Coffee heat rising

Unstuck in Time!

My Lord, but life in the 21st Century is a PITA. One of its least charming aspects — which effectively dominates anything you try to do — is The Endless Runaround.

The endless computer runaround. The endless phone runaround. WhatEVER it is that you need to get done, you can’t reach a person to explain what’s up and get them to fix it. Instead you hassle and you wait and you hassle and you wait and you  hassle and you wait and you repeat REPRESENTATIVE!!!!! over and over and over again, until after about five or ten minutes of steadily increasing infuriation, you finally reach a human. First, though, you get put on hold listening to ads or annoying, redundant messages.

I can remember when a human answered right away after you dialed a number. She would promptly direct you to the party who could help you with your issue. Yes: it was usually a “she” because the jobs were low-paying and women in the Good Ole Day were almost wholly consigned to low-paying jobs.

And no, that was not a good thing.  But it was what it was.

But in the “not a good thing” department, neither is FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH, CLICK 9… FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH, CLICK 8… FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH…..  uh huh. Click 8 and get stuck on hold for some interminable wait, during which you’re entertained with annoying ads or annoying Muzak.

I bought a refrigerator from a local vendor. It was junk: it makes loud noises:


So I arranged for Gerardo take it back to the ba*tards, and I bought another refrigerator from Home Depot.

Aside: Never buy local just to make yourself feel righteous. That’s a recipe for disaster. Always buy from major corporations that have competent customer service and return policies.

I called AMEX and explained the situation telling them that I will need to buy a new fridge and don’t know what to do with the noisemaker in my kitchen. They said have no fear and charged into battle.

AMEX voided the $1376 charge to the crooks, even though said crooks refused to take the machine back.

So I figured to donate this thing to a charity (not so much: nary a charity in sight will accept a refrigerator!!!) and buy a new fridge at Home Depot.

After I had arranged to buy a Home Depot refrigerator, the noise emanating from the clunk slacked off. And…lo! What do I find online but a page remarking that sometimes refrigerators buzz and rattle when they’re new, but that effect goes away. Hm.

Since the local crooks told AMEX they would not take a return or refund my money, I decided I should cancel the HD fridge. (Bad idea, BTW).

So now I get an email from AMEX going on about how I will owe them $1400 for the refrigerator. That’s fine, as long as it’s going to work.

And it does work: noisily.

BUT…in addition to that, they’ve also got the charge pending for the Home Depot refrigerator!


So yesterday I had to drive up there and argue with HD about that. They supposedly canceled the charge.

This morning I get an email from Home Depot billing me $1400 for a new refrigerator.

GAAAWWWDAMMIT!!!  On the phone to American Express.

Calling AMEX involves a brain-banging run-around. You can’t get a person on the phone for love nor money. After what feels like half an hour of punching buttons and uttering words — I’ve found that SCREAMING REPRESENTATIVE!!!!!!! INTO THE PHONE does speed this process along, BTW — I get a person and explain the story. Their rep, who seems sane (how???), agrees that the charge will be voided.

So now here I am, sitting here in the family room listening to this fucking GE refrigerator humming to itself, occasionally still buzzing. If you go over and smack it, the noise stops — well, not the motor humming, but the damned crazy-making buzz.

And as if I didn’t have enough aggravation to fill the day, no doubt I really should go back up to HD and confirm that the refrigerator purchase really was voided.

Probably should have gone ahead with eating the $1400 bill for this thing, throwing it in the alley, and buying a new one. But…well…DAYUM!

Even when it’s not buzzing, it runs quite loud. In fact, I’d say I’ve never had a fridge whose motor noise was this loud. As for the buzzing…well…I’m thinking I’ll call a refrigerator repairman (if such creatures still exist) and pay him a trip charge to come look at this thing and see if it can be made to run quietly and skip the rattling episodes. If not, maybe he can recommend a replacement brand.


ohhhhh and just to make the day perfect: apparently my ad-blocking software has failed. Now I’m getting BLITZED with effing ads on every website. arrrerrghhhhhh!!!!!


Wanted: Indiana Jones for Senior Consumers

One of the many joys (yes: that’s /s/) of aging is the attitude of Americans toward the elderly. This ranges from the nasty to the predatory: overall, Americans regard their older compatriots as idiots, negligible fools, and nuisances. One aspect of this is said to be that merchandisers all across the board target the elderly (when they notice us at all) for scams and rip-offs.

It’s true: they can and do pull the wool over your eyes more often and more easily, because older people tend to be more trusting. And if experience serves…that opinion appears to be true. I do not remember vendors, back in the day of my Misspent Youth, trying to cheat me, people trying to feed me ridiculous and obvious lines of bull, salespeople trying to overcharge me as a routine matter…and on and on.

The business with the junk refrigerator is a case in point. Nothing more has been heard from AMEX about that fiasco — one of the several “fun” chores on the slate for today is to call American Express and rattle their cage about that. Meanwhile, I need to buy another refrigerator — one that doesn’t keep me awake all night rattling and roaring…which will set me back another $1400.

It useta be… that when I wanted something, I would do the research on-line and in consumer publications; then go into a store and say I want this and this and this, and I do NOT want that and that and that. The sales person would appear to understand plain English, and s/he would show me this and this and this and NOT show me that and that and that.

Now that I’m Old, though…EXACTLY the opposite happens. Sales people seem to assume that I’m naive, stupid, and just plug-incompetent.

When, O dear merchandiser, when you insist on hustling me to buy something that is not what I asked for, and when I can see that what I asked for is right there on the floor, then I perceive that you’re trying to rip me off. (Yes: upselling me when I know exactly what I want IS a form of rip-off, thankyouverymuch.) And, my friends…that perception happens more and more often with every passing month of age. How can I count the ways that I’m sick & tired of nitwits trying to rip me off when they decide that because I’m old, I must be stupid?

At this point…seriously: I would be willing to pay a fee to someone who would go to the vendors in town to do the shopping I need to have done — I would PAY YOU to order a refrigerator for me. I would PAY YOU to buy me a new microwave. I would PAY YOU to take my car to the dealership, get it serviced, and repel all offers of unnecessary work. I would PAY YOU to get the plumbing fixed. Because even if I paid you for those things, I would save money…and also escape a great deal of aggravation and frustration.

AMEX to the Rescue!

By Golly! American Express’s white charger just lurched into battle! All it took to apply the spurs was a couple of phone calls. 

The refrigerator mess has gotten worse and worse. The damn thing that I spent $1440 on is a piece of junk: verifiable, genu-wine junk. The retailer, B&B Appliances, refuses to take it back, telling me effectively “Tough nougies, and screw you very much.”

Guess I haven’t gone into detail about that fine fiasco.

My old fridge being on its last legs, I bought a new GE refrigerator to replace my old side-by-side compartment fridge  and freezer. The new one is an old-fashioned model with one refrigerator compartment and one top freezer compartment. This, because sometimes the side-by-side sections in the previous (otherwise perfectly fine…) fridge weren’t wide enough to accommodate some item I wanted to put in there.

I bought this at the venerable B&B Appliances, primarily by way of “buying local.” At the same time I also purchased a new microwave, because the old one would barely reheat a cup of coffee when set on “high.” I figure when Satan & Proserpine, the house’s previous owners, did their gigantic house remodeling job, they must have bought those appliances at the same time. So, of course…they’re crapping out at the same time!

Big mistake, this purchase:

  • The refrigerator compartment is too small to hold more than a day or two worth of food.
  • The freezer has no ice-maker.
  • The thing makes a weird, loud noise when it kicks on, a kind of uproarious BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ….
  • Turns out you can’t buy ice trays for love nor money. NO ONE SELLS THEM! Well…except Amazon. And they’re all those plastic things, the ones you have to twist and wrestle with to get the ice cubes out. And good luck with that.
  • This means to have ice, I’ll have to buy bags of Crystal ice…no longer easy to find, because…well, everyone has fridges with ice-makers.

So…here I yam, figuring I’m going to have to donate this piece of junk to charity (won’t THEY be pleased!) and pony up another $1500 for a decent fridge. I trudge around Best Buy, eyeballing the merchandise. This morning — well, yesterday morning, because it’s 3 a.m. the next day as we scribble — I’m cruising home from Best Buy and AJ’s, and as I turn into the ’Hood, I spot Marge out in front of her house. Marge is the Late, Great Wade’s wife — he died in surgery for recurrent brain tumors. She has relatives in the Midwest and also a house up north in the mountains, so she’s not home a lot.

I stop and say hello. She asks how I’m doing, and I relate a Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of my sad story.

Says she, barely taking a breath, “Have you disputed the charge with American Express?

Uhmmm….  “N-n-n-o-o…hadn’t thought of that.”

“Well, do it. That’s why you have an American Express card.”

Holy Mackerel! Not to say “duuuuhhhhhh…..”

Back in the house…grab the AMEX card…grab the phone…dial the number on the back of the card. Describe the whole sad/outrageous story to the CSR. She takes my phone number. She says they’ll get on it…

Shortly, the phone rings: AMEX dispute/fraud department. I recite the tale to that guy. He transcribes the story in minute detail. And he seems to take this shenanigan quite seriously. He says they’ll have a chat with B&B.

Frankly, I’ll be VERY surprised if they get far. But on the other hand it was pretty clear that B&B — like everybody else and his little brother — figures they can take advantage of an Old Bat and get away with it. They may not feel the same way when confronted with the corporate might of American Express. 😀

In that case, presumably they’ll come and get their ludicrous excuse for a refrigerator. If not, I’m donating it to the Salvation Army, which at least will allow me to deduct some or all of the cost from my income taxes. Tomorrow morning I’ll buy or (preferably) borrow a Coleman cooler, which will hold food for a couple of days, until I can get Best Buy over here with a real refrigerator. Fortunately, I have a chest freezer, which can hold the currently small inventory of frozen stuff and maybe some ice.

Tomorrow (uhmm…make that “today”) Best Buy is sending a crew over to install the Ring camera and lights I bought. They’re going on the east side under the eaves (I hope), where they will capture a clear view of the shenanigans at Tony the Romanian Landlord’s co-ed reform school.

He had the darlin’s out of there for a week or 10 days — apparently after the cops ambushed him, he had to make some serious renovations to the inside of that house. But this afternoon he caravaned them all back in several cars. If these devices aren’t too hard to use, I may install another one over the front door, so I can see who’s outside before opening to the next pounding on the screen.

The little sweeties were throwing rocks at the side of the house again last night. And…heh! The front door to that house apparently sticks when you try to close it. So every time they go in or out, they SLAM!!!! the door so hard you can hear the thud! all the way on the far end of my house, where the concussion vibrates the walls and windows. Tony must figure that’s a real funny way to inflict a little extra revenge on the neighbors; otherwise he would have told the workmen he’s had over there to fix the goddamn door.

I imagine when they see that camera, they’ll throw rocks at that, too, until they break it.

Desert landscaping — most of the houses here have xeric landscaping — is often decorated with fake “streams”of river rock, fist-sized pieces of granite and whatnot eroded into smooth ovals, just about perfect for throwing around. I’ve got a fair amount of it in my front yard, and the house directly next door to the Romanian reform school also has a “river”of rock, giving the kiddies a gold mine of projectiles to throw around.

Buying the damn camera and installing it will set me back another $400, on top of the $1500 for the microwave and the junk fridge. Fortunately, there’s plenty in the checking account for the nonce. But it means that I’ll have to make another drawdown from savings to cover the bills.

Not the end of the world…unless we have another recession, another stock market crash. Which, the way life has been going of late, you can be sure will inevitably happen about the time all these fine “improvements” are installed.

The Great Freezer Renovation Project…

Welp, yesterday I spent the afternoon shoveling out and cleaning the Funny Farm’s two freezers and inventorying the existing store of frozen foods. The stocking-up project has worked pretty well, so far. Got both the refrigerator freezer cabinet and the big chest freezer in the back of the house emptied out, cleaned through and through, and then repacked and organized sanely.

There was a lot more stuff in there than I realized. My son had bought a pork shoulder from Costco when I asked him to retrieve dog food makings. Lordie! HUGE!!! Once this was cut up and a chunk of it converted into dog food, I still was left with at least seven pounds of pork. Alas, though, only one package of boned chicken thighs remains, so somehow I’ll have to extract three more double-packets of those from Costco…or find a way to fake it. In addition, there’s one roll remaining of Freshpet dog food — figure I’d better get two more of those, which I can raid from Fry’s or AJ’s.

The dog food also contains a Costco “Normandy style” veggie mix and a cup of oatmeal — only about 1/3 package each of those remains. These, though, are easy to retrieve from Costco. Apparently the rationing applies mostly to paper goods and meats.

The situation with the human protein sources looks much better:

  • 7 pieces of steak
  • 2 1/2-racks of barbecued spare-ribs
  • 1 piece frozen cod
  • 12 pieces frozen salmon
  • 5 servings frozen shrimp
  • 3 servings frozen scallops
  • and a package of frozen mussels that, when steamed, will probably make at least two and possibly even four servings.

So that stash represents the backbone of 31 or 32 main meals. If I follow through with my plan to alternate vegetarian days with meat/fish days, said stash could in theory last about two months.

Then we have…

  • 3 pounds of butter, frozen
  • 12 pounds(!!!!!) of white and whole-wheat flour, plus about 1/3 pound imported Italian flour
  • much, much, MUCH more frozen veggies than I thought could possibly be in those freezers

Turns out there’s a small bonanza of frozen spinach, scattered among several packages. Dumped it all into one large Ziplock bag, and it just about filled the thing chuckablock full. There’s also about 8 to 10 servings, all told, of corn and peas, plus about 1/3 bag chard. To say nothing of the chard and lettuce and tomatoes growing in the yard…

LOL! I also found a treasure trove of home-made ice packs. Apparently every time I sprain something, I make a new ice pack, rather than bestirring myself to search for one that’s already in the freezer. Whenever I stumble back to normalcy, I toss the new ice pack into the back of the freezer. 😀

What can I say??? Some of these, I threw out (or, if they contained washcloths, deconstructed and laundered). Just put away enough to cope with the next little disaster.

So. There was whole lot more stuff in there than I expected. On Wednesday I’ll make a Costco run and hit the front door as they open (Costco restocks on Mondays and Tuesdays, meaning Wednesday is the optimal shopping day there). I’ll grab what I can to try to bring the dog-food makings up to snuff, and also try to score at least a rack of lamb, if nothing else. I understand they’re rationing paper supplies and meat. Then at the Fry’s on the way home, I’ll try to grab two or three more large rolls of Freshpet dog food for the hound…one of those lasts her about 12 days, so a total of three in the freezer would be almost 40 days’ worth of Fake Food for her, not counting about 7 weeks’ worth of real food (…assuming I can snab 3 double-packages of chicken from Costco). Even if I can’t, that kind of low-end chicken cut is the sort of thing you find in Mexican markets, so I may be able to nail the chicken from El Rancho.

Okay, that will give me about three months’ worth of meals for myself, about…what?…eight or ten bread loaves for myself, and during the summer when things are growing, easily three to four months’ worth of veggies.

So it looks like in the short run, rather than perishable foods what I really need to stash are beans, rice, pasta, and household goods (paper products, cleaning solutions, shampoo & conditioner, soap, and the like).

LOL! Don’t Get Old, Kids!

Do not do what I have done
In the house of the setting sun…

😀 Whatever you say about dotage, you do have to allow that it gets funnier and funnier the the further you journey into the House of the Setting Sun.

Yesterday I wrote an entire post about the corvid  [SQUACK!!] virus. That would the the one that looks a lot like this fella…



Life in the Brave New World

It’s not my old age. It’s that the world has changed around us in ways that I don’t like.

When I say “ways I don’t like,” I do NOT mean ways that I can’t adapt to or can’t understand or whateverthepatronizingfuck. I mean that some of the products and ways of doing things that supplant earlier, now outmoded products and ways are objectively inferior to what we had before their advent.

LED light bulbs are way up there in that category, right along with washing machines that don’t do laundry. Personally, I loathe the light emitted by LED bulbs. Not just because the quality of said light is ugly. Because the light actually hurts my eyes. Consequently, when Big Brother announced that real light bulbs would be taken off the market, I stocked up on as many incandescents as I could pack into the house’s storage space. But…I forgot one small detail.

The kitchen in this house is illuminated by seven recessed can lights, each of which holds a 45-watt incandescent(!) floodlight. These lights have amazing longevity. I’ve lived in the house 15 years and have replaced only three of them. Because of that, the need to stockpile incandescent floodlights escaped me.

So the other day, one of those lights went out. Then forthwith another died.


I only had a couple of real lights in the floodlight form. This meant I would have to replace them, and I absolutely positively did not want to replace them with ugly LEDs or, worse yet, fluorescent lights.

When I surfaced at Home Depot and collared a guy in an orange apron, he produced a box of floodlights that he claimed were incandescents. The only evidence to that effect was that the box was not proudly marked “LED.” So I bought a box of three and tried two of them in the bereft fixtures. Lo! They worked, and the quality of light they emitted matched the other lights’.

So, knowing where these could be had, I realized I’d better stockpile a bunch of them, too. So: back up to the Depot. Bought 15 of them. I may go back and buy a few more, too.

Given that most of these bulbs have lasted nigh unto 15 years and that there are 7 cans up there, a stockpile of 15 bulbs should in theory last as long as I’m likely to last. However, products are such junk these days — just about all products, it sometimes seems — that it would be foolish to assume these things will survive more than a few months, even at the minimalist rate I use them.

You understand: there’s a big skylight in the kitchen and two skylights and two Arcadia doors in the adjacent family room/dining room, so as a practical matter I hardly ever turn those kitchen lights on. Typically, they’re on for a few minutes after dark, long enough to let the dog out to pee and load the dishes in the washer, and sometimes for a few minutes on a winter morning, when it’s too early to navigate by sunlight. That explains the length of time the things have lasted.

Still. Given the quality of the sh!t we find on the market these days… Pyrex measuring cups, for example: reviewers at Amazon report that the painted-on markings wash off in the dishwasher! Mine are 30 or 40 years old and have never lost so much as a fleck of their enamel markings. Given the quality of the products available to us, it makes no sense to imagine these floodlights will last as long as the others, even if they are used only a few minutes a day.

These junk lights, as you’ll recall, were foisted on us by those desperate to save the planet, and to teach us all that we must pinch energy and resources to that end. They are politically correct products whose purpose is to spread a message, and which, quite frankly, are unlikely to alter the progress of the world’s degradation.

Climate change is not a problem that will be solved  by forcing dopey consumers to make do with inferior goods. That is propaganda, intended to make the ordinary Joe and Jane feel they’re sacrificing convenience and quality for the good of the planet and the future generations. We’re DOING something…right?


The climate problem is to be solved (if it can be solved at all, at this point) by changing the ways that we generate energy — in every country, province, state and city around the world — and by forcing manufacturers to use energy-efficient processes to barf out their products. The same products: just made more efficiently.

Consider all the benefits of the USofA that my generation has lost and that younger generations will never see.

  • They took free TV away from us. All television is essentially pay TV now, in that you must have a cable connection, wireless, or a satellite dish to receive an intelligible signal. And no, streaming is not an adequate substitute, especially not when it foists advertising on you.
  • They took newspapers away from us. Streaming news: not a substitute. On our Sunday afternoon doggywalk, Ruby and I spotted a gigantic fire to the northeast of Outer Richistan. It was pretty close — looked to be on the east side of Meth Central — and it was big. Not a word of it on the news. Not till late Monday afternoon did even a passing mention appear…even though three people were unhomed and the building was destroyed. Local news? A thing of the past.
  • They took Pyrex products away from us. The new ones chip, explode in the oven (or in a cupboard, long after they’ve been in an oven), and lose their measurement marks.
  • They took dishwash detergent that works away from us — and for that matter, most dishwashers that work. The guys at the appliance store where I have the most recourse advise that only two brands  still do a decent job on your dishes: Bosch and a couple of specific models of GE.
  • They took clothes washers that clean clothes away from us.
  • They took toilets that flush away from us.
  • They took kitchen faucets that will fill a spaghetti pot during the cook’s lifetime away from us.
  • They took landline phones away from us, replacing them with expensive, difficult-to-use nuisances.
  • They took our privacy away from us.
  • They took affordable medical care away from us.

One could go on and on and on, right up to the current attempt (which may very well succeed) to take our democratic republic away from us.

Personally, I’m a bit tired of it. If one is going to do without all those little amenities, why spend the money to live in a “First-World” country? Why not live someplace like Panama, where the dollars that you have left will support you much more handsomely than they will here and where medical care can be paid for out of pocket?

110 in the Shade

Actually, Wunderground says it’s 112. But the thermometer on the back porch says it’s 110. WhatEVER. It’s plenty toasty out there.

LOL! Years ago I was doing a story for Arizona Highways on Aravaipa Canyon, a wilderness area in southern Arizona, when I stumbled across a poem written by a woman who had attempted to settle there with her husband: “100 Degrees in the Shade!”

It had a certain charm. Truth to tell, 100 degrees would have been very hot for those times. Temperatures were significantly cooler in the good ole days. Even when I moved here back in 1962, 102 or so is about as hot as it would get in early July (or anytime during the summer), and 110 was considered an exceptional scorcher. Nowadays, 110 is just SOP. You expect it to get up to 116 (or higher) at least a few days during the summer.

The pool is holding its own. Just now it looks exceptionally clear. Of course, one does not go in the water (unless your pool has some sort of shade structure) in the middle of a summer day, unless one craves more surgery to remove more actinic keratoses and squamous cell carcinomas. Dropped into the drink in the morning, after the de rigueur two-mile walk, and I’ll go swimming again after the sun goes down. This is why we have air-conditioning and fans.

In Yarnell just now, it’s only 93. “Feels like 89,” sez Wunderground. How do I wish I was there? Let me count the ways. In Payson, where KJG and Mr. Fireman have retired, it’s even chillier: a crisp 91, feels like 87. Brrrr!

Ah, well. Toasty après-midi or no, the chow is on the grill: a pile of multi-colored carrots, a lovely slice from a rack of lamb, and a pile of asparagus. In two minutes we flip the asparagi around, and in another two to six minutes, depending, dinner will be served.

On days like this, I suspect it isn’t even necessary to turn on the grill. Just set the food on the rack, close the lid, and go away.

The new kitchen faucet is finally installed and working…okay, I guess. It’s a little disappointing, for something that cost around $250 (plus the plumber’s bill), to end up with something that just barely dispenses a noticeable flow of water from its handsome spout, and that continues to dribble water for about 4 seconds after you close the valve.

This is described by a customer in an Amazon review. The seller responds with “you need a cartridge.” Welll….WHY would you need a new cartridge for a faucet you just paid $250 for? They give their phone number, inviting him to call and discuss.

Sooo…. I figured this morning I would call that number and grutch my little head off: demand a free cartridge, and also demand that they cover the second trip from the plumber to install the damn thing.

By dawn’s early light, though, second thoughts occurred. Videlicet:

Do I really want to do battle with this company over a dribble of water? Why?
Do I really want to spend half the day AGAIN waiting for the plumber to show up?
Is this issue REALLY worth the hassle?


Probably not.

How can I express my annoyance with this government-mandated hassle? What the barely-dispensing faucet — giving an even weaker flow than the previous representative of the same model, which, oh yes, was made after the stupid water-“saving” mandates were imposed on plumbing fixtures — will mean as a practical matter in my kitchen  is that every evening after all the day’s food has been prepared and all the messes have been cleaned up, I will have to fill the sink to the brim and then let it flow down the drain.

Just measured the time it takes to fill the sink I use all the time: 3 minutes and 57 seconds.

Truth to tell, the plumber who taught me this clog-preventing trick said to fill both sinks and unplug the two of them at once. The other sink is not only deeper but wider than the sink I use for daily fiddling. Right now it’s full of the dishes I had to wash in the absence of a functioning dishwasher, but I’d estimate that if the little sink takes four minutes to fill with the faucet running full bore, the other one will take at least five.

Got that? Four to nine minutes’ worth of wasted water, running full blast.

Honest to God, the spray attachment dispenses water more efficiently than the stupid kitchen faucet!

How, exactly, is that a good thing?