Funny about Money

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

Of Alleys and Dust and Dogs and Pools and Computers and Irons and…whatEVER

Notice comes in the mail that the City is going to “dust-proof” the alleys here in the ’hood. A Web search to find out WTF “dust-proof” means elicits the actual RFP for the job. Videlicet: they intend to apply black-top to the alleys.

This will be good, because it will, to some degree, discourage the rampant weed growth. Some neighbors apparently believe — wrongly — that the City’s job is to blade off the weeds and grass that run amok out there, creating not just an ugly mess but a fire hazard. Among said neighbors are the couple who moved into Sally’s house behind me. What a pigpen!

Nice, huh? It’s a miracle we haven’t had a fire yet, in a July 4 or New Year’s fireworks frenzy — or just had some crazy or some kid set it alight. So presumably when the City’s contractors come through to lay down asphalt & pebbles, they’ll blade that little jungle.

Meanwhile, my pool’s filter pressure is way up, a signal that the pool needs backwashing. In fact, the filter needs to be cleaned out, but as you’ll see I have a whole bunch of other things to spend my money on.

It’s against the law to backwash into the alley, but everyone does so. That’s one of those things that the city ignores unless a neighbor complains, like out-of-code backyard wall heights and the four mattresses and two box springs someone stashed in the alley and the overgrowth of weeds all up and down the block. But obviously, a bunch of workmen and a layer of fresh asphalt promise to interfere with the backwashing project. So that project got moved up from fourth on the list of to-do’s to first, joining the chores to do before bolting down breakfast.

Call vet
Call Gerardo
Call Chuck
Check for wheelbarrow (borrowed by Gerardo and yes, returned)
Backwash pool
Check & adjust pool chemicals
Clean office
Pick up dog mounds
Clean patio
Treat allergies
Back up data
Study material on grant proposal writing
Write “Ella’s Backstory”

And it was a good thing I got out there at 7:30 in the morning to engage that tedious little job. About an hour later, along came a city truck, its driver obviously inspecting preparatory to the Big Project.

And it’s a good thing I have a LONG backwash hose that I can run halfway up the damn alley. Backwashing an 18,000-gallon pool creates quite the pond. It takes several hours for that to soak into the packed caliche that forms the surface of our alley. And that would be why the City doesn’t want the natives backwashing into the alleys, hm?

At any rate, the guy didn’t even pause. Presumably his attention was diverted by the mattress collection and the weed forest.

This will accelerate the need to change out the pool pump and filter ($$$$$$$), because without gutters, backwashing onto an impermeable surface actually will be pretty antisocial. I can’t backwash into the backyard, because the quarter-minus that forms the landscaping is actually just sand mixed with tiny pebbles: the backwash hose will excavate a ditch in that stuff. It’s impossible to imagine what might be built out there to accommodate 100+ gallons of water. The only alternative is to install a cartridge filter, which doesn’t have to be backwashed. The cost will require yet another unplanned drawdown from investments.

Speaking of the which, you’ll remember the surgery Cassie enjoyed for her abscessed carnassial fang? That set me back about $900. Welp…guess what: now Ruby seems to have developed one of her own!

Taking her in to the vet Wednesday — soonest I could get an appointment that doesn’t require 45 minutes of fighting my way through rush-hour madness — at which time yet another expensive operation presumably will be scheduled.

You know…I’ve only got $8,000 to last until next September…and maintaining the property, the dogs, the car, the taxes, and myself runs about $3,000 a month. Every time I turn around, here’s another thousand-dollar hit. This is what happens, inevitably, every time I dig into savings to pay off some stupid bill or do some expensive job around the house. Clearly Lady Karma is trying to tell me that I should not have paid off the car loan or paid 3 grand to get the house painted. Especially not in one fell swoop. Every time you pay some big bill because you think the coast is clear, you’re pounced by some new giant expense.

Or in this case, a series of new giant expenses.

Speaking of the alleys and the dust and the fangs, I have a tooth that hurts like hell. The dentist cannot find a crack in it, even though it does feel like a typical split tooth. Last week he studied a fourth X-ray of the upper jaw and still cannot find any evidence of an infection or a crack. So he’s sending me to an endodontist, and God only knows what that will cost. One thing for sure: it won’t be covered by Medicare. It was a hundred bucks just to have my regular guy do another X-ray and consult.

But whilst he was studying the problem, he remarked that my maxillary sinuses are completely filled with fluid. He speculated that chronic congestion on that order could cause some dental pain — although one wouldn’t expect it to be the sharp jab of a cracked tooth.

So it’s back to gulping allergy pills. This morning I’m high on meth…uhm, pseuodoephedrine…plus the usual dose of Claritin. He suggested using Afrin, but Young Dr. Kildare hates that stuff so much the mere mention of it makes him wince. He wants me to use saline solution. Dentist said he’s had the same experience w/ his doc and so is also using saline, with exactly the same results as my own: it does effectively nothing.

It’s reasonable to think, though, that allergies could be at least part of the problem. Lookit this:

Each of those rags represents ONE DAY’S accumulation of dust and dog hair in this house. Every day at about 4 p.m., I run a Swiffer loaded with a microfiber rag across all 1,868 square feet of tile flooring. As you can see, we have a whole lot more dust on the floors than we do dog hair.

Since I’ve started the daily swiff and started swallowing more allergy nostrums, the teeth have felt a little better. In fact, I’m thinking I should cancel the expensive endodontist and go to WonderAccountant’s allergist (she’s found one she swears by rather than at). If there’s no infection and no crack, presumably no long-term damage will happen if I delay long enough to explore the possibility that the maxillary congestion is the cause — and that would be covered by Medicare.

A-n-n-n-d…if the City really is going to pack down some of the dust, maybe that plus some prescription meds would bring a stop to the dental pain.

Hm. Still thinking about that.

Update on the Steam Iron Adventure

And as you’ll recall, my beloved old Shark iron has, of late, taken to threatening to electrocute me. An online search revealed that Costco’s current offering was an expensive thing made by some outfit called Oliso. But when M’hijito and I were over there the other day, we found they were peddling a Sunbeam model that looked very much like the homicidal Shark.

I’ve had a Sunbeam in the past and hated it — the thing would get so hot it would burn your hand. But decided to trust to the judgment of Costco’s buyers. Very nice little machine…or so it looked. Got it home and discovered that what I had was a steam iron that would not steam.

Well. You could produce a blast of steam by jabbing the blast-of-steam button. But otherwise, under no circumstances and with no setting would it emit steam through its sole plate.

Took it back and hiked over to the Target.

There I met a Target employee who did not even know what a fuckin’ steam iron IS! Much less where Target might have them hidden.

However, she being quite a sweetie tracked down a supervisor, who miraculously did know.

Their choices included several models of Sunbeam, all made in China; two models of Rowenta, made in China; several models of Shark, made in China…. Yeah. Pick them up and examine them, and you find they’re all…well…pretty much identical. The only difference appears to be the price, and that appears to depend not on the device itself but on the brand name.


So, despite the 28% rate of one-star reviews at Amazon, I gave up and bought another Shark. It is, as usual, more complicated to use than the older model that worked just fine and didn’t need any elaboration. But at least for the nonce it works.

Speaking of “It Just Works” (…if only!)

I hate Apple.

Why was it necessary to take something that actually did “just work” and BREAK IT?

I hate that the MacBook Pro will no longer upload images from my camera’s memory card.

I hate that it doesn’t have a USB port. Hate it hate it hate it HATE that.

I hate Siri, oh, GOD how I hate Siri. Even when you go into the system preferences and turn OFF fuckin’ Siri, the damn thing keeps nagging at you. The MacBook Pro has this stupid touch bar thing at the top of the keyboard, and up at the far right, directly above the “Delete” key, is a sensitive spot that, if you brush it with your finger, causes a pop-up to ask if you want to enable Siri.

I hate that one uses the “delete” key a LOT with Apple’s current keyboard, because they have subtly changed the size of the keys and pushed them subtly closer together. So every third time you hit a key — or rather, you try to hit a key — you end up having to delete and fix a typo: you either hit the adjacent key or you hit two keys together. For example, in that last sentence:

s7b tly
change dthe
c loser

In a word, it is impossible to type on a Macbook Pro without inserting a constant stream of typos.

No, for a change this is not a function of advancing age: when I go back to the old MacBook or use the keyboard on the aged iMac, I do not encounter this problem.

And why do I want Siri go OFF and STAY off? Well, because it is a major invasion of privacy. No, I do NOT want Apple listening to every Word I utter and tracking every move I make online. No matter how glowing a sheen they try to put on it, it invades your privacy. Apple qualifies its description of all the ways that its devices intrude in your personal life with “When you give your explicit consent…” But just turning on Siri amounts to giving your explicit consent!

The Dictation software is a very cool feature…but it also does the same thing: reports everything you say back to the Mother Ship! And there’s no way to forestall that.

I hate Apple’s new photo software. It is a gigantic PITA, and it also invades privacy: it has the capacity to identify individuals by their facial features. And that, of course, means it’s a good thing the damn thing won’t talk to my camera. It means my images do not reside on an Apple device (or, presumably, on Apple’s oh-so-righteously encrypted servers), but on DropBox, where I have to put them manually.

Oh, God. I’ve got to go to work. And so, crabbily, away…

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Author: funny

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