Funny about Money

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

April 17, 2017
by funny
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How to Get a Loan without a Credit Check

Nearly every standardized loan from a bank has attached to it the phrase that we all dread: the credit check. Perhaps what has you worried is the possibility that your potential lender may notice a late payment you made a few years ago, bringing down the chance of getting a loan. Credit checks themselves can even turn up on your future credit reports, hurting your chances of securing a line of credit once again in the future. Other people simply can’t take the time to go through the credit check process that is indeed time consuming, because they need money urgently.

Whatever the issue is, you can get a loan right now despite having some or all of these worries, and here’s how:

Know your circumstances

First things first, you must understand your financial standing through and through. The financial conduct authorities do claim that lenders are obligated to do all they can to ensure that a loan will at the least not worsen the financial standing of a client. However, instead of an official credit check, some lenders decide to take a lighter approach by simply trying to understand where you are financially in a general sense, not putting much emphasis on the specifics. So your priority should then be on knowing your own history, and being able to explain all of the details of it it to your lender with confidence. This will give you a fighting chance at convincing your lender that you are suitable to take on further debt.

Some lenders focus on people that have bad credit. You can obtain a bad credit loan with no credit check but the loan amount is usually small. These small loans a generally short term and are good for emergency situations rather than a major purchase.

Avoid extended waits

It’s no secret that a credit check is a time consuming hassle. Depending on what information is gathered, this time can range between a few hours to a few days. When time is something you are short of, serious delays like this can make the entire process not even worth the money or effort. So if you do have a way of showing a lender just how urgent the situation is, use it. Many short-term and long-term lenders do tend to wave the thorough credit check for some clients if they can show evidence of urgency.

Avoid the record of a credit check

One of the universally most frustrating things about applying for loans is the fact that credit checks may worsen your credit score. A mark is left on your score each time you do have a check, and lenders can see this. If done too often, lenders will believe that there may be issues in your financial history, in effect lowering your score. Thus, it pays to find a lender that won’t conduct an official credit check for these purposes. Many do understand how some people simply cannot afford to have their credit score fall anymore.

Keep a credit file

Credit reports are an essential way to keep your financial life in check. Lenders, landlords and even employers will want to see your score at times to assess your background. When seeking a credit check free loan, you should at the least come equipped with your own credit file. This will demonstrate professionalism and competency.

April 15, 2017
by funny
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Wildlife Update

Feathers:

So now we know what happened to the bird whose feathers formed a flotilla in the pool: Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner ate it.

The last I saw of Harvey yesterday, he was whipping back and forth on the back of the pool at a great rate. No problem. This morning, not so much. The dove feast gave him a bad case of birdstipation, and he had come to a dead (heh) stop.

So Harvey is down at Leslie’s, there to be discombobulated and cleaned out. The Leslie’s guy was less than perfectly pleased. I suggested that maybe we should throw the thing out. He said, “No no, don’t do that…I’ve (gulp!) done gross jobs before”

“We could bury him in the backyard,” I said.

“With the bird inside?”

“Sure… A $300 bird casket.”

{sigh}

Cats:

Finished mounting the last few strips of carpet tacks atop the castle ramparts. These should repel the neighbor’s effing cats, with no problem.

I’m feeling pretty pleased with this project. The things look a lot better than they did after my first effort, installed a couple years ago. This time I secured them with a zip tie through every decorative cinderblock hole — about 32 zip ties per column-to-column length of wall. That many ties pulled good & tight tight forces the wooden strips to lie down flat flat atop the rows of block.

So the lash-up is surprisingly unobtrusive. Along most lengths, you can’t see them at all. In places where you can see them, they’re not obvious.

But…they surely will be obvious to any wall-jumping cats.

😀

 

April 14, 2017
by funny
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Feathers…

Yes: Feathers in the pool. Wads of feathers.

But: No dead bird. Whaaa?

Normally, if a bird falls in the water and drowns (which they very rarely do), they get sucked into the strainer basket. But there’s no sign of a Deceased anywhere around, except for a flotilla of feathers swirling around the surface.

So I figure one of two things must have happened:

Possibility the First: A hawk or an owl nailed a dove or a pigeon in flight as it happened to pass over the pool

or

Possibility the Second: DuckDuck came back for a visit and took up her favorite perch on the coping. Other Daughter’s Accursed Cat somehow came over the wall (there are some places on the eastside where the beast could still get in), pounced DuckDuck, and was beaten back. In the ensuing fight, DuckDuck lost a few feathers, but managed to fly away.

Really, even if you were a cat (maybe especially if you were a cat) you wouldn’t want to do battle with DuckDuck. She has a hooked beak that could, in theory, inflict some noticeable damage.

WhatEVER. I’m reminded that east-side wall does need to be shored up . Yesterday I finished installing fresh cat-repelling tack strips on all the walls around the backyard. But the east side still has a short stretch that needs to be cat-proofed. This morning I strapped up enough to cover one stretch — eight strips of carpet tacks. In about five minutes I have to leave for choir practice. This afternoon it will be too hot to install eccentricities — it’s in the 90s here now. Tomorrow morning I’m out the door at 6:30 a.m. And Sunday, of course, we have the Easter Frenzy, precluding any construction projects in the cool of the day. So it’ll be Monday before the job gets done.

But…done it will be.

April 13, 2017
by funny
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How Long to Wait before Calling the Doc?

Not goin’ anywhere…

This damn cold/flu/black plague/lung cancer/DEATH OF ME has gone on and on and on. I knew it would go on and on and on. If you get over a respiratory infection in, say, 10 days, it will take me two to three weeks to get over the same bug. That’s because my delicate little system lacks some part of its immune apparatus (according to a past doc), and so I just don’t recover from things the way normal people do.

But apparently I’ve overestimated how long I’ve been enjoying the current gasper. I thought we were in the middle of Week 7, and that next Sunday (by which time the thing, clearly, will NOT be gone) would be the start of Week 8.

No. No, however. Looked at the calendar and discovered that the day on which I came down with this thing — when I thought it was an allergy and so thought it would be OK to go to a Phoenix Chorale concert — was not seven weeks ago but only five.

So we’re actually in Week 5, not Week 7.

This means there’s hope. Typically a severe cold or flu lasts about six weeks for me.

Every evening as I’m choking and gagging and gasping for breath, I think tomorrow I’ve GOTTA call the doctor! But come morning, I’ve slept more or less through the night and I feel like I’m gonna live, until along about 2 p.m. when suddenly such a wave of exhaustion rolls over me that I can do nothing other than crawl into the sack. Literally, I’m not good for anything after about 1 or 1:30 p.m.

Yet…I am so All Doctored Out!

Just the thought of talking to another doctor makes me cringe. I do not want to see a doctor, I do not want to be treated by a doctor (nine times out of ten with drugs that make me sicker than the disease!), I do not even want to think about a doctor.

Am I crazy? Am I the only middle-class American who lives in fear of the avatars of the medical establishment? Is it normal to resist going to a doctor after you’ve been sick for five weeks?

Well, six weeks having proven itself a charm, I figure I’ll wait till a week from Friday (i.e., a week from tomorrow). If this thing isn’t almost gone by then, I guess I’ll be forced to call Young Dr. Kildare. Probably the scenic YDK over the Mayo, because he has common sense, that rarist of all qualities in a doctor.

How long do you wait before you call a doctor?

April 12, 2017
by funny
4 Comments

Cats & Dogs & Diets

Manning…Personing the barricades!

Cats

Some time back my friend KJG’s husband, The Fireman, was reflecting on our shared War on Cats. They have an obnoxious neighbor who thinks it’s just grand to let their damnable cats invade yards, kill birds, dig up gardens, piss and poop on vegetables, and stink up entryways, a problem that makes Other Daughter’s cats a trifle.

Here at the Funny Farm, I had fortified the castle battlements by zip-tieing carpet tack strips along the decorative tops of the cinderblock walls: the top row of block has a pattern of holes, highly convenient for this purpose.

A minor dilemma arose: to wit, a slender block wall like this has a heavier, supporting block column about every 15 feet. Each of these is topped with a flat, solid block, leaving noplace to get purchase for your zip-tied lashup. After a couple of experiments failed, I ended up having to paste pieces tack strips to the tops of these columns, using outdoor-grade heavy-duty double-sided sticky tape. This worked…sort of.

Two and a half years have passed, and the problem with Other Daughter’s tabby cat and KnitWit’s black & white cat has been defeated. Cats do not enter my backyard. The neighbors think a Crazy Lady lives here, but that’s just fine with me as long as their cats are not using my desert landscaping as their toilet and my dogs are not eating their deposits — and all the parasites and diseases that come along.

As you can imagine, carpet tack strips are not made to weather wind, rain, and 118-degree sunlight. They’re really nothing other than thin strips of laminate, about a step above cardboard. They’ve held up a great deal better than I imagined they would — I figured they’d fall apart in about one season. But no. Even though they’re looking a little tired, they’re still up there and still doing the job. Of course, they want to buckle and they want to de-laminate, but where they’re secured to the decorative cinderblocks, the zip ties have held them together. Atop the columns, though, they have warped, buckled, curled, and pulled up from the sticky tape. Ugleee, though still effective.

The Fireman suggested that the column toppers could be held in place by nailing the strips to pieces of wood cut to fit the block and then sticking the resulting solid piece down to the crowning cinderblock.

This, it develops, is a brilliant idea. It’s easy to accomplish — carpet tack strips come with handy little brads that you just tap down to hold them in place.

Under construction

The deed done

They’re sturdy, they stick on there firmly, and while they’re anything but elegant, at least they do look better than strips of tacks tied on with string and wire. 🙂

{Chortle!} Great WT stuff, isn’t it?

So today I plan to start replacing the weathered strips along the endless lengths of decorative cinderblock, a little at a time. There’s no hurry. While it’s cool in the morning, a few feet of old strips can be discarded and a few new feet installed. By the end of the week, the eccentric lash-up will be fully replaced.

Dogs

While I’ve been sick with this seemingly endless respiratory infection, I’ve again had recourse to rolls of FreshPet dog food, the commercial product that’s the closest I’ve found to the custom-made chow I feed the hounds.

The dogs like it, and gosh it’s so much easier than stewing and grinding and mixing up 10 pounds of dog food at a time. Since the dogs eat a pound of food a day, ten pounds goes fast. Usually I can make a week or ten days’ worth, and then it’s back to the kitchen.

It’s good for the dogs — you’d never know Cassie is over ten years old now — but it sure as hell is a PITA. Especially when you don’t feel good.

FreshPet is bracingly expensive — depending on the store, $12 to $14 a roll, plus 10% sales tax, for enough to last about a week.

So yesterday while I was at Costco, there to purchase some more dog food makings, I tried to calculate a cost comparison. It’s not easy, because custom-make dog food is not the same kind of apple as factory-made stuff. But after much tergiversation, I figured that buying pork, chicken, big bags of frozen mixed veggies, oatmeal, rice, and sweet potatoes is marginally cheaper, over the course of a month, than serving up premade dog food with the same ingredients.

Plus: the main reason I go to Costco these days is to buy dog pork, dog chicken and dog veggies. Really, I can buy everything else in other places, and absent the impulse buy factor, doing so saves money.  This month I’ve spent a ton of money in Costco, which I would not have done had I been shopping in grocery stores — the purple jeans come to mind as an example.

So, I dunno. It’s a nuisance to make dog food. But it probably is better for the dogs, and apparently it’s cheaper. If I could train myself only to buy the stuff that’s needed in Costco and not to grab a pair of colorful jeans or a package of oversalted pre-cooked lamb shanks or a couple of bottles of wine, it probably would be cheaper.

Dieting

In spite of past six weeks spent pounding at Death’s Door — or maybe because of it — I’ve put on enough weight to push the BMI borderline between “normal” and “overweight” (i.e., “fat”). The jeans still fit, but they’re getting tight.

So I determined to knock off the bread (every morning two pieces! With cheese or dipped in olive oil or smeared with butter and honey!!) and the pasta (comfort food of the first [salted] water) and the potatoes (mmmmmm hash browns!!!).

And it’s worked! By adding salad or fruit to each meal and subtracting the wheat products and the potatoes, I’ve lost two pounds in a week. This, without going hungry, without exercising significantly, and without knocking off my favorite potables (one beer or one bourbon and water per day). If I would get off my duff and bike or walk without benefit of leaf-sniffing dogs, I’d probably lose weight even faster.

Since only about five pounds need to go, I should be back to my former sylph-like self in another week or two.

One thing I did discover: if I arrive at the church about an hour before morning choir practice, I can sneak in a mile or so of strolling…  ahem, “power-walking”…in a different environment without the animals suspecting that I’ve made my escape.

One of our associate rectors came up with the idea of a virtual “walk to Jerusalem” for the weeks coming up to Easter. She mapped out a mile-long route around the church, and they tote up the number of person-miles walked by the interested group, to come up with a total equivalent to the distance between Lovely Uptown Phoenix and Jerusalem. This, she taped in a window, allowing me to see exactly where to walk around the church to rack up an even mile.

The area around there in fact is rather lovely. North Central Phoenix is full of expansive 1950s ranch houses on huge lots, each now worth in the vicinity of $750,000 to $1 million, and the main drag through the center of the district is flanked by what once were riding trails — and now are shady walking paths. So it’s a great place to walk and it offers some scenery a little different from the ’hood’s. When you’re there, you’re smack in the middle of Richistan, rather than having to hike through a buffer zone to get to a scenic upscale tract.

So I’m thinking that as part of the diet plan, I should do this every Sunday I go over to the religious HQ. It may even be light enough an hour before the midweek evening choir practice to pull this off (I wouldn’t walk on Central Avenue after dark) — so that would provide two monotony-defying, dog-free walks a week, instead of just one. 🙂

Welp, on to today’s exercise stint: pulling old carpet tack strips off the walls and zip-tieing new ones up!

April 11, 2017
by funny
3 Comments

The Ineffable Charm of Inertia…

Complacency hath its charms…

The other day while holding forth about frugal habits, I reflected that another frugal trait is to live someplace that you can love. If  you really like where you live, you’re unlikely to pull up stakes and go in search of the “dream home.”

Moving is wildly expensive. The Realtor’s commission takes a huge bite out of your home’s sale price, leaving you with a whole lot less to buy another house. If you’re like me — your house is paid for and you have no intention of ever taking on mortgage debt again — it means you can’t move laterally into a house of comparable value unless you have several tens of thousands of cash dollars to throw into the deal. If you have to take out a mortgage, then the move costs you even more outrageously: in addition to a big chunk dropped into the real estate agent’s pocket, you will pay many, many thousands into mortgage interest, a debt that may not go away for 30 years.

So it behooves you financially to stay in place for decades, if not for the rest of your life.

In that line of thought, I wondered why would I ever want to be anywhere else? What we have here is a beautiful little house, not too work-intensive and not absurdly expensive to maintain, centrally located, and (despite a few drawbacks) smack in the middle of a neighborhood on the upswing. Most of the time (except when the breeze wafts the racket from Conduit of Blight and the freeway in our direction, except when the drag racers are roaring up and down GangBangers Way, except when the helicopter cops are chasing perps, except when the City and the utility companies are digging up the streets), it’s nice and quiet. The upscale commerce that followed White Flight to the suburbs has noticed the affluent young urbanite set and is moving back to our parts. Is this not the best of all possible worlds?

Yes…but Dr. Pangloss: is this the best of all possible worlds, or is it a kind of pyrite-plated inertia?

Two houses in the ’hood, one of them the same model as mine and one the same square footage on a slightly smaller lot, are on the market for four times what I paid to buy into this tract.

Shake it up, baby?

If I sold my house today, I would net (in theory) enough to move to a quieter, less bum-ridden part of town, far away from the inane lightrail and the crime-infested apartments and the schools that serve the hapless children of the crime-infested apartments and the child molesters who jump your back wall to get at your little girls and the grocery store parking lots where you dare not carry a purse over your shoulder as you scurry from your car into the market.

There aren’t many places around here where I would rather live, not that I could afford. But there is one. Way to hell and gone on the far side of the Valley, bordering the highway to Payson, is a development called Fountain Hills.

It is very, very quiet and very, very upper-middle-class. I first noticed how quiet a couple decades ago, when Anna the German Shepherd was a pup. That dog was just flat wired to the teeth. She was like a grenade with the pin pulled out…at all times. Anything, and I do mean anything, would set that animal off. Especially if it had wheels.

For some reason that I don’t recall, I happened to have Anna with me in the car when I happened to wander into Fountain Hills. She needed to relieve her doggy self, so I stopped next to an arroyo to let her out. As she was sniffing around, along came a couple of golf carts laden with enthusiasts.

Uh oh! thought I. Here it comes… I tightened my grip on the heavy leather leash and braced for a 90-pound lunge.

But no! She was calm. She was quiet. She refrained from flying into a berserk fit. She just stood there quietly and watched those fascinating, usually enraging objects roll past.

Sane (relatively, sort of) dog

Before long, it became clear she was calm in general. A car drove by and she didn’t try to bring it down by the oil pan. Somebody walked by with a dog and she didn’t try to rid the earth of the beast. Eventually I realized this was because Fountain Hills itself is quiet.

Where I was living at the time, a couple blocks away from the present abode, was a few lots southwest of the War Zone at GangBanger’s Way and Conduit of Blight Blvd — sometimes it was so noisy there that SDXB and I actually had to shout to hear each other when we were sitting outside in the backyard. The ambient noise, evidently, was driving that dog batshit.

It’s a lot quieter here in my present castle — as long as the wind blows in the right direction. Sometimes the noise is annoying, but most of the time it’s tolerable. Fountain Hills is just about the only place — other than Sun City, which enjoys the silence of the mausoleum — where you a) can find that kind of peace and quiet and b) can afford to buy a house.

Despite the presence of some startlingly priced real estate, it does sport a few houses that I could afford. Here’s a sweet enough little place, whose price is eminently right. That shack costs less than I would net on my house, it’s smaller than mine and so would cost less to air-condition, and even though it has some flowers and a fantastic view, the exterior would cost a fraction of what mine costs to maintain. There’s no pool, no trees, and the ground is all gravel.

Fountain Hills has a few disadvantages:

Most of the housing is cheaply built, as you can tell from the cheesy dry-wall shelving in the shack above; anything built after 1990 is pyrofoam and plaster.

There’s no gas service out there, so you’re stuck with a glass-top electric stove,  IMHO inadequate and unsafe.

It’s way to hell and gone away from everything. Though it’s relatively close to the Mayo Clinic, the only other serious services and shopping are in Scottsdale, which is a drive.

It’s so far away, I would be isolated from my son, from the choir and the church, and from my present set of friends.

I hate that tacky fountain they’re so proud of.

Even though the scenery is spectacular and the air appears to be clean, it boasts the highest ozone levels in the Valley.

If it ain’t broke…

So IMHO, inertia does have its frugal charms. Everything, whether it’s housing or your dogs or the city you live in or your spouse, presents trade-offs.

One of the charms is that it’s a lot cheaper to stay put than it is to move. Maintaining and upgrading this place would cost no more, over the long run, than forking over a commission on several hundred thousand bucks, paying a moving company to haul my stuff to the far side of Scottsdale, paying furniture stores to replace the stuff the movers break or lose, and fixing or upgrading some aging shack. Probably the routine cost of gasoline alone would make it totally not worth moving way to Hell and gone out there.