Coffee heat rising

‘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?

..I..

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.

Less Is More…or at least better

Holy mackerel! Did any of your doctors who wanted to put implants in your boobs (or your lady friend’s boobs) happen to mention this little detail?

Boyoboy, am I glad I decided to go flat after the Great De-Boobification Adventure!

Confirms my suspicion that less is usually more. And conversely, the more surgical treatment you can do without, the less risk you run.

With the exception of one older, highly experienced breast surgeon, every which way I turned I was pressured to have these things stuck into my chest. One quack actually had the nerve to tell me that if I refused to have fake boobs inserted, within six months I would be suicidal.

No joke: that’s exactly what he said. Or is that $aid?…

The old guy — the Valley’s Grand Old Man of breast cancer doctoring — told me that his experience was that most women are better off without implants, because sooner or later the things cause trouble. Then you get to have MORE surgery.

Make that “more unnecessary surgery”….

In a profit-oriented health-care system, you have to advocate for yourself, consider and double-check everything that is said to you, and never take anything as Received Word from On High. Every statement that’s made to you, you have to regard with skepticism.

Doctors hate that attitude, of course. They expect to be taken as The Authority on whatever ails you, and they don’t want to be gainsaid.

I can understand that. But…I’m also very sure that if I’d allowed myself to be pressured into cosmetic surgery that was totally unnecessary, I’d be unhappy or at least very nervous by now. Not being in the market for a man, I have no reason to have fake boobs hanging from my chest. And I also happen to know that any woman over about the age of 45 is essentially invisible, and so I do not CARE whether I do or don’t have chunks of flesh sticking out under my clothes.

IMHO, where medical care is concerned, less is more.

That doesn’t mean go all Christian-Science and stay completely away from doctors. No.

Get regular medical care, of course. Get your immunizations — all of them. Establish a relationship with a sane G.P. (if you can find one). Get a regular physical once every year or two.

But on the other hand, when treatment is called for, always get a second opinion!

B’bye, Costco!

One last view…

ENOUGH, already, with shopping at Costco. I’ve had it, and I’m NOT goin’ back there!

Whaaaa? ask ye who are familiar with Funny’s Costco love affair.

Well, I do hafta say that my patience with Costco wears thin every now and then, and yeah, every now and again I vow never to return. But this time, it’s stickin’…bigawd!

Only two exceptions:

1. To buy gasoline (sometimes: if I happen to be in the vicinity and the lines don’t stretch halfway to Yuma)
2. To keep access to their tire shop

Otherwise, I…yam…DONE. Not going into the store ever again, and never, ever again making a special traipse across the city to buy gas.

Whither this withering insight, you ask?

Well. This morning I took it into my dizzy little head to go in and talk with their CSRs about the screwup I experienced there a couple weeks ago. I’d gone into the store in Paradise Valley, wasted some unholy amount of my priceless time roaming around the store and collecting a basketful of goods, wasted some more time standing interminably in a checkout line, and stood there while the (excellent! all their staffers, by the way, are beyond excellent) cashier racked up a couple hundred bucks worth of purchases, and then handed over my debit card.

The same debit card with which I always pay for Costco purchases.

You need to know that Costco does not accept American Express, which is my credit card of choice. Both the business and the personal charge accounts are with AMEX. When this charming decision came down, I acceded to signing up with their Visa or Mastercard (don’t recall which, after all this time), and that devolved into a headache of Brobdinagian proportions. Canceled that annoying card and resorted to using my debit card, which is issued through my credit union.

This worked fine until a week or so ago, when the check-out clerk said she couldn’t take my credit union’s debit card — it was no good!

Ohhhh yeah?

So now I shoot down to the CU, haul the card in, tell them this sad story, and ask them WTF?

Their answer is, indeed, WTF?

They have no idea why Costco has suddenly decided to quit accepting a debit card on a checking account that has, shall we say, a balance that measures in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Maybe they just don’t believe than anyone who’s not a scam artist would deposit a year’s worth of spending money in their checking account? How might that be any of Costco’s bidness, anyway?

The CU’s agent says there’s nothing wrong with the debit card and hands it back.

Eventually I decide to traipse over to the Costco on the west side, barge up to their customer service desk, and ASK them what is their problem. That’s when I get the suggestion that I should kill some more of my time farting around in their store and repeating the fiasco that I would like to have resolved.

Bye!

Enough, already!!!

WHEN did Costco forget that customer service is a key part of retailing?

Well, thought I, their gas is still the cheapest in town. I’ll keep my card so I can buy gas here.

Uhm…

Maybe not.

First, to get to a Costco store from the Funny Farm, now that they’ve closed their outlet that was centrally located in Phoenix, you have to drive way to Hell and gone into Scottsdale, or else you have to drive way to Hell and gone up the I-17 freeway, halfway to Flagstaff.

I have NOTHING ELSE TO DO IN EITHER OF THOSE PARTS, now that I’m not working at ASU West and no longer have pals living in Moon Valley. So you wanna know what I ain’t doin’? I ain’t drivin’ halfway to Flag, and I ain’t drivin’ to Snotsdale West, just to save maybe $1.50 on merchandise I don’t much need anyway. Fry’s has a mega-supermarket on the fringe of Snotsdale West, much closer to my house, which peddles just about everything Costco does.

Soooo…why, pray tell, should I keep a Costco membership that requires me to burn vast quantities of overpriced gasoline in order to spend vast quantities of cash?

Which brings us to Second: Practically around the corner, QT has not one but TWO gas stations, each generously equipped with pumps.

Are they the cheapest gas in town?

Probably not. Costco usually claims that honor.

But by the time I’ve burned a gallon or three driving up the freeway to a Costco gas station, how cheap — really — is CC’s gas?

My guess is, the price ultimately is about the same. As for the aggravation factor? Any day I d’ruther spend a few cents more at a QT than drive halfway across the city to stand in line 20 minutes and then be told my membership card doesn’t work (which is what happened the last time I tried to buy gas at Costco).

I’ve spent my last dollar in Costco. Alas!

Making Telephone Solicitation FUN….

Mwa ha ha! The idea I came up with for harassing the goddamn nuisance telephone solicitors is WORKING. And it is a bit of a hoot.

Thought I’d described this antic in a post here on Funny, but don’t see the thing in the blog’s dashboard. Must have held forth about it on Facebook. Oh well…

Here’s the gambit:

When a phone solicitor calls, instead of hitting “call block” (which, since they spoof telephone numbers, doesn’t block THEIR phone but instead blocks some innocent soul in your area code or even your own exchange), pick up the phone and speak sorta politely into it.

Let the crook begin to deliver his pitch. As he yammers on, take a deep breath and SCREAM AT THE VERY TOP OF YOUR VOICE, as LOUD as you can, into the phone. SHRIEK YOUR GUTS OUT. Give him the shrillest, loudest, earsplittingest

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH

you can blast out.

Scream nonstop until you run completely out of breath. Then hang up. Do not speak a word. Just hang up.

Most of the criminals are probably using headphones to do their job. That means you leave not one but both of their ears ringing. With any luck, maybe you’ll burst the bastard’s eardrum.

Interestingly, this seems to have worked. It’s 10:15 a.m. just now, and I just repelled only the first nuisance call of the day. Usually they start about 8:00 a.m. — sometimes even earlier. And the number of nuisance calls has dropped spectacularly, from around 10 calls a day to one or two. Some days even none!

No kidding: I was getting up to a dozen pestering calls a day. Never fewer than eight or ten.

Within a couple of days after I started the Scream Gambit, the phone soliciting harassment dropped like the bastards all fell off a cliff — down to one or two calls, and some days even none. For those that persist: it’s strangely gratifying to know you left the SOB’s ears ringing.

So far I haven’t done it, because I haven’t wanted to pony up the cash, but part of the plan is to buy one or more recorders so I can play back the SHRIIIEEEEEEEEEK into the phone without having to strain the vocal cords. But seriously: after s few days of this, the number of calls has dropped to the point where that may not be necessary.

Silence is golden…

Cutting Out the Technohassles

Y’know…computer technology is amazing, and an amazing gift to humanity. But…

Yeah: BUT… It’s also a a curse, most often manifested in the form of endless technohassles: long, complicated struggles with the operating systems of every damn thing we need to live our lives in an “advanced” society — from can openers to phones to cars. The telephone is a particular problem. What used to be a simple enough device is now a portable mini-computer and an indefatigable carrier of nuisances. Nuisance procedures, nuisance programming, and most of all nuisance calls from solicitors and hustlers combine to make us feel miserable and harassed.

What to do about it?

Well, I have A PLAN.

Mwa ha ha! It just came to me as I was out driving around in search of gasoline and fresh bread:

Henceforth, one day a week — one whole 24-hour day from 6.a.m. to 6 a.m.— will be declared, promised, and dedicated as a Techno-Free Day.

  • No computers
  • No computers disguised as telephones
  • No email
  • No online news
  • No blogging
  • No telephone interruptions
  • No online scams
  • No nothin’!

The accursed computers go off and stay off for 24 long, quiet back-to-back hours.

This will mean, as you might imagine…

  • No aggravation
  • No frustration
  • No unsolvable ditzy impossible-to-grasp problems
  • No pestering
  • No unknown parties tracking what we do
  • No distractions
  • Minimal annoyance

Yeah.

Seriously: I have HAD IT with the constant technologically-driven distraction and annoyance.

And…I’ve decided I deserve a break from it — as should all of us.

Pick a day of the week, then, and…revert to the freakin 1950s!

  • I like to read the morning news. Fine: zip down to the grocery store and buy a newspaper before breakfast.
  • Create an answering machine message saying something like “I do not answer the phone or check my email on [thus-and-such a day]. If this a real call from someone who knows me personally and has a real reason to speak with me, please leave a message and I’ll call you back tomorrow. If it is an emergency, please call 911. If you are a phone solicitor, please find another use for the time you would waste filling up my machine with your pitch.”
  • Do not answer the phone.
  • Do not even turn on the computers.
  • Find some relaxing and fun things to do outside the house and go do them.

It is time to disconnect from all the crazy-making techno-crap. I can’t stand another minute of it!

Scam-a-Rama!

Welp, the scammers are frolicking about in force. Must be the spring weather that calls them out from under the fridge…

The past three or four weeks, my email inbox has been hit with scam after scam — four of them in just the past ten days or so.

The Scam of the Day tells me my McAfee antivirus subscription has expired and I must hurry right up and send money now.

😀

McAfee? McAfee? We don’t got no steenking McAfee!

All of my fancy electronic doodads are Apple products. Apple provides a very fine antivirus program called MalwareBytes. It’s free, and Apple updates it whenever Apple feels like updating…without you having to mess with it.

LOL! Yes, when I used PCs, I did use McAfee. Because my employer, the Great Desert University used McAfee, and I did whatever the IT dudes advised. But no, I do not now and never have had it installed on the Macinoid devices.

But…

But…thought I…maybe it comes with the iPhone, that fine device that I have yet to learn how to use. Hm…..

Like a MacBook, the iPhone displays a list of applications. No sign of McAfee in there. But just in case…

Just in case, this morning I cruised in to the T-Mobile store, the better to pester my handsome young friends in there.

Cute Dude of the Day looked puzzled when I asked him if we could tell whether McAfee is now or ever has been installed on the i-Gadget. Uhmmm….McAfee doesn’t GET installed on iPhones, quoth he. We check the applications anyway: nope. No McAfeeoid programs.

So…yeah. This is THIRD scamming email I’ve received in as many weeks. So far none of them has tried to persuade me that my son has been kidnapped by ransom-demanding Ukrainians. But I’m sure that one will be along soon.

The first one pretended to come from Amazon — cleverly, for (as you know) it is virtually impossible to get ahold of a live human being at Amazon. It was trying to extract money for the privilege of posting my books for sale on Amazon, and they apparently did have real data from my Amazon seller’s account.

Amazon, as you know, short-changes customers (and sellers) on customer service every which way from Sunday. I finally gave up trying to get a CSR who spoke English and appeared to be a living being, and just took all my products off Amazon.

Don’t forget, BTW, that you can read some of them for free right here at FaM, just by clicking on the linked images in the right-hand sidebar.

At any rate, I dunno why the bastards have suddenly decided to blitz me with scams. Probably it has to do with my age: as we all learn from the ad blitz that comes from AARP the instant we turn 65, marketing hustlers can buy mailing lists that are compiled by age. And they know that old bats are peculiarly vulnerable to email and telephone scams.

Whatever. Be aware, and do know that these people can and do acquire a great deal of private information about you: much more than you might imagine possible. Because they know key details, they sound convincingly like a vendor that you do business with. Any time someone asks you for money or personal information — even someone claiming to represent a business you know — proceed with caution. Or better yet: don’t proceed at all.