Recent News: American Politics (SATIRE)

Take a breath America.


I tried my hand at writing political satire. (The “Purple Party” is a person who identifies politically as a combination of Red and Blue, and has a limited member of one, ME, at the moment.)


Trump: Hydroxychloroquine is a TERRIFIC treatment for COVID-19! (The internet explodes.)

The Left: THAT evil, morally-repugnant, God-forsaken, masochistic, and racist human is now putting even more Americans at risk by advocating the use of a scientifically unproven drug. LET’S STICK TO SCIENCE! There’s no proof of the drug’s safety and efficacy! Aren’t 200,000+ people enough to die on your watch, Mr. Trump?

The Right: Call him President Trump! He deserves your respect!”

The Purple Party (Me): If scientists and doctors say we shouldn’t do something, we probably shouldn’t: Like that time when I was little and was sucking on a penny and accidentally swallowed it. My mother raced me to the doctor who said I should never do that again. I haven’t sucked on pennies since.

The Media (stirs pot):  Trump is suddenly hospitalized with the virus after being on the campaign trail, potentially putting legions of people at risk!

The Left:  Give him Hydroxychloroquine! Let’s see how he thinks it works now!

The Right: Wait what? Trump has “The Rona?” So, it’s legit for realz? (Asks everyone they know how they go about finding a mask someplace.)

The Left: Serves him right! Had he worn a mask, he wouldn’t be in this spot, nor would he have put numerous lives at stake! That non-mask wearing demon finally gets what he deserves! Karma is a bitch! Die! Die! Die!

The Purple Party (Me):

(Directed at the left) Whoa. Come on folks. That’s super harsh. Let’s take a step back and show concern for the President and the First Lady.

(Directed to the Right) Glad to see you are on board with the masks! They make sense. I really like the cute, plaid, 3-ply cotton ones I picked up at Target for $4.99 in a two-pack. You should try there first!

The Left:  It’s a conspiracy, Trump is faking it to get votes! 

Biden: Tweets something about “a time for unison” while simultaneously launching his new campaign video targeting one of the fastest growing demographics in America: Dog Lovers

The Purple Party (Me): Damn it Biden! You didn’t just call in the dogs, did you? The Dems may have just won me over with that. I do love me some dogs. Awww. Look at all those cute Presidential puppies! Poo-Poo Trump, you with NO Presidential Pooch!

The Left: Trump is faking it to show people how easy it is to recover from the disease, which will result in more deaths!

The Right: Haha! You just said it’s easy to recover from the disease! Na-Na-Na-Na-Na!

Doctors: Dudes. Mellow. Trump is not faking it. He’s sick! Otherwise why would we tolerate having to see him in his hospital gown for the past few days?

Trump chokes down Regeneron’s (not yet proven by science for its safety and efficacy) “miracle drug” by Regeneron. America’s political front is silent for the first time in 1409 days as everyone takes in a breath, waits to see what happens.

The Rest of the World: Bummed the right fails to blow up the internet about Trump’s second-coming-of-Christ-like efforts to single-handedly save the American people, and possibly the planet, by using himself as a human, tweeting, medically-divine guinea pig. And, equally disappointed the left just let Trump’s apparent suicide attempt go like that. We mean…it must have been a suicide attempt, right? Trump just subjected himself to that dastardly, unproven-by-science-type-medicine they’d been advocating against for months. Come on, give us something over here! (Bored, they all turn to Netflix for the first time since Trump became president.)

Regeneron CEO: Whoa guys. Hold on a second. Whoopsie. About that one thing. Our drug is still under trial, and since PETA let our animals out of their cages years ago, we’ve only tested THAT drug on Barbie dolls and Build-A-Bears. Never on humans. And certainly never on, arguably…gulp…the most powerful leader in the world.

Regeneron’s stock goes up 18 points.

Trump: Still in the hospital where The Left wishes his room came equipped with a noose, is sitting on his hands, wondering if he choked down that new Regeneron drug too soon. He checks to see how the stock is doing, and once satisfied, announces to himself, alone in his room, “Regeneron is just TERRIFIC! I FEEL TERRIFIC!”

The Right: Depletes Target’s inventory of cute, plaid, 3-ply masks nationwide thinking if Trump got “The Rona” they could get it too. That makes the news, and Target’s stock goes up.

The Left: Trump is faking it to win big with his Wall Street clones! Bet he’s got stock in Regeneron!

Trump: Gets scared, dumps his 30 shares and tries to figure out how to avoid the small gain on his taxes. Calls his CPA. Secretly, every Leftist Millennial in the nation puts in a trade for Regeneron.

Regeneron stock goes up another 9 points.

The Right: Across Facebook vehemently defends Trump’s tax return, and points out Trump only had $1000 invested in the company that makes Hydroxychloroquine.

The Media: We demand to know what is going on with Trump! We need the facts so we can fail to report them accurately! With Trump silent, we have nothing to spin to keep the American people divisive! Plus, how are we supposed to remain relevant, and get our ad click revenue, if Trump doesn’t give us something soon?

Pelosi: I have the right to know how Trump is doing, especially since I’m THIRD in line to assume power over this country! (A witchy cackle is heard across the land.)

The Rest of the World:  Shut-up Pelosi! Where’s Trump?

The Left: Remains quiet about Pelosi’s non-masking wearing salon visit, caught on video, whereby she claims she was set-up (for not wearing a mask in a public space.) When people inquire, Right or Left, they divert the conversation to, “Have you seen Biden’s dog video?”

The Rest of the World: Americans and their dogs. We just don’t get it.

Pence: Why didn’t Trump just get a damn dog? Awww. Look at those cute Presidential Poochies. Puts in an email to Biden from his private server that reads, “Well played. I have a dog.”

Women on The Left in the South: Unanimously forgive Pelosi for her spa visit faux pas because, Darlin’ did you NOT see the roots on THAT woman?

Trump responds to the media and Pelosi: Steps outside the hospital because “The American population has the right to know, 24/7, he’s “ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIC!” Sends the message, loud and clear, Pelosi doesn’t have a rat’s chance in hell to become president.

The Rest of the World:  Trump speaks! (Takes break from binge-watching Schitt’s Creek.)

The Left: Fails to see the mask emblazoned across Trump’s face when he takes a antiviral cocktail and steroid-induced joyride with his secret service agents to satiate the media, Pelosi, the American public, and his ego. The Left quips in unison across Twitter, “He’s putting the lives of his security team at stake by getting into the car with them!”

Trump’s Secret Service Agents: WTF just happened?

The Right: Haha! Gotcha! You said if Trump had worn a mask while on the campaign trail, he wouldn’t be in the position he was in. So now he has one on (shows Meme to prove point), so his agents are safe, right? Unless masks DON’T really work? (They all return their cute, plaid, cotton 3-ply masks to Target. Target’s stock goes down.)

Trump: Back at the hospital is growing concerned he hasn’t been able to pee straight since he took his anti-viral cocktail.

Regeneron CEO: Still shitting Twinkies.

The Left: If only Trump had CLOSED our borders sooner, you know the borders we fought that racist to keep OPEN back when America was the Melting Pot of the world, and when everyone was welcome here, NO QUESTIONS ASKED and NO MATTER WHAT…unless you are Chinese, and travelling from Wuhan, and carrying a disease that shuts down Coachella.

The Right: Dems can’t have it both ways! Border control or no border control? Pick one! Build that wall! MAGA! MAGA!

The Left: More than 200,000+ people have died in America, Trump! And why didn’t they get that special anti-viral drug and that same SPECIAL treatment you just got? Hmmm?

The Right: You mean “special treatment” as in from the same doctors you have revered for the past seven months that took an oath to treat, even Trump, during this pandemic with compassion, and with an experimental drug just like Hydroxychloroquine…sorry, don’t know how to pronounce it…that is not yet proven safe or effective? What about your “Let’s STICK TO SCIENCE” argument? So, now you want to abandon science and give people Trump’s “special” treatment?”

The Purple Party (Me): I’m beginning to think maybe it’s ok to suck on pennies.

Regeneron up $34.20 a share at market close.

I Don’t Forgive You


“Stubborn“ – painted sketch on canvas
By TONIA ALLEN GOULD #naiveart

We are living in an age where people expect everyone to be perfect, all the time, and this New Age idealism has me troubled. “Like it or not, all humans are imperfect. Perfection is an ideal that cannot be reached.” (Lazarsfeld, 1991).

From the time we are born we live and learn and (hopefully) grow, but sometimes we make mistakes. We fall down. We pick ourselves back up by our proverbial bootstraps. We continuously fail or succeed. No one is infallible. No one is exempt from imperfection. No one is, nor will ever be, perfect.

But, we are mandating each other to be more and more perfect, to match our own ideals, everyday. We have a “holier than though” mentality. We want people to fit into the mold we’ve created and shaped for them, and when someone doesn’t fit perfectly, we are disappointed. We rationalize that they’ve failed us. Perhaps we are giving up too easily, or too early, on each other? And, if that is the case, human beings with value and worth are being discarded like nothing more than the day’s trash.

“Perfection is subjective because its definition depends upon one’s social, moral, cultural, personal standards, and world-view. Thus, any claim upon perfection can and will always remain a relative perfection.”

-Acceptance of Imperfection
Erin Martz, MA, CRC
University of Arkansas

In this age of loving and hating Kevin Hart, and Ellen DeGeneres, and Biden or Trump, perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on our intense need to require anyone, ever, to be perfect all the time. That’s not to say there are no inexcusable offenses. Just be clear, you set what is inexcusable, based upon your “social, moral, cultural, personal standards, and world-view. Thus, any claim upon perfection can and will always remain a relative perfection.” Because we are human our standards are, in fact, imperfect.

My history shaped me. Yours shaped you. Our strong desire to force feed our individual idealistic concepts of perfection down each other’s throats is just another form of human imperfection. No one can make another human being think or feel anything. We can’t transfer the history that shaped each of us onto someone else. We are not transferable.

Have we become too hypercritical of each other? Are we forgetting to recognize that people are designed to make mistakes? Are we losing our ability to forgive? Imposing our ideals of perfection, on each other, may be robbing us of the essence of being human. Imperfection, by my estimation, is the very thing that makes us human in the first place.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mohandas Gandhi

Singer/Songwriter Creative Session


My son’s best friend, Shea Colburn, is working out my lyrics and the melody to my new song, “The Duke Died in June.” I think the best iteration of this song could be with a mood shift from up tempo to melancholy vocals, or vice-versa. What do you think? In any case, please view all of this as a work in progress while we “find the music.”

I love the creative process.

Melancholy Version

Up Tempo version

America, Put Down Your Weapons. Your Words are Lethal.

The black community has been drowning in the noise created by white people for a very long time. But right now, the black community deserves to have the mic and the platform. The black community is entitled to their rage, and we need to be in their audience listening, because white people have stolen their stories from them before. Remember when Colin Kaepernick took his knee? That was a black community story, and it was completely highjacked, ransacked, and looted by white people. The nation took a black story and made it white. We made it American. We made it about the military. We made it about respect. We made it about everything but a black football player who took a stand with his knee to serve his black community. White people stole the Colin Kaepernick story. Just like white people are now stealing the George Floyd story. We are making it about politics. We are making it about who we want in office come November. We are making it about crime. We are making it about rioting and looting. We are making it about Blue Lives Matter. And, All Lives Matter. And, about protestors convening without COVID-19 masks. We are once again turning a black story, white.


America feels like the land of the lost. We’ve become a wayward, hopeless mess of people. We’ve lost our way because we have forgotten our sense of place, and we’ve lost the concept of “home.” Until we put down our weapons of mass destruction, our words, and understand the true weight they carry, we will remain hopelessly and permanently, lost.

Americans have a “It’s my way, or the highway” mentality.

“What is home? My favorite definition is a safe place, a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.”

Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life

I think what Ms. Hunt is saying there is “home” is just an imaginary word, and an imaginary place, unless everyone feels safe and supported in it. America, the “land of the free and the home of the brave” feels like fake news. I’m sure I’m not alone here in this sentiment, but America doesn’t feel much like home these days. Our citizens have been stumbling around, wayward, and hopelessly lost. Instead of trying to find answers that live within ourselves, we’ve taken a liking to force-feeding our own ideals down each other’s throats. That concept doesn’t work well at the dinner table, and it certainly doesn’t bode well on Facebook and Twitter. But, we do it anyway, and everyone is left feeling out of place.

One thing is clear though, our black brothers and sisters seem to be feeling much less “at home” than the rest of us. And, that sense of hopelessness has turned to pure, unadulterated rage. But despite our nation being in an elevated crisis surrounding racial injustices, Americans continue yielding words against each other like weapons, because we don’t agree with each other about anything. And, when we all do finally agree on something, like the senseless death of a black man at the hands of a police officer, perhaps our own noise about everything else is drowning out the people who really need to be heard right now.

The black community has been drowning in the noise created by white people for a very long time. But right now, the black community deserves to have the mic and the platform. The black community is entitled to their rage, and we need to be in their audience listening, because white people have stolen their stories from them before. Remember when Colin Kaepernick took his knee? That was a black community story, and it was completely highjacked, ransacked, and looted by white people. The nation took a black story and made it white. We made it American. We made it about the military. We made it about respect. We made it about everything but a black football player who took a stand with his knee to serve his black community. White people stole the Colin Kaepernick story. Just like white people are now stealing the George Floyd story. We are making it about politics. We are making it about who we want in office come November. We are making it about crime. We are making it about rioting and looting. We are making it about Blue Lives Matter. And, All Lives Matter. And, about protestors convening without COVID-19 masks. We are once again turning a black story, white.

Maybe we are not supposed to be enraged for the black community this time? Perhaps the black community doesn’t need white people fighting this, their biggest of battles -highjacking their biggest headline – yet again? Perhaps, the black community doesn’t need anything from us. Or, perhaps they only need us to silently rally alongside them, listen, support their efforts, pay patronage to their businesses, lend a helping hand to clean-up their streets, hear their hopes, and their dreams, and watch as they do the lion’s share of the work that’s in front of them? We wouldn’t know, because likely we aren’t asking our black communities how they want the rest of us to behave, this time or any other time in the past. Our incessant need to jump in, each and every time, is by very definition white supremacy. We are telling our black brothers and sisters that they are incapable of getting their arms wrapped around this thing.

Unless we know for sure, we probably shouldn’t be raising our voices louder. Perhaps the black community’s disappointments and triumphs are getting lost in all the white noise? Perhaps, what the black community really needs us to do is shut up and listen. If you tune out all the white noise, the black community sure seems resolute. If we really listen, we can begin to hear trumpets of hope and resolve coming from the black community’s own leaders.

She stopped me in my tracks with her resolve.

And let’s face it. White people have no place trying to fix what’s wrong until we take a big, long look at ourselves in the mirror. We’ve got our own work to do. How can we be equipped to help stop the spread of hate aimed at our black communities when we can’t stop spreading hate amongst the rest of us?

We fling hateful words at each other, carelessly and callously, and that has become mainstay and socially acceptable, especially on social media. When did it become okay to bully and berate each other because political ideals from one side of politics doesn’t agree with the other?

Our children are listening. If we continue to bully and berate each other, our children are going to learn how to bully and berate. And they take that normality back to their schools. And guess what they grow-up to be? Adults that bully and berate. And, sometimes, those bullies wear police uniforms.

Me

How are white Americans equipped to help take on racial inequities, injustices, and help calm the discord in our streets when we haven’t confronted the hate harboring in our hearts for each other? We are all consumed by our own rage, and we can’t change or fix anything without first coming to that understanding.

Folks, it’s June in a presidential election year. If you haven’t changed anyone’s mind yet by force-feeding others with your political ideals, you probably ain’t gonna.

America, put down your weapons! Your words are lethal.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” -Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird”

Once we climb inside of someone’s skin, whether he or she be black, white, or any color, of any political affiliation, or religion, etc., and walk around in that skin..maybe we can begin to understand this:

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

That quote changes this way of thought:

“Another black man was senselessly killed; American black communities enraged.”

To this way of thought:

“Another man was senselessly killed, American communities enraged.”

And then one day we can aspire to have this:

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird


“The Duke” Died in June


The Duke Died in June
 
My parents raised me the best they could
I grew up strong and I did some good
When I was a baby, there was a man on the moon
When I was little, “The Duke” died in June
I learned that people live, and some others die
…and summers meant Rhubarb pie
          in all my fifty years…
 
The war in Nam ended and it was none too soon
“The Last Camel (he) Died at Noon”
The President, he told a lie
He resigned, gave Ford a try
Nixon was pardoned, don’t know why
…and summers meant rhubarb pie,
in all my fifty years…
 
Elvis was dead, and Mother cried
A space shuttle launched, and SHE fell from the sky
NASA gave it another try
Reagan was shot, but he didn’t die
….and summers meant rhubarb pie
in all my fifty years…
 
A volcano erupted and blanketed the Earth
Female workers, finally paid their worth
The Berlin Wall came tumblin’ down
Houston, Jackson and Prince now gone
The stock market rose, and the twin towers fell
The world got sick while the Earth got well
 
Dad and brother, they both died
And, I watched again as Mother cried
Just like she did for Lady Di
….and summers meant rhubarb pie
In all my Fifty Years…
 
When I was a baby, there was a man on the moon
When I was little, “The Duke” died in June
I learned that people live, and some others die
…and summers meant Rhubarb pie
…and summers meant Rhubarb pie
Ya…summers meant Rhubarb pie! 
         In all my Fifty Years…


Copyright Tonia Allen Gould 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Pandemic Comfort in a Pot


Instant Pot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya:
The Recipe

I posted pictures of this delicious Instant Pot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, and apparently, I wasn’t the only one needing some comfort food during a pandemic; my friends wanted to make it too!

I usually don’t follow recipes when I cook, because I love to invent or recreate foods from taste, but my Instant Pot is new to me and I’m learning to use it. I followed this recipe, but with these deviations: I added a can of diced chilis, used palm sugar, bourbon vanilla, and chili/lime seasoning instead of Cajun, and used red, yellow, and orange bell peppers. All of those ingredients are at Trader Joe’s. I also use Better than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base in lieu of chicken broth (not at TJ’s), and added a bit of gumbo file into the pot. I used only the chicken sausage, and skipped all that extra chicken the recipe calls for. I’m certain this recipe would do just fine in a slow cooker or rice cooker after you sautéed the vegetables, if you don’t have an Instant Pot. But, seriously, I’m in love with mine! I bought the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9 in 1 from Amazon. The lid on it took me a while to figure out, but I’m not very mechanically inclined.

My Instant Pot is massive, but I’m already envisioning using it to speed cook through Thanksgiving Dinner for a large group of people. It’s a miracle device really, and I’m looking forward to learning how to use all nine of its features. We have peach, plum, apple, and apricot trees here in my backyard in California, and when the fruit ripens, I’m looking forward to trying my hand at canning, something I watched my mother do in my youth without all the sophisticated gadgetry. This pandemic is bringing out the native Hoosier in me.

This jambalaya was great for that first try at using the sauté feature on my Instant Pot before pressure cooking all the ingredients together. So far, I’ve used only two of the nine features. It’s the gift to myself that keeps on giving.

I was hoping for some leftovers today, but my son and husband devoured the whole darn pot! Give the recipe a whirl; you won’t be disappointed! Happy eating! Let me know how it goes!

The Sautés

Into the Fear of the Unknown


The flight home from Indianapolis to L.A. was half empty. Everyone on the plane wore masks, scarves, or respirators. No one spoke. No one dared to cough, much less clear their throats for fear of causing alarm from someone seated next to them. Masked passengers, like nervous bank robbers in their getaway car, dotted the seats in the dimly-lit cabin. Everyone was eager to make their way home. COVID-19 USA version was just getting started.

I was sitting in an upgraded, First Class seat on a mileage award, and unsurprisingly, no one in First wanted food or beverage service. The flight attendant seemed relieved that she didn’t have to spend too much time, up close and personal.

We were flying through a modern version of the Twilight Zone and into the unknown. For me, the experience underscored what surreal really means, by its very definition: “seeming like a dream or fantasy.” A global pandemic, certainly felt like a very bad dream, one seemingly conjure up by a writer’s creative mind in a Hollywood fantasy.

In case you are grappling with the concept of surreality, this should help: Surreal is a tsunami that engulfs parts of Japan and causes a nuclear disaster. Surreal is Mount Saint Helen’s erupting, and blanketing 250 homes in molten hot lava and ash. Surreal is watching a space shuttle, with living/breathing astronauts in it, fly to a place in the sky, and explode. Surreal is the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake leaving a pancaked Bay Bridge in its wake. Surreal is also finding yourself smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic where it’s not only socially acceptable, but mandated, that you wear a mask into a bank, and no one hauls you away, in handcuffs, when you do so.

Two months ago, I got off that plane, drove home from LAX in a daze, and joined my family already on lockdown. The date was March 17, 2020, and I won’t ever forget it. I was 1989 San Francisco Earthquake shook.

Once I arrived home, I discovered my husband was already sick with symptoms that matched COVID-19. We’ve been married 26 years and nothing, in all those years, took him down quite like that. We didn’t quarantine from him, or he from us, and he turned out to be sick for almost three weeks. When I say sick, I mean DOWN for the count and lethargic, check his pulse, and see-if-he’s-breathing-kind-of-sick. I’m pretty sure he had “it,” and he tried to get tested to confirm our suspicions, but he was turned away.

This thing was still too new.

I’m pretty sure I also had “it” back in January after a trip to Vegas when a tele-doctor diagnosed me with the flu. (I later learned that someone traveling into McCarran from Wuhan, on the same day as me, was hospitalized. And, many people in my industry reported a strange “Vegas flu” after returning home. My symptoms began with a sore throat, with some stomach upset in the first couple of days. What followed was lethargy, rolling fevers, and a mad cough. I didn’t have a runny nose, or nausea. But, I was knocked down and rolling in and out of fever for two solid weeks, with THAT wicked cough. Our industry trade show also had legions of attendees flying in from China. Plus, “The Woz” was our industry’s guest speaker, and he claimed he was the first American who brought the virus to the U.S. as patient zero. People laughed at the joke, but it was reported that he was so sick, during his talk at the PPAI Show back in January, he had to sit down on stage to catch his breath. Yah. By then Vegas was crawling with “it.” And, as you know, Vegas is already a cesspool of disease and regret.

I’m pretty sure my son got “it” from me by early February when he was coughing so hard, he was retching blood. His doctor said he had bronchitis. My doctor said I had the flu, just 10 days earlier. By March, my husband became ill, and my son and I were both on lockdown with him, but we both never got sick with whatever my husband had. We assumed that’s because perhaps my son and I already had “it?” Three people were living under the same roof, over a two month timespan, and each of us were diagnosed with separate, although seemingly the same, illnesses. We had the same symptoms, but different responses. My son’s cough was the worst. My husband’s lethargy was the worst. My fevers were the worst.

Have we each already had COVID-19?

So, let’s assume for a minute that all three of us have had it. That’s three people living in the same house on lockdown. Each of us has the propensity to help drive the economy back to where it was in some way. I own a couple of businesses. My husband is a partner in a mutual funds company. And, my son is a student. If all three of us have had COVID-19, and I realize that is a big IF, shouldn’t we be with other’s like us back out in the world, helping to rebound the economy?

That got me thinking about how important the Antibody test is to our nation’s economy. The Antibody test shouldn’t only be about finding the cure to this deadly disease, it should be about putting members of society, maybe even entire households, back into the workforce as soon as we have answers about the likelihood of the possibilities of contracting the disease more than once, or catching a newer, rogue strain.

Since I can’t be sure that I had COVID-19 back in January, I forked over the $129 to Quest Diagnostics to get tested for antibodies. The rest of my family may follow suit. I simply gotta know!

Positive results won’t make me feel impervious from catching it again or resistant from catching a new strain, but it might give me courage to join civilization again, as a front seat driver in this economy, with the proper heath mandates put in place.

Here’s hoping the Antibody test also becomes as readily available as the COVID-19 test has become. Perhaps through it, we can jumpstart the economy again by putting people with antibodies, one-by-one, back out into the workforce and into schools, while we continue to fight the disease.

In any case, I miss my old optimistic self, so I’m going long on my Moderna stock. I incidentally bought in at $39.89 a share, back when they were just one of the numerous potential vaccine players in a sea of possibilities. If I sold today, I’d be a winner, winner chicken dinner. I don’t know about you, but it feels good to invest in hope, even if I lose my shirt. I’m going long! Goooooo Moderna! See us clear through to the finish line and end this pandemic.

A Lesson in Songwriting while Grappling with Grief

Earlier this year, I received a series of calls I hoped would never come. My younger brother, who had just turned 43, had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. To make matters worse, I was also under doctor’s care with an extreme case of Post-concussion syndrome after a freak accident playing with my dog. … Continue reading “A Lesson in Songwriting while Grappling with Grief”


Earlier this year, I received a series of calls I hoped would never come. My younger brother, who had just turned 43, had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. To make matters worse, I was also under doctor’s care with an extreme case of Post-concussion syndrome after a freak accident playing with my dog. My brother was in bad shape, and I was prohibited from flying home to be with him. It hurt my brain to process my predicament, but I knew I was no good to anyone with a brain injury. My mind wasn’t clear, but the bandage had been ripped off my deeply rooted grief, and old, stifled emotion resurfaced for the brother I had already lost, long ago, to alcoholism. As the days progressed, the updates continued…

“He is in liver failure.”

“His organs are shutting down.”

“He is hallucinating.”

“He is terribly jaundiced.”

“They are putting him in a medically-induced coma.

“His situation is dire, you need to come home.”

Five days passed, and I finally flew back home to Indiana, post-concussed brain and all, but only after my doctor gave me a prescription with his nod to travel. By the time I arrived at my brother’s bedside, I first noticed how much he had aged in the year since I last saw him. He no longer looked like an alcoholic in his forties. He looked like a very sick and dying man, in his sixties.

After several long days of serving as my brother’s advocate and medical liaison to a highly trained team of doctors and surgeons in Indianapolis, finality came from one of them in just three swift sentences, “Your brother has been committing suicide for a very long time. If he didn’t want to die, he wouldn’t be in this position. There’s nothing more we can do.”

Grieving the sudden death of someone you already lost long ago isn’t easy because it means grieving again. After dealing with the business side of things at the hospital and with my family, numbness ensued. That welcomed absence of feeling suffocated my grief on my flight back to California, and I felt, if only for a spell, better. But, feeling better is not the point of grief. You have to reckon with grief through its stages or you will never be free from it. Grief is like a book that simply must have a beginning, a middle, and the part that reaches you to “The End.”

Days passed, and I still wanted nothing more than to remain in the place where I thought I had swallowed my grief whole. But, I knew I had to confront it head on; there was a lump at the bottom of my throat and a literal heartache in my chest that was so prevalent, I considered checking myself into the hospital. I knew I had to turn the key to my grief, unlock it, open the door, and let it out. I finally forced myself to do what I always did, back when I was child growing up in rural Indiana…a child in need of services…a ward of the court…an eventual fifteen-year-old foster kid.

I wrote.

I wrote to unlock those feelings rooted inside the core of my being. I wrote to find that creative outlet that once saved me from irreparable damage when I was a child. I wrote to move past the beginning and to search for the middle of my grief.

I wrote. I wrote. I wrote.

Until I broke.

From all that teeth gritting and soul baring composition came, amongst other things, a heart-wrenching story, composed with a tragically beautiful melody, sung and produced by a man whom I am now honored to call a friend. Our friendship is, at the very least, now bound to perpetuity by a singular song titled, “Little Rose.”

Fred “Doc” Gortner is the founder and lead singer/songwriter of a local, Southern California rock/blues band called “The Pits” (Find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ReallyThePits). Doc and I have been loosely connected for years, and it was only a matter of time before our chance meeting when we’d become friends.

By day, Doc works in private equity. By night, he ditches his suit, dons one of his collectible guitars, bypasses the status-quo garage, and riffs from his backyard guest house with his band from his custom studio built with help from legendary studio designer, Charlie Bolois. “The Pits” aren’t your average run-of-the-mill “Dad Band,” nor is Doc your average dad. But, Doc is humble with his own description of himself along with his not-so-misfit-band-of-melody-makers, “We’re just a bunch of dads with day jobs who love writing, jamming and sharing our music.”

Recently, Doc and his band released a song on Spotify, and he asked me to check it out. I tuned in, and I was impressed. I told him I always wanted to “Try my hand at songwriting, particularly since I fancied myself as a bit of a poet,” and he simply replied, “Would love to see what you’ve written.”

My concussed brain and my heavy-laden heart was in the perfect place to try something new with the written word. And, I was writing.

I dug up an old poem I wrote years ago called, “Little Rose.” Somewhere in the bowels of my prose, I knew there was a path that would lead to the story I ultimately wanted to tell…one that wouldn’t underscore the finality of my brother’s death, only its inevitability. In my original handwriting, on a lined sheet of paper, I had written beneath its title, “A song.” So, I typed it up, poured new, open-wound grief into an old, closed-wound story, and sent the newer interpretation of my poem/song to Doc. And, while his feedback didn’t come swiftly, it came remarkably back in paragraphs that not only commended the lyrics, but with a thorough education in songwriting. (By then, I was beginning to figure out how Fred earned his moniker, “Doc.”)

Turns out, Doc couldn’t put the initial lyrics to “Little Rose” down, and he began composing the melody at first in his head, and then with his voice and his guitars. Over the next few weeks, after our workdays wrapped, Doc taught me everything he knew about songwriting, and I soaked up the education. I wrote some more and added additional stanzas at his prompting, although he educated me earlier about word choice, concise lines, and shorter song length. Somewhere along the way, Doc deviated, and asked me to add stanzas, and “Little Rose” grew bigger and bigger…like almost “American Pie” by Don McLean BIGGER. He asked me to dig deeper, and I did. After all, this wasn’t a short story or a novel that could take you on a journey across multiple pages. We had minutes to tell, through a song, the burning story that would rid myself of the lump in my throat and the pain in my chest that wouldn’t go away.

Through Doc, I learned how single words could impact the “sing-ability” of the song, and how certain words in poetry can be pure magic, but be tragic when they are sung. I learned how to scratch words Doc didn’t like, and to defend the ones I loved. I learned that certain poetic devices may not work in songwriting, and how rhyming can be imperfect and flexible, along with length of lines and stanza. But, ultimately I learned that songwriting is similar to writing poetry because the overall musicality is found within a strong voice. I learned how to accept his single word changes along the way, because another word of his choosing might sound better flowing from his mouth to his fingers strumming on his guitar. Towards the end, when we almost had the final lyrics in front of us, Doc and I were having long discussions about single words. Yes, single, solitary words can impact the direction and gravity of the whole song. I learned how to really listen to each and every word that came out of a singer’s mouth when I got each of his rough cuts by email. And, I was asked to critique the cuts as if I were an actual living and breathing songwriter in real life. 

And while I call myself a creative, this particular creative process was especially cathartic for me, because I was struggling with grief. I was engrossed and learning under Doc’s tutelage, and once I finally got the words out, the healing process began for me. But, Doc absorbed them. He told me he couldn’t get through singing the song without breaking down. If music is meant to evoke feeling then I had, at least to that point, done a pretty good job with writing the lyrics. “Little Rose” could quite possibly be one of the saddest songs you’ve ever heard, and I’m truly sorry about that. 

I simply cannot express enough thanks to Doc for taking me, and this song, under his wing. “Little Rose” went live across various music outlets this week. While all this technically makes me now a bonafide lyricist, I remain a frustrated songwriter that doesn’t know how to read music or play an instrument. But, I do have two brand new Taylor guitars arriving this week. What can I say, I’m now addicted to the process of songwriting, and I hear that learning an instrument is good for my brain as I age.

I still have so much to say on the subject of alcoholism, and its long-term and lasting impact on family and friends, but my brother didn’t die from alcoholism. He died from early childhood trauma at the hands of another alcoholic who likely also suffered through early childhood trauma, and that likely continued “on down the line” as they say in country music. But, I will talk about that more in another blog post. But, first you have to listen to our song because, like with all stories, you’ll need a beginning before the writer gets you to the middle, and then finally moves you on to “The End.”

Introducing, “Little Rose.”

Compelling Reasons Why This Book Should Be in Your School Library


Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore Book Cover

Put Me In, Coach!

Children’s rhyming picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, tells the adventurous story of Sam, a tenacious land and sea fiddler crab who finds himself on the sandy shores of an idyllic island named Corte Magore. He wants to stay there and live there forever, but he’ll have to overcome obstacles to accomplish his dream. This book teaches children about courage and tenacity – to stand up to bullying and to fight for what they believe in, while also teaching them the importance of dreaming. Sam’s story is told in one big epic poem. This book is geared towards children ages 4-7, although all young children seem to enjoy it. Here’s why: 

The book is written in rhyme. Rhyming verse aids in early-development learning and recall. The British Council writes about teaching children English:

“…playing with the short texts of rhymes, children explore the mechanics of the English language. They find out how language works and become familiar with the relationship between the 44 sounds of English and the 26 alphabet letters – information which helps them when they begin reading to decode the sounds that make up words. The value of this type of language-play with rhymes in early learning is both underestimated and undervalued.”

The book utilizes many different poetic devices – typically difficult to teach children –such as alliteration, point-of-view, stanza, meter, repetition, assonance, personification, and my personal favorite, onomatopoeia. Poetic devices are used to take the reader to a different time or place and helps with imagery. Education Portal says:

“Poetry can follow a strict structure, or none at all, but many different types of poems use poetic devices. Poetic devices are tools that a poet can use to create rhythm, enhance a poem’s meaning, or intensify a mood or feeling. These devices help piece the poem together, much like a hammer and nails join planks of wood together.” 

Books Written in Prose May Be a Dying Art. Authors like Seuss and Silverstein paved the way for poetry in children’s literature, yet it’s hard to find new children’s books today written in prose. Carol Hurst intimates why it’s best to not let this great art die in the following excerpt taken from Hurst’s article on the website:

“…along came Shel Silverstein. He wrote poems about picking your nose and selling your baby sister and adults (some of them) winced and kids guffawed and kids’ poetry was changed forever. Now we’ve got the gamut of emotions and subjects in kid’s poetry. Poetry, of course, be it for child or adult (and the distinction is not always clear) is very much a matter of perception. Poems speak to the individual, even more than stories do, and some are not speaking to you — at least not right now. The rules of poetry selection are the same as for the selection of any kind of literary material that you’re going to use with your kids. It must speak to you as the living breathing adult you are before you can help it speak to kids. If it’s supposed to be funny, it should make you laugh or at least smile. If it’s supposed to be sad, it should choke you up a bit. If it’s a description of a thing or a feeling, it should help you see it or feel it in a new way. So, which of all the books of poetry will you choose for your classroom? Every one you can afford.”

Erin Koehler writes, “The more picture books I read, I start to notice the ones that catch my interest the most, and the ones I end up re-reading several times in a row, are the ones that feel the most poetic. By that I mean that even though the language may appear to be “simple” the language is actually rich in complex diction, syntax, and imagery–not to mention attention to rhythm, sounds, and pacing. Sound familiar? Like a poem maybe?”

Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore is published in more formats than the average book. In addition to hardcover, softcover, an audio version, and a soon published Spanish translation (being published for the Finding Corte Magore project) did you know this literary gem is also available in a picture book app available exclusively for the iPad? The iPad version, for all you tech-based schools, boasts interactivity, professional narration, full animation and an original musical score produced by Nashville singer and songwriter, Robby Armstrong. (Hint: Sam is a “fiddler” crab.)

Finally, have you ever heard of SpongeBob SquarePants? Of course you have! Kids love sea creatures! What we all admire most about the television series are the unique characters, setting and bold use of color. When one of my good friends told me her brother, a Storyboard Director for SpongeBob SquarePants would be interested in working on the book, I knew I had found the right art director. “Mr. Lawrence” -who incidentally is also the voice of Plankton, then brought in his colleague, another SpongeBob storyboard director, Marc Ceccarelli, to produce the original character art and many of the final illustrations.

So, as promised, these are succinct, definitive reasons why this book should be in a school or public library, despite my newbie authorness and utter lack of literary famelessness (I’m a writer, I get to make-up words.)

As always, thanks for the ear!

Tonia Allen Gould, Author

Click here to Order Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore on Amazon.

Politics, #PPEshortage, and Profiteers


On March 19th, the state of California was placed on lockdown after news that the novel and deadly virus, COVID-19, was spreading like wildfire, crippling the nation’s hospitals. Just days later, other states followed suit. While families stocked-up on food and basic necessities, they then raced home to hold their families close, fearing what was to come. Across the nation, business owners were forced to close shop if their services or goods were deemed non-essential by the government, and their employees were quickly shuffled to work-from-home status. While everyone was defining their new normal, something equally sinister was lurking and spreading as quickly as the virus itself.

Modern day conmen, using a tactic known as spear phishing, began targeting both buyers and sellers of in-demand, and lifesaving, Personal Protective Equipment known as PPE, due to a nationwide shortage. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines PPE as “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.” Everyone from the U.S. Government, to hospitals, retirement homes, nurses, patients, and everyone else, needed PPE Masks, but there was no stockpile beyond profiteers’ warehouses and garages; it quickly became obvious the nation was in short, accessible supply. On Friday, April 10th, Los Angeles County instituted a WEAR MASK order into law to protect both store clerks and necessity shoppers from the deadly virus.

Respirators, sometimes referred to as face masks, soon became the most widely requested item in America, second to hand sanitizers and toilet paper. And, the Phishermen, as I like to call them, were lurking and ready to phish in a very large pond, with millions of dollars to gain. I happen to know, because I spent the larger part of a week, unraveling the scam.

I am the owner of a twenty-five-year old consumer promotions and marketing company called Tagsource, LLC (AKA TAG!)  I sit on the Board of Directors of the Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC). My company is a long-standing member of the Promotional Products Association International, a member driven organization that services a $23.3 billion-dollar industry with more than 3,500 supplier companies, 30,000 distributor firms, and together we comprise some 50,000 American jobs. Distributor firms have been playing in the field of PPE (like hospital gowns, shoe coverings, FDA approved masks, uniforms, etc.) because we already service the medical community with branded merchandise. Together, with our suppliers, we have well-vetted, consistent, and reliable factory relationships. We understand product and factory compliance, fair practice and pricing, licensing requirements, government regulations, safety testing, and labor standards.

When medical supply companies couldn’t meet the demand to service the current wave of PPE requests, procurement officers came to us, or we went to them. Our industry rose to the challenge as a secondary source to solve the nationwide #PPEshortage. But, like everyone else, we were struggling to keep up with the ever-evolving COVID-19 FDA regulations, CDC guidelines, state and federal rules, and new border restrictions that could prevent our products from getting through to our buyers and their end-users. We were learning as quickly as we could to keep up, but new middlemen began to proliferate the marketplace, and they were learning the ropes. From pop-up brokers, to fly-by-night organizations, small businesses looking to diversify, Amazon profiteers, to millionaire investors:  Everyone wanted to get in on the sale of face masks due to increasing demand, and they began to inundate call centers nationwide.

Read:

Special Report: The Mask Middlemen – How pop-up brokers seek big paydays in a frenzied market

Enter Trump vs. 3M, creating a perfect storm for spear phishing.

Trump, 3M clash over order to produce more face masks for US

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will try to stop “profiteers” from exporting medical protective gear, shortly after picking a fight with manufacturing giant 3M, a major producer and exporter of face masks used to protect health care workers from the coronavirus.”

3M argued that blocking exports will raise “significant humanitarian implications” abroad and lead other countries to retaliate by withholding much-needed medical supplies from the U.S.

Middlemen, in most cases, were trying to help solve one of the greatest potential humanitarian crises of modern times, while justifying making some money along the way. 

And, the “Phishermen” pounced.

PURPORTED SPEAR PHISHING SCAM UNPACKED:

In the wholesale world, a company needs a buyer and a seller of goods to do business. For me, this all started with an email from an importer whom we’ve worked with in the past. The Phishermen work the supply chain until they get to the buyer. (As far as I can tell, my importer is just another spoke in the wheel on the bike ride to get to me, and through me, hopefully get to any one of my buyers.)

We have a failed order available for 3 million n95 masks, see pics and license attached, goods are available fob china at $2.50/pc for immediate pickup? Thanks!

My interest has peaked. I open the email and inspect the documents, and they look off. I ask standard questions, and for more documentation, because remember, I’m working with someone I should trust here, and so I engage.  (As far as I can tell, my importer is innocent in the scam.) And, I respond to the email:

The documentation provided is for “child masks.” Please confirm that they are adult masks and please supply accompanied documentation for those. Also, why aren’t they marked KN95? The documentation as supplied won’t work.  Also, we’re learning PPE products are being seized at the ports. There are also US mandates against price-gouging. These normally sell for $2.00 domestically?? Please advise any/all information you can supply. 

My importer emails his contact, tells him I’m questioning docs, and probably discloses I have a big potential buyer on the hook waiting for details.  At this point, I don’t know who he’s feeding my info to, only that normally he’d be working factory-direct. I have, by now, given him the CDC list of respirators approved under standards used in other countries that are similar to NIOSH-approved N95 respirators. At this point, I’ve questioned docs on products that have been offered for sale, and I’ve stated what I’ve seen from him doesn’t conform to CDC guidelines, let alone my own scruples. Then the importer offers me the product repackaged and relabeled to get them through the border and gets a thorough reprimand from me for even suggesting it.

The purported Phishermen now know the deal they offered me through my importer has to change because none of it passes my cursory inspection to this point. The deal does change, and it gets even bigger and BETTER!

150 million 3M N95 8210 for $4.35 each, landed anywhere in the free world. Coming from China with 50 million shipments.  1 now, 1 in a week, and 1 in 2 weeks. 35% with the PO for each tranche in the escrow account, balance with bill of lading. All instructions in the Purchase order.

Holy flippin’ cow! I’ve hit the mother load! I found those 3M N95 8210’s that 3M vs. Trump prevented from getting into the country! So, I donned my Superwoman cape and declared, “Don’t worry world! I’m here to save you!” Just kidding. I know something’s up. And, drop ship promo business was slow; I had extra time on my hands. I simply had to follow this through. 

Meanwhile, in addition to our normal clients on the mad dash hunt for PPE, I’ve got a pop-up broker now in my ear because I tweeted about the purported stockpile leaving China, just in case a miracle was about to unfold, but also to see what turned up. Someone tweets me back, and asks me to take the convo to WhatsApp, where I learn he has a 40 million unit order on the hook for a major healthcare company in dire need, as well as a solid book of other million unit buyer leads. We have an hour long Zoom meeting, and he seems legit, if not overtly opportunistic, and it’s all too promising not to follow through. And, since his purported buyer is in the news about their own PPE shortage, I now have no other choice but to follow all this through. Me and my big tweeting mouth. Still, I’m proceeding with extreme caution with both the buyer and the seller.

I’ve been in business a long time. These high volume numbers are surreal, but “the population of the United States of America is 330,594,690 as of Wednesday, April 15, 2020, based on Worldometer’s elaboration of the latest United Nations data.” My family needs at least three masks to get us through a month of necessity shopping and that’s with continuous reuse. I can do the math.

I wait for the preliminary documentation I requested from my importer.  I get something, which in my mind, is the most important thing. It’s an SGS DOCUMENT on the products being sold. SGS offers “world-leading certification services enabling you to demonstrate that your products, processes, systems or services are compliant with national and international regulations and standards.”  I’ve been given documentation, purportedly on the production contract on actual goods being offered for sale. So, before I go any further, I upload the doc to SGS to verify its authenticity, but it’s Good Friday, and I know I won’t hear anything back until the following week, and I am on the race to the finish line to potentially land the deal of the century or figuring out the scam and getting back to my old sequestered workday life. I have to keep the bicycle in perpetual motion.

My purported buyer and I work together on a list of docs he wants to see. He seems very familiar with the doc list, which is surprising from someone who is a pop-up broker with potentially big buyer leads. But, his doc list is extensive. And, that’s what’s weird to me.  He’s operating like a seasoned and savvy procurement officer would at Walt Disney Company. Or, maybe he’s FBI? Or, maybe he’s already been around the block with distributors like me. I don’t know, but our hour long conversation on Zoom was enjoyable. He sends me his requests:

  1. Background story
    • How did you get the goods and what is your relationship with the seller and/or 3M?
    • Have you sold any deals yet?
    • Are all 150M units available in about a week at the seller’s airport in the US? What state are they arriving?
  2. POL
    • Past References of buyers (Bob, do you have references, as well as the seller? We’ve already supplied ours.)
    • Past Bill of Landing (redacted fine)
    • 3M Contract (redacted fine) 
    • Past SGS inspections
    • Is there a SGS Certificate of approval on the goods?
  3. LOI/PO – addressed to who? 
    • Business name
    • Address
    • Telephone
    • Email
  4. Escrow terms and bank information
  5. Payment terms
  6. Location of goods and the date of arrival
  7. Lead time
  8. Price quoted was landed US and includes delivery to buyer, correct?

Later the purported buyer asks me for: Business registration, Proof of Authorized 3M Distributor, Current SGS Certificate, Certificate of conformity, ISO Certification, NOAH Certification, Nelson Lab Certification, Production Contract and Escrow Docs. Could the buyers and sellers be somehow interlinked in one big scam? He doesn’t suspect that I may suspect him, and by now he’s admitted he’s aware of scams, and likely could suspect me as a scammer as well. And, I’m thinking maybe he still could be a legitimate broker looking to land a 40 million unit deal, a deal of his lifetime, and frankly, of mine.

Since my purported buyer packaged his list of requested docs for me, I sent it to my importer, as if I wrote it myself, and told him what I needed.

Minutes later, I received this from the importer: 

150 million 3M N95 8210 for $4.35 each landed anywhere in the free world. Coming from China in 50 million pallets shipments  1 now, 1 in a week, and 1 in 2 weeks + R and E. 35% with the PO for each tranche in the escrow account, ours or yours, balance with bill of lading. Put all instructions in your Purchase order. Attached is a SGS report. Two failed PO’s without POF. Make Purchase Order out to:

<Gives name > Wire Instructions: The Seller uses a former Attorney General to set up the Escrow account. <Gives account number, routing number, Chase bank address in San Diego and swift code> Once the Seller receives the PO and POF, they will issue a Video and a current SGS report and an invoice and send you Escrow information. Now the buyer may talk to the seller. Once all the funds for the first shipment are in Escrow, they will ship 50 Million Now; 50 Million in a Week, 50 Million in 2 Weeks. Once the funds are in Escrow, the first 50 million masks will be shipped by air freight to the airport of your choice at the Seller’s expense. Gown/mask/cap combo. Cost is $5.60. Ventilator Model # YH-830Bi pap.  CIF $17,500. Made in the USA. See attachments. 

Now, I’m really perplexed. They won’t supply docs until I show them proof of funds. I create a stir with the importer and say no one would operate under these conditions, and I need to see the docs before the buyer will submit a PO, POF, and certainly before they send a 35% down payment on a multi-million dollar order. The importer has a vested interest in closing a big deal, so he gives me the information of his buying source, and get this, it’s an 84-year-old Vietnam Vet who has spent his last ten years in medical sales here in Southern California. I speak to him, but only after scouring the web to see what dirt I can drag up on him, and I discover at least one scam alert from a purported shady deal, sometime ago. He’s as sweet as can be, and tells me about his past wives, and how he’s tied into a Canadian factory that is an authorized Distributor of 3M products, and that factory has the pulse on all twenty-two, 3M factories worldwide. Although he has a scam alert, I believe he believes this is true. The dude is 84. I cut him some slack for one deal gone wrong. (You’d understand if you were on the receiving end of a phone call with a veteran telling war stories and commiserating about his late wife dying from cancer.) And, in the back of my mind, I think maybe my seemingly nice Veteran, who deals in medical sales, could possibly have the legit pulse on a bonafide 3M production contact. If he does, and I have an authentic healthcare buyer, I can get the 3M masks through the border legally, the only way I would touch any deal. He tells me his supplier has stock and they can get me whatever I need. The Vet then sends me the longest, most carefully drafted, NCNDA I have ever seen in my life. I tell him I’m not signing it because it prevents me from selling anything, like ever again. It’s been drafted by lawyers. Really good ones. Somewhere around this time, I advise both the importer and my Vet that 3M vs. Trump is making me think nothing is getting in without government seizure. They communicate that, I’m guessing, to their Canadian partners. 

What follows is this from the importer: 

Hi Salespeople Reps and Brokers: We are now a sub-distributor of 3M masks. The procedures are relatively simple, we get the purchase order (PO) which must include the buyers name address and phone number along with the product that he wants and any additional instructions. That purchase order goes to the attorney for Interways solution Canada Ltd. the attorney then takes over by calling the buyer arranging for the Deposit to be put into the escrow account. They are sent out at that point the contract and all documents including the invoice. You will receive copies of that. They have a Paymaster to pay the difference of actual cost and the overage which is commissions to us. Currently I have not received the first set of documents as the attorney took Friday off and Sunday, however I’m just giving you an update. I expected Copy that my first transaction within the hour or so. We are extremely comfortable with the process and dealing with a distributor of 3M products. Hold your questions until I send you copies of documents sometime soon. Thank you.

Here is where the PO’s are addressed: <Gives Address> Our new pricing for all Masks. Note we can not ship 3M products into the USA, ordered by Trump. Pricing for 3M anywhere else. N95 1860 $4.15.  N95 8210 $4.55 Minimum is 10 Million CIF. KN95 in stock at LaGuardia NYC, $3.15 landed at the buyers airport. KN95 coming from China $2.45 CIF, any country. 

By now SGS, has gotten back to me to confirm my suspicions and with this, I’ve had enough of all myself and all my sleuthing: 

Dear Tonia, Thank you for submitting the attached documents for authentication. Unfortunately, we are unable to verify this document as part of the format has been removed / hidden.  This document is thus of no value whatsoever and we advise you to not rely on it for any purpose. As you can understand, SGS takes very seriously any attempt to alter the appearance of our documents.  We would appreciate any assistance you can give us in tracking down the source of this altered document by completing the attached form. Best Regards, Corporate Security Team. 

I finally email the importer and let him know he’s potentially involved in a scam of EPIC proportions. I want to copy my Vet, but I don’t have the heart, and I notify the purported pop-up broker/buyer/FBI Agent/procurement officer that the deal is a bust, and that given everything going on with 3M vs. Trump, I’m out. I don’t disclose much further. He responds and says, “So was it a SCAM?” I tell him about the N95’s I can definitely procure from a tried-and-true factory where I can get him three million units of masks, every 3 weeks through my conventional channels. Something still isn’t sitting quite right with my buyer, but I never could connect all the dots. And, I still think he’s a really nice guy.

But, it doesn’t end there:

The importer emails me back with desperate attempts to save the deal that probably had him booking his flight to Aruba. Is he involved in the scam? I really don’t know, but I don’t think so. The Vietnam Vet takes one last crack at documentation, and I let him down as nicely as I could, outlining plain facts that he’s potentially caught up in a spear fishing scam. He asks me to kindly destroy the documents. Is he involved in the scam? I don’t know. I hope not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he woke-up to find his bank account emptied. He said he had a successful transaction in progress.

Enter New Guy, a purported Distributor principal, like me, who claims he’s been out of our industry, but jumped back in to service old clients on some face masks. Says he’s interested in buying masks from my Vietnam Vet, and my importer told him that my Vet has been vetted by me, and I could confirm he’s legit.  I fill New Guy in on what I believe to be was a scam. New Guy’s text came in literally seconds after I announced any deal with me was a bust. New guy definitely seems involved in the scam. He tells me he has two PO’s for 100M KN95’s, and he’s gotten his own attorney involved with his own escrow account, and that I should trust him. He asked me to let him know about legit sources for domestic products to fulfill in 7-10 days. He’s got a buyer on the hook and the deal is about to go bust. But then, in the next sentence, he tells me if I don’t mind waiting 7-10 days, he can get me all the products I need, in the states or from China (as a broker), and through his own network. This totally refutes his first statement that he’s deadlocked and can’t get anything done. He sends me his promotional products distributorship’s website, which is fake. I clicked the link, and it’s a screen capture of a website with nothing linking out. He mentions SAAGNY and how he used to sit on the BOD. I ask him to tell me people in industry he knows, just for fun. He tells me he doesn’t know who I know, so he doesn’t name anyone. He then begs me for legitimate documentation so his deal doesn’t go bust. I tell him to go away. He doesn’t give up, tells me I should believe in him, and he sends me more links to companies he’s an investor in, all with websites built in 2020, and with links to barely built websites. I tell him he’s a crackpot, and he reminds me to be careful. I ignore him forever.

So this is what I know after that long, sordid tale:

  1. The scammers need something from us, and they are desperate to get it.  They need all this legitimate documentation that buyers would ask for, to make their scam work. If we provide it, we are feeding it into the hands of devils with phishing poles. Likely, it’s already been handed to them in some capacity. With documentation, Phisherman can prove legitimacy of production. I literally loathe Phishermen. Get them out of our pond!
  2. The promotional products industry is ripe for the picking because we have buyer/distributor/supplier/importer/factory relationships. We are one industry that has the full supply chain in our back pockets.  
  3. Fake brokers/buyers may also be looking for documentation to make a scam work. I’m not sure, but I think the buyers and sellers may somehow be connected, even if unwittingly. I’m not saying my pop-up broker is a scammer, because he’s so nice and all, but definitely some things are not lining-up. It’s weird how the first message on WhatsApp from the pop-up broker, matches some of the last details from the seller. Either he’s caught up in the same scam, legitimately trying to source product, or he’s connected to the same scam in some devious way. (If he’s reading this, I want to remind him that I want to believe he’s nice.)
  4. Nothing lined up. Altered docs. The wrong docs. Not enough docs. Nothing presented was enough to satisfy my buyers. Be wary of deals where too many middlemen are involved, and demand documentation before disclosing anything. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it could be wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  5. It’s possible these massive buyers and sellers are all a ruse, and the only thing they are trying to do is get is the importer’s, the Vet’s, and my bank accounts which is required to commission us on the back-end of a sale.
  6. Fake brokers could also be creating fake demand and targeting the promotional products industry specifically. Creating fake demand puts us all in a buying and selling frenzy, hoping we forget standard protocol, and that alone could also be perpetuating the fear about the #PPEshortage that may or may not truly exist on such a grand scale. 
  7. Never mess with a sequestered woman who is trying to diversify during a worldwide pandemic, and who just happens to have some extra time on her hands.

This whole write-up needs to be reported to the FBI.

Behind the Finding Corte Magore project



Tonia Allen Gould talks to middle schoolers at a Technology Magnet School about all things authoring and dreaming BIG. Here she walks you through her journey to Finding Corte Magore.

Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, in time for the holidays!


Just in time for the Holidays, Autographed hardcover books, are offered at the lowest price of the season, plus FREE SHIPPING to anywhere in the continental U.S.! (Limited time only)

By children’s author, Tonia Allen Gould, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, tells the story of a small land and sea fiddler crab (complete with a fiddle and a bow) that finds himself on the sandy shores of an idyllic island named Corte Magore. When he arrives at Corte Magore, Sam decides he wants to make this place his permanent home, but he realizes he will have to build himself a shelter from the rising tides that could take him and his fiddle and bow back out to sea. He must work diligently and ignore mocking from hermit crabs and seagulls and beat the clock on his arch nemesis, The Great Tidal Wave if he wants to stay.

Sam’s story is art directed by Mr.Lawrence; an original Storyboard Director for SpongeBob SquarePants and mostly illustrated by Marc Ceccarelli, another Storyboard Director for SpongeBob SquarePants. Michelle Fandrey at Skies America Publishing also contributed. The colorful book explores several important themes for young readers, including: – The concept of building a home – Hard work and self-reliance – Daring to dream of a better life – Overcoming adversity – Dealing with bullies and naysayers I want this story to help parents start a conversation about hard work, dedication, and independence. Sam does everything himself in this book, and he doesn’t ask for help. I want children to understand that life isn t always peaches and cream, but if you re willing to put your nose to the grindstone and ignore bullies and naysayers, in the end, everything usually works out okay.

Click here to order. Thanks for supporting my book!

Sam is also available on iTunes as a narrated and animated picture book app with an original musical score.

Book Cover for Instagram

People don’t change, they grow.  


 

©ToniaAllenGould
 

I sat outside on a bench next to a kind, aging lady, last night, before entering my son’s Christmas pageant. After we chatted a bit, she announced she was celebrating her 60th anniversary next week. I smiled and said, “60 years, huh? Now that’s something! What’s the secret?” She thought a minute and said, “You can’t change each other; no sense in trying. People don’t change, they grow.  

Might as well accept each other for who you both are – the person you were when you got married, and the person you’ve each become.”

The Bones of Freedom


photo by Tonia Allen Gould
 

Don’t think your freedom is deserved because they served – that’s absurd. Freedom is not just a word. Freedom is a privilege granted you. Paid by sacrifice – in red, white and blue. But, have you paid back your due?

Are you being a good citizen? Respecting your fellow men? Showing up to vote again? Fighting for what you believe in? Showing gratitude to whom you depend? Time and time and time, again?

The tax on freedom is to do your part

From the start…

And from your heart…

Do they really have your loyalty?

Those men and woman who keep us free? 

Or, is this just another fruitless holiday? 

One where you get to stay… 

At home – with pay?

-TA Gould

Top Five Writing Mistakes in a Handy Infographic


Last year during NaNoWriMo, Grammarly worked with nearly 500 writers from 54 countries to crowdsource a novel. They analyzed the resulting 40,000 or so words and uncovered some writing mistakes that happened time and again, then summarized the top five in a handy infographic.

  
Reprinted with permission. Infographic and body content of the article attributed to https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check

5 Minutes, $10, and a Share?


Corte Magore , Hog Cay, Nicaragua

If you’ve been following my island project, Finding Corte Magore, then you’ll know it has been my lifeblood for the past fifteen months or so. What’s miraculous is that my lifeblood has flowed to numerous volunteers who have given of themselves freely to see this incredible project come to fruition. What’s miraculous is, my lifeblood has also become theirs, too.

In that time, my team and I went from having a dream of making a fictional place real – to actually being awarded an island in Nicaragua by the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S – and now have the ability to put the island to social good use, reversing the cycle of poverty along the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS) in Nicaragua – a bio-diverse region that serves some of the world’s most poor. And, that poverty is what is driving the nation’s children from school into the workplace. (Guardian).

Sam's Lookout on Corte Magore
  

29-acre, Hog Cay, Nicaragua is now ours to share with the world. And we can put it to very good use by creating revenue producing opportunities from it that work to keep kids in Nicaragua in school.

Here’s what I know to be true. My dream is not your dream. I know you have dreams of your own. I know the economy is tough and many don’t have a great deal of discretionary income. I know you probably already have your own, favorite cause. I know people inherently like to give, but sometimes can’t. I also know I have to ask. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but raising money is not one of them, so I hope I’m going about it the right way.

Today, what I really want you to know about this island is that it’s not some ruse to generate huge corporate gains. It’s not my island. It’s everyone’s island. It’s about turning dreams into reality – setting out to do something so big and grandiose – that proves to the world, particularly its children that anything is possible, and their obstacles can be overcome, just like mine were growing-up in the U.S.  My story as it connects to the island can be read about here.

So, I’ll make my plea short and to the point. Today, I’m asking you for 5 minutes of your time, to go to our website, to click the PayPal link at the top, and to make your $10 (or any amount you can give or afford) tax-deductible donation to our California Benefit Corp and that money will flow to our joint partnership with Ambassador Campbell on Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua. You can make a difference by contibuting now – and you can help me keep this island dream alive.

If you can’t donate, I understand, but I’m asking you, please, for your share on each of your social networks you participate.


Throughout this blog, there’s more detailed information about the Finding Corte Magore project, it’s sustainability measures and what not – should you wish to learn more about it. In the meantime, thanks to your donation today, an indigenous child in the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region of Nicaragua can have access to learning materials delivered by the human rights organization, CEDEHCA, through the Finding Corte Magore project.

Check out the Finding Corte Magore project, live in Nicaragua.  Here we interview, Denise with CEDEHCA, who talks about their support to the children in the Kukra Hill municipality.

Please donate now.

Sincerely,

Tonia Allen Gould

The Finding Corte Magore Project

Author/Founder/Thought Leader

Hug-A-Tree on our island of “Corte Magore” and Keep Nicaraguan Kids in School


HugATree on Corte Magore and have your tax deductible donation work to keep Nicaraguan children in school through the Finding Corte Magore project.
HugATree on Corte Magore and have your tax deductible donation work to keep Nicaraguan children in school through the Finding Corte Magore project.

Join us on our first money-raising initiative for the Finding Corte Magore​ project. With your tax deductible $250+ donation – you, or someone you love – can be memorialized forever by “Hugging a Tree” on Corte Magore, at Hog Cay, Bluefields, Nicaragua​. I promise you, with every ounce of my being, your money will be put to very “GOOD” use.

On Google Maps the Coordinates for Corte Magore at Hog Cay are the following:

11°59’25.2″N 83°45’09.7″W

Here´s an aerial view of the island.

Tree Huggers® are created using high-grade stainless steel and are noted for being the only tree plaque that gently wraps around the tree (by means of plastic-encased springs) and expands without harming it as it grows! It will not rust or corrode or release any harmful toxins or chemicals that could harm the tree.  There are hundreds and hundreds of trees on Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua – and we anticipate that eventually, every one of them will be memorialized by our donors.   Click here to make your tax deductible donation.

The Finding Corte Magore Project Problem: 42% of all children along the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua drop out of school by sixth grade, if they ever enroll at all. Poverty in Nicaragua drives kids out of school and into the workplace. (The Guardian).  They drop out because they don’t have shoes to walk to school, because they have to watch their siblings while their parents work, or because they have to work to support their families. They drop out because they see school as pointless. Guess what? They’re right. There are no jobs waiting for students if and when they graduate. Which means poverty will live on in Nicaragua forever. Unless…

Solution: Our project, led by Author, and Entrepreneur, Tonia Allen Gould, along with her team, aims to start to reverse this cycle of poverty in one large region of Nicaragua by driving sustainable, best practices, social good tourism to Bluefields via the island of Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua. Our social enterprise works like this: Eco-Tourists and Flashpackers visit our island in Bluefields, driving revenue to fund programs such as: Jobs and job training on the island for locals seeking to better provide for their families, such as eco-building, island maintenance, security, hospitality, transportation, and cooking, training they can take back to their communities to earn money. By showing kids along the Atlantic Coast that their parents can be trained and then gainfully employed, we can offer children hope for a better life for themselves. Hope that may start to reverse the cycle of poverty.  By providing job opportunities for parents and making school meaningful for students, the island will free students to stay in school, go after their dreams, and spread prosperity as they become business-owners, entrepreneurs, tourism professionals, artists, scientists, coders, teachers…

We also intend to fund educational programs for students in Nicaragua – programs like a floating educational barge that delivers teachers and and school supplies to remote indigenous regions, after school sports and crafts programs that only students who stay in school can partake in, or on-island biodiversity and environmental learning research camps for older students.

The Finding Corte Magore project will establish ecotourism operations in under-developed and ecologically vulnerable areas, and set the precedent for sustainable development in a way that prevents the destruction of pristine natural habitats by irresponsible tourism. The FCM business model will be validated in the Hog Cay pilot site in Nicaragua given the biodiversity attributes and relative lack of development in the area, as well as the recent influx of visitors to the country. The FCM platform will subsequently be exported to similarly vulnerable areas with a viable and repeatable business model that creates investable and scalable opportunities to promote sustainable development.

Meanwhile, we intend to build a global, K-12 environmental learning curriculum from eco-projects happening on the island -which is an identified bio-diverse hotspot, projects that have research attraction from many of our potential partners and universities, as well as will put locals to work with proper training:

  • Building our Eco-Beach complete with a volleyball pit
  • Mangrove protection and devising ways to eliminate natural, island erosion
  • Building the bar and commissary
  • Renovating the basketball court with recyclable products like used tires
  • Building floating casitas
  • Training of locals to do construction, learn hospitality, cooking, bartending and how to captain a panga, etc.
  • Creating a Zipline from one part of the island to the other or connecting the island to a neighboring island via zipline that won’t infringe on passing boats
  • Eco-Spa – Building natural, spas from collected rainwater
  • Lighting the island for evenings
  • Building eco-sensitive tree houses on the island
  • Rebuilding the island’s suspension bridge
  • Artisanal Fishing Demonstrations with natives
  • Creating Cultural Excursions like to the Garifuna annual anniversary celebration
  • Coral Reef Restoration Projects
  • Turtle Protection and Migration Projects
  • Building Photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collectors to convert solar radiation into thermal and electrical energy to power the island and how people may be use similar technology to power their lives after a hurricane
  • Farming Mussels in the lagoon to clean up the brown water
  • Various Eco-Farming projects – (we have access to an eco-farm across the lagoon) – training on planting and growing foods in tropical climates despite global warming
  • Figuring out how to divert town rain water and brown water from flowing into the lagoon
  • Creating and traveling with our floating educational barge to indigenous regions, bringing education to children who otherwise can’t access education
  • Inventing hurricane resistant “kit” housing for poor coastal communities led by a team of engineers in a think tank
  • Building a bird sanctuary
  • Creating Vertical Gardening Systems despite the clay soil which is conducive to growing certain types of food only
  • Implementing fishing best practices
  • Introducing diving to the area and along the many shipwrecked boats
  • Finding the tradewinds and introducing surfing to areas which are untapped or undiscovered

No other tourism venture strategically connects the dots between social good, environmentalism and education – making our project the first of its kind and further promoting sustainability by making the number of visitors, to the island, virtually limitless. Planned educational opportunities at FCM are extensive and do not just include educational experiences consumed by the eco-tourists we attract. Rather, we see an opportunity to build a K-12 environmental educational platform that makes FCM virtually accessible from anywhere in the world. A FCM student/teacher/professor/university inspired curriculum will be at the core of our offerings.

We have been in talks with many notable agencies and insitutions such as NOAA, Conservation International, CREST and UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science. Sustainable, best practices and conscientious travel is imperative to this region or it may be devastated by tourists. That said, the tourism is still coming to the region regardless, here’s why:  Eco-Tourism is already happening in Nicaragua  A dirt road from Managua that normally takes twelve hours to drive, is currently being paved. This connects the Atlantic Coast to the rest of Nicaragua without having to fly.  Lonely Planet calls Nicaragua the Top 4 place in the world to visit  The Canal de Nicaragua is a shipping route under construction through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea (and therefore the Atlantic Ocean) with the Pacific Ocean.

Our business partner is: Ambassador Francisco Campbell, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S. and owner of 29-acre, Hog Cay. FCM has negotiated a 15-year leasehold already on the island. We are halfway there to make our vision at Corte Magore a reality.

Hog Cay Google Coordinates: 11°59’25.2″N 83°45’09.7″W.

We believe the dreams of children are the most precious resource in Nicaragua – but also the most squandered. So many dreams go unfulfilled due to extreme poverty. Something needs to be done about this.  Every child deserves a shot to go after their dreams, and the Finding Corte Magore Project intends to give it to them. We believe that achieving dreams can not only elevate children above their birth circumstances, but also their communities and, over time, their nation.

We have acquired the island through a lot of hard work and dedication, and now we need to build it out, develop programs and put the island to work to keep a nation of children in school.

Finding Corte Magore is a California Benefit Company. The purpose of a benefit corporation includes creating general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment. A benefit corporation’s directors and officers operate the business with the same authority as in a traditional corporation but are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on society and the environment. Finding Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua is a Nicaraguan joint partnership formed under Nicaraguan law.

Project hyperlinks:

Finding Corte Magore – findingcortemagore.com

Tonia Allen Gould – toniaallengould.com, author and founder

FCM YouTube Channel

Tonia YouTube Channel

FCM Twitter – @cortemagore

FCM Facebook

Donate to FCM via PayPal (Donations are charitable and tax deductible)

Oh, and one day, we hope to see you visit us on Corte Magore!

Aerial Photo of Hog Cay - Left The Bluff and Caribbean Sea - Right Bluefields - Top Rama Cay - Bottom Escondido River

My Hometown Newspapers Connect the Dots Between My Background, Book and the Island of Corte Magore


By Culver Citizen Editor, Jeff Kenney - Culver, Indiana
By Culver Citizen Editor, Jeff Kenney

Title Waves: Big Thoughts Behind the Story of a Little Crab and His Home


This article includes toddler BabbleMusing on the title of my children’s picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore…

  On a summer’s drive to the beach, almost eighteen years ago,  my daughter, Whitney Ann- a toddler at the time – was playing with her little bare toes and babbling the nonsensical words from her car seat, “Corte Magore…Corte Magore…”  Over and over again, she’d prattle, burble and blather the words, giggling as if she had a secret, while my husband and I scratched our heads, and racked our brains to figure out what she was trying to say. 

Since I fancy myself a bit of a poet (I hope you do too), I started making-up a rhyming poem on that fateful drive along the California Coast to Santa Barbara. I toyed around with the sound of those two words, out loud and in my head, crafted by my toddler’s own two-year-old imagination. Whitney’s made-up words formed the beginnings of an epic poem, one that I just couldn’t shake free from my brain long enough to ever let it go. And, for years I honed various drafts and versions of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, but never got serious about publishing it in the form of a children’s picture book until much later in my daughter’s life. 

But, how do you spell words conjured-up in the boundless creative mind of a child?  Originally, I was spelling Corte as “Corta” because I like phonetically correct spellings. But, one day, I noticed one of my employee’s checks was addressed to Corte Madera, California. So I looked up what “Corte Madera” means. In Spanish, Corte Madera means the imperative command “Chop wood”, as in “To chop the wood”.  A crab uses a chopping motion with his pincers. So Corte – to chop – seemed befitting for my land and sea fiddler crab, awashed ashore of the island that would one day be Corte Magore (fictionally, and in real life.)  

California is also a land wrought with Spanish derived spellings and places, so “Corte” stuck, even if not phonetically correct. (I didn’t know then that my book’s unintentional Spanish influence would later be connected, serendipitously,  to Latin America through the Finding Corte Magore project).  “Magore”, or the second part of the name of the island in my book, rhymes perfectly with Moore, lore, before and a slew of other words used throughout my prose in Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. Every poet feels blessed when she uses a word and finds it amassed with other phonetic or rhythmic  words.

And thus, a book’s title was born. And my life has forever been altered. 

 

from a recent book signing in Culver, Indiana
 

Welcome to the Jungle


By Lorna Pierno

When I travel back to Nicaragua, the phrase “Welcome to the Jungle” means more than the iconic Guns & Roses song.

Here, “Welcome to the Jungle” means waking up to the sounds of roosters crowing, birds chirping, and the leaves on the palm trees swaying to alert us of a pending storm. It means returning to the jungle of my childhood and the vivid memories that live here, like when I laid the first brick of what would later become the family farmhouse I sit in now, looking out at the trees that my brother and I climbed when we were kids.

“Welcome to the Jungle” means I’m home at Finca Zaragoza, a luscious coffee farm located on over 500 acres of nature in the mountains of Nicaragua’s La Dalia region.
Lorna's Laptop

In the blink of an eye, over 30 years have passed since I climbed those trees. While much of the coffee farm remains the same, there is one big, new addition that fills me with hope for the future of the country. Across the way, in what used to be an open cement field where we dried coffee beans and I learned how to ride a bike, there is now a schoolhouse.

In 2012, my father, Omar Perez Leclair, built the schoolhouse for the kids of the farm workers who harvest coffee here. Prior to the schoolhouse, parents struggled to keep their kids in school. Unable to afford cars, the only way for kids to get to school was “on foot,” and since the nearest schools were five to ten miles away, the kids’ shoes would quickly wear out. Without money to spend on new shoes, parents would sometimes just take their kids out of school. By building a school on the farm, we hoped to save not only kids’ shoes, but their dreams.

Francis, a 7-year-old girl, who enjoys playing hide-n-seek with her friends, told me she wants to become a doctor so she can take care of anyone who gets sick.

Francis’s family has worked in Finca Zaragoza for many, many years. My mother taught her grandfather, Don Julio, now retired, to read and write. He will never forget it and tells me this same story every time he sees me. For me, the joy he got from learning to read and write reinforces the importance of investing in Nicaragua’s future by making sure that essential resources (such as accredited teachers, desks, notebooks, pencils, a chalkboard, etc.) are in place to educate the kids.  Francis

Despite the efforts of people like my father, many kids here will not make it past the 6th grade. Their parents will force them to start working in the city, the streets, or in other farms so that they can help contribute towards food and clothing to support the rest of the family – including younger brothers/sisters and grandparents. Without school, many won’t have a shot at fulfilling their dreams.

I need only look at my own path to see how important school was in building the life I lead in Los Angeles. In 1983, my family and I fled to the United States. I was in 2nd grade, enrolled in “El Americano” School and learning how to speak English, when fighting between the Sandinistas and the US-supported Contras grew severe, causing Nicaragua’s economic and civil rights conditions to worsen. My family and I settled in the San Fernando Valley in California, and I enrolled in the 3rd grade with American kids. I quickly learned how to read and write in English, and by the end of the school year, I was helping my American classmates with their homework. I admit, I was kind of a nerd, but I just LOVED going to school and I never missed a day – I looked forward to winning “perfect attendance” awards at the end of the year. When I got chicken pox in 4th grade, I was crushed that I had to miss a full week.

I went on to attend Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, CA, and then CSUN (California State University Northridge), where I graduated with a bachelor’s in Business Administration. After graduating, I ventured into the world of marketing at several fast-paced telecommunications companies.

Today, I am thankful for all the events that have led me to this point, and feel that the school is an expression of our gratitude and hope for the parents and children in Finca Zaragoza. Yet for as many as we’ve helped, there are millions more across Nicaragua who are forgotten. Spreading quality education to a whole country of children is a huge task, one requiring big ideas, hard work, and the coordinated efforts of dedicated people. It’s more than my family and I can do alone.

Then, one day, on Facebook, I saw a video about the Finding Corte Magore Project.  But, it was this personal video from Tonia, about Finding Corte Magore, that got my attention the most because it tells the story on how her personal journey to Corte Magore began and how that relates to my own experiences, growing-up Nicaraguan.

I’d known Tonia Allen Gould, the project’s founder/CEO, for several years after we’d worked together in Los Angeles and became friends on social media. I learned that Tonia had published a children’s book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, and now was turning the book’s fictional island of Corte Magore into a real island in Nicaragua to help kids stay in school. I knew I wanted to learn more, be a part of it, and help Nicaraguan students fulfill their dreams by helping Tonia fulfill hers. When Tonia approached me about visiting kids in Nicaragua, I welcomed her with open arms.

One conversation led to another and six weeks after our initial conversation, we were at the schoolhouse in Finca Zaragoza watching the kids’ faces glow as most of them received coloring paper and crayons for the very first time. They also received an English lesson from Tonia for the very first time as she taught them to say “Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore.”

Ultimately, I understood that The Finding Corte Magore Project’s mission was to bring awareness to education in a country that desperately needs it.  This trip to the schoolhouse was a starting point for a grand initiative, a vision and a project that started out as a dream in the pages of a children’s book but was going to leap off the pages into reality.

So with great hope and excitement, I invite Tonia, the island, and the Finding Corte Magore Project to Nicaragua by saying: Welcome to the Jungle.

About the Finding Corte Magore Project: Our goal is to crowdfund a “social good” island in Nicaragua to raise awareness to the children who may drop out of school before reaching the sixth grade. In an effort to promote dreaming amongst children at home and abroad, our goal is to rebrand the 29-acre island of Hog Cay, to Corte Magore, after the fictional island in the children’s picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, authored by Tonia Allen Gould. The main character in this story had to overcome a lot of challenges to accomplish his goal of building a life for himself.  We believe, with a little help from students and teachers in the US, crowdfunders, and the Finding Corte Magore Project, that the children in Nicaragua too can create a better life for themselves as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Off My One-Acre Island

How one author’s children’s picture book unfolded out for her in real life eventually making a fictional place real for social good.


On Corte magoreFifteen months ago, I had an “AHA” moment that, at first, involved marketing my book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, an epic children’s tale about a land and sea fiddler crab who wandered onto a beautiful island called Corte Magore. Sam wanted to stay and live there forever, but had to first overcome obstacles like building himself a home before the tides came in to sweep him back out to sea. He also had to work around naysayers and the big, bad beast, the Great Tidal Wave.  Sam was a dreamer and a hard worker. He made mistakes but each time he failed, learned to pull himself up again and again by his bootstraps.

If you know me well, you’ll know there are some parallels between Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore and my own life. Like Sam, I’m tenacious and a hard worker. Also like Sam, I too was once searching for a home. At the age of fifteen, I was placed in foster care. Mine was a dysfunctional family living well below the poverty line and things were often difficult for me growing up. The naysayer in my life was the system – the statistics that said I wasn’t supposed to break the cycle. Many children don’t, but I fortunately did. I’m resourceful, entrepreneurial, and when I’ve failed, I learned early on to pick myself up gracefully and work to get myself right back on track – just like Sam. I broke the mold and I know, in my heart of hearts, that it’s my duty to share with others that they can do it too. Despite their circumstances.

I tried to ingrain many pearls of wisdom throughout Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. If only I had a book, growing up, that told me it was okay to be searching for something, that acknowledged that my dreams had validity, that being punctual and minding the time and deadlines were important, and that though there would be bullies and naysayers in my life trying to squelch my dreams, it was up to me to tackle them anyway. Somehow, early on, I learned I’d have to do most everything for myself and on my own and that being independent can be incredibly empowering, even for a child faced with life’s difficulties.

My story was one I HAD to tell. But just telling it wasn’t enough. I had to figure out a way to market my book in a big way to children so they could make my story and Sam’s story, about overcoming obstacles and persevering, their own.

One morning, right before I woke up – a time when being “almost” lucid often brings clarity to my problems – the way to market my book in a big way came to me in an “AHA” moment. “AHA, I’ve got it,” I thought as I sat straight-up in bed. “If you can name a star in the sky, then why can’t I find some postage-stamped-sized island, somewhere in the world, and name it Corte Magore?”

That crazy, absurd, half-cocked idea put me on a personal journey that has changed the course of my life – rallied even my own family, one that’s forced me to get off my own personal, one-acre suburban “island” in Southern California, a life I eventually built for myself, step out of my cush comfort zone – and onto a real life, 29-acre, living/breathing, bio-diverse island along the devastatingly poor, Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. That “AHA” moment, caused my passion (writing books for children) to be met with its purpose – having an island work to somehow keep an impoverished nation of child drop-outs in school. One adventure lead me to the next, just like in my story. And that “AHA” moment has snowballed into a new tale that now involves an ambassador, universities, conservation, eco-tourism, environmental learning, ocean science, crowdfunding, grant-writing, television/film, real estate development, and much, much more. In the course of a year, I’ve traveled to Nicaragua three times and have fallen in love with its people and possibilities, but most importantly, I’ve fallen in love with the journey to “Finding Corte Magore”.

Over the next few days and weeks, my team on the Finding Corte Magore project and I will attempt to break down this amazing adventure for you. Look for videos, pictures, and blog posts as we unfold the story from varying perspectives.

I promise that when it’s all over, you will be inspired to get up, dust off some of those old dreams of your own, dare to get off your own islands and realize that nothing at all is impossible.

See you on Corte Magore!

Tonia Allen Gould

http://www.findingcortemagore.com

I Grew-Up Dirt Poor in Indiana, but, Still I had Hope


But, Still, I Had Hope… 

Someone asked me last night – challenged me really, over dinner while talking about the Finding Corte Magore project. “Why not do all this in the U.S.? Why Nicaragua?” My answer? “I grew-up dirt poor, living below the poverty line. But, books, education, teachers, welfare and our American laws saved me. I had hope. And, everyone deserves hope.   

The poorest children in the U.S. have so much more hope than most of the kids in Nicaragua, one of the poorest places on the planet. Kids in Nicaragua are forced to eventually choose work over school, if they ever enrolled in the first place.  My goal is to teach kids in the U.S. that no matter how bad they have it – someone, somewhere, has things worse. And, in Nicaragua, my goal there is to let kids know that it’s okay to have hope and dream for a better life.” – Tonia

Please join this important discussion regarding the Finding Corte Magore project on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FindingCorteMagore/posts/840844052658052

Everything Happens in Threes: An Ode to an Olive Tree


I wouldn’t say I’m a superstitious person, necessarily, but sometimes things in my life – ultra-important, good or bad – seem to happen (to me) in threes. One of my favorite relatives from my childhood, my Aunt Grace, died recently (rest her soul) from a heart condition. A week later, my beloved dog, Bogie, my sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, also died from a heart condition.

Two. When the second coincidence strikes, two-in-a row like that – I earnestly wait, fearful that proverbial “other shoe” will eventually drop, and something tragic will happen once more. I knew that day soon would find me, and it did. The bad news finally arrived today in the form of the sound of a loud crack from the fall.

Forty-five MPH, howling winds appearing from out of nowhere, shook it’s thick branches, rattled its frail heart, sending it soaring to a perilous demise – killing my precious olive tree. The same tree that was freshly planted right before we bought the house. The same tree that grew- up alongside my children. The tree that over-shadowed the pool where the kids splashed around while I sat beneath it, stretched out on the chaise, reading a book with my dear Bogie splayed out by my feet.

The olive tree was tall and luscious – a handsome, winding, fruit-bearing, full-of-life kind of tree, but it was growing too fast and I knew it. It was too big for its living quarters set on its small, sloping bed of Lantana and variegated Bougainvillea. After all, it had already lost a major limb a couple of years ago. I knew then my tree was in trouble, that perfect tree near where we spent impossibly perfect summer’s days – but I didn’t work to save it. And, while I loved that olive tree, today I am almost thankful and glad we didn’t try and save it, because after all – it’s just a tree and not another person or pet we could have lost and loved more. During this time when life begins speaking to me in threes, I always stop and take the time to listen, and today it rings of three. Death. And I am, in this case, thankful this is, perchance, the number three.

So, dare I say goodbye to your rustling branches on sweet summer’s days. So long to your dark fruit squished beneath our flip flops. Farewell, oh sweet olive tree…may you truly be the third in this series of threes. But, not to worry as you lie there, lifeless and snapped in two; I suspect your roots are strong and you’ll wind your way back to me.

If a tree falls in the middle of your yard, would you hear it?

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Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore Special Price for October!


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Author, Tonia Allen Gould, with Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore Photograph by JennKL Photography: http://www.jennkl.com/

I’ve arranged a special hardcover book price for October. You can order an autographed book for $12.99 + shipping.

Stock up for the perfect holiday gift for that little loved one in your life.

Cheers!

Tonia Allen Gould

Camarillo Hosts 5th Annual World Multicultural BookFest


The Fifth Annual Multicultural World BookFest will be held at the Camarillo Community Center on Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 10am-3pm.
I’ve been selected as one of the children’s book authors to present at the event at 11:00 AM, followed by book signings and readings.

• We will have six storytents representing: Asia; Africa; Latin America, North America, Europe, and Australia & New Zealand.

Location: Camarillo Community Center 1605 E. Burnley Street.
Take the 101fwy exit at Carmen Drive. Going north turn right @ light. Going south make 2 left turns; go over fwy. Continue on Carmen past City Hall to 4 way stop which is Burnley. Turn right then left into parking lot. Event will be inside the gated Community Center Room

Please join us for a day of books, readings, food trucks, fun and culture.

Hope to see you there!

Tonia Allen Gould/Author
Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore

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And Sixthly, I Need to Be as Creative at Selling My Book As I Was to Write It


…and Other 3:00 A.M. Preponderances.

It’s late and I’ve not yet mustered enough energy to wiggle my way beneath the covers where I get to enjoy Night #2 of Belgium linen sheets from Restoration Hardware. I’m restless. Feeling stuck. Inert. That could be thanks to Diesel the Cat; he’s wedged so comfortably and close to me on top of the blankets–I haven’t the heart to remind him that he’s my daughter’s cat and I’m actually a dog person. And my dog, Bogie, would love to occupy Diesel’s prime real estate on the bed next to me. Except the dog’s afraid of you, Cat-with-your-claws-still-in-tact, and maybe I am a little bit too.

And that’s not why I’m really feeling stuck.

I don’t often feel like this, so on top of the covers I sit, while my husband snores (despite the funny snore gizmo his dentist fitted for his mouth, coupled with my swift sock in his arm to get him to roll over). I’m both restless and rejoicing in the fact that I’ve finally found time (that’s a compressed paradox if I’ve ever heard one) to READ, errr…SKIM…mindlessly through newly pressed blog posts hoping to find clarity in my own lackluster writing as of late. My narrative dribble has been a slow, steady, stream of spit.

For months, like all other attention-seeking first-time authors, I have been trying to get you, the parents of my demographic, children aged 4-8 to notice one tiny little meteor of a factoid. H E L L O. Knock knock. I mean, come on! How obvious do I need to be? I wrote and published a WHOLE darn book over here. Doesn’t that account for something?

I’ve waited…and waited patiently in angst for the clouds to part and to hear those glorious angels belting their angelic refrain in my literary honor. But, the sky is quiet and dark. And, while my books are certainly selling, I somehow expected…I don’t know…more.

No one told me, at the very same time I published my book, so did one trillion other authors who dreamt too, their whole lives through, of publishing their FIRST book and that I would be competing for space on your child’s bookshelves, let alone their hearts and minds.

Okay. You got me. Maybe I am feeling just a tad bit sorry for myself. Maybe I have set my expectations way too high. Maybe I am questioning whether or not I’m doing anything right over here. For the consummate optimist, who forges ahead for the sake of sheer will and determination, that’s saying a lot about where my head is tonight. And since wallowing in wee-hour self pity is just plain silliness, and not my thang, I think we all can agree we’re glad that’s over.

I wouldn’t be me without some newfound clarity here. I do realize I have learned a thing or two about publishing a first book along the way. (Find the good, Tonia. Find the good.)

So here it goes:

Being an author, in and of itself, is no longer unique. Everyone’s an author these days, and I still have to figure out how to break out above the noise to get me and my book noticed. That’s a challenge. I like challenges.

My book is what makes me unique as an author. But unless I get you to notice it, and share my terribly good news about it with the world, my career is still in its infancy as an author. I like that. There’s no mad dash to the finish line here. I’ve been in a hurry my whole life. It’s okay to take things slow. And, thank goodness I still have a day job that warrants my attention at the bank on payday.

One trillion people are trying to get your attention in the exact same way I am: So even as an experienced marketer, with 21 years of marketing under my belt, I may still FAIL to get your attention. (Hopefully that doesn’t actually make me suck as a marketer.) When things aren’t working, it’s time to explore new things. I need to continue to try new things to get my demographic to notice me.

As a person with a never say die mentality and a fair amount of book sales already under her belt-given her first time authorship-I need to give myself a pat on the back and thank my supporters. I’ve accomplished more than most. I get to say I’m a published author, because there aren’t really one trillion authors who published a book at the same time as me.

I’m probably not going to sell many books to you on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or LinkedIn. Because everyone in the world is hocking a book through social media. If everyone is doing something the same way, then maybe we’re all doing it wrong. (But, WordPress is fair game. I’m going to politely ask you to go to Amazon and buy my book and DO IT NOW. Wait. Just kidding. That would be presumptuous and rude of me to bark an order like that.

And sixthly, I need to be as creative at selling my book as I was to write it. I also need to check and see if “sixthly” is even a word. (Clearly it should be, since it chronologically eventually follows firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.) I think most written thoughts taper off after the third point anyway to avoid checking to see if “fourthly” and so on even exists in the dictionary. But, I digress because I’m punchy and I’m anxious to enjoy these new sheets.

Anyway, thanks for the ear, but that’s all the clarity I can muster-up in the wee hours for now. I’m tired and I’ve got to dislodge a demented cat from my ribcage.

Toodles.

Preponderance’s by Tonia

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Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore and the Schoolhouse Visit in La Dalia, Nicaragua


Check out our video to learn more about Team Finding Corte Magore’s first visit to the agricultural area of La Dalia, Nicaragua. When we arrived at the schoolhouse on a reputable coffee plantation, we began to understand the educational needs of the children who live there. Many of these children held a crayon in their hands for the very first time.

Our goal is to crowd-fund a “social good” island in Nicaragua to raise awareness to the children who may drop out of school before reaching the sixth grade. In an effort to promote dreaming amongst children at home and abroad–our goal is to rename the island Corte Magore, after a fictional island in the children’s picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore. The main character in this story had to overcome a lot of challenges to accomplish his goal of building a life for himself. We believe, with a little help from students and teachers in the US, crowdfunders, and the Finding Corte Magore project, the children in Nicaragua too can dream of a better life for themselves.

See you on Corte Magore!

Tonia Allen Gould

Author and Founder of the Finding Corte Magore Project

My Book Signing at Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm


Thanks to Connie, the proprietor at Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm for the great book signing today! If you haven’t checked out her delightful bookstore in Camarillo, please do so and don’t forget to ask for your copy of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore while you are there.

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