Funny about Money

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

December 12, 2019
by funny
2 Comments

Down at the HQ

So… Trying to get out of the Funny Farm to drive down to the Religious HQ for today’s volunteer stint at the front desk, whereinat I now reside. Finally…

LORDIE, what a hassle.

To start with, I hurt from top to bottom. Even though the injured paw is slowly healing (I think) it’s very slow. The wrenched knee also hurts. If I get into the bathtub, I can’t get out through any normal contortions and so have to scrabble around to try to get on my feet without slipping and braining myself.

Not that it would make much difference these days.

A normal person would take a shower, not get herself trapped in a tubful of hot water, right? Yes. But first, I’m far from normal. And second — more to the point — soaking in hot water seems to be about all that eases the present tumble-induced aches and pains.

Next, the deadbolt on the door between the kitchen & the garage has jammed. Soonest I could get a locksmith out to the house was tomorrow. Fortunately, there’s a drill-proof Schlage lock on the garage’s side door, and prizing open the garage door itself…well…that’s not very hard, but it would be a little conspicuous for a burglar’s tastes.

But…I tend to mindlessly drive away from the house without closing the garage door. Invariably I think of this as I get about halfway up the block, so feel honor-bound to turn around, go back, and check to be sure it’s shut. This noon when I pull a U-ie…well, naturally, my computer slides off the passenger seat and tumbles onto the floor. Shee-ut!

It doesn’t seem to have broken. Otherwise, obviously, this wouldn’t be getting written.

To add to the kitchen-door issue, the lock on one of the Arcadia doors won’t work. Turns out for some reason the door isn’t closing tightly enough to force the little button that makes it possible for the latch to shift into place. These doors are supposedly warranteed for life, but taking advantage of that will entail digging out the paperwork from files that date back 15 years…won’t THAT be fun? And then hoping the manufacturer is still in business.

To add to the computer issue, the MacBook has developed a slowly worsening quirk: its cursor randomly jumps backward up the file as I’m typing, and since I type very fast even with one paw wounded, it inserts a series of letters into some random place in the file. This, I find extremely annoying.

I also find it’s a known issue. And probably will clinch the requirement that I buy a new computer, which I really do not want to do.

One reason I don’t want to is that I haven’t been paid the $1300 owed by my most recent client. Contact his admin and find it’s because she failed to enter some tiny speck of data into the university’s excruciatingly complicated computer forms.

Soooooo….. Let’s hope this thing survives long enough for that payment to get here, so I can afford to buy another unit and jump through the involved set of hassles that will entail.

Further adding to the fun… Usually the Thursday afternoon front-desk gig is quiet as the tomb. Not so today. The phone has been jangling since I sat down. We’re doing a concert of Handel’s Messiah — people are calling with questions to which I do not now, never have, and probably never will know the answers.

At any rate, this is the kind of day that makes me question the state of my marbles. I can’t even get out the door without a fiasco, and when I finally get here — pushing late — I have no clue what I’m doing.

The front yard looks a lot clearer and tidier with all the brush that Gerardo and crew removed yesterday. But from the street you still can’t get a full view of what’s going on — if anything — inside the courtyard. So, what with that guy obviously casing the house the other day, I’m  not at all comfortable at leaving the place. Ever. Especially not for several hours at a time.

So we’re brought back to the question that arises these days every time I get in my car and drive away from the Funny Farm:

Why am I staying here?

Argha!

Main reason? I have no idea where else to go.

Not that I can afford, anyway. If you don’t want to live in  a suburb of eave-to-eave styrofoam-and-stucco ticky-tacky, there’s really not much you can afford in a safer area. Not around here, anyway. All of North Central — where I’ve lived all my adult life — is now outside my price range. Well, except for the strip that borders Conduit of Blight Boulevard, all of which suffers the same issue as we in the ‘Hood confront: our neighbor to the west is one huge meth slum. That’s why the ’Hood is relatively affordable.

The alternatives are Fountain Hills — an hour’s drive from everything I do, and also largely ticky-tacky construction, albeit on larger lots — and Sun City –also almost an hour away from my life, and a ghetto for old folks, to boot.

Prescott? Wickenburg? Oro Valley? I’d have to start my life completely over in any of those places. And y’know what? I’m just too damn lazy to feel like building whole new networks of friends, whole new networks of retailers, whole new networks of doctors and dentists and optometrists and hair stylists and car mechanics and cleaning ladies and yard dudes and locksmiths and AC repairmen and plumbers and bankers and veterinarians and accountants and computer gurus and…augh!! It’s more than one can contemplate.

Ugh…some woman just hung up on me because I have no idea where to buy size 3x men’s pajamas. WTF????

And…ohboy, two seconds later the wooden gadget someone made to hold the door open got busted. Now the door is permanently latched shut.

BUT…the amazingly resourceful Nanette forthwith walked in through the door, retrieved the busted device, and fixed it.

A parishioner wants to know at which the Christmas Eve service do we sing “Silent Night” in the dark. I say it must be the midnight service…because that’s when the choir sings and we always sing…etc. No, says she, it can’t be the midnight mass because they never go to that.

Huh? Well, then, sister, it must be the service you usually go to, no???

An hour to go before I can head home and pour a bourbon & water.

 

December 9, 2019
by funny
2 Comments

Stay or Fly: The Busted Paw, the Peeper, and the Doc

Sooo… After the little jig I did yesterday to deflect the turkey who was transparently casing my house, I had to cancel out of choir. This provided the opportunity to move the 2:00 p.m. appointment at the urgent care unit next door to the neighborhood Albertson’s forward to noon. This turned out to be a good thing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I diddled away two hours there. If I’d gone in at two, that caper would have consumed the entire afternoon.

They decided the pained paw probably has no fracture in any of the complicated set of bones that make up a human hand. But nevertheless, they sent the X-rays to a radiologist for assessment, later in the week. So that was mildly reassuring.

So I ended up chatting at length with a PA, these groups’ answer to an MD. What a doll! He fessed up that he was 53 — dayum! Born 20 years too late. He was an Indian gent — India Indian, I mean. Two daughters, wife, nice career. And even warier than I am of Life in the Big American City. I mentioned to him that when I fell I was walking Ruby the Corgi, and in passing remarked that I used to have German shepherds but at my age feel I’m past the time in life that I can effectively handle a large, high-drive dog.

Now get this: the clinic is right on Conduit of Blight, the border between the ‘Hood and a meth-ridden slum. And he says — apparently PC is not a Thing in New Delhi — that given some of the people he’s seen in that practice, he strongly recommended that I get another German shepherd, for my safety. But not just any German shepherd. “Spend the money, raid your life savings, to get a fully trained German shepherd.”

Yipes!

I said, “Well, it’ll have to wait until the corgi passes on, another five to seven years.”

He said, “No, don’t wait. If you have a trained German shepherd (by that, he clearly meant protection training), you will get another ten years of independent living. Otherwise, you won’t be safe and you’ll have to move on before then.”

Holy mackerel!

That was quite the exchange, because…well…we’re talkin’ about a guy who deals all the time, day in and day out, with the denizens of Meth Central. He remarked, too, that social problems in this country have become exponentially worse. And no amount of education or social service seems to be helping. He had, he said, seen young men with master’s degrees in fields like business and science, “melting away” (his phrase) as drug addicts.

Well. However. He is not a guy who deals with German shepherds all the time. In my experience with them (about 20 years’ worth), a good GerShep does not need protection training or any other kind of training other than basic obedience work to do the job for you. This fella, for example, would no doubt prove himself useful in an emergency…

The problem with a Gershep, provided you know what you’re doing and you’re lucky in your choice of companion, is not training but expense. These are very costly dogs to care for throughout a nine- to twelve-year lifetime. They can develop some spectacularly pricey ailments, not the least of them pannus, osteoarthritis, dysplasia of several varieties, thyroid failure…and on and on. So, in retirement the problem is not so much the dog’s strength and need to have you be incontrovertibly Alpha; it’s that you can’t afford the health risks when you’re living on Social Security.

At any rate, such speculation does nothing to address the issue of a sh!thead casing my house, just as we come up on the High Burgling Season that is Christmas gift-exchange time.

The plan: I happen to have an old stereo sitting in the family room. Believe it or not, the thing still works. So the strategy is to turn it to an NPR yakathon, turn up the volume, crack the solid-core door into the garage open, and lock up the dog in the back bedroom. That way, anyone who approaches the front of the house will hear the blabbity-blabbity through the tinfoil garage door. We are told this strategy — leave a radio or TV set on — is pretty effective against prowlers, because they can’t be sure no one is in the house.

Ruby sleeps in her nest under the toilet all the time I’m gone. If I just close the bedroom door, she won’t be able to race outside through the garage and head for Yuma when I come home. The radio will be plainly audible through the garage to anyone who approaches the front of the house, and of course it blats right through the glass doors and windows in back. Its racket doesn’t carry through that solid-core door; hence, I’ll need to crack it open a bit.

HOW, you may ask reasonably, did I instantly size up our passer-by as a would-be burglar?

By his dogs.

His dogs were  behaving as though they wanted to be nowhere near the guy. While he was ogling my house from in front of WonderAccount’s place, they were hunkered on the ground behind him, as far away as they could get at the end of their leashes.

That is not normal doggy-walk behavior. Dogs do not huddle behind you when you take them on a doggy-walk. They drag you down the street.

Plus…after innumerable daily doggywalks of my own, I know all the dogs in our neighborhood. His are not among them. By extension, I know most of the neighbors by sight…never saw this dude before.

The dogs’ strange behavior drew attention to the guy’s strange behavior. And the guy’s strange behavior was…strange.

But THEN…heh heh heh!

When I pretended to drive out but in fact circumambulated the block and showed up back in the driveway about 40 seconds later and found him ACROSS THE STREET AND LURKING NEXT TO MY HOUSE on the east side, where he was studying the front entrance and the front patio, well…he did himself in with that stunt.

Seriously: it could not have taken more than 40 seconds to get back to my driveway. The next street north was empty — nary a soul out in front — so I gave that six-banger a mighty hit of gasoline and JETTED up the road. I would be surprised if it took much more than 30 seconds for me to re-coalesce in front of the Funny Farm. And lo! there he was, upping the ante on the casing job.

German shepherd. Hm. Pit bull, maybe?

December 8, 2019
by funny
3 Comments

One Damnfool Thing after Another

Ohhh dear Lord…what have I done to piss You off this time?

😮

Okay. Last night I made an appointment at the Urgent Care to get the probably-not-broken (I hope) hand X-rayed at 2 p.m., allowing time for choir and the service and for driving back & forth.

This morning when I awaken, the paw is notably swollen — a new development. Though I manage to bring the swelling down with an ice pack, I figure this is a clue to a fractured knuckle or other bone near thereunto. I’m pissed, but glad I’d made the appointment.

Twenty to 10, I hop in the car and head out to the church…

Well…to the end of the driveway.

There, right across the street, is some guy whom I’ve never seen and who has The Look of a denizen of the far side of Conduit of Blight Blvd (which marks the border of a meth slum). He’s standing there peering around and punching at a cell phone.

Taking notes, are we, buddy?

He can see me leave, and he also can see there’s no other car in the garage.

Last time the neighbors and I called the cops for a prowler, it took them 45 minutes to show up.

So…I drive around the block and circle back. By the time I reach the Funny Farm, our guy has crossed over to my side of the road, gone around the corner, and is now standing next to the east side of my house, punching more data into his cell phone.

After a quick command decision to cut choir and church, I pull into the garage and holler for the dog, loud enough to be heard. Hope the guy hasn’t been watching long enough to know the dog weighs all of 25 pounds, not all of 95 pounds.

Why am I staying here? Is this God asking me that question?

I need to move either to Sun City — a ghetto for old folks — or to Prescott, where it’s probably snowing right now.

Actually, it’s not. Snowing in Prescott, I mean. Just damn cold: 36 degrees. No. I do not want to live in Prescott much more than I want to live in Sun City. But…do I really want to live a half-mile (or less) from a vast swath of dangerous blight?

Ohhh well. Having made the decision to abstain from church, I managed to move the Urgent Care appointment up from 2:00 p.m. to noon, the earliest moment when they have their X-ray equipment working. That rescues the afternoon from chaos, anyway.

I guess.

December 8, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Walloped

Friday night (is this really already Sunday?) Ruby & I went for a doggywalk after dark. A neighborhood community party was going on in the park, and, attracted by the happy sounds, I decided we should walk down the road that separates Upper from Lower Richistan and follow it over to the park. It’s quite dark along that stretch. And…in the past five or six years, a developer purchased a piece of horse property which he converted into a small HOA of ugly two-story McMansions, surrounded by an ugly stuccoed wall. Just fit right in to a neighborhood of sprawling single-story 1950s-to-70s ranchers, eh?

Oh well. Aesthetics aside, the builder took as much leave of his senses as he did of his taste. Between this fine wall and the city sidewalk, in a little easement about, oh…maybe six or eight feet wide, he planted several sissou trees.

These fine plants  get HUGE, and they’re extremely aggressive. Their roots will heave every wall and pavement within 40 feet of the trunk.

Not surprisingly, one of these charmers has lifted a whole slab of sidewalk along the way to the park. Since I rarely walk down that way (the park being, alas, a good place to stay away from in the absence of, say, a German shepherd), I’d forgotten about this little eruption. Sooo…trotting along behind a charging corgi, I tripped over it and fell flat on my face!

Wrecked my glasses — that’ll be $200. Wrenched my right hand. And blasted the patella on  the right knee.

Fortunately, I was able to flag down a driver cruising home from his law office. He drove me and the dog back to the house — we were about a half to three-quarters of a mile out.

These small dings hurt like the dickens, especially the hand. I applied ice packs, of which (given my various recent adventures) I have a-plenty residing in the freezer. But though they still hurt, I really do NOT want to spend yet another night in the Mayo’s goddamn ER, not after just barely getting over a two-month bout of bronchitis that I believe I picked up there.

I didn’t think anything was broken. But two days later, the hand is pretty badly swollen, Naturally, it’s Sunday. Made an appointment at the local urgent care joint this afternoon, where I hope they will X-ray it and tell me yea or nay, is a knuckle or metacarpal busted

Lucky thing I only busted my glasses, and not a hip…it was dark as pitch down there, and if I hadn’t been able to get up and step into the roadway to wave my paws and holler, I wouldn’t have had a chance of getting anyone to notice me.

Come to think of it, though, it’s kinda remarkable that a nearly 75-year-old broad could fall flat on her face (twice! this is the second goddamn time — the first was at a dead run) and not break anything., Now that the pain has subsided (presumably under the influence of three ice packs), I doubt if anything is actually broken, except for a chip off a dental crown.

Thankful though I am that no more serious injury was done..HOW could I do without these little interludes? Let me count the ways….

 

December 7, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Cox the Feeble…America the Disconnected?

Live-Blogging in the Disconnect Mode…

Along about 6 p.m., a little rain started to sprinkle. I’m playing with the computer, my usual pastime, thinking I should get up and turn on the PBS Gnus by way of catching up with the day’s antics in Washington. In passing, as the drizzle begins, the lights blink almost off and back on, so fast and so subtly it’s barely noticeable.

This is the second time it’s happened in the past few days. Nothing much ensued the other day, but it’s something I take note of because the house has aluminum wiring. Anything electrical that’s even faintly unusual makes one itch.

But as before, nothing bursts into flames. Yet.

LOL! You think I exaggerate? One of DX-H’s law partners and his wife went out to dinner and a movie one night. After a pleasant evening they came home…to a slab and a pile of ashes.

No joke! The house had burned completely, altogether to the ground.

So electrical glitches elicit some interesting imaginative scenarios.

The laptop has developed a few glitches of its own, of late. So when its Internet connection suddenly went down, just as I was about to pack it in and go turn on the big iMac for the purpose of “television” viewing, I didn’t think much about it. Rebooted. Still offline. Ohhh wellll…I needed to call the Apple Service people for something else, anyhow.

Haul out of the easy chair and away to the office. Fire up the iMac and…yup. DEAD. It, too, is offline.

Clearly, what we have here is another goddamn Cox thing.

Call the Cox 24-hour service that I subscribe to expensively…or try to, anyway. When I pick up the phone, instead of a dial tone I get buzz buzz buzz buzz… Busy signal???! Whaaaa!

Fortunately I happen to have quite a few minutes available on my cell phone. Dial up Cox’s expensive service, from whom, after a couple of transfers, I learn there’s an outage in our area. They expect to have the service back up around 8:00 p.m.

Ducky.

This is classic Cox. Every time it rains, Cox goes down. And it’s not even raining very hard. It’s barely sprinkling out there.

We have only two residential Internet choices here: Cox and CenturyLink, the ghost of the late not-much-lamented Qwest. CenturyLink has a reputation for being even worse than Cox – in fact, by comparison Cox looks good.

 So…if you live in Maricopa County and you imagine that someday you may need to dial 911, you’d bloody well better have a cell phone.

I now have two of the damn things, neither one of which I know how to work. Managed to figure out how to dial a phone number on the new Walmart purchase and got through to Cox’s alleged service department. That would be where the 8 p.m. estimate came from.

To make the present event even more infuriating, the Macs are showing, with their little “radio” icon, that the wi-fi is on. But it ain’t.

Or…lo! Maybe it is!

Yes. It is on. For the nonce.

Knowing Cox’s fine reputation for reliability though, it probably won’t be for long.

😀

Oooohkayyyy…. Yes, the connection is reestablished. But now the iMac WON’T ACCEPT MY PASSWORD to sign back on. God DAMN IT but I hate loathe and despise the techno-dystopia that we live in. Now I’ve got to try to call up Apple on a phone line that may or may not keep working and try to get my computer to come back on.

….

Lo! It’s up. And now we’re watching Hari Sreenivasan holding forth about the Pensacola shooting, reporting in awe that the Saudis who shot up the naval base…oooohhh! watched a shooting video before going on their rampage. Imagine that!

Y’know, Hari’s cute. No: handsome. He emanates smarts. He’s probably the best thing on PBS News. But…really…wouldntcha like to have Walter Cronkite back? David Brinkley? Chet Huntley?

PBS seems to me to be the best news show that’s out there, on the air or in the stream. But dayum! Truth is, the wackshit conservatives are right. It’s politically correct to the point of doctrinaire. It’s surely better than anything else we have these days. But it’s NOT objective. It doesn’t even try to report the news objectively.

{sigh} We live in hopeless times…

December 6, 2019
by funny
2 Comments

Burglar Hacks: How to discourage prowlers

Occasionally when I chat with folks — especially strangers — I’m reminded that living in a central-city neighborhood poses certain risks that those in middle-class suburbs escape. Truth to tell, most of the time I don’t dwell on the dangers presented by the meth colonies directly to the north and to the west of us. My house is secured, I have a barking dog, and I’m armed to the teeth, so…well…make my day. 😀

Today, though, in response to a Quora query, I was led to articulate the steps I’ve taken to secure my home. These are strategies most of us can use and, with the exception of the security doors and the drill-resistant deadbolts, modestly priced. And none of them include owning a shotgun or a baseball bat…

Assuming you live in a place you own, as opposed to a rental…

  1. Install motion-sensitive light fixtures outside all the doors.
  2. Also install, motion-sensitive floodlights that will light up each of the exterior walls. Place these up under the eaves, where a prowler can’t easily reach them to unscrew the bulbs.
  3. Install good-quality steel security doors on all exterior doors, and equip these with tamper-resistant, drill-resistant locks such as Schlage or Medeco.
  4. Equip exterior doors and windows with “screamer” alarms that you can set to squeal if the door or window is opened (this assumes you’re not fond of whole-house burglar alarm systems).
  5. Or, if you don’t mind the expense and nuisance, call a burglar alarm company and sign up to have them alarm every entrance and send you a bill once a month.
  6. Attach timers to a few lights and a radio inside your home. Set these to go on and off at various times (for example, to make it look like you have moved from the living room to a bedroom or family room). Leave the radio playing just loud enough to be heard through a closed window…but put it on a timer, too, because most burglars are smart enough to know you don’t have the radio blatting 24/7.
  7. Get a dog with a gawdawful bark, if you’ll be around enough to take care of it. If you’re unable to care for a dog adequately or don’t want the expense, then try this sort of thing: The 5 Best Barking Dog Alarms Reviews for 2019 (Expert Advice)

Some of these, such as #4, #6, and #7’s barking dog alarm gadget, apply to rentals, too. Also, you can get motion-sensitive light-bulbs, so if your apartment has porch lights, in theory you could replace the regular bulbs with these — I’ve found they don’t work very well, so personally would not spend the money on them. But nothing ventured…