Coffee heat rising

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.

Sh!t.

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?

Bullshit.

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?

Hookin’ Up at the…uhm…HOME DEPOT?????

This is too, too comic. Really. It defies belief… So this morning I decide I need some soda ash to adjust the pool’s pH; don’t want to pay Leslie’s elevated prices and don’t want to wait for Amazon to deliver it. Solution: off to the Home Depot.

Arrive at the Depot, thinking I can get the soda ash and also a couple bags of bird seed in one swell foop. This obviates having to stop at Walmart on the way to or from the place.

Proceed direct to Aisle 2, where they now store all the pool gear. Just as I arrive, they roll in their forklift and close the damn aisle off. I say to the guy standing there, “all I need is a package of soda ash.”

He says, all silk and brandy, “Well, I have some at my house you can have. Why don’t you come by and get it?”

Thinking he’s trying to be funny, I say, “How much? Will you take 47 cents?”

At this point it becomes evident that he’s not kidding. “Just come on over,” he says in an oily tone. “You can have it.”

So I think (but, for a change, refrain from saying), f**k you!

Roll the birdseed out through to the garden department cashier (where you don’t have to hike halfway to Timbuktu to make your purchases from a human being) and head on down to Leslie’s, where the manager, ever a polite gentleman, forks over five pounds of soda ash.

DONE.

I will NEVER go back to Home Depot again. Not that Home Depot, not any Home Depot.

Interestingly, this is not the first time such an antic has occurred there. The last time, it happened to Connie the Long-Haul Trucker, who is a) significantly younger than me and b) much, much more attractive. She’s blonde, with startling blue eyes, a friendly expression, and a very fit figure. A salesman came on to her while we were looking at tile grout.

Tile grout. Doesn’t that make you think sexy thoughts?

At the time, we thought it was just hilarious, stupidest thing either of us had seen exude from the male species in years. Her guy, at least, was younger and kinda cute. Mine was a wizened old buzzard who probably was working at the Depot because, as we know, no one else will hire guys over 60 in the trades.

Today: not so funny.

That is absolutely, positively the last time I buy anything from Home Depot, ever again. There is NOTHING that you can get at Home Depot that you can’t get at a local nursery or hardware store (which despite that august megacorporation’s best efforts, have managed to persist), or at Amazon. Alternatively, there’s a Lowe’s right down the road. Their staff doesn’t make lewd passes at you because…well, they don’t have any staff to speak of.

Oh, the birdseed? Don’t buy that there. Elegantly low-grade stuff. Walmart’s quality is better by several orders of magnitude.

Home Depot dudes…these boots are made for walkin’…

Modern Inconveniences: The “Water-saving” Toilet

Have you ever noticed that all our fine politically correct appliances actually waste more water and energy than they save? Case in point: the “water-saving” toilet that can’t flush a normal load of flushables…so that you have to do your business, then flush; then wipe, then flush; and then (because the thing won’t flush enough paper to get you clean on the first effort) wipe again and flush again. But just to make you feel really, really politically correct, the effing thing refills at about the same pace as your politically correct shower and your politically correct sink faucets operate.

This morning, as I was waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting to cycle through three flushes, curiosity struck: How long, I wondered, does it REALLY take to flush this damn thing?

Trot out to the kitchen and grab the timer off the counter. Get back to the bathroom and wait and wait and wait some more till the damned toilet fills back up. Flush again to get the last of the TP down and click the timer.

It took two minutes and 17 seconds to flush and refill.

For the love of God. Since every time you poop in it, you have to flush it three times, that means it not only uses as much or more water as a real toilet used to use (we’re told these miraculous devices use a third as much as a toilet that works uses), that means the damn thing takes six minutes and 51 seconds — ALMOST 7 MINUTES — to flush one bowel movement.

Since, thanks to the aftereffects of the clamitadine I had to take, I’ve been to the bathroom three times this morning (and every morning, we might add), that is 21 minutes wasted, just watching the effing toilet flush and refill.

It certainly isn’t saving any water. In fact, it’s probably wasting water…dollars to donuts, three half-assed flushes take more water than a single flush that does the job.

The showers that make you stand under the flow for ten minutes to rinse two minutes’ worth of shampoo out of your hair? I think we all agree on those damn things. I jimmied mine so they will work (there used to be a gadget inside the damn thing that you could break, if you had a long enough tool). From what I understand, it’s not so easy to do that any more. So there we stand, wasting water and time when, if we had a functional appliance, we would need to waste neither.

And then the damned faucets that don’t dispense water! Argh.

Cooking is not a one-step-at-a-time endeavor: it is an exercise in multitasking. So… If you want to fill up a pot but have other things to do while fixing dinner but stand there and watch water dribble out of a barely functional faucet, what do you do?

Right: set the pot in the sink, turn on the water, and go on about your business. By the time you get back, the pot has overflowed and water is running down the drain.

This saves water…how??

Fortunately, Satan and Proserpine (the previous owners) installed some sort of antique plastic faucet in the garage work sink, so when I need to fill a spaghetti pot, I schlep the thing out to the garage and fill it in about three seconds, which is as long as it should take. And no water is wasted. But if I didn’t have that sink, in the 15 years that I’ve lived here I would have poured half the flow of the Colorado River down the kitchen drain.

The Toto brand elongated toilet is, as it was when these idiotic no-flush flushers were first mandated, billed as the fastest, most powerfully flushing models. I bought one for my last house, and I’ll say that it did work well. But forgodsake: the things cost $240, and that’s before it’s installed.  In California and waypoints that have truly PC water-conservation rules, a Toto that works will set you back $563 (!!!!!!! Plus tax, plus the cost of a toilet seat, plus the cost of installation!). Apparently, however, the newer models leave something to be desired…like flushing. Eleven percent of Amazon reviewers describe clogs, difficult-to-plunge design, and impossible to replace parts. Lovely.

As for the obnoxious faucets? Well, check out the current reviews of high gallons-per-minute models at Amazon. Always go direct to the one-star reviews to get the straight dope; then work up the ladder. Uhmmm…you really want to pay to put this stuff in your house? I especially loved the review of the top-rated model, where the customer described a brand-new kitchen faucet springing a leak on Christmas Day! 😀

Ah, the Third-Worldization of America… No wonder people who have had a bellyful of PC vote for a raving moron like Trump. All he has to do is promise to bring back American jobs to make American products, and we’re sold!

 

Attacked!

Yesterday evening Ruby and I were trotting through lower Richistan, past a house that a young couple with kids is renovating, when the morons’ 80-pound German shepherd roared out of their front yard and attacked my little 25-pound corgi. I tried to grab her and pick her up off the ground, but every time I’d reach for her, the dog came after me. Ruby, meanwhile, being a shepherd dog herself, after a second of terrified shrieking, shifted into full defensive mode and launched herself at the attacker.

Fortunately, the pooch’s humans heard me screaming and came running to call off their dog. But not before the animal had harassed and terrified me and my dog.

One of their cute little kids hollered after me, as I was stalking off down the street having delivered to the parents a volley of…uhm, shall we say “vulgar criticism” at high volume, I’m sowwy!

{sigh}

God, but I am tired of stupid. What IS it about people that they think neither common sense nor the leash laws apply to them and they can do as they please as long as a cop isn’t standing there watching?

Our house. Can you believe this place went on the market recently at over a million dollars?

True: it’s scary living here. I was among the cohort who gentrified Phoenix’s historic (and now spectacularly overpriced)  Encanto district. The ’Hood is effectively the New Encanto. And we have similar problems with transients, crime, and endless assaults on our quality of living by moneyed interests that own the city government. Encanto had (and still does have) many more transients than we see up here. Its Zip code had the highest per-capita drug use rate in the city, and the crazy (sometimes horrifying) incidents occurred so often that our office manager used to ask me, come Monday mornings, what new tale I had to tell. And I usually had one.

What were those tales? Ohhh…the day a burglar murdered an elderly neighbor by chopping her to death with an axe he found in her garage. The night a man tried to bump a lock in the exterior door of a room next to where I was sitting in front of the television (and was within about a second of succeeding when I realized what the noise was, ran to the front door, and screamed FIRE!!!!!!! at the top of my lungs). The cat burglar/rapist on the roof. The guy who watched a neighbor until he knew when her husband was out of town (which was fairly frequently), cased the house until he found the only window that wasn’t wired for a burglar alarm, climbed through it, and spent the night beating and raping her. Little things like that…

Consequently, I’ve had German shepherds all of my adult life. And I’ve had them explicitly as protection dogs. Only now that I no longer have the physical strength to handle a large, high-drive dog have I switched to smaller breeds. Here’s what I’ve observed about the breed, after several decades of handling its representatives.

First lemme tell you somethin’: if you bought yourself a GerShep to protect your kids and their buxom mother, you need to know about German shepherds. And you need to have better sense than to leave your dog out in an unfenced front yard.

The German shepherd has been harmed in many ways by overbreeding to develop “guard” tendencies. The result is often an unstable disposition, which can make for a very dangerous dog. Consequently, if you choose to own a German shepherd, you need to keep it under control at all times, and you need to be aware of its power and its potential to do harm. Yes: my shepherds have chased off home invaders (one poor guy is still running…said to be approaching Siberia about now).

Yes: my shepherds made it possible for me to walk around Encanto Park as a nicely endowed young woman without harassment. But I’ve also had a shepherd that tried to attack my mother-in-law and then me and then a veterinarian – the vet explained that some breeds are prone to a kind of mental illness that causes this behavior, and that once such a dog launches into an attack, it cannot be called off. This, he added, is the direct result of ill-advised breeding practices. If, like me, you’re a German shepherd fan, you should be aware that these conditions exist.

A German shepherd is like a .38. You don’t leave your revolver sitting on the coffee table. Similarly, don’t leave your German shepherd sitting around an unfenced yard and don’t let it off the leash in public. It’s a good thing to protect yourself – but not if you put innocent people’s safety at risk.

Harmless as the new-blown snow…

Why I stopped carrying a purse…

A couple years ago, I decided to stop carrying a purse around. Why? Well, because in my part of town, it just flat isn’t safe. Any time you walk across the parking lots of our neighborhood grocery stores, you run the risk of mugging.

The way to minimize that risk: carry a wallet with your credit cards and nuisance store “member” cards in a pocket. Leave the purse at home, in a closet.

Interestingly, this works in a variety of positive ways, one of which is to cut panhandling exponentially. When a bum thinks I’m not carrying cash, he doesn’t barge up and demand that I share it with him.

But…then there is Tempe, even more richly infested with bums and panhandlers than the ’Hood, here at the end of the accursed lightrail line. (The lightrail is affectionately known in these parts as “the bum express.”)

Today I went out to that garden spot, that lovely little college town (you have to live in Arizona to sense the full irony in that characterization), to meet my friend and business partner for a late lunch at our favorite overpriced restaurant. Had to park about a block up the road, there being no spaces anywhere near the front of said restaurant.

Afterward, we drifted out to the front sidewalk and stood chatting for a few minutes. A bum wandered up and hovered nearby, studying a parking meter as if it held some clue to the meaning of life, the universe, and all that. Tina’s car was right in front of the place; shortly she jumped into her vehicle and drove off. I now had to walk a ways to get to my car.

Because of the quasi-infected surgical wound on my leg, I haven’t been able to wear my jeans, which are about the only women’s clothes you can buy that reliably contain pockets. So I’d brought a small purse with a long strap, which I’d slung over my shoulder.

The bum looks up and gazes at me quizzically, his eyes a startling blue. If he were washed and sober, he’d be a handsome man. But he is…well, neither washed nor sober.

I avoid his glance (Rule of Womanhood No. 213: Never make eye contact) and start walking up the block toward my car.

Naturally, he follows me. I’m walking fast, and he’s keeping pace with me, just a few steps behind.

I walk past my car — not a chance am I going to stop long enough for him to get any closer. As I march along, I slip the purse strap over my head so the bag hangs crosswise across my chest. And I search for a building that I can get into.

ASU and the city of Tempe have littered this stretch of the lovely downtown with pointless museums, all of which are locked tight. I keep hiking all the way down to Mill Avenue, where at last I come to a sandwich shop that’s open. I dart in the door and find — thank God — four burly men, two behind the counter and two standing in line to order food. They look a little startled when they see me come flying in.

Fortunately, the shop is fronted with ceiling-to-floor windows. I can see the vagrant walk on past and continue north on Mill. After waiting for a minute or two, I slip back out the door and hike back down the sidewalk to my car.

What did I think was going to happen? Well…take your pick:

  • Nothing.
  • The guy would ask me for a handout.
  • The guy would grab my purse and yank it off my body.

“Nothing” would be nice, but experience suggests it was the least likely of the three possibilities.

Frankly, I suspect if I’d had my credit cards stashed invisibly in the pocket of a pair of jeans, that guy would never have followed me.

This is something you learn from living in the central city. In the old house, one old lady was walking from her car into a nearby grocery store when a purse-snatcher threw her to the ground to grab her bag, thereby breaking her hip. Here in the ‘hood, another shithead shot one of my neighbors when he mistakenly thought she was resisting an attempt to steal her purse.

And that, folks, is why I do not carry a purse. Not unless I’m forced to it.

Crazy Driver Season

The theory that one in every ten drivers on the Arizona road is a moron may need revision. Possibly closer to the truth: one in every five. My gawd, were they out in force yesterday!

Several gas stations in Our Beloved City have run out of gasoline. In half-baked Play-Nooz stories, we’re told it’s because fuel supply lines “may” have been disrupted by the weather in the Midwest, another way of saying “we dunno.” Personally, I suspect our country’s present mis-leadership, but that’s another story. Whatever the cause, gas prices have risen by about 30 cents a gallon. Today I have to drive my agèd friends to Costco, but would rather not ask them to sit in the car through the Costco’s long lines and then sit some more while I pump gas. Tomorrow I have to schlep to Paradise Valley Mall and then turn around and traipse way to Hell and gone out to Sun City.

The car had about a third of a tank of fuel, which under normal circumstances would last another week or ten days.

However…if Costco runs out of gas, too…if Costco and QT run out of gas…hmmm….  So, I decided to make a single trip yesterday, just to Costco to fill up the tank.

Sounds easy, eh? And it would be, if we were talking about any normal place.

On the way down, I pass one of the usual road-blocks, on the other side of the street. Every route in the city is dug up. Wherever you’re goin’, you can’t get there from here. Seeing the line of stalled cars stretching westward from 7th Avenue on Bethany, I realize I can’t get home that way. So decide to go up 15th Avenue, a slower route but usually unclogged.

Two morons get in front of me on the way to the Costco, but they’re pretty harmless. Just the usual “don’t know where I’m going” and “texting on the phone” set.

Get filled up, head out, and turn left onto lovely 15th Avenue without incident.

Fifteenth, a major feeder street that runs from Gangbanger’s Way, mostly through neighborhoods, all the way down to the State Capitol area, has been adorned with traffic-harassing nuisances in the form of stupid roundabouts and speed humps. Most people ignore these: in time you learn that you really don’t have to slow down for them. The other day I saw a guy shoot down that road at about 50 mph, navigating the nuisance circles and bumps without a hitch. Most people drive about 35 with no problem.

But…yes. Or rather no. Naturally, I got a Moron of the First Water in front of me.

First hint was that the Moron slowed wayyyyyyy down as soon as it got north of Bethany Home. Then when the Moron came to a speed circle, it STOPPED.

Yes. This idiot slows so far down as to stop before entering the roundabout nuisance and then C-R-R-R-A-A-A-A-W-L-S around it, barely idling foward. About one mile per hour, I’d guess.

No, that is not an exaggeration. The chucklehead is barely moving.

Moron speeds back up to about 30, then as soon as a speed bump pops up, DOES IT AGAIN. This idiot actually STOPS and then, barely moving, C-L-I-I-I-I-I-M-B-S over the thing. Then speeds up to almost 25 mph.

This is why I don’t carry a gun in the car. I’d have blown out the clown’s tires.

Seriously: it’s NO WONDER people shoot at these fools.

We finally get to Maryland, the next east-west road, where the Moron inches into the intersection on the green. I squeeze around him, veer right, leaning on the horn as I leave the nitwit behind. This adds an extra mile to my drive: a half-mile over to 7th Avenue and another half-mile back through the ’Hood.

I think people do this kind of thing on purpose. It’s a game for some folks. And really: it’s a miracle more of them don’t get shot.