Funny about Money

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

June 16, 2017
by funny
8 Comments

Life before the Affordable Care Act

Inside appendicitis

Over at Quora, someone wondered why it is that when you show up at an emergency room, none of the staff seems to understand that “emergency” means “urgent.”

A number of medical workers were quick to explain that the “emergency” in “emergency room” does not mean “urgent,” and that if you don’t have a life-threatening condition, you have to wait until they get done dealing with people who do. And that certainly is true: who would want their stubbed toe or their broken arm treated ahead of some soul with a heart attack, a stroke, or a gunshot wound?

All of us can understand that ER workers are stressed to the max and that they have to make quick decisions about who needs care and when. But…

Back in the day before ACA, poor people here used the ERs for medical care whenever their kids had a bad cold or flu and for conditions adults and children should have had treated in their GP’s office. Phoenix has a large population of working poor and unemployed, many of whom live, shall we say, very close to the bone. And in those days, if you didn’t have insurance, you couldn’t even get in to see most doctors. Many people did not have a GP and never saw doctors for routine care.

An ER, on the other hand, is not allowed to turn you away. So, when someone without insurance or cash needed to see a doctor for a minor ailment, they would go to the ER and sit there until they could finally get in. This meant waits for everyone that extended for many hours.

It was Christmas time. A flu epidemic was raging. And conveniently, my body chose that moment to develop appendicitis.

In terrible pain and throwing up, I persuaded my ex-husband to take me to the ER at St Joseph’s, a large regional medical center in the central part of the city. It was late at night.

The ER was packed. The receptionist, overworked and miserable, was rude to me and gave me a dirty look when I threw up into the bucket I’d brought.

There was no place to sit down. The floor was truly filthy, so I didn’t feel I could sit or lay down on the floor. Three hours later, I found myself sitting outside on a concrete bench, in the cold, next to a woman who was miscarrying and who had been waiting over four hours. We waited another couple of hours without anyone caring whether we lived or died.

Finally, I gave up. I figured if I was going to die, I’d rather die at home in my bed than in that place. I called a friend, waking her out of a sound sleep, and persuaded her to come get me.

At dawn I was in agony. I called the Mayo Clinic, where my old doctor was practicing. They told me to call 911 and have them bring me there. I said I thought they would take me back to St. Joe’s and I couldn’t withstand another fruitless, endless wait. She said no, they have to take you where you ask them to take you.

That, as it developed, was wrong. They would not take me to the Mayo — the twenty-minute drive would take them out of their area. I sent them away and called another friend, who kindly drove me to the Mayo.

The Mayo, being in a more upscale part of town, was not crowded with people who couldn’t afford to see a doctor. Within minutes after I walked in, they were rolling me into surgery. In the elderly, appendicitis may be life-threatening, especially if it goes  untreated. Afterwards, the surgeons said the appendix was “a mess,” one of the worst they’d seen.

On the one hand, my feeling is that you wouldn’t go to the ER if you didn’t have an emergency. Obviously, I needed to be seen in less than four hours, and obviously the young woman I took up with on the bench in the winter cold needed to be seen. Obviously, we needed to be seen when I came in.

On the other, I surely understand that when everybody and his little brother and sister use the ER for routine medical care and show up when they have a bad cold or flu, the staff is overwhelmed and the likelihood that they will fail to recognize a true emergency is high. I also understand that an inner-city ER staff sees not only the routine heart attacks, strokes, accident, and appendicitis cases, but a steady flow of knifings, gunshot wounds, car wreck victims, and drug overdoses, and so of course they do not have time to deal with people’s colds and tummyaches.

With the ACA, this problem was somewhat relieved because more poor people could get insured. Once that goes away, though, we can expect to see those conditions to return. When people can’t get insurance and doctors turn the poor away because they’re uninsured and can’t pay, then ERs will fill up again with folks who need routine medical care. And the next time you have a serious condition that really does need immediate attention, you may not be able to get it.

Images:
Section of acutely inflamed appendix: By Ed Uthman from Houston, TX, USA – Acute Appendicitis, CC BY 2.0
Banner image of the day: DepositPhotos, © sepavone

June 13, 2017
by funny
8 Comments

Technoboredom

Technoboredom: it’s a manifestation of technophobia for the stouter of heart. You know how to use all this stuff. You just don’t want to. Because it’s b-o-o-o-r-ing! Boring boring BORING.

Right now, 35 emails reside on the MacServer, none of them opened and none of them about to be opened soon. The new Mac OS exacerbates this issue: under the old operating system, you could view the name of the sender and at least part of the message without having to open the email. Now, to see what’s in it or to set a preference to direct some nuisance emailer to the trash, you HAVE to open it, and then, to move on, click again to close it. That’s four clicks (if you count a double-click as two) to view with what you should be able to see in one click. It doesn’t seem  like much…but it adds up. Multiply that times 35: to view today’s mail, I will have to point and goddamn click a hundred and forty times!

And that alone adds up to “NUISANCE.” B-o-o-o-r-ing Nuisance.

Yesterday I spent half the afternoon reconciling bank accounts online, entering data in Excel, electronically depositing checks, and storing the checks’ JPEGs to Dropbox — yet another task, that latter, made exponentially more difficult by OS 10.11.4.

Yes. For some reason, the new OS on the iMac, which I have to use to operate the scanner with relatively low hassle, will not play with DropBox. Instead of appearing in the Finder sidebar like another disk drive, it’s presented in an icon in the top menu bar. You can NOT save a scanned JPEG direct to Dropbox in this new, unclever iteration. You have to save it to the desktop, then right-click on it and click on the option “move to Dropbox.” THEN, goddamnit, you have to get into Dropbox, find the file, and move it to the folder where you want it.

This issue, I suspect, could be resolved with an inexpensive PC. That, very likely, will be the new computer purchase. Too bad. I like the Mac for a number of reasons. But Apple seems to be working hard to drive customers over to Microsoft.

With an ordinary pocket calculator, I could’ve reconciled my bank accounts in about 30 minutes. But of course the result would not have been enshrined on DropBox for posterity, for my accountant, and for the IRS.

Consider the sheer amount of time wasted with fiddling with the electronic crap. Yesterday I only had two checks to deposit. But sometimes there are five or six checks laying around, begging to go to the bank. With that much hassle factor involved, it might be faster to drive them to the credit union! And it would be only marginally more annoying. To say nothing of significantly less mind-numbing.

How many clicks would it take to deposit six checks? How many steps? Hmmm…

Step 1. Align check on grid to make it straight (credit union will bounce it if it’s not exactly straight); tape down.
Step 2. Place grid with check in scanner.
Click 1. Open scanner software.
Click 2. Click to scan image of front of check.
Click 3. Outline image to include check only.
Click 4. Crop image.
Click 5. Export to desktop under an intelligible filename.
Click 6. Click to scan image of back of check.
Click 7. Outline image to include check only.
Click 8. Crop image.
Click 9. Export to desktop under an intelligible filename.
Click 10. Get into Finder
Click 11. Right-click on image of check front.
Click 12. Select “Move to Dropbox.”
Click 13. Click on stupid icon in annoying menu at top of screen to open DropBox.
Step 4 or 5, God only knows. Search for JPEG of front of check.
Click 14. Grab file and drag to the directory (sorry, “Folder”) where it’s supposed to be stored.
Click 15. Repeat click 11 for back of check.
Click 16. Repeat click 12 for back of check.
Click 17. Repeat click 13 for back of check.
Step 6 or so. Repeat step 4 or 5, whatever it was, for back of check.
Click 18. Open FireFox
Click 19. Get into address line.
Step 7. Enter credit union’s URL.
Step 8. Sign in…
Click 20. Enter username.
Click 21. Enter password.
Click 22. Select “Online Deposit.”
Click 23. Select bank account into which to direct check.
Click 24. Enter the amount of the check.
Click 25. Select “Front.”
Click 26. Search for and click on JPEG of check front, which you cannot access on Dropbox now that you have wonderful OS 10.11.4 — you have to find the copy you put on the desktop.
Click 27. Tell the bank yes, yes, YES THIS IS THE IMAGE YOU WANT TO UPLOAD.
Click 28. Print resulting receipt.
Click 29.  Search for and click on JPEG of check back.
Click 30. Tell the bank yes, yes, YES THIS IS THE IMAGE YOU WANT TO UPLOAD.
Click 31. Print resulting receipt.
Click 32. Back out of “Online Deposit.”
Click 33. Log out of credit union account.
Step 9. Retrieve deposit receipts from printer; staple checks to their respective receipts and file in hard-copy folders in file drawer.

So we have 33 clicks and about 9 steps to deposit one check; for half a dozen checks, that would total 54 steps and 198 clicks and some endless amount time spent in this eye-glazing venture.

How, really, does this improve our lives? What could I have been doing instead?

Round-trip to the credit union takes about 40 minutes. However: a Home Depot, a Lowe’s, and a Fry’s Electronics are directly on the way to that credit union. A Costco that serves a more upscale crowd than mine (and so has a richer choice of merchandise) is only slightly out of the way. A Michael’s, a pet store, and an OfficeMax are directly on the way home. Consider the number of errands I could have run in a round trip that would’ve included the CU.

Those errands have to be run willy-nilly, whether the checks are deposited or not. How much more efficient would it be simply to include a side trip over to the credit union as part of a Great Loop to two or three of those other destinations? How much less efficient — and less brain-banging boring — would a book of paper spreadsheets be, by way of enshrining data for posterity?

 

June 12, 2017
by funny
0 comments

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?

When your credit score isn’t where you want it to be, there are a couple of things that you can do about it. It is possible to repair bad credit, but it takes time. While there is no quick fix to repairing a damaged credit score, it is entirely possible to set up a credit management plan. Fly-by-night promises of repairing a credit score should be avoided. The best way to manage your credit is by behaving in a responsible fashion. Even before you can improve your score, it’s important to know what your credit score is.

This is your point of departure: check your credit reports at each of the three credit reporting agencies.

In the US, Federal law states that you are entitled to one free credit report from each agency per year. The three credit agencies include Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Once you know what your credit score is, you can take the necessary steps to correct it. When you have your credit report in hand, you should go through it with a fine-tooth comb to pick up on any anomalies, or inaccuracies. If you spot anything that is incorrect, report it immediately.

Making payments in a timely fashion is the first step toward repairing credit. Credit scores are calculated by adding up a number of factors. These include the percentage of available credit used (the lower the better), your payment history (consistent payments are best), the amount of new accounts you have opened up (the fewer the better), different types of credit available to you, and the length of your credit history (the longer the better).

Of all the factors that determine a credit score, your payment history is the most important. If you have a history of delinquency, start to make regular payments to avoid collections agencies from reporting you. Your FICO score will increase over time when you make regular payments. Many folks are unaware that they can contact creditors to work out more favourable repayment terms if it becomes difficult pay off a credit card. Credit counseling services will not adversely affect your credit score.

Should you open more accounts to improve your credit score or close unused accounts? When calculating credit scores, everything is done with ratios. Some people think that if you open additional lines of credit, you can increase your credit score by having a lower credit usage ratio. This could work against you. Much the same is true of closing unused lines of credit. FICO scores are carefully calculated, and intentional manipulation of ratios by opening/closing accounts will not always have the desired result.

The best way to manage debt is to pay it off. It is unwise to open multiple accounts at the same time, in the hopes of increasing your available lines of credit and boosting your credit score. Remember that the average age of your accounts will drop if you open multiple new accounts. This will cause your credit score to drop too.

Summary: Repairing Your Credit Score

Good credit scores allow you to enjoy favorable credit terms. Lenders often only consider one number when they are deciding about advancing a loan to you, and that’s your credit score. There are many advantages to a strong credit score, including lower interest rates, a high credit limit, being considered for top-paying positions, and being granted credit facilities for a mortgage or an automobile.

Since your credit score is comprised of five unique elements, it’s imperative to take the time to optimize each aspect of your credit score. You can check your credit score at any time, and it’s not much different to the credit scores that lenders will see when they run a search on you. Many banks and credit card companies offer complimentary credit reports to clients.

Banner image of the day: DepositPhotos, © ivelin

June 11, 2017
by funny
0 comments

Woman Over One-Celled Organism

 By gosh, I think I’ve got it! The savage mustard algae that had taken to covering the pool walls with moss has about given up the ghost.

The trick turns out to be a lot easier than I imagined: sweep down the walls once a day.

When I first moved into the house, I was so tickled with the pool, I did that as a matter of course. It was great fun to once again, after many years, have a pool to keep clean.

But then I got involved in the job, which entailed a 40-minute commute to lovely downtown Tempe, filling up the early morning with breakfasting, dog feeding, and grooming tasks and leaving me tired and distracted by the time I got home. And experience showed that a pool will maintain its balance and its grace just fine if you refrain from dumping in vast quantities of chlorine every time you turn around — just keep the acid level right, hold your own against the flying debris, and drop in enough chlorine tabs.

Eventually the Year of the Six Surgeries  came along. Even if I wanted to go out there and tend the pool, I couldn’t. I did hire a pool guy, but that was a joke. Cleaning and shock-treating once a week does not do the trick, especially in the summer when dirt and leaves blow into the drink every day. That was when the mustard algae took a firm hold.

However…apparently shock-treating once a week and cleaning once a day does do the trick.

Truth to tell, at the outset I was brushing the walls and floor twice a day, but after about three days, that was no longer necessary. Today there was hardly any algae in evidence, and because I was mighty busy yesterday, I missed sweeping it down at all.

At this time of year, the accursed palm trees blossom and dribble bushels of tiny, sharp-edged flowers into the drink, as well as BB-like seeds. Normally by now Gerardo would have sent his underlings over to trim all four trees and my bank account. However, his nibs has not been in evidence over the past month — I hope because he’s gone to visit his relatives in California, not because he’s trying to figure out how to get back across the Mexican border.

This stuff has, in the past, choked the pump by jamming the skimmer basket and the pump pot strainer so tight that even with that powerful little motor running, water can barely pass through them. But Algae Wars maneuvers yielded another discovery:

If you disconnect Harvey the Hayward Pool cleaner and run the pump for an hour or so, most of the blossoms that fall in over the course of the 16 hours a day that the pump is not running will get sucked into the skimmer basket. This is because they’re very lightweight and they float.

palm flowere

Eight hours is only 1/3 of 24 hours. So if you suck off 8 hours worth of floating blossoms, only about 1/3 of a day’s worth of palm-tree debris ends up in the pump pot. And…that ain’t very much!

Here, on the other hand, is how much ends up in the skimmer basket after 16 hours:

the haul

[WOW! Between the HORRID update of Apple’s already weak photo editing system and WordPress’s newest intransigencies, getting an image to upload and place it “centered” is damn near impossible!]

So the cool-of-the-early-morning routine is as follows:

a) Use the hose bonnet to schlep up any debris heavy enough to have fallen to the bottom. The pump will have pushed this stuff into a pile, making it easy to vacuum up.

b) Clean out the skimmer basket and the pump pot, depositing the collected plant debris into the composter.

c) Brush down the walls, whether or not they seem to need it.

d) Run the pump for about an hour to skim off the floating blossoms. The pump is set to run 8 hours.

e) Pull out the skimmer basket again and dump the collected floating blossoms into the composter.

f) Reconnect Harvey and let him run three or four hours, give or take.

If I remember, I go out a little later in the day and disconnect him. Otherwise, he gets disconnected in the evening, whenever I go swimming.

Swimming in the dark under a full moon is sublime!

Banner of the day: DepositPhotos, © Exsodus

June 9, 2017
by funny
2 Comments

Wake Up America!

Buy a T-shirt: Support sanity!

Over at Facebook, I suggested we need a new national bipartisan movement called “Wake Up America!” Its name could be taken as direct address (Wake Up, America!) or as a call to action (Wake Up America!) for people who are shocked and dismayed by the present goings-on. It’s getting “Likes.”

🙂

And it is time to take action. Everyone who has even the faintest sense of good will toward our country and our people must get off our duffs and start working for a better future. That does not mean a worse future where millions of people have no health insurance, where the many aftereffects of rape can make you ineligible for insurance coverage, where Americans can’t get jobs, where elected representatives work to take the “public” out of public education, where ignoramuses tell us science is “fake,” where the our leadership seeks to crush the Constitution and the Fourth Estate, where women are to be put back in their place — barefoot and pregnant, where Dodd-Frank is undone and Wall Street is invited to treat us to yet another back-breaking recession, where political appointees are explicitly exempted from ethics rules, where we have a clownish, dangerous buffoon in the White House….and on and on and freaking on.

A friend got herself chosen as a precinct committeeman (well, committeeperson, eh?) in our district. She invited me to go to the monthly meeting and see if I wanted to get active.

The shindig was in a church, in a large meeting hall. And to my astonishment, the place was packed! They said hundreds of people were flocking to volunteer support and time.

Understand: I can remember when all the liberals in Arizona could fit in one person’s living room. So that really is astonishing.

Ended up volunteering as a precinct committeeman myself.

I’m not fond of politics. When I was a young thing, I dated a man who had political ambitions. He was a sidekick of a state representative from Prescott. It was during the Goldwater presidential campaign. In California, I’d been a Goldwater Girl (believe it or not!) and an active supporter of the Republican Party, anti-Communism, isolationism, de facto racism, and every right-wing -ism you can imagine. We lived right down the road from Knott’s Berry Farm, a nexus of John Birch Society activism, and I used to go over there and buy books off their shelves.

Yet I was never so thrilled as when John Kennedy won the Democratic Presidential nomination. A bundle of contradictions, I was.

Anyway, this guy, our Handsome Hero, was deeply involved in Goldwater’s campaign. He and his mentor went to the 1964 Republican convention, and he came home with proud stories of all the “Dirty Tricks” the two of them got up to. He actually bragged about the vandalism and subterfuge they committed to prevent anyone who opposed their guys from being heard. He also told me, one evening, that part of his job was to hustle up prostitutes to entertain visiting political bigwigs while they were in town.

All that and more utterly turned me off not just the Republican Party but politics in general. It’s a dirty, often unethical game.

Right now the worst of the unethical are in power. And if we care at all about our country, we need to step up and do something about it.

I can’t do much. I don’t have billions of dollars to buy a political office. I don’t have the personality or the drive to run for office, even if I did have that kind of cash. But I figure the least I can do is get out the vote.

That may not be hard, given the number of people who showed up at that meeting on Tuesday…

Now is the time, my friends. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country.

Wake Up America!

Banner image of the day: DepositPhotos, © nmcandre

June 7, 2017
by funny
6 Comments

Hotter than a two-dollar cookstove…

With inflation, make that a three-dollar cookstove. Wow!

That was my father’s saying. Think it derives from “Hotter than a two-dollar pistol,” though the “sayin'” waayyy predates George Jones. 😀

’Tis about 98 here now — around 7 p.m. But I’d guess the thermometer went north of 105 sometime today.

 The Midwesterner immigrants have a hard time with this. They just don’t get it. That’s why, I expect, so many of them migrate back to Michigan along about the end of March. Some of them, though, foolishly take up residence here.

One of them, the poor dolt, tossed a hair spray can into a black plastic garbage bin, a bin that spent its days a-sittin’ in the full sun. Bet you can picture the result, can’tcha?

Yes. The can exploded, as spray cans left in an oven are wont to do. It blasted a hole in the trash bin’s lid and launched itself toward orbit.

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Okay, okay, it’s not funny.

Heeeeee!

Yes, yes it is.

The pool is holding its own against the Invasion of the Algae King. I’ve been sweeping it down twice a day, which isn’t as annoying as it sounds because it creates an excuse to jump into the drink. And it provides some mild exercise, which — believe me! — is hard to force on oneself in an Arizona summer.

Otherwise, I’ve spent most of the day — after a frustrating junket to Costco and Target around noontime — dealing with the font corruption fiasco brought on by the endlessly annoying Mac OS upgrade. Having finally concluded that the only solution would be to reformat any books in the production process with a font resident in Mac OS 10, I spent most of what passes for my productive time rebuilding the book in progress in Big Caslon 11 pts.

Like the endless pool cleaning, this, too, is easier than it sounds. Fortunately the entire document is formatted in Word “styles.” The beauty of this is that when you reformat any part of one type of copy, you reformat it all. Change one paragraph of body copy from Alegreya 11 pt roman to Big Caslon, and every graf that is not a first paragraph, not hanging indent, not a footnote, not indented block, not a cutline, not a running header or footer and PRESTO CHANGEO all the body copy changes to Big Caslon 11 points.

Big Caslon is so close in size and kerning to Alegreya that the entire book came over without changing the pagination! The author’s note appears, yea verily, on page 432, same as it did in Alegreya. The index: p. 423; opening page of the last chapter, p. 407.

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!

The heads and subheads were less accommodating. Those required some screwing around. But the serious screwing around was elicited by Big Caslon’s answer to boldface. For reasons incomprehensible, this font’s boldface is weirdly airy: the characters are spread out like somebody dropped the letters on the floor and they scattered across the tile. To fix: one, two, three, four, five, six seven, eight, NINE keystrokes for every goddamn word or passage set in boldface!!!!!!!

And since I used B.F. for all sorts of little sub-sub-subfuckingheads and stylistic cutenesses, that was a LOT of goddamn words and passages. So to my profound undelight, I spent most of the day highlighting and clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking and… Tomorrow I’ll have to go over the entire damn thing and proof it carefully.

But I did find two typos…a friend of mine, the dean of scholarly editing, once remarked on the fact that every time you read a book, you find something else wrong with it.

Oh well.

At any rate, I have more news but just now am too tired to relate it. So..tomorrow.

Watch this space!

Header image of the day: Depositphotos, © tomwang.jpg