Funny about Money

Simple Living = Frugality = Peace of Mind: Personal Finance and Stress Control

May 28, 2016
by funny

On the Road with Connie: Westward Bound from Albuquerque

While I’ve been diddling away my life editing and indexing other people’s golden words, Connie the Queen of the Big Rigs has crossed the continent twice, accompanied by Silver, her faithful (and slightly neurotic) sidekick. Let’s catch up with her in New Mexico.

Heading Home from Albuquerque

There is the flag, apple pie, and US FOODS in Albuquerque. This place is about a mile away from the evil Ben E Keith company

Look at the size of their lot!!!

1 Albuquerque truck lot

When I was assigned to drive this cool truck, I was surprised to find there wasn’t much in the way of shelving in the bunk. Specifically, next to the bed, there is no spot to put an alarm clock, hand lotion, phone, book or whatever. ACK. Was I supposed to put my stuff on the floor???

I hadn’t much time, but quickly found 3 small boxes and a couple of empty food containers to strap-tape together. I McGivered myself a shelf!

2 nightstand

4 silverSilver is doing her imitation of the Flying Nun. Noticed the angst on her face because I left for 5 minutes to get the paperwork. Poor kid. So emotional.

3 Silver

Found my notes from my first visit to Ben E Keith.

5 notes

I was passing by the ultra cool Whiting Bros sign on Interstate 40 in New Mexico today. There is no place to park to get a decent picture and I wondered if I might be able to find one online. And I did.

It was on this particular stretch of highway a few weeks ago that I noticed a little lumpy thing on Silvers neck while I was scritching it.

At first I thought it was my imagination. I kept up with the scritching and there it was again. I am not a fan of icky bugs, fungus, boils, rotten anything, etc. But for some reason, ticks creep me out the most.

I took the first exit off the highway, made a u-turn on the side of the road and proceeded to search frantically for the offending parasite. I could not find it!! I kept up the search for another few minutes (what if it got loose in the truck for Gods sake?) until I heard a voice say, “Ma’m, why are you parked here? Do you know you are blocking the frontage road?”

I looked out the drivers side window to see who this person could be and …. surprise! It was a DOT officer.

I could not think of a plausible lie so I just said, “Well, I’m looking for a tick and I can’t find it?”

I guess I was hoping he’d say, “Well, in THAT case, you just take all the time you need little lady. I have dogs myself and I truly understand your plight.”

But he didn’t. He wasn’t impressed in the least and suggested very strongly that I move along and get the ass end of my trailer out of the road. Oops.

6 frontage rd


Crap. I just went into the Little America truck stop in Flagstaff to wash my hands. Gone less than 5 minutes. Silver was in the back lot looking for me.

Now to bed. Gotta get up at 3AM to drive into Phoenix.

Missed Connie’s earlier adventures?
It’s never too late!

Flying Low across the Country
El Paso
Along the Border
Eastward Bound

May 28, 2016
by funny

Coming Up for Air

Have been almost incommunicado for the past month or so: underwater with clients’ work. Everything happens at once, and then nothing happens. 😀

At last most of it is shoveled off the desk. I’ve only got one task left to do just now, and I may not even do that today. I think I’m going to loaf all day, swim in the pool, watch the plants grow, and after dark, maybe take the dogs for the walk I was too lazy to manage while it was still cool this morning. Or maybe I’ll drive them to the park and let them walk around in the shade.

Choir has gone to sleep for the summer, and so that opportunity for socializing and fun is on hold. Friends are searching out new restaurants — Honored Client introduced me to one last week where I hope to convene some friends in the next week or so. Fave Writing Group meets the first Saturday of the month — last month I was too maxed to drive over there, and the month before that I had to take work with me to keep plugging away during the meeting. So looking forward to June’s meeting, when I’ll actually be able to pay attention to what’s going on! Attended one (1) meeting of Toastmaster’s and have wanted to go back, but breaking free in the middle of the day has been out of the question.

And…in all the paying frenzy, I’ve neglected the Saga of Connie, Queen of the Big-Rigs!

This morning I collected a bunch of her new adventures, and whenever I get out of the swimming pool this afternoon will compile them into posts for you.

Watch this space…



May 27, 2016
by funny

On Pots and Things

How do you like the new pot I picked up yesterday at the local family-run nursery?


(As usual, click for a better view.)

Kind of a pretty little guy, isn’t it? The blue plate under it is an old, chipped dog dish that I had to retire from duty lest one of the pooches cut her tongue on it.

It’s another of those Mexican Talevera-style imports that Home Depot gets now and again and overcharges royally for. The nursery in question tends to be expensive — if you were in Mexico, you could buy these things for a few pesos and the maker would be happy. But HD is more so.

I love Talavera. That spider plant was sitting on the counter in a much smaller pot in which it volunteered, years ago. When I cleaned out and around the flowerbed, I found whatever had been in the little pot was long gone, and this critter was living in it. So I brought it inside, plopped it on the kitchen counter, and forgot about it.

Friend was over here the other day and noticed the thing. These plant-lovers can spot plant abuse in an instant. She tsked over the dry soil and the yellowing leaves.


So I promised to repot it.

Driving around the city yesterday, I found myself on the road that passes the nursery and thought, As long as i have to put that plant in a new pot, it might as well be a Talevera pot, which i will love. i will not especially love another cheap terracotta or plastic pot from HD or Michael’s.

Zip! Into the nursery. Coveted every plant on the grounds. Made my way to the back part of the lot where the Talavera pots are piled high. And lo, there was a whole collection of…uhm…blue-pot specials. Prices were not on “special,” but the pots were striking in their minimalist color scheme: blue and white.

Grabbed this; resisted the temptation to buy another gaggle of plants; raced on about my business.

I love the blue, because my son bought me a beautiful blue bowl for Christmas, which is on display atop the counter at all times. Also, the decorative tiles in the Mexican tile counter are predominately blue. So I suspected the pot would be perfect. And it is. IMHO, that is.

If you live in Phoenix or if you visit, and if you also happen to love Talevera pots and kitsch, you must visit Whitfill’s. They have several locations around the greater metropolitan area. And unlike certain competitors, they do not hawk landscaping trees like they were peddling used cars. 😀

In other news… The client’s book has gone to press. He seems pretty pleased, and as we scribble is bearing several copies to family members in Seattle. The index is probably in the can — I hope the last few ditzy issues were finished yesterday. All that remains on the table is the current Chinese dissertation author’s magnum opus, and helping to get her through an unusually stressful period. This project is driving her bats, and she has herself all keyed up, poor kid. With any luck, though, she’ll get through it.

If and when the last of the current work tsunami recedes, my plan is to kill some more time writing a new Fire-Rider novel and also writing a nonfiction book about cats.

Cat books sell exceptionally well… As for fiction: I have neither the skills nor the patience to peddle that stuff, and have decided to regard those scribblings much as I regard blogging — as a kind of hobby. I’ve got some fun new ideas for FR, one of which includes an invasion of cryptids.

Indian Territory OKInspired by Honored Client, I may also compile a little genealogy of my family and put it together in book form as a gift for my son, since it’s so easy to create PoD volumes. The other day I stumbled upon a lead on my father’s purported Native American forebears: his eldest brother was living on the Chickasaw Nation in 1900. Today the tribal rolls [my fingers are determined to make that roles!] are sprinkled with the family name. So they may have  been Chickasaw rather than Choctaw.

Maybe not, too. By 1900, more whites than Indians lived on the Chickasaw, plus the two tribes were closely allied and a lot of intermarriage went on between them. To find out more, I’ll need to pony up some cash money to get into the pay-to-peek genealogical websites. But it could be worth it.

If I could learn more about that guy and wherever the hell his parents came from, creating a genealogy with some narrative would be pretty easy, because one of my cousins on my mother’s side converted to Mormonism and committed that side of the family history to the Mormon archives.

It’s 10 a.m. It’s already getting hot, and, finding myself out of food, I must fly to the grocery store before getting down to work. And so, away!



May 25, 2016
by funny

When Christian Science Starts to Look Good…

crucifixCaduceus.svgMy great-grandmother Gree and her daughter Gertrude were both devout Christian Scientists. Each lived into her mid-90s without ever seeing a doctor. They never took any kind of medication, nor did they touch alcohol. Or tobacco. They would go to dentists, but whatever procedures took place were done without anaesthetics.

We, the enlightened generations, thought they were benighted. My mother thought they were stubbornly crazy. I saw them as products of the 19th century: they grew up during a time when going to a doctor was likely to do more harm than not. And even today, sometimes I reflect that about 90 percent of what ails you will either go away on its own or kill you, and no amount of doctoring is going to change that. It’s the 10 percent that keeps me visiting docs whenever some ailment comes calling.

So I’ve been taking omeprazole for the GERD forever and a day. Young Dr. Kildare, before he exited the nearby practice where I met him, had told me to take vast quantities of it for 8 weeks, and then if the symptoms abated, to titer off the stuff. He gave me a prescription for about a half-billion milligrams per horse pill.

Backstory: one thing you should know is that if a drug (OTC or prescription) has some rare, bizarre side effect that afflicts .001% of the population, I’m the .001%. It never fails.

That notwithstanding, the bellyache tried my patience and so I followed his instructions. Yea verily, it worked. So I was slowly easing the dosage down and looking forward to stopping it.

Now out of the blue I get this weird edema around the left eye. The eyelid itches, and I think it’s a mosquito bite. Or I do, until a day or so later I discover a big, ugly swelling in the old-lady bag under the eye. It looks like a blister, the kind of thing you get from hiking in new boots.

Naturally I discover this in the wee hours of the morning, which is when I normally wake up.

Naturally I have recourse to the Hypochondriac’s Treasure Chest that is the Internet. And what should I learn but that omeprazole can cause facial edema. If any such thing should arise, we’re told, you should “seek medical care immediately.”

Along about 7 a.m., I call over to my doctor’s office at the Mayo, where I hope to be referred by phone to the internist on call. The phone lady refuses to put me through and tells me to go to the ER.

As usual, the last thing I want to do is go to an ER. But I’m kinda worried that this could be the start of a more serious allergic reaction. So I drive over to the Urgent Care place just up the street.

Naturally, it’s closed.

So I drive up to the Mayo’s ER, where I kill most of the morning.

The doc who sees me is an old buzzard, well past retirement age. (I learned from my old doc, who retired from the Mayo, that the Mayo often hires its retirees on a p/t basis for the ER. Hm.) He orders a blood test and goes off. Eventually he comes back into the room, and he says it’s an infection. He says he could tell this from the blood test.

I think, without comment, “That’s a little odd.”

But he insists the redness (where I’ve been scratching at the itch) and the fact that it’s not bilateral means it’s an infection. I say, “But there’s no conjunctivitis, there’s no discharge, there’s no fever, there’s no sign that this is an eye infection.” He insists it’s an infection and puts me on Keflex.

Forthwith, this product causes my tongue and lips to turn bright red and swell up.

I call and get another Rx for a different antibiotic, one that the Treasure Chest says is likely to cause a roaring case of C. difficile. But I want to be rid of the blister on my face and I’m worried that it IS an eye infection, so I start taking this stuff.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think…hmmmmmm….

Time to see a doctor who has a preternatural gift for common sense. Young Dr. Kildare  is one of the two (count’em, 2) doctors I’ve met in 71 years on this earth who possess such a gift.

So I weaseled my way into YDK’s new office — fortunately, he doesn’t have many patients yet. I just got back from his precincts.

He took one long look at it and said, “That’s not an infection.”

I said, “What about the blood test?”

He said, “You can’t tell a person has an eye infection from a blood test! The most it can tell you is that maybe there’s an inflammation somewhere. Maybe not, too.

“THAT is not an eye infection. I can tell it’s not an eye infection because I’ve been to medical school.”


He thinks it’s an allergic reaction and recommends getting off the omeprazole (which I’d already done). His cure: Benadryl and ice packs. Come back in one week.

Can  you believe that? Raving incompetence at the Mayo Clinic. That is really unusual.

Jeez. Never a dull moment.

Crucifix: CC BY-SA 3.0,
Caduceus: By Rama and Eliot Lash – Drawing by Rama. Vectorized with Inkscape by Eliot Lash., Public Domain,

May 24, 2016
by funny

If I won the lottery…

What would you do if you suddenly came into SOOO many bucks there was no question of your ever having to work again?

Tellya what I’d do: I’d find an incredible resort somewhere and rent a suite…not for a week or so, but for several months at a time.

The thought of owning a vacation home makes me cringe: isn’t one house enough to take care of? 😀 But if I won the lottery…ah, if I won the lottery, I’d make a resort my vacation home: a getaway where someone else takes care of fixing the plumbing and maintaining the septic tank and repairing the roof and…whatEVER. Where someone else fixes breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever you want it. Where someone else cleans the pool, and someone else cleans the house and changes the sheets and does the shopping and there’s not a Costco within driving distance.


What I would like to do right now, right this minute, is zone out and write another storyline in the ineffable Fire-Rider saga. There are a lot of ideas on the float, but I haven’t had a moment in months and months to sit down, think them through, draft, redraft, create… Nary a moment.

Not that I’m complaining. By the end of this week I will have billed enough to make up for all the cash I’ve diddled away in the ridiculous self-publishing venture. But my god! The amount of work!!!

I’ve been working from 5 in the morning till 9 or 10 at night for so long I’ve actually lost track of how long it’s been. Weeks and weeks. This morning I was up at 3 a.m. wrestling with what I thought was a corrupt PDF. (Not so, thank god: the client’s magnum opus was SO long it took the print-on-demand vendor’s website about eight hours to upload the damn thing.)

As a practical matter, it looks like I’ve succeeded in working myself sick. Yesterday morphed into a Day from Hell along about dawn.

A couple of days ago, a swelling developed under and around an eye. I thought a mosquito had bitten me right close to the eyelid, because it itched a lot.

By yesterday it was clear it wasn’t a mosquito bite. The old-lady bag under that eye was so swollen, it looked like a big blister.

I suspect this is a side effect of the omeprazole — remember, if a drug has a weird side effect, I will be among the .01% that gets it. So I look this up and discover…yea verily. Facial edema is a side effect, and it’s considered a bit of a medical emergency. “Seek medical care immediately.”

Of course, it’s five or six in the morning by the time I figure this out. I call the Mayo trying to get through to the internist on duty — all I want to do is ask a doctor is this is something I need to have checked right this very minute, or if I can safely wait until I can make a normal appointment with a normal doctor. The stupid answering lady will NOT let me through. She says I need to go to the ER.

I do not think this is an emergency-room problem.

There’s an urgent care place just down the street. I get in the car and drive over there. Naturally, it’s closed.

Why call it “urgent care” if you’re not going to be open when people urgently need care?

So I end up driving up to the Mayo’s ER.

This consumes most of the fuckin’ morning. The doctor there, after a cursory look, says he thinks it’s an infection and prescribes an antibiotic.

Fortunately, the copay only cost me a dollar at the Walmart, since it made my tongue turn red and swell up and my lips tingle like they were getting ready to explode.

Dropped a Benadryl, which beat that back to some degree. Called the quack’s office, which by now was open. She prescribed another antibiotic, one that has to be taken every six hours, on the button. Luckily I wake up at four in the morning every night anyway….

So now I’m ripping up my already tender innards some more with a drug I do not believe is appropriate for the purpose. I still do not believe this is an infection: there’s no redness, no heat, no fever, no general malaise. I’m as certain as I’m sitting here that it’s a direct reaction to the omeprazole.

But right now I’m too damn tired to argue.

Finally, after endless dicking around, I put the client’s 463-page book to bed last night. But it refused to stay down. As mentioned above, the PDF seemed not to be loading. Screwed around and screwed around with that until I couldn’t screw around another 30 seconds.

At 3:00 this morning, the file was still blank after page 35. Holy shit.

Emailed a desperate cry to my spy at the PoD joint.

Also at 3:00 a.m., I remembered I’d forgotten to edit a Chinese mathematician’s latest paper, in which he and two esteemed colleagues prove mathematically that Twitter works to help diminish contagion in an epidemic. Ripping myself away from the magnum opus, I got to work on that thing. And what a tangle it was: passages where it was hard to tell what the authors intended to say; crazy formatting where it was converted out of Latex into Wyrd.

But better yet: Section 4 was missing! I would’ve seen that if I’d started on the paper the minute my guy had sent it. But I couldn’t — I was fully immersed in two other projects.

Translated that, tidied that, made two copies of that, and sent it off to the client with an offer to read the rest of it ASAP if he’ll send it right along. So far nothing back from him: it’s probably still the middle of the night in China.

About 8:30, the PoD angel e-mailed saying he couldn’t see a problem. He thought we should just go ahead and order the four copies Client wants.


Now I get back online and lo! There the thing is, in its glorious entirety. Looks as good as it’s going to get at this point. So yea verily, I ordered the four copies Client wants.

Then of course he wants another copy. And note that he wants these by Friday.

Well, I hope they’re done by then. This is Tuesday. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and if I have any sense, I should actually call the Mayo and make an appointment with an ophthalmologist to look at this damn eye. And I had to cancel the mechanic’s appointment to work on the car: that needs to be redone, too. I have a serious suspicion that I’ll be wanting to do something — make that having to do something — far, far away from the Third-World country that is lovely South Phoenix.

Well, the ice pack has probably been on the face long enough to reduce the “blister” enough so I won’t frighten small children. And so, away to run an errand or two. Then back here to drop some Benadryl again. Ugh.

May 22, 2016
by funny
1 Comment

Maybe a Brief Break?

Stack of Index Cards, each card individually groupedFinally finished the Endless Index, on the far side of mid-afternoon — that’s after starting at 5 a.m., after having worked till 10:00 p.m. last night. Gasp!

WHAT a job. Really, I think it’s one of the most difficult editorial jobs I’ve ever done. Not that there was anything terrible about it — the author has really done quite a tour de force. It’s hard to even imagine how long it must have taken her to write the thing. It’s huge.

She covered the ground. Then she went back and plowed it up. Then she raked it down. Then she planted it. We’re talkin’ major acreage here.

The result is content that is extremely dense. Every page has indexable data embedded in it. It’s not one of those things where you can go “widgets, history of, 236-242.” You have to read every paragraph, find the index terms, and relate each one of them to piles and piles of other terms. What’s she’s writing is as intricate as a web. Each part of it links to many other parts, and you’ve got to organize the stuff for the index in a way that a reader can make sense of it and track down whatever s/he is looking for.

In other words…your attention dare not wander.

Anyway, now I’ve got to get back to Honored Client’s  book, which is now in page proofs. That’s 431 pages to plow through — again! — proofread, mark up, and fix. Again.

He’s been out of town for the weekend, but you can be sure he’ll be hot to trot tomorrow when he gets back in.

Chinese graduate student continues to suffer. She has a totally brutal dissertation director…it’s amazing the guy gets away with what he does. I guess things must be tilted a little more in favor of faculty in Singapore.

We had an inquiry for another project — stateside — from LinkedIn, but it looks like nothing is gonna come of that. Just as well.

I planned to farm it out. But it still would be one more thing to supervise.

However, if work continues to flow in the way it has over the past three months, it would provide all I’d need to live on, when added to Social Security. It really doesn’t cost much to live, with the house paid off and the antique car still running.

I would so love to earn enough to rent a car and go over to Santa Fe for a few days. Or hell, even to drive around Arizona — it’s been forever since I’ve been to Bisbee or Patagonia or Jerome and waypoints. Yea verily: years.

The gas grill is busted — its starter won’t start. And no, new batteries don’t help. So I’ve fired up the ancient charcoal grill…and that’s pretty amazing. It is, we might say, weather-beaten.

§ § § §

But it still works! 🙂 Overcooked the hamburg a bit, but roasted the potatoes and the asparagus to perfection.

It’s been so long since I’ve used that thing that the plastic bag holding the hardwood chips had rotted away inside the charcoal bin. There was more than enough charcoal loose in there, though, plus a whole new, unopened bag of mesquite charcoal. So that’s good.

It’s a little more hassle to light up a charcoal fire than it is to flick a switch and turn on a gas grill. Had to bum some newsprint from the neighbor for the charcoal “chimney” lighter, since I no longer subscribe to the Times. No problem, though: they had a bunch of it in the recycling.

Chimney gadget still works. Grills still need to be scrubbed. The wood parts of the thing are falling apart — but I expect I could build some new ones pretty easily.

That would be a good project.

§ § § §

I have got to walk those dogs. The poor beasts  haven’t been outside the yard in days and days.

Me neither, come to think of it…

And so, away.

Index cards: Deposit Photos, @adroach