Funny about Money

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

August 15, 2019
by funny
4 Comments

The Strangeness of Everyday Life

Ever think that life gets hilariouser and hilariouser by the day?

Hilariouser: I use that term ironically….

A couple weeks ago, the Mayo sent a snail-mail letter — on a piece of paper, can you imagine? — saying that the address to which the credit union was sending my online bill payments was wrong, and asking if I would please change it.

Well, you can’t get into that feature from your computer. So yesterday morning I drive over to the credit union to ask if one of their tellers would please get into the system and correct the address. Understand: the Mayo’s address is something the CU has in its system; in theory I shouldn’t have to enter it at all. What this seems to suggest is that the CU itself has the wrong address, rather than that somehow five or six years ago I entered the wrong address.

My trusty banker dude, Justin, was promoted two or three months ago, leaving his station empty. So if a teller can’t deal with something, the only staff there who can has been the manager. But when I walked in, lo! There was a NEW LADY sitting at Justin’s desk. And wouldn’tcha know, the teller fobs me off on her.

I explain the situation…and as I’m doing so, realize that this dear soul is as dumb as the day is long. She just barely understands what I’m talking about.

Okay, she’s new on the job….but thank goodness she wasn’t on the job earlier this year, when I was dodging around the PayPal/BofA hassle. She gets on the phone, calls someone, and asks what to do. They tell her to get into my account and then they’ll show her how to change the address. So…instead of calling up my account on her computer the way Justin always did, she goes to the CU’s homepage and asks me to sign in on her computer with my username and password. She hands the keyboard across her desk and asks me to sign in.

What?????? I don’t have my password with me. My computer automatically signs me in, using one of the EIGHTEEN SINGLE-SPACED PAGES OF UNIQUE PASSWORDS that my web adventures have generated over the years. I haven’t the faintest idea what my password is.

So I walk out, having wasted a fair amount of my time driving up there. I’m so flabbergasted by how stupid she is — truly, an amoeba would have more power under the hood — that I’m not even mad as the proverbial cat. She’s so stupid she comes out as funny.

WHY, for godsake, would you put someone as dumb as a cow into a job like that?

So now, I guess, after this I’ll have to pay the Mayo by charging their bills on AMEX. That’s fine, actually…tho’ it’s a little extra hassle, I get a nice kickback from everything I charge on that card.

Onward to Costco…

Speaking of herds of cows… HOLY cow! 😀

Waited until yesterday to make this run, because usually Costco is not very crowded on Wednesday.

I guess that was more or less true, except…the people who were in the store were just freaking weird. I would be walking along in a straight line, obviously headed to a destination, and a ninny would drift into my path and then just stop there, blocking the way. You could see that they could see me…they just didn’t give a shit. Once…okay, I could deal with that. Twice…all right, something’s in the air. But this happened repeatedly! Everyplace I tried to go, there was some chucklehead blocking my way.

Don’t think I’ve ever had that experience there…or anywhere. It was just strange behavior. I was in no hurry, so it wasn’t like I was feeling touchy because I wanted to get going, or like I was setting people off by obviously being anxious to “get there first.”

Swimming Pool Service & Repair sent their guy over to set a pump in the pool and drain the water into the sewer connection. He was the chatty type…I learned a great deal about his life. That was fine: I had nothing else to do, and it was nice to chat with a human for a change.

As the water level dropped, it became ever more evident that the walls are festooned with algae. Honestly, I do NOT know how they’re going to beat that stuff. The problem is the heat in the water resulting from the stupid blue surface, which this guy acknowledged. I suggested we should paint it white (turns out you can paint that stuff). He was horrified. I told him my plan, if we can’t resolve the problem, is to fill in the pool and plant a tree there. Horrified some more. 😀 He believes the problem is chemical balance. I believe the problem is the PebbleSheen surface.

Heh…we’ll soon see who’s right!

August 13, 2019
by funny
2 Comments

Pool (still…literally)/Home Depot Rescue/Doggy Miracle

So tomorrow the Swimming Pool Service & Repair crew is supposed to come over to drain the pool and start a massive cleanup. Nothing that I’ve done has halted the steady swampification of the water, which now looks like something that should harbor a Creature from the Black Lagoon. You can barely see the drain covers in the deep end.

Frankly, I’ll be surprised if this Great Deswamping works, because I believe the problem is the heat evinced by dark color of the unfortunate PebbleSheen surface, whose application was one of the great errors of my home-owning career.

My son came over yesterday and tried to persuade me to cancel this project. He’s convinced the problem can be solved by the application of a few bottles of Clorox. I explained that Clorox IS liquid chlorine, which I have applied to the tune of several dozen gallons. Yesterday I ran out of liquid chlorine and out of money, so started using the granulated chlorine remaining in the shed. This, I applied along about 2 in the afternoon, after having poured in my last gallon about 7 this morning. By the time M’hijito arrived, around 6:30 the chlorine level was down to nil — meaning enough to last 2 1/2 days was gone in 4 1/2 hours.

Mr. Johnson, the former health inspector and pool chemical guru, says that kind of chlorine consumption is the result of the chlorine interacting with organic matter in the water — meaning algae, leaves, dead insects, sweat, pee, whatever. When Cl disappears that fast, it means organic matter is high — which we know from testing the water, too.

So, hope springing eternal, I had dropped Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner in there and along with the nuclear blast of chlorine. He did at least vacuum up the algae clinging to the floors and walls, but that decidedly does not mean they’re gone. They’re just in the filter, inside Harvey, and floating in the water.

Just now the pump is off, the motionless emerald-green water is opaque as fog, and we await a miracle.

We shall see if SPS&R’s scheme works. I’ll be very surprised if it does. I think we need to apply an algaecide such as YellowOut, which entails a cleaning the filter ($150), then dumping chlorine and the algae-killing chemical in a carefully calibrated ratio, running the pump 24 hours (again) for another couple of days, then cleaning the filter again ($150, again).

In other fields of minor catastrophes…

The back door’s latch set fell apart — its handle came off. Appeared that a set screw had fallen out and probably gotten vacuumed up and then tossed in the trash. Sooo… I drove over to my favored locksmith, a venerable operation in these parts, where I figured I could buy a set screw to fit a Kwikset door handle.

Guy sez, “Wellllll….. We can’t know what size set screw without seeing the cylinder that it fits in.” So, since (obviously) I can’t take the whole damn thing out of the door to traipse it over to their shop, I arrange to have a locksmith come over and fix it.

That would be, we might conclude, exactly what he had in mind.

On the way home, I think… “I’ll bet Home Depot has a set screw that will fit Kwikset hardware.” So drive up there. Find exactly the same door handle set on the shelf. Ask if they can sell me a set screw.

HD guy sez, “Chances are you don’t need a screw. These things are known to work themselves up into the cylinder, not out. All you have to do is put the handle back in place and rotate the screw back outward.”

“What size screwdriver will I need?” I ask, thinking I may or may not have one that’s small enough.

“You need a hex wrench. Here: take this. Bring it back the next time you come in.”

Jaw drops.

“Thanks!” say I, fleeing before anyone can catch me.

And…darned if it didn’t work! The handle is now FIXED! For free. Not for a $100+ service call…

Think o’ that….

It was this lock & safe outfit’s guy who, I remain convinced, lifted my cardholder full of credit and Medicare cards when he was here rescuing the office deadbolt from the key I broke off inside it. Thank goodness at least I didn’t have my driver’s license in there. But…it never resurfaced, and the last time I had it was when I was standing in the living room forking an AMEX card over to that guy. I’m dead sure he took it, because if he hadn’t, sooner or later it would have surfaced.

The dog and I set out at quarter after five this morning. It was gorgeous outside. The heat seems to have broken a little, at least for the time being, so that early morning is a lovely time to walk two miles. And because the sun is coming up a bit later now, too, you don’t get the glare in your eyes as you’re strolling eastward.

A-n-n-n-d…in the small miracles department, Ruby the Corgi has lost a pound or two during all these early-morning walks through 90-degree heat, the result being that her little harness no longer fits her. She’s figured out how to wiggle free of it, and now does so regularly. So yesterday after she’d weaseled loose, I hooked her leash to her collar…expecting about 3/4 of a mile of mighty fight. But…but NAY! she trotted right along like she was a normal, leash-trained dawg!

Whaaaa???? We have that harness because she has, in the past, put up such a fight that she would hurt her neck and throat and bring on violent episodes of reverse-sneezing…which is really just a symptom of collapsed trachea. (“Just”…holeee gawd…)

Well. This was a switch.

Snapping the leash to her collar is a far cry from having to wrestle a squirming dog into a harness, secure it, and attach a leash. So I tried the collar-snap-on again this morning, and lo! The whole two-mile junket was accomplished as though she were a normal, sane dog. She did not try to trap the matched pair of labs. She didn’t try to pounce the Gay Guy’s miniature mutts. She didn’t even indulge a lunging frenzy at the Shi-Tzu Lady’s annoying fluff-ball. Nothing!

Admittedly, we didn’t come across her pal Sammy (the world’s silliest-looking pound puppy). But Sammy is benign and will not hurt her if she annoys him. Soooo…. It looks like wonders really DO never cease.

August 11, 2019
by funny
20 Comments

The Big Pool Decision: Stay or Go?

Am I crazy? This idea is beginning to make more and more sense to me: Get rid of the backyard swimming pool. Tear it out and replace it with a nice xeriscapic garden.

You’ll recall that I drew out about 10 grand to resurface the pool, since its 16-year-old plaster was coming off in divots. I elected to have Swimming Pool Service & Repair, my favorite pool dudes, apply PebbleSheen in a dark blue color.

BIG mistake. Actually, it’s the biggest mistake I’ve made in 40 years of homeownership. The dark color absorbs so much solar heat that the water temp is about at bathtub level, which cultivates algae and bacteria in vast legions. The water is hazy with microorganisms, the walls — whose surface is now too coarse to brush effectively — grow coats of mustard algae, and the only way to control that seems to be to apply several gallons of liquid chlorine every day and to run the circulation through the main drain 24/7.

Well, running that pump 24 hours a day jacked up the power bill by $100, and that doesn’t reflect what it will cost to run it like that for 30 days — we’ve only been doing this for a little over two weeks. The Depot charges $6.87 for two gallons of liquid chlorine, and the soda ash runs…I don’t recall offhand, but I think I paid $50 for the last bucket of it from Leslie’s. None of these efforts works for more than a few hours.

I can’t afford to pay some $215 a month for chlorine ($6.87 x 31 days) plus maybe $200 extra a month on the power bill plus God only knows how much more for other chemicals and $50 per visit from the only pool guy who seems to have anything like a clue. I can’t swim in the pool — can’t go in it with the chlorine levels through the stratosphere, nor do I care to jump into water that looks like someone poured Starlac into it. And trying to deal with this stuff has me out there about once an hour from dawn to dusk, struggling with the thing. I’m pouring stupid amounts of money and annoying amounts of unavailing work into a hole in the ground that I can’t even use.

By the way: Yes, I do know how to maintain a swimming pool. I’ve been doing it for 16 years in this house and did it for 10 years in another house. NEVER did I have problems that even vaguely approach this fiasco.

So…I’m now seriously thinking that the time has come to have the pool demolished and filled in. Jackhammering out the KoolDeck, replacing it with desert landscaping, and planting a specimen Desert Museum paloverde in dirt dumped into the hole would make a nice garden out there, and it would require almost zero maintenance. I figure the project would cost about 10 grand. This, since I just spent that much to have the goddamn thing resurfaced, is in the “holy sh!t” category.

However…assuming the current expenses continue, on average, then the job would pay for itself in about two years. Videlicet: assuming an average electric bill increase of $150/month (if the issue subsides enough that it’s unnecessary to run the pump 24 hours a day in the winter), the annual cost of chlorine, power, soda ash, and service from the pool guys would come to $5556. If it “only” costs $10,000 to fill in the pool, the savings on the present out-of-control costs would be made up in one year and nine months (1.79 years).

Since the pump is unlikely to hold up very much longer under the current abuse, this figure is no doubt conservative. It doesn’t count the cost of water to keep the thing topped up, or the $150 every three or four months to have someone come and clean the filter. Or the cost of draining it and refilling with clean water every few years.

Am I crazy? Yes, no, maybe??

I realize that removing the pool will damage the property value of the house. However…

  • With any luck at all, I intend to live in this house until I die. I figure that will be another 10 to 12 years.
  • Lowering the property value will also lower the property taxes, which are pushing the limit of what I can afford to pay, especially with the mad gentrification going on in the neighborhood now.
  • Some buyers don’t want a pool, and so the proposition that no pool = lower sale price is questionable.
  • If I do manage to stay in the house until I croak over, then what do I care how much it will sell for?
  • Less property management labor will mean I can afford to stay in the house longer, which will keep living expenses down.

Is that a sane calculation?

And where will the ten thousand dollars come from? Well, I can either draw it down out of investments (which I’d prefer not to do) or I could take out a loan against the house. I already have a $3,000 line of credit at the beloved credit union. I’m sure they’d lend me ten grand without a blink. Right now the interest rate on a home equity loan is 5%; they’re too cagey to post the rates for personal loans. For that matter, the Copyeditor’s Desk has ten grand just sitting right there in its little bank account.

I don’t want to do something stupid and self-destructive out of frustration. What do you think about the advisability of this scheme?

August 7, 2019
by funny
5 Comments

Dodging the Bullets?

Once again, an outbreak of our nation’s public mental illness: madmen shooting everybody in sight. And as we know from experience, whenever one  nutcase picks up his fake AK-47 and blows away a bunch of innocents, every other crazy in the country thinks that’s a grand idea, so we can be pretty sure one incident will be followed by at least one more. That’s what happened this time…so far it’s only one copycat shooting. But the night is young…

Do you find yourself taking steps to avoid the line of fire when these outbreaks of lunacy occur? I sure do.

During the time we were living in London so I could do research for a book, the IRA was holding forth. They were extremely violent, and they favored bombs. They liked to make their point, such as it was, by killing not just British soldiers but British civilians. One of their favorite tricks was to drop a time bomb into a post box. The perp would be long gone by the time the thing went off, sending metal shrapnel as well as flaming mail in all directions. Many people I knew would not walk on the same side of the street where a post box was located, or if they saw one down the block, would cross the road before they got to it.

This was just one the various strategies the citizenry used to avoid being blown to kingdom come. People would avoid going to pubs known to be frequented by soldiers and stay away from various public events.

So the question is, what steps do Americans take to stay out of the lunatics’ crosshairs?

The day after the Dayton massacre, I needed to go to Home Depot. And I’ll tellya: I really was given pause. Unfortunately the need was pressing: I really didn’t have time to order online and wait several days for the product to be delivered. One of the things I tend to do, when these spates of madness are in progress, is stay out of big box stores, but I reluctantly drove up there — on a Monday, when I expected any perps would figure fewer targets would be around.

So what, if anything, can you do to protect yourself?

  • Stay out of big-box stores, especially Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s
  • Whenever possible, order necessaries from Amazon
  • Avoid sporting events
  • Stay out of shopping malls
  • Avoid crowded popular venues such as nightclub districts, beaches, county fairs, and boardwalks
  • Avoid public transit, especially during rush hours
  • Be observant; watch for any behavior that looks out of whack and leave or take cover before the person can launch into action
  • Know your surroundings well enough to identify obstacles or hiding places that could provide cover.

No, I do not carry a pistol with me, even though Arizona is a concealed-carry state. Nor do I carry pepper spray. Too unlikely that, under stress, I could deploy these in time to do any good. Unless you have nerves of steel and a steady aim, discretion is no doubt the better part of valor, when it comes to toting your own weapons around with you.

Thank God I don’t have a child today. It’s hard to imagine why any young person would deliberately choose to bring children into this fine world of ours. And apparently many of them can’t imagine it: US birth rates continue to drop.

If I did have a child, I would seriously consider home-schooling. I’m quite sure I would not like sending a kid into a school that looks like a federal penitentiary, where classmates are trained in the skill of avoiding bullets and parents are now buying “bullet-proof” back packs in the forlorn hope that such silliness will protect their children.

When I was a kid in San Francisco and in Southern California, our schools had regular air-raid drills. Everyone knew how farcical these were: the high school I attended had entire walls made of glass: windows that extended three stories high, on each end of the building. “Duck and cover” meant “bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass good-bye.” My San Francisco junior high school had a plan to evacuate kids by bus down the peninsula, where in the event of a miracle they would be reunited (maybe) with any surviving family members who managed to find them. You could opt to have your kids sent home — on foot — which my mother chose to do. This involved having to cross Junipera Serra Boulevard, which as everyone knew would be bumper to bumper with panicked drivers, none of whom would be about to stop long enough to let a little kid run across eight lanes of traffic and a streetcar track.

These exercises were utterly terrifying. I used to have nightmares about air raids. Regularly. They were horrifying and kept me scared most of the time.

And that was for a hypothetical: Maybe, maybe someday Russia would act on a suicidal impulse and start World War III.

Right.

What we have now is not a hypothetical: it’s real and it’s immediate.

So how are you coping? What strategies do you use to help keep yourself safe? Or do you?

August 3, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Hot Pool Update

So Stupendous Pool Dude’s plan to de-haze the pool seems to be working. His strategy entails pouring vast quantities of liquid chlorine into the drink, keeping the chlorine levels at “5” for a couple of days and holding the pH up, whilst running the pump through the main drain, which he believes will circulate more water faster than the usual set-up, wherein water is pulled through the skimmer.

Today the water stayed fairly clear all day, throughout some of the hottest hours we’ve had this summer. Usually by the time the sun hits that water at mid-morning, the thing is London Fog.

Right now a storm is blowing in, complete with light show. That will blow large quantities of debris into the thing, which, since the strategy involves running the pump all day and all night, is likely to get sucked into the drain. I’m not going out there and shutting off the motor, partly because I do not wish to be electrocuted by a random lightning bolt and partly because I’m so tired I expect to be asleep by the time this storm ends, not out there skimming off the surface in the dark.

There is, after all, a limit.

Picked up another eight gallons of chlorine at the Depot today, four of which I’ve dumped into the drink. The chlorine level was down to nil this morning, and by 5:00 p.m. it had dropped back down from 5 to a little under 1 (read: almost absent).

That is an excessive amount of chlorine to dump into the water. However, if his theory is right, the water contains an excessive amount of microbes, which bloom into foggy life the minute the sun wakes them up.

SPD gazed critically upon a large brownish area on the floor of the deep end. He thought it was dirt. I said no, I believed it to be a discoloration caused by the large amounts of granulated chlorine I’d already dumped into the pool: this stuff settles to the bottom and discolors the spectacularly expensive PebbleSheen. He seemed to accept this.

But…

At the Depot this afternoon, I found and picked up a type of pool brush that combines nylon with stainless steel bristles. This is supposed to work better on the damned PebbleSheen, which is virtually impossible to clean. It literally eats up your nylon pool brush.

When I got it home and tried it out in the deep end, I found that yes: it did roil up the brown stuff and fluff it into the water. The gunk probably is a combination of dust and algae.

But I couldn’t scrub it off the bottom very efficiently. I simply don’t have the physical strength to make a pool brush work against that impossible PebbleSheen stuff. If the pool is to be cleaned adequately, I’m going to have to hire a young man or (preferably) a teenaged kid to wrangle that job.

And…just as I was leaving the pool department, what should I spot but…hallelujah, brothers and sisters! A LEAF VAC WITH THE OLD DESIGN THAT ACTUALLY WORKS!

Leslie’s has replaced its old leaf vac model with a piece of junk that is so bad their staff actually tells customers not to buy it. The redesigned it and in doing so produced an item that does not work. Period. The one at Home Depot — a different brand — still has the same old structure around the bottom and the wheels, and still has the same old style of hose connection. Those changes inflicted on the Leslie’s version are, I believe, what cause the thing not to work. The HD model, with what looks very much like design identical to the old, functioning leaf vac, should do the job.

I certainly hope so, because come tomorrow morning there will be plenty of debris in the pool for it to vacuum up!

August 2, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Lost in Dystopia???

Okay, I’ve either come unstuck in time or I’ve come unstuck in space. Or from reality. Quite possibly, in reality we live in some imagined dystopia, more horrible than Aldous Huxley or George Orwell or even Mitch McConnell could dream up for us.

The morning started with an unplanned appointment. I’d left despairing word on the voicemail of the supposed Stupendous Pool Dude favored by WonderAccountant and Mr. WonderAccountant. SPD only noticed my plaintive cry for help along about 6 this morning. He called to reply while I was in the backyard wrestling (again…still) with the damned pool and thinking it’s time to seriously consider filling the thing in and replacing it with a nice, big shade tree.

I call him back and he says “I’m on my way.” And he shows up here at 7 a.m.

Most of what he had to say was nothing new. Nevertheless, taken together his advice may prove helpful. One can always hope…

After much testing, discussing, and thinking, the old fella (he IS an old fella! been doing this for a LONG time) opined as follows:

  • The pool renovation dudes had indeed applied a stabilizer when they refilled the pool; the CYA levels are good.
  • Nevertheless, the pH is out of whack (no shit, Jose?)
  • This was likely caused by the use of granulated chlorine, which is highly acetic. Use that only to shock-treat, not for day-to-day chlorination.
  • Running the pool cleaner off the skimmer inlet rather than through the new port in the side of the pool is problematic; it dampens the speed with which the water can be recirculated, plus he truly hates it that the thing pulls debris into the pump-pot strainer basket.
  • Better circulation can be acquired by setting the thing to pull water through the main drain, which will move the water faster and should help to filter out the haze-making stuff, which he suspects is bacterial rather than algal.
  • The chlorine was just OK as of 7 a.m., but that was only because a half-hour earlier I’d poured in my last half-gallon of liquid chlorine.
  • Harvey might work better with a shorter length of hosing…

He sprinkled in another four or five pounds of soda ash. This brought the pH level up into the “ideal” range, and he said to keep applying liquid Cl a couple times a day. (So that means, oh hooray, I get to traipse to Home Depot between the lunch-time confab with VickyC and her collaborator in the nonprofit biz and the 4:00 p.m. spree with WonderAccountant that I’m committed to. Wheee!)

Shovel him out the door. Write a list of the 87 gerjillion things I have to do between the 11 a.m. meeting and the 4 p.m. meeting. Fly around trying to clean up, paint the face, disguise the hair, and throw on some socially acceptable clothing. Shoot out the door just in time to get to Windsor on Central, the designated restaurant meeting place.

I’m the first to arrive, a bit before the appointed hour. Get a booth. Order up some iced tea. Peruse the menu.

This is a trendy restaurant with trendy prices.

  • Soup: $4 for a measly cup; $7 for a bowl
  • Salads: $11 – $11.50
  • Sandwiches and hamburgers: $13 to $15.50
  • Hors d’oeuvres (called “starters” because apparently younger restauranteurs and their customers can neither spell nor pronounce the actual word): $11 – $15
  • Full meals: $15 to $19.75

Plus tax. Plus tip.

Yeah. Don’t s’ppose they have a side of onion rings? No. Of course not. 😀

So I figure I’ll have a $7 (plus tax, plus tip) bowl of soup for lunch. And I wait for the others to show up.

And wait. And wait. And wait…

By about the third wait, my ears are hurting seriously. WHAT is with the current fad for blasting restaurant patrons with loud, nerve-jangling, conversation-negating noise? Wherever you go these days, you get blasted with some excruciating excuse for music, which usually entails one or more performers screaming. And why do people persist in going to restaurants whose proprietors bombard them with ear-splitting, unpleasant noise? And who persuaded otherwise sane businessmen and women that this racket is music? Or Muzak?

It’s not just loud and unharmonic and ugly. It’s gutter “music.” It’s some guy  shouting about his cocaine use to a gut-banging background thump.

Dude! I don’t care about your cocaine habit! And I especially don’t care to have it shoved in my face while I’m trying to eat my $7 bowl of soup or my $20 hamburger.

Fifteen or twenty minutes into the wait, I can stand it no longer. I get up and leave.

Is it because I am old, I wonder? Do I think rap is ugly, is not music, is antithetical to a decent (expensive!) meal because I am old, passé, and out of it? Really?

What was trendy when we were pups? Northern Italian. For sure. Nothing would do but veal scallopini. Food was about the same: trendily stylish. Tasted about the same as the stuff you get now: restaurant food has always tasted pretty uniformly the same from one establishment to the next. That has not changed.

So what was the difference? Ambience-wise: instead of annoying loud music, you got annoying echoes rattling around a hard-surfaced cave-like interior. And yes, that racket tended to drown out conversation, too. Food-wise: though it was largely supplemented by pasta, most of the cuisine did not appear to have come out of a box, a can, or a bag.

My parents would have been capable of enjoying a Northern Italian-style restaurant of the early 1970s, even though they wouldn’t have appreciated the echo effect. It would, however, not have been their preference.

What was trendy when they were pups? Red velvet wallpaper with mahogany trim. White tablecloths. Muted lighting. And beef. A lot of beef. Roast beef. Grilled steaks of various grades. Stewed beef. Casseroled beef. Beef chili. A fair amount of potatoes accompanied these fine dishes. And coffee: they drank coffee with dinner instead of wine.

After what I felt was altogether too long a wait for my mysteriously absent friends, I concluded that…

  • I had the wrong day…
  • Or I had the wrong time…
  • Or I had the wrong place…

And I certainly had the wrong purveyor of Muzak. Out the door, into the accursed Venza, and down the road with me!

From there it was up to Home Depot, there to purchase eight gallons of liquid chlorine, which should tide the pool over for something like four to six days. Grabbed a few sundries, shot out the door, stopped by the Walmart long enough to grab a bag of bird seed to tide the doves over until 40 pounds of seed arrive from Amazon. Sailed home.

Dumped another half-gallon of the chlorine into the pool. Observed that it still looked very hazy.

Poured a bourbon and water. Threw a mahi steak on the grill along with an ear of sweet corn. Consumed this with half an avocado, a handful of campari tomatoes, and a glass of wine.

Another couple of hours have passed. The pool looks like it’s beginning to clear. The heat is weirdly miserable, inexplicably: it’s only 109 out there, which is just not all that hot. But for some reason it feels almost as excruciating as cocaine-obsessed rap.

Now I have about 15 minutes before I have to get dressed again, this time to visit a favorite hangout with WonderAccountant, where we are determined to cool off with Margaritas, guacamole, and chips.

Never more well-deserved.