Coffee heat rising

California Dreamin’…or is that a nightmare?

Amazed to learn from my son that, like me, he also is bothered by driving over the increasingly Southern California-esque roads here in lovely L.A. East. He is a confident, assertive driver who isn’t bothered by lunatics, morons, flashing red lights, gunshots, and assorted other features of driving on the homicidal streets of Phoenix. Nor is he inclined to fly into fits of high rage, as his muther is…

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could leverage that to persuade him to move SOMEPLACE less massively tacky?

To my mind, the Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun gets more and more like the crowded, smoggy, grody L.A. Basin with every day that passes. I detested living in Long Beach, with its air that would make me sick and its blandly ticky-tacky aging suburban style and the streets mobbed all the time and the grodily casual style of its fine inhabitants. And the longer I live here, the more I think I’d like to be living somewhere else.

I don’t think he’ll choose to make an escape, because his dad is firmly stapled to the Valley floor. Current Wife has a daughter who works as a librarian here, and so she’s unlikely to agree to move to Prescott or some such. As long as DXH stays put, my son will stay put.

Hm. Wonder if I could talk him into investing in a second home, off in some remote locale. Then I could stay there most of the time. He could come up and hang out when he wants some peace and quiet. But he’d still have a foothold down here, from which he could keep an eye on his Dad and New Wife.

Wonder if he could be talked into moving to Fountain Hills? That at least is pretty far from Crime Central. But truth to tell, it’s a long way from his Dad’s place, too. If either of those two old folks has a stroke or a heart attack, it would take him 40 or 50 minutes (at best) to get to the hospital. Here, all three major metropolitan hospitals are within five or ten minutes of his house.

DXH, who was happy to escape life in small-town Western Colorado (actually, it was the largest burg on the Western Slope…but still: a backwater), absolutely positively will NOT be persuaded to move out of central Phoenix.

Hm. Maybe. Unless..he thought that Fountain Hills, being adjunct to Scottsdale, would put him closer to the Cultural Venues he favors. But…no: the Chamber Music Society is performing at Central Methodist — they used to haunt the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. AZ Theater Co performs downtown, too…so that scheme wouldn’t work.

BUT….really, the kid and I are both very spoiled to a) living in central locations and b) construction that is not ticky-tacky. Most of Fountain Hills IS ticky-tacky. All very nice and new(ish), but strictly from stick-and-Styrofoam. In Wickenburg–formerly a railroad town on the way to Las Vegas and southern California, now effectively a suburb of Phoenix–you can find some very pretty properties, but the same issue holds: newer structures are certifiable junk. I happen to favor houses with WALLS. Remember those?

The more I look at the real estate listing in those suburbs today, the better I like my house. And neighborhood.

Construction is better. Houses here are not QUITE right on top of each other. The place is centrally located. No jet aircraft graze the top of your chimney. A-a-a-a-n-d…as gas skyrockets up, the fact that we’re right on the lightrail line starts to look better and better. Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s way, along which the lightrail is slated to run, begin to look like assets.

Contemporary house construction is cheapied down to the point that if they built the places any flimsier, people would be living in tents.

Interior walls hardly exist anymore. Those that do often don’t go up to the ceiling — they’re more like room dividers. Most late-model houses have no gas service, and builders proudly present you with a glass-top hotplate instead of a real stove. For most people, that’s prob’ly OK, given that Americans don’t cook anymore. But…I still want an actual stove!.

Even expensive tracts are now fields of houses built eave-to-eave — in one Wickenburg development, even with the tricky marketing photography you can see that the neighbors behind you can gaze right straight in your back windows. So ALL of your drapes and blinds would have to be closed ALL of the time! Why have windows at all?

Meanwhile, in quieter venues like Wickenburg and Fountain Hills, those nice desert-y backyards are gonna be full of coyotes and rattlesnakes. Dandy! You wouldn’t dare let your dog out to snuffle around in peace. And in fact, you probably ought not to let a small child play in those yards unsupervised. Every…minute…the…kid…is…outside, Mom or Dad or Babysitter will have to be peering over her shoulder.

Here in the ‘Hood, our houses are made of block. Interior walls are insulated. Gas service allows you to have a real stove in the kitchen. And you don’t have to take out a bank loan to drive to the grocery store, what with gasoline now almost $5 a gallon.

It does make our centrally located districts look highly desirable — notwithstanding Biker Central and the constant cop copter fly-overs and the late-night drag-races and the nuisancey lightrail and the panhandlers in every parking lot.

Ugh. I guess next week…or maybe this afternoon, depending on mood…I’m going to have to think through a set of Instacart lists. With the price of gasoline now, unless Instacart has jacked up its rates accordingly, it will cost no more (maybe less) to order up delivery of grocery and Costco items than to traipse around the city after them. This would relieve me of two hassles in one trip: Californicated roads and astronomical gas prices.

Wow! Life in These New-nited States!

Looney Toons in the Brave New World

Wow! I don’t know whether it’s me –– have I lost my marbles? am I getting too old to keep up with change? am I skateboarding toward senility Hell? — or maybe it’s just Our Changing World…one whose changes are about 40% for the worse. But I sweartagawd, some days I think Life in the Los-Angelized Valley is just not worth keeping up with.

What a day! And not very different from yesterday’s what-a-day.

Yesterday the high point was driving home through the gawdawful unholy traffic, watching a column of black smoke apparently hanging right over the ‘Hood. In fact, one could hypothesize that it was towering directly over my house.

The traffic in this city has become monstrous, whatever the time of day. But by then we were in the early part of the rush hour, so pushing through the mobs and mobs and mobs of vehicles was a b*tch. Took a good half-hour or 40 minutes to make a drive that should have been doable in 10 to 15 minutes.

And no, the fire wasn’t in the’Hood. It was quite a ways to the north.

Yesterday I was down at the T-Mobile store at 20th Street and Camelback, where the service is infinitely better than what is offered at the store down at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Main Drag South. This morning I had a question, and since I needed to go to the grocery store vaguely in that direction, decided to swing a bit out of my way to visit them again.

Possibly Saturday was not the best choice of days for this little safari.

The traffic — mid-morning (not lunch hour, not rush hour, not anything special) — was just unholy. Mobs and mobs of cars…and of course, wouldn’tcha know it, road construction. Endless traffic jams as people got stuck, stuck, and re-stuck in stretches of torn-up asphalt behind barriers of red-and-white sawhorses. Even though  I do know my way around this city and I surely do know every short-cut and dodge there is to be had, it took for-f**king-EVER to get to the shopping center in question, much of that EVER occupied by dodging accidents, sliding around traffic jams, sneaking into short-cuts and figuring out how to get back out of them.

Struggled and struggled and struggled. Got to the T-Mobile store. Explained my objection to giving their bot my Social Security number, as demanded by an email their company sent. T-Mobile lady said oh, no no no…you don’t HAVE to give them your SS number.

I don’t? Sure as Hell looks like they’re saying I do, if I want the service.

Dinna worry about it, sez she: just ignore it.

Ohhhhhkayyyyyyyyy…..

I plow my way home through deep, dark thickets of traffic, gawdawful traffic, flocks and flurries of fruitcakes and fanatics. Stumble into the house. Bang around. Throw a second load of laundry in the washer. Then sit down to engage in a little computerized correspondence.

And…

and…

and…

WTF?

CANNOT FIND MY LAPTOP!

I took it with me. Did I leave it at the store?

Surely not. It was right in front of me and in front of the T-Mobile guy — if I’d started to walk off without it(???????) he would have hollered.

I search from pillar to post and back again. Search the car. Search the house again. Search the car again.

By now I’m freaking out. Where the Hell could i have left my computer??? and WHY the Hell would i have left it?????

After what feels like endless banging and thrashing, I finally do find it, right where I left it. In a perfectly reasonable spot to have left it. No, not on the floor of the car. No, not in the back compartment of the car. No, not on the back seat of the car.

In the house. Just not in the usual spot

Criminey.

I must have looked right at it at least three times without seeing it!

At this point I realize this is probably another unholy Senior Moment. I already had one of those this morning, when I lost the keys.

Why did I lose the house and car keys? Because I didn’t put then in my pocket and I didn’t stick them in the office door’s deadbolt (where they usually reside).

Although I do have informal spots where I habitually set down stuff I drag into and out of the house, I’m now thinking I need to designate specific, formally identified places to set things down when I come into the shack. Possibly put boxes or bowls out for stuff to be set into.

But the problem with that theory is that yes, I do have just a couple of places where I put things like that down. And no, when I found the computer and its wad of paperwork, it was not in any exotic or strange or out-of-the-way spot. I must have looked right at it and not seen it.

If that ain’t senility, I’d like to know what it is.

All told, I probably killed a good half-hour or 45 minutes thrashing around the house searching for those things.

Do hafta say: I suspect at least part of the problem has to do with the interminable, brain-banging drives through truly unholy Southern California-style traffic.

This damn place gets more and more like Anaheim and Long Beach every day. And I can assure you: I did NOT enjoy living in those parts and do not want to stay here if what we have now is their clone.

{grump} All Hell Continues to Work Its Way Loose

As the dog and I hiked back to the house along about 6:15 a.m., there across the street we see our neighbor’s lawn crew, the bunch who stole EVERY SPRINKLER IN THE FRONT AND BACK YARDS.

{chortle!} Guess I haven’t mentioned that little fiasco.

Couple weeks ago, these guys showed up. And since Gerardo seems to have quit, I hired them to clean up the yard. Their fees, by comparison with Gerardo’s, were exorbitant: $180 for the first clean-up, then $80 every two weeks, forevermore.

Shee-ut.

Well, I knew Gerardo was undercutting the competition — or else giving me a special deal, more likely. But he seems to have quit: he’s not coming either to my house or my son’s. And I can’t take care of this yard myself. So..ooohkaaaayyyyy….

They did a pretty good job. So I thought…until I went to put a sprinkler on a parched plant.

Sprinkler? What sprinkler? We don’t need to steeenking sprinklers!

Uh huh. Every. Single. Sprinkler was gone. The little metal ones. The regular plastic ones. All of them.

Sumbiche.

So it was off to buy some new ones.

Lowe’s does not have little metal sprinklers.

Home Depot does not have little metal sprinklers.

The grand, old-money nursery on Glendale does not have little metal sprinklers.

Turns out there’s a sprinkler shortage!

That would be why our guys felt called upon to steal mine.

Finally found a few at an Ace Hardware (everybody buys sprinklers in hardware stores, right?). Grabbed three of them. And they’re now locked inside the garage.

If it’s not red-hot or nailed down…

****

In other quotidian gnus, the dentist wants EIGHTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS to replace the broken crown. Jayzuz! What do they think it’s made of?

No, it ain’t made of gold.

The peripheral neuropathy continues to drive me nuts. However, in one tiny glimmer of light, I stumbled upon a study suggesting that antihistamines may help with the peripheral neuropathy.

Seriously??

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I sure have plenty of those around the house. Arizona is where you come to find out that you’re allergic to everything…

The researchers were using Claritin, but also mentioned chlortrimeton. Apparently chlortimeton is now available over the counter — it used to be a prescription drug. Claritin is readily available, and in fact I happened to have a bottle of it in the house. Benadryl is also mentioned as effective. Though that stuff has some inconvenient side effects for me, I do have some of it in the house.

So I drop a Claritin. And by golly, it does seem to help some. The tingling/stinging is not gone, but it’s noticeably milder.

We’ll see if this works over a period of days or weeks.

****

Meanwhile, the other day La Maya and I decided to go out to lunch.

Our first choice, a beloved Italian restaurant near Moon Valley (in the middle-class northerly realms of Phoenix), was closed, to our horror. They were hard-hit by the plague — I’d heard the husband died (a man and a wife owned it). La M said that wasn’t so…presumably, then, the gossip mill got it wrong.

From there we drove from Yuppified joint to yuppified joint, until we got alllll the wayyyyyy down North Central to Camelback and decided to go into one of the restaurants in the AJ’s shopping center.

Personally, I’m just not all that fond of eating out. In the first place, I cook much, MUCH better than the short-order operators of most restaurants. So the food, when you come right down to it, isn’t very good. And what you get is spectacularly overpriced. And the noise is annoying. And the cigarette smoke (often) is annoying. And…blech!

At any rate, we shared a kale salad, which she enjoyed.

Driving back up lovely North Central…HOLEEE shee-ut! We saw the single closest call I’ve ever witnessed, and were almost dragged into the middle of it.

Central Avenue in that area is a 40-mph zone. This means the locals drive 45 to 55 mph along that lovely main drag, which bisects an upscale neighborhood to the north of the central commercial districts.

We’re cruising along calmly enough in a pod of 45-mph traffic when, incredibly, a Moron steps out into the crosswalk in front of the oncoming traffic (among which we are numbered).

Yes, you are required to stop for nudniks in crosswalks. But it is assumed that the nudniks will wait until the barreling-along cars have passed before stumbling across the road.

He walks right out in front of La Maya, who slams on her brakes. She misses him, so he proceeds to stroll in front of the car next to her!

He escaped intact — literally by inches. And he seemed unruffled…as though he does this all the time.

And yeah. Yep., He probably does.

Both of us expected to see him go flying through the air. Thank heaven no such acrobatics ensued.

Phoenix: what a place!

****

Out of the blue, the credit union apparently stopped making some — possibly all? — of the autopays I’d set up to my various creditors. Suddenly I got a notice from the gas company threatening to cut off service. A little checking revealed that other utility bills also had not been paid.

WTF?????

So now I’ve got to traipse to the credit union and do battle over that — around the Adventures in Dental Science.

WonderAccountant is coming over this afternoon to try to help untangle whatEVER that mess is. One thing is for sure: as senile as I may be, I know I did not ask the CU to discontinue the autopays. That would be insane!

But it IS a mess, and I am not a happy camperette.

Speaking of the which…I’d better get up, eat some breakfast, and start shoveling through that stack of paper…

Round and Round We Go….

Welp, by this morning it was beginning to look like Funny (and all that which is related to her) was flat outta luck. The blogsite’s “dashboard” would NOT take my password, and it would not let me change the password.

Finally had recourse to Grayson, the Web Guru Extraordinaire. He created a new password…TWENTY-FIVE CHARACTERS LONG, all utter gobbledygook. No chance in Hell of a bad guy or gal  memorizing it.

Ahem…not too likely that the computer’s operator can memorize it, either! 😀 Helle’s Belles, I can barely remember my own name these days.

Meanwhile, yesterday in comes a notice from the gas company…

They’re going to CUT OFF MY GAS because they think they haven’t been paid!

HUH??????

All of the utilities are set up to auto-pay down at the credit union. This has been so for several YEARS! Howcum all of a sudden the gas company isn’t getting paid, and WHAT OTHER REGULARLY RECURRING BILLS AREN’T GETTING PAID???????

God DAYUM it!!!!!

So tomorrow I’ll have to call the gas company and see if I can talk them into charging my AMEX card — thereby, as you once suggested, piling up credits toward this, that, and the other reward scheme.

Then I will have to get into the goddamn car and burn ANOTHER quarter tank of $4.89/gallon gasoline to traipse to the CU and find out WTF they’ve done and why they canceled the goddamn auto-pay. And what other auto-pays they’ve canceled. On further inspection, it looks like quite a few of the auto-pays are no longer autopaying.

WHY??? This is not something I would have willingly shut down.

As you know, trying to unearth a human at each of the utility companies will take HOURS. The phone runarounds, at least in our parts, defy belief. By the time I get a person on the phone, I’m so frustrated and angry that I could bite someone! So THAT is a procedure I do not look forward to. IN fact, I wonder if it’s possible to go in person to some of these outfits.

Despite my concern about the Mac outfit in Scottsdale (and the none-too-great experience I had with the same company’s far, far FAR west-side office), the guy we talked with there turned out to be just stellar. He has the MacBook running — albeit, not in the style I would prefer (I loathe, for example, page changes that slither by like slides in a slide projector!) — thereby giving me at least a little time to get my act (such as it is) together. I really liked the guy, and you may be sure that if I have to buy a new computer, it’s coming from his place.

Man…in addition to the CompuFrolics and charging from pillar to post around the Valley, on the way home yesterday evening…some poor wretch had somehow FLOWN off the main north-south drag to the east of the hood — apparently he literally went airborne — and sailed into a power pole. Upshot was he ELECTRIFIED a good three blocks of North 7th Avenue. Had a woman in the car with him. You never saw so many cops and firemen in your life.

They shut down 7th, which is one of the main, MOST major surface streets leading out of downtown and mid-town Phoenix toward the northern and western suburbs.

****

Mercifully, neither the driver nor his passenger was injured seriously. Before the troops got themselves into position, I managed to slither past and could see the whole shebang. And we do mean “bang”…it”s amazing that they both weren’t killed

Power stayed on over in this section of the ’Hood, but apparently it was down for a large part of the area

Got a little worried when I couldn’t find my fave neighbors, the WonderAccountants…she works at home, but he goes into an office. Hope he didn’t have to drive around Robin Hood’s Barn to get home

Man, that little wrecky-poo was something to see, when you reflect upon it. The perps were in a standard-sized pickup truck, about the size of a Ford 150. Along that stretch of Main Drag East, there’s an access road, which is separated from the main thoroughfare with a narrow planter delineated by concrete curbs.That’s a 40 mph zone there, so if our hero was keeping up with the traffic, he was going around 45 to 50.

He hits the curb, and hevvin help us, he goes airborne. Now he’s behind the wheel of a flying machine that’s about 15 to 20 feet off the ground, all four wheels

He slams into the metal light pole — this is a large, standard city thoroughfare’s lamp post, about three or four feet in diameter  and very tall. And he hits it between a third and half-way up.

No kidding!

Incredibly, the truck hits the pole so the shaft impacts the front end almost exactly halfway between the headlights, where it digs a hole in the truck’s engine compartment

The power lines go down, electrifying a substantial part of the nearby acreage. But incredibly, neither the driver nor his female passenger were seriously injured

Says something for airbags and seatbelts, eh?

*****

Dontcha love it that the New Improved Mac won’t let me format this thing’s font for copy drafted in Word to fit the style used by WordPress?

*****

Oh, wait! Here’s a password for the credit union, taped to the front of the MacBook! there are now so many effing p/w’s taped to the computer, I can’t track of them!   Lemme see if this will get me in!

Nope. Doesn’t work.

Just what I need. Another 40 minutes of traipsing through homicidal traffic, another hassle with the CU’s mystified staff, another raft of incomprehensible password hoopjumps….

STOP THE WORLD I WANNA GET OFF!

Day from Hell, in the Mode of L.A. East…

Phoenix gets more and more like L.A. East every day. Which is another way to say “a worse and worse place to live”…

***

Driving (…driving…driving…driving) out to the Mayo yesterday, I glance down at the dashboard and see the “low tire” light has come on. Rich people don’t need gasoline and car care, of course, and so there wasn’t a real gas station or garage as far as the eye could see. At the Mayo, their security guy was able to refill the tire with a portable air thingie, and I limped alllll the wayyyyy across the Valley to lovely North Central Phoenix.

Straight to Chuck’s, the beloved mechanic shop I’ve used for years.

Well. It’s no longer Chuck’s. The only thing Chuck-like about it is the name, which the new owner (wisely) has never changed.

The new regime repels all boarders! They tell me to go up to Discount Tire, a chain store with an outlet not far away on Camelback Road.

You never saw so much traffic in your LIFE! And it’s not even rush hour. I have to fight my way up there and then turn in the middle of a block across a torrent of traffic. This entails driving past the shop to a place where I can pull a u-ie — a risky maneuver on that road under the best of conditions — and then pulling into a lot that’s just flat jammed with cars and people standing around.

There, the guy tells me it’ll be a three-hour wait!!! The place was soooo mobbed you could barely creep across the parking lot to get out.

So I figure M’hijito can drive with me back up there, take me to his place or else home, and then drive me back whenever they get the tire on. I’ve forgotten my cell phone (an alien object, in my world), so I can’t call him…have to schlep to his house and tell him this sad tale.

He, being an experienced insurance adjustor dude, says oh hell no! 

Since I always buy my tires at Costco, he knows I can get a better price there, and they may give me a discount, because they warrantee their products.

*******

He makes an appointment: 6:00 p.m. By now it’s around 2:00.

Decide to drive home, let the poor little dog out, and continue on to Costco so as to get there before the tire goes flat again and, with any luck, not end up stuck by the side of the road in even worse traffic. Take the computer to while away the time and start driving driving driving up to the Costco at the freeway and Yorkshire. This, we might add, is a LONG drive through difficult, high-speed traffic.

Actually, they fixed TWO things that had gone wrong with the tire — not only the nail but also the valve, which they said was not in the best of all possible shape. Charge? Ten bucks and change. The appointment M’hijito made was for 6 p.m. Got there around 3:00 and took a seat, figuring to spend the next four hours or so ensconced in their waiting room.

They were DONE at 6 p.m.!!

Hmmm… This morning I see I’ve busted another molar…probably from grinding my teeth half the day. That’ll be another expensive fix. Won’t be able to call the dentist first thing because I have to be at the dermatologist to carve off some more cancerous spots at 9:30. She’s in Avondale, so I’ll have to leave here before quarter to…before the dentist’s office opens.

Got no advice from the new MayoDoc about the lump in the eye…but the usual lecture about the blood pressure, which (for obvious reasons…) shoots into the stratosphere every time I go near a doctor’s office. Probably does the same every time I have to get into a car around this accursed place.

Now she wants me to repeat the tooth-grinding rigamarole with the Omron to prove, as I’ve already done twice, that I don’t really need drugs that make me sick to avoid a heart attack or a stroke.

What I NEED to avoid a heart attack or a stroke is not to live in freakin’ L.A. East! 

At any rate: today’s project, other than to drive to the far side of the galaxy again, is to ask on the Facebook neighborhood page if anyone can recommend a decent mechanic. Think I’m done with Pete and company.

Just about Brave-New-Worlded Out…

Wow! Just deleted what must have been two or three thousand emails from the old Google Mail account, going back to 2013.

My Apple Mail account has died, apparently worked to death by too many old messages sitting in its memory. Or something. If that’s the only problem, we’re in luck. But it’s probably not…  Because in reality the number of back messages sitting there is not out of the ordinary. Exactly…there ARE too many, but the issue is apparently with iCloud, a storage system — not with MacMail.

G-mail forwards to MacMail, so if you send a message to funny-about-money@gmail dot com, it clones itself at my private email address. This G-mail trait would explain at least some of the tons of spam at MacMail…and if old, old, and older emails have been piling up in iCloud the same as they’ve piled up in Gmail, it’s NO WONDER the system has hung.

MacMail is also telling me “Login Failed.” Dunno what it wants me to do about that. Probably some password either no longer works or is now wrong. The Password Conundrum gets exponentially worse when you reach a certain age, and it does appear that I’ve arrived there. I can barely remember my name, much less dozens of passwords, most of which have to be changed every time you turn around.

Apple has arranged for a tech to call me this afternoon. I rather doubt this exchange will be helpful. Even though the Apple folks can share your computer screen on theirs, half the time I don’t understand what they’re doing. So though I can do it while they’re online and guiding me through the endless hoop-jumps, the instant they disconnect I can’t figure it out anymore.

At any rate, I think the G-mail address that’s still functional is for Funny about Money. As I recall, I had several gmail accounts…I may have one in my name or something close to it. How to find it and get into it, though, escapes me. A

Hmmm… If I’m reading this one strange feature in iCloud right, apparently iCloud doesn’t delete email messages that you mark as “delete.” Lo & behold…here’s a button that says “Erase Deleted Items.” It doesn’t say that until you right-click on it…how the heck would you know you were supposed to right-click on these things?

What it means, though, is all those hours I’ve spent during the past couple of days clicking “delete” on junkmail and out-of-date stuff have been…so much wasted effort, where our problem is concerned. At any rate, speaking of wasted effort, right-clicking and deleting does nothing to get rid of the symbol that seems to say MacMail is full and you can’t use it anymore.

Boyoboy am I sick of the technohassles. And I really dislike G-mail, which is weirdly tricky to use. Just now the composing pane (is that “pain”?) has scootched over to the far righthand side of the screen. NOTHING will make it re-center. But meanwhile some things will totally disappear the message pane, resulting in a time-sucking roundabout search for it.

Yesterday was consumed, pretty much, by traipsing back out to the West Valley to return the unneeded refurbished MacBook the predatory “repair” guy persuaded me to buy, and then running into the Apple store to try to arrange some help with an Apple “Genius.” It would have helped a whole lot if they’d agree to make an appointment with a live human being, face to face. But that ain’t happening. They’ll have someone call me on the phone this afternoon.

§ § §

The west side is definitely Anaheim East, no question of it. You never saw such masses of humanity in your life…unless you’ve visited California’s Disneyland, smack in the middle of the real Anaheim. Mile on mile on mile on mile of ticky-tacky stick-and-Styrofoam houses, jammed together roof-to-roof. How a look-alike lean-to is an improvement over an apartment escapes me.

Seriously: for what you’d pay for one of those little boxes, you could buy or rent a VERY nice apartment in Scottsdale or Phoenix. And get someone else to take care of the pool and the lawns and the desert landscaping and the roof and air-conditioner and the painting and the plumbing…

Lots and lots of stuff going on in those parts, though. There’s a big stadium out there. The Seattle Mariners practice there. I passed an ice rink(!!!!). We used to have a couple of those in town, but they’re gone now…what fun it was, ice-skating! And there’s more shopping than Carter has oats. In fact…I was surprised and a little shocked to realize how close the independent Apple store that’s been trying to sell me a used computer is to Arrowhead Mall, where the actual official Apple store resides — it’s only a few blocks away.

Drove across on the surface streets this time. The other day when I took the freeway…well…

To start with, my objection to the freeway route is that, though you get there without having to stop at many lights, it takes you MILES out of your way: it goes wayyyyy up north, and then loops wayyyyy back down to Thunderbird. If you drive straight across on T’hunderbird, you save many miles of wear & tear on your car. And if you know the secret to driving on the surface streets here (i.e., drive about five mph over the limit…) you hardly ever stop at a light.

Then there’s the fact that the damn roads are constantly under construction here. If you get stuck in construction on the freeway, there’s no escape. You just sit there and c-r-r-r-a-a-a-w-w-l along until you finally get out of the traffic jam. If you’re on the surface roads (and if you know what you’re doing), it’s pretty easy to weasel your way around building sites and wrecks.

And there are Phoenix’s hordes of homicidal drivers. My GOD people are stupid here! The other day when I did come back into town via the freeway, I passed a brand-new wrecky-poo on the right side of the road. The guy had somehow flown off over the shoulder, across another 20 feet of dirt and gravel, sailed THROUGH a chain-link fence (bashing down a steel post in the process), skidded across more dirt and gravel, and crashed into a 12- or 14-foot-high block wall, coming to rest upside down.

Not bad, eh? You have to admit, it takes real skill to pull off a trick like that.

Got off the freeway and cruised, out of curiosity, through the corpse of the defunct Metrocenter Mall, once (when it was newly built) the largest shopping mall in the nation. lt really IS a ghost now: just eerie driving around in there! Stores and restaurants that we used to frequent: boarded up. Parking lots vacant. One semi-truck driver and I knew this little short-cut as a way around a near-stationary slab of freeway traffic…his truck and my car were the only vehicles in there.

Well, till you get to the Walmart store that has taken up residence on the south side. That is now the ONLY business — or anything else — open on that huge property, except for a Petco way up on the north side. Oh, and the silly amusement park ride on the east side, next to the freeway.

Eerie!!

I dunno. I suppose that if that property isn’t significantly improved (they’re workin’ on it…sorta), it might be wise to move out of the North Central area. There certainly is a lot more going on in other parts of the Valley. Many fewer bums out in the Arrowhead area. Noisier. More hectic. But definitely not moribund and definitely not at risk from accursed political construction projects like the damned lightrail and brain-banging reverse lanes on the main drags. My son doesn’t want me to move — why he cares escapes me. But it puts the eefus on decamping to Prescott.

Better get up, fix a pot of coffee, and scrounge something to eat. And so, awawwyyy!