Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

March 23, 2017
by funny

Miracle cure…or something…

Well, I don’t know what worked — the leftover codeine or that reliable old standby, tincture of time — but the Cold from Hell is slowing arriving at the almost tolerable stage. Still barking, but not suffocating anyhow. I managed to drive to choir last night, having swallowed half a dose of the menacing opiate when dawn cracked, a good 12 hours before choir call. So felt it was safe enough to drive by then.

And amazingly I also managed to sneak through two hours of rehearsal without causing a scene that was too operatic. Easter, our religion’s seriously hyuge spiritual frenzy, is fast coming upon us, and some of the music is beyond amazing.

We’re singing Mealor’s Stabat Mater, which defies belief in the “Gorgeous” category.

Last night we also rehearsed Stopford’s Ave Verum, one of my favorites…

And Alan Hovhaness’s “Out of the Depths”…

And K. Lee Scott’s “Open My Eyes”… In English,  it’s true, but this Korean choir does better justice to the piece than the only other rendition I could find on YouTube:

And Pablo Casal’s O Vos Omnes

 Can you believe we got through all that (and three hymns) in two hours?

No wonder I didn’t feel like driving to Scottsdale at 6:30 this morning. How much longer that networking group is going to put up with my absences, I do not know. Claro que I’ll have to show up  next week if I don’t want to be drummed out of the club!

Meanwhile, one of the things I need to do between now and next Thursday is rejoin a Toastmaster’s group, since speaking gigs will be central to the marketing scheme for the new magnum opus. It’s ready to go to print — I’ve just been too overworked and then too damn sick to do battle with the PoD guy’s software. And I believe the eBook dude is about ready with the Kindle and ePub versions. I intend to sell those off my website, since I’m mightily fed up with dealing through Amazon — and since Amazon sales are beside the point with this book.

And mean-meanwhile: a colleague’s book awaits my editorial attention. And so, away.

March 22, 2017
by funny

This, That, and the ‘Tother

Cheers! Check out Kostas Chiotis’s latest round-up over at Finance Blog Zone. Kostas hit up every finance blogger in sight to contribute a blurb on how to manage debt. It’s old home day over there! (And new home day, too: a bunch of younger writers are in there with us old bats.) There’s Trent Hamm, by golly: the original inspiration for Funny about Money. Others of the old guard are there — Evan of My Journey to Millions wins my prize for “Man of Fewest Words”: on the subject of managing debt, says he, “Figure out why you have it.” 🙂 Many of the younger pups are represented, among them Ginger of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds and Shannyn Allan of Frugal Beautiful. Though Funny has drifted away from Personal Finance as a genre (once you feel you have enough money, the subject gets a lot less interesting), the niche is still alive and well.

{grump!} Just poured coffee on my keyboard. Looks like none of it got down inside there, though.

Driving to Tempe in a couple of hours to meet my bidness partner at our favorite lunch hangout. Amazingly, she did not get accepted to law school (those fools!), so I’ll be interested to hear what her next plan is. We also need to cook up a scheme for next year’s Society for Scholarly Publishing conference, whereinat she proposes that we do a panel presentation. She actually had that in mind this spring, but we missed last fall’s RFP deadline.

Which is good: it gives us several months to come up with a winning idea.

The half-dose of codeine worked…half-way. Still coughing, but not gasping for breath. Kinda doubt I can sing tonight, but at least I should be able to make it out to Tempe without expiring on the freeway.

While I’m running around, I should drop by a Sears. We’re told that Sears is on its last legs, and there’s a household doodad I need to get only at Sears. Dammit.

My fridge is a Kenmore. It’s run well for lo! these 13 years — twice as long as its engineered life expectancy, with no repairs at all. It dispenses filtered water, which is rather nice for one’s b&w’s… To do that, it uses an expensive screw-in filter cartridge. These things last a long time. In theory you probably should replace them every six months to a year, but in reality I think I’ve only used about four or five of them. They’re made by Kenmore. You can buy them on Amazon…at considerably higher cost than the already bracing amount you’ll pay at Sears.

So I think I’ll make a Sears run and buy two or three of the things. That refrigerator can’t last all that much longer. But I’d like not to have to replace if for a stupid reason like “they don’t make those filters anymore.”

Here’s a marvelous little gem in this morning’s news: The FDA announces that the very type of breast implants the boob surgeons tried their damnedest to talk me into cause cancer. Holy shit! Am I glad or am I glad that I put my foot down and refused to let them stick those things under my chest muscles!?!

You know, I rather like being flat as a nine-year-old. A pair of fake titties tattooed on there might be nice…but since nobody ever sees me except an occasional passing helicopter pilot (who deserves what he gets 😀 ), it’s surely not a matter of any urgency. Or of much interest. As it develops, almost all of my clothes look just fine on me. And for sure everything is about 110% more comfortable: no binding, no rubbing, no squeezing, no itching, no riding up, no sagging, no hurting. Just think of that: clothes that don’t make you miserable! And the joy of never having to shop for another bra ever again: priceless.

Somebody tried to shoot up the British Parliament, we’re told. How’s that gun control workin’ out for ya, folks? On the same subject, though, it doesn’t seem to be working out well here. In lovely Arizona if you’re a felon, even of the minor variety, you are prohibited evermore from owning a gun. That notwithstanding, a pair of nitwits — the as-yet unconvicted wife no doubt operating as a straw purchaser — enjoyed keeping a pistol around the house. The female nitwit tossed the pistol on the bed as she was fiddling around the house. Their two-year-old picked it up and shot their nine-year-old in the head. He died, after a pointless spell on life support.

You should have to pass an IQ test to be eligible to buy a gun.

The Economist is agonizing over Brexit and Scoxit — the Scots now proposing a second referendum to divorce Britain, so they don’t have to leave the EU. Of course, the journal being a very liberal, free-trade sort of publication strongly espouses staying and is editorially abhorred by the vote to exit and the ascendence of Theresa May. Yet they do (unlike American publications of record) publish reasoned arguments for the other side. A commenter in the March 18 letters, Robert Aitken of Oxford, asks a very interesting question: “if Britain had never joined the EU, would we now vote to do so?”

His answer to that fine rhetorical question is, in short, no: “Looking at the wasteful, sclerotic, and undemocratic grouping it has become, only a Euro-enthusiast of the deepest hue could think that we would.” The remainder of his letter explains his reasoning — it’s very much worth reading.

But in the “reading” department, Firefox is busy threatening to crash again, so it looks like it’s time to close this and close all the other tabs and shut the whole system down and go get ready to drive across the city.

And so, away…

March 21, 2017
by funny


Dare I say I told us so?

“U.S. stocks bumped lower on Tuesday, erasing early gains and putting the market on track for its worst session of 2017. The S&P 500 and the Dow are also at risk of falling for a fourth session, which would be the longest losing streak since November.”

Heh…maybe someone noticed, at last, what a freaking disaster is rolling through Washington.

Got your propane? Your water? Your rice and beans? Your camp stove?  Heh heh heh…we’re gonna love life in the Third World…

Image: DepositPhotos, © jamdesign

March 20, 2017
by funny


The ultimate boug’

A day late and a dollah short for flower pix: spring has done sprung, and all the pretty fleurs are already frying. We’ve had heat in the mid-90s…and this is just the middle of March!

I can’t turn on the watering system, because the effing city bases your summer, fall, and winter water & sewer rates on the amount of water you use in the springtime. So if you drain and refill  your pool anytime after the end of December, you not only pay $200 extra for the water, you get a year-long extra gouge for the privilege. That means you have to ration water through the end of May. AND the bastards are planning to jack up everyone’s rates by at least 2% this year. I do not know how I’m going to afford an extra ding like that: my summertime water bills are already as high as the  power bills, which are freaking exorbitant.

So right now I’m having to water all the plants by hand, a time-consuming nuisance since I have a lot of potted plants. Once temps get over about 90 degrees, a plant in a pot will die in less than a day if you don’t water it in the morning.  But if you water by hand, you do have a lot more control over how much gets poured on which plant.

(Click on the images to see their full glory.)

The plants burst forth in great ecstasy after the winter deluge was followed by this spring’s heat wave. The citrus are covered with perfumed flowers while the winter crop of oranges, lemons, and limes still cling to the branches.

The oranges, in particular, have been incredible this winter. Each piece of fruit is like juicy candy, it’s so sweet and delicious. I was much relieved that the GERD finally settled down enough that I can eat the oranges — for a time, it looked like oranges and orange juice were to be a thing of my past. At this time of year I’ll eat five or six oranges at a sitting, They are so good, and there are so many of them, you have to pork them down as fast as you can eat them to avoid a lot of loss.

{chortle!} If it’s true that vitamin C fends off flu and cold germs, presumably I would have croaked over by now if I hadn’t been able to scarf down this year’s crop. 🙄

Cassie and Ruby like the oranges, too. They don’t eat them fresh, but snarfle around under the trees in search of dead, mummified oranges, which they carry into the house, hide in their nests, and at their leisure chew up into stinky messes for the human to clean up.

Citrus connoisseur

Thrashers also like oranges, it develops. When they find one on the ground, they poke a beak-sized hole in it and slurp out the juicy innards.

Those blue bulb things I bought at the Depot and planted last fall popped out of the ground and indeed did produce wonderful little deep blue blossoms. They indeed are holding their own against the Mexican primrose, as are the red flower thingies whose name I don’t recall but which reseeded themselves and came up, shivering with plant joy, with the rains.

It’s quite the little jungle in the poolside flowerbed, but I expect everything but the Mexican primrose, an extremely hardy weed ornamental, will fry after the weather gets much hotter.

Other bulbs also have come to life, including (briefly) these beautiful iris, which inhabit the front porch as well as one of the flowerbeds flanking the barbecue…

I have no idea what these things are — some kind of bulb, found at some nursery or on some Home Depot rack far back in the mists of time — but they are gorgeous!

Yellow is the desert’s favorite color. That’s not surprising, since the Sonoran Desert is the world’s richest bee habitat. Bees particularly relish the color yellow. Hence mounds, twigs, and sprigs of yellow flowers:

Here are some that decided to grow under the protection of a man-eating agave…

As we scribble, the Myer lemon is humming with honeybees. I can’t even imagine what kind of honey the little gals must make from those unbelievably sweet flowers. At this time of year, the air is filled with the perfume of citrus, and the little alien European bees are beside themselves with insect ecstasy.

Oh well. I must send off the completed editorial project to the client — now, not later. And call the glasses guy to find out what happened to the expensive specs I ordered before this damn cold descended on me, which was quite some time ago. And water all these plants, yes, by hand. And perform the daily pool brush-down — it’s working! not a single sign of wall moss in all this crazy heat! — and contemplate the possibility of diving into that pool, which is now almost warm enough to swim in. And read a friend’s manuscript — a freebie, but I figure you catch more flies with molasses (etc.).

And so, away!

Seen any flowers in your part of the country?


March 19, 2017
by funny


Is this bug EVER gonna go away?

Not for awhile, if experience speaks. I’ve now enjoyed 2017’s Cold from Hell for two full weeks. The worst of the infection symptoms have pretty well passed: the fever is gone, the nasal congestion is gone, the headache is gone, the overall sense of wet-noodle weakness is pretty well gone. But — as usual — the frantic coughing hangs on.

Speaking launches a frenzy of chest-deep coughing and hacking. I can’t even utter the words “good dog!” without flying into another cough-fest.

I’ve found, in the past, that a cough like this can hang on as long as six weeks. I hope it will fade enough for me to go back to choir in another week or two, but…the specific reason I so dread catching a cold is that it typically takes me three times as long to get over it as most people require.

At one point my great old (now retired) doctor ran an elaborate series of blood tests on me and came up with the finding (theory?) that I’m missing a small part in my immune system. That, he thought, explains my susceptibility to viruses and probably explains why it takes such a godAWFUL long time for me to get over what ought to be mild respiratory infections.

It’s also why I’m swimming in pneumonia and flu vaccines. And why I do not take communion: you couldn’t pay me to drink out of or dip a cracker into a communal cup of wine.

I think this is neither pneumonia nor flu; I think it’s a chest cold that quickly morphed into bronchitis. Accordingly, it will take a long time to get over it.

Yesterday I wanted to go to a friend’s wedding. So I spent the day swallowing Robotussin every four hours. Usually, Robotussin does exactly nothing for me. But this time around it has a mild but perceptible effect. Two of them: 1) it upsets my stomach and 2) it takes the edge off the cough, as long as I keep my mouth shut. That beneficence lasts about two hours.

I’ve held off taking the leftover codeine, partly because the cough is still productive and I think when you’re coughing up crud, your body is trying to tell you something. And partly because…yes…it upsets my stomach, to say nothing of knocking me into the middle of next week. But today the thing has reached the point where nothing much is coming up and I’m just hacking reflexively, a state that I imagine results from two or three weeks of pharyngeal irritation. Whenever I think it’s safe to do so and I don’t mind sleeping half the day, I probably will dose myself with that stuff.

Still in the middle of the current editorial project, I really can’t afford to knock myself out for a day or two.

Otherwise, the weather has warmed up nicely — we’ve had several days in the mid-nineties, a phenomenon that has, in the past, helped to clear up colds, flu, and bronchitis. The pool is warming fast. Yesterday in passing I thought it was almost warm enough for a swim. But then thought better of that! 😀 Nevertheless, a grandparent or two at the wedding (the newlyweds are themselves grandparents) remarked that the little kids had been in the drink.

Ah, the grandparents. My son’s friends came into town, the bride being his buddy’s mother. The mother-in-law came along.

I wish you could meet these two women. What a kick they are! Each in her own way. The bride and groom are latter-day hippies who never moved into the brave new urbanized techno-world we enjoy today. They raise organic food and organic chickens, and he has an elaborate aquaculture operation set up in the backyard of their north Phoenix tract house. Back-to-the-earthers who have to make a living…but who I can imagine retired with great joy in Yarnell, a perfect venue for the back-to-the-earth life. The bride’s mother appears to be a normal Midwestern small-town gal on the surface…but be not deceived. She has the most wonderful, hilarious personality. I think she’s just more fun than life. She got on the dance floor and…can that lady DANCE. Fan-freakingtastic!

I probably embarrassed my poor son again (because I also can dance in a bawdy 1960s manner, though I did try to keep a lid on it last night…sort of). When I get going, I’m embarrassing. When she gets going, she’s a lot of fun. Too bad I never learned how to do that.

Image: DepositPhotos, © julos

March 18, 2017
by funny

There Must Be Something I Like about This Car…

What is it?

Yesh. I find myself grousing off and on — not to say incessantly — about the “new” car, a 2014 Toyota Venza, which in my petrified opinion seems to compare poorly to the much-lamented, ancient, 17-year-old Sienna. Why do I hate this hapless car?

  • It won’t safely hold the dogs except in a cubby with no air-conditioning, because when you fold the back seats down they leave a big dog-leg-busting hole in the (admittedly generous) flat space.
  • It suffers from the current bourgeois car design, in which about 90% of cars on the road look the same: like a herd of bloated ticks.
  • Its stupidly designed rear door operates on two “struts” whose life expectancy is about two years and the cost of whose repair is, shall we say, bracing.
  • There is NO place, zero, none, nada, NO place to set a small, loose item that does not entail either a) having to dig around in an inaccessible bin or b) watching it tumble off the top of the annoying console and wedge itself between the driver’s seat and the stupid console, causing a major, major hassle to retrieve it.
  • Its stupidly designed console apparently holds only paper cups — real cups and plastic traveling glasses need not apply.
  • Its stupidly designed console makes it impossible to set anything — like your purse or a bag of purchases — on the passenger-side floor, because you cannot reach the damn floor over the monster useless console.
  • It has a stupid camera on the front of the rear-view mirror that militates against hanging your crip-space placard from the mirror, where you are required by law to hang it if you have the temerity to park in a crip space.
  • Its dashboard is a rattle magnet.
  • There’s  no place to hang, stick, or set a trash bag.
  • The burglar alarm arms if you manually lock the doors while sitting inside, and then it goes off if you turn on the ignition. Extremely, extremely, mind-bogglingly annoying.
  • Speaking of stupid, its designers apparently think the vehicle’s prospective drivers are so dumb — SO DUMB — that they can’t figure out what direction they’re driving without a little light on the rear-view mirror to tell them. What??? All Trump voters, presumably?
  • It has no cladding to protect it from fellow idiot drivers who like to whack their neighbors’ cars in parking lots and run shopping carts up against the white paint.


So…is there anything about this car that’s good? Desirable? Not annoying?

  • I like that the doors lock automatically when you turn on the ignition. It’s not necessary, because I hit “lock” reflexively the instant I get in a car. But it’s nice.
  • You can set the headlights to go on every time you turn the ignition key — which the Sienna did automatically, no choice in the matter — and to stay on about two minutes after you get out of the car. No, the Sienna would not do that. It’s very nice when you park in the garage after dark. My garage does have a motion-sensitive light, but sometimes the car doesn’t trigger it. With the head- and tail-lights on, you can close the garage door, get out, and walk around even if the motion-sensitive lighting hasn’t gone on.
  • It has ultra-dark window tinting. No one can see how many people are in the car or, from the side  and back, whether the driver is a woman alone. And you can’t see any packages sitting on the floor. Now…that tinting is probably illegal. But so far I haven’t gotten a ticket.
  • It does have a six-banger. And it bangs with even more enthusiasm than the Sienna’s awe-inspiring engine. If anything, I’d say it’s over-powered. The body apparently doesn’t weigh as much as a minivan’s, and so you get some instability in the steering if you take off too exuberantly from a standing stop.
  • It’s kewl that you can connect your cell phone — even a piddly little clamshell — to the sound system and hear a conversation in full glowing stereo. This is good, because it’s almost impossible to hear someone speaking to you on the clamshell; run its sound through the radio, and voilà! Intelligible words!
  • The wheels are easy to clean thanks to their sort of skeletonized design.
  • Its air conditioning probably works pretty well. We shall see: we have yet to enjoy a 115-degree day. But the heater gets warm quickly and keeps the driver’s compartment comfortable enough.
  • If you park it in the sun, the cheesy plastic in the dashboard will expand in the heat and silence the rattling. It would be good if it didn’t rattle at all…but you can’t have everything, eh?
  • The radio works. The CD player still works.

 All of which is nice. I guess.