Funny about Money

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

November 21, 2017
by funny
0 comments

Some things about forgetting…

…are GOOD things.

Well, on the meta-level, that’s obvious enough: letting go of old annoyances, frustrations, and sorrows surely will make your life better. Or at least make it easier to get on with life.

But when you come to be an Old Bat, forgetfulness soaks into the pores of your life: it exists on the micro-level. When you can’t remember everything, you can’t remember anything. Car keys are the worst offenders in this category, as we know…but the issue is pervasive.

Today, for example, one of the chores on the to-do list is to make a new magnetized note pad to stick on the fridge, thereupon to jot down grocery & household needs and people’s phone numbers (so I can lose them faster).  This low-tech device is easy to build: simply take some Elmer’s glue to some of that flat, black, rubbery magnetic strip stuff you can get at Michael’s, JoaAnn’s, or Target; stick the stuff to the cardboard backing; let it dry, and voilà.

Glue a long, thin strip of the stuff to the flat edge of an old-fashioned yellow pencil, and most of the time you’ll have note paper right at hand. With any luck.

You can re-use the magneto-stuff quite a few times: just pull it off a used-up pad’s empty backing and glue it onto the next pad.

But after awhile it does get tired. Today when I tried to pull off an old strip, the damn thing fell apart. So the first item entered on the new pad was “Michael’s: Magnet strip stuff.”

Then I thought, though…wonder if by some chance i have any more of this stuff?

One nice thing about old age is that memory is replaced by wisdom.

Yes, in the drawer I found not only enough to replace the shredded strip, but the contents of a whole package of flat magnetic stuff. And when it’s new, it comes with fresh sticky backing on it, so you don’t even have to use up your Elmer’s!

Pretty handy, eh?

You can buy those small yellow pads — note that it’s only slightly longer than a partly-used-up pencil — at the Home of the Lifetime Supply — i.e., Costco. One package of the things will last you until they carry you off to the nursing home, where presumably they will not allow you to have pointy things like pencils. Until then, stick a memory pad on the fridge, and you’ll never forget anything again.

Assuming you remember to write down the things you’re not supposed to forget…

November 20, 2017
by funny
2 Comments

Lazy, Hazy, Dusty Days of Autumn…

Dust. And, dollars to donuts, grass pollen. My house is infested with dust. And dog hair, of course: let us not forget that.

About the only constructive thing I’ve managed today, aside from running a couple loads of clothes thru the laundry, has been the daily dust-mopping with a microfiber rag attached to the head of a Swiffer mop.

This jury-rigged device works exceptionally well to pick up dog hair and dust. Of late, I’ve been trying to remember to Swifferoid up the floors every afternoon, along about 3 or 4 p.m.

At first, this collected vast wads of dog hair. But after about four or five days, less and less dog hair came up…just a light skiff from all 1868 square feet. But what DIDN’T stop coming up was the dust. Every afternoon, the microfiber rag comes up BROWN, uniformly brown, same as the day before and the day before and the day before.

So the only thing I can figure is that even when the air is still as the tomb (as it has been the past couple weeks), a uniform amount of dust is settling out of the air onto the floors.

What that suggests is that whatever has been ailing me may not be dog hair after all. Or at least it may not be 100% the dogs’ fault. It certainly could be something in the dirt that floats around in Arizona’s lovely atmosphere.

This year’s months-long choking-and-gagging episode started in March. At the time, I thought it was some kind of weird respiratory infection, because just then a very severe cold was circulating around the city.

But it never went away. Several months later, no change in evidence, I speculated that it was in fact GERD. Back to the gastroenterologist after unsuccessfully trying omeprazole and then ranitidine for eight weeks. She speculated that nay, it was an allergy.

Visited Young Dr. Kildare, who allowed as to how it prob’ly was an allergy, because experience shows that omeprazole works on me eventually and ranitidine works right away. He recommended an ENT. That guy’s punch-a-button phone maze was SO gawdawful I gave up after about ten minutes with no hope of reaching a human.

Still more eventually, I visited my doc at the Mayo, who suggested I try a double-dose of Claritin — making sure it didn’t have any decongestant in it (that’s pseudoephedrine, a really bad chemical). That DID work. So the conclusion was, I must have been enjoying a marathon allergy.

Figured it must be the dogs, since I let them sleep on the bed (I know: b-a-a-a-d human!) and am not about to throw them off because they will never let me get ANY sleep if I try that. Started cleaning all the bedding every day, with minimal results.

Then looked under the bed and thought…oh, shit! That was when I realized how much dirt and dog hair gathers on the floor between house-cleaning frenzies.

Fortunately the entire house is tiled, which makes it very, very easy to dustmop from stem to stern. When I started doing that, and especially trying to keep the floor in the bedroom super-clean, the ailment started to clear up.

Possibly not coincidentally, this clearing up business began the first of November. Since we now can see that no matter HOW much I swiffer up dust, the air inside the house must be a haze of dust pretty much all the time, it’s probably safe to assume that whatever pollen or crap was making me allergic is subsiding.

A-n-n-n-n-d…what plant that grows in Arizona spews pollen into the air from March to November?

Yeah: bermudagrass.

Bermudagrass starts to come to life in the spring and thrives through the summer here. It goes dormant when the weather cools and the nights shorten, at which time lawn-lovers seed over their yards with rye grass.

That’s what I suspect. If it was dog hair, it wouldn’t get better for no good reason.

The young people who are moving into the ‘hood as us old people dodder off into the sunset have a) families of small children who play outside in the yards and b) jobs that pay enough to cover the hefty water bills demanded by an Arizona lawn. As they’ve bought houses here, they’ve promptly back-hoed the Sun City-style gravel off the yards and planted grass. So…over the past year or two, we’ve started growing a lot more bermudagrass here.

Damn.

So if this allergy comes back next spring, I’ll have to go back to Wonder-Accountant’s allergist, ask him to test me for allergies, and get in line for the shots. Yippee.

November 18, 2017
by funny
4 Comments

News in the Age of Ad-blocker Blockers

Have you noticed that more and more news outlets are using software that blocks ad-blockers? I happen to hate pop-ups and babbling panes and things that flicker and flash at me, so as soon as a reliable ad-blocker came available for Firefox, I installed it. Works pretty well: 99.9% of ads are squelched, even on YouTube.

But of course, news media make their money by selling you, so it’s not in their interest to allow any ad-blocking shenanigans. At first just a few news organizations had ad-block killer — notably Forbes. Now at least 30% to 50% of them do — and they’re signing on in increasing numbers. Washington Post, one of my stand-by news sources, now makes itself unreadable to people who don’t care to be subjected to distracting ads.

You can install an anti-adblock killer. But there’s a limit. How many counter-counter-counter nuisances do I have to load into my computer? A lot can go wrong with these things…and when it does, what a time-suck! Consider the degree of farting around required to cope with this mess:

  • Check if you have only one Adblocker enabled. (Adblock, Adblock Plus or uBlock Origin)
  • Check if the script manager is enabled (Greasemonkey, Tampermonkey, NinjaKit, etc…).
  • Check if you have installed the latest version of Anti-Adblock Killer Script (Step 3).
  • Check if you have subscribed to Anti-Adblock Killer List (Step 2).
  • Check if Anti-Adblock Killer Script is enabled.
  • Check if Anti-Adblock Killer List is enabled.
  • Try update or re-install Anti-Adblock Killer Script.
  • Try update or re-subscribe Anti-Adblock Killer List.
  • Check if you have another userscript that might interfere with Anti-Adblock Killer.
  • Check if one of these extensions is problematic (Disable Anti-Adblock, Ghostery, Online Security Avast, Donotrackme, Privacy Badger, Disconnect, Blur, TrackerBlock, Kaspersky Anti-Banner, Freebox (Anti-pub), No Script, YesScript, HTTPS Everywhere).
  • Check if, your JavaScript is enabled Test.
  • Remove duplicates Anti-Adblock Killer (Script/List).
  • Remove or disable personal filters.
  • Enable only the filter lists you need, too many can make your browser unresponsive.
  • Force an update Adblocker lists
  • Force an update Script Manager
  • Check if the site is in “Supported Sites” or in “Changelog”.
    • If the site is not in it, please report it here.
    • If it exists, but the script does not work, it probably means that the antiadblocker has changed, please report it here
  • Try with another Browser.
  • Try with another Script Manager.
  • How to disable the update check Settings
  • How to disable the list check Settings
  • How write Adblock filters here
  • Where can report an advertisement here
  • Consult Discussions or Issues

So…no, guys. I don’t think so.

I’m not turning off the ad-blocker: I refuse to subject myself to advertisers’ garbage or allow it to soak up bandwidth that I have to pay for. There’s an easy alternative: don’t go to sites that block your ad-blocker.

Since more and more sites are doing that, what that means basically is I read less and less news.

And y’know what? That’s a good thing! Cruising news sites is one of my worst habits: I waste hour after hour after uncountable hour reading the news in its many Web-based iterations.

Fewer functional news sites = more time for living

The trick to getting the news, then, is simply to go to PBS, NPR, and BBC. I’m willing to donate to PBS and NPR. But I cannot afford to pay to read every news outlet that is required to get a full, reasonably balanced view of what’s going on in the world, nor am I going to subject myself to endless, intrusive nuisance advertising.

NPR’s national website has a news section that covers the nation, the world, politics, business, technology, science, health, and race & culture. Separately, you can go to your local NPR station’s site, and also to local NPR stations in other parts of the country. These often provide superior news coverage — of course, it’s not hard to get superior to a local news station’s play-nooz, but…just sayin’. Just Google NPR plus the local city of your choice; click on the “news” tab at the station’s website.

The daily update of PBS Newshour comes on at the PBS website late in the day — hereabouts, it appears around 5:00 or 5:30. And it’s a yakathon — I personally don’t have a lot of time to listen to talking heads. I can read a news report two or three times faster than a pretty woman or studly man can yap it at me. PBS publishes some transcripts of the Newshour’s content, which is useful.

BBC News is excellent. Coverage is superb, and you can get US and Canadian news at their website, as well as other international reporting.

Of course, this lets out reportage on the talking cows and the two-headed babies. But, alas, truth to tell, we can do without those lurid time-sucks. If you want lurid and freakish, try your local “news” stations, which are usually full of fluff and time-waste. By and large local news outlets do not report news well, but it’s more or less sort of better than nothing.

Heh. Maybe it is nothing. Maybe “nothing” is better than that stuff.

What you get in a blackout…

November 17, 2017
by funny
6 Comments

Good Cheap Coffee!

All right, all right: where else, eh?

Costco.

To my astonishment, Costco carries some decent whole-bean coffees. Not great, but very much on the high side of acceptable. And the stuff is cheap beyond belief.

As you’ll recall, the really good stuff comes from “The Little Guy,”* my favorite local supplier, at $15 a pound — rather more than I care to pay on a regular basis. AJ’s, my former favorite supplier and gourmet grocery market, charges about $12 a pound, but they apparently changed suppliers a few months ago. The espresso is no longer an especially dark roast, and the quality of the bean itself is noticeably inferior to what it used to be. Whole Foods here quit selling bulk coffee. Sprouts’s bulk coffee is excruciatingly bad. Eventually I found an “organic” bulk coffee at the fancy Fry’s supermarket on the fringe of Richistan, where a pound goes for about nine bucks.

And that’s what I’ve been buying: it’s pretty good. Certainly not up to The Little Guy’s product. But more than good enough for gummint work.

The other day I was at Costco with some friends. They use one of those Keurig things, so we were in the coffee aisle looking for their preferred variety of pod. This was an exception for me, because I never go into the coffee aisle there, having been told that all the coffee at Costco is Starbucks.

I personally don’t care for Starbucks coffee. In my experience, it’s low-flavor plonk whose highest and best use is to serve as a medium into which to pour sugar, cream, and artificial flavors. Yuck! The only way to get a halfway decent cup of coffee at a Starbucks is to ask for a café Americano. That will elicit a brew that tastes approximately like a decent cup of restaurant coffee. Which ain’t sayin’ much, but it’s better than what they sell as regular “coffee.”

So anyway, we’re mucking around in the coffee aisle and I happen to notice they carry a “Kirkland” brand, which appears to be different from the bags of “Starbucks” that populate most of their shelves of whole beans. Hm. Read the label: it doesn’t say it’s produced by Starbucks…but that means nothing, since Costco tends to be secretive about its suppliers. And it’s only NINE BUCKS for a fine Costco lifetime supply! A vast, bottomless bag of dark-roast coffee beans beckons.

They also had a make labeled “San Francisco,” hard to resist with a name like that. But the Kirkland was cheaper . . . and . . . why not? It comes in a three-pound bag, enough to last me a month or so. Nine dollah isn’t enough to bankrupt me…if I hate it, I’ll just donate it to someone’s cause. Or…hell, it’s Costco: you can bring ANYTHING back. 🙂

 Grabbed that. Turns out to be surprisingly good. Not as exquisite as The Little Guy’s, but very, very good. Better than the Fry’s organic dark roast. Significantly better than AJ’s. And light-years superior to Sprouts.

A month later, having consumed most of the Kirkland bag, I decided to try the “San Francisco” label. It also is pretty good. Not as good as the Kirkland dark roast, but highly creditable. About the same as Fry’s, I’d say. Better than AJ’s, better than Sprouts, surely better than Starbucks.

You can buy this stuff at Amazon, BTW, for a lot more than it costs in the store, and the natives seem to like it: Consumer reviews there range upwards of four stars. Then we have a guy who styles himself as a coffee expert: he loves the stuff. Whether that article is a paid post, I do not know…if it is, I hope he got paid plenty for it, because he goes all out in reviewing the Kirkland varieties. On the coffees I’ve tried, though, I have to say I’d agree with him.

WhatEVER. Give me upward of a month’s worth of decent whole-bean coffee, and you’ve bought my soul…

_____

*Not the store’s name. The affable proprietor was dubbed “The Little Guy” by SDXB within a week of the store’s opening. It’s a tiny coffeehouse in a Walmart shopping center situated on Gangbanger’s Way — draws its clientele from local retirees and from the medical staff at the huge urban medical center across the road.

November 16, 2017
by funny
3 Comments

Driving, driving, driving…

Or…not so much driving driving driving anymore.

I’ve become driving-averse in my old age, and I’m getting worse about it as I slide into my dotage.

Actually, I don’t think it’s “just me”: other people who are much younger say the same thing. Traffic here, while it’s nothing like say, D.C.’s or L.A.’s, is a bitch and growing worse, simply because there are too damn many people living here.

My favorite networking group, which convenes every Thursday morning, is now meeting at the Pavilions, on the border between Scottsdale and the Pima Indian Reservation. That is one HELL of a long way from the Central City. To complicate matters, I have to drive WAY around Robin Hood’s Barn to turn east out of the ’hood, because of the accursed reverse lanes on the main north-south drags. These clever people-movers declare it illegal to turn left between 6 and 9 a.m., making it impossible to get to the required freeway without major, major hassle.

This morning it took over 10 minutes to get from 7th Avenue to Central (that’s half a mile — I can walk that far in less than 10 minutes) because of a fender-bender at Central & Dunlap.  The crumpled cars weren’t even in the road! They were off in a fast-food dive’s parking lot, and still traffic came to a stop.

Eventually those of us who have survived come to 7th Street, where it’s anyone’s guess which lane to get into so as to beat our way across 7th, which is a seven-lane BEAR at that intersection. I make the wrong choice and pick the lane nearest the sidewalk.

Bumper to bumper, we’re moving through the green when a bum steps off the sidewalk in front of the guy in front of me, who jams on his brakes, causing me to jam on my brakes. My coffee cup leaps into the air and flies across the cabin, dumping about 10 ounces of hot, black, super-strong espresso all over the passenger seat’s beige upholstery. Luckily, at least, no passenger was occupying that seat…

When I turn south onto 7th so as to stop in the parking lot of the lovely abandoned gas station that hosts the bum encampment, the poor little derelict, who jumped back up on the sidewalk to avoid being run down by the guy who couldn’t or wouldn’t stop in time to not hit him (but in plenty of time to eff up my car’s interior), is treated to a stream of blue language that he probably hasn’t heard this side of Sheriff Joe’s Tent City.

Risking my life to get out of the car in this garden spot, I fling open the passenger door and blot up the coffee as best as I can but of course can’t get the stain out of the upholstery with the rag at hand. So turn back to my house, there to try to clean the car’s passenger seat as best as possible. Which ain’t very best.

Ughh!!! ENOUGH with that, already! As usual, I was up at 5 to wrestle with the dogs (who have to be fed early enough to do their business before I leave so I don’t have to clean it off the floors when I get home), attend to the night’s email, send out an emailed job referral I forgot to send (as promised…ahem) YESTERDAY, throw on some clothes and paint over the face and figure out what to do with the hair and bolt down breakfast on the run and then charge out into that maelstrom by 6:30 and drive into the blinding sun for half an hour (or more!).

That is just too damn much. After I finished trying to blot the coffee out of the upholstery and scrub out the stain, I sent my friends a message resigning from the group. I just cannot make that drive every week.

November 15, 2017
by funny
2 Comments

You load 16 tons…

and whaddaya get?

Well, if it’s dog meat, you get about 26 tons of dog food…

Today is Dog Food Prep Day, the human having failed in its untiring efforts to avoid working on said project. We’re almost out of prepared dog food; the package holding two large chunks of Costco pork has been defrosted for the past two or three days (in the fridge of course), and we still have a pile of leftover roast chicken.

The pork made a vast pile of ground-up cooked meat. Tossing the aging chicken in the food processor increased that cache by about 30%. Two or three cups of Coach’s Oats are now sitting there cooling down, so’s I can mix the whole shebang together with a mound of pulverized mixed vegetables.

I figure this will make about two weeks’ worth of doggy meals. Each dawg eats a half-pound a day; that adds up to a total of 1 pound a day to shovel into the wild animals’ maws. So…14 pounds, maybe? Possibly even more…I haven’t mixed it up and measured it out into refrigerator containers yet. But my guess is, pretty close to two weeks of food. I hope.

Because I don’t wanna do this again any sooner than two weeks from now.

***

Okay. Slight overcalculation: The mountain weighed out to about 9 pounds. That’s less than two weeks’ worth, dammit. In 8½ days, I’ll have to drop by Walmart and pick up a roll of FreshPet, which will hold them for another week.

So, this is the disadvantage of having two dogs: if it were only Cassie (or only Ruby), 9 pounds would last one 20-pound corgi for 18 days. That would be good. Very, very good.