Funny about Money

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

June 28, 2017
by funny

Ya Can’t Shovel Heat!

Gosh, what a gorgeous morning!

When the hounds rousted me out of the sack around 5:30 this morning, the thermometer in back measured just under 80 degrees. Beautiful morning!

Tidied the pool a bit — an Algae Wars maneuver — and then went swimming. 🙂

The Algae Wars are going well. The human may not be winning, exactly, but a sort of détente has been arrived at. Sweeping the walls or, more fun, getting into the drink and washing them down with the sprayer is beating back the little green critters, even though the water is now about as warm as it’s going to get. Algae love warm water!

So does the human. With a very small amount of daily attention — like, about 10 minutes’ worth — the human has managed to reclaim the pool from the plant life.

It’s 8:30 now and I’m still on the back porch, soaking up the lovely outdoors and swilling an extra cup or two of coffee. Soon, very soon, I must get to work: yesterday had planned to read six pages of the clients’ abstruse magnum opus (having read ahead six pages the day before), but by the time I sat down to work, I was so tired I couldn’t focus on it. So now must get through 12 pages of Chinese-accented academicese so the result can be proofed tomorrow and then sent off to the professors.

The water bill is going to be astronomical this month. During the warmest summer months, I set the watering system to run through its entire cycle every day. This results in water bills that match or exceed the power bills, which as you can imagine are themselves pretty bracing. But as the heat has hovered around 118 to 120, I’ve trotted out around noon or 1 p.m. and pushed the button to run all cycles manually for about 15 or 20 minutes, by way of keeping the greenery alive.

Oh well… It’s only money.

Speaking of astronomical, yesterday a friend and I decided to kill the day exploring Scottsdale Fashion Square, the elegant mall she and I have both drifted away from.

Well…lemme tellya something. Most normal malls indeed are dying, no question of it. But the ones that target the One Percent? Thriving!

You never saw so many rich bitches and overpriced teenagers in your LIFE! The devil may wear Prada, but so does Mrs. Gotrock’s daughter.

And yes, the rich are different from us. (In some cases it’s questionable whether they’re even human: just look at the critters in the White House.)

They eat in food courts, though, so my friend and I grabbed a Pita Jungle lunch and watched the scene go by. We reflected on the latest styles and colors: hevvin help us, what is HOT now is a throwback to 1969: every store is full of hippy-dippy outfits. On steroids.

Some of the stuff is very pretty. And…yes…forgive me, Father, but I have sinned blown away three months’ worth of my budget. 🙂

We went into a hilariously wonderful store called Johnny We. This outfit sells the most gorgeous shirts you can imagine. They’re embroidered, not printed. And elaborately embroidered.

Some of them are a little much, but many rank in the Top This, You Bitches! category. 😀

So there we are with our working-class noses pressed against the window, pining for an embroidered shirt or a purse that costs as much as a Mazerati, when what should we find hidden in the back of the store behind a partition but a couple racks of picked-over merchandise: 30% off!

Hot damn!

This image does not do it justice, thanks to the Mac’s stupid new software. Click for a larger picture…i hope…

We found this filmy cream-colored shirt with café-au-lait and champagne-colored embroidery all over it. With cutwork, if you can imagine! Thirty percent off! Yes yes yes YES!

It’s so, so, so pretty. Even with just a pair of jeans, it’ll be a jaw-dropper.

Not since I was married to the Corporate Lawyer have I spent so much money on a single piece of clothing. Holy mackerel!

Now I’m in the market for a pair of leggings in brown (preferably) or beige. Looks like one can order them from Amazon, but I really don’t like ordering clothes online: too much of a pig in a poke.

So anyway, over lunch we sang the “Where Have All the Shopping Malls Gone” song. And we concluded that the middle class, people who used to support the chain stores that populated the Metrocenters and the Paradise Valley Malls of yore, has essentially gone away. Neither she nor I shop in malls anymore because we can’t afford to shop in malls. And, as the old stand-by stores’ customer base has slipped, so has their customer service. It’s no longer fun to shop in those stores.

She remarked that she used to buy her clothes in Penney’s all the time, and I said I always bought kitchen and household gear at Sears. But now when you go into those stores, the hired help treats you like they wish you would please just go away. Stores like Dillard’s, Nordstrom’s, and Macy’s are affordable only on sale (and Macy’s customer service sucks, too).

Once I would buy cooking and household tchotchkes at Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Williams-Sonoma, Dillard’s, Macy’s and the like. Now I buy that kind of stuff at Costco or Target — or, more often, order it from Amazon. Used to buy furniture at Crate & Barrel or Macy’s. Now if I can’t find it at an estate sale, I don’t buy it.

Welp, it’s getting warm out here. Damnable “El Capitan” has crashed the MacBook TWICE while I’ve been writing this post, so I guess it’s time to knock off and go to work. On a different computer, thank you very much.

Next computer is gonna be a PC…

June 27, 2017
by funny

Never a Dull Moment…

SO…here I was, about to write a complacent little post about how NICE is it that I’m getting a little respite from the grinding workload this summer and how a friend is coming over and we’re going to go window shopping at the long-ignored “fashion square” upon which we ruminated yesterday, and ahhhhh isn’t everything beer and skittles…

Never fails, does it?

Our Fair City, in all its City Parents’ bat-brained wisdom, evades going so far as to fix worn-out streets by patching them instead of resurfacing them. They send crews around about once every 10 to 15 years to fill and spray oil over the cracks in your neighborhood’s streets. This enhances the Look of Blight so fashionable in our town and delays having to do the job right for another while.

Week or so ago, they threw flyers on our driveways (we call those “Burglars Enter Here!” notices) informing us that we were to keep our cars off the roadway, because if they came across a vehicle parked at the curb when they arrive to fill in the cracks, they will have the vehicle towed.

I’m sitting here, then, about to start scribbling today’s post, when the dogs go FREAKING BATSH!T.

The tarring crews are out in front, and they are flummoxed. Neighbor catty-corner across the street, a very beloved and nice neighbor, has left an SUV parked out in front of his house. The workmen are obviously trying to get a rise out of the house’s occupants. Some of the men are taking the opportunity to loaf, to inspect the car, and generally to scurry around aimlessly. No answer: Joel & Dita presumably are…you know…at work.

I call WonderAccountant, whose house/office is next door to them. She hadn’t gotten the message that the City intended to impound vehicles left parked on the street, but in any event, the car is not Joel’s. It belongs to a friend of theirs who’s trying to sell it. Friend lives in a gated compound and is not allowed to leave it out for potential buyers to see. Not that they could get in through the gate anyway. So Joel & Dita are letting the guy sell it from our street instead of his.

W.A. texts Joel. Joel contacts Dita. Dita is home but like all women around here, wisely not answering the door to strangers; she is going to run out and move the car.

Ah, the drama. Ah, the operatic flights of fancy!

Respite…yeah, OK…what was that about? Oh yes…

The nasty cough that was the only symptom (except for a brief 102.5° fever) of the late great homicidal cold is still hanging on. FOUR MONTHS LATER.

After 12 weeks of choking and gasping, accompanied by some unprintably disgusting effects, I finally gave up and visited Young Dr. Kildare. The reason I persist in seeing this man, despite his having moved his practice to a part of town where you have to dodge bullets to get from the parking lot to the door, is that his signal quality is common sense.

You don’t often find that in a doctor.

So I tell him I’ve been to WonderAccountant’s lung doc, who says it’s not asthma and who says the X-ray he ordered came back “clear.” YDK whips out his stethoscope and listens to everything you can listen to and says he can’t hear anything in the chest, either.

I remark that the evil Other Symptoms sound a lot like the cough you can get with GERD. He being a GERD veteran himself, remarks that it could be.

He suggests that I go back on the omeprazole for two weeks. If it helps, we’ll know it’s the GERD and a few more weeks of omeprazole should calm it back down. If it doesn’t help, then we’ll know it’s not GERD and then we’ll have to figure out what to do next.

Two long weeks later… Nothing. The omeprazole plus liberal doses of ranitidine have effectively zero effect.

Well, not quite zero. It’s gotten a tiny bit better, but not so much as you’d notice.

This means I really should go over to my “official” GP at the Mayo. But I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna because those folks at the Mayo are test-happy. Extravagantly test-happy. They are going to subject me to hour after hour of tests — which will entail endless drives to the far side of Scottsdale. And one of the tests they’d like to foist on me involves shoving a camera down my throat. I do not want a camera shoved down my throat. Enough medico-miseries are ENOUGH, already.

So I think…hmmmm…. So it’s probably not GERD. It’s not lung cancer (though it surely could be esophageal cancer but it’s probably not). It’s not Valley fever. It’s not pneumonia. What can we conclude from this?

a) If it’s not esophageal cancer, it’s likely not life-threatening; and
b) It probably has something to do with the Cold/Cough from Hell.

I’m not swallowing any more of the carefully husbanded stash of codeine cough medicine, which I think is contraindicated anyway because the reason I’m coughing so hideously is all the gunk that’s coming up. But I do have some Mucinex left over, purchased when I came down with this thing. It didn’t do a whit of good then. But…it functions to make you cough stuff out. What if the problem is that this hideously thick, gummy stuff is stuck in there and needs to be expelled? The worst that could happen is the Mucinex could kill me, and at this point, that doesn’t sound like an altogether bad thing.

So I try the stuff. And amazingly…next morning, the cough is about 90% better! It’s still there, but it’s not about to drown me, nor am I gasping for air.

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!

So that’s relief number 1.

Relief number 2 will be engineering a chance to visit with my friend for several hours today. And even to go into a very fancy, very air-conditioned mall and view the way the One-Percenters live. Always an amusing prospect.

This relief is attenuated by the facts that…

a) A new version of Honored Clients’ 33-page (typeset!) tome on matters economic arrived yesterday, with a request to please turn it around in three days; and
b) The second set of The Complete Writer‘s page proofs are ready at the printer’s shop, and my Honored Spy there thinks the cover is still not working — suggests redoing it from scratch.

Welp, I got through 12 pages of the Chinese economic study yesterday, plus the headnotes of the 8 single-spaced pages of 11-point tables. So if I can get through six pages today and six pages tomorrow — not at all unreasonable — that may leave time to proofread tomorrow afternoon, or at least will make me only one day late.

Meanwhile, I have a presentation on Saturday and really wanted to have the book in hand to sell to the audience. This means those proofs have to be picked up today!!!!!!!!

It also pretty well guarantees I will not finish the Chinese paper tomorrow, because it will take a good half a day to rebuild the goddamn cover, and because I’m still not finished preparing the presentation. And the interior copy will need to be double-checked to be sure the three or four dozen changes came across OK.

So I propose to suggest that Dear Friend, who planned to drive today, leave her car in my garage and let me drive, thereby consuming my gasoline for the considerable drive to the printer’s shop.

If she agrees to this exploit, it will be an experience for her, since the printer is located in a part of town where…shall we say…nice girls do not go. It’s due south of the airport, in one of the most desperate slums in the Southwest.

June 25, 2017
by funny

Mall as Dinosaur

Used to be you couldn’t find a shaded place to park at Scottsdale Fashion Square for love nor money. Especially  not on a weekend.

Yesterday morning I had to drive to darkest Old Town Scottsdale to visit the Hair Stylist from Heaven. He’s talking about moving to Prescott, where he and his sister own a house that they trade off using as a weekend retreat. If Shane moves to Prescott, I am goin’, too.

Drove past Fashion Square on the way to Shane’s place. It’s one of the few malls around there that’s still going strong. There are probably three, one of them a sprawling open-faced thing supposedly modeled on a small-town Main Street, with expensive apartments upstairs over the stores.

Y’know…I haven’t been in that place — Scottsdale Fashion Square — in years. I used to go there all the time, not necessarily to buy things but just to walk around. Really didn’t buy much — sometimes I’d buy nothing. But it was pleasant to just schmooze around in the stores, see what’s stylish and what’s on sale.

Don’t know when I stopped, precisely. Probably when I lost my job. When you don’t have a regular cash flow — more than Social Security provides — you don’t go into stores. These days I buy most of my clothes at Costco and a couple of small boutiques, and all my shoes at a boutique in Tempe. Yard and household items: Target or Home Depot. Otherwise: Amazon.

The boutiquey places aren’t cheap. But on the other hand, I don’t shop there much. They’re not places you go to window-shop; they’re places you go to buy specific items.

On the way home, I missed my turn and had to cut through the parking lot to get back to 68th Street. There was hardly anybody there. I could’ve parked right outside the door of any of the tony department stores, or had no problem getting a close-in spot in the shade structures. Admittedly, it was a 118-degree day. But…it didn’t use to be that way.

Wonder how much longer that place will survive? The middle-class shopping malls around here — Paradise Valley Mall, Metrocenter, Christown, Fiesta Mall — are decrepit wrecks. None of them are places you would go to walk around for the fun of it. Some are dangerous. One is being converted into a medical center.

On the other hand, Scottsdale Fashion Square is and always was in a different class  from those has-beens. although it had (still has) a Dillard’s and a few other more or less normal stores, it’s also got a Nordstrom’s and a Nieman-Marcus and an Armani store and a Gucci store and naturally a Prada store and a Tiffany’s and a place to buy your Ferragamos… Not likely to go away soon. I guess.


June 22, 2017
by funny

Digital Junk

Do you not feel overwhelmed by the sheer, VAST quantity of digital ephemera that comes at you from every direction? About 99.9 percent of it is pure junk; maybe 1 percent (at the outside…) is something you asked to see and need to review.

I have my mail system set up to divert things I regard as ephemeral into a “Trash” folder, so that I don’t see them until I have some time to waste. That includes the 87 berjillion beeps from Facebook, the 37 million “likes” and queries from Quora, whatever Twitter emits, and all known senders of spam. “Spam” IMHO includes newsletters, Goodreads blather, chirpy emails from Realtors, notices, and on and on and infinitely on. Just now MacMail has 71 “rules” for that purpose. The accursed OS update erased all my standing rules; before that little fiasco, I had applied over 90 rules. So presumably in the next short while I’ll have to rebuild another 20 of them.

Then there are the people who “Reply-all” to someone who is trying to organize some event and is sending out a dozen or more emails to members. This very morning, a half-dozen people in one group of friends are merrily doing that, so I end up with not one or two messages from the organizer but 6, 12, 18, 24 back-and-forths between her and the participants.

Please. Don’t “Reply-all” unless you’re asked to do so!

Truly, I think we get far more digital junk mail than we ever got in the snail-mail: it’s free and it’s easy to disseminate and I guess they don’t give a damn how much they annoy people. And indeed, why should they? What are you gonna do, after all? Jump into your transporter and beam yourself up to Seattle and throttle the bastards on the spot?

The nuisance phone calls amount to a variety of digital junk, too. It’s just another device to spam you: most of them emanate from digital robocallers equipped to spoof phone numbers and to keep dialing you back until you answer.

The handy-dandy call blocker I bought a while back is helping a lot with the robocall problem, though on average one or two a day are still getting through.

They come in waves. You’ll have days — often days on end! — when no spam phone calls get through at all. Then you’ll have a bunch at once — I’ve blocked three of the SOBs today.

So far I’ve blocked 133 real and spoofed phone numbers. That’s on top of the 5,000 blocked numbers the device comes with. It’s a little annoying to have to manually block the ones that get through…only because my system has so much hardware wired in that the device has to be set up so that I have to walk to the back of the house, push a button to locate the caller’s number, and push another button to block that number forevermore.

On the other hand, it surely is satisfying to hear an incoming call ring once and then die. Sort of like squashing a cockroach…

Email icon image: DepositPhotos, © yupiramos
Banner image of the day: DepositPhotos, © nevarpp

June 21, 2017
by funny

Red-Hot or Nailed Down…

Finally it dawns on me what happened to the two shiny brass hose nozzles that disappeared out of the flowerpot where I store them in the back yard. About the only thing that could have happened: the pool guy must have taken them when he was using the hose to clean out the filter.

Gerardo hasn’t been here for two months…and besides, he’s not given to stealing. Even though I can’t be depended upon to remember where I last set my toothbrush down, I’m pretty sure I didn’t put them “away” in some weird place because there would be no reason to do so. And I’ve searched every weird spot on the property for them.

These  little gadgets are not easy to find around here. So when I spotted a boxful of them on a Home Depot shelf, I grabbed three of them. One was on the hose. The other two are now gone. And since the things are just the ticket for the kind of job he does, I figure when he spotted them, he just picked them up and dropped them in a pocket.

He also broke my hose timer, the jerk.

What IS it with workmen and hose timers? These cheesey little things are really nothing more than a kitchen timer on a valve…how hard IS it to turn a kitchen timer to 15 minutes? Every time one of those guys spots one of the things, he gets confused. And I forgot to turn it on for him…one too easily forgets how stupid other human beings are.

Given the creature we’ve elected as president, it’s hard to grasp how one could forget such a thing: clearly we’re a nation of dolts. But there it is. Busted timer, stolen nozzles.

Oh well. Like my father used to say: if it ain’t red-hot or bolted down, someone will steal it.

June 20, 2017
by funny

Warm Enough for Ya?

 Temps are supposed to hit 120° today. We’ll believe that when we see it. But it probably will get fairly warm. Just now it’s almost 9:30 and the backyard thermometer reads 100 degrees, not especially out of the ordinary for this time of year.

A light skiff of high clouds has moved in, and that will cut some of the supposed heat. Monsoon dust on the New Mexico border killed six people yesterday evening; as you can see from the video, some serious clouds were in the offing. If that moisture moves this far west, it will lower temps some, even if it doesn’t come all the way into the Valley.

The pool is spotlessly clean — the scheme to brush it down at least once a day is working. Last night I shock-treated it (part of the scheme is to do the weekly shock-treat that you’re supposed to do and that I’ve managed to avoid for the past several years…) and so this morning backwashed, a PITA that I could do without. Very many more of these weekly backwashes and the filter will have to be taken apart and cleaned again, to the tune of another $125 or $150.

Supposedly you need to clean a pool filter only about once or twice a year. I’ve found that to be hogwash (heh… backwash? back-hogwash?): every time I turn around I have to pay someone to come disassemble the thing, haul the parts into the alley, scrub it out, haul the parts back in, and reassemble it.

Pretty soon I’ll need to replace that old thing, and I’m thinking about making a retrograde move: replace the fancy DE filter with a sand filter. DE does a better job on a pool the size of the one in this yard. However, a sand filter does not need to be cleaned on a regular basis. You backwash and you only backwash. After a number of years, you have somebody come and dump the sand into the alley, then replace the sand…but it’s years, not months or weeks.

The pool water would be a little cloudy — maybe — with a sand filter. But the pool has to be replastered…very soon…and if I were to get a darker color plaster or Pebble-Tek — the height of style — it wouldn’t be noticeable. If I were very clever, I might figure out a way to backwash onto the trees without excavating the landscaping, thereby saving a little on the water bills and no longer having to drag the hose out into the alley.

Leaving the gate open while I’m fiddling with the pool gives me the heebie-jeebies, given the “neighbors” who inhabit the alleys. The dogs have to be locked up during the backwash procedure; otherwise Ruby will take off for Yuma. Wouldn’t make much difference anyway: they’re not big enough to do much more than love the meth-head to death.

Who knows? Maybe that’s what meth-heads need.

Heh! The Corgi Drug Cure. Good, very good.

One-twenty in the shade or no, at this time of year I have to cover up the rose bushes. Otherwise they fry. This does not make for high aesthetics in the garden architecture department.