Why am I a cranky old bat? Because…

Started the morning annoyed…possibly nothing new about that, since I have the personality of a hummingbird. (Did you know the ancient Inca thought hummers were the reincarnated souls of warriors, because of their irascibility?)

Ruby is supposed to go to the vet to get the tartar scraped off her little teeth next Monday. This appointment was made six months in advance, to my initial annoyance — I fail to see an excuse for that. But OK, no hurry, so who cares?

But now that we have the covid horror, Dr. Bracken — like all the vets in town — is requiring people to park and call from their car, and then they’ll come out and take your animal from you.

The more I think about that, the more I think…huh-UH! i ain’t a-gunna do that to my little dog. Ruby doesn’t like to ride in the car in the first place. But she’ll be absolutely terrorized if some total stranger comes up to the car and drags her out and hauls her into a place she hates. I think that’s rather a bad idea, don’t you?

So I called and said I’d like to put the dental cleaning off for another six months, by which time I hope the covid flap will have settled down. His phone lady puts me on hold with a LOUD — we might even say ear-splitting — recorded spiel, the usual bullshit from veterinarians about all the terrible things that are gonna happen to your dog or your cat if you don’t get this unnecessary test and that unncessary test and half-a-dozen unnecessary vaccines. (Interestingly, a group of scientists tested a large set of dogs starting in puppyhood to see how long the immunity from a single set of standard shots last. They had to stop after 7 years — at which time the dogs were still immune to all of the standard diseases for which they’d been vaccinated!). So this obnoxious high-volume sales pitch goes on and on and on, until I finally hang up.

So now I’m looking for some ways to clean Ruby’s teeth, not an auspicious prospect because I’ve let it go way too long. She hates to have her teeth cleaned and puts up such a fight that I finally gave up, so her back teeth are encased in tartar. Some people, however, claim that if the dog can be persuaded to chew on a heavy marrow bone or even on a rope chew toy, that will break a lot of that tartar off. I kinda doubt it but figure it won’t hurt to try. She really needs to be knocked out cold and have those teeth scraped. But…how that is going to happen in the Time of Plague escapes me.

I’m also thinking I’ll try to find another vet to do this…maybe one whose staff is capable of answering the phone.

Pool Dude lost his dog last week. The critter fell sick. He tossed the pooch in the car and shot up to the emergency vet, where…yeah, they made him wait in the parking lot until they got around to coming outside to get the dog. During that time the dog stopped breathing and died.

See, said he, that is WHY I came up to an emergency veterinary hospital: because the dog was desperately sick.

Oh, said they.

{sigh} We’re surrounded by morons.

Voting!

Okay, the mail-in ballot is filled out and ready to hand in. Now all I have to do is physically take it to the elections bureau — given his past performance, it’s pretty obvious our honored President will try again to block mail-in voting.

I’ve voted “absentee” (a misnomer: mail-in is what we’re talkin’ about here) for many years, in every election — ever since the time our honored Republican leaders moved our voting site out of the neighborhood and into an area that is so unsafe that I would not get out of my car there. Just a week or ten days before that election, two little girls playing in front of their apartment house were killed when they got in the line of fire between two warring drug gangs — about a block down the street from that voting place.

Lovely Phoenix.

Another year our conniving leaders moved the voting places in majority black and Latino districts to the outer borders of those districts, where they were difficult to find and for many residents required a long drive. Funny how low the turn-out was, eh?

We’re told that at any time between now and November 3rd, we can hand in our ballots down at the voting bureau. But…WHERE IS IT? No clue in the voting materials. To get to a page that looks like it MIGHT provide the address, you have to jump through one of those annoying “identify the fire hydrants in these impossibly fuzzy photos” hoop-jump. I had to go through that trick THREE TIMES to find a page that provided an address, but whether that’s a place where you can drop off a ballot is ambiguous. You can drop them off at any voting place on November 3, but that entails a) finding the place and b) standing in line till the cows come home.

No joke. We have had Presidential elections here where the wait time was four to five hours! Again, this is an attempt to block Democratic voters, since a large proportion of Arizona Dems are working-class, and most minimum-wage and service jobs and jobs in the trades will dock workers’ pay for the hours they’re absent. You shouldn’t have to pay half a day’s wages for the privilege of voting. And you may be sure the local Republicans know most minimum-wage citizens can’t afford to pay any such thing.

Normally I would just drop the ballot in the mail. But the risk that the wannabe dictator in the White House and the toady he put in charge of the Post Office will interfere with delivery of these things is simply too high to chance it. Dollars to donuts, any ballot you drop into a PO mail box will end up in the trash.

The elections bureau is in downtown Phoenix, in an area of difficult to navigate one-way streets and extravagantly expensive parking. Even though their website gives an address, nowhere is it made clear whether this is the place to deliver a mail-in ballot in person. They provide a phone number, so I’ll have to call that in the morning and then sit around for 20 minutes or so listening to some endless recorded blab-a-thon.

To gild that lily, I’m getting a sore throat.

Presumably coming down with the Dread Disease — which, I’m told, because of a budding underlying condition, will very likely carry me off.

Before I go, though, I want to help carry Mr. Trump off his would-be throne.

Have No Fear…

Funny will be back. 😀

The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus while I’ve juggled several large projects. Right now am on page 26 of 57 pages in the client’s  Chapter 2…and she’s just getting on a roll.

Seriously, it’s a sophisticated and heavily researched academic book whose author is not a native speaker of English. And I do not speak her language (gotta learn it!!!), so sometimes it takes some figuring to Englishify it.

Sooo much crazy stuff going on in our world…to say “have no fear” seems a little…ridiculous. Some of us are scared sh!tless. Pool Dude is presently armed to the teeth — he seriously expects riots in the neighborhood lanes if Trump is voted out. You can’t buy ammo for love nor money, not that it would matter because I personally have no time to pass down at the range training myself to hit a target dead-on. Nor, offhand, do I happen to have any targets laying around the house just now.

Further from the realm of neurotic fantasy and closer to the realm of reality: if you haven’t already done so, it might be wise to be sure you have enough paper towels and toilet paper to last a month or so. Was just over at the big Fry’s (the local incarnation of Kroger’s) and found the shelves about bare where those things were concerned.

Rubbing alcohol is also absent. Remember that Windex contains alcohol and will also disinfect surfaces, as will hydrogen peroxide (good luck laying your hands on any of that!). Failing either of those, you can buy straight grain alcohol under the brand name “Everclear” at Total Wine — depending on what state you live in. It’s illegal in some states. The stuff is actually a more effective disinfectant than rubbing alcohol. Do NOT drink it, no matter what anyone suggests — unless you wish to be numbered among the microbes it removes from this earth.

Back to work! Stay well…

Life at the Funny Farm: September Edition

Jeez! 9 ayem and I’m flat-out exhausted! What a Morning from Hell! Up at the usual 5 a.m. but dawdled over the computer, so the Hound and I went out the door late.

Because it’s so late, we hit the road at the height of the Dogging Hour. Every chucklehead and his little brother and sister are out with their pit bulls, Aussies, spaniels, poodles, German shepherds, dalmations, chihuahuas, Bernese mountain dogs, Boston terriers, dachshunds, akitas, vizlas, and reservation dawgs. This adds a great deal of stress to a doggywalk because Ruby wants to LUNGE at every goddamn one of them. That, as you can imagine, tends to alarm the fellow dogs, which then go in for the attack by way of protecting their humans. To prevent this, every time someone comes along with a pooch, I have to stop and make Ruby “SIT! STAY!” until they go by us.

This is WHY we leave the house no later than 5:00…by way of avoiding the dog-walkers’ rush.

So we walk around the corner to see if our neighbor Signey is out with the kids. She lives right next door to the house where La Maya & La Bethulia lived before La B decided to pathbreak their escape to California, and at this time of year she’s often sitting in front with her small children and her herd of tiny, funny-looking adopted dogs.

And yes, she’s there. We start to schmooze…

New neighbor comes out with his dogs and walks off around the corner. She points out one of them and says it’s a pit-bull/shepherd mix and is extremely aggressive. She says it went after one of her pipsqueaks and almost killed it before she was able to tear the animal away from it.

Lovely. The scrawny male human looks like he weighs…oh…maybe 150 pounds, at the outside. Mmmm hmmmm…

She dotes on Ruby and rubs her hands and face ALLLLLLL over the dog’s fluffy corgi fur. Then she says happily, “And the kids are going to school.”

Oh. Good. It’s not maybe…it’s absolutely positively: You just rubbed fistfuls of virus into my dog’s coat! Jezus Aitch Keerist, but people are stupid.

By the time we get to Feeder Street N/W, there’s too much traffic to get across the road safely, so we wander back into the ’Hood, up the street I used to live on, around and around. This route is neither as long nor as pleasant as the stroll through the shady realms of Upper Richistan, but at least we don’t have to risk life or limb to get there.

Herd the dog back to the house, and now I have to wash her. She sleeps on my bed at night, and I do NOT want Signey’s kids’ classmates’ germs all over my bedding. Or all over the floors and furniture in my house, either.

Washing Ruby is quite a production. She hates it, she is terrorized by it, and she puts up one bitch of a fight. Decide against assaying this battle in the backyard — at that hour, it’s cool enough outside that cold water out of the hose could in fact harm her. So I have to drag her into the bathroom to wash her in the tub.

WHAT a fight!!!  I finally haul her into the bathtub, then get her wet all over, then scrubbed down with shampoo, then rinsed, then out of the tub…. Did I mention that she hates being wiped down with towels, too?

She goes shake shake shake shake shake shake shake… and covers the cabinetry, walls, and floors with billowing sprays of dog-water.

More fighting. Her hair is thick and she’s getting fat and I don’t get far with the towels. Dig out a hair dryer, plug it into a socket near the floor, and drag her over.

You thought the bathtub episode was a fight? Hah!

Finally manage to get enough of the sog out of her fur that I figure she probably won’t get chilled enough to get sick. I hope. By this time, though, the sun has risen and the air is warming, so…this is prob’ly a safe enough bet.

Clean up the mess and…clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and….

Put the towels and the towel that fell off the towel bar into the bath water and the dog-wiping towel and the microfiber rags used to finish the dog-drying into the washer. Get out of my wet clothes and toss those in the washer. Find something else to wear. Climb into the shower and wash my own much-doggified body and hair before getting dressed.

By now it’s 8 o’clock!

Fix breakfast. Pour coffee. Just begin to drag the melon and the other goodies out to the table on the garden deck when ARF ARF ROAR YAP YAP ARF ARF WOOF WOOF ARF ARF YIPPETY YAP YAP YAP!!!!!!! 

Pool Dude.

Pool Dude is a chatty kinda guy. He does like to talk. Rudely, I sorta ignore him without saying in some many words arrghhh leave me alone because i bite! He goes on about his business. Putters around. Surfaces to explain his scheme to provide a refurbished pool cleaner gadget of the Amazing Variety, a plan that was derailed during the week. No problem. We discuss last night’s political side show, he being right-stage, me being left-stage, both of us being gun owners. I can’t get .38s. He has a bunch of ammo stashed. We figure we’ll be needing this, though I suggest it’s mighty doubtful that Trump’s bully boys will be rioting through sub-suburban neighborhoods. He says he’s taking no chances.

I say my plan is to get a blowgun. He says…

…hang onto your hat…

He used to make them! 

I mean, really. You’ve heard of “never a dull moment”? Around this place there’s never a sane moment.

I say I understand you can make them with PVC pipe. He says noooo, the diameter would be too large. You need copper piping.

Hmmmmmm……  Suppose Home Depot will cut that stuff to measure for me? Waddaya bet?

Which do we live in? Monty Python ShowTwilight Zone? Or just another planet altogether?

Pool dude out. 

It’s almost 10 a.m. I’ve got to go to Costco. On the way home, maybe I’ll stop at the Depot and see what I can get by way of lengths of copper tubing. Hmmmm….

You thought YESTERDAY was another lovely day in Arizona?

Hah! Every day is lovelier than the next. Check out this little fella..

….and tell me if you don’t think our sweet pet Rattie isn’t one helluva lot cuter than that rat…

Which is cuter? Rat 1 or Rat 2?

Rat 1’s handsome profile was captured early of a fine Arizona day on a neighbor’s security camera.

See that thing in his hand? That’s not a Budweiser…that’s a pistol, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.

The gate he’s coming out of? That’s an alleyway entry to a neighbor’s backyard. The photo was caught yesterday by someone’s security camera and posted to the neighborhood Facebook page. Said the proprietor: “This individual was spotted at approximately 7:25 this morning exiting our backyard at our home on El Caminito Dr. I did not see any evidence on any of our security cameras of this gentleman entering our backyard.”

At first I thought it was our boy, the one the cops were chasing around yesterday. But now I think this fella is a little older than that kid, healthier-looking, somewhat better built. So we have not one but two of ‘em frolicking around the alleys.

Meanwhile…the evening sun is sinking like a red-rubber pie tin. The air is still thick and brown from the smoke drifting across from the West Coast, the sun so dim you can stare right straight at it. Though one (who does not suffer from asthma) has no problem breathing it, the stuff out there can’t be very good for you.

My plan is to catch Rat 2 and stick her in a cage with a big bowl of bird seed (she loves bird seed) and a bag of oranges (she adores oranges), toss her and the dog in the car, and start driving driving driving. Patagonia, here we come!

Hummer heaven: Patagonia

If You Were Your Kid…

If you were your kid and you were an American, come of age in a time when America the Great was rapidly turning into a Third-World Country, what would you do differently from what your parents did? From what your kid him- or herself is doing right now?

Do strange little thoughts like that ever cross your mind? They sure as Hell cross mine.

My father planned carefully for his retirement and his old age. Thanks to his planning — and to his lifetime of amazingly hard work —  I haven’t had to put in that much single-minded effort: he left me enough to live on comfortably through my dotage. But that’s not so true of my son.

Although my son’s dad is affluent, like me he also no doubt will live (expensively) into advanced old age. My son’s grandmother just died at the age of 106 (no, that is not a typo), having spent the past 20 years wasting away ruinously in a nursing home. The new wife is a good 20 years younger than me, and though she has a highly competent son, she also has a feckless, dependent daughter who never will be able to care for herself and her offspring. Thus most of whatever my son’s father has now will be dedicated to supporting the less gifted occupants of that side of the family.

My son, the recipient of a spectacularly expensive private education, has a decent job but not one that will make him rich. It can, however, allow him to work remotely from just about anyplace that he chooses.

My mother smoked herself into the grave in late middle age. We have no clue how long she might have lived had she never picked up a cigarette. Her father died of Hodgkin’s disease, an acquired cancer not uncommon in his part of the country: we have no idea how long he might have lived had he dwelt someplace else, never smoked, and never drank. Her mother chippied herself into the grave: we have no idea how long she might have lived had she never been exposed to the kinds of reproductive viruses one acquires during a wildly misspent youth. But the other women on her mother’s side of the family were Christian Scientists who lived into advanced old age: we do know that in the absence of alcohol and tobacco, they lived into their mid-90s even without ever going anywhere near a medical doctor or a patent medicine.

So what we have here, in the planning department, are two people — me and my son — each of whom have a shot at living into advanced old age. Or not.

What can be done for my son — by me or by him — to ensure that he will be financially secure into his dotage?

We know that I absolutely positively do NOT want to spend my last years in a “life-care community,” a rabbit warren in which to lock up old folks. My father consigned himself to one of those places after my mother died, and I have several friends who are now living (expensively) in similar prisons. I will take a swan-dive off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before I allow that to happen to me…and that also is neither a joke nor a typo. My house is paid for: if I die tomorrow my son will inherit a piece of property worth about $400,000, free & clear. My son’s house will be paid for in another 10 or 15 years; it will be worth around $325,000 to $350,000, if all things remain equal. He lives frugally and invests in IRAs, and so he presumably will have some retirement savings in hand, if he lives into his dotage.

BUT…

The Covid-19 fiasco has shown his employer, clear as handsomely chlorinated swimming pool water, that there is no reason to maintain expensive office space to support a profitable insurance business. He believes the company will never re-open its pricey new digs in Tempe, a dreary suburb of Phoenix. Shortly before the Covid fiasco began, he was promoted to a managerial position. He remains a manager: remotely.

What this means is that there’s really no reason for him to continue living in a dump like Phoenix, a vast, ugly, crass bedroom tract that we might kindly call L.A. East. If the company settles permanently into a mode in which most or all of its mid-level employees can work online, he could in theory live anyplace he pleases.

And there are many, many better places to live.

In Arizona alone, for example, towns such as Prescott, Bisbee, Patagonia, the outskirts of Tucson, and even Payson have far more temperate climates and are nowhere near as grubby and  crime-ridden as Phoenix. Nor is there any reason to stay in a culturally backward hole like Arizona. If you want to live in the Southwest, there are many better places to live in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and parts of New Mexico. If you don’t mind jumping on a plane to visit your employer for monthly staff meetings, Oregon, Washington State, parts of Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and waypoints are highly desirable venues. With a fistful of cash from the sale of two houses, you could easily install yourself in the Low Countries, Ireland, the south of France, Italy, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, or parts of Australia.

Why stay in a declining economy with a corrupt leadership and a moribund health-care system?

Why not use the capacity of electronic telecommuting to ensconce yourself — now, while you still have some years to enjoy life — in a better place?

If I were my son, I would be so gone. Right now: I wouldn’t wait for retirement, certainly not given the wacksh!t direction into which our country’s politics have dragged us. I probably would leave the US, given half a chance to pull it off. But even if I chose to stay in the this country, you can be sure it wouldn’t be in Phoenix.

Speaking of the which: as we scribble a cop helicopter is buzzing its way toward us, the dog has flown into a batsh!t frenzy, and I suppose I’m going to have to get up, dig out a pistol, and lock the security doors. So much for the scheme of taking a moonlight dip in the pool.

Where would you want your kids to spend the best years of their life?