No, it isn’t marijuana (I think)

In past springs I would labor at digging holes deep enough to please the tomato plants, then as the trees overlooking my garden grew taller and left my plots in shadow, I moved my operations to pots on the deck, big pots, but, it seemed, never big enough. My reward in tomatoes was skimpy in size and number no matter how much fertilizer I poured on; the variety was Big Boy, only they came out Little Cherries.

This year I went straight for the throat. I purchased a 1.5 cubic-foot sack of garden soil prepped for vegetables (“Feeds For Three Months”), made a hole in the top and stuck in the tomato plant. For stability, I slung the sack into a pot, which I set on wheels so that I could wheel it into shelter if it rained. I didn’t want the plant to drown with no outlet through the plastic.

Proudly, I then took a picture of the scene and sent it to my nephew but must have transposed a number, for the reply text said: “Wrong number, but it’s ok. OMG! Is it marijuana?”

My hasty reply: “No no. Tomato plant. Sorry for wrong number.”

Back came: “That’s ok. I won’t report you.”

I hope he/she doesn’t. Still waiting.


The furor over Cuba

You hear cries from Cuban Americans whose hard-won asylum in the United States seems to grant them unique say in how we should treat Cuba. The fact that they are able to speak out at all is telling in itself.

The son of Cuban immigrants Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is particularly vocal about President Obama’s “betrayal” of our decades-old stance against Cuba as Pariah. Those protests conveniently gloss over the western world’s admission of Communist China and Communist Vietnam into our orbit of trade. Yes, it isn’t a love affair with those countries, but could we continue blanking out a massive area such as China and still maneuver around them?

Nominally communist but in a supremely laughable turnabout, China and Vietnam are sending their kids to school in the United States to learn capitalism and bring it back to their countries. Meanwhile, within their borders, the educated parts of the populace are giving evidence of growing unrest.

What better way to undermine the communist manifesto than to give citizens a chance to acquire capitalist ways? As of this writing, China has more billionaires than the United States. The usual graft is well and thriving in government agencies. Rotting from the inside, shall we say?

The Cuban-Americans’ cry of outrage at human rights violations in their country of origin is comical because they choose to ignore the truly stupendous atrocities committed against human beings in China and Vietnam, not to speak of Cambodia with its infamous field of skulls. And yet they are our trade partners!

I myself am a refugee from Communist China and I understand why it is vital to maintain touch in hopes of changing their landscapes to a more reasonable version of a civilized society. Continuing to shut them out is not clever. Offered a taste of a better life through work and trade, the regimes will collapse the same way that the Soviet Union has, not that Russia has become a friendly and stable world partner. Perhaps that is because President Putin is a holdover from the old KGB days and operates like a dictator. But his days will run down; he is mortal, like any dictator the world has ever seen.

So, Cuban-Americans, open up your minds and stop your blathering!

Trump “University”

Donald Trump is being sued by 8,000 former students in two class-action suits. They had responded to a radio ad announcing that experts handpicked by Donald Trump were coming to Oakland to teach the billionaire real-estate magnate’s best trade secrets (I quote from the San Francisco Chronicle).

But these hopefuls assert that in addition to losing thousands of dollars attempting to buy and flip real estate property, they were let down by the promised mentors who were supposed to accompany their business steps. These counselors did not return calls or offered only generic advice, and then there was silence.

The students are now broke, many having taken out second mortgages. They have rueful memories of Trump in a promotional video: “We’re gonna teach you better than the business schools are gonna teach you — and I went to the best business school,” said Trump, appearing professorial in a book-lined study. “It’s going to be a better education.”

Still quoting from the Chronicle: In the video, Trump promised “professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific. Terrific people. Terrific brains. …We’re going to have the best of the best.” He said the professors “are all people that are handpicked by me.” But, according to the lawsuit, most of the instructors turned out not to be professors. “They were high-pressure salespeople that knew the real-estate lingo.” (this statement from plaintiff Mr. George Hanus of Fremont)

Further, the “University” is unchartered. Terrific. Wonder where he stands with the law on this?

I thank San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Nanette Asimov: email: Twitter: @NanetteAsimov.

The Tonight Show

I have taken to taping The Tonight Show and then next evening at about 7 p.m. watching the the opening segment when Jimmy Fallon takes the stage. His commentary on a variety of topics — mostly political — cracks me up.

Naturally, his take on The Donald has to be wicked and showed clips of him in the various frozen facial attitudes which we have all become familiar with; with these Fallon provides shrill noises. He mentioned Ted Cruz sneering about Marco Rubio wearing high-heeled boots, then showed Rubio in a clip when, presumably, not wearing his high heels. We see only the top of his head.

Then Fallon brings up Trump’s best friend, Russia’s President Putin. Referring to a news report that Russia has developed a cure for Ebola after testing the drug on rats, Fallon says a reporter asked Putin, “Rats. Really?” Putin replies, “Well, we consider them rats.”

I look forward to the next taping.

The Publishers Clearing House item

Like millions of other people, I receive mailings from Publishing Clearing House. Once in a great while I have ordered something, light bulbs, once some sugar-free macaroons. And of course have never won anything in their perennial prize offerings.

Yesterday I saw an item in their current mailing that I simply had to do something about, the “Colorful Glass Bee & Wasp Trap — They fly in but won’t fly out!” (That’s another thing about PCH, their ad copies must have used up the universe’s supply of exclamation marks a million times over).

Here we are in an America beleaguered by frightening die-offs of bees owing to a virus as well as applications of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, with alarms ringing out across the land over impending subsequent disaster to our crops, and good ol’ PCH is flogging bee and wasp traps. Even wasps have their uses in crop pollination.

What next from PCH, a monarch butterfly trap?

Comparing us to Europe

Here we sit, a vast continent a far distance by sea and air from the turmoil in the Mideast. Daily we view the wracking pictures and stories of refugees storming the borders and shores of Turkey, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany and Italy, the latter a country struggling with recession.

If Russia, through its bombing of Syria, should find human fallout entering its backdoor, would it cease its support of Syria’s President Assad? Under present conditions no refugee no matter how stricken wants to go to Russia, which would no doubt forthwith truck the unfortunate right back to Syria as an opponent of their ally, the Syrian government.

The shoals of human wreckage in those countries form a heartrending wail to heaven and an echoing misery in their host governments. The United States has its own struggles overseas and there is a general malaise amongst those citizens who are angry about the inequality of income and government failures.

Tr          is future diplomatic opposites? By declaring bankruptcy, which he has done five times in his business history and causing tens of thousands of job losses, in order to start over? By confronting our military heads in his inimitable style and being in turn confounded? The president of Mexico has remarked that Trump reminds him of Mussolini. The UK government has expressed its distaste for him. Russia’s Putin says he likes him, prompting a loving response from Trump. I think this is Putin’s private joke, or else he looks forward to a chaotic reign under President Trump.

With a political system able to host a Trump in our midst, are we so badly off, then, as Europe?