Funny about Money

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

March 17, 2017
by funny
21 Comments

Why Do Americans Have Such a Hard Time Living within Their Means?

Some of the answers to that one are obvious:

  • The best cities in America are bloody expensive to live in.
  • We eat out all the time, which costs about four times as much as cooking your own.
  • Pay does not keep up with inflation.
  • The cost of a car has gone through the roof.
  • Insurance–especially health insurance, but other varieties, too–has become obscenely expensive.
  • Owning a pet became an expensive obsession as pet food manufacturers, veterinarians, trainers, and a host of others in the “pet industry” realized that pet lovers are the biggest cash cow ever to come their way.
  • Entertainment is through the roof: to go to a baseball game, you need to take out a bank loan.

You no doubt can come up with others. But I’d suggest something more subtle is going on. To wit:

We are being nickeled and dimed toward penury with the repeating costs of subscriptions, gadgets, doodads, and hoodoos. Half of Americans live beyond their means, and many don’t even know it. The most effective and possibly the most profitable way to extract money from consumers is to lock them into a monthly payment. And so much the better if you can persuade them to auto-pay those charges on a credit card.

Resisting this trend is well-nigh impossible, because so much of what undergirds a 21st-century lifestyle is paid for on a monthly basis.

Consider:

  • You pretty much need a wireless connection to live in our current culture. I pay $90 a month for the privilege of using the Internet.
  • You need a phone. Still resisting the $50-$150/month cost of a smartphone, I pay a measly $30 ($15 plus that much again in alleged taxes and fees) a month for a land line. But that can’t continue much longer…sooner or later I’m going to be forced to give up and buy into a smartphone plan.
  • You need health insurance. God only knows what that costs younger people. I pay about $230 a month, give or take, for Medicare, Medigap, and Part D.
  • You need transportation. That’ll be $380 a month for a late-model second-hand car.
  • You need car insurance. You need homeowner’s insurance. If you’re not crazy, you have umbrella insurance. If you are crazy, you have health insurance for your dog or cat.
  • And then you have the various monthly dings: electric, gas, water, sewer, trash pickup, and on and on.
  • And the annual gouges: property taxes, state income taxes, federal income taxes, and in some parts of the country even city income taxes.

Have you noticed that of late the pressure to sign up for repeating charges has escalated? For example, if you get your news on the Net, as I do, about a third of your sources are now stashing content behind paywalls. A few, like the Washington Post, will let you read an article if you linked to it from Google, but you get only ONE article. Wanna read something else, you have to pay for it. Others will let you read a limited number of articles per month — three, say, or maybe even ten — and then demand that you sign up for a paid subscription.

For the Post, that’s $195 a year — $16.25 a month, or $4 a month if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. But to get that bargain rate, you have to pay Amazon another $100 a year for its “Prime” come-on. For the Times, it’s $1.88 a week (bare minimum), or $7.52 a month or $97.76 a year.

When people demand my cell phone number these days, I now just frankly say outright, “Sorry, but I can’t afford a cell phone.” That’s more polite, I suppose, than announcing “I wouldn’t give out a cell phone number on a bet,” but it still takes people aback.

Fifty or a hundred bucks a month sounds like small change. But think about it: if  your monthly income is pretty much fully dedicated to buying gasoline, a car, lodging, food, clothing, utilities, insurance, and other necessaries, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Small change adds up…

Let’s suppose, for example, that I decide to pay for the Washington Post and the New York Times, both of which are publications of record and pretty much indispensable for anyone who wants to keep up with non-fake news. I keep the New York Review of Books and The Economist, both of which keep me amused and informed in the absence of cable television, movie-going, and very much restaurant-going. I add Forbes — in reality, I would write that off through the business because it would provide a lot of fodder for the profit-making blogsite that you’re reading as we scribble. But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine I run it through my personal books instead. And let us assume I decide to join the herd and sign up for a smartphone. And let’s also imagine I get suckered into buying pet insurance — not a realistic assumption about yours truly, but one that applies to a large number of otherwise sensible pet owners.

None of these costs, at first glance, appears to be very much. However:

This figure is exactly the amount of my entire Social Security check! And it doesn’t even count utilities and gasoline.

Obviously, to stay within my budget I cannot have all these things. To have item a, I have to give up item b. So, I can’t read say, both the NYRofB and the Washington Post. I can’t have Amazon Prime and Costco. I can’t have Netflix and Amazon Prime.

As a practical matter, I don’t have Netflix…but I’d like to re-up to Netflix because its choices are better. To get Netflix, I’ll have to drop Amazon Prime, which will mean a lot less shopping on Amazon, because it’s cheaper for me to buy stuff locally than to pay the same or more on Amazon and cover shipping.

These little monthly dings look so piddling that many people don’t realize the little stuff is the reason they can’t stay on budget.

So…what would you give up to get a Smartphone?

March 16, 2017
by funny
1 Comment

Nesting and De-Nesting

So when Linda pointed out that it’s possible to disconnect the Nest gadget from Google’s spy network…uhm, wireless service, I trotted direct to the Nest’s web page to find out how to do that.

Well, on the page she references, they say it’s possible but decline to explain how. Searches of their site with every set of terms you can possibly dream up yield no result.

But there’s a phone number, a chat line, and an e-mail contact — very un-Googley. I’m going to try to reach them by phone this morning and see if they’ll help me get the thing disconnected from the Web. If so, it will save some money: the AC guys are slated to come over on Monday morning to replace the thing with a clunky box-shaped thermostat.

They claim the Honeywell round ones have been discontinued. Oddly, they’re ALL OVER Amazon. So if I can’t get Nest to disconnect me, then I’ll try to get the AC guy to tell me which model to order from Amazon and then put off his installer until I can extract one from that worthy retailer.

So that’s where we are there.

Still mightily sick, but better than before. Last night I grilled up the first full meal I’ve had in 10 days — literally I have NOT been able to eat anything in that long. But finally along about 6 p.m. I began to feel hungry. Hence: ta DA!!! two lamb chops from a disassembled Costco rack of lamb, rescued from the freezer.

In ten days, the chard had run amok, so I hacked that back, wrapped a wad of it in tinfoil, and cooked that on the grill beside the lamb. Squeezed half of one of those Myer lemons over it, for good measure. So those and some rice with plenty of butter made up a decent dinner.

This morning the fierce cough persists. I’m NOT at the weekly business meeting, as last night I was NOT at choir. It remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to go to the wedding next Saturday. But I think if it hasn’t cleared up by then, a hit of codeine cough medicine should suppress it long enough to sit through a wedding ceremony. One of my son’s best friends’ mother is getting married to her companion of many years. Friend has moved to Wisconsin,  unfortunately, so this will be a rare opportunity to see him and his family.

Meanwhile, yesterday I managed to use some of the hours broken free of the Internet in revamping the bookkeeping system. WonderAccountant groaned about the “messy papers” I inflicted on her this year, poor woman. And it is true I’m so disorganized and SO hate paperwork that I do tend to just dump it all on her.

My favorite Excel workbook had become Robertafied: a phenomenon named after a former secretary who could make a complicated Gordian’s knot out of the simplest task. That woman was amazing! Now, though, I understand that phenomenon is a function of age — she was as old then as I am now, and as easily frustrated by computers I am, too.

As a result, one workbook had something like a dozen spreadsheets in it.

So it occurred to me that really…there’s no reason for WonderAccountant (who does my bookkeeping as well as the fine tax job) to have to plow through any other paperwork than the bank statements. WHY is the beleaguered soul getting all those damn AMEX and Visa statements? What a waste of her time, to say nothing of the crazy-making factor.

We now have two workbooks, one for the bidness and one for personal finance. The business’s workbook has two (count’em, just two!) spreadsheets, one for the checking account and one for the corporate credit card. The personal workbook has six: checking account, emergency savings, medical savings (a holding tank for the flurries of checks one gets from Medigap and Medicare), Fidelity, AMEX, and Visa. Since most stores take American Express, the Visa card doesn’t get much use, so most months she won’t have to fiddle with that.

And I came up with a way to flag tax-related entries, so it will be easy for her to find them come next tax season.

In theory she should be able — and mostly does — upload checking and savings entries direct from the credit union to QuickBooks. However, the CU unobligingly fails to tell you who checks are written to. So to identify those, I have to get into the CU accounts, look them up, download an image of each check, and let her know who received check #12345 and why. If I keep the Excel spreadsheets up to date, though, she doesn’t have to keep track of those entries or put me up to finding them — a glance at the spreadsheet on DropBox will clear up any questions she has.

Personally, I can no longer use QB at all. They’ve SO complicated the workings of the thing that  you now need special training to use it. And in fact, each year one of the several professional development courses she takes to keep her license up to date is how to use the current version of QuickBooks. But since I can’t figure out how to make QB work (and don’t trust it, anyway), I would keep my own records in Excel anyway. Sharing those with her makes it easy for her to get answers to whatever mystifications plague her on any given day.

Welp, the coffee is consumed. Somewhere a Nest employee awaits a call from me, with bated breath. And actual paying work awaits, too. And so, away…

March 15, 2017
by funny
9 Comments

Computers, Cox, & Credit Cards: Never a Dull Moment

March 14, 2015, 5:50 p.m. So my computers are offline, once and for all. I’m writing this in Wyrd, planning to cut and paste into WordPress tomorrow morning, when I expect to get online at my favorite coffee shop.

Been having some strange connectivity problem for the past few days, some affecting the phone line and some the usual up-and-down connection that characterizes lovely Cox.

Cox is a hell of a lot better than Qwest. But…uhm…that ain’t sayin’ much. Smoke signals would’ve been better than Qwest. One thing you have to give to Cox is that they have decent customer service.

At any rate, the wireless connection went irretrievably down this afternoon. So I have no blog. No email. No endlessly entertaining news and “news” sites. No online games. No baroque Facebook time suck. No clients…

The horror!

Cox allows as to how the problem is on their end, and they’re sending a tech over tomorrow afternoon to install a bunch of new equipment and make the thing work. Whether this will disable the new robocall blocker remains to be seen. If it does, then it’s good-bye to Cox; I’ll have to go over to Ooma, which will save me a shitload of money and inflict a shitload of hassle.

The weird thing about being stuck offline…is the horror.

I feel utterly at sea without the email and without access to the Internet to inform the editing projects.

Fortunately, the book I’m working on now is a work of fiction. So I don’t have to look up every third reference, factoid, circumstance, or stylistic quirk. For most of the editorial work I do, though, an Internet connection is not an option.

So the whole “no email, no Internet” angst is kind of irrational, at least for the time being. As a practical matter, chances are I’ll get more done and enjoy life more without the preoccupation that has become an occupation. Maybe I’ll even take the dogs for a walk this evening!

This evening I was supposed to go to a meeting, but I’m still too sick to go anywhere. Especially not to a two- or three-hour jawfest.

Probably will be too sick to go to choir tomorrow night, and probably will be too sick to go to the Thursday meeting. But just now there’s no way to send my apologies to any of the worthies who expect me to show up.

As dawn cracked this morning, I was going to write a Spring has Sprung sort of post, featuring a passel of flower images from the yard. Not so much, though.

Neither computer would read the camera’s memory chip. As it developed, I was able to access the images on the large computer, which accepts a cable connection to the camera. Copied the images to a flash drive. So that was not a connectivity problem but a memory chip problem.

I did not want to do battle with computers this morning! Got up at 6 a.m.; by 8 a.m. all I wanted to do was go back to bed and take a nap.

Fed the dogs; ate some more leftover soup; watered the plants. The weather has been in the 90s, so the potted plants need to be watered every day and the stuff in the ground needs watering about once every three days.

Brushed down the pool. To my surprise, the mustard algae was not back!

That would be because the pool was brushed yesterday. It occurred to me that pushing the pool brush up and down the walls amounts to a good way to get some much-needed mild exercise – I’ve been spending way, way, way too much time parked in front of a damn computer.

Running the nylon brush up and down the walls again, I reflected that when I first moved into the house, I was so tickled with the pool that I used to clean it and test it and adjust its chemicals every day. Now it’s lucky if it gets cleaned and tested once a month.

When did I take to neglecting this marvelous puddle? It’s obviously an asset to the house: make that a$$et. What’s with letting it go to pot??

No answer to that one. But pretty obviously the wall moss is the outcome. Sweep it down once a day: get some mild upper-body exercise and preserve a $20,000 lifestyle blandishment.

Read about 20 pages of the client’s novel – really a first read, a fast line-edit. The MS is only about 130 pages; at 20 pages a day, I can get through it in a week. Since I set a two-week deadline, this will leave another week to go over the whole thing more carefully, think about it, and offer some advice of the writing-coach variety.

By about 2:00 p.m. the wireless connection was down. It being about six hours past my naptime, I decided to shut down both terminals, disconnect the modem and the router, leave them disconnected, and go back to bed. Surely after an hour or two, the system would reset itself.

No. Not so much.

After a restless and generally miserable attempt at napping, I reconnected the peripherals and rebooted and…couldn’t get online at all.

Oh god.

Back and forth with Cox. Long, long story short, a technician is supposed to show up between three and five tomorrow afternoon and install a whole new set-up. I’m being told Cox is upgrading its equipment. The new stuff is supposed to be installed inside the house (oh, good: MORE junk to clutter up the desktop, MORE junk for me to dust!), supposedly free of cost to me except that I have to pay for backup batteries.

Shit.

Meanwhile…oh, yes, meanwhile

Yesterday while I was enjoying a particularly miserable run-around in search of groceries that I never did manage to get, I stuck my AMEX card in a pocket that also held a metal doodad. Metal doodad scratched the fancy fucking “chip,” and it wouldn’t work at the Safeway. And that is why, among several other goddamn reasons, I wasn’t able to get the Kleenex and the cough medicine and the vinegar and the ClearCare and the cream despite stumbling around not one, not two, but three goddamn grocery stores.

Don’t ask.

So AMEX was supposed to have a new card delivered by FedEx today.

While yesterday’s antics were in progress, I was so sick I wasn’t thinking even vaguely clearly. Today I realized I hadn’t told them they HAVE to mark the package with a note that the address is on my street, not on the street just north of me that has the same name. Called AMEX this morning to see if a message could be sent belatedly; was told the package hadn’t even been delivered to FedEx but couldn’t get the dumb bunny on the end of the line to understand what I was talking about.

Later this afternoon I called again and reached someone who seemed to have some IQ points. She said the problem is that FedEx was pretty much rendered inert by the storm on the East Coast. They still hadn’t picked up the package.

So, could we PLEASE add a “NOT MY CRAZY NEIGHBOR’S ADDRESS” clue to the package?

Videlicet, my Amazon address is set up to read…

My Name
1234 North Erewhon Drive
Please NOT Lane!
Phoenix, AZ 85123

She at least was able to understand what I was talking about, but she allowed as to how adding NOT LANE to the address was impossible. Which is reasonable, but annoying.

But, she assured me, don’t worry (be happy!): you don’t have to be home because they’ll just leave the package there.

THAT’S THE POINT, I said. If the guy leaves the package at My Crazy Neighbor’s house, it will never be seen again!

They just don’t get it. When you explain this to someone else, they don’t want to believe that these people steal everything that is mistakenly delivered to their house. Most middle-class Americans, I guess, just don’t want to think bad things about other folks.

Oh well. If the card doesn’t show up tomorrow, I’ll call and cancel the AMEX account. I do have a Visa card, which is accepted in more places anyway.

To make everything perfect, the damn Nest thermostat runs on the wireless. No wireless connection: no air conditioning. It’s supposed to be 95 tomorrow!

Fortunately, I don’t normally turn on the AC until temps are in the low hundreds. But…what if this had happened in July? My house would be unlivable.

Enough with that damn thing! As soon as this dust settles, the AC guy is going to be invited to replace it with a NONprogrammable, NONwireless thermostat.

First thing tomorrow morning, I’m headed over to the Little Guy’s coffee house, where I can get a decent cup of café Americano and a free connection to the Internet. Post this thing there, then check the email, and then go on my way for an otherwise Disconnected day.

March 13, 2017
by funny
0 comments

Thing$ are turning up ro$e$

So yesterday I finally felt well enough to update the bookkeeping. Jeez. It’s too, too good to be true.

Got $4500 back from the feds. That will be enough to cover the remaining 2017 car payments, and then some. It also may mean that at the end of the year there’ll be enough left to replaster and update the pool.

Then we have the stock market. Holy mackerel! That thing has returned $92,254.72 since February 2016. Which is cheering, since I’m required by law to withdraw about $40,000 from the IRA every year, most of which I use to live on, shore up the shack, and keep the car rolling. It means that this year (barring a stock market crash…), the RMD will not cause investments to run at a loss. For a change.

Meanwhile, the editing business is running amok. Since January 25, The Copyeditor’s Desk has earned almost as much as it normally earns in a year.

Mercifully, a lull in the editorial workflow developed just as I was coming down with the present epizoötic. I can’t imagine what I would’ve done if I’d had a lot of work and a deadline. Would have had to farm it out, I guess. But a week of quietus coincided, by miraculous good luck, with the week of lying semi-conscious under the covers.

The proposed new client, a fiction writer, just resurfaced this morning. I expect she’ll send her MS over later today or this evening, and by tomorrow a.m. I should be well enough (I hope) to start working on that.

Watch. What this means is that by Friday three indexes will drop on my desk and another author with 98,000 tangled words will surface. Or three new Chinese mathematicians will lob marginally intelligible inquiries across the Pacific.

😀

Back on the personal finance side of the ledger, between the outrageous workload and the outrageous bug, I am not spending much. Charges to AMEX and Visa have been so modest that even with the occasional extraordinary bill — cleaning and repairing the propane grill, for example — personal spending has stayed on budget.

Now, it must be said: no diddling money away makes Jill a very dull girl… And sooner or later I am going to have to buy some clothes. In fact, if I were functional today, I’d use this slow morning to run out to Scottsdale, where the better Nordstrom’s Rack resides.

In fact, though, there’s a shop in Glendale — somewhat closer — that carries uniquely cute clothing (at uniquely eye-glazing prices…). I may go out there instead, since I know I can always get something there that will knock your proverbial socks off, whereas at Nordstrom’s Rack it’s catch as catch can. There’s something to be said for spending more to save time (now that the time is actually worth something…) and to get an especially desirable product that will last.

Welp, I must go stand in the shower and inhale steam until the hot water runs out; then go buy some dog & human food. And Kleenex. A  lot of Kleenex. And so, away!

March 12, 2017
by funny
4 Comments

The Backwards, Upside-Down Cold

It’s three in the afternoon and suddenly, out of the blue the swampy nose is drying up and I’m starting to feel almost like living…after a whole week of the most bizarre cold I’ve met in a long time. It looks like the thing may be about to retreat as quickly as it struck.

It started about mid-morning exactly seven days ago. Until about 6:00 p.m. last Sunday, I’d have sworn it was an allergy. In 72 years of hosting viruses and bacteria, I have never had a respiratory infection that didn’t start with a sore throat, followed by a blocked nose, followed by a racking cough.

This bug started with the cough. By about 8 o’clock Sunday evening it had risen to the level of “racking.” But there was never a sore throat. The nose didn’t start to run with a vengeance for another couple of days, and even then the head was never especially stuffy. I just started coughing. And kept on coughing, for seven long days and nights.

Really, REALLY coughing. Heavily coughing. Interminably coughing.

I’d about decided that if the cough isn’t better by tomorrow, I’ll be forced to call Young Dr. Kildare.  Won’t he be thrilled, after all, to welcome a walking nexus of contagion to his tidy, peaceful office? Arrrghhh!

But all of a sudden — just as suddenly as it began — this afternoon the thing seems to be lifting.

If you have recourse to the Hypochondriac’s Treasure Chest and google “cold that starts with cough,” you find…almost nothin’!

One site stokes your neuroses by informing you that a cough commencing out of the blue may be caused by GERD, whereinat stomach acid bubbles up while you’re sleeping and flows down into your lungs.

Isn’t that…comforting?

Is it, the site asks, a wet, productive cough?

Gaaaahhhh! Clearly it’s PNEUMONIC PLAGUE combined with SHINGLES and SMALLPOX, with a touch of YELLOW FEVER. I’m doomed and done for.

Well, it doesn’t do any good to worry about it: we’re dead anyway. So it’s good-bye to our friends on the Internet and on to. . .doing the laundry.

Speed Queen. Nothing like a Speed Queen to improve your mood. 😉

What’s your experience with bizarre minor ailments? Have you had this spring’s epizootic?

March 11, 2017
by funny
2 Comments

Still Pounding on Death’s Door…

What is the MATTER with the people on the other side of this thing? I keep knocking and banging, and they won’t let me in! O Death, where’s thy sting?

If you asked me to make a guess, I’d tell you my temperature is somewhere between 99 and 100. Since “cold fish” is a literal description in my case, that’s pretty high for me. It has been pushing 101, which is damn near fatal, IMHO…but just this moment, it’s right at normal, around 98.2 to 98.4. That notwithstanding, what I want most just now — and have been wanting most, all morning long — is to go back to bed.

Trying to decide whether it’s worth the hassle to drive to the store through the Saturday traffic and put up with the Saturday mobs to buy the dogs a roll of fancy dog food, or whether ’tis better to suffer the slings and arrows of making up another batch of chow for their majesties. Think the latter is the better choice.

Just before coming down with this thing, I made a large batch of pork doggy chow for them. Because I cooked up an entire package of bulk pork loin, I ended up with more cooked meat than I could easily convert to dog food by mixing with the remaining ingredients. Luckily, instead of freezing the leftover meat in chunks, I figured as long as the food processor was still dirty, I might as well grind it up right then and there.

Sooo….a fair-sized package of ground, cooked pork popped out of the freezer this morning. All that remains, once it’s defrosted, is to zap some frozen veggies and a sweet potato in the microwave, pulverize those, and MIX. That should make at least three or four days’ worth. Long enough, anyway, to tide the pooches over until Monday, when the shopping masses will be back in the salt mines.

Meanwhile, spring has sproinged!

It is SO spectacularly gorgeous that it’s impossible not to do at least some puttering with the greenery. As it develops, about the only greenery I was up for working with happened to grow on the pool walls: spent some time scraping moss and thinking “i. need. a. pool. dude.”

But as a practical matter, a pool dude is a waste of money, unless he lives at your house.

What really needs to happen is that…yes…I need to spring for the six grand to get the damn pool replastered and a new pump installed.

I’ve been putting it off. But really am thinking WTH: the market is running amok. One month’s proceeds would pay for it and probably pay the taxes, too. This year’s federal tax refund will cover the 2017 car payments. That means enough may be left at the end of my 2016/17 “fiscal year” (in September) to pay for a pool renovation & upgrade. Truth to tell, I could probably justify pulling enough out of savings now for the purpose.

A new pump would (theoretically) save a little on the power bills. And a PebbleTec surface would last as long as I’m likely to remain in the house (…but…at this age, an ordinary cheesey plaster surface would probably last that long…). PebbleTec supposedly is easier to care for (though I doubt it: nothing could be easier than the plaster the pool has had for the past 12 or 14 years).

Plaster, however, is a known quantity for me: mine has lasted twice as long as the typical lifetime for plaster, despite considerable shameless neglect. I really can’t complain, and it is enormously cheaper than PebbleTec, to say nothing of the superior (and superiorly profitable…) PebbleSheen. PebbleTec gets a lot of consumer complaints about staining, bleaching, and roughness, and apparently requires a LOT of daily maintenance, especially in the first year. You can get plaster in colors now, too, which allows one to create a “natural” pond effect…but it, too, has its problems, serious enough that many pool pro’s inveigh against it.

Plain white plaster probably would leave enough in the budget to cover the cost of replacing the tile around the coping. It was old and scratched when I moved in, but pool tilework is so pricey I just left it when the insurance paid to repair the Perp’s depradations. And really, that pool equipment does need to be updated.

For what PebbleTec or (especially) PebbleSheen would cost, I might even be able to replace the filter as well as the pump. In that case, they could install a cartridge filter, which — sez a pool guy — is simple enough for even an Old Bat to clean out. Well…we’ll believe that when we see it…but not having to hail the pool repair guy in here three or four times a year to clean that thing out would, on its own, save some $300 to $400 a year. And, supposedly, you don’t have to backwash a cartridge filter. That’s a PITA I’d be happy to say good-bye to.

A sand filter could be an option, too. It’s probably the cheapest for maintenance, because all you have to do to clean it out is backwash. Backwashing, yes, is a PITA…but it’s sure cheaper than ponying up a hundred bucks to have a guy come take a DE filter apart and scrub it out, a clear and present Unpleasant Job. I think of sand filters as old-fashioned…but maybe not paying through the wazoo to maintain your pool is what’s old-fashioned.

Ex-DH and I had a sand filter on the tony house we owned off North Central. Talk about shamelessly neglecting the pool! Holy mackerel…. And yet…we never had cloudy water, we never had discoloration, we never had black algae, we never had green water, and I don’t even recall seeing mustard algae on the plaster. It was ludicrously easy to backwash, and we would use the water to irrigate the citrus. Hm. Something to revisit…

Image (Death’s Door): DepositPhotos, © Isaac74