Coffee heat rising

And as long as we’re enjoying the Valley of the Sun’s blandishments…

Pool Dude shoots in the gate. Bribes the dog. Throws himself around. Shoots out the gate. Bless that man!!! That pool has been crystalline GORGEOUS since the first day he showed up on the job.

Ruby dearly loves him. She knows when it’s Tuesday — Pool Dude Day — and lurks by the door or the gate waiting for him to show up. I suspect this is largely because he bribes her with treats. But in fact he seems to be a very sweet man, if somewhat eccentric.

I wonder if you can earn enough cleaning pools to actually make a living.

Hmmmm….  He charges me $110/month. This includes chemicals, though…so he’s not getting anywhere near that much. Let’s estimate that maybe he nets, after gasoline and vehicle upkeep, around $60/month…maybe $70. Hmmm…

If it takes him around an hour to drive from one customer’s house to the next, plus of course the drive time from wherever he lives, he can probably serve five to eight customers a day. So that would be, say, 5 customers/day times 4 (five-day) weeks/month: 20 paying trips per month.

ooohkayyyy…. 20 trips * $110 = $2200/month, gross.

That’s not a helluva lot less than I was earning at GDU. And he doesn’t have a Ph.D., 15 years of journalism experience, and 20 years of teaching experience. On the other hand, I didn’t have to purchase all the materials needed to do the job — and chlorine, in particular, ain’t cheap. Nor did I spend half the day driving from place to place…burning $4.25-a-gallon gasoline every inch of the way.

In other sylvan fields…

Yesterday’s freeway wreck, which I narrowly escaped, apparently was even more spectacular than reported. It looks like the cops actually RAMMED the guy’s truck to stop him! At freeway speed…

Wow! If I hadn’t gone into the Best Buy on that futile quest for…whatever I wanted, but instead had continued on north toward the Costco up the freeway, I would’ve been in the middle of that.

Y’know…I kinda doubt that I’d be real happy with a job that required me to drive allllll over the Valley every day. It is just too, too crazy out there to be in a car any more than absolutely necessary.

Phoenix: what a place!


Dispatch from Costco’s Tire Shop: Monday as Day From Hell

Any day could be a Day from Hell, I suppose. Monday’s as good any for spiraling downhill. After a full morning in Hell (cleaning lady, nail in a tire, driving round and round Robin Hood’s Barn), as we scribble we’re now parked on a bench in the Tire Shop at Costco, waiting a predicted two hours to get one flickin’ tire fixed.


Dave, the doughty fella manning the customer service desk, is so busy he hasn’t had time to take a deep breath. Literally: the action here NEVER STOPS, not even for a minute or two.

This morning I had to take Ruby the Corgi to the vet to find out about getting her stinky teeth cleaned. This is a much neglected task: having foolishly imagined that I would be responsible enough to clean her teeth myself, I’ve let it go and let it go and forgotten about it and let it go until now she stinks so much she no longer can be ignored.

Actually…the issue is that her mouth is too small to allow me to fit the finger-sized tooth-scrubber thing in there. So no amount of pretend scrubbing does…well…anything. So this morning I took her to the vet, who wants A THOUSAND DOLLARS to clean her teeth.

This was no surprise, because the same vet used to pull the same stunt on La Maya, who (more or less) willingly forked over the cash for her two dachshunds.

Expecting this, I told her that on Social Security there’s no way in Hell I can afford anything like that.

She recommended some outfit called Doggy Dental, which supposedly does nothing but clean dogs teeth, for something vaguely resembling a reasonable fee.

That notwithstanding, she charged me for X-raying the dog’s teeth (did I ask her to do that?), and of course for the privilege of walking into her office.

So on the way home I stopped by a newer, closer vet to ask what they’d charge. Walked in. NOT A SOUL AROUND! Waited awhile. Left.

Next: low tire light comes on. Sumbiche!

Stop by the Firestone shop on the way home – they’re up at the corner Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way. Guy there says the tire needs to be replaced. And that’ll be a thousand bucks.


See ya!

So now here I am at the Costco, waiting and waiting and waiting to see if they can fix the tire and, if, not to simply buy a new one. Which, you may be damned sure, will NOT set me back a thousand dollah.*

This place is hectic!!!

The guys at the desk haven’t had a chance to take a deep breath since I walked in. But now…weirdly!…the crowd has abated, people have roamed off, and it’s downright quiet in here.

Meanwhile, NATCHERLY today is Cleaning Lady Day. So Luz is on her own at the Funny Farm. Fortunately, because I had to duck in there on the way, I did manage to pay her. That’s something. I guess.

Dayumnation! Somewhere, somehow I’m gonna have to find a vet that charges reasonable fees. And is competent.

That’ll be quite a trick. All the good old vets that I knew have retired and sold their veterinaries. So I don’t know anyone anymore. And they don’t know me, either…so haven’t the slightest compunction about charging me through the schnozzola. {sigh} Because of that, I reckon, Ruby  the Corgi is going to be the last dog to live at the Funny Farm.

How much longer, I wonder will the Ruby last? Overall her health seems to be excellent. So, barring accidents…what? Three to five years?

Holeee shee-ut! In five years I’ll be EIGHTY-TWO YEARS OLD! Assuming I’m still alive, that is.

Doesn’t seem possible.

That’s actually not out of the realm of possibility, though. On the California side of the family, women have lived into their 90s…and since they were Christian Scientists, that was in the absence of medical care. One of my uncles was 88 when he croaked over…. But… my mother’s New York grandparents weren’t so fortunate. Her grandmother died of diabetes in what must have been her mid- to late 30s…early 40s at the latest.

So then we’re confronted with the question of whether, after Ruby passes on to her furry fathers, can I justify getting another dog? Or even handle having another dog?

. . . .

Tire Shop Desk Dude: It’ll take about two hours to fix that.
Customer: That’s fine. I’ll do some shopping. The car is right outside.
TS DD: Where’s the wheel lock key?
Customer: In the glove compartment.

Uh huh. NOBODY would ever think to look for it there….

Guy just came in with a tire that needs fixing. Warrantee expired three years from the day he bought it: YESTERDAY.


. . . .

As we were saying…. Can I, should I get another dawg after Ruby passes on to her Furry Fathers? Assuming she predeceases me, that is.

Unless the proposed successor to the Crown is already pushing old age when she arrives in the Realm, I’m not likely to survive her. So…who will take her? Can my son be bamboozled into agreeing to take in an ancient dawg when his mother croaks over? Hmmmmm…..

Old Guy comes in, pays a bill, walks out. He’s wearing well-used jeans held up with suspenders. Looks like he belongs in the Ozarks.

Prob’ly cruised in from Paradise Valley in his Rolls.

This is the West Side, though. Not impossible that he could be an old cotton farmer or rancher. Not likely, though.

Hey: Tire Dude says the guys are just finishing up with the Venza. Give it 2 minutes; then walk out to the second bay.

Hungry hungry hungry. By the time I get home it’ll be dinnertime, almost. So I guess that’ll be the main meal of the day.

How much longer before two minutes have passed?

Ohhhh how I wanna go home!



* Oh, and it cost $12 to replace the tire… It was on warrantee.


good-BYE, Costco…and dammit, this time I mean it!

You realize…if you want to buy 89 tons of cheap individually wrapped candies to hand out to the Poor Kids who are bussed into your neighborhood for Hallowe’en, you can get that stuff at Target. Or Walmart. Or for that matter at Safeway, Albertson’s, Fry’s, or Walgreen’s. You don’t HAVE to go to Costco to buy a lifetime supply of junk candy. Or of…well…of anything.

Costco is where I went today, though, by way of stocking up for this year’s onslaught of kiddies and teenagers. The ‘Hood is flanked on two sides by low-income districts, meaning that every Hallowe’en we are flooded with hordes of cutie-pies and silly teenagers in costume. This makes for a great neighborhood party: everyone hangs out on their driveways to greet the panhandling kids, and a grand time is had by all.

So today I was despatched to snare a cache of individually wrapped candies for the coming shindig. Costco seemed like the logical destination, since while I was at it I could stock up on a few things that are running low here at the Funny Farm.

But…maybe not…

Alas. They have decimated their cheap wine offerings. They used to have a wonderful selection of wines in the $8 to $12 range — I mean, awesome. No more. Want a drinkable bottle of wine there? Prepare to spend upwards of 15 or 18 bucks,

No, this is not inflation. Albertson’s, Sprouts, Fry’s, Trader Joe’s, and — hevvin help us — even the ritzy-titzy AJ’s all offer a generous selection of cheapo wines, highly drinkable. Prices are about the same (in the $8 to $12 range), and deliciousness is highly comparable in all the other stores.

The Paradise Valley Costco’s layout is damn near non-navigable. In addition to our communal supply of Hallowe’en candy, I wanted to buy one of Costco’s lifetime-supply bottles of aspirin. Into the pharmacy dept. Search high. Search low. Search medium. Search high and low again. CAN. NOT. FIND. A. FREAKIN’ BOTTLE OF ASPIRIN.

Since this is a commodity you need by the time you get out of the place, presumably my fellow customers have cleared the shelves and gulped down all the product.

Did find a nice package of rack of lamb, one of the things I went specifically to that store to buy.



AJ’s also has superior rack of lamb. And you don’t have to do battle to get to the meat counter for the purpose of grabbing a package of it.


But the main issue with Costco shopping is…well…Costco customers.

You think Walmart customers are characters? Jayzuz! Take 45 minutes or an hour to watch Costco customers in action! They leave Walmart People in the dust.

Honest-ta-Gawd, I do NOT understand how Costco employees who work the floor in those stores keep a grip on their sanity! WHAT a job!

Today, as is invariably usual, I got stuck behind some stupid woman who, mesmerized by the glory of the stacks and stacks of merchandise, was rolling her cart right up the middle of the aisles. She would stop, stand there, and stare…while everyone on both sides of her, coming and going, waited for her to get the hell out of the way.

This is not a “sometimes” occurrence. It’s something that seems to happen every time I go into a Costco store.

Y’know, aisles in a grocery store or a drugstore are no wider. If anything, Costco’s aisles are considerably more generous than a Safeway’s or a Walgreen’s. But people don’t seem to pull that stunt in those stores. For the life of me, I cannot understand what gets into people who do that!

Why this is happening — whether it’s because there’s so much variety of merchandise people zone out as they search for what they want or whether a particular type of chucklehead is attracted to Costco — I cannot imagine. All I know is it makes me crazy. And I think I’m not gonna go back there, unless it’s under exceptional duress.

There are things you can’t get in these parts except at Costco or at Amazon. For that reason, it makes sense to maintain a membership, either in order to go there oneself or so as to send Instacart runners. But…if the only time I shop there is when I need something that’s not sold anywhere else and I don’t wanna wait for Amazon to deliver it, I’m surely going to shop there lots, lots less.

Do we really want to rescue these folks?…

Yeah, those folks: the ones who deliberately or heedlessly put themselves at risk by ignoring public warnings intended to help keep them safe. Just now, for example, the ninnies in the Southeast who failed to take shelter or get the fu!k out when the Weather Service and the police issued warnings that life-threatening storms and floods were on the way…how about those ninnies? Why are we sending helicopters and boats to get them out of the mess they plunged into of their own volition?

Here we have this, for example: A woman in Florida who blithely discounts official pleading to get the Hell out as the worst hurricane in the history of the Atlantic Coast bears down. Her grandson, who apparently failed to inherit all her Stupid Genes, realizes she is at risk (along with her dog!!), so he flies into the state, travels to her home, and gets stuck in the predicted floods. Now both their lives are at risk and they end up having to be rescued by Coast Guard helicopters and airlifted to safety.

Know how much it costs to operate a rescue helicopter?

No? Make a guess. Come anywhere close?

It’s SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS AN HOUR, just to run the chariot to pluck some ninny out of a predicament they got into by blithely ignoring all warnings and all common sense.

  • For a rescue helicopter: $1600 an hour
  • For a Coast Guard rescue boat: $1147 an hour
  • For a C-130: $7600 an hour


As nothing… The same source tells us the National Parks Service spent almost $5 million in 2007, in search and rescue alone.

Our cup runneth over with stupidity.

Most such rescues have to happen when some fool decides to ignore signs to stay on the trail, decides that the news reports of an incoming hurricane are just journalistic hysteria or Big Brother trying to manipulate us, that God is watching out for them…and on and inanely on.

Sometimes I wonder how some people manage to figure out how to make their own breakfast.

It leaves us with the question of…well…how much DO we want to continue the genetic heritage of stump-dumb stupidity? When someone pig-headedly does something that public information programs and newcasts and road signs urge don’t do that, should we — really — rescue them? Why?

Yeah, I know. God tells us to be good to our fellow nudnick.

But…y’know…Mother Nature issues no such edict. Is it possible that she’s tryin’ to tell us something?

If we rescue them, we invite them to continue contributing their “stupid” genes to the communal gene pool. If we let them get themselves out of their own predicament, we accomplish one of two ends (possibly both, come to think of it):

  • We make it clear to the other ninnies out there what’s likely to happen if you ignore public safety warnings.
  • We remove their Idiot Genes from the stream of humanity’s genetic makeup, thereby very possibly smartening up the generations to come.

Either of those, to my mind, seems like a salutary goal…

Leave. My. Dog. Alone…PLEASE!

Well, I offended one of the neighbors mightily this morning. Honestly. Sometimes I do wonder WHAT is the matter with people!

This lady — I’d say she’s in her 60s or maybe early 70s — walks around every morning with a pocket full of dog treats. She inhabits the Richistans, so if Ruby and I go over there on the morning doggy-walk, we’re likely to run into her. And we DO go over there most days, because the park, so much beloved by Ruby the Corgi, is simply overrun with off-the-leash dogs charging around.

Yes. The park DOES have a big sign that says “DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH.” But of course it doesn’t apply to those folks, right?

So if we want to stroll through a shady, park-like stretch, we’re pretty much restricted to Upper Richistan.

This lady haunts those regions. She’s out there almost every morning.

She’s very friendly. She’s a VERY sweet person. And every damn morning she wants to give Ruby a doggy-treat.

Now you understand, I don’t especially mind if Ruby gets a random dog treat now and again. But there are some good reasons to ask her to refrain:

  • Ruby is getting fat.
  • Fat is exceptionally not good for a corgi, with its long spine and short legs.
  • I would prefer it very much that Ruby not expect to get doggy-treats from strangers. My dogs’ job is not to suck up to strangers, some of whom (in these parts) are not folks with whom you especially want to encourage chumminess.
  • Some dogs are diabetic. They should not have doggy treats: their diets, like the diets of diabetic humans, need to be carefully tended.

She always asks if it’s OK to give Ruby a treat, and I always, out of politeness, say “sure.” Today I decided to get honest with her, and so I replied, “I’d really prefer it if she didn’t get treats.”

WELL! You’d think I’d insulted all her daughters and their madame!

She got all huffy and stalked off dramatically.

People are SO STUPID about dogs!

  1. The ones who insist on letting their dogs run loose in a public park bounded on three sides by streets full of commuters chugging off to the main drags.
  2. The ones who confuse their dogs with children and burble inanely over their “fur-babies”
  3. The ones who coo, as your German shepherd is getting set to remove their dog’s throat, coo “Ohhhh don’t worry! They just wanna plaaayyyy!
  4. The ones who let their dog run loose in the mountain parks and then are surprised when their dog sticks its nose under a creosote bush and gets bit by a rattlesnake.
  5. The ones who run their dog by their bicycles as they peddle down the street.
  6. The ones who run their dog by their skateboard as they skate down the sidewalk.

Lordie, I’m fed up with that stuff.

Folks. Your dog is not your child. It’s not a human at all. It is a descendant of wolves, a type of pack animal. It acts like it’s your friend because its species has evolved into a an advantageous, symbiotic relationship with humans. Treating your dog as if it were a child puts your dog at risk of health problems and behavioral problems and you at risk of lawsuits.

Even if you must be silly about your dog, please please please don’t be stupid about other people’s dogs!

‘Bye, Amazon!

So I needed a new pair of padded bicycling gloves to walk Ruby the Corgi, a powerful little engine who drags the human fiercely enough that a leash will rub the skin right off the palms of your hands. Toooo lazy to drive to the bike store and buy a new pair, I stupidly decided to order a pair of bicycling gloves, size medium, from Amazon. They arrive; I try them on…can’t even get them up to my wrists. These may be “medium” for a six-year-old, but not for a grown woman.

No, I am NOT fat: 5’6″ & 125 lb.

Gotta send them back.

But lo! We have a change in our dealings with that august online retailer! Evidently Amazon doesn’t want people sending unusable junk back anymore…you can hardly blame them, I guess. So they’ve devised a way to discourage people from returning stuff, by adding a layer of hassle to make the process difficult. Can you take the package to the nearest UPS store and just ship it back? Ohhhhh nooooooo!

No more!

Now have to schlep it all the way across the city to the nearest Whole Foods (!!!!) and jump through a row of hoops there.

I have no business to transact at or near a Whole Foods — the groceries are overpriced, and selection is better at other local stores. So this offends at the outset.

But that’s not all:

First, I have to visit the credit union for the day’s first errand. From there to the Whole Foods and back to my house is TWENTY-FIVE AND SEVEN-TENTHS MILES. Yes: that’s 25.7 miles to return ONE STUPID LITTLE ITEM. It’s a quarter of the way to Tucson from here.

Gasoline is going for $4.50 a gallon just now. I get about 19 mpg on my aging Venza. Sooo….it costs me around $5 in gas to send this ridiculous purchase back to Amazon, when I could have WALKED to either the UPS Store or the mailboxes store in my neighborhood.

Once I arrive at the Whole Foods, I ask a clerk where I can return a useless Amazon purchase. She directs me to a DIY kiosk!!!

Y’know what I say to that, dear Amazon?


That’s what I say to that. With an F and a Y and a u. Once and for all!

On the way home through the crushing, homicidal traffic (tempers grow short here in Phoenix, when the weather is both hot and muggy), I stopped at a bicycling shop and bought a pair of gloves there. They fit.

And I felt remarkably good about BUYING LOCAL.

It’ll be a cold day in an Arizona August before I buy anything else from Amazon.