Coffee heat rising

What next, Lord?

Thursday a.m.

So I called the dentist this morning to try to weasel out of today’s appointment. My understanding was, we were to discuss and maybe try to do something about the chronic pain in the upper left jaw.

Ugh! Just what I don’t wanna do with my morning…

….and in fact, when I rolled out of the sack this a.m., the pain was GONE!

This is something that’s been going on, unchanging, for weeks. Now, poof! It’s GONE???

Well, I have other things to do than endure more dental torture, so I called to cancel the appointment. But…


Today’s appointment wasn’t for dental pain. It was to get my teeth cleaned.


I am DEAD SURE we did that less than 6 months ago.


24 Hours Pass
Now It’s Friday


Somehow I survived the trip to the dentist’s. Just tooth-cleaning. No big deal. Time-consuming, but otherwise bland enough.

Followed by a very bland day.

M’hijito has made no move — that I know of — to pursue another dog. Probably that’s best: he needs to recover from losing the beloved Charley. But I do hope he can shake off the blues and seek a new sidekick, in due course.

Meanwhile: One of the lamps on my dining-room chandelier developed a short. I installed it shortly after moving in here, lo! these many years ago, and I still love it. This one is close, though not identical. You get the idea, though: half-a-dozen fake candles

So I call Electrician Dude. He and his young sidekick surface. He spends maybe half an hour inspecting and then fiddling with it. Get it working again. Then he forks over a bill for TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!

As you can see from that Amazon link in the previous paragraph…I could have bought a brand-new chandelier for that!

Soooo…dammit! Guess we’ll be looking for a new electrician.


Saturday a.m.

And another 24 hours pass. Wake as usual at dawn, dawg campaigning to go outside. Putter around. Notice her eyes are running, not an unusual thing here in Allergy Central. Like humans, dogs are allergic to all the dust that blows around and the weeds that sprout everywhere you look. Get a Kleenex to wipe her face and…ohhhh shee-ut! it comes away with BLOOD on it.

Holy mackerel. Her eye is red because it’s bleeding!

Should I take her to an emergency vet?


That means

a) an interminable wait (one commenter on Yelp said they sat in a waiting room for SEVEN HOURS)
b) a BLINDING bill

Any chance I could squeeze in to the ineffable Dr. Bracken’s schedule?

Right! Sure! On a Saturday morning!!

They supposedly open at 8:00 a.m.  It’s 8:15 a.m.

Get on the phone: line is picked up by an answering yakathon. It blasts Muzak (of a sort) into my ear: a repetitive banjo twang.

twangidy-twang twangidy-twang
twangidy-twang twangidy-twang
twangidy-twang twangidy-twang
twangidy-twang twangidy-twang
twangidy-twang twangidy-twang
twangidy-twang twangidy-twang
twangidy-twang twangidy-twang

….on and on and on… After about five minutes of this, a young-sounding male voice answers. He takes my number, supposedly to call back. He says they don’t open until 9:00 a.m. I remark that maybe they’d better change the data on their website.

Ohhhhh welll….

How can I SAY how much I don’t wanna drive way to hell and gone into Darkest Arcadia on a Saturday morning?

This will blow away half the day…assuming I can get in at all.

Phone rings: Vet’s staff on the phone. Explain what’s happening. She wants to ask him about it. She puts me on hold: BLASTING goddamn annoying Muzak…combined with advertising pitches for why you must bring your pet right in.

Godlmighty! Are there PR people out there who specialize in annoying your customers?

Human comes on phone:  He wants to wait and see. Thinks it could be allergies, since she’s not digging at it and seems not to be in pain. Suggests gently wiping with dampened cotton balls; call back if not improved by Monday.


This is why I take my livestock to that veterinarian, endless schlep notwithstanding. He’s not in the business of clipping you, and so if he thinks something can benefit by a wait-and-see approach, he’ll tell you.

As it develops, everybody else who’s ever heard of the man betakes themselves there, too. That office is humming with traffic, all day, every day.

I’m convinced that he really IS the single best vet in the city, and probably in the state.


In other precincts: someone else has noticed that it’s hot outside. 😀  Ohhhh how the media love Arizona summers! On any given Slow News Day, there’s always something to get rattled about…


What to do? What to do?


Nothing like a little hysteria to sell newspapers and news websites. No, there’s nothin’ “historic” about 112 degrees. It’s actually pretty typical for July and August in the low desert.

That said: my power bill is gonna be through the roof.

Jacked the A.C. down to 77 last night, so as to manage to sleep. Just turned it back up to 80, which will make it mighty hot in the family room & kitchen, where skylights act like automobile windows. So we’ll have to hang out in the bedrooms throughout the afternoon.

Which is what I’m gonna do right now: Go back to bed!

The Saga of the Fridge…continued

So the AMEX bill arrived, bearing with it the single largest bottom line I’ve ever seen on a credit card statement.  Eeek!

Well, it’s because they’ve combined the current state of the Refrigerator Fiasco with a gigantic and breathtaking clerical error.

Error the first: When it looked like I might be able to get rid of the ridiculous GE refrigerator that I stupidly bought from B&B Appliances, a local (and highly questionable!) vendor, I decided I’d better acquire a new, functional fridge before the present thing goes out the door, lest all the food in the house spoil.

Sooo…I went over to Home Depot and ordered a nice new LG refrigerator. They arranged for delivery, a few days later, and we all went on about our business.

Events evolved…

The GE refrigerator eventually quieted down. Nowadays, it’s making no more noise than any normal refrigerator does — meaning that, hallelujah brothers and sisters, it can’t be heard in the back bedroom on the far end of the house. At least, not so’s it keeps you from falling asleep at night.

Observing this, I went back over to HD — in person, no less — and canceled the order for their refrigerator.

So…okay, if the matter isn’t resolved between American Express and B&B, it’ll be no skin off my proverbial teeth.

Thus thought I, until that AMEX statement came flying into the mailbox.

They charged me TWICE for B&B’s accursed fridge. And no, they never did register a credit for the piece of junk. Meanwhile, Home Depot’s charge also appears on that bill.

So now I’ve got THREE REFRIGERATORS charged up on my AMEX card!!!!!!!!!


Just now, WonderAccountant has the AMEX bill. She’s busy with other clients’ work right this instant, so we’ll have to wait or day or three to figure out exactly what to say to the factotums at American Express.

Just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?


Monday: The Only Pretty Costco Day?

Here’s an experience of note: This afternoon I made a Costco run — normally a trying project plagued with crowds and fraught traffic. But today, for the first time in memory, it was not bad!


Got there around 1:00 p.m.

  • No problem parking — not far from the door. No crazies in the parking lot.
  • Plenty of shopping carts (but then, there usually are).
  • No gotta-get-in-the-door-firsters (usually plenty of those, too).
  • Navigable aisles, for a change. Few chuckleheads parked smack in the aisle, holding everyone up as they gaze slack-jawed at the piles and piles and piles of offerings. No cranky crying babies. No wild-a$$ed kids running up and down the corridors.

A miracle.

Snabbed the stuff I needed quickly and without hassle. (Another miracle!)

Short lines at the check-out counters: yet another miracle!!! Got through the line and out the door in a matter of minutes. (Are we sure we’re in Costco????)

  • Got a package of totally GORGEOUS lamb chops. A box of delicious quinoa salad. A package of doggy dental chews! Found THE cutest little casual top that will look pretty awesome with my cranberry-red jeans.
  • And made my way back to the Appliances aisle.
  • There I found that yes. Yes, indeed. I got ripped off ROYALLY by the inelegant B&B Appliances. That unholy outfit charged me almost twice as much for the crummy rip-off GE fridge as Costco is charging for a comparably sized LG refrigerator, the latter highly recommended by reviewers. And they have microwaves that probably out-quality the laughable GE micro by about ten to one.
  • Whenever the dust settles from that fiasco, I’ll betake myself back to Costco to replace the rip-off junk with LG’s.

But later. Got enough to deal with right this instant.

  • Left the Costco in time to hit the main homeward-bound drag around 3:00 p.m. This is the start of rush hour here in unlovely uptown Phoenix.
  • But interestingly, the traffic was not too bad yet. Got across town to the freeway. Entered the freeway without obviously risking my life or anyone else’s. Traffic started to thicken when I got off the freeway, westbound on Main Drag South, but it wasn’t too bad. Got into the hood with no major incidents, no major frustrations.

Yet another miracle.


Lesson #1: Never buy local!

If I’d gone to Costco from the git-go in search of a fridge, I would have come away with the highest-rated model on the market and would not now be in a clench with American Express as we do battle with the noxious local dealer, B&B Appliances. By now I would have a nice LG refrigerator, no argument engaged, and I would know nothing of the elaborate workings of American Express as its lawyers take on miscreant local marketers.

Lesson #2: Avoid the rush hour!

If there’s any way you can swing it, try to surface at Costco’s entrance along about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. If you can hit the homeward leg of your trip home by 3:00 p.m., you have a shot at getting home without too much torture.

Driving in Phoenix is, in general, just that: torture. But because I’d managed to skirt the afternoon rush hour, most of the trip to and from the store was…well…not too, too bad.

Phoenix, whose city parents pride themselves on having created a clone of L.A., is — like the beloved Los Angeles — a perfectly horrible place to drive in the rush hour, the pre-rush hour, and the post-rush hour periods. If you can contrive to get on the road after 10 a.m. and before 3:00 p.m., you have a shot at preserving your sanity and your life. Otherwise…well…hang onto your marbles!

Whilst perambulating, I noticed that Costco has nice new iMacs for much better prices than Best Buy’s. As advertised, the damn things are much shrunk in size, so if I have to get one to replace the sickly unit, using it as a television will not be good.

Yeah: I ain’t a-payin’ for cable TV, which is now the only way you can get television reception here in lovely uptown Phoenix. After our honored City Parents installed that innovation, I started using the iMac to watch the few TV offerings that are worth watching — news programs, PBS and BBC dramas, and whatnot. Those go away if an iMac can’t be persuaded to work. That, we’ll see about tomorrow, when a Best Buy fella is supposed to come over and connect the expensive new iMac to the Internet and upload data from the MacBook.


Update: B&B Fridge Fiasco

Just realized, whilst putting away mounds of paper and updating the calendar, that AMEX, even though they suspended the $1500 charge for B&B’s half-baked refrigerator for the nonce, in fact did not cancel it. The charge is in a state of suspended animation, being “disputed,” until May 26. If in fact B&B prevails, then yes, I will have to pay the ba*tards for what so far has been (in effect) a free refrigerator. Albeit a free piece of junk…

That’s right. The operatic GE fridge remains in my kitchen, humming and rattling to itself, while the matter is settled. And indeed I was on the cusp of buying a new LG refrigerator (handsomely reviewed!) at Lowe’s and giving B&B’s piece of junk to Gerardo for his workshop.

Somehow I failed to grasp that detail in AMEX’s workings.

Wow!  Lucky I couldn’t make up my feeble little mind while I was cruising around Lowe’s. By now the noise-maker would be outta here!

Hmmmmmmm….. Godlmighty but that sounds batsh!t, doesn’t it?

Think I’ll call American Express — or wait! maybe inquire in writing — to confirm whether B&B has until May 26 to make good on this damn thing. And then what? If they give up , what do we do with this fine piece of equipment? But if they persist, am I still on the hook for almost $1500? Can B&B be forced to take it back, despite their “no-returns” policy?

In the meantime, we have this half-baked (heh!) GE microwave that B&B peddled to me at the same time. You wanna talk about piece of junk? Lemme tellya!

My old microwave, which I should evidently NOT have dispensed with, would cook 2 thick-sliced pieces of bacon to a state of crispy done-ness in 2 minutes flat. The new thing takes exactly twice as long to do that.

True: the earth does not shatter into a a pile of meteoroids just because it takes four minutes to cook one’s breakfast bacon. I don’t do a lot of cooking in a microwave, because I eat mostly real foods — “whole foods” as they’re dubbed here in the 21st century. So really, it doesn’t much matter that the thing makes a nice noise and goes round and round whilst it does…next to nothing. But if I’d known, I would never have gotten rid of the other machine.

The new GE fridge still runs noisier than I would like — but at least you can’t hear it all the way back in the bedroom at the far end of the palace. So it’s now tolerable…if I have to keep it, I could do so without vast suffering.

Though this refrigerator was clearly damaged goods — a workman found a couple of dents on the side and noted that one its “feet” has been broken and fixed — it runs OK. Don’t think I should have to pay full price for it. But my world won’t end if the thing stays here. Or ends up in Gerardo’s workshop.

Big message here, though, is one that I should have remembered before the whole fiasco started: DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE MAKING ANY MAJOR PURCHASE. And assume nothing. Yes: that’s nothing.

Having grown up with General Electric as a major American manufacturer of high-quality appliances, it never crossed my mind to spend an hour (or less…much less was all that would have been required) in exploring consumer reviews on the Internet. By way of experiment: Google this phrase:

why have GE products gone downhill

Holeeee shee-ut!

No, I wouldn’t have thought of quite that wording. 😀 BUT if I had simply googled “GE appliance reviews” I would have known not to buy what is now a Chinese product with an American brand name slapped on it. Any search for consumer reviews of GE products brings up rant after rant after furious rant.

The fall of GE has been big financial news for the past several years, too. Truth to tell, if I’d been reading Forbes and the Wall Street Journal and their ilk, I wouldn’t even have had to look for consumer reviews. I would have known the company and its products overshot China and went straight to Hell quite awhile ago.

And also truth to tell, I was just plain stupid about B&B Appliances. I’d dealt with them before with no problem. I liked the saleslady who peddled this thing to me. It never dawned on me that they were ripping me off.

Guess the message is…always assume that everyone is trying to rip you off, and proceed accordingly!

Tree Assassinated!

Mwa ha ha! Yesterday I put Sr. Gerardo and his compañeros up to removing the shaggy, overgrown paloverde tree that has dominated the front yard since I moved in here.

Planting that thing was a mistake from the git-go. When I moved in I had the raggedy lawn torn out and replaced with desert landscaping: good move. Placing a desert shade tree on the south side of the sun-blasted front yard sounded like a good move at the time.

Problem is that paloverde — a thorny li’l fella — grows like a bustard when given even a small amount of water. Before long, it was bending over the sidewalk and poking the pedestrians in the eyes. And me in the eyes. More and more it looked like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Gerardo’s guys did a pretty good job of keeping it trimmed up, but the things grow so fast that keeping it out of the “menace to navigation” category was not easy.

That notwithstanding, by the time I made up my mind to get rid of it, the thing was JUST HUGE.

Gerardo bought his biggest trailer (which is big!), and the men filled it to the scuppers.

And now…my goodness!!! You can actually see the sidewalk from the front window. It’s a miracle.

The paloverde stood in the yard outside the walled front patio. Inside said patio, we have a large and handsome olive tree.

Olives thrive in Arizona, the climate being not unlike that of southern Greece. With the increased dose of sunlight, that thing should grow even larger, so we won’t be lacking for shade.

Or olives.

Lots and lots of olives…

Guess what I should do to thank Gerardo & his guys for Service Above and Beyond is harvest a ton of those things, pickle them in oil, lemon juice, and vinegar, and fork them over to la famiglia.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Excellent Mr. Gerardo: WHAT to do about the refrigerator situation?

I told him he could have the annoying fridge for which I was royally ripped off by the not-so-excellent B&B Appliances up in lovely Sunnyslop. This, in response to his request that I give it to him rather than sending it to the county dump, where it belongs.

So… that was the plan.

But… After grinding and moaning and howling and whistling for a week, the damn thing is settling down. Even though I think of it as Less Than Ideal, well…grrrrrrrrr….okay okay…i could probably live with it for a year or so.

Also, truth to tell, I’m none too comfy about giving that lovely gentleman an appliance that I regard as a Piece of Sh*t, even though he does know all about it. If I were going to give him an expensive gift, I’d druther hand him a $1500 gift certificate to Lowe’s or Home Depot, to do with as he pleases.

Are you getting a clue to how extraordinary this guy and his crew are?




Gaaaahhhh! Wouldntcha know it?

Well… Of course you’d know it. We all know it:

Computers Crash.

And when do they crash?


When you’re tired.

When you hurt all over.

When you most need the damn thing.

When you least feel like farting with the damn thing…

WHY is that?

Fortunately, I have a subscription to Best Buy’s “TotalTech” service. That lash-up, by the way, is worth the price in spades! Three times I’ve had to call those guys out here. They show up at the house and they bang around and fiddle around and actually FIX the damn thing. Without me having to unplug stuff and tote it up to a shop. Need to call them now — it’s 7:15 p.m., but they claim to be reachable 24/7. We shall see, in a few minutes.

The thing is reloading now…sorta…at the speed of a snail swimming through a bowl of honey. I’m hoping if it can be forced to reboot, it’ll kick back on. But…well…don’t have much hope.

The machine is a certifiable antique. A very, VERY old iMac. I use it mostly as a TV set — that’s what I tried to rev it up for this evening: to watch PBS News. Looks like that ain’t going to happen.

For ordinary computing tasks — word processing, Excel, cruising the Web, and whatnot — I use a newer MacBook. Even that’s getting pretty old now. But it still works, and I like it because I can loaf in a comfortable chair or on the bed while playing on the Web. Mostly the iMac serves as Command Central — a number of tasks that keep both machines online and operating run through that thing — and to amuse myself while I’m standing in that room ironing clothes. Plus it has to be turned on for the printer to work. No iMac, no printing from the MacBook.

Okay, it sllllllooooooowwwwwwlllleeeee arrived at the end of the black reboot bar…and now seems to be hung there. Am I going to shut down and try to turn it back on?

Don’t you just KNOW this is gonna mean I have to to buy a new iMac, to the tune of how many berzillion bucks?  And since I’ve about shut down the editing business, that adventure won’t even be tax-deductible. Helle’s Belles!


Okay, got it to turn off — with some difficulty. Now to wait for…oh, say…five minutes or so and then try to turn it back on. Har har! good luck with that, eh?

The timer looks kinda peaked…probably out of battery juice. How do I NOT feel like tracking down batteries,  IF the stash still contains any that fit in that thing…

… …

… … …

And now it’s sorta rebooting, or trying to: verrrrrrrrrrrrreeeee sllllloooooooollllleeeeeee

Yea verily, my guess would be it’s not gonna reboot.

Oh damn oh hell…now am I gonna have to buy a new computer, on top of all the other mechanical headaches?

Its little reboot bar is c-r-r-a-a-w-w-w-l-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g across the screen. Silently, ever silently. My guess is that if the thing reboots, it won’t be in our lifetime.

Set the timer for five minutes. If it hasn’t rebooted by then, I’ll call TotalTech (24 hours! Even at 7:30 on a Friday night!) and try to get somebody over here.

In the Berzillion Bucks Department, the refrigerator that AMEX extracted, for free, from the sleazy B&B Appliances outfit, while less than optimal, IS running.

Five Minutes Later

Still crawwwwwwwllllliiiing. But it’s sllllooooowwwwwwwllleeee nearing the end of the reboot bar. Better wait another five or ten minutes to see if it gets there and, if so, what happens then.

How do I hate this computer stuff? Lemme count the ways…

Believe it or not, back in the heady days of the infant IBM PCs, I used to be highly techie. For the time, that is.

But the techie stuff left me behind. Truth to tell, I just lost interest in it. So in very little time — a matter of months, really, I was in the dust.

And never felt much desire to crawl out of the dust, truth to tell.

Okay, let’s play a game of Klondike Solitaire on the MacBook, then go in the other room, shut down, and try to reboot the iMac come Hell or High Water.

You know and I know that will cause the damn thing to crash in flames, right?

Well. Believe it or not, thanks to American Express I have a functioning, relatively quiet refrigerator…flat-out FREE.

AMEX made the sleazy B&B Appliances refund my money, 100%. Not long afterward — a day or so — the weird noises ceased and the fridge started to work normally. It’s still obviously a rip-off: you can tell it was damaged and broken in several places, which they tried to cover up. BUT…it does work. So…that would mean there’s no need to run right out and drop $850 to $1,000 on another refrigerator. Especially since I’ll be dropping that much or more on a new computer.

Half-an-hour or 40 minutes later…

Endlessly on the phone with the Best Buy “geeks.” The soonest they can send a tech over to work on the thing is the 22nd.  That’s five days from now.

Five days in which I cannot print anything…because for reasons that I’ve never been able to figure out, the printer will talk ONLY with the desktop iMac. It won’t print anything from the laptop unless the desktop is turned on AND working.


Ohhhh well! at least they are gonna come over, and I don’t have to drag the damn desktop in to the store and try to explain the problem.

To perfect this predicament, next week I have a “virtual appointment: with MayoDoc. Cripes! If anything happens to the laptop, I’m not going to be able to do that…and knowing the way things have been going — whatever can go wrong will go wrong — you may be damn sure that the laptop will go on the fritz that very morning.

Best Buy’s “Total Tech” crew cannot be beat…at least so far, in my experience. Those guys have been great. I could do without having to wait the better part of a week (that’s unusual: they usually show up the next day), but since I’ve shucked off the clients, there’s no real need to HAVE to have a functioning printer right this minute. My son will print anything crucial, I’m sure. WonderAccountant, who’s across the street, might do it in a pinch…if I can work up the nerve to ask her. But by and large, nothing urgent has to be done.

Which reminds me…we DO have a new (if cheapo) printer stashed in there…if push comes to shove, I can ask the guy to connect that. Probably won’t produce copy that looks as classy, but it will produce…something. Probably. Maybe.

Over to Lowe’s this afternoon to look at LG refrigerators. Those seem to be the highest-rated of the whole lot. And yes, Lowe’s does have LGs, and by golly, they have one that is exactly what I want! A stripped-down model: top freezer, bottom fridge, each with one door (not two), $900.

Having been bopped about the head and shoulders over the Great Refrigerator Purchase, this time I refrained from whipping out the charge card. But think in a day or two I’ll probably go over there and buy one.

It’s a challenge to my cheap-skateitude! The evil local dealer’s unit is working reasonably well now. It’s noisier than I’d like, but not so much as to keep you awake all night. And thanks to American Express, I’ve got it essentially for free! They refused to take it back (they’re not kidding about their “no returns” policy) and AMEX refuses to pay them. So that leaves the thing in my kitchen.

On the one hand, I’d like never to see it again (to say nothing of never to hear it again…), but on the other…hey: what we have here is, when you come right down to it, a free refrigerator.

  • Is it brand-new? Probably not.
  • Does it have a few dents? Yep.
  • Has it likely seen some repair work? No doubt.
  • But does it work? Sure does….

So…to the cheapskate mind, it just seems downright foolish to replace it with a $900 unit.

3:30 a.m.

A-n-n-d…to make things perfect, it looks like a long-ago, potentially life-threatening infection is recurring. I should get in the car and start driving…driving…driving out to the Mayo. But…forgodsake.

Not. Now.

on and on and endlessly on….