September 28, 2020

Weather: It Can be Crazy in Pleasant Hill And The San Francisco Bay Area!

Weather

Outside Air Quality


One thing for sure about weather in the San Francisco Bay Area is that it can be crazy, particularly in summer and early autumn.  The area is full of micro climates; communities can have weather and temperatures that vary widely.  As in crazy wide!  And as Mark Twain famously said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

True.  And I never put clothes in storage, as you never know what type of clothing you'll need, given the wild gyrations in my local weather.

Pleasant Hill, California Temperatures


Summer and Early Autumn weather have once again been wild in Pleasant Hill where I live, some 26 miles east of San Francisco.  Everything from an extreme heat wave to below normal temperatures.  Take a look at the temperature range over the past 30 days (the month reading on the chart), as of yesterday, September 27, at 12:00 noon.  The data is from my Backyard Weather Station.

Data from Mary Rae Fouts' Backyard Weather Station
 as of Sunday, September 27 at 12:00 noon.

The temperature high over the past 30 days was 112.6*F.  The temperature low was 51.4*F.  That's a swing of 61.2*F over the past 30 days.  Crazy!

Just goes to show that Mother Nature is in charge, and there's no foolin' Her.

Pleasant Hill, California Air Quality


And the PurpleAir Air Quality Sensor Jim recently installed in our backyard has been so interesting to follow.  Thankfully, air quality has remarkably improved with dissipation of wildfire smoke.  But, you can see that we still experience a great fluctuation in air quality during the day, as shown by this multi-day data from my Backyard PurpleAir Air Quality Sensor, downloaded yesterday on September 17 at 12:00 noon.

Data From Mary Rae Fouts' Backyard PurpleAir Air Quality Sensor
a
s of Sunday, September 27 at 12:00 noon.

And by the way, if you enjoy following the weather at all, do install a Weather Station and a PurpleAir Air Quality Sensor in your yard.  Following your backyard weather and air quality is great fun and very, very interesting.  Current personal weather stations and air quality sensors are very sophisticated and not expensive.

Have a glorious end of September, everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 25, 2020

Julia Childs' Potatoes and Smoked Sausage: Always A Delicious and Easy Dish!

Julia Childs' Potatoes and Smoked Sausage


Julia Childs' Potatoes and Smoked Sausage is one of her famous, almost no recipe potato dishes.  And of course, it includes Julia's favorite ingredients:  butter and cream, or "all purpose cream" as she frequently called it.  So easy to make, endless variations, and always delicious, including leftovers.  It's a staple dish in my baking rotation.

Here's my most recent Potatoes and Smoked Sausage dish and ingredients.  Potatoes, Smoked Sausage, Cream, Butter, and Cheese are must ingredients.  Feel free to add other ingredients and seasonings of your choice.  Make some soon, you'll love it!

Julia Childs' Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

1 deep 9 inch pie pan
Yukon gold potatoes
salt and pepper smoked sausage
heavy cream
2 jumbo eggs
butter
olive oil
garlic
shishito peppers
dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
shredded Swiss cheese

Butter pie pan.  Peel and slice Yukon gold potatoes, making enough to fill the pie plate about 3/4 full.  Briefly boil potatoes in salted water until about 1/2 done.  Dice garlic and shishito peppers.  Saute in olive oil with Italian seasoning until garlic and peppers are soft.   In 1 cup measuring cup, beat the 2 eggs.  Add enough cream to measure 1 cup; mix to combine.

 In large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, sausage, sauteed veggies and herbs , pepper to taste.   (I don't add extra salt here, as the potato water was salted).  Gently mix to distribute ingredients, then place in buttered pie pan.  Pour cream mixture over potato and sausage mixture.  Top with shredded cheese.  Optional : Add a few dollops of butter on top of the cheese, just like Julia did!  Cover with foil, and place on cookie sheet in case the mixture runs over.  (Been there, done that. ☹️)

Bake in a moderate oven until bubbly and done to your liking.  Leftovers are delicious!






Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 23, 2020

Welcome Autumn and Blue Skies!

Autumn 2020
Wildfire Smoke


Autumn, which arrived yesterday, is my favorite season.  I always enjoy the change of scenery, with colored, falling leaves and cooler weather.  And, here in my Pleasant Hill neighborhood, acorns falling from oak trees.  Which you may or may not think is a good thing, when a falling acorn hits you smack dab on the head!  And the oak trees have provided a bumper crop of acorns this year, that's for sure.  The squirrels are loving Mother Nature's acorn feast!

And last Saturday, September 19, after so many wildfire smoke filled days, we awoke to much improved air quality and blue skies.  Blue skies!  What a delight to see blue skies and white clouds, and some fog mixed in in the morning.  Here are 2 photos taken Saturday morning, looking west from my 2nd story veranda.




It's possible we'll have more wildfire smoke this weekend, given a possible change in air flow.  It's going to be a hot one, for sure.  Another heat wave scheduled for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, with temperatures over 100*F.  Have a pleasant Autumn everyone!


Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 22, 2020

COVID-19: Wear A Damn Mask, And Wear It Correctly! What's So Difficult About That?

COVID-19

Face Masks


What's with people who either refuse to wear a face mask in public places when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained?  And what's with people who don't wear face masks correctly?

Take this Southwest Airlines flight from earlier this spring.  I can see at least 4 seated people who are not wearing a mask correctly, including having a mask hanging from their chins.  This is one reason why you couldn't pay me enough money to get on a commercial airplane today.

Photo Credit:  sfchronicle.com

And then take this photo; it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this summer.  Shows a woman leaving a Fresno hospital, her 3 children by her side.  She had just spent 2 months ... 2 months! ... in the hospital for COVID-19.  And take a look at her mask ... It's under her nose, providing no protection for others around her!  Same with the 2 daughter on her left.  The son is the only person wearing a mask correctly, over the nose. 

You would have thought the hospital would have instructed her on proper face mask wearing before discharging her from her 2 month, millions of dollars hospital stay.  No wonder whole families get sick from COVID-19, and spread COVID-19 onto others.

Photo Credit:  sfchronicle.com

And the pitiful part of this, we would have a grip on COVID-19 today if people would have properly worn face masks, in addition to implementing social distancing and avoiding groups, when the COVID-19 Pandemic started. And keep your hands washed and away from your face.  So much of the spread is directly related to individual behavior, including parties and other large social gatherings.  Pretty simple stuff, really.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 19, 2020

COVID-19 Restaurant Etiquette: This Is Exactly Why Most People Have No Desire To Eat At A Restaurant. Myself Included!

COVID-19
COVID-19 Restaurant Etiquette


Well, I guess I'm on a Restaurant Roll, for better or worse.  While I'm on the topic of restaurants, here's another post on the topic.

A recent Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle had a doozy of an article in the Food and Wine Section:  Pandemic restaurant etiquette: What to know before dining out right nowThe article ... which took up an entire page ...  went on ad nauseum about proper "etiquette" for dining out during the COVID-19 Pandemic, with a focus on San Francisco restaurants.  As in most of the San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco restaurants are currently only permitted to have outside dining and takeout/delivery.

Reading the article only reinforced what my husband Jim and I have talked about:  Most people have no desire to eat out now because it's simply not relaxing and not fun!  Duh!  Take this insightful paragraph, for example:

"Similarly, expect that restaurants may be asking you more questions, too, inquiring about your health and recent travel. This process might also include a contact-less temperature check, or a form requesting contact information in case the restaurant needs to reach you after your meal. It might feel more like a hospital visit, but remember, the restaurant is doing it to be safer. Prubechu in San Francisco, which modeled its questions after what hospitals are doing with visitors, requires diners to fill out questionnaires in part to help prevent its staffers from getting sick, owner Shawn Camacho said."
I'm sorry, but if eating at a restaurant is the equivalent of a trip to the hospital, why would anyone ... anyone ... want to eat out?  The restaurant industry has to adapt, and most restaurants aren't doing so, as noted by restaurant sales in San Francisco were down 86% this July from July 2019, and an estimated 50% or more of restaurants in San Francisco were closed in July.

Dining out in San Francisco ... No thanks!
Photo credit:  sfchronicle.com

One simple reason that restaurant sales are down in San Francisco is that eating out is not fun, nor relaxing.  Also, since March, people have grown accustomed to eating at home ... which I think is a good thing for family togetherness.  That routine has been going on for over 6 months now, and when people get into a routine, getting people to change the routine can be difficult.  And what the voluminous article interestingly failed to mention about dining outside in San Francisco, is this:
  1. The streets and sidewalks in San Francisco are filthy.  Who wants to eat on a filthy street or sidewalk?
  2. The weather in San Francisco can be cold and windy.  It's also very smoky now, with wildfire smoke drifting down to the ground.  Whos wants to dine outside in that environment?
  3. And regarding the health and travel questionnaires and temperature readings used by some restaurants, what do they do with the information?  Would you provide sensitive and very personal information information to a restaurant, with no guarantee that the information will remain private?  Who wants to share sensitive and private health information with a restaurant food server?  Duh!
  4. And who wants to dine outside in San Francisco's environment when you are surrounded by homeless people who may very well harass and threaten you, in addition to open air drug dealing and drug use.  Plus in some areas, the sidewalks and streets are littered with used drug needles and piles of human feces from encampments of homeless people.  Who wants to eat out amidst needles and feces?  Heck, even thinking of doing so ... or thinking that people will want to do so ... is downright crazy!
  5. And lastly, would you want to eat out knowing that restaurant workers may be infected with COVID-19, or that perhaps the last customer who ate off of your dishware and flatware, or drank out of your glass, was infected with COVID-19?   
What is "normal" is always in a state of change and flux.  But considering all of the above, eating out is not something I would allow in today's normal for my life.  Would you?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 16, 2020

Restaurants In San Francisco Say An "Extinction Event" Is Forthcoming Without More Federal Funding. $120 Billion Of Funding.

COVID-19

San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants

Dining Out During COVID-19


Another article appeared yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle (read it here) about the demise of San Francisco Bay Area restaurants during COVID-19 and its related business operating restrictions.  The San Francisco restaurant industry group Golden Gate Restaurant Association is warning of an upcoming "Extinction Event" for restaurants without another round of federal funding (such as the recent Paycheck Protection Loan program) for restaurants.  The specific new round of federal funding restaurant industry groups propose is the whopper of a $120 billion ... billion ... of taxpayer-funded bailout money for restaurants.  The program, titled the Restaurants Act, is currently pending in Congress. 

To this conundrum, I pose this question:  Why should the federal government provide money to a non-essential industry when consumer behavior has adversely changed towards this industry, namely restaurants and eating out?  And this isn't "government" money or "federal funds" but rather a programs funded by taxpayer dollars.  Taxpayer dollars paid by you and me.

I'm not just referring to restaurants in San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area, but rather the restaurant industry in general.  It's a difficult question to ask, but one that has to be considered.

In Contra Costa County (San Francisco East Bay) where I live, the first COVID-19 Shelter in Place order was issued more than 7 months ago, on March 16, 2020.   During these 7 months, peoples' behaviors, lifestyles, and daily routines have remarkably changed.  People are actually cooking at home and eating meals together at home, which I happen to think is a good thing.  (Admittedly, I am biased on this subject, given my love of cooking and baking.)  Cooking and eating at home has also greatly benefited the sale of kitchen appliances, kitchen gadgets, and related items.

Students are learning remotely from home; workers who can are working remotely from home.  More and more companies are now saying that remote working, when possible, will likely be a permanent working method.  In other words, the new working normal.

Restaurants in both San Francisco and Contra Costa County are presently allowed to have takeout service and outdoor dining.  Many restaurants require a thermal temperature check of patrons before seating them.  Some restaurants even require completion of an invasive health questionnaire, asking about very private health matters and recent travel industry.  Then there are the masks you must wear except when eating or drinking.  How fun and relaxing is that experience?  Answer:  It's not.

CDC Estimate:  35% of People Infected with COVID-19 are Asymptomatic


And if you are placing faith in thermal temperature checks to catch people with COVID-19, think again. In late May, the CDC estimated that 35% of people infected with COVID-19 were asymptomatic, including no temperature.   A recent study in South Korea, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association, found that asymptomatic people infected with COVID-19 may carry just as much of the virus in their nose, throat, and lungs as infected people who show symptoms.  And the asymptotic people may also carry the virus for just as long as symptomatic COVID-19 infected people.

Do you want to eat at a restaurant knowing that someone at the table next to you, or a restaurant employee, may be infected with COVID-19?  What if the customer who last ate or drank from the plates, flatware, and glassware you are now using was infected with COVID-19?  Do you want to get takeout from a restaurant, with the possibility that the person preparing your food is infected with COVID-19?

My answer to these questions is no.  And make that a hard no.


I'm not trying to bash a business segment.  Not in the least.  But we have to face the normal of today, and the revised lifestyle and health safety measures for all of us.  No one I've spoken with is clamoring to eat out at a restaurant.  Throwing $120 billion of taxpayer dollars to the restaurant industry isn't going to save the industry.  If anything, it's only kicking the can down the road, adding more time until restaurants fail and close.

And how do you define a restaurant for this funding?  The grocery market I shop at, family owned Diablo Foods, has a hot deli, a cold deli, and does catering.  Should they then be eligible for a piece of the $120 billion action, too?

And what special interest group gets the next industry-specific mega billion funding package?  Hair salons?  Nail salons?  Day Spas?

The restaurant industry is a non-essential business industry, and it's operations and customer patronage aren't miraculously going to revert back to pre-COVID 19 times.  It has to evolve just like all of the rest of us have had to do.  One San Francisco restaurant owner, who owns several restaurants in the city, complained in the Chronicle article that she was in desperate need of more federal funding to continue paying health insurance for her employees.  While, at the same time, she is working on opening yet another ... yep, another ... restaurant in San Francisco.  How can this owner of multiple San Francisco restaurants cry for federal funding, when she has the money to open up yet another restaurant in this very unfriendly restaurant environment?  Geesh!  Quit spending money; quit expanding.  Expanding a failing business model does not create a successful business model.  The days of "we'll build a restaurant, and customers will come" are over. 

As history has shown us time and time again, a government simply throwing money at a problem doesn't solve the problem.  And a new round of $120 in federal funding via the federal Restaurant Act  ... taxpayer-financed funding, from taxes paid by you and me ... thrown at the restaurant industry isn't going to solve their conundrum.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 13, 2020

Main Street Kitchen And Bar In Walnut Creek: How Can A Restaurant Be So Tone Deaf To The Current Horrific Wildfires and Choking Smoke in California?

Main Street Kitchen and Bar
Walnut Creek, California
Wildfire Smoke


Normally I am able to ignore ignorant, thoughtless, and plain stupid actions by people.  But this matter I was made aware of today really got my attention, and deserves a good old fashioned rant.  And a Bonehead Award, too.

Northern California is covered in horrific wildfires now, resulting in loss of life and extensive property damage.  The area is filled with choking wildfire smoke in dangerous levels.  The PurpleAir Air Quality Sensor I purchased arrived 2 days ago, on Friday, September 11.  We installed it that afternoon.  Here is a graph of the sensor's air quality readings (sensor ID redacted) from yesterday, Saturday, September 12.



The average air quality reading yesterday was 210.3, which ranks "Very Unhealthy" on the air quality scale.  The sensor recorded a high reading of 322 yesterday, which ranks "Hazardous" on the air quality scale.  Here's a recent photo of choking wildfire smoke in my neighborhood.  The air is absolutely putrid and unhealthy.


Main Street Kitchen and Bar in Walnut Creek, California


Which brings me to Main Street Kitchen and Bar in Walnut Creek.  Ate there one time.  Both the service and food was terrible, would never go back.  Plus, the wife/owner Lauren is completely psycho.  For negative reviews, she actually trolls the customer, reviewing security camera footage ... or "the tapes" as she calls it ... to try to figure out who the customer is, and to spy on the customer.  And she responds to negative reviews with sicko comments.  That's plain psycho and nuts in the head.

I'm not the only person to have a very negative experience at Main Street Kitchen and Bar.  I read one Google review from a diner who ate there in August.  She was actually charged $2.50 extra for parmesan cheese to go with her spinach ravioli, an entree she described as a complete flop.  I mean, what restaurant charges $2.50 extra for parmesan cheese that should automatically accompany pasta?!  What's next, an extra charge for each piece of flatware on the table?

But this social media post yesterday from Main Street Kitchen really is a piece of work.  Completely disrespectful to the suffering, loss of property, and loss of life in California due to the current wildfires and choking smoke.

What did Main Street Kitchen and Bar do?  The restaurant actually posted on Facebook yesterday, Saturday, September 12 ... a day when the air was filled with choking smoke, with an average air quality reading of 210.3 and a high air quality reading of 322 ... about the "unique smoky flavor" imparted by their "Artisan Wood Fire Oven".  Here's the Facebook post and (poor) posted photo of the "Artisan Wood Fire Oven":

credit:  facebook.com

credit:  facebook.com

Memo to Main Street Kitchen and Bar:  Quit using your damn "Artisan" Polluting Wood Fire Oven!  You've earned a Bonehead Award for your thoughtless stupidity!  We don't need any more damn smoke in the area.  Today, Sunday, September 13 marks the 27th straight Spare The Air Day, and you are burning wood to cook, adding only more unhealthy smoke to the air?!

And how about an ounce of compassion for the people in California who are choking on wildfire smoke.  For the people who have lost property and have lost lives in the current wildfires.  No one cares about your damn "unique smoky flavor".  We've all got more than enough smoke to deal with.  We don't need your damn "Artisan" Wood Fire Oven belching smoke into the environment, adding more smoke to the choking and very unhealthy wildfire smoke already present around us.  Geesh!

And while you're at it, perhaps address your ongoing Major Health Department Inspection Violations for Improper Hot and Cold Holding Temperatures of your food.  (See Contra Costa Health Department inspection details below.)  What are you trying to do, add a good dose of salmonella to each menu item?  And how about adequate hand washing facilities while you're at it?  Yuck!


It's downright headshaking how lame brain stupid and disrespectful some people can be ... in this case, the Bonehead Award Winners and Owners of Main Street Kitchen and Bar in Walnut Creek.

My rant for today is now done.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  She is an avid cook and baker, and a stickler for proper food handling and food safety.  For more information about Mary's professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 11, 2020

Caster Semenya: Intersex Athlete Loses Swiss Supreme Court Appeal - Must Decrease Testosterone Levels to Continue Competing Against Women

Caster Semenya.
Caster Semenya Swiss Supreme Court Appeal Dismissed.


I've posted about Caster Semenya before (see posts and photos below).  Caster Semenya is the 2-time women's 800 meter Olympic champion, who crushed the women's field in both Olympics, as well as in other races.

Problem is, Caster Semenya is an athlete who identifies as female, yet has male testes that continuously generate testosterone levels equal to that of a male.  Medical tests indicate Semenya has only male sex chromosomes, and no female sex chromosomes.  Zilch.  Nada.

But because Semenya identifies as female, track and field regulatory bodies had allowed Semenya to compete in women's track events, including the 800 meter race.  I have felt, and continue to feel, that that decision was incredibly unfair to other women competitors, given the extremely unfair advantage Semenya maintained with her greatly elevated testosterone levels.  Eventually regulators re-examined this decision, and as posted below, agreed with me, ruling that Caster Semenya must do the following:
  1. Take hormone-suppressing drugs and reduce her testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter for six months before competing, and maintain those lowered levels; or
  2. If she chooses to not reduce and maintain lowered testosterone levels, she must compete against men; or
  3. She can enter competitions for intersex athletes, if any are offered.
Caster Semenya with her lawyer in 2019.
Credit:  Laurent Gillieron/Keystone, via Associated Press
Additional Photo Credit: nytimes.com

Caster Semenya appealed this decision to the Swiss Supreme Court.  The Court recently dismissed the appeal, meaning Semenya must decrease her testosterone levels with medication or surgery if she wants to continue competing against women.

Caster Semenya has indicated that she will not lower her testosterone levels.

Duh!  Of course Caster Semenya isn't going to reduce her testosterone levels to allowable female levels and compete against women!  If she were to lower her testosterone levels to allowable female levels, her 800 meter times would greatly slow.  She would no longer be a winner and a champion competing against women.  And that, my friends, would prove the whole argument that Caster Semenya did indeed have an egregiously unfair advantage competing against women in track events.

A fair and just decision, indeed.  However, it is a pity that so many female 800 meter track athletes were jilted and gypped by Caster Semenya's egregiously unfair, testosterone-fueled advantage over the past decade or so.

~~ Originally Posted May 3, 2019  ~~

Caster Semenya
The two-time Olympic gold medalist in the women's 800 meter race.

An athlete who identifies as a female, yet has male testes which continuously generate testosterone levels equal to that of a male.

In spite of this testosterone-generated muscle-building and enhanced oxygen-carrying capacity, Semenya has been allowed to compete as a woman in woman's elite track events.  I posted about this matter twice in 2016 (see my August 24, 2016 post below), and stated I did not believe it was fair to the rest of the female competitors to allow Semena to compete as a female.  I felt then as I do now, that Semena's greatly increased testosterone level gives her a competitive advantage not attainable by the other female athletes, and therefore creates an unequal playing field.

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport recently agreed with me.  The Court ruled (2-1) that if Semenya wants to keep participating in at major track international competitions, she must do one of the following:
  1. Take hormone-suppressing drugs and reduce her testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter for six months before competing, and maintain those lowered levels; or
  2. If she chooses to not reduce and maintain lowered testosterone levels, she must compete against men; or
  3. She can enter competitions for intersex athletes, if any are offered.

Caster Semenya Has No Female Sex Chromosomes,
Only Male Sex Chromosomes


Oh, and by the way, the Court's ruling also stated that Semenya's genetic testing showed that she has only XY Chromosomes, or Male Sex Chromosomes.  She has no ... zero ... XX Chromosomes, or Female Sex Chromosomes.  You can learn more about that finding and related technical information here.  Semenya was born with male testes and no female reproductive organs

Some people are arguing that the Court's decision is not fair to Semenya, as she identifies as a female and her high testosterone levels are naturally produced.  I don't buy that argument.  Why?  Well, if the Court's decision is truly unfair to Semenya, it is also unfair that female athletes are prohibited from taking anabolic steroids, which would allow them to compete with Caster Semenya on a level playing field.

Also, in elite sporting events, why should it matter at all if an athlete "identifies" as female or male?  If a person identifies as a fish, do we then need to create an Olympic Fish Category so the fish-identifiers are not discriminated against?  Geesh!

Lastly, if males who conveniently identify as female are allowed to compete as females in elite sporting events, the female sporting divisions will be flooded with male athletes who use this permission to game the system.  After all, winners of  Olympic and other major sporting event can earn $$$ millions in sponsorship fees and royalties.  We may never see a biological female on the podium again.

~~ Originally posted August 24, 2016 ~~

I posted about the Olympic Games yesterday, and mentioned Caster Semenya, the "intersex" female who crushed the women's 2016 Olympic 800 meter field to win the race.

Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, has indicated the IAAF will likely challenge the ruling which stopped monitoring of female athletes who have extremely high testosterone levels. The ruling allowed Caster Semenya to discontinue taking testosterone-lowering medication, which had the direct effect of a dramatic decrease in Semenya's middle-distance race times.

Read the article in the Guardian here.

And here is the photo on the article. Pretty telling, huh?



I'm sorry, but this person should not be allowed to race as a woman.  Being sensitive to Caster Semenya's physical deformities is one thing.  But allowing her to compete as a woman is quite another thing, and is simply not fair to the rest of the competitors.  No woman would naturally have this physical appearance, nor would a woman naturally have a sky-high testosterone level.

Hopefully common sense will prevail.  But then again, as my late father-in-law said, "There is really no such thing as common sense, because sense is not common."

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 8, 2020

Insurance: When Is The Last Time You Reviewed Your Insurance Policies?

Insurance Policy Review
Insurance Consulting



I know, insurance is not the most exciting topic to talk about.  Nonetheless, it's an important topic of discussion that is all too often ignored.

Pretty much everyone has some type of insurance coverage for their health, home, business, life, and other risks.  Most people rely solely on the advice of a commissioned sales insurance agent or website, receive the insurance policy, and promptly place the insurance policy in a folder to gather dust.

If that's you, that's a habit that needs to change.  When is the last time you reviewed your insurable risks and current insurance policies?  Do you have adequate insurance coverage?  Do you have insurance policies or coverage you are paying for, but perhaps really don't need?  Or perhaps your insurance agent is recommending you replace current insurance coverage with a different policy, or an increase in coverage?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides non-commissioned, Insurance Consulting Services providing insurance risk analysis, insurance coverage recommendations, and periodic insurance policy reviews.  Mary does not sell any insurance or annuity products.  Receiving objective, non-commissioned Insurance Consulting Advice from Mary ensures that such advice is based on your best interests, without the inherent conflict of interest from a commissioned insurance agent and insurance policy sale.

Mary  welcome your call to (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com to  discuss your insurance concerns.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 5, 2020

Homeowners Insurance: Know the Risks Your Policy Covers. And What Risks It Doesn't.

Homeowners Insurance.



Homeowners Insurance is required if you have a mortgage on your property.  But truly, folks, Homeowners Insurance is simply essential to carry if you own a home. 
True, you may never make a claim on the policy ... And that would be a good thing!  But if you incur a significant - or perhaps catastrophic - loss such as a fire in your home, the financial burden of the loss may simply be too much for you to bear.

But do you know what is ... and is not ... covered for loss or liability on your Homeowners Insurance policy  Let's take a look at pest damage, and when such damage is ... or is not ... generally covered under an insurance policy.  You might just be in for some surprises!

Pest Damage
Is Pest Damage Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?


Just discovered you have a termite problem in your home and garage?  Or perhap you've discovered roof rats in your attic, and areas in your home the rodents have chewed through to gain entrance.

If you think your Homeowners Insurance will pay for the termite abatement, or that your insurance will pay for trapping the rodents and repairing the rodent-induced damage to your home, you're out of luck.  Damage from small pests - such as mice, rats, squirrels, and termites - is generally not a covered loss under Homeowners Insurance.  Policies typically define these small pests as "vermin" in the coverage exclusion.


On the other hand, damage from large pests is generally a covered event.  So if a bear smashes its way into your home and consumes the 2 cartons of mint chip ice cream in your freezer and the  pounds of cheese in fridge, the damage to your home, including the is cream and cheese, is generally a covered loss.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

September 2, 2020

Are You An Employee Working Remotely From Home? Sorry, But No Home Office Deduction For You On Your Taxes.

Home Office Income Tax Deduction.



One of the income tax benefits of being self-employed with a home office is the income tax deduction for your home office space.
  The space must be used regularly and exclusively as your home office, so the corner of a bedroom doesn't count.  This deduction isn't huge or anything.  But hey, every little bit helps when it comes to income tax deduction.


Employee Working Remotely From Home?
No Home Office Income Tax Deduction For You.

But ... here's the bad news for employees that are now working remotely from home due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:  Even if you have a home office that you are using regularly and exclusively for your remote work, there is no home office income tax deduction for you.  Why?  Because in current tax code, the home office income deduction is only for self employed individuals, who take it on Schedule C for Self-Employed income and deductions.

Unfortunately, the home office deduction, from a regulatory standpoint, is not available to employees working remotely, even if a room in the home and it's use complies with home office requirements.  And this includes working remotely when you have to ... not by choice ... during events such as this ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

As both a self-employed individual and an Enrolled Agent licensed by the United States Department of the Treasury, do I think this is far for remote working employees?  Nope.  Not in a long shot.  But then again, the only thing I know that is truly fair in life is a baseball hit between first and third bases.

Perhaps tax code will change sometime in the future to allow a home office income tax deduction for remotely working employees.  Unfortunately, currently I know of no talk about this change, either on a federal level or California state level.

Mary Rae Fouts, EA . Fouts Financial Group


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts