Coffee heat rising

She’s OUT! She’s Off and Running!

So I’m chowing down on breakfast whilst browsing through The Economist — the single best general-interest periodical for people with functioning brain cells, IMHO — when I hear Ruby launch into a yap-fest: YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP…from…huh? From the front of the house????

WTF!?!

Leap to my feet, race through the open back door into the yard, jumping into an old pair of clogs on the way, and fly into the back yard, hollering RUBY! RUBY!!

No dog.

Round the corner of the house at a dead run and see Ruby bounding cheerily toward me…through the open side gate!

WTF, indeed! That thing has a double-cylinder dead bolt, and it gets locked every time the gate is pulled shut.

Love up the dog, lure her back into the house, then go outside to figure out what that’s all about.

Well, the doorknob-like handle on this gate has never been real efficient. Its little latch bolt — the tongue-like thing that fits into the strike plate and holds the door shut — wants to slip out of its assigned nesting spot, though it will stay put with some coaxing.

But the thing isn’t locked, and I know I locked it (it’s a double-cylinder deadbolt, so locks with a key from both sides). Because I never walk away from a door or a gate without locking it and checking to be sure it’s locked…for reasons that have been described floridly on this very blog.

So, yea verily WTF!?! Did somebody pick the lock open?

Unlikely. Why bother when there are so many juicier targets all around? Besides, it was raining last night. No burglar or bum in his right mind would be tromping around in that.

But o’course, the “in his right mind” part is operative. Hmm.

At any rate, thank the heavens Ruby had a nice little bark-fest while she was exploring the front yard, probably occasioned by some other dog owner walking their pal past the shack. And thank the heavens (x 1016) that she came to call.

It rained enough during the night to turn the backyard’s quarter-minus into slush, so now the kitchen floor is covered with mud.

But at least the little dog did not get hit by a car, creamed by a passing neighbor’s pit bull, or stolen.

And NOW…yea verily… I don’t even get through this short blog post when a helicopter — a big one, sounds like the military copters that emerge periodically from the Reserve base down on McDowell Road — comes ROARING over the top of the house, at tree-top level. Holy shit! Who are THEY after?

No one, evidently. He continues on, westward ever westward, so probably it’s a military exercise in how to chase down snipers in civilian residential areas. Ducky.

We’ve gotta get outta this place…

Accommodations…

Time heals all things, you know. Especially that human flaw known as memory. 😀 As the days, the weeks, the months, the years pass, that which once was clear as crystal becomes, shall we say, somewhat clouded. And those things that you do on autopilot?

Yes. Little acts like putting the keys in their accustomed place, setting your glasses on the usual counter, stashing your credit card where it belongs, feeding the dog at her favored hour…well…they just go away. If you set the keys someplace other than where they belong, they’re gone. Possibly lost to all posterity. If you put your glasses on the kitchen counter instead of next to the bathroom sink when you went to wash your face, they’re disappeared. It may be days before you find them. And feed the dog? You fed the dog? Really?? Why is she gazing winsomely at you like that, then?

This morning I went to take Ruby for a doggy-walk. I normally keep the car & housekeys, which share a key-ring, stuck in the deadbolt in the office door. That way they do not sink beneath a pile of paper or get lost under a blanket or get left on a bathroom counter or set down carelessly on top of the washer or…whatEVER. But not so, today!

No keys in the office door.

Oh, shit!!!!!

No keys on the bathroom counter. No keys on the kitchen counter. No keys on the table next to the front door. No keys IN the front door. No keys in the garage door. No keys in the basket that holds the dog-walking gear. No keys on the desk. No keys on the nightstand. No keys in the pockets of the jeans I wore yesterday. No keys in the back door. No… Fukkin’ KEYS.

After banging from from pillar to post and back again, I was beginning to get hysterical.

But the dog craved a doggy-walk, so after much digging around in the junk and old keys drawer, I found a key ring with a key to the front door and a key to the extra-hardened deadbolt on the exterior front prison door. As we’re flying around getting ready to go out the door, I happen to slap my right hip and find…

oh…yeah…

The keys. In my jeans pocket.

Note that I’d already checked those pockets twice and didn’t feel the wad of metal in there.

The in-storage keys already in hand, the regular keys went into their accustomed place in the office deadbolt. And off we went.

Whilst tromping around behind the dog, it occurred to me that instead of using the ring that holds the key to the security door’s deadbolt, the key to the front door’s deadbolt, the key to the side gate, the key to the car, the key to the office deadbolt, and the key to my son’s house, for a doggy walk I really should carry ONLY the keys to the front door. What do I need with ALL the keys to the kingdom when I’m traipsing round the neighborhood?

Why not LEAVE that collection in its accustomed place and use only the back-up keys for the front door, but instead of keeping them in the key drawer…hook them to the dog leash before putting the leash away.

Then the keys would be in the same place as an object that I have to have in order to leave the house with the dog.

Duh!

I think of this as an accommodation to advancing senility. And it occurs to me that you could make all sorts of accommodations like that. For example: put things away in places that are associated with the thing.

Obviously the deadbolt on the office door is associated with the keys. But since loss of the car key is one whole helluva lot bigger deal than loss of the key to the front door…put a Door Keys Lite chain with the gear that has to be used to walk the dog. Hence: far more likelihood of finding them on the run. And if they’re lost? No big deal: there’s still a wad of keys hanging from the office door.

The iPhone is on a perch on the office desk because… the home base to the annoying fake land-line phone is on that desk. Clearly that’s where phones go, right? The flashlight is in a drawer next to the back door because…if you needed to go out in the back yard after dark when the power is out, you’d need a flashlight…obviously.

One could dream up any number of logical (or semi-logical) connections like that to help you remember where you’re put stuff or what you’re supposed to do.

Another option is to create a spreadsheet recording what you’ve done or what you’re supposed to do…and when…and where.

The accursed pill conundrum — another joy of Old Age — presents an example. At 12:30 this afternoon, I took an aspirin. There is no way in Hell I will remember exactly what time (or even vaguely what time) I dropped that dose of acetylsalicylic acid. Not a chance…unless I’ve written it down. In a spreadsheet. And lo! Lookee here! At about the same time I also took a Claritin, hoping the dizzy spell that caught up with me as the dog and I were trotting around was an allergy, and not a covid-19 symptom. Forgot about that…because I’ve about forgotten about the vertigo, which went away shortly after I slurped down the antihistamine.

A container with separate slots for each day and specific hours is grand for pills…but requires you to remember to look at the container. Not, we might add, a foregone conclusion.

But determining to make an entry in a spreadsheet for each dose does help keep track of what you’ve taken, when.

Well. Assuming you remember to enter the…entry.

The Ineffable Impossibility of Covid-19 Vaccination…

Speaking of prepping, as we were yesterday, this morning I tried (again!) to make an appointment through the Arizona Department of Health Service’s web portal for covid vaccination. Here’s what happened:

I went all the way through DHS’s appointment calendar TO THE END OF JUNE — and even tried a few dates in July — and for every single search got a “no events open” reply. Either the system doesn’t work, or they are 100% booked through the beginning of July. And, presumably, beyond.

Each search requires 11 clicks-and-waits. Over and over and over. So to search through to the end of June requires 1,837 clicks-and-waits, only to be told “NO” about 30 days a month, for all hours of the days and nights.

If something comes up that you have to leave your computer and attend to something else, to return to the search you have to jump through the ENTIRE SERIES OF SIGN-UP HOOPS AGAIN. The system doesn’t remember anything more than a few slots of data, so you have to plod through that whole rigamarole again to restart your search, filling in dozens of slots and replying to irrelevant and intrusive questions.

How hard do you suppose it would be for DHS to post a calendar showing when the next available dates are? If such a thing exists, it’s not evident on their website.

By the end of June, the plague probably will be over. So presumably if you live that long, you won’t need a vaccination — that’s some comfort. I guess.

How hard, really, would it have been to simply fund dry ice containers for pharmacies in each ZIP code? Having been through pharmacy school, surely the employees at these sites would be clever enough to understand how to keep the vaccine frozen, and why. Yes, it would be expensive. But it couldn’t cost much more than funding a laughable, almost unnavigable website and paying legions of healthcare workers to staff centralized sites that are open 24/7.

Preppin’ Time!

So yesterday I batted from pillar to post, partly to get a couple of routine errands done but also to…ohhh yes! Stock up for the next chapter of the Armageddon Chronicles.

{sigh} I’m afraid I’m becoming a prepper of the first water.

Water, in fact, was one of the issues.

Here’s the thing: Starting along about on the 17th and going at the least through January 20, I expect we’re going to see rioting and vandalism in the streets of every major city in the land. This civil unrest, inspired by our fine outgoing wannabe emperor, will disrupt commerce. And it may disrupt one helluva lot more than that.

Here in lovely uptown Phoenix, for example:

Water. I live around the corner from the water processing plant that serves the better part of the central city. The place is essentially unprotected, except for an ineffectual wall around it. To cut off the flow of water to thousands of city residents, all a person would have to do is fly a small plane up here and drive it into the ground at that plant.

If suicide were not your thing, you wouldn’t even have to do that: a well-guided drone with a bomb attached to it would do the job.

Electric. The power (as well as Internet service) goes out here every time you bat your eye. All it takes is one good monsoon storm with winds that don’t anywhere near approach hurricane velocity to knock out power to large tracts of the city. Sabotaging the power grid, then, could not be very difficult.

Transit. That one’s vulnerable in two ways. First, of course, is “Electric,” above. Shut off the power and you shut off the traffic signals. Shut off the traffic signals, and you have chaos on every city street. But more to the point: the freeway system here carries the bulk of local and intercity traffic. When one stretch of freeway closes down, the surface streets on both sides are jammed to a standstill for a mile or more on both sides. And how hard would it be to disable those freeways? Lemme tellya how easy it would be:

All you’d need are a half-dozen home-made bombs with enough power to bring down a freeway overpass or blow a hole in the pavement. Set them on timers so they all go off at the same time. Put one on State Route 51 about at Northern Avenue. Put one on the Interstate 17 at about Camelback Road. Put one on the Loop 101 along about Indian School Road, and another on the same freeway at about Tatum. Another would go on the Interstate 10 somewhere along the Broadway Curve into Tempe.  For good measure you could set one just about anywhere on the 17 northbound toward Anthem. Time them all to go off at once and you will bring the ninth-largest city in the land to a dead stop.

Shutting down transit and jamming every road in the city, then, would mean interruptions in access to…

  • Food
  • Emergency services
  • Medical care (including prescription drugs)
  • Schools

And just about everything else you can think of.

Sooo… I figured I’d better get enough stuff in to last me and the dog for at least a week, maybe more. Because of my ongoing prepper projects, the fact is we have enough in the house to survive on, in a pinch…but probably not in the glorious style to which we have become accustomed. Plus in some prior decluttering frenzy, I threw out my big water carboys. Nothing remained in the house to store water but a few old booze bottles I stashed to use as flower vases. Soo…after a trudge to the credit union, it was off to Lowe’s and waypoints in search of a few plastic carboys in which to pour water.

No.

Lowe’s has no such thing.

No.

The neighborhood Walmart market has no such thing. It does have those cinder-block size containers, but stored on a shelf over my head so that I couldn’t get even one of them down and into a market basket. Gave up in disgust and stalked out, figuring to head down to the water store way to hell and gone at 16th Street and Glendale.

Out the door, cruise through the parking lot toward an exit to a south-bound main drag, and on the way find…say what?! A cute little storefront ice cream AND WATER store. Dart into the reserved parking, shoot in, and…yeah! Get two nice big plastic jugs, and the proprietor filled them for me for free!!!

Zowie! Is God on my side or not?

🙂

While indulging in the whirlwind trip to Walmart, I saw I was not the only prepper grabbing every survival item in sight. People were pushing around carts already half filled with bottled water, and a whole bunch of the other stuff we couldn’t get during the last panic.

At the Lowe’s I grabbed a package of D batteries, but didn’t realize I’m out of C batteries — so today will have to schlep out again to get some of those. My camp lantern runs on D’s, but ordinary flashlights, of course, take C’s. {sigh}

There’s no ammunition in common calibers to be had for love nor money, and hasn’t been for several months. I have enough to fool any wannabe vandals who get close enough to the house for me to take accurate aim. But unless I hit one of the bastards dead (heh!) on and it scares off his pals  (they are pretty cowardly after all, so there’s sorta some hope of that), I won’t be able to hold off a targeted assault for any length of time. That, though, I believe to be extremely unlikely.

But then…who would ever have imagined a phenomenon like Donald Trump was likely?

Not my president…

 

Comfort Food(oid) for Times of Stress

When you’ve had it — had it had it HAD IT — what, really do you want?

Money?

Love?

Peace and  quiet?

God’s hand reaching down out of the clouds and lifting you Heavenward?

Any and all of those would be good. Very good. But really, when you come right down to it, nothing helps like…yes...JUNK FOOD.

Yes. Yes, you’re right. It’s extremely bad for you. But the heck with that noise. Bad as it may be for you, it does make you feel a great deal less crabby.

And here we have one of the finest, most effective, and most delicious comfort food(oid)s ever invented by the human mind: Coconut paletas.

These are treats that faintly resemble a Klondike Bar, only far more delicious and lacking the chocolate. And you can easily make them at home, because, though they look like they’re made of ice cream they’re not. They’re easy and cheap to whip up, and nothing could be more bad for you. Which is to say, nothing could be better for your mood.

A paleta is very much like a popsicle. Some of them are indeed popsicle-like: the strawberry varieties, for example. Some of them are a little more exotic. Among these is the coconut paleta, a treat made of sugar plus coconut stuff plus (sometimes) nuts plus…oh what the heck! Throw in some more sugar, because you deserve it!

Here’s what you need to make them:

Coconut Paletas

Popsicle molds, with a stand for them
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of coconut cream
1 pint heavy cream
a handful of nuts (optional)
about 1/3 cup white sugar

Typically, the nuts are almonds, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been using a fistful of mixed nuts. Pecans would be great. Walnuts would, too. Or pistachios. Whatever.

You’ll need something to mix this stuff up with: a wire whip works well. Or a fork. Or a spoon. Maybe an electric mixer, if you want to go to that much trouble. If you’re adding nuts, a small blender to chop them up is highly desirable.

So, in a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the coconut products, the cream, and the sugar. Finely chop the nuts and toss them in, too. Mix well, so the batter is nice and smooth and non-lumpy.

Fill your popsicle molds with this batter, insert the sticks or holders, secure them upright in their stand, and place them in the freezer. Go away for awhile.

That’s it. In a few hours, you’ll have a bunch of icy sweet treats that are guaranteed to cool your temper enough to stop the steam from shooting out your ears.

You can make these things in just about any flavor you like. You can make them as frozen coffee. You can make them into boozicles. Whatever. You can add stuff to them other than nuts: strawberries, cherries, little angels kissin’ spring.

It’s all, every variety of it, so much better than a sick dog; locked-down veterinarians; a busted car; idiots blasting fireworks until three in the morning, starting in the first week of December; stoners drag racing up and down Conduit of Blight Blvd. and across Gangbanger’s Way through the wee hours; a raging plague; a cop helicopter rattling your windowpanes for half an hour; computer do-dads that you do not know how to use and do not want to know how to use; frost on the palm tree; constant discomfort from some chronic ailment you never heard of before; busted plumbing; busted-out drywall; parades of (presumably contagious) workmen traipsing through the house; a glitch in your email system that takes an Apple service manager to figure out and fix (and that, only by guess and b’gawd); a pool dude who feeds your sick dog Milk Bones….

Oh WTF… She’s refused to eat anything else for the better part of a week. Maybe Milk Bones have enough calories to keep her alive for another few hours.