Funny about Money

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

April 21, 2018
by funny

Of Bums and Dogs and Homes

CharleyCharley the Golden Retriever is here visiting, whilst his human travels to Colorado to visit Granma (104 years old and still kickin’ vigorously, believe it or not!) and then spends a few days at his favorite fishing hole.

Charley is utterly, totally, completely harmless. He is not a German shepherd or a Doberman pinscher or a Belgian malinois, no. No, indeed. He will not remove your foot, no matter what nefarious shenanigans you get up to. Holy mackerel, you could even be a President of the United States elected with the collusion of an enemy foreign power, and he still would not remove your foot. He would, instead, love you into submission.

But he’s big. Very, very big. And something there is about a very big dog that is satisfying.

For, after all…

The human does not live among the harmless. Sooner or later (probably sooner) the human is going to have to decide whether to continue to den among the feckless and the criminal, or to move itself and its tribe far far away, to another galaxy in another time.

Yesterday I’m sitting here snarfing down breakfast when I hear thunk twang whack coming from our lovely alley. These interesting noises have become so commonplace that Ruby the Corgi Pup, who fancies herself a watchdog, no longer even bothers to bark at them.

This goes on long enough that I wonder what the f*ck, haul myself to my agèd feet, climb up on a landscaping rock, and peer over the wall.

Yep. There’s a bum out there.

He’s big, he’s white, he’s red-headed, he’s filthy, and he’s pulled all the trash out of the big communal garbage bin. He’s going through every, single, tiny bit of it, piece by piece, apparently deciding what to keep and what to throw back.

A bum fishing expedition, as it were.

He has a big plastic bag on the ground next to him.

It looks a whole lot like the garbage bag containing two weeks’ worth of junk mail and garbage recently discarded from my house.

I think…oh shit! What’s in that thing?

Nothing that contains an account number or a Social Security number: all of that trash gets filed in the Bottomless Trash Collector that is my office. BUT…

Yes. BUT every piece of effing junkmail has my name and address on it. No, I do not shred every piece of incoming effing junkmail. To do so would take half my lifetime. And even though I have a heavy-duty shredder that will consume a defunct credit card, the bastard junk-mailers try to force you to open their envelopes by stuffing them with so much paper they’ll jam the heaviest-duty shredder you can buy. I do not have enough hours left in my life to open every piece of trash that’s sent to me and run it, page by page, through the shredder. So…if it’s not stamped First Class Mail, it goes directly into the trash, without passing go and without being opened.

Claro que this is not the brightest idea…

After another stretch of time, it dawns on the agèd mind that the recycling and the garbage were picked up on Thursday. Our bum guest has come visiting on a Friday…a day late and presumably quite a few dollars short.

The relief is short-lived, of course. because the message remains painfully obvious: never throw out anything that has anything personally identifiable on it!

Between that and the day-before-yesterday’s reminder that we do not live in the safest of all possible neighborhoods, once again I find myself wondering: is it time to pull up stakes?

And if so, Where would I go?

I do not want to move. I love my home. I love my yard. I love my neighbors. I even love my (somewhat questionable) neighborhood. I love living close to my church. I love living close to my son. I love being more or less in the center of what passes for the city’s cultural life (snark!). I love living close to a mountain park. I love having an excuse to carry a pistol or a can of Bear Spray with me when I go out…oops. Oh. Not so much that latter. Oh well.

So. What to do about the immediate problem: thieves sifting through the garbage looking for anything they can use or sell, including identifying documents?

Well, the trash goes out about once every two weeks. One thing I could do is collect a week’s worth of dog mounds (that is quite a lot…corgis are actually big dogs on short legs) and, before tying off the trash bag. dump the whole accretion in on top. That would probably discourage most guys from pawing through the bag’s contents.

The gent I saw yesterday? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how desperate he is to stay current with his fixes, I imagine.

Then we have the larger problem: Despite all the good-hearted jawing, these derelicts are NOT harmless.

Most recent obvious case in point: the young father who was sitting in Southern California restaurant when some homeless mentally ill nut case walked up to him and stabbed him in the throat.

This is not as uncommon as you might think. When a person’s voices tell him to do something, it’s just not that easy to say “no.”

One of the immediate causes that led my ex- and I to sell our very lovely home in the historic Encanto District — this happened after the ax murderer chopped our 80-year-old neighbor to pieces, donned her tennis shoes, and drove away in her car — occurred when a local bum noticed a woman who regularly appeared early at her employers’ dirty-shirt law office to fix the coffee and use a few quiet moments to catch up on her tasks. His voices clued him to the fact that she was actually Satan, and advised that he should kill her. Understandably, that’s exactly what he did: stabbed her to death.

Encanto in the 1970s was enjoying the same influx of “homeless” bums and drug addicts as North Central is today…occasioned by the same influence: Our Honored City Parents, who do not give a damn what happens to your neighborhood as long as it enriches their already wealthy patrons. Then we had downtown redevelopment. Now we have the light-rail — locally known as the Bum Express.

I do not feel safe visiting the grocery stores in the neighborhood, which are overrun with lightrail-riding transients. To do routine shopping,  I drive out of the area, sometimes way out of the area. Nor do I feel very safe carrying the trash out to the alley garbage bins.

Driving my trash to some other neighborhood is not very practical, so I have to be careful to check the area before unlocking the gate, and never go out there after dark.

The German shepherds used to provide some protection in the trash-dumping department. But these little corgis? Not so much.

Should I buy another shepherd dog?

Not a chance. The fact still remains that I no longer am physically vigorous enough to handle a large, powerful, high-drive dog. Nor can I afford the concomitant vet bills. A big dog costs big money. And without a salary, I just don’t have it.

I could get one of those outdoor fire pits and use it to reduce the junk mail to ash. This of course is illegal in Phoenix. But if you did it after dark, when the City’s air watchdogs are home burning trash in their own fireplaces, no one would catch you. Especially not if you dumped the ashes as soon as they were cool enough to dispose of.

The fact is, it’s not very safe to go into the alley. And the fact is, the only place to dispose of your trash is…yes. In the alley.

As a practical matter, it’s beginning to add up to one conclusion: Pretty soon I’m going to have to move someplace that isn’t being actively trashed by our City Parents and their deep-pocketed backers.

And I don’t want to.

April 19, 2018
by funny

To know or not to know…

…Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

Or, in the present case: by opposing, end yourself…

Exeunt, pursued…

To live in a big city is to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous…behavior. Just yesterday the cops pursued some nut case who led them across-town, driving on the light-rail tracks at some points, and finally ended up barging into some hard-working couple’s home, whereupon the cops destroyed the place and the perp killed the cops’ Belgian malinois.

So: yeah. That’s this evening’s wallpaper.

Day is over and the dogs — the corgis, that is, not the fierce police dog — wish to go for a stroll around the neighbors’ lawns. I’m just strapping on a pair of sandals for the purpose when


Cop Copter! They tear over the house and skid to a stop (as best as a pilot can skid through the sky) over the end of the block, just this side of Conduit of Blight Blvd.

For crap’s sake.

Searchlight glaring, they circle around for fifteen or twenty frantic minutes.

So instead of setting out for Richistan, Bear Spray in hand, the hounds and I hunker down behind locked doors and windows.

{sigh} I am getting very tired of these events. Very tired of having to live behind dead-bolted, barred doors. Very tired of having to dodge bums, panhandlers, burglars, hopped-up drug addicts, thieves, crazed drivers, and wacksh!t nut cases almost every goddamn day of my life. And my dogs’ lives.

Maybe it’s time to move to Prescott. Yarnell. A hundred acres in the middle of nowhere. Enough, already!

See, the thing is: places like Yarnell can’t afford to equip their police departments with helicopters. Hence…quiet.

And hence, the question of the evening: Is it better to know or not to know about the mayhem that’s going on around you?

True enough…I should be thankful to have been warned away from whatever shenanigans were coming down, six or eight houses up the street.

On the other hand, given some silence the dogs and I would have headed in the other direction from the scene of the shenanigans. Chances that we would have encountered the burglar/car break-in artist/murderer/rapist/sticky-fingered derelict were nigh unto nil. And even if we had, I would’ve had the Bear Spray on my belt and a shilelagh in my hand.

(On the other hand, one could ask why the eff anyone would want to go for a doggy-walk if you have to haul a can of high-test pepper spray and carry an ironwood staff with you…)

Seriously: would you not be better off if you didn’t know about these things? If your life were not interrupted every couple of days by buzzing helicopters and whirring sirens? Could the cops not swarm the alley and the yard and the house where the perp is reported to be active, on foot? Without all the random noise, would your nerves not be a great deal less jangled? Would your life not be more peaceful? Would you not get a decent 30 minutes of exercise, instead of parking in front of the computer for that half-hour (and more)?

Portugal. For €150,000, one could buy a three-bedroom manor in the Estremadura. Why are we here at all?

Will Portugal take my dogs?


April 19, 2018
by funny

The Drugging of America: Deprescribing

Over the past couple of weeks here at FaM we’ve seen evidence that Americans have been sucked into a vortex of unnecessary prescription and nonprescription drug treatment. About all most of us have heard of this comes from the flap over the spreading addiction to opioids — largely blamed on the habit of prescribing addictive drugs for discomfort that could be handled with over-the-counter or nonaddictive prescription pain-killers. But in fact there is a larger, quieter movement afoot. It’s called deprescribing.

Its purpose is to bring a stop to putting everybody and his little brother and sister on handsful of long-term, sometimes redundant, sometimes conflicting drug therapies.

Deprescribing is “the process of tapering, stopping, discontinuing, or withdrawing drugs.” The goals are to reduce the widespread use of “polypharmacy” — in which a person regularly takes five or more drugs — and to improve health and outcomes for patients who actually do need medication. As polypharmacy has become an international problem afflicting most developed nations, so deprescribing is being taken up worldwide.

The Canadians in particular pursue the issue with some vigor. Two invaluable sites from that country are, operated by Dr. Barbara Farrell, a research pharmacist, and Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, a research geriatrician; and the Canadian Deprescribing Network, which explains the issue and what you can do about it in words of one syllable. As the latter site points out, overprescribing affects older people more acutely than younger ones: “…[E]ach year in Canada 1 in 200 seniors are hospitalized due to harmful effects of their medication. Seniors are hospitalized five times more often than people under the age of 65 because of harmful medication effects.” Nevertheless, overuse of medications affects everyone. Women, older men and women, and people with more than one chronic condition are at the greatest risk. The site, on two pages, offers a total of fourteen safety tips for people who have to take prescription drugs:

Track your meds. It’s up to you or your family to keep track of the drugs you are taking. Your medication list is unlikely to be available to all health professionals online! Electronic medical records systems often don’t “talk” to one another.

Keep a list. For your safety, carry your own UPDATED list and keep one on your fridge. Make sure to include over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Make sure drugs prescribed by specialists that you see are listed.

Stick to one pharmacy. Try to fill prescriptions from one pharmacy so drug interactions are easily checked. Any pharmacy’s list will only show what their pharmacy has dispensed to you and won’t include everything you take.

Don’t start a new drug when you’re alone. It’s rare, but if you have a severe allergic reaction you’ll need immediate help. Never take a prescription drug that was prescribed to someone else.

Check your prescription. When you pick up your prescription order, check both your name and the drug name on the bottle. At times, people who have the same name have received the other person’s drug.

Be aware of side effects and adverse effects. If you have a new symptom after taking a new drug, don’t assume it’s a “new condition” or “old age”. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away. It could be adverse effects from the drug itself or an interaction with another drug you already take.

Beware of the prescription cascade. Sometimes new drugs might be prescribed to deal with symptoms caused by a drug you are already taking. This is called the “prescription cascade” – a common example is being prescribed a new drug for stomach upset, which may be caused by a drug you are already taking. Ask your doctor to consider whether new symptoms could be the result of the drugs and whether you should consider stopping a medication or reducing the dose, also known as deprescribing.

Look out for changes. Tell your doctor how new drugs affect you and whether there’s been a change for better or worse. Doctors may be depending on you to report and may not be actively monitoring the effects. If you SEE something (or feel something), SAY something (just like at the airport!). You do not have to be “right” in order to bring forward concerns about adverse reactions from a drug.

Seniors are more sensitive to medications. Older people are more sensitive to medications because of changes in their liver and kidney function as they age. In many cases, drugs for seniors should be prescribed at a reduced dose. The more medications used, the greater the chance of drug interactions.  Drugs commonly prescribed to older adults can cause dizziness and loss of balance, leading to falls or fractures and hospitalization, as well as cognitive and memory problems. Adverse drug reactions can start even if you have been taking a drug for a long time. Your doctor depends on you to raise issues of concern and to begin to talk about deprescribing some drugs:

Ask for a medication review. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all your medications, especially if you are taking several or if different doctors prescribed them. This means reviewing your complete medication list to make sure all are needed and not causing problems as you grow older. List drugs prescribed by specialists and over the counter drugs too. Often, doctors are able to give you an appointment that is longer than the usual 10 minutes to have a consultation about your medications. It is up to you to ask for a review of your medication: don’t assume that your drugs will be reviewed on an annual basis. Remember to ask your doctor if you can either stop taking some medications or lower the doses of others as a result of the medication review.

Medication issues in nursing home settings need to be addressed quickly. In a nursing home setting, get answers quickly if you have concerns about your medications or a family member’s. Patients can lose function and mobility if bedridden from a drug interaction. Delirium (a reversible state of disorientation, agitation or drowsiness) or unusual behaviour can be caused by medications and it may be mistaken for a serious chronic illness such as dementia. Alert your family members and be prepared to go, with your family, to management, if you have serious concerns or can’t get an answer. If you feel anxious bringing up medication issues, ask a family member to make an appointment with nursing home staff and have them accompany you.

Avoid anticholinergic drugs.* Older adults are often prescribed anticholinergic medications (medicines that affect acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter) for common conditions such as overactive bladder, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, Parkinson’s and depression. Seniors are highly sensitive to the harmful effects of anticholinergic drugs. These drugs can have a negative impact on the brain by causing delirium, confusion and memory problems as well as physical effects such as dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision. Recent research is exploring whether these drugs have a role in dementia. While this link is still being explored, seniors should avoid these drugs whenever possible or ask for a safer alternative.

Ask questions and be wary. When your doctor suggests a new drug, you have the right to ask what the drug is for, what its benefits are and the risks of harm. Is the drug being prescribed for prevention? How likely is it that you would become ill in the future if you didn’t take it? Could the side effects outweigh any benefit the drug may have? It may not be worthwhile feeling unwell every day because of a drug to gain a small chance of having a little less risk of future illness.

Ask if deprescribing is appropriate for you. If a drug is bothering you, ask your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of a “drug holiday” or a trial of stopping or tapering the drug and carefully monitoring the results. It is reasonable to see if a drug is causing problems if it is not a life-saving drug. You may find more information here.

* Anticholinergic drugs include a wide variety of commonly prescribed and over-the-counter nostrums, among them Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM, tricyclic antidepressants, and a variety of smoking cessation drugs.

A major problem with trying to get off one or more drugs is that many medications — both over-the-counter and prescription — can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous kickbacks if you stop taking the stuff abruptly. For this reason, you need to talk with a pharmacist and, ideally, with your doctor about tapering off the drugs you’re taking, or stopping altogether.

Getting people off these drugs can be a complicated matter. Some sites that provide potentially useful information hide that information behind paywalls or demand private data and an e-mail address in exchange for access. Criteria for limiting drug use and helping people ease off  drugs can be challenging. The STOPP-START set of criteria, for example, is extremely complex. However, unlike the 2003 Beers criteria, the STOPP-START criteria list medications that have been shown to have significant adverse effects, and the STOPP-START approach has been shown to improve outcomes.

The American Geriatric Society offers updated Beers drug guidelines in relatively easy-to-access table form. Note than many of these drugs are readily available over the counter: Benadryl and its generic versions, for example. Proton pump inhibitors? Those are the pills you take for real or supposed GERD: omeprazole, for example. Some people will drop one of these drugs for ordinary indigestion, easily amenable to a couple of Rolaids. Estrogen? Mercifully doctors have stopped trying to put every middle-aged woman in the country on that stuff, but it still is frequently prescribed for any number of real or imagined ailments. Run your eyes down the list and you come to aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, famotidine, pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)…holy sh!t!!! In the U.S., any of us can buy any or all of these drugs at any time, with no advice or feedback from a doctor or a pharmacist. So, even if your doctors are not guilty of piling med on top of med, you yourself could inflict any number of potentially dangerous individual drugs or combinations of drugs upon yourself.

Two useful tools  for consumers are Medstopper, a Web-based program that disgorges guidelines for quitting specific drugs, and Worst Pills, Best Pills, which exists both as a Website and as indispensable reference work.

So what can each of us do about this state of affairs?

  • First, and most obvious: question authority. When a doctor wants to put you on some drug now and evermore, look it up. Learn all you can about the diagnosed condition, about all the approaches to treatment, and about the available medications. Seek a second or even a third opinion before agreeing to go on a medication for the long term.
  • Second, choose a pharmacy and have all your prescriptions filled there. This will create a single file listing all the prescription drugs you’re taking in one place, accessible by a specialist in pharmaceuticals.
  • Third, ask. When filling a new prescription, always ask the pharmacist (not the pharmacist’s assistant: the actual pharmacist, who has an advanced degree in the subject) how it will fit with your existing prescriptions and with any over-the-counter drugs you have around the house. Ask whether it is incompatible or redundant with any OTC drugs.
  • Fourth, keep your own list of all the drugs you’re taking (Rx and OTC) . Carry it in your wallet, so that if you’re ever in an accident or have an acute attack that sends you to the emergency room, medical personnel can find it easily.
  • Fifth, unless a condition is life-threatening, don’t be in such a hurry to swat it with a drug. Most ailments go away on their own. Most aches and pains resolve themselves in time or improve more effectively with physical therapy than with drugs. Tincture of time is often the best medicine.
  • Assume any new symptom or strange health manifestation that develops after you start taking a drug may be a side effect. Look it up.
  • Sixth, ease off as many drugs as you can. You may find you don’t actually need them, or other approaches with less malign side effects may work as well. Educate yourself about the issue in general and about ways to get off any unnecessary drugs.
  • Finally, take care of yourself. As a matter of fact, you are the only person who can take care of yourself. Eat healthy. Kick the nicotine habit. Drink in (extreme) moderation. Get regular exercise. None of this is hard…but it’s the best treatment you can apply.

This is the sixth of seven planned posts on
The Drugging of America


April 17, 2018
by funny

The Drugging of America: Who Funds That Treatment?

If indeed Americans are over-consuming medications to a ridiculous extent — so much so that some call it an “epidemic” of overprescriptionwhy do doctors buy into it?

The reasons are varied and complex, some having to do with a doctor’s natural desire to cure and to save lives and to fend off future ailments; others associated with less altruistic impulses. But one reason almost certainly is the existence of and recommendations from disease-related organizations that emanate advice on how to treat and live with various ailments. Much of this advice is directed at doctors. You no doubt have visited the websites of such groups: the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the American Diabetes Association, the Alzheimer’s Association…. You name the ailment: there’s a group for it.

Many of these organizations provide valuable information and advice for patients and their families. But it’s worth noting that some do urge testing and treatment that may not be altogether necessary or even well-advised. The Komen group, for example, advocates and has persuaded most American women that every woman should undergo regular mammograms. This, despite the fact that a closer look at this practice shows no real benefit accrues (in terms of preventing death from breast cancers) but a significant amount of harm is done. The American Heart Association steadfastly advocates for widespread antihypertension treatment of people who have no symptoms, pushing its guidelines downward to the point where two-thirds of Americans are targets for prescription drugs. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us we must watch for and treat “pre-Alzheimer’s” — another entrant in the race to make patients out of people who are not yet ill and may never be ill.

One of the first lessons I learned as a beginning reporter was to follow the money trail. Always ask: “Who profits from this?” Often the answer leads you into some very interesting terrain.

That is the case here: When you take a hard look at these organizations, you find they receive a lot of funding from Big Pharma and from makers of medical devices.

Understand: I’m not saying any or all such groups are corrupt. But common sense tells you that when an organization receives funding from special interests, its objectivity and motives may be questionable. This means it is in our interest, as patients and potential consumers of the flood of prescription drugs in which we seem to be drowning, to stay aware of the money motive.

An investigative report by Pro Publica revealed that doctors who receive gifts and payments from pharmaceutical companies tend to prescribe more brand-name drugs.

Dr. Kim Allan Williams Sr., president of the American College of Cardiology, said he believes relationships between companies and doctors are circular. The more physicians learn about a new drug’s “differentiating characteristics,” he said, the more likely they are to prescribe it. And the more they prescribe it, the more likely they are to be selected as speakers and consultants for the company.

“That dovetails with improving your practice, and yes, you are getting paid to do it,” he said.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a well respected investigative reporting group, found the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) itself is heavily funded and probably influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Astonishingly, this is written into law: the agency receives about three-quarters of its funding from drug makers through required fees, which are renegotiated at intervals. In FY 2015, “The agency spent about $1.1 billion on prescription drug oversight—more specifically, those activities the agency categorizes as part of its ‘process for the review of human drug applications.’ Congress delivered 29 percent of that money—$331.6 million. Drug companies provided the rest—$796.1 million.” This represents a huge chunk of this supposedly public agency’s funding: “Over the past two decades,” POGO reports, “‘user fees’ paid by industry have climbed from 35 percent of the FDA’s spending on such oversight to 71 percent.”

The National Health Council — the so-called “voice of the patients” urging the FDA to speed approval of drugs, willy-nilly and without wasting time trying to determine whether new products are safe, effective, or even necessary — is heavily funded by Big Pharma, according to POGO: “National Health Council gets most of its funding from drug companies; its members include many drug companies, and representatives of drug companies and their main lobbying organizations serve on its board.” Some 93% of the “patient advocacy groups” the FDA is required to invite to discussion of drug approval procedures are funded by Big Pharma. More than a third of these groups “have executives, directors, or other personnel from pharmaceutical or biotech companies on their governing boards.”

In other words, what should be objective, science-based certification of new drugs’ effectiveness and safety is largely driven by Big Pharma interests.

The American Heart Association has come under fire more than once for questionable partnerships and endorsements of drugs and other products. In 2013 — a year after it had received $521 million from corporate and non-governmental donors (including contributions of around $1 million from pharmaceutical companies producing statins) — the AHA lowered its guidelines for cardiovascular disease to take in a vast number of people and recommended statins for about 44 percent of men and 22 percent of healthy women between the ages of 40 and 75. A look at the group’s self-reporting shows that for FY 2016-17, total cash received from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers came to $23,865,284, with another $8,539,525 in promised commitments.

In 2017 the Alzheimer’s Association reported that total corporate giving over five years came to $7,987,782.

The American Diabetes Association reports having received at least $500,000 from each of these corporate donors:

And that’s just the elite “Banting Circle” set. Colgate and CVS Pharmacies ponied up at least $400,000; donors of at least $100,000 included the Merisant Company (maker of Equal artificial sweetener), Quest Diagnostics, and Walgreens, among others.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation numbers among its 2018 Corporate Advisory Board members Eli Lilly, AMGEN, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AgNovos, Medtronic, Pfizer, Roche — and others. Take a close look at these links: I’ve made most of them to Wikipedia, where the content is not quite so self-serving as what you’ll see on the corporate sites. You’ll find some eye-popping scandals and controversies associated with some of these companies (check out Merck’s sham medical journal!). AgNovos, which is not covered in Wikipedia (why might that be?), produces products said to combat osteoporosis.

The American College of Cardiology, which on the surface appears to be a staid professional group for medical doctors, is listed by Open Secret as a PAC (political action committee). This is not quite accurate: the organization has a PAC. The ACC ‘s website does not provide a readily avaliable a list of its corporate donors. However, last year Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company announced they would support an ACC drive to reduce cardiovascular risk and disease in people with type 2 diabetes. These are large, highly profitable pharmaceutical corporations with a vested interest in expanding the markets for their products.

Look hard at this stuff, and you find yourself wondering… Who’re you gonna trust? Ghostbusters?

This is the fifth of seven planned posts on The Drugging of America.

April 16, 2018
by funny

Spin Those Wheels!

Well, really, I can’t complain SO much about wheel-spinning. Even though I managed to evade working on the Big Annoyance of the Day — shoveling a foot-deep stack of accursed paperwork off the desk — a bunch of stuff actually has gotten done. Ditz, it’s true…but stuff that needed to get done.

Do you ever feel like, even after you’ve managed to power through a lot of tasks, that you still have been spinning your wheels half the day?


🙂 Clean out pool pump pot; clean out pool strainer basket; reinstall pool cleaner, run pump
🙂 Figure out why irrigation system stopped working (FAIL!)
🙂 Water citrus trees manually
🙂 Water other plants manually
🙂 Spray Dawn detergent solution on plants infested with skeletonizing bugs
🙂 Repair back gate latch
🙂 Repair kitchen cabinet pull
🙂 Pick up mess in house
🙂 Change bed; wash sheets & towels
🙂 Cook and concoct dog food
🙂 Clean up ensuing mess in kitchen
🙂 Pick up dog mounds
🙂  Drag trash out to alley
🙂 Post today’s chapter of If You’d Asked Me… (how to handle harassment of cute young teenager)
🙂 Post link to that on Facebook
🙂 Enter comments in FB writer’s community

Not Done:

🙁 Write the next installment of the Drugging of America series
🙁 Iron jeans
🙁 Write more of Ella’s Story
🙁 Cope with gigantic stack of accursed paper

AND…as you might guess, “Cope with gigantic stack of accursed paper” is the chore that all this wheel-spinning has been designed to avoid. I hate, hate, hate dorking with paperwork.

So I put it off. The bills come in. The checks to deposit come in. The statements come in. This nag, that nag, and the other nag comes in from various vendors and doctors’ offices and creditors. They all get tossed on a table.

They’ve been sitting here for upwards of a month now. The table is beginning to groan under the pile’s weight.

Yes. I’ve paid the bills. But all the rest of it is just sitting there.

It is going to take several hours to plow through all that brain-banging shit. And no. I just do. not. want. to. do. it.

Should write the next Drugging of America piece. And could. That also will be a time-consuming and energy-sucking task. If I start on that now, not enough time will be left in the day to fart with the pile of paper distractions. To say nothing of enough ambition.

One thing I probably could do is have the credit union send statements electronically. That would create three fewer pieces of trash to be plucked out of the mailbox. I’m already downloading all the transactions into Excel as it is.

But you just know, don’t you, that whatever form they use to send these proposed electronic statements will not readily convert to Excel. So that will just inflict three more pieces of useless electronic junkmail to deal with. Like I don’t have enough of that?

So little worthwhile stuff comes in the mail anymore, I hardly ever bother to open the thing. Now that the mailbox has to be fortified and locked, the extra effort entailed in tracking down the key, traipsing it out to the curb, wrestling with the mailbox lid, relocking it, traipsing the key back to the house, and hiding it again makes picking up the mail counterproductive. There simply isn’t enough real mail in there to make it worth being bothered to walk out there and wrestle it out of the box.

Consequently, these days I pick up snail-mail about once a week.

Yesterday, it occurred to me to count: EIGHT out of nine pieces of delivered mail went directly into the trash.

That suggests that about 90 percent of mail being delivered by the U.S. Post Office is junk advertising circulars.

And, therefore,  for every piece of nuisance paperwork that arrives here, nine pieces of trash have to be toted to a recycling bin. Ninety percent of delivered mail represents pointlessly destroyed trees, pointlessly polluting paper mills, pointlessly polluting ink manufacture, pointlessly expended gasoline to tote trees, paper, ink, and junk mail around, pointlessly expended power to run those mills and drive the printing presses and operate the equipment to recycle trash that is never even opened or looked at.

That pisses me off. It ought to piss you off, too.

Oh, well. /rant.

I’d better get up and go deal with the pieces of paper that actually do require attention. Of a sort.


April 15, 2018
by funny

You Should’ve Seen the Other Guy…

Hilariously, I’m prancing off to choir this morning with a black eye. First in my over-long lifetime!

Thought I was too smart for this: I walked into a closed Arcadia door.

In my partial defense, I hadn’t replaced the stick that goes in the runner to wedge the door shut against intruders. And I was bopping around carelessly — headed outside to take a photo of the first-time-ever calla blooms on the side deck. Out of the corner of an eye, I saw the stick laying on the floor and must have unconsciously assumed the door was hanging open, as it often is on a gorgeous day like yesterday.


Fortunately, neither the door nor I broke. After applying a cold pack for a few minutes, I figured it was OK — no sign of any damage except for a sore eyebrow, which was neither swollen nor bruised.

Doesn’t hurt. This morning it was an hour after the dogs rousted me out of the sack before I happened to glance in a mirror and notice…WTF???

So that’s amusing. The whole eye is black and blue!

BUT…I managed to cover it up pretty well with a thick coat of L’Oréal. Yes, Virginia, there are some benefits to being female, after all. A little purple eye shadow on the other eye, and voilá! An old lady wearing too much make-up!

Beauty knows no pain…