Funny about Money

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

May 23, 2018
by funny
2 Comments

Running around in Circles

Just back from a one-mile jog with the dawgs. Trying to get out at 5:00 a.m., but we usually dawdle until around 6, which means some rush-hour traffic is already beginning. And the sun is in your eyes: hafta wear a wide-brimmed hat.

So we must make quite a spectacle by the light of dawn: two dwarf shepherd dogs and an old lady in a floppy straw hat, trotting along while trying to stay in the shade. 😀

I hate running. I’ve never liked to run, not even when I was a little girl. And truth to tell, I walk faster than I can run.

Jogging is not exactly running and it certainly isn’t walking: it exercises a few different muscles and pounds your joints, which supposedly is therapeutic for your osteoporosis. Right…if you can’t break your hip one way, you can do it another way! 😀

A mile or more of jogging at least does work you up to light panting, which I imagine means it’s burning some calories. I’m frantically trying to get rid of the 8 pounds I put on during the time when the only thing I could eat was ice cream. This, before revisiting the quack, who is now all worried because my cholesterol levels are wacksh!t, presumably because of pigging out on ice cream for a good ten days. Or more.

The chemical burns in the mouth went away after about two weeks or so. So now I feel no great craving for a way to chill the inside of the maw without causing the cracked and chipped teeth to explode. That’s nice. I guess.

So I’ve lost almost 2 pounds in the past week… but… My son invited me over to his house, and I did eat.

This kid can cook.

Normally I eat my largest and last meal of the day around 1 or 2 p.m. That way, I’m not especially hungry at bed-time, or if I am hungry, it’s not unbearable. This strategy — a decent breakfast around 6  or 7 a.m. and a magnificent meal in the early to mid-afternoon — seems to promote weight loss efficiently, especially when combined with light exercise.

As of yesterday morning, I actually was down more than 2 pounds: 2.1 pounds at the crack of dawn. But by this morning I’d gained almost a pound: .8 pounds over yesterday’s measure. So in fact, the official May 23 weight-loss figure is only 1.3 pounds down from Day 1. So my cookies are frosted.

Most of the meal was within the low-carb limit: steak, salad, mixed vegetables. But the veggies came from Sprouts and had some sort of commercial sauce — presumably, like most things that come out of boxes, bags, and cans, full of sugar, starches, and substances from the chemistry bench. And worse yet, we had garlic bread.

Bread makes me blow up like a balloon.

But I dearly love garlic bread. It is impossible to resist garlic bread. Naturally, I had four pieces of the stuff. Who wouldn’t? 😉

Oh, well. Usually bread-based bloat goes away in a day or two. But it’s annoying. Especially when you have to run around in circles to make it go away.

May 23, 2018
by funny
0 comments

Want To Become A Freelancer? Build An Emergency Fund First!

From your seat at your desk, chained to your cubicle, the gig way of life looks like a refreshing alternative to your fluorescent 9–5 reality. Freelance workers get to choose when they want to work, where they want to work, and for whom they want to work. Being your own boss offers you newfound freedom and flexibility, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s not always easy to leave behind what you know for something entirely different.

Change to your routine won’t be the only difficulty you face. Going it alone as a freelancer can also be financially challenging, as you won’t have many of the same support systems to help you prepare for emergencies, disability, or medical issues.

You can still survive these crises, but it will take careful planning before you can cut your shackles. The following tips will help create a financial cushion for your new life as a freelancer.

Figure out what you need

Some financial experts suggest you squirrel away as much as one year of wages to cover unexpected issues that limit your ability to earn a living. Others suggest saving 20 percent of your income to cover smaller emergencies like surprise household or auto repairs. If you aren’t sure which is more appropriate or realistic for your circumstances, you may want to speak with a financial advisor about your options. They can help you create a plan that gets you where you need to be.

Automate savings

Saving doesn’t come naturally to everyone. For some, it’s a lot easier to let go of their hard-earned dollars than it is to keep them. If that’s the case for you, you may have better luck with tricking yourself into saving.

One old-fashioned method of trickery is putting your extra change in a piggy bank — though this only works if you rely primarily on cash to make your purchases. In an increasingly digital world, where you can use your phone to buy office supplies or your morning cup of joe, you won’t always have physical change to save.

Automating your savings is an easy workaround that lets you save without really thinking about it. You can pre-authorize automatic withdrawals from your account and put them into savings at the start of every month.

Skimming off the top of every month has a trickle-down effect. You’ll have less money left over to cover the necessities once you’ve contributed to savings, so you’ll have to be careful with how you spend it. By working with a smaller monthly budget, you’re less likely to spend your money on unnecessary things.

Though you can achieve this through any basic e-banking account, you can also turn to automatic money-saving apps, such as Acorns or Chime’s savings account, to help you make saving easier than ever.

Search out fintech alternatives

Life is full of surprises, and many of them aren’t the happy kind. Sometimes, they arrive in the form of an unexpected bill or traffic accident that tests your finances. If this happens before you’ve built up a considerable emergency fund, you may not know how to cover a fender bender paid outside of insurance. While traditional advance loans can help cover some financial issues, they aren’t always the right solution thanks to your career choice. They can be difficult to secure, or they may take too long to arrive in your bank account.

When you’re missing critical funds during an emergency, a company like MoneyKey can help. They’re part of a bustling fintech industry that provides alternatives to the traditional borrowing experience. While many retail banks follow outdated methods to review and approve cash loans, these fintech lenders have a fresher take on lending. Unlike conventional banks, online lenders like MoneyKey remove some of the complexities that act as barriers to getting the help you need.

They do it all online, so they can help you faster with online payday loans that you can receive in as little as one business day. Online lenders even have apps, so you can solve your cash flow problems faster and easier than ever before.

Know your online resources

As an office grunt, you have access to an HR department that can answer questions about benefits, insurance, and other money-related concerns. You won’t be able to rely on these professionals once you quit your job and start freelancing.

You need to be proactive if you expect to find the answers to your burning questions about the gig life. Luckily, in the age of information, you can find every answer to your questions online — and then some.

When you want basic information about how to budget or save wisely as a freelancer, personal finance websites like CNBC, Nerd Wallet, and Wise Bread offer simple tips to balance your books. Freelancers themselves often write these guides, making them reliable sources for advice on how to build a retirement fund, contribute to benefits, and make an emergency fund.

Freelancing takes work, but it’s worth it

Freelance work can seem like an amazing opportunity when you feel like you’re stuck in the office. Before you take a flying leap into freelance-hood, you need to face the financial realities of this career choice. While it offers your more freedom, it may be more difficult to recover from emergencies. Prevent this from happening by developing a robust emergency fund before you quit your day job. You’ll be better prepared to appreciate your new line of work.

May 22, 2018
by funny
0 comments

“Another Beautiful Day in Arizona…”

“…Leave us all enjoy it!”

{chortle!} That was the slogan of a long, long-ago governor of Arizona, a classic specimen of the state’s political fauna. The guy had been a radio announcer before he rose to the state’s highest office. He was a bit of an ignoramus, a good ole’ boy who may or may not have feigned that style. As it developed, he was far from the most stupid of the critters we have elected to public office. Evan Mecham took that cake. Ev was the Donald Trump of the Southwest.

What a character.

Ev was so flamboyantly bizarre — and so excessively stupid — that nobody wanted to miss a minute of the sideshow. We all — every citizen of the state — went out and bought these tiny portable TVs (this was long before the day of cell phones and Google News), which we toted into the office with us. It took a year and four months to shovel him out of office. He was impeached in April 1988, when he enjoyed a criminal trial for his efforts as, uhm, governor.

It was hilarious while it lasted. But then…to have a fool for a governor is a bit different from having one as President of the United States, hm?

In less laughable climes: Just found two (!!) emergent holes of paloverde beetles under one of the beloved Arizona sweet orange trees. The monsters love citrus as much as they love paloverde trees.

That tree was peakèd this spring, so I suspected something was up. (Or…down under.) Citrus trees will go “off” once every few years, look sickly, and produce rather sad fruit. Then they revive the following year. It’s as if they need to “rest” every now and again. But I’m afraid the present anemia resulted from its roots being eaten by these goddamned bugs’ grubs, which live most of their lives underground — about 8 years. When they emerge to breed, they’re at the end of their lives — they only last a few days above ground.

Control is extremely iffy. We might say “feeble.” Virtually nothing kills them. Some years ago I found a supposed organic treatment — you apply these microbes that allegedly attack the grubs, infect them, and do them in. But after a couple of years of applying according to instructions, they didn’t do a thing.

Then a guy at Home Depot — a retired arborist come back to earn a few pennies to finance his loafing — steered me to an insecticide that he claimed, contrary to accepted wisdom, would do the grubs in if applied at the right time of year and well soaked into the ground. That stuff does work moderately well. It certainly cut the number of emergent holes, which at one point were upwards of a dozen around the paloverde tree. Since at any given time an infestation can deliver hundreds or thousands of grubs, you know that for every mature, flying beetle dozens and dozens of babes are chewing away at your trees.

The problem with said insecticide is you can’t apply it to food plants. So if I put this stuff on the oranges, I won’t be able to eat next year’s crop of oranges. And that will not be a good thing. Those oranges are like candy. I gorge on them all spring, starting in February. I can easily eat five or six for breakfast, and then pull off some more during the day.

So I’m loathe to apply it. Not only do I not want to do without next year’s crop, neither do I know whether the following year’s fruit will be safe to eat. And of course, given that this stuff certainly isn’t going to kill all of the thousands of grubs underground (there were still some emergent holes the summer after I dumped it around the paloverde tree), getting rid of them may entail having to apply it several years in a row. Or…now and evermore.

It’s very early for paloverde beetles to emerge. Forgodsake, this is only May! They normally come out at the beginning of monsoon season, which starts mid- to late July. Apparently the combination of heat, humidity, and long daylight hours calls them forth. For two of them to climb out of the ground at this time of year is pretty surprising.

A flock of a dozen whitewing doves are scarfing up the seed I put out this morning. An interested thrasher is also lurking around. Thrashers will eat paloverde beetles. I’ve seen one do battle with one of those armored bugs…and it’s quite a show! So it’s in the trees’ interest to attract some fierce and muscular flying dinosaurs…as well as their cousins, the mockingbirds.

Here’s a thing that looks sort of like a house finch, but he’s probably not getting the type of food he most needs. His head and breast are distinctly orange, not red, which (so we’re told) indicates he’s not finding food with enough pigment to make him red. When you’re a lady house finch, you tend to favor a gent with the reddest possible coloring.

And the requisite pair of Abert’s towhees are back. These fine little birds will clear out an anthole in a few days. They do a funny little dance in leaf litter that involves hopping back and forth to stir things up until they flush a sowbug or some other hapless ground-crawling critter. It is, we might say, a well fed bird in these parts.

Speaking of the paloverde tree, one of its major branches has become so heavy it has dropped down to the level of the back wall and threatens to rest on the roof. Luis the arborist said he would come by this afternoon (that would mean “some time this week, maybe”) to take a look at it.

Luis is a very fine tree guy, hampered only by the fact that he no habla a helluva lot of inglès. Old-country men have much to recommend them, specifically a kind of grace and courtliness that tempers their machismo. Not only does he have this much-to-be-desired characteristic, he also really knows how to maintain trees. Never once have I seen him hack away at a tree with a chainsaw. He trims and shapes each tree by hand, with his brain fully engaged. He knows what he’s doing, and he does it well.

My plan is to ask him if we can brace that big stem up, because (especially at this time of year!) I don’t want to lose its shade. But I can just imagine what he’ll say about that.

I may have to take out a bank loan to pay him — there wasn’t enough in the checking account to cover Chuck’s bill for the damn Venza’s new battery and also stave off bankruptcy. In addition to the paloverde tree in back, the shrubs I installed in front to block the view of the former Dave’s Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum ran amok this spring. It’s surprising the neighbors haven’t complained to the city about them. So there are at least three very large plants out there that need to be cut back.

devil-pod-treePlus Gerardo would like to say good-bye to the devil-pod tree on the west side. I’d like to see it go, too. But…

a) I do not wish to say good-bye to its shade, despite the unholy mess it makes; and
b) Neither do I wish to say good-bye to one of Gerardo’s cousins, who you may be sure will be sent into the treetop (which touches the stratosphere now) to hack it down; and
c) Nor do I wish to have one of those characters drop a branch on my neighbor Terri’s roof, since I very much doubt my homeowner’s insurance will cover any such antics.

I think it will require a crane to take it down safely, that’s how high the tree is now. And I’m going to afford that…how?

May 21, 2018
by funny
5 Comments

Ella’s Story, Chapter 17…

…is online! Became distracted with a tsunami of ditz today, so only just got around to posting this week’s installment of Ella’s Story. Check it out over at P&S Press.

Since I’m now persona non grata at Facebook, about the only places to announce the ongoing publication of Ella, If You Asked, and Complete Writer are here and on Twitter. I have no idea who follows me on Twitter, if anyone. But today I managed to compile a halfway decent mailing list from FaM, P&S Press, the Mac’s Contacts list, plus a couple of organizations I belong to. MailChimp, ever annoying, refuses to disgorge a download of its (lengthy!) list in a Mac-compatible form. So unless I want to sit here and copy/paste/copy/paste/copy/paste/copy/paste/ line after line after line, yea verily unto the end of the universe, I guess most of that data is lost.

Decided to abandon MailChimp some time ago, mostly because its page layout formats, while potentially kewl, are clunky and ditzy to work with. And it’s not at all clear what the result looks like when it arrives in the victim’s…uhm, the correspondent’s in-box. I think it would be better to send out informal e-mails from a Gmail account to announce weekly installments and to make up for the loss of whatever marketing potential Facebook had.

Part of the plan is to develop a site at Medium to hold these emanations and possibly also those of select fellow scribblers. And maybe some artwork from artiste friends. This idea is still pretty inchoate: first I need to establish a site there, learn how to operate it, and figure out the possibilities. Ideally, I’ll move the serializations to Medium and leave teasers at P&S Press.

Naturally, too, I’ll plug this stuff at LinkedIn.

This was an expensive day in the Funny Farm environs.

M’hijito called from Costco to say he had just dropped some staggering amount of money on four new tires for his vehicle. One of the original-equipment tires was leaking. He said he was indulging in some shopping therapy there in Impulse Buy Hell, thereby running up the tab a little higher. Invited me to dinner, but since I’d already eaten, I put him off till tomorrow. {sigh}

Meanwhile, at Chuck’s this morning, the boys discovered the fine battery Bell Road Toyota (is that actually “Hell’s Road Toyota”?) installed in the vehicle they’d sold me has been leaking for awhile. Long enough to completely corrode away one of the battery terminals. They were amazed that the car would start at all.

Haven’t had any problem with it…but was mighty glad they found it, because it is NO fun to be stuck on Phoenix’s fuckin’ homicidal roads in 110-degree heat.

They put in a brand of battery they believe to be higher quality and longer-lasting than most. Made by Interstate. It has a five-year warranty, which in these parts means it will last three, maybe four years. Pete said one of their customers had an Interstate battery that survived a brain-boggling eight years.

One can hope. By then I’ll be in the nursing home. Or six feet under, with any luck.

At any rate, the battery, the oil change, and the general prophylactic farting around came to $258.

Which, considering that I’m running out of cash and my checking account will hit Empty well before the end of 2018, is a bit brain-banging. God. I hope the cheap tires those bastards put on the thing last until 2019. Guess I’ll have to do my best to stay off the roads.

The roads. The damnable roads.

It took half an hour to make the 10-minute drive down to Chuck’s, as described in this morning’s whinge. A guy almost hit me as I was turning onto Conduit of Blight. Since there was plenty of room, he either sped up in an attempt to scare me (this is typical Phoenix driver behavior) or was driving a lot faster than he appeared to be going. Pretty sure it was the latter — truly, there was more than enough room for me to turn into the lane: he was a good three blocks down the road.

Then we got stuck at the damn high school. We stood in line there for over ten minutes while kids wandered across the road at the light that holds up traffic when a pedestrian pushes the button, and at the exit to the drop-off lane where scores and scores and scores of parents bring their kids.

This is the only decent public high school remaining in North Central. In response to a great deal of voter restiveness and to the demise of federally enforced racial integration, the district now allows parents to choose to put their kids in schools outside their districts. But if your kids go to an out-of-district school, you have to drive them there — school buses, obviously do not apply in that case. So that means drop-off and pick-up at this particular high-school are as hectic as at a private school: scores of cars pulling up in front to let the kids out and then shoving their way back onto the road.

You wonder why Phoenix drivers’ tempers are so short?

Yeah.

Correct position behind steering wheel for driving on Phoenix roads.

 

 

 

May 21, 2018
by funny
0 comments

Gooood morning, America…

Aaarghhh! 😀 It was a good morning in America, till my fine failing memory scotched it up. Yesterday afternoon when I put a pot of sun tea to steep on the flagstones by the BBQ, I said to my hot (indeed) little self, “Remember to bring that in lest the dogs bash it running around.”

Seems like a reasonable thought, doesn’t it?

The dogs usually go out the side door at any time other than early morning, because it’s shadier and cooler on the side of the house. In the morning they go out the back door. And any time they go out, they FLY out the door like two rockets competing to see which will get to the moon first.

Naturally what with the distraction of an entire day of singing and then a church potluck, I forgot the tea. When I staggered in the house yesterday evening, only one thing was on my mind: Fall face-down into the sack!

That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ with it.

So, continuing the “Naturally” trail, we get home from running a mile. I toss off my clothes so as to jump into the pool, fling open the pack door, and the rockets FLY out the door in their accustomed style.

And they SLAM into the damn bottle of tea, which flips over, explodes, and scatters tiny razor-sharp shards of glass all over the quarter-minus.

For those of you who live in more civilized climes: Quarter-minus is finely ground gravel mixed with sand. It’s used to ape the natural look of the ancient desert floor in xeric landscsping.

What a MESS!

So I have to spend a half-hour cleaning up that menace.

First, check dogs: they seem not to have cut their feet and I can’t find any shards of glass stuck in their pads. That’s something, anyway. I guess.

Now it’s BOLT down breakfast, because I have to get out of here at 7:30 to take the car to Chuck’s for an oil change. That is about 12 minutes from right now, as we scribble.

Chuck’s 8 a.m. appointment means that I have to do this wack-sh!t jig to get out of the ‘hood. You can’t turn left off the main north-south drags that flank the ‘hood, except for Conduit of Blight, which is blocked by the damned train, which means you’ll have a five-minute wait at any left-turn signal. The train renders Conduit of Blight pretty much nonnavigable south of Gangbanger’s Way.

So to get to a road where I can reach Chuck’s garage, I have to drive through three neighborhoods to reach a southbound road that I can turn left off of, or drive through two neighborhoods, go a half-mile north, go east on Gangbanger’s Way all the way to 12th Street, then go south on 12th (adding another half-mile, meaning I have to drive a mile out of my way to accomplish this jig) to neighborhood street where Chuck’s resides (you can’t turn left into Chuck’s from the main drag that his garage fronts on, either), park in the alley behind the garage, walk in, and let the boys know I’m in their precincts.

So 12th Street is a half-mile east of Chuck’s. This latter route, then, entails having to go TWO MILES out of my way every time I take the car for an oil change.

In other words, our fine green-thinking City Parents’ traffic control schemes ADD to the air pollution and gas consumption problem that they supposedly address. You can be sure that if one little old lady is driving out of her way to go in the direction that she needs to go, so are a whole lotta other people.

Makes Yarnell look mighty good, doesn’t it?

Yarnell doesn’t even have stop signs. That’s how huge it is.

And so, away…to do battle with the effing rush-hour traffic! A good morning to you, too, America…