Funny about Money

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

December 7, 2017
by funny
2 Comments

Arise, Costco Customers of the World!

Welp, we apparently can’t do much about the mess in Washington. But… we can make an impression on even the most mega of megastores. To wit: if enough customers complain, eventually management will get the message. Like, say, the management of Costco.

This will require a LOT of people to complain about an issue, and to do so regularly and vociferously.

What is the issue? Consumer-proof packaging. We Costco customers, as a group, need to complain long and loud about the layers and layers of landfill-jamming plastic and the hard plastic-and-cardboard clamshells that cannot be opened without a stick of dynamite. Not only is this stuff a nuisance, it’s a vast menace to the environment. None of this armor, with the possible exception of the sheets of advertising cardboard (which are permeated with toxic inks) is biodegradable. A million years hence, archeologists from the next species to inherit the earth will find geologic layers of this crap buried in the earth, in exactly the form in which we deposited it. And most of it is utterly unnecessary.

If Amazon can make its vendors present their products in packaging that the buyer can get into easily, Costco surely can do the same. There’s just no excuse for a person to have to use a wrench and an Exacto Knife to get into a stupid package. And today…jeez.

Yesterday I bought a pair of bottles of Costco hand lotion, the kind that comes in a bottle with a pump top. Tried to open the pump top on the first one, after having wrestled with the obnoxious environmentally nasty plastic shrink wrap that holds the two bottles together. No luck. When you try to unscrew it the way other such tops work, it does nothing but spin the entire inside assembly. The pump will not come open to work. Got a wrench to hold the inside assembly steady whilst trying to manipulate the handle. No luck.

Why? Really, what IS their excuse for selling products that are unusable because their packaging can’t be opened? Now I have to drag this stuff back to Costco, and I guess I’ll have to order something from Amazon or traipse to Walmart to find a replacement. Like I HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO WITH MY TIME!

Costco has no chat line, nor is it possible to find an email address. They force you to call one of a myriad 800 numbers to try to get through to a human: a vast time waster that will send you climbing around a phone tree like the monkey they apparently think you are. One customer remarked this morning that reaching them by phone entails a 47-minute wait!

However…you can reach them at their Facebook page. Here, they try to discourage people from commenting — especially from posting complaints. So what you do is scroll down past the “status” line where they invite you to post a comment (but then will not accept it) to one of Costco’s advertising/customer rah-rah posts.

Every time you have to do battle with their consumer-proof packaging, go to their Facebook page and post a complaint!

If you go there right this minute, BTW (9 a.m. Thursday, December 7 — ah! the Day of Infamy!), you will find customers posting that the Costco website — the one where you order things online — has been compromised. Says one correspondent:

I think your website might be compromised. I was going to order something today, and someone else’s credit card info, name, shipping address and membership number popped up. I can’t email you with a screenshot of Neil Gallagher’s info and your FB won’t let me share it with you. I can’t even post it directly on your page, so I hope you see it here. If you do have a membership with Neil who lives in Lovelock, NV and has a member number ending in 517, you might need to check to see if your website has been hacked.

Several other Costco members posted the same. Just a few minutes ago Costco disabled access to its customer sign-in. So: if you’ve ever ordered anything from Costco online, keep an eye on your credit card statements…now and evermore.

Postscript: A Costco clerk figured out, with some difficulty, how to get the darned lotion pump gadgets open and managed to get BOTH of them working. Twasn’t easy, but she did it.

December 5, 2017
by funny
4 Comments

Gray (Busy) Day at the Funny Farm

Yipes!

Continuing overcast, still, and smoggy here in lovely uptown Phoenix, but this morning was more darkly overcast than usual. At 8 a.m., when the hounds finally pushed me out of the sack, I thought it was the usual reveille hour of 6:30 or 7:00. Oh, well.

Just finished polishing a short essay that came in from a new client, a senior scholar of Korean communication studies and an extremely interesting gentleman. I have no idea how he found me, but I sincerely hope to stay found.

So this is a bright spot on the horizon.

A thousand bucks is supposedly forthcoming from another client. Certainly hope it shows up soon, since the dollars are flying out the doors and windows here.

This afternoon I have to visit the dentist for what I am almost certain will be another root canal and another crown. Since I don’t have $1,000 or $1,200 bucks laying around in the “personal” funds, the S-corporation will have to pay me another thousand bucks of taxable “salary” to cover that little nightmare. I think I can front the money this month, though, and then pay myself in January, pushing that taxable event forward into 2018.

Whether this will be a good thing or not, I do not know, given the hash the crooks in Washington are making of the tax system. Probably not, since nothing the bastards are doing is what you could reasonably call “good” for the man or woman on Main Street. But WhatEVER: unless I go out and get a housecleaning job, I’ll have no other source of income until next September…for that matter, I rather doubt the required minimum drawdown I made last September will last that long, especially since, presumably, no tax refund will be forthcoming in 2018. Indeed, my federal taxes presumably will be significantly higher than they were this year, which will create a bit of a hardship.

On Facebook, we’re told that business expenses will no longer be deductible for independent contractors. EDIT: THIS IS WRONG! SEE THE COMMENT BELOW FROM MAREZYDOATS AND THE FACTCHECK AT SNOPES! dang…here i thought i was so smart…) However, the squib in question doesn’t say how that applies to small — we might say “microscopic” — businesses organized as S-corps. The Copyeditor’s Desk has been an S-corp ever since its lawyer, my XDH, realized that incorporating would avoid having editorial income reduce the piddling amount of Social Security I was forced to take early because of the Great Recession. It looks possible that, thanks to the Trumpeters’ astonishing greed, even my ultra-dinky little business will be advantaged under the rapacious new law. In other words, even though the law is designed to benefit the One Percenters, you don’t actually have to be a high earner to benefit if your business is organized as an S-corp. What’s sauce for the fattened gander is sauce for the scrawny little gosling….

Well. We shall soon see. Because CE Desk has no shareholders and does not issue dividends, the gouge on those distributions will never materialize. Payments to me as salary, of course, will be subject to withholding, but because I tend to lend the corporation funds either on purpose or by accident (for example, when I have to buy something from Costco & can’t put it on the corporate AMEX card, or when I accidentally charge business expenses on the personal AMEX card), some part of drawdown can be carried as repayment of loans. At least for the time being.

Postscript

Ah hah!!! See this revelation on the tax law and the self-employed:

https://www.snopes.com/tax-bill-small-business-deductions/

Many thanks to Marezydoats!

 

December 1, 2017
by funny
3 Comments

Duck & Cover?

So the Koreans have the bomb. And they hope to drop it on D.C. Interesting.

We have sick men in charge of two nuclear powers: Korea and the U.S. What does that mean for you ’n’ me?

Not very much, probably, other than that we’d better stock in several Costco-size rolls of heavy-duty tinfoil, the better to line our cowboy hats.

As a practical matter, even if a Korean missile does manage to get through America’s defense system — which is far from infallible — it would not wipe out all life in the city it struck. Go on over to Nukemap, enter your city and, under “yield,” select the most recent year for a bomb tested by North Korea. While a hit on an American city would not be good for its residents, nevertheless most American cities would not be wiped from the map. Far from it. Because of the vast sprawl characteristic of US cities, large parts of any metropolitan area would remain standing and inhabitable, particularly if residents had already taken some precautions or knew what to do in the event of a strike.

In Phoenix, for example, if a bomb the size of those available to North Korea hit at Central Avenue and Van Buren (conventionally regarded as the city’s central point, even though demographically it is not), the fireball would level most but not all of downtown. It would not extend as far north as Fillmore or as far south as Washington (these are within walking distance of each other). To the west, it would not quite reach First Avenue, but it would probably reach east to Second Street.

The radiation radius — the area in which you would receive a dose of radiation strong enough to kill you if you did not get medical treatment fairly soon — would extend north to the I-10 freeway and south to Lincoln: again: these borders are within walking distance of each other and certainly within walking distance of the theoretical detonation site.

The thermal radius — in which unprotected people would sustain third-degree burns — would go north to McDowell, south almost to Buckeye, not quite to 15th Avenue on the west, and over to 12th Street on the east.

The air blast radius — where buildings would collapse from the force of the blast — is .06 mile (1.53 km.)

This is not a very large area. Damage to the city’s small downtown would be catastrophic. Obviously, damage to closer-in central areas beyond the downtown district would be substantial. However, throughout most of the Valley, structures would remain standing. People who were indoors would be stunned, possibly injured by stuff flying around and windows breaking, but they would not be killed outright. Nor would they be in much danger of dying soon. People in the suburbs — the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area is larger than Los Angeles — could be unharmed. Even people within the city itself, which extends a VERY long way in all directions from Central and Van Buren, would be able to seek shelter and could, if adequately supplied, survive until help arrived from the outside.

This of course presumes a) that the Koreans would aim for the heart of the city and b) that their aim was accurate. Neither of those is reasonable. More likely they’d try to hit Luke Air Force Base, which is on the far west side of the Valley, almost to the mountain range bordering the western edge of the developed area. This would disable any jet fighters that were still on the ground (which is to say, all it would do is blow up the runway) and kill a lot of suburbanites. But otherwise, it would come nowhere near exterminating the population of Maricopa County. Or taking out the US Air Force.

The chance that they would hit their bull’s-eye is probably also slim. So for an individual who happened to be in the Valley when the Koreans decided to blow us up, what it means is…it depends. One’s survival would (as always, day in and day out…) depend on the luck of the draw.

But the larger portion of the population would survive, and a substantial number of those survivors would be relatively unscathed. So, we’re left with the question of how does one think about this?

What does one consider, as a practical matter and without lining one’s cowboy hat with tinfoil (which would be very hot in the summer), in terms of preparation? What should one have around the house to tide one over the initial period of chaos and danger?

First, if you live in a large city, you would have to assume that you would need to shelter in place for a long time. Getting out of the city could be impossible, with highways damaged and aggressive, panicked residents swarming what few roads remained open. Trying to drive out could be more dangerous than remaining in your home, school, or office building.

Thus it might be good to have some sheets of plywood or other product that could be used to cover broken windows — you can bet the glass would blow out if you were anywhere near the detonation. Duct tape to seal around the plywood would be useful, too.

Then you will have to figure out how to stay alive for a week or more, in the absence of electricity, natural gas, and police.

This will require the obvious prepper gear:

Carboys of water (very cheap to acquire: just remember to pour your water onto your garden every week or so and replace it with clean tap water)
Several weeks’ worth of food that can be preserved without refrigeration (dried or canned)
An ample supply of food for your animals
Propane fuel and devices that operate on it.
A battery-operated radio and stash of batteries to keep it running
A substantial first-aid kit
Whatever medications you take
A camp lantern and batteries or propane to operate it
A small propane-operated camp stove (you may not be able to go outdoors to cook on a propane grill; a one-burner stove can be used safely for a limited period indoors, though it’s not something you’d want running for any length of time)
Cash money
Items that can be bartered, such as cigarettes, alcohol, grass, baby food, diapers, feminine supplies
A weapon and stash of ammunition
Extra gasoline for your vehicle

Leaving the city would be highly problematic. First, there’s the question of whether your vehicle would run at all. Some people imagine that all recent models of cars and trucks will be rendered nonfunctional by the EMP (a nuclear bomb releases an “electro-magnetic pulse” that can disable electronic gear and shut down an electric grid system). This, it develops, ain’t necessarily so. Your car might display some nuisance malfunctions but probably would run. The bigger problems would be getting out on gridlocked urban freeways and surface roads, and obtaining enough gasoline to drive to safety a long distance from a metropolitan area.

And, for that matter, finding safety. I’m old enough to remember those air raid sirens and bomb drills in San Francisco — we had a siren on top of our building, which went off every Saturday at noon. 😀 That’ll lift you out of your chair!

Back in the day, the city of Whittier, which stood astride what was then the main highway out of Southern California, announced that it would not allow itself to be overrun by hordes of unwashed Los Angelenos. To prevent that, they would block the road and man it with armed men. Anyone trying to get past the roadblocks would be shot and killed. And they weren’t kidding.

People do not act nobly during a disaster. You may be safer to remain in place.

But if you must take to the road, you will have to assume that you’re not going to be bedding down in some resort thrown open by the friendly proprietors. This means you will need a full set of camping gear, and it will need to be stored in such a way as to be ready to go on short notice. That is, you can’t be running around the house, the garage, and the attic to assemble your “go” package. So, you will need all of the above plus your “go” box of important papers, such as your birth certificate, passport, insurance policies, evidence of humans’ and pets’ immunizations, car registration, and the like. And cash.

I figure you’ll need, at a minimum, the following:

Hard-copy maps of your area, your state, and surrounding states (assume your cell phone will not work)
Prevailing winds map (download and print that now, not later)
Compass
Cell phone charger that operates off your car battery, just in case you find a place where cell service is intact
First aid kit (make your own; most of the ones you buy are inadequate; remember to include a supply of your prescriptions)
Fire starter, butane
Matches
Camp light
Flashlight (one of those small lights you wear on your head can be handy)
Light sticks
Battery-operated radio
Extra batteries for lights and radio
Pocket knife (one per adult or near-adult would be ideal)
Multi-tool
Hunting knife
Camp shovel
Duct tape
Rope
String
Zip ties
Scissors
Wrench/pliers
Screwdriver
Carabiners
Bungee cords
Water filter
Backup water treatment (i.e., iodine pills or Clorox)
Camp stove
Camp cookset (large lightweight aluminum stewpot, at least one nonstick skillet, probably a few other small pots & pans)
Camping dishes, eating utensils, and Sierra cups for each person
Pet dishes and water bowls
Dish detergent (can be used as shampoo)
Scrub brush
Bag(s) for waste
Box of Ziplock bags
Clothing for each person, including T-shirt, underwear, quick-dry pants or shorts, long-sleeved shirt, rain jacket or poncho, hat, bandanna, socks(!), jacket & warm pants,
Hiking boots
Hiking sandals
Toilet paper
Hand sanitizer wipes
Bug repellent
Toothbrush
Toiletry kit with small metal mirror
Soap
Towels (one per person, plus one for the camp “kitchen”)
Shampoo if you’re too picky to use dish detergent on your hair
For dogs: leashes; collars with tags
Camp food (dry packaged meals, canned goods)
Can opener
Churchkey
Pet food
Tent (if you’re not sleeping in your vehicle), ground cloth, stakes
Sleeping bag
Camper’s hammock
Dog leashes and collars with ID
Day pack
Backpack
Gun and ammunition

Commercially available first-aid kits are questionable. Better than nothing, but not good enough (look up the customer reviews on Amazon). You probably are better off to get a large workman’s lunch box or small briefcase and assemble your own. At a bare minimum, you’ll need this stuff:

Antiseptic
Antibiotic ointment
Antiseptic cleanser such as Hibiclens
Bug bite stuff (cortisone or, more effective, Itch-X gel)
Rash cream
Contact lens supplies
Spare pair of glasses
Spare pairs of contact lenses
Painkiller
Allergy pills
Gauze
Sterile dressings
Bandage tape
Bandaids
Elastic tape (the self-sticking type is best)
Splint
Tweezers
Scissors
Thermometer
Face mask
Thermal blanket or poncho
Body warmer
Light sticks
Disposable gloves
Waste bags
Towelettes
Saline solution for contact lenses, which can be used to wash out eyes
Your prescriptions
Any drugs your pets might need

See what I mean about not wanting to rustle up this stuff at the last minute? Gather the loot and keep it in a plastic bin, a backpack, or suitcase, so that you can grab it, throw it in the car, and get out fast.

Assuming the getting’s good…

 

November 29, 2017
by funny
0 comments

Cats, Rats, Snakes, and Coyotes

What a lot of critter terror has been going on here in the ’hood! Or rather, at large: it’s all over the Valley.

A Facebook friend found this little guy inside her house:

She asked if it was a rattlesnake, or…what?

A great flap ensued:

FB Friend 1: Not in your house, I hope!
FB Friend 2: A scary looking snake!
FB Friend 3: Not to freak you out, [Friend], but I’m 80% sure that’s a snake.
OP: Yes. In my house. Some sort of rattlesnake, I think. It ‘had’ a triangular head and fangs. Very menacing attitude. I chased him out the front door. Having terrible aim, it now rests in peace in several pieces in the courtyard flower bed.
FB Friend 4: The shape of the head is a triangle so I’m glad he’s gone!
FB Friend 5: OMG! I would be in my car with doors locked, calling 911.
FB Friend 1: I am happy to know he is now in pieces.
FB Friend 6: May he rest in pieces.
FB friend 7: It’s a snake! ahhhhh!!
FB Friend 8: Got inside the house, did he? Are you sure it had rattles? Snakes by their nature have fangs, much as humans have molars and eye teeth.
FB Friend 9: Oh, no, [Friend]!!!! Do you leave your doors open?
FB Friend 10: I would guess a rattlesnake.
FB Friend 11: I hope it doesn’t have friends.
FB Friend 12: WonderWoman! Now I know who to call when I am in danger!
FB Friend 13: Way to go Annie Oakley!!!!
FB Friend 14: That’s scary.
FB Friend 15: Omg. Do we like snakes. Egads.
FB Friend 16: WHAT???? Why is it that I didn’t know about this? You are amazing.
OP: Turns out it was a gopher snake. A very aggressive gopher snake. I take no snake prisoners.

Yeah. All that hysteria over one harmless gopher snake. And, we might add, because of the hysteria, one fewer gopher snake to clear the OP’s property of gophers, moles, and roof rats.

It’s interesting that humans seem to be instinctively afraid of snakes, isn’t it? There have been some studies that suggest this discomfort is innate. Too bad…the critter was called a “gopher snake” for a reason: it eats gophers and other rodents. Around here, “other rodents” include roof rats, which are taking over the city. And given the disease rats carry, the damage they do to your home and vehicles, and the cost and poisonous risk of exterminating them, any day I’d druther have a gopher snake around than those critters.

So what is the appropriate response to a snake in your house?

Nothing. Leave it alone. Open the door so it can get out, and it will go out. Do not go get a shovel and chop it up into pieces. That is just plain hysterical, and — apologies to OP and her hysterical friends — stupid.

If it had been a rattlesnake, messing with it would have been stupid: she risked being bitten. It having been a gopher snake, killing it was stupid. She now can deal with gophers excavating her garden and rats cavorting in the attic all by her little self.

Friends of mine who were much more acclimated to the desert lived in an expensive house that backed onto a dry wash in Scottsdale. The wash was more or less natural desert habitat, as much as could be said in an area that had been largely bladed and built up with human habitations. Javelina and coyotes would trot up and down this little thoroughfare all the time. One day man and wife walked out into the garage and found a large, healthy rattlesnake loafing there.

They left it alone.

Couple hours later, it was gone. It never came back. They stopped leaving the garage door open so that it could get in and checked weatherstripping around all the exterior doors to be sure no room was left along the sills for a very slender guest to slip through.

Snakes don’t want to be in your house any more than you want them in your house. Sometimes they will err and find themselves where they do not want to be. When they realize their mistake, they’ll leave.

What is the appropriate response to snakes living outdoors near where some developer has ripped up the desert and built your house?

Well, the best response would have been for you and your neighbors not to have bought the houses in the first place, thereby discouraging greedy developers from ripping up the desert. But since what’s done is done… The next-best response is to encourage raptors such as hawks and large owls to nest and hunt in the neighborhood. A hawk, an eagle, or an owl can and will kill a snake. Pleased to do the job for you, ma’am, and no, there’ll be no fee for that. Well, except I’d kind of like to have that cat of yours for dessert! 😉 Keep your kittycat indoors.

Meanwhile, a like degree of hysteria is going on at NextDoor, the social networking platform for neighbors. Hereabouts, my friends and neighbors are working themselves into a tizzy because a few people have (belatedly…very belatedly) noticed that ohhh eeeeeek!!!! Coyotes live here!

People let their cats run loose around the neighborhood and then are dismayed when they’re “disappeared” by the local wildlife. Others are horrified because some people like to fill their yards with rather feral vegetation. {sigh} If you want every yard to look like a Dutch tulip garden, unfortunately you’ll have to move into an HOA.

Neighbor 1: Two houses east of FancyDan Lane and Lesser Feeder Street NS, grouses one neighbor, the house behind ours, north of us, is a double deep lot that faces Lesser Feeder. The coyotes are bedding down at night along the backside of our fence on the neighbors property in their bushes. I too have two small dogs and am concerned. I have thought about scaring them off with a b.b. gun. We are relatively new to AZ so don’t know what the laws say regarding what we can and can’t do?

Neighbor 2: If you have neighbors allowing rats, feral cats, coyotes to “bed down” and thrive, then wouldn’t you take that up with the neighbors? I saw one head into an overgrown yard on Lawrence and 11th. It simply disappeared. A coyote. Not a neighbor. BTW that yard has been that way for over 50 years. Coyote problem for much less than that.

Crabby Old Desert Rat: @Neighbor 2: Common sense, alas, does not prevail in real life. You can take up the stray cat problem with your kitty-loving neighbors until you’re blue in the face, but they will not stop letting their cats run loose to predate on the birds and to make a mess out of your yard. You can ask your neighbor to clean up the jungle in his yard — good luck with that! You can beg your neighbors to PLEASE not leave cat food and dog food out in their yards and their driveways…har har!!! Even in a homeowner’s association, many of these common-sense suggestions fail to win out — one of my best friends lives in a lovely HOA and has had problems with the neighbor’s hordes of stray cats for years. Letting your animals run loose violates that HOA’s rules, but the HOA refuses to do anything about it, and in fact, the cat lovers banded together to take over the board so they could insure they would be able to let their cats run around everyone else’s yards.

And how does anyone “allow” rats to move in? This is not an “allow” thing. The rats are here thanks to global trading — they came in on the produce we import — and they ain’t a-goin’ away anytime soon. Hence: another common sense suggestion. LEAVE THE COYOTES ALONE. They will take care of the vermin, of which we have altogether too much these days. Folks who do not consider cats to be vermin eventually will learn to keep them indoors. Those who care about their small dogs will not leave them in the backyard to yap or let them run around the park and the streets off-leash. Frankly, I’d rather have the coyotes than the vermin and the pets allowed to become pests. 😉

November 28, 2017
by funny
0 comments

Why Consumers Are Favouring the iPhone7 over the iPhone 8

According to Reuters, the value of shares in Apple has been falling since October 19th because of weak demand for the iPhone 8, since its release on September 22nd. A survey of wireless carrier stores in the U.S. and Canada demonstrated that users prefer to buy older iPhone 7 models, rather than the recently launched iPhone 8, while others are waiting for the new iPhone X to be released in November.

It’s not uncommon for Apple fans to wait many hours in line to get their hands on the latest version of their favourite phone. However, all available data seems to show that the iPhone 8 hasn’t been particularly popular, compared with figures for other newly released iPhones over the years.

One advantage of the iPhone 7 over the iPhone 8 is its price. The iPhone 7 is much cheaper. Most customers fail to see the benefits of the iPhone 8’s enhancements that would justify spending about $150 more. Unlike the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 has a new bionic chip and a glass back designed for wireless charging, among other new features.

The slow uptake of the new iPhone could also be due to less aggressive marketing and advertising ahead of its release, compared to the blaze of publicity for the iPhone 7. However, Apple sales – and its stock price – should get a major shot in the arm when the iPhone X, the company’s most advanced and expensive device ever, finally hits the stores.

Apple stock reached its highest level of $164 in early September, but has been declining ever since, falling as low as $150. From 2007 onwards, when the company launched its first smartphone, Apple’s fortunes have been tied to the iPhone. Previously, its main sources of income had been its computers and iPods. Apple now needs to deliver superior innovation and fresh products – not just new iPhones – to provide compelling reasons for investors to keep buying its stock.

Nevertheless, as a trader, Apple is always a good stock to have in your portfolio, due to the company’s large cash reserves and strong earnings growth. Whether you are bullish or bearish on this key stock, you can use online brokers and be a stock trader thanks to leading platforms such as UFX, which enable millions to take advantage of the price movements of many of the world’s most popular assets.

November 28, 2017
by funny
8 Comments

Ironing weirdness, Costco, and $$$$

Good grief…i think i just saved myself a nice little wad of cash by NOT (i hope) buying a new iron. Maybe.

So last night I’m pressing the Costco Blue Jeans Collection when I notice this faint, tingly bzzzzzzt sensation as my fingers rub lightly against the inside of the iron’s handle.

Hmmm…WTF is that? Feels like ’lectricity…

Dork around a bit, test this, test that, thinking it’s gotta be my imagination.

No. Apparently not. Unplug the iron: no bzzzzt sensation.

So I figure the beloved Shark iron, which I’ve had so long the paint has rubbed off parts of the handle, is giving up the ghost and wants to take me along when it moves on to the Next World. Decide I’ll either order another one from Amazon in the morning or run up to the Target, which is where this one came from.

Examine the offerings at Amazon.

Holy shit! Have you looked at the price of irons lately? Check this thing out ! What do they think it’s made of? A hundred and twelve bucks, marked down from TWO HUNDRED BUCKS, for a freaking steam iron?

I had a Rowenta at one point, back in the day when I had a job and could afford to spend too much on stuff like this. They are very expensive irons, and they’re not worth the extra money. On mine, the cord attached at a strange angle so that you could not set it down on its heel on the ironing board while you adjusted the position of the rag you were pressing. From the looks of this one, it appears they haven’t fixed that design flaw.

Replaced it with a Sunbeam, which was cheap and functioned like a two-dollar cookstove: it got so damn hot I couldn’t hold onto the handle. Out with that.

Had a Black & Decker at one point. Don’t recall what was wrong with that, but I didn’t like it, either. I think it crapped out early on.

Then I got a Shark, and I’ve really loved it. It gets hot quickly, it steams efficiently, it does the job, it does not singe your hands. The only complaint I have is the God DAMNED automatic shut-off, which turns the thing off every time you leave the room to go to the toilet or pour yourself a cup of coffee. That, however, is apparently Big Brother’s doing, not the manufacturer’s.

But evidently the quality of Shark steam irons has collapsed. Even the ones with five stars at Amazon are roundly hated by upwards of 25% of buyers. So…that is not a good thing.

Tried to track down irons made in the USA. Couldn’t find a trace of ary a one. Searched for irons made in Germany: yeah, Rowenta. Moving on.

The only iron available at Costco goes for an astonishing $130. For an iron????? What do they think it’s made of?

That’s cheaper than the identical model at Amazon, where it goes for an eye-opening $150.

Apparently all affordable irons — by that we mean those in the $30 to $50 range — are now made in China. Thank you very much, honored leaders and globalization enthusiasts.

So I figured I’d drive up to the Fry’s market on the fringe of Richistan, whose offerings in the small household appliance dept rival or exceed Target’s and whose location does not require me to dodge bums and purse-snatchers between the car and the entrance.

{cringe!}

I do not want to go out. I’ve got a lot of other things to do today. The prospect of driving across the city is never pleasurable, and having to put a lot of other chores in abeyance to run out and shop for a steam iron is…well…UGH.

So before getting washed up to go charging out into the traffic, I decided to plug that iron into a different outlet. Could it be possible that the issue had something to do with the power strip? (Not bloody likely…but I’ve got nothin’ better to do…) Schlep into the bathroom, stick its plug into an outlet, and turn it to Blowtorch.

Hm. No bzzzt effect.

But it has no water in its tank.

Pour in a cupful of water. Turn it back on to Blowtorch.

Nothing. No indication whatsoever that the thing is getting ready to electrocute me.

So. I don’t know what caused that. The jeans I was pressing were sopping wet — fresh out of the washer. Some time back, I learned you can iron jeans while they’re soaking wet, hang them up damp, and have them come out looking the same as if you waited until they were dry to iron them. Maybe ironing soaking wet fabric with an electric appliance is ill-advised?

WhatEVER. I’ll try ironing the other three pair of (dry) jeans that await my attention, and if the thing doesn’t threaten to electrocute me, it goes back into its accustomed place in the linen closet. Thank goodness.

Can you believe that price on the only iron available at Costco?

Lately, I’ve found myself patronizing Costco a great deal less than normal. And I’ve also found that I seem to be spending a lot less than I usually do during the course of a month.

True, the refrigerator is pretty much bare (makes it easier to clean the thing…). But I’m not out of food: there’s plenty of meat, fish, chicken, and veggies to sustain me and the pooches.

The problem with Costco is that it’s Impulse Buy Hell. No matter how determined I am to stick to a shopping list, I can not get out of that place without buying something I hadn’t planned on buying. And that ratchets up the spending fast.

Without benefit of Costco, I’ve only charged up $243 on the Visa card; only $640 on AMEX.

Before Costco dumped AMEX, about $1200 was typical. So the Visa bill is showing, effectively, nothing but Costco charges. The only non-Costco charge this month was a bag of expensive organic zooom-bah dog food. So that’s a total of $880 in household shopping costs for November. So…about $400 less than usual. Hmmm…

So I think it’s a good idea to restrict trips to Costco: go there to buy only those things you can’t easily get somewhere else.

  1. The lifetime supplies of paper goods are beyond convenient.
  2. The bags of pecans: you can’t get fresher pecans this side of the tree itself.
  3. The incredibly cheap boned chicken legs, with which to make dog food.
  4. The pricey but outrageously convenient bags of frozen fish steaks.
  5. The bottomless bag of chocolate chips.
  6. The giant bag of mixed veggies, with which to make dog food.
  7. The flats of apples, priced within reason.
  8. The boxes of berries.
  9. And of course, the Costco jeans!

When you come right down to it, though…that ain’t much. Just about everything else can be purchased in regular grocery stores.

Problem with the lifetime supplies is that by definition, one such purchase should last you for a long, long time. But you find yourself buying lifetime supplies every time you go into the place. And if you go in there four times during a month, as I did in October, then you buy enough stuff to last four lifetimes.