far corner of the park near the bed and breakfast, he heard a French horn being played by someone hidden by the trees. Tom found the music soothing. It was something bittersweet by Duke Ellington, but he was no musician and the name of the tune escaped him. Nonetheless, it haunted him all day. 

Gone was the priest who sat on the same bench day after day reading his newspaper. Absent were the Asian couple gently twisting, breathing, living, and practicing an ancient exercise. 

A rush of cold air entered from the opened window bringing in the aromas he loved: garlic rising out of restaurant roof vents; coffee beans being roasted at Graffeo’s down the block; the smell of new rain, familiar streets and of the paved asphalt of Saints Peter & Paul’s school playground on Filbert Street. 

Tom made enough toast and a pour-over dark espresso for two from the ground Graffeo beans and day-old sourdough baguette from Stella’s Bakery, which was just a block away. 

He lathered his with blueberry jam he bought from Lee’s Grocery across Columbus Avenue, the Leon Lee owned store that was on the same block long building as Coit Liquor and Powell’s saloon. She insisted her toast be lightly buttered—real butter and she’d only accept a light spread of lingonberry jam processed in Malmo, Sweden. 

Yawning, blinking her emerald-colored eyes, she had wrapped herself in the finest silk robe, his second most prized possession given to him by the maharajah of hyperbole. 

She sipped on the coffee and ignored the toast. He had run out of her jam. 

She refused to let him give her a morning kiss. “We can’t see each other ever again.” 

 “How can we do that? I work for your father. We see each other every day. You’ve heard him, he considers me family.” 

 “Don’t force me to say mean things. Why can’t you see the obvious? I can’t be in a relationship that I have to hide. I can’t have you in bed and Garrett out in public. It’s not fair to you or him.” 

 “Then choose,” he said. “I can handle your decision.” 

“OK, I choose Garrett.” 


“Doesn’t that make you mad?” 

 “I’ve enjoyed every minute with you. If it comes to an end—so be it,” he said, not fearing she would pack up and leave that moment. 

 “That’s my point,” she said, pushing her index finger into his shoulder. 

 Tom grabbed her hand. “The point is you don’t want to let the world know we are in a relationship—a serious one. What do you want me to do when you’re the one who is making the rules?” 

 “You’re right. I wish you had some other job.” 

 “I’m working on that.” 

 “See it to believe it.” Carly stared at a stack of papers on the dinette. Her curiosity overcame her. “Real estate papers?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. She picked up the top document. “Are you finally going to buy this unit?” 

 “I’m thinking about it.” 

 “What’s stopping you this time?” 

 “I always think about buying it when you announce you’re walking out on me.” 

 She rolled her eyes. 

He added, “Then when you come back in the middle of the night, I remind myself that the place will be too small if we get married and have a kid.” 

 “Cheap shot, Gresham.” A tear rolled down her cheek. It was a sweet thought. But the reality was they would never marry, much less move into this flat—not when she lived on Russian Hill in a town- house that her parents turned over to her when Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Martin moved into the mayoral mansion out on the Westside. 

 “Buy it as an investment,” she offered. She placed the papers back on the stack. She looked pleased. 

 He decided to buy the flat. He’d show her the deed the next time she knocked on his door unannounced.  He asked, “Did you hear the music from the park?” 

 The know-it-all smiled: “Don’t get around much anymore.” 

“Beautiful, huh?” he asked. 

 She was on other thoughts and didn’t answer him.


Reprinted with permission by Three Palms Press 

Copyright 2022 by Thomas Shess 

Purchase Cantina Psalms CLICK HERE. 

    Above from San Francisco Review of Books


"Cantina Psalms is a rapid-paced collection of urban noir. These tightly woven short stories are deep with crime, erotic love, and ironic social satire. It is a crowded saloon of intertwined characters—all from San Francisco's gritty North Beach neighborhood. Each story is a table set with silver spoons, forks in the road, and sharp knives…"    --Jan Percival Lipscomb Past President, San Diego Press Club 

"…incredible read, deep into the characters and love the cover!” --Nanette Wiser, Ex-Copley News and Editor St. Petersburg (FLA) Magazine. 

“…we put Cantina Psalms in our front window, and it also resides in our Mystery/Crime section along with Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson and others…” --Dennis Wills, Owner, Founder D.G. Wills Books La Jolla CA 

"Cantina Psalms is entertaining, amusing, deep, sometimes troubling and engrossing as it transports the reader through the City by the Bay today and tomorrow via a series of short stories. The author captures the good and dark sides of San Francisco with a cast of well-crafted characters."    --Patti Pietschmann Review in The New Novelist 

From Goodreads reviewer: “…I consider Thomas Shess one of the best new novelists of our time.”

What Top Book Clubbers are Saying about CANTINA PSALMS:

Ken Pecus, book reviewer, book club founder:

Crazy & Original Journey. 

 “It’s been a while since I added a volume to my recommended reading…OK, so this one is very different from my normal fare. First, full disclosure, the author is a dear longtime friend of mine. But make no mistake, I don’t care if he was my brother or dad…if the reading wasn’t great, no way it finds its way onto my book club post.

“So…I don’t read fiction except on rare occasions. This being one because I already had such a respect for the author, I agreed. Gotta say, I was hooked from the preface. Not having a clue about subject matter except for the shocking (and funny) quotes by the “reviewers” I set on a crazy and original journey, into the near future (that had tones of the near past). 

“One big bonus for me was that my world travels over the past many years enabled me to mentally place myself into many of the setting with photographic detail. “It felt like I was back in the 1980s at the height of prime time soaps where Dynasty and Dallas, met 007 Bond with a touch of today’s CrimeScene SVU. 

Albeit I’m not a sex and some gore kinda guy, so the reading had just enough to create suspense and maybe cause a little blushing on my part since I realized it was my angelic friend writing those lines—either way, it captured my attention, imagination, and had me riveted to what would come next. 

“So if you want to get lost in a little night time soap, don’t expect to be satisfied in the end, versus a JR Ewing cliffhanger. The best are always “wait till next season” and no difference here as I’m dutifully be waiting for 2023 and the renewal of The Psalms.” 

 --Review by Ken Pecus, a respected book club manager and world traveler when he’s not being the top real estate broker in the San Diego area.


A book you don't want to be over.

Maggie Brown, insightful, book reviewer, book clubber:

I thought I could spin through CANTINA PSALMS and read it in a week. In actuality, I spent days on just the Author's Note and Preface! Literally days. It's so clever, and the language is so sly, I just read it over and over. There seemed to be impish hidden meanings everywhere! As I get further and further into the chapters, I'm astonished at the author's mastery of metaphors. So many polished, humorous, and again, sly uses of language. 

Many times, I just laugh out loud. The places he reminisces about become actual characters, along with the people you observe ... the cat and rabbit story is hilarious and wonderful. I keep going back to reread some of those magnificent metaphors ... patrons with faces dull as pencils ... a precinct captain with the face of a giraffe. 

... Tom Shess makes his people and places adorable and warm and loving, and yes, gritty and often downright salty. It's clear Tom Shess loves his subject. I think I'm dawdling at reading it because I don't want to leave the places and people he's weaving into the fabric. A book you don't want to be over.

Saturday, October 15, 2022


        On Kerrera Island on Scotland's west Coast.

           Just to let you know it's there.

           For more information CLICK HERE.

Friday, October 14, 2022


In this image made from a NASA livestream and taken from the Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, asteroid Dimorphos is seen as the spacecraft flies toward it, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (ASI/NASA via AP) 

GUEST BLOG / By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press
--A spacecraft that plowed into a small, harmless asteroid millions of miles away succeeded in shifting its orbit, NASA said this week in announcing the results of its save-the-world test. 

The space agency attempted the test two weeks ago to see if in the future a killer rock could be nudged out of Earth’s way. 

“This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a briefing at the space agency’s headquarters in Washington. 

The Dart spacecraft carved a crater into the asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26, hurling debris out into space and creating a cometlike trail of dust and rubble stretching several thousand miles (kilometers). It took consecutive nights of telescope observations from Chile and South Africa to determine how much the impact altered the path of the 525-foot (160-meter) asteroid around its companion, a much bigger space rock. 

Before the impact, the moonlet took 11 hours and 55 minutes to circle its parent asteroid. Scientists had anticipated shaving off 10 minutes, but Nelson said the impact shortened the asteroid’s orbit by 32 minutes. 

“Let’s all just kind of take a moment to soak this in ... for the first time ever, humanity has changed the orbit” of a celestial body, noted Lori Glaze, NASA’s director of planetary science. The team’s scientists said the amount of debris apparently played a role in the outcome. The impact may also have left Dimorphos wobbling a bit, said NASA program scientist Tom Statler. That may affect the orbit, but it will never go back to its original location, he noted. 

The two bodies originally were already less than a mile (1.2 kilometers) apart. Now they’re tens of yards (meters) closer. 

Neither asteroid posed a threat to Earth — and still don’t as they continue their journey around the sun. That’s why scientists picked the pair for this all-important dress rehearsal. 

Planetary defense experts prefer nudging a threatening asteroid or comet out of the way, given years or even decades of lead time, rather than blowing it up and creating multiple pieces that could rain down on Earth. 

“We really need to also have that warning time for a technique like this to be effective,” said mission leader Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which built the spacecraft and managed the $325 million mission. 

“You’ve got to know they’re coming,” added Glaze. 

Launched last year, the vending machine-size Dart — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — was destroyed when it slammed into the asteroid 7 million miles (11 million kilometers) away at 14,000 mph (22,500 kph). 

“This is huge feat, not only in achieving the first step in possibly being able to protect ourselves from future asteroid impacts,” but also for the amount of images and data collected internationally, Daniel Brown, an astronomer at Nottingham Trent University in England, said via email. 

Brown also said that it’s “particularly exciting” that the debris tail can be seen by amateur skygazers with medium-size telescopes. 

Team scientists cautioned more work is needed to not only identify more of the countless space rocks out there, but to ascertain their makeup — some are solid, while others are rubble piles. Scouting missions might be needed, for instance, before launching impactors to deflect the orbits. 

“We should not be too eager to say one test on one asteroid tells us exactly how every other asteroid would behave in a similar situation,” Statler said. 

Nonetheless, he and others are rejoicing over this first effort. 

”We’ve been imagining this for years and to have it finally be real is really quite a thrill,” he said. 

Thursday, October 13, 2022


“Officer, you’re looking at me like I’m the first one in the world
to go 5 mph over the speed limit…” 

Image by Jaci Springfield, San Diego.


TODAY: Happy Birthday, Deacon Brown

Wednesday, October 12, 2022



Ukrainian stamp designer Poo-Poos Putin’s pride and joy bridge!, an international design site shows a postage stamp celebrating Ukraine’s armed forces 

GUEST BLOG / By Jennifer Hahn,'s postal service Ukrposhta has issued a stamp to mark last week's explosion on the Kerch bridge connecting Crimea and Russia, which features inside jokes and Titanic movie references. Designed by Ukrainian painter Yuriy Shapoval, the stamp shows the bridge's distinctive white steel arches peeking out behind clouds of billowing smoke. It will be produced as a limited edition of seven million. 

For the remainder of’s article CLICK HERE. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022


Experts say their dominance in the party poses a threat to the country’s democratic principles and jeopardizes the integrity of future votes 

GUEST BLOG / By Amy Gardner, The Washington Post-- A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices — 299 in all — have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election, according to a Washington Post analysis. 

Candidates who have challenged or refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory are running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in three states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined. 

Although some are running in heavily Democratic areas and are expected to lose, most of the election deniers nominated are likely to win: Of the nearly 300 on the ballot, 173 are running for safely Republican seats. Another 52 will appear on the ballot in tightly contested races. 

The implications will be lasting: If Republicans take control of the House, as many political forecasters predict, election deniers would hold enormous sway over the choice of the nation’s next speaker, who in turn could preside over the House in a future contested presidential election. 

The winners of all the races examined by The Post — those for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, Senate and House — will hold some measure of power overseeing American elections. Many of these candidates echo the false claims of former president Donald Trump — claims that have been thoroughly investigated and dismissed by myriad officials and courts. 

Experts said the insistence on such claims, despite the lack of evidence, reflects a willingness among election-denying candidates to undermine democratic institutions when it benefits their side. 

The Post’s count — assembled from public statements, social media posts, and actions taken by the candidates to deny the legitimacy of the last presidential vote — shows how the movement arising from Trump’s thwarted plot to overturn the 2020 election is, in many respects, even stronger two years later. 

Far from repudiating candidates who embrace Trump’s false fraud claims, GOP primary voters have empowered them. A Washington Post analysis found that in races for Congress and key statewide jobs, a majority of GOP nominees have denied the results of the 2020 vote. 

“I don’t believe we’ll ever have a fair election again,” Trump told the crowd. “I don’t believe it.” 

Scholars said the predominance of election deniers in the GOP bears alarming similarities to authoritarian movements in other countries, which often begin with efforts to delegitimize elections. Many of those promoting the stolen-election narrative, they said, know that it is false and are using it to gain power. 

“Election denialism is a form of corruption,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, the author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present” and a historian at New York University. “The party has now institutionalized this form of lying, this form of rejection of results. So it’s institutionalized illegal activity. These politicians are essentially conspiring to make party dogma the idea that it’s possible to reject certified results.” 

In the short term, scholars said, that party dogma is likely to produce multiple election challenges this fall from deniers who lose. It could poison the 2024 presidential race, as well. “It’s quite possible in 2022 we’re going to have a serious set of challenges before the new Congress is seated, and then this will escalate as we move toward 2024 and another presidential election, in which the candidates, again, almost required by the Trumpians, will be challenging election outcomes,” said Larry Jacobs, a politics professor at the University of Minnesota whose areas of study include legislative politics. 

In the longer term, Jacobs said, the country’s democratic foundations are at risk. “It is a disease that is spreading through our political process, and its implications are very profound,” Jacobs said. “This is no longer about Donald Trump. This is about the entire electoral system and what constitutes legitimate elections. All of that is now up in the air.” 

The Post has identified candidates as election deniers if they directly questioned Biden’s victory, opposed the counting of Biden’s electoral college votes, expressed support for a partisan post-election ballot review, signed on to lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 result, or attended or expressed support for the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Among the 299 are GOP candidates vying to take over from Republicans who, despite overall support for Trump, have refrained from embracing his false narrative of fraud. For instance, Eric Schmitt, the Missouri attorney general on the ballot for U.S. Senate this fall, was one of 18 Republican attorneys general and 126 House members who signed on to a lawsuit seeking to overturn the popular vote in Pennsylvania. He would replace Roy Blunt, a retiring GOP senator who voted to certify the 2020 election. 

In a statement explaining the vote at the time, Blunt cited the “more than 90 judges — many of them Republican-appointed, including several nominated by President Trump,” who dismissed attempts by Trump and his allies to prove the 2020 vote was marred by fraud. Also among the 2022 crop of election-denying candidates are those who actively promoted misinformation. 

Anna Paulina Luna, the GOP nominee in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, spread unfounded accusations on social media that Dominion Voting Systems equipment rigged the 2020 outcome and expressed support for decertifying Arizona’s result even after a partisan post-election audit found that Biden had indeed won the state. 

Some of the election deniers are themselves in line to oversee elections. Diego Morales, the nominee for Indiana secretary of state, declared on Facebook in 2021: “If we count every legal vote, President Trump won this election.” In Indiana, the secretary of state certifies results. 

All three of those candidates, and many more like them, are expected to win their November elections, barring major upsets. “My position is very clear,” Luna said in a statement provided to The Post. “We need to restore faith in the election process and that starts by asking questions on how we can improve election integrity.” 

 Morales, when asked through a spokesperson whether he continues to view the 2020 result as rigged, offered this statement: “Joe Biden is the legitimate president. He is doing a horrible job, but he is the president.” Schmitt did not respond to requests for comment. A Trump spokesman also declined to comment. 

The Republican fervor to elevate election deniers this midterm cycle comes at a time when pro-Trump allies and activists are continuing to doubt the administration of elections in the United States, demanding investigations of voter fraud and accusing state and local election officials of rigging races or using fraudulent voting equipment. 

The convergence of those forces as the November elections draw near raises the chances that some of the candidates who don’t win, along with their allies, are likely to question their defeats. A dozen Republican candidates in competitive races for governor and Senate queried last month by The Post declined to say whether they would accept the results of their contests. 

That, in turn, means that another close presidential contest in 2024 could produce even more chaos than what the country lived through in the aftermath of the 2020 vote, when pro-Trump rioters ransacked the Capitol. 

More officials may be willing to try to thwart the popular vote, potentially delaying results, undermining confidence in the democratic system and sowing the seeds of civil strife. The proportion of election deniers on the November ballot is particularly high in three of the battleground states where Trump contested his defeat in 2020: Arizona, Georgia and Michigan. 

Election deniers have targeted offices in each of those states — as well as in other battleground states, including Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania — potentially giving Republicans a platform from which to challenge a popular vote they do not agree with in 2024. 

The proportion is also higher among candidates for Congress, which holds the power to finalize — or contest — the electoral college count every four years. Among 419 Republican nominees for the U.S. House, 235, or 56 percent, are election deniers. And the vast majority of those, 148, are running in safely Republican districts, with another 28 in competitive races, according to ratings as of Oct. 5 by the Cook Political Report. 

There are already scores of election deniers in the House; 139 of them voted against the electoral college count after the violence of Jan. 6, 2021, had finally abated. But with 37 election deniers who are not incumbents running in safely Republican or competitive House districts, that number will almost certainly rise after November. 

 The attack: The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event Several scholars said one of the gravest implications of these candidates dominating the House majority caucus relates to their loyalty to Trump, who has steered the party toward near-universal fealty. “One of the questions about the Republican conference will be, who is the real leader?” said Steven Smith, a political science professor with a focus on Congress at Washington University in St. Louis. “If the party wins a majority and it seems to be due to the success of the deniers, it’s hard to imagine Trump not taking advantage of this by using his public power to press the conference to follow his wishes.” That could mean Trump demanding investigations into the administration, determining the GOP’s pick for speaker or dictating whether the House votes to impeach Biden, Smith said. Trump, who has never acknowledged Biden as the legitimate president, was twice impeached. 

Trump has amply demonstrated his penchant for driving Republican legislative action, including this past weekend, when he excoriated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for supporting a stopgap spending bill that included aid for Ukraine. 

Republicans who won their primaries thanks to a Trump endorsement may be reluctant to defy him. Smith noted, however, that there is also peril for Republicans in this moment. Although election deniers are on course to win in reliably Republican districts and states, it’s also possible that the party will lose more competitive races because of its focus on the issue. And those who do win could push for a more extreme agenda that could backfire. 

The only states where the GOP nominated a clean slate of election deniers are Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia, all of which are reliably Republican. But even in closely divided states where Democrats have been gaining in recent years, candidates who refuse to accept the 2020 result dominate within the GOP. 

Among the Republican nominees for Arizona’s nine House seats, all but one are election deniers, according to The Post’s analysis. Four of those are incumbents who voted against the electoral college count on Jan. 6, 2021. The four election-denying newcomers include candidates who promoted false claims that a partisan audit of the Arizona result proved that Trump really won, called for the “decertification” of the Arizona result or endorsed the unfounded findings of the documentary film “2000 Mules,” which claimed that thousands of Democratic activists stuffed ballot boxes with forged votes in 2020. 

Just two states — Rhode Island and North Dakota — did not nominate an election denier for any of the offices The Post examined. The Post’s count covers offices with direct supervision over election certification, such as secretaries of state. Lieutenant governors and attorneys general are also included, with each playing a role in shaping election law, investigating alleged fraud or filing lawsuits to influence electoral outcomes. It is not certain that all who embraced Trump’s false statements about 2020 would try to undermine a certified result in 2024. 

Indeed, several election-denying candidates who avidly parroted some of Trump’s unfounded accusations as they sought the former president’s endorsement during their primary races have begun walking back those positions as they focus on trying to win in November. Don Bolduc, a retired brigadier general who won the Republican Senate primary in New Hampshire in early September, declared during an August primary debate: “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election, and, damn it, I stand by my letter. I’m not switching horses, baby. This is it.” 

But days after his win, Bolduc shifted his attention to the general election against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), who is favored to win her bid for reelection. As he did so, his position on whether Biden had won two years ago shifted, too. “I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion — and I want to be definitive on this — the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said in an interview on Fox News. Days later, he suggested to a podcast aligned with the QAnon extremist ideology that he had simply bowed to political reality, and that “the narrative that the election was stolen, it does not fly up here in New Hampshire.” Then he repeated a sentiment that has become common among GOP candidates who stop short of denying the 2020 outcome but continue to cast doubt on the integrity of U.S. elections, even though experts and election officials say their claims are not true. “What does fly,” Bolduc said, “is that there was significant fraud and it needs to be fixed.” 

Alexander Fernandez, Hayden Godfrey, Solène Guarinos, Eva Herscowitz, Audrey Hill, Audrey Morales, Lalini Pedris, Alexandra Rivera and Ron Simon III with the American University-Washington Post practicum program and Vanessa Montalbano, Nick Mourtoupalas, Tobi Raji and John Sullivan contributed to this report.