Coffee heat rising

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.


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.


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


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


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!


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…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.

Did she…or didn’t she?

Sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, I find myself turning over the small (and large) mysteries of life. You know what I mean?

One of those mysteries is whether my mother deliberately committed suicide by smoking herself to death. It strikes me as a distinct possibility. But as is so often true, when one thinks about such a thing one encounters seven kinds of ambiguity.

She had a difficult life — one that might reasonably be expected to lead many of us to contemplate suicide.

Her mother was, shall we say, a bit “fast.” My mother was the woman’s second unwed pregnancy…I found out by accident that somewhere out there I have an unknown uncle. Ohhh well.

A custody fight ensued after this second unwanted birth. The father lived in Glen’s Falls, then a tiny farming town in upstate New York. The mother’s family lived in the San Francisco Bay area. The case was argued in front of a court in Glen’s Falls, where the father’s relatives pretty much owned the place. Not surprisingly, custody was given to the paternal grandparents, wasting a trip East and a lot of money for the San Francisco set.

My mother’s earliest memory was of her mother packing up a little red kiddie wagon and sending her off to live with her grandparents — telling her to walk to the paternal manse, dragging the wagon behind her.

So she grew up on a farm in rural upstate New York, evidently working as the family serving girl. She spoke of hanging the carpets on clotheslines each spring and pounding the dirt out, of having to wash the soot off the kerosene lanterns every day, and of the family canning kitchen garden vegetables and setting eggs to keep in big barrels over the winter. And of how cold it was in the outhouse in the wintertime. And of the time snowdrifts came up to the second-story windows and her grandfather had to dig a tunnel so they could get out of the house.

About when my mother reached her teens, the grandmother developed diabetes. In those days, there was no such thing as insulin. They tried to control the symptoms with what apparently was a pretty bizarre diet…and a pretty ineffectual one. When her grandmother died, she was at last sent to live with the maternal grandparents, who lived in Berkeley.

For my mother, this was a fortuitous development. Suddenly she was riding on streetcars and buses — conveyances she had never seen before. She once remarked on how utterly amazed she was to find you could turn on the lights in a room by flipping a wall switch.

But as arrangements go, living with the mother’s family also had its peculiarities. These folks were Christian Scientists. They never went to doctors. Period. They would go to dentists — provided no pain-killing chemicals were applied — but medical doctors were verboten.

Meanwhile, the mother had apparently continued to cat around. It was, after all, the Roaring Twenties, and you may be sure the nicey-niceness that infected her sister and her mother did not affect her. My uncle once remarked, in passing, that “Olive marched to a different drummer.”

Heh! I guess!!

She married — apparently a pretty nice guy — and unloaded him. And continued to enjoy the Roaring Twenties as a flapper.

Not surprisingly, eventually she developed a reproductive malignancy — she believed God was punishing her for all the abortions she’d had. On her female relatives’ advice, she delayed going to a doctor until it was way too late to save her life. My mother, who by then apparently was in her mid-teens, nursed her through her grim final illness.

As a result, my mother was simply terrified of cancer. Seriously: it was almost a phobia.

Pack that away in the back of your mind.


Years passed. She married some guy. Divorced him. Married my father. Got dragged to Saudi Arabia, where we spent ten years in the hot sands by the Persian Gulf, basically imprisoned inside the chain-link fences of an American oil compound.

Came back to the States. Got three whole years in San Francisco (where she really wanted to live) while my father went back to sea.

Next: dragged to Southern California when my father quit that job and took up with another shipping company. Spent another three monotonous years there.

My father wanted nothing more than to retire, and he had decided that they would move to Sun City, Arizona, for the purpose. Neither of them knew anything about Arizona…but hey: it couldn’t be any worse than the Rub al’Khali, could it?

One morning when he was home from the boat and they were getting into their cups, he had the bright idea that if he could shoehorn me into college a year early — at this time I was a high-school junior — he could quit his job and they could move to their dream tract house in Sun City.

So, amazingly, they broke out the portable typewriter and sent a letter to the University of Arizona (they didn’t quite know where it was, vis à vis lovely Sun City, but hey: it’s all Arizona, right?) and proposed that since I was such a bright little kid the university should accept me a year early — in the fall of that year.

Even more amazingly, forthwith the admissions officer wrote back with Sure! Send her right along!

Holeee shee-ut.

So they yanked me out of high school, bought a house in the cotton fields to the west of Phoenix, and took off for Arizona.

Yay. So much for UC Berkeley, hm?

My mother was always an avid smoker. I hated the stink of cigarettes. But the parfum de burning tobacco was what graced our homes, wherever we happened to be. She smoked more and more as the months and years proceeded. One day I realized I could tell when she awoke in the morning, because before she even rolled out of the sack, she’d light up a cigarette.

Before she turned off the light at night, she puffed one last cigarette down to the filter. And before she lifted her head in the morning, she fired up another one.

In fact, there was almost never a time that she didn’t have a cigarette in her hand, except when she was shoving food in her face. When we went to a restaurant, she would smoke until the food was set on the table, smush it out to eat, and then light up again as soon as she finished her meal.

After I married and had my own home, I asked her to please not smoke inside my house. She threw a sh!t-fit in which she exclaimed, “I’m your mother and you can just put up with my smoking!”

No kidding! I remember the exact words to this day.

You understand: She knew. The Surgeon General’s report to the effect that smoking tobacco was proven to cause cancer came out in the late 1950s.

I remember the day, back in that decade, when she brought some friends home to our apartment in San Francisco. The subject of that report came up, and they exchanged skepticism about it. One PR stunt that had appeared on a national TV show entailed having a smoker take a puff on a cigarette and exhale into a white handkerchief. The result was a big brown spot.

They wondered if this trick was real.

So my mother trotted back to her bedroom and brought out a brand-spanking-clean, freshly ironed white handkerchief. In those days, a proper San Francisco woman carried a white handkerchief wherever she went.

They lit up a cigarette, one of them inhaled deep and puffed out dramatically into the hanky. And yup: left a big, dark brown filthy blot in the middle of the white cotton.

They all went “Isn’t that amazing” and laughed.

It took her another 18 years to smoke herself to death, but kill herself she did. She died in 1976, in agony, of cancer. On my birthday.


She was terrified of getting cancer. She knew smoking was a cause of cancer. She had seen the brown gunk just one puff of burning tobacco deposits in your lungs. And yet she continued to smoke. Not because she couldn’t quit. Because she wouldn’t try to quit. Not once, right up until the time she could no longer hold a lighter in her hand, not once did she make any effort at all to quit smoking.

If that isn’t deliberate, I’d like to know what it is.