Funny about Money

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

April 25, 2019
by funny
0 comments

And now i want…

a beer…

Just a beer. And a plate of pasta: comfort drink, comfort food.

Finally finished shoveling away the layers and layers of paper that have floated in the door and come to rest atop my desk. Interestingly, the desktop seems to be made of wood…huh! I’d forgotten that.

So gawdawful much paper comes flying in the door or gets dragged into the house in a purse or stuck on the bottoms of my shoes…God only knows how it all it all makes it way in here. I tend to drop it where it arrives: on the dining room table, on a kitchen counter, on the passenger seat of the car, on my desk…on my desk…on my desk….

It took the entire morning to dig the desk out from its current burden of paper, some of it dating back to 2018. About 90% of it is stuff that either needs to be kept or needs to be shredded, so less than a trash-basketful goes to the recycling. {sigh}. Well, except for the stuff you run through the shredder…that, actually, can be composted, if you’re careful to avoid grinding up any of the plastic “envelope windows” that come with some mail.

At any rate, after several hours of sorting, file-folder stuffing, and shredding, boyoboy does that desk look CLEAN. Who’d’ve thunk it was possible?

That notwithstandiung, the overall hassle never, ever stops.

This morning the DropBox hassle developed a new twist and turn. I called to tell them I don’t want them to renew my annual subscription for extra space and was horrified to discover that despite my having spent two and a half days transferring 87 berjillion kilobytes to iCloud and deleting said kilobytes from DropBox, the damn stuff is still on DropBox!

That’s right. They keep it as a “back-up” stashed away where you can’t get at it to kill it off.

Augh!

Getting rid of it takes an elaborate techno-hoop jump, following instructions that might as well be in Martian. I tried to reach a techie friend to see if I could hire him (please!) to help, but he’s not answering.

So…what alternative?

American Express, I guess. This is why I persist in using AMEX: like Costco, like Apple, they have superlative customer service. I call and reach a patient CSR. Explain the situation: DropBox is not about to let me off the hook, and I do not want to pay for the extra server space to accommodate data that they will not simply reach out and delete or explain to me in simple terms how to erase.

N-o-o-o-o-o problem, quoth the AMEX dude. He put a block on the next bill from DropBox.

DropBox charges $9.99 per month(!) for a terabyte of storage. Apple is now charging the same, for the same amount of storage — having dropped its price by 10 bucks a month. However, I do not need a terabyte of cloud space: for $2.99 I can get 200 gigabytes. Well, even unedited and un-shoveled out, my DropBox files add up to a mere(!) 160GB. A-n-n-d there’s a LOT of stuff in there that could go away. When I get around to it, I’ll move a pile of superannuated debris off of iCloud, which will free up enough space to last for all of posterity.

Weather is starting to warm up a bit. If I felt like jumping into slightly chilly water, I could plunge into the newly resurfaced pool. But I’m too lazy to get cold just now: bad human.

The watering system is on the fritz. I need to call an irrigation guy to fix it, since all Gerardo seems to do is shut off the valves for the parts that spring a leak, leaving my plants to die. He doesn’t seem to understand — or to care — that a potted plant will die in one day flat if it’s not watered daily once the temps are over about 90 or 95 degrees. So that’s yet another hassle to deal with.

And I do need to find a tree guy to remove the devil-pod tree on the west side, which has become a bit menacing. The US weather service expects this winter’s El Niño to linger over the Pacific through the summer. What meant nice rains in the winter, then, will mean heavy winds and violent monsoons this summer, hiking the risk of that tree breaking and falling on my neighbor’s house or mine. Again, Gerardo said he’d do it…but…no action there. Dayum….just what I need to kill some more time on.

The winter’s rain, though, produced some very gorgeous flowers this spring…

 

Unfortunately these look awful. Somehow the new iCloud thing has f**cked up my photo function. Dammit! Am I ever SICK of this computer bullshit! It just simply never stops!

 

April 23, 2019
by funny
4 Comments

“Why didn’t I think of that…?”

Ever have one of those “Why Didn’t I Think of That Before?” moments? 

The chore-a-day approach to household cleaning is one of those. Why did it take me 70 years to figure that out? How come it never occurred to my mother? Duh!

Well, I just came up with another one.

As you may have noticed, the price of beef — particularly of steaks — is through the roof. I no longer can afford to eat steak at all. However, I do require at least one serving of some kind of meat per day…sorry, I’m simply not the veggie type. I don’t like the icky flavor of farmed chicken and also can’t afford organic free-range air-cooled chicken. Nor do I care at all for farmed American pork (ech!). So one way of filling this gaping hole in my normal diet is by substituting Costco’s excellent hamburger (which really is first-rate) for steak.

But…really…I’m just not that nuts about grilled hamburger patties. Once in a while…okay, whatEVER. But I find the “while” gets longer and longer. So now what do I have in the freezer but a TON of hamburger, divvied into patties and frozen as single servings. Which — let’s face it — at the rate my enthusiasm is flagging, is not likely to be consumed anytime soon.

So I’m sitting here thinking am i gonna throw all that meat out? don’t think so…but what’m i gonna do with it?

While, no, I’m not nuts about grilled hamburger, I do love a pot of chili. Or Caribbean-style stuffed squash. Or curry. Or cheese ravioli or spaghetti or lasagne bathed in tomato sauce spiked with hamburger.

For all of those, you start with the same first step: sauté some onion and garlic (add celery and carrot if you want to go all out). Remove from the pan and then brown the hamburger in the veggie drippings. Then mix the cooked veggies back into the cooked meat. This is the basis of most American-style tomato pasta sauces. And it’s where you start when you make chili.

But it’s enough of a chore that when you’re tired and hungry at the end of the day, you just don’t feel like bothering.

But…but…wait…BUT? Why do you have to do that every time you cook one of those dishes?

Why couldn’t you cook up the foundation  for any of these sauces or stews ahead of time and freeze it? Why not take that mountain of Costco hamburger, chop a couple of onions, a couple of celery sticks, and a carrot, and sauté the vegetables, brown the meat, let it cool, and then divide it into meal-size portions, pack them into Ziplock bags, and toss them in the freezer?

Estimate how much of your meat mixtures would go into any one of the desired final dishes. That’s how much you’d pack into one bag.

Then, when you a crave a pot of chili (let’s say), you pull out a bag, defrost it, dump it into a stew pot (or a crockpot, if you’re in no hurry), add a hefty dose of chili powder, a big can of tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce or paste, maybe a little beef broth if have some around, and a generous splash of red wine. Allow to simmer long enough to blend the flavors, And voilà! Chili without the work. You could easily throw this together after a day of work.

Same for any other dish that requires a base of sautéed hamburger (or sausage!) and aromatic veggies.

It’s a weekend project that could feed you for many weeks to come.

Why didn’t I think of this before?

April 22, 2019
by funny
4 Comments

Why I stopped carrying a purse…

A couple years ago, I decided to stop carrying a purse around. Why? Well, because in my part of town, it just flat isn’t safe. Any time you walk across the parking lots of our neighborhood grocery stores, you run the risk of mugging.

The way to minimize that risk: carry a wallet with your credit cards and nuisance store “member” cards in a pocket. Leave the purse at home, in a closet.

Interestingly, this works in a variety of positive ways, one of which is to cut panhandling exponentially. When a bum thinks I’m not carrying cash, he doesn’t barge up and demand that I share it with him.

But…then there is Tempe, even more richly infested with bums and panhandlers than the ’Hood, here at the end of the accursed lightrail line. (The lightrail is affectionately known in these parts as “the bum express.”)

Today I went out to that garden spot, that lovely little college town (you have to live in Arizona to sense the full irony in that characterization), to meet my friend and business partner for a late lunch at our favorite overpriced restaurant. Had to park about a block up the road, there being no spaces anywhere near the front of said restaurant.

Afterward, we drifted out to the front sidewalk and stood chatting for a few minutes. A bum wandered up and hovered nearby, studying a parking meter as if it held some clue to the meaning of life, the universe, and all that. Tina’s car was right in front of the place; shortly she jumped into her vehicle and drove off. I now had to walk a ways to get to my car.

Because of the quasi-infected surgical wound on my leg, I haven’t been able to wear my jeans, which are about the only women’s clothes you can buy that reliably contain pockets. So I’d brought a small purse with a long strap, which I’d slung over my shoulder.

The bum looks up and gazes at me quizzically, his eyes a startling blue. If he were washed and sober, he’d be a handsome man. But he is…well, neither washed nor sober.

I avoid his glance (Rule of Womanhood No. 213: Never make eye contact) and start walking up the block toward my car.

Naturally, he follows me. I’m walking fast, and he’s keeping pace with me, just a few steps behind.

I walk past my car — not a chance am I going to stop long enough for him to get any closer. As I march along, I slip the purse strap over my head so the bag hangs crosswise across my chest. And I search for a building that I can get into.

ASU and the city of Tempe have littered this stretch of the lovely downtown with pointless museums, all of which are locked tight. I keep hiking all the way down to Mill Avenue, where at last I come to a sandwich shop that’s open. I dart in the door and find — thank God — four burly men, two behind the counter and two standing in line to order food. They look a little startled when they see me come flying in.

Fortunately, the shop is fronted with ceiling-to-floor windows. I can see the vagrant walk on past and continue north on Mill. After waiting for a minute or two, I slip back out the door and hike back down the sidewalk to my car.

What did I think was going to happen? Well…take your pick:

  • Nothing.
  • The guy would ask me for a handout.
  • The guy would grab my purse and yank it off my body.

“Nothing” would be nice, but experience suggests it was the least likely of the three possibilities.

Frankly, I suspect if I’d had my credit cards stashed invisibly in the pocket of a pair of jeans, that guy would never have followed me.

This is something you learn from living in the central city. In the old house, one old lady was walking from her car into a nearby grocery store when a purse-snatcher threw her to the ground to grab her bag, thereby breaking her hip. Here in the ‘hood, another shithead shot one of my neighbors when he mistakenly thought she was resisting an attempt to steal her purse.

And that, folks, is why I do not carry a purse. Not unless I’m forced to it.

April 22, 2019
by funny
4 Comments

Chaos, continued…

So in another 15 minutes I’ve got to race out the door so as to be parked at the credit union’s door when they open. Jeez!

I went online to check on the new account my beloved Banker (Justin) opened at the credit union, by way of forestalling any hackers poaching from my impossible-to-close goddamn PayPal account. After trying and failing to get in — none of my passwords work, and you have to have a password to get customer service from PayPal — I realized the way to prevent malefactors from draining my account through DropBox was simply to change the account number at the credit union. Justin agreed with this and made it so.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well. No.

After I got home…after dark, well after the CU closed on Friday…I went online to check this and found a nearly empty savings account and no checking account.

Several thousand dollars reside(d?) in that account. So as you can imagine, I’ve been in a sweat all weekend.

Seems to me there are three possibilities:

  1. The account is simply misplaced somehow and can, with any luck, be restored to my access.
  2. The account had already been hacked and was empty at the time Justin changed it over to a new account number; hence it doesn’t show online because there’s nothing to show.
  3. I need some new password to get at it.

No. 3 is highly unlikely: why would I be able to see the savings account if I needed a new password to get into my CE Desk accounts? They’re linked.

No. 2 is a possibility, but it seems to me Justin would have mentioned that the account was empty, since he knew my concern about this was that someone might empty it.

No. 1 is, I sincerely hope, the likeliest scenario.

In any event, even the simplest explanation adds still MORE hassle to an already hassle-filled series of crises. Now I have to drive clear across the city, do battle with this new phenomenon, drag back here, try again to get online…oh, shit shit shit SHIT! Am I ever sick and tired of dealing with crises and catastrophes!!!!!!!!!

To add to the fun, my erstwhile business partner and I had planned to meet at our favorite restaurant this afternoon. So that means that in addition to driving and driving and driving and driving to the west side of the Valley, I’ll have to turn around and drive and drive and drive and drive to the east side!

Fortunately, we’re meeting for dessert, I having decided that the cuisine there has deteriorated to the point that it’s not worth $50 for a fancy meal and a glass or two of wine. Their desserts are still excellent, but the last two times I’ve been there, neither meal was worth the prices they charge.

Which is too bad: they used to be decidedly worth it.

***
Late morning

She’s b-a-a-a-c-k!

Arrived at the credit union as the doors opened. One guy was ahead of me, but two tellers were on duty, one of whom promptly referred me to the manager.

The heroic Justin, of course, started this day across town in the corporate office, whence he has been despatched. Deb, a migrating manager, was standing in for our regular boss.

It didn’t take her long to see the problem and to harass their IT people. First off, she discovered that the account’s funds are still intact: no problem. Then she beat the IT folks about the head & shoulders to get make the account show up on my end. She said the fix would take two or three days to “take.” But that’s fine, as long as we know that the money is there and we know where it is. Recurring payments for CEDesk are charged to AMEX, so if push came to shove, I could’ve paid them from Personal. But it doesn’t look like that will be necessary.

And, though there’s no way I can close the PayPal account (apparently), it is now disconnected from any of my bank accounts and so nothing can be sponged out of the credit union.

Can you imagine trying to get this mess cleaned up at a Wells Fargo or BofA branch? 😀

Twenty minutes before it’s time to head for lovely downtown Tempe…

***

The pool is now crystal clear: check that off the fiasco list.

iCloud seems to have scrambled some data and lost other data in the download from DropBox. However, so far I haven’t discovered losses that I can’t live without.

Clients: One is confused. I would like to migrate him to iCloud but fear this would cause even more confusion. I’ve left his files on DropBox, but he still seems a little flummoxed about the whole affair. This, I will deal with later.

Surgical leg wound: slowly getting better, i think. Have an appointment tomorrow.

Lost Social Security and Medicare cards: Dunno how that lovely man swung it, but both cards have now showed up!

And so…away!

 

 

 

April 20, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Update from Chaos Central

Slowly, SLOWLY, SLOWLEEEEEE some aspects of the present Chaos Storm are resolving.

DropBox: After three days of downloading, it’s all copied over into iCloud. Now, after one last backup (which presumably will take another 36 hours, if it can hold together that long), I will be able to delete all the DB files except for those dedicated to a couple of clients who freakin’ insist on using it. When they’re gone, DB is gone, done, GONE.

iCloud: Seems to have finally absorbed all the Drop-Box data, after three long days of grinding away. Tried to back up to DropBox Time Machine, preparatory to deleting DropBox Files, and discovered Time Machine wants to copy down BOTH DrobBox and iCloud: all the redundant contents thereof. Jayzus! This will take till the middle of the next century!

PayPal: In the wee hours of the morning — along about 2 a.m. — I woke up and thought…hmmm…I wonder. So, stupidly wondering, I opened the new online credit union account and found a) one savings account containin g $5.59 and b)…nothing.

That’s right: NOTHING. Nooooo sign of a checking account. Four grand has disappeared into the ether. I have vendors to pay, and far’s I can tell, I have no money to pay them.

That was at 2:00 this morning.

Needless to say, I have not gone back to sleep since then. Presumably I will not go back to sleep before 9:00 Monday morning, when I intend to be standing outside the crecdit union’s doors waiting for the staff to show up.

Mentioned this in passing to a friend who’s a legal assistant for a ferocious criminal litigator. She said “eeeek! Call the police.”

Well. Not so much. I do not know whether this reflects hacking into PayPal (no money left = no new checking account) or whether my system is just not accessing the new account. In the immortal words of Zaphod Beeblebrox: DON’T PANIC.

Easier said, o’course, than done.

Pool fiasco: As of this morning, it was about 50% improved, having had two gallons of chlorine applied to its hazy depths. Off to Leslie’s, where for a change the boss was holding forth. He was highly amused by the tale of…whateveritis…and thought Pool Dude’s advice was good as far as it went, which wasn’t far enough. Chlorine, despite adding two gallons(!!!!!) of liquid chlorine, was back down to zilch.

He thought another shock treatment and then keeping the Cl level fairly high for awhile would do the trick. Needing some more of my favorite granulated Cl product, I decided to spring for 25 pounds, which despite the bracing price is far less per pound than what I pay for smaller packages of it.

Computer: ay-freaking-AMAZING! Running perfectly. Effectively Apple rebuilt the MacBook and sent me a brand-new computer. WHY does anyone buy anything other than Apple products?

My (few!) surviving clients: Returned a revised Table of Contents and four edited chapters to one client; two chapters and some writing coaching to the other. Think of that: I’ll never have to figure out what a Chinese professor of higher mathematics is trying to say…ever again. {sigh}

State of mind and body, after starting at two o’clock this morning? Exhausted. Going back to bed, 9:04 p.m.

April 19, 2019
by funny
1 Comment

Descent into Chaos

Funny has been incommunicado for the past week because…well…I feel like I’m swimming uphill against a river of chaos at flood stage! Just about everything that can go wrong has gone wrong: The computer, PayPal, DropBox, the pool, surgical wound infected or possibly gone wrong in some more bizarre way…about the only fiascos that haven’t happened are a leaking roof, a crashed or busted car, and a kaput hot water heater. And that last is threatening to occur.

And of course, all this happens when, despite having lost 80% of my customer base, a freaking FLOOD of work is pouring in the front door. And it’s Eastertide, so the choir is occupying some portion of almost every hectic day.

Okay…

PayPal: They have no customer service. Well, worse than that: the one person I got ahold of was just rude. After a series of fiascos, beginning with their policy of not allowing me to transfer my clients’ payments to my bank account, costing me not only payment for that job but also payment for a job for a different Chinese scientist, I want to close the damn account. But I can’t get in: my current password won’t work. Neither will any of my other passwords. And because you can’t reach a person there without entering a password…well…of course you can’t close the account.

The Copyeditor’s Desk’s bank account is attached to that PayPal account. This means anyone who hacks in can transfer cash out of my bank account.

The only way I can think of to forestall that is to change the number on my bank account. That apparently doesn’t involve closing the account and opening a new one — at least not according to a phone rep I reached at the credit union. But it does mean I have to traipse across the city to speak to the manager in person. That will be a major hassle.

Yesterday I was too busy coping with the swimming pool fiasco and the iCloud hassle to make this happen.

iCloud < Dropbox

So, yes. I’ve had a series of problems with DropBox, too, again not resolvable because that august service also has next to no customer service. ENOUGH with that, already! The path of most resistance there: open an iCloud account and move all my stored data from DropBox to iCloud.

Well. This entails transferring tens of thousands of files. Almost 48 gigabytes of data.

Lovely.

*****

Many, many hours later…

The data transfer project is still under way. I spent all day yesterday on that project. Today iCloud hung when it tried to transfer some Big Gulp of data, and has not unhung. It stayed hung for hours, until just a couple of minutes ago, and since the dog just bit me and damn near crippled one of my typing paws, it’s unlikely to get fixed today. Or, I’ll betcha, tomorrow.

Moving on to the pool: Pool Dude came and cleaned the cartridge filter, a fairly simple and short job for which they charged me a staggering fee. He remarked, when he came in, on how sparkling clean the pool was, how crystal-clear the water. Within an hour after he left, the thing looked like someone had dumped in a box of Starlac Instant Milk.

Ugh! What a mess.

Water sample to Leslie’s: low in chlorine, high in chloramines. Dump in some FreshNClear (a non-chlorinated shock treatment) and prepare to use Phosphase…which will clog up the filter, requiring it to be cleaned again ASAP, to the tune of ANOTHER $150.

Call Pool Dude’s employers. They send him right over. He says not to use the FreshNClear. I say I’ve already put it in. He snorts. “Pour in two gallons of liquid chlorine.”

Sure enough. Everyone has gallons of liquid chlorine laying around the house, right?

When I get a chance, come the next morning, I schlep up to the Depot and buy two gallons of liquid chlorine.

Its instructions say to use ONE gallon, not two. Taking a chance, I apply only one bottleful of it.

Result: Starlac.

This morning I dumped in the second gallon. Cloudiness is just marginally better.

Pool Dude has said the pool will clear on its own. I don’t believe this for 30 seconds. However, my hands are fuller than full, so I decide to take a chance that no harm will be done if I wait until Monday to do battle with this fiasco.

What a fuckin’ mess.

This, you understand, is probably going to require me to drain and refill the pool And that will cost me about $200. On top of the $150 I just paid Pool Dude’s employer. Yeah.

I do not know what happened here, but I do know that contrary to Pool Dude’s assertion, there was no algae in there and that gray mist is NOT caused by an algae overgrowth. (Give. Me. A. Fuckin. BREAK!!!!!! How dumb DO they think the Little Woman is?)

Infected dermatological surgery wound: No improvement. Got an appointment next Tuesday. This is not a good thing, because I’m beginning to think, since there is exactly zero change in this thing no matter how I try to treat it, that this is actually not an infection but possibly a tumor that flared up into something one helluvalot more ominous than it was when they sprayed it with liquid nitrogen. It is black. Can you spell “melanoma,” Little Woman? I’m damn scared and would like not to have to wait until next week to have a medical professional see the fucker.

Clients: Rattling around the peripheral fences, three chapters to one of ’em, four to the other. They’re anxious about the demise of DropBox. Assure them not to panic. Scent of panic is on the air.

Rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Further Distraction: Lost track of the fact that we had to sing for the Stations of the Cross this noon. Flew in the door, unrobed, and  shot up the stairs as the rest of them had taken their places in the loft. Gasping for breath, just barely caught up. Very, very lovely music.

Stumble away from church. Stop by AJs and buy something for lunch/dinner.

But then realize that will never do: I need to go to the credit union and put them up to changing the account number on my corporate checking account. This is now attached to the new PayPal account to which PayPal will not allow me access. NONE of the passwords, including the most recent, work to get me into PayPal. And…you can’t reach customer service in unless you’re signed in with a password. Yeah.

Well, I want that account UNattached, before some hacker gets in there (if they haven’t already) and drains my damn bank account.

So, before presuming to eat a meal, I get back in the car, half-starved, and traipse westward westward, ever westward to the credit union. There I find my favorite and smartest Bank Dude. His cube is festooned with balloons, one of them saying “We’ll miss you.” Helle’s belles.

“What’s this? Are you leaving?”

“Yeah, Today’s my last day. I’m being moved to corporate.”

Well. No one of my acquaintance deserves a promotion and a raise more than this gent. But still…I’m not happy to see our wonderful man go. Oh well. Luckily I forced myself to go out there today…for a brief shining moment I imagined I could skip the junket until next Monday and have…oh, you know, the first and only full meal of the day, along about 2:00 p.m.

It was a moment of serendipity that I took it into my head to drive out there today, even though I really truly absolutely positively did NOT want to.

In his classic cool and polished manner, he morphed the business’s checking account into a new bidness checking account with a new number, and fuckuyouverymuch PayPal. He even ordered up a new box of checks for me.

So. This is good. Really, I need do nothing more, because now exactly zero harm can come from a PayPal account that can do me exactly zero good.

Manage to shake loose the iCloud transfer software with a couple of DIY tricks. One of them — or possibly both in combination — interrupted the hung process. Delete the superannuated and probably unnecessary data; restart iCloud and set it to transferring the remaining folders-on-foldersful of data. It proceeds without (finally! after two days of this!) hitch.

Thank god the chow acquired at AJs is cooked and need only be microwaved. Finally sit down to stuff my face. Drink almost half a bottle of wine and…lo! I can barely hold my eyes open!

Dog bit my hand in a ball-tossing game. Drew blood, inflicted bruises, hurt like hell. Bandaids have taken to raising welts wherever I paste them on my skin. Dig out the last of the strip gauze; wrap paw tightly enough to stop bleeding. Now tomorrow I’ll have to go out and buy more of that stuff.

And so, to bed…