Funny about Money

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

January 20, 2017
by funny

Inauguration Day!

Well…so here we are:  the Black guy is out of the White House and the Orange guy is in. Hevvin help us.

Listening to his brief, to-the-point inaugural address, it was hard to escape the thought…

What if he’s right?

Just now I’m listening to PBS News streaming off the Web, where a commentator is going on about “doom and gloom” in Trump’s speech, and how the beast was “not healing wounds.”

But…I didn’t hear doom and gloom in what he said. I heard “we’re gonna fix this.”

If he hadn’t lied until he was blue in the face..

If  he hadn’t crassly, deliberately appealed to the very worst in the American psyche…

If he weren’t a groper of women…

If he had not courted and had not been courted by (possibly to the point of treason) a foreign power that has been our enemy for decades…

If there were any inkling of a reason to believe he understands as much about running a country as he does about running a TV reality show…

I could almost get on board with the bastard. I could almost be persuaded that yeah, he’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard.


One of the things that’s fed that feeling is the jaw-dropping obtuseness evinced by thinkers and commentators of my own political persuasion. Dayum! What part of a few international billionaires are collecting most of the money in the world while Americans can’t get a decent job don’t you  understand?

Not just a few “deplorables,” folks. But ALL OF US.

Or at least a very significant portion of us.

This afternoon NPR ran (twice!) a piece whose reporter dutifully went out and interviewed some Trumpish WT: high-school graduates working in one of the country’s few remaining steel mills. The hellish difficulty of the work was described in loving detail. The workers’ enthusiasm for just having a job was described, much as the behavior of some exotic beetle might be detailed. Then the reporter asks one woman, “Is the pay good?”

“For these parts, it’s very good,” she says.

Amazed (being a clear and present New Yorker), our intrepid reporter follows up with “Can you afford to buy a car or live in a house?”

“Well, no,” she says (subtext: Are you stupid?) “No, you couldn’t buy a house and you couldn’t afford to buy a car on this salary.”

She and her partner are getting by because they’re both laboring full time. Maybe one person could live on the pay. But two surely can’t. Still…it’s very good pay and she feels lucky to have a job at all.

Okay. We all know that people with GEDs and high-school diplomas can’t get work, and we can hear, from the reporters’ and commentators’ tone that we should believe the people who voted for Trump are the ignored and ignorant white underclass discommoded by globalization.

But…what about the rest of us? Do you know how many jobs formerly held by college graduates and even graduates of professional schools are being offshored? Lawyers’ jobs. Accountants’ jobs. Graphic designers’ jobs. Editors’ jobs. Publishers’ jobs. Carpenters’ jobs. Bankers’ jobs. Architects’ jobs. IT jobs. Engineering jobs. News reporting. Stock analysis. Even medical services.

When my associate editor Tina and I were still working at the Great Desert University, our office provided membership in a statewide association of small publishers. After we were laid off, The Copyeditor’s Desk maintained our membership until the trade organization finally collapsed.

We were hustling to make the business work. Her theory was that if we kept our rates low, we would get more business and so would make up in volume the amount that we might have made with better-paying work. So we were selling ourselves for peanuts.

One evening we were at a shindig put on by this group. Along comes an Indian guy. He has a printing company in Mumbai. The guy is thriving and is, at that time, maneuvering to get visas and green cards to move his family permanently into the United States, where he wishes to take up residence in a Scottsdale mansion.

He starts to talk fairly loosely. And without realizing that he’s telling me this, he reveals that he can take a book from the manuscript stage through copyediting, page design, cover design, typesetting, proofreading, indexing, and printing for less than Tina and I can copyedit it — at our bargain-basement rates!

I simply couldn’t effing believe it. But it was true. This guy was stealing our business. As he circulated around the room, he was telling all our potential clients that he could take their golden words to the finished product for less than a U.S. supplier could do one stage of the product at starvation wages.

Well, since then I’ve raised our rates. I figure if we can’t get much work, we’d better get paid as much as we can for the little work we do get. And we now target a different clientele: businesses and academics who need to publish to make money, not just because they dream of becoming Writers. Effectively, we offer a Cadillac editing service. We’re good, and we get paid for being good.

Why, we even speak English (can you imagine?). And French. And Russian. And Italian. Even a bit of Spanish. And Latin, of course.

The point is, I’m dead sure we are not alone. Large numbers of Americans with expensive college degrees who used to hold down good jobs that fit their education and experience no longer can earn a living wage. Many of us are lucky to be working at all. And IMHO, it’s fvckin’ no wonder people voted for Trump. A lot of people think it’s time for a change — and they need that change if they’re going to survive at all.

Whether Trump can make change happen remains to be seen. Personally, I doubt it. The first major crisis that hits — whether it’s a stock market crash or another plane taking down another landmark building or a gas attack exterminating half a city — will show how little he knows about running a country. The extreme right-wing organization behind him, the hideous, decayed remains of the Republican Party, will take over the instant he falters. And like the Taliban, those people mean no good at all for anyone who is not one of them.

Scary times. Scary times made even scarier by the fact that the people who could have and should have done something about it still don’t seem to get the picture.

Image: Zach Rudisin. CC BY-SA 3.0,

January 19, 2017
by funny

HVAC: The Ductless Update

Adjuster air conditioning system sets a new air conditionerSo the air-conditioning company sent over a fine young gentleman, the quality of whom has not been seen in these parts in years. About 20 years ago, SDXB and I had the luck to snag an AC guy who combined the rare qualities of honesty and competence with the even rarer quality of a desire to do good work. This new gent is one of those. Who’d have thunk there were any left in the world?

Before long AC-Dude got the heat pump to working again. He replaced a defunct part — covered on the Goodman 10-year warranty — and he discovered the refrigerant was low. He thinks there’s a pinhole leak that’s allowing the stuff to leak out. He refilled it but would like to keep an eye on that. Apparently this is something that can add up to some big bucks in repair bills… Charming.

Well, it was a cheap unit to begin with…the main reason I got it was Goodman’s 10-year warranty, which saved about $280 on this trip. But obviously it will crap out soon after the warranty expires — DOE estimates 15 to 20 years for a central AC unit, but another site, which I can’t retrieve just now, says it’s more like 13 years. These things being made in China, I’m inclined to believe the 13-year estimate.

Air_Conditioner_2While he was here, I asked him what he thought about the ductless AC units we mentioned in an earlier post. Well…the kid’s eyes lit right up! He said he really likes them and that in a given room, they’re amazingly efficient. Then he went on to say his company is working for a guy who’s building a gigantic compound out in the wilds of Scottsdale, huger than huge and complete with a separate gymnasium to go with the tennis courts. He says the client is not having central AC put in at all(!!), but that he’s installing mini-split throughout the mansion.

He said the advantages are that they really will cool a room and that they run extremely quiet. The big disadvantage, he felt, is cost: you have to install a separate compressor outside for each of the things, and you have to run conduits from the compressor up the exterior wall, drill through the wall, and connect to the hanging unit on the inside. Some people don’t like the aesthetics on the outside of the house.

However, he thinks it makes a lot of sense to put one of the things in a room where you spend most of your time and then adjust the temperature accordingly for the central AC — or even turn it off, depending on the weather conditions.

The Department of Energy has a nice article on the subject that essentially says much the same. DOE points out that one condenser can run as many as four mini-split units. The compressor can be as far as 50 feet from a unit. If that were the case, I could easily air condition and heat the family room/dining room/kitchen space with two units (would only one be needed???) and also run one into the living room. And I could air condition my office and my bedroom with another. That would leave only two rooms without AC. In fact, I could probably make a compressor on the bedroom end of the house cover both the office and the adjacent bedroom that serves as kitchen, freezer, and crafts storage, as well as my bedroom. That’s only three room units…

If that were the case, two compressors would air condition this house and leave only one room un-airconditioned: a room I never use anyway.

That is really an interesting idea. Even though it would cost more than a new Goodman (maybe not, given the reports we’re hearing on costs and given that AC units do not last 20 years, the way they used to), because you wouldn’t be using every unit all the time, you wouldn’t have to replace units for the entire structure at any one time.

What would you do with the existing ductwork? Grow a mushroom farm in it?

Duct vent covers, of course, can be closed. They’re not air-tight, though, so heat and cold would seep through them. I imagine if you really wanted to commit yourself, you could have a drywall guy come and fill in the holes.

Something to think about…

1. DepositPhotos, © Stas_K
2. © Milad Mosapoor,

January 18, 2017
by funny
1 Comment

Real Risk, Perceived Risk

Venus-pacific-levelledWhat a beautiful, peaceful evening. Venus, a brilliant diamond, shone in a deep sapphire sky when the corgis and I set out to jog  a mile-long course through the ’hood. The dimming sunset, still glowing orange, backlit tall palm, ash, and pine trees to the west.

Two houses between here and Richistan, very nice houses, are on the market. One is a fix-and-flip, acquired from a very aged man who probably was the original owner. The other has been upgraded a couple of times over the past decade and is significantly further from Conduit of Blight than the Funny Farm.

I consider, as I pass each house, whether if I had a sh!tload of money I would wish to buy one of these places. And the answer is no.

In each case, the house’s next-door neighbor has two or three large, deep-throated barking dogs that go berserk whenever anyone walks by on the side walk with their own dogs, their children, their friends, or their door-to-door fliers. Across the street from each house was at least one neighbor harboring large barking dogs.

apr13dogNow of course, I have barking dogs, too. But when mine are yapping, they don’t act like they’re going to come through the window and grab you by the throat. Nor are they left outside in the yard at all hours of the day and the night — most of the time if they bark at a passer-by, it’s from the living room. They’re not guard dogs and they’re not intended as guard dogs.

A lot of people in this area have large, fierce dogs — more than one of them — because they perceive that the area is unsafe.

But is it?

True, the district just to the north of us, less than a mile away — really, just a few steps across a main drag from the northernmost homes in the ’hood — is notoriously crime-ridden, the territory of a notable meth gang. The district to the west of us, where aging apartments continue to deteriorate and an abandoned golf course has become a campground for homeless drug addicts, also has a high crime rate and an increasingly sketchy ambience.

But that’s the nature of the City of Phoenix: it’s a patchwork of enclaves. Anywhere you look, you’ll find upscale neighborhoods full of doctors and lawyers and business tycoons cheek-by-jowl with drug-infested slums. If you want to live in uninterrupted affluent homogeneity, you pretty much have to move to Scottsdale…which, because everybody knows its inhabitants have plenty of money and plenty of loot to steal, is as much a target of burglars and thieves as any other part of the Valley. Apparently we Phoenicians like it this way: we do nothing to change it.

So it is that our neighborhood, flanked by blight on two sides, is a hotbed of risk.

Well… I’ve taken to walking the dogs every evening after dark. Nary a resident is to be seen outside: they’re all parked in front of their televisions or their computers. You could break into a car, steal a tchotchki off a front  porch, peer in a window without anyone ever noticing.

Never once have I seen a bum wandering through the night or a likely burglar slinking by. Except for the occasional coyote — which isn’t any more interested in confronting you than you are in confronting it — after dark there is nothing out there that looks like a threat. Not a burglar, not a bum, not biker, not even a kid in a hoodie.

During the daytime, you see an occasional derelict. Once in awhile you’ll see someone who’s obviously casing houses. But not often. Usually you can walk a mile or more through the ’hood without every seeing anyone but a few workmen and some wandering neighbors.

This is the very house we lived in!

This is the very house we lived in!

That was not so 30 years ago, when my ex- and I lived in the then gentrifying Encanto neighborhood, a picturesque remnant of small-town Phoenix that, like the ’hood where the Funny Farm stands, was discovered all at once by a horde of young upwardly mobile urban adults. It quickly became known as “the lawyers’ and doctors’ ghetto” — because it was within easy driving distance (even walking distance) of the downtown hospitals and law firms.

The Encanto area’s zip code had the highest per-capita drug use in the city, at the time. Despite the efforts of some developers to pave it over with a freeway, it survived a great deal of pressure to force the young would-be city-dwellers out to the suburbs. Today it’s one of the city’s bragging points.

Exactly the same thing is under way here: the ’hood is the New Encanto. But unlike Encanto, the ’hood is not overrun with derelicts and criminals. There are a lot of homeless mentally ill riding the buses and trains up and down Conduit of Blight Blvd., but not so many actually inside the neighborhood — local opinion to the contrary.

When we lived in Encanto, you couldn’t poke your nose outside the door without seeing a bum or two roaming up the street. One family, a block to the south of us, was baking cookies while watching television of an evening. Since everyone was in the house and they felt safety in numbers, it didn’t occur to them to bolt all the doors and windows. A bum watching from the alley noticed this and observed that the wife would come into the kitchen, stick a pan of cookies in the oven, and then go watch TV while they baked for 15 minutes. During one of those interludes, he just stepped into the kitchen, picked up her purse, and made off with it. 🙂

Not all these exploits were so funny. One of my neighbors was hacked to death by an ax murderer, having surprised the guy robbing her house when she came home from the beauty parlor. Another was studied by a man who knew a) where to find the only window in the house that was not alarmed and b) when her husband was out of town. He took the opportunity to spend an entire night beating and raping her.

We have never had anything like that happen here. We’ve had some close calls, but no real horrors. Yet.

But interestingly, few people in Encanto kept large, fierce dogs. I had a German shepherd that I’d inherited from a neighbor. The lady behind us had a doberman pinscher. Our babysitter, a street to the south of us, had a pair of airdales. One couple in our car-pool had a pretty ridiculous bloodhound. But otherwise, that was about it: I didn’t know anybody else who had big dogs.

Here, everybody and his little brother has a large, fierce dog with a threatening bark — or two, if possible. Cassie has been pounced twice by loose German shepherds. You can’t walk around the park without coming across someone with a big dog running loose — on Sunday mornings a bunch of locals bring about a dozen large dogs over there and let them run around, illegally, off the leash. Encanto Park was bum heaven, but you never saw a dog off the leash there. You didn’t see many dogs at all, come to think of it.

Homeless_man_in_AnchorageThat says to me that people who live in this neighborhood are scared. The number of derelicts visible in these parts is a tiny fraction of the number of car-sleeping and window-peeping and yard-toileting natives who used to hang out in Encanto. Yet people apparently perceive a great deal more risk here than they did there.

Yes, we do have some incidents: the bum that jumped a wall to diddle with a couple of small girls being the most recent. And yeah, I did enjoy the Great Garage Invasion. But in the 13 years we lived in Encanto we had…

The cat burglar on the roof
The Night of the Screaming (in which I chased off a rapist by hollering “fire” at the top of my lungs)
The burglar who was chased out of the house at 2 a.m. by our German shepherd
The ax murder
The night-long rapefest at the neighbor’s house
The guy who took up residence in a neighbor’s car and was pissed when he was thrown out so she could go to work
The guy who tried to push his way in through my front door even as not one but two German shepherds stared him down
The guy who chased one of the nannies in Palmcroft
The guy who followed me even as I was pushing a baby in a stroller (I dodged into a neighbors’ house)
The couple who used our side yard as their latrine

It kinda went on and on. On Mondays, the head secretary at my office (yes, Virginia, in those days admins were called “secretaries”) would ask me what new story I had for them…and I usually did have one.

We hardly ever have things like that happen here. We have a hell of a lot more dogs than we do bums and criminals. Heh…maybe one fact follows the other as the night the day?

I doubt it. I think people are just scared. Unduly scared.

It doesn’t do to be scared of the bogeyman, you know. You’re usually bigger than he is, and nine times out of ten you’re a hell of a lot smarter (your brain not being clouded by dope or booze). A dog is nice company, but it’s not real protection. A gun is reassuring until you consider the fact that you’re more likely to shoot yourself in the foot than to wing the burglar.

The best protection? Keeping your wits about you.

Venus over the Ocean: Brocken Inaglory –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

January 17, 2017
by funny

The NEXT Air-Conditioning System?

So the Goodman HVAC system that was installed after the late great hail storm, on the insurance company’s dime, needs some service. I guess. Turned it on at 7:30 this morning. After it had pounded away for an hour, the thermostat recorded a one-degree rise in temperature (yeah: that’s 1 degree).

It’s been making some annoying outdoor noises, but Goodman runs noisy anyway, so I haven’t paid much attention.

Fortunately, the Goodman has a 10-year warranty on parts & labor, so this misadventure shouldn’t cost me much.

The warranty runs out in 2021, which, when you think about it, ain’t all that much longer. That’s only 5 years from now…

Replacing the type of air-conditioning & heating system needed in Arizona is an expensive proposition. For a house like mine, cost is likely to run $4,000 to $8,000. Or up: SDXB paid $5,500 for a system serving a smaller house than mine.

And in the New Ecologically Correct and Internationally Traded Environment? Not very effective. My Chinese-made heat pump, for example, freezes up when exterior temps drop into the 30s, at which point it blows ice-cold air into the house.

Over the past few years, the way I use my house has changed. A lot.

I used to spend most of the daytime hours in my office, working on a large and powerful desktop computer. Then my back went out. Now I can NOT sit in a desk chair any more than a few minutes without enjoying limp-inducing hip and back pain (and yes, I have tried all sorts of ergonometric chairs). The only way I can work for any length of time (and “work” for me entails hour after hour after interminable hour focused on arcane, mind-numbing copy) is to recline in an overstuffed leather chair with my feet up on an ottoman and a MacBook on my lap.

That chair is in a large room that comprises a family room, dining area, and kitchen. Two doors opening into the backyard accommodate the dogs’ comings and goings. And…that means that instead of moving around the house — from the office to the kitchen to the dog exits and to the dining area and back to the office — I spend most of my time in one centralized area: a single room, really.

At night I go back to the bedroom. And that’s about it: in fact I’m only occupying two rooms of a six-room house (eight, if you count the closet-like bathrooms).

So lately I’ve found myself wondering…why the hell am I air-conditioning and heating this entire building when I’m living in about a third of it??

In the wintertime (because it doesn’t get very cold here), it’s fairly easy to live without central heating. A plug-in space heater will make a work room cozy enough, and an electric blanket or throw set on “low” will get one comfortably through a two-dog night.

As it develops, there are central HVAC systems that can be persuaded to “condition” the air only in a given space within a building. These are dubbed “ductless air-conditioning systems.” Some of them are…yup…pretty Third-World. But that doesn’t seem to matter, since the Funny Farm is now situated in the Third World anyway. Probably much as your home is or soon will be.

One of these is made by Mitsubishi. It’s very expensive. On the other hand, simply replacing one’s existing AC system with a new unit has grown into a ludicrously costly proposition. I’ve actually had one HVAC vendor propose something near 10 grand to replace my system, using its aging ductwork.

The beauty of the Mitsubishi system is that you don’t have to stick ugly portable AC units in your windows. In my house, that would be impractical, because all the windows are sliders. There’s no way you could install a window AC in any of the rooms without (expensively) replacing the windows, too. if you even could: the openings are too wide for double-hung windows.

The un-beauty of the Mitsubishi system is that it’s breathtakingly expensive. Not only do you have to cut holes in exterior walls to install the ductless vents, you also have install a central system that costs as much as or more(!!) than a traditional central air-conditioniong system. It would be pretty damn expensive. Indeed.

On the other hand, if you were only air-conditioning the rooms you use, and if you only use a couple of rooms on any given day, and five or six months out of every twelve you needed little or no air-conditioning either heat or cool, it wouldn’t take long to recoup the installation cost. And the environmental footprint, if anyone cares about that anymore in the Age of NeoHitler Trump, would be far, far smaller.

So…there’s no hurry to make this decision. The Goodman system presumably will run at least until 2021. It may even run longer than that. But into the future: ??? It behooves one to keep an eye on new developments.

January 16, 2017
by funny

Gestalt II: The Update

Okay, the dust has settled from this morning’s freneticism.

Nothing has been decided about the bathtub drain, although I did determine, by poking around with an orange stick, that the exit hole in that drain is amazingly small. It may be that the drain is slow because it’s just built that way. This is something I will think on.

The dogs have settled down, apparently having yapped themselves into a stupor. As Catseye pointed out at this morning’s post, there’s nothing like a barking dog to spike your blood pressure. Indeed, that was the reason Cassie’s previous humans cited for dumping her at the dog pound. Ruby, however, is not a barker; she usually will not rise to the barking bait even when Cassie is baying. There actually has to be something going on to cause Ruby to bark.

The going-on, as noted, was the joy of young children playing on the street, it being a school holiday. Arf!

The kids have now gone even further on to bigger and better things, probably televised, and so the hounds are napping.

Out at the pool, which has been shut off for the past several days pending arrival of a repairman, the following Discoveries were discovered:

The pressure gauge is not, after all, busted. With a little fiddling, I fixed it.

Harvey the Hayward Pool cleaner stopped dead in the water NOT because the pressure gauge was broken or because much of anything else was wrong with the pump and filter, but because he had ingested a pecan, kindly dropped into the pool by a passing bird.

Those birds do that all the time. My challenge is to train the critters to deposit the pecans, preferably un-nibbled, right outside the back door, thankyouverymuch.

So with great pleasure I called off the pool repairman.

Planning to dump a bag and a half of pool shock into the drink, I tested the pool water first. Good thing: Acid level was normal; chlorine level was so high it turned the yellow test color to orange. Ooohkay…that explains why no algae has been growing in those much-neglected precincts. It also excused me from having to shock the pool, lhudly sing huzzah.

It further excused me from the planned trudge to Home Depot. Main thing I needed to buy there was chlorine tabs, at an elevated (not to say “extortionate”) price. Clearly, with chlorine levels high in the toxic range, there’s no need to add more…

The effing Venza (the more I drive that car, the less I like it) has again developed an infuriating rattle, somewhere in the vicinity of the dashboard. This, it develops, is a known issue with the Venza…and with several other other late-model Toyotas.

When I say I will never buy another Toyota as long as I live, I am not kidding. If I could figure out how to trade this thing in on something else without bankrupting myself, I would do it. Today.

The last time (which is to say the first time) I noticed this, I made an appointment with Chuck the WonderMechanic, who thought he could fix it. But before I could get the car to him, the rattling stopped. And…interestingly…here’s how it happened to stop:

I’d driven out to lovely Sun City at SDXB’s dinner invitation. When I got into the car to drive home after dark, it suddenly started rattling — and I mean make you CRAZY rattling.

The weather was much like it is right now: crisp and rainy.

A couple of days later — before the appointment at Chuck’s — I rattled on down to a Costco. Left the car parked in the lot for half an hour or 45 minutes. Then moved on to a Target, where the vehicle sat in that store’s lot for another 45 minutes, give or take.

In the Target lot, it was parked facing the sun. As today, the sky was patchy: sun and clouds. That meant the sun had at least some opportunity to shine directly on the black plastic dashboard.

Ohhhkayyy…now I come out of the Target, climb into the car, drive away…and realize it’s stopped rattling!

Huh. I surmise that the sun has heated the black plastic enough to cause it to expand, and in doing so has tightened the joints between the several plastic parts that comprise the contraption’s dashboard.

I do not take it to Chuck.

This was several weeks ago.

It was fine until yesterday. But weirdly, the weather conditions are almost identical: it’s been raining, it’s been cold.

So, when I rattled on home, I parked it on the driveway facing into the sun, and left it there for an hour. Figured if it worked before, maybe it’ll work again.

Well. It might have sort of worked: after letting it sit for an hour, I took it out again. The rattle seemed less egregious. But…it still rattles.

Okay…if a little solar heat is good, a lot must be better, eh? Left it parked in the driveway again. Whenever I feel like getting up, I’ll drive it around the block again.

It looks like little can be done about this. When you get on the Web, you see a lot of crazy schemes indulged by do-it-yourself aficionados. Some worked, some didn’t. But none of them are things I care to bother with.

This would explain why the vehicle was turned in after two years, wouldn’t it?

Friend came by with her books in hand. We’re going to donate them to the church’s fund-raising book sale, with stickers on the inside front cover directing readers to where they can find more of Friend’s work.

These are children’s books, and they’re really pretty cool. She is a grade-school teacher and a special-ed expert. The books are precisely targeted to specific grades. As part of her marketing campaign, she has gotten herself invited to classrooms to work with the books and the kids…and as she was describing the things she and the teachers were doing with them, I realized she had a kind of de-facto lower-grade textbook-like tool. I suggested she write teachers’ guides describing the various insightful and innovative ways she had for working with them. She liked the idea.

Another fucking robocaller jangled as I sat down to eat lunch, drink, and write this.

Checked into Ooma again. It still looks dauntingly technophobia-inducing. To hang onto your phone number (which I really need to do, since it IS my business number), you have to ask Ooma to switch it over. It takes three to four weeks, they say, to make the shift — though you get to use your number, you apparently also get to pay Cox for the privilege (as well as paying Ooma) and during that time, obviously, you wouldn’t be able to engage NoMoRobo.

It doesn’t exactly defeat the purpose…but it sure as hell makes it more difficult to achieve the purpose.

So I remain undecided about whether I want to subject myself to the hassle of changing carriers.

Most of our paying work is under control just now. Returned one article to the client this morning. The Kid is working on a second. So from my perspective, nothing remains to be done. We’ve read over 300 pages of the 475 pages the project is said to comprise, and now we have a lull. I should be able to goof off.

Which, you could say, is what I’m doing now.





January 16, 2017
by funny

Gestalt Morning…

Good GOD is this EVER going to stop??? It’s one of those mornings when a thousand little tasks come crashing down on you at once, and you can’t get one thing done before the next thrusts itself into your face. I’ve been binged at, bonged at, banged at, tweeted at, rung at, buzzed at, thumped at, yakked at, and barked at nonstop since the first goddamn robocall struck at 7:00 a.m.

Meanwhile, weirdly enough, I do have some things I need to do, but I can’t get at them for all the pesterments.

The dogs have not stopped  yapping since they rolled out of the sack this morning. I think it’s because the kids are all out of school, it being MLK Day, and they’re having a gay old time playing outdoors on this beautiful cool day. Cassie and Ruby would love to be out there chasing around with them, but about the best they can do is race around barking at the front door, barking at the back gate, barking at the side gate, barking at the east wall, barking at the west wall, barking at the south wall, barking…barking…barking…BARKING.

Everything I pick up to do gets interrupted by something else that has to be done right this minute.

The handyman was slated to come by at 9 a.m. to see if there was anything he can do about the plugged bathtub drain, a task the plumber shows no interest in doing. Handyman guessed that it was a BIG job, one that could entail pulling out the plastic tub surround. (These things were installed in the houses at the frame-out stage…to get one of them out through a bathroom door entails sawing them apart in the bathroom and taking them out in pieces. How you get a new one in escapes me…my guess is, you don’t.) After showing up an hour late with his brother in tow, he thought about it and then went off to think about it some more, saying he’ll be back tomorrow.

The pool guy is supposed to come by between 3 and 5. But before then, I need to get Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner over to Leslie’s to see if he’s jammed…because it dawned on me that the reason Harvey has stopped moving may not be the pump or the filter but Harvey himself. A fix at Leslie’s would be one hell of a lot cheaper than a fix and a filter cleaning trip by an expensive repairdude in a gas-guzzling service truck.

But the question is, WHEN can I get out of here?

An acquaintance was supposed to come by, also (conveniently while a repairman is underfoot) at 9 a.m. to drop off some books to donate to the church’s book sale. She called about 10:30 to say she’d be here in 45 minutes or so. Since she’s coming in from Sun City West, which is halfway to Los Angeles, that actually will be more like an hour, unless she’s in the habit of flying low.

So that puts the eefus on getting done with the SLEW of errands that need to be run between now and 3:00 p.m. In addition to the trip to Leslie’s, I need to make a Costco run and a Home Depot run. The Costco run can be (and probably should be) put off until tomorrow, but H.D., not so much.

Sat down to catch up with bidness and with the personal email. Every thirty seconds the damn dogs launched into another barkfest! Read half a sentence…bark bark bark bark bark bark BARK BARK BARK…try to figure out what the interlocuter wanted…bark bark bark bark bark bark YAP YAP YAP…go back and read it again and try to figure out what’s needed and bark YAP YAP bark bark BARKITY YAP bark…try to frame a response…type type BUZZZZZZZ dryer goes off…haul out blankets, move another load of laundry out of the washer into the dryer, put blanket back on bed YAP YAP YAP BARK BARK BARK BARK bark bark…start over with email, try to think through what to say…type BARK BARK briinnnggggggggg goddamn TELEPHONE…wait till the system hangs up the robocaller’s system…type type YAP YAP YAP BARK BARK BARK…ohhhhh crap! Give UP!

Pick up the litter and sort of clean the house before people show up here and see how I really live.  briinngggggggg goddamn TELEPHONE “Yes, I’m here, come on over whenever you can” BARK BARK BARK yap yap GROWWWWLLLLLLL bark bark BARK Swiffer up the dog hair off 1860 square feet of tile, something that should be done every single day but that in reality gets done about every second or third day. Throw ten days’ worth of microfiber dog-hair-swiffering rags into the wash… Ruminate on how pissed it makes me that some asshole robocalled me at 7 in the morning on a national holiday.

You know, I really need to dump Cox and get Ooma, a VoIP service that lets you use NoMoRobo. The latter is supposedly the most effective nuisance call blocker around.

But I hesitate. I can see that attaching Ooma is going to involve a) a learning curve and b) DIY technodiddling. The chance of my screwing it up is high. You have to wrest your phone number away from Cox, meaning that if I screw it up (as I will), un-screwing will present a major-major hassle.

It could be worth it, though.

Cox is charging a little over $14 a month for the phone plus another $13 a month for alleged “taxes.” Ooma calculates a total of $4.08 for taxes & fees in my zip code. Switching would mean a HUGE savings.

On the other hand, there are trade-offs.

First, obviously, you would not even have ONE phone in the house that operates when the power is off. Right now one of the eight extensions in fact is directly connected to the landline. And it does run when the power is turned off. Not well…well enough to call 911.

Second, you’d be dependent on an Internet connection. Cox’s Internet is not what you’d call “reliable.” And…lo! Here’s someone at the door…