Coffee heat rising

So there!!!

LOL! The latest set of exterior decorations is now mounted on the front gates and doors.


Gawdlmighty, i’m sooooo obnxious, even I think it’s funny!

Probably just like your neighborhood, the Funny Farm’s ‘hood is overrun with nuisance door-to-door solicitors. Some of these folks are peddling junk; others are trying to get signatures on petitions. Sooooo…it’s ringy-dingy-bingy-bong at the damn front door, practically every day. Dawn to dusk.

A year or so ago, I got the bright idea of putting up signs saying, in effect, “Please don’t ring the doorbell. No Solicitation.”

As you know, these normally have little effect on the legions of nuisances. Sooo…I decided to make the message a little stronger.

On side gate to the front patio:


We’re not interested in what you’re selling.
We’re not interested in your political campaign.
We have already signed your petition, or decided not to.

Please leave packages inside the patio, next to the front door.
Welcome to Porch Pirate Heaven!

On the front gate to the same patio and on the same side gate to that patio:

Please leave packages inside the patio, next to the front door.
Welcome to Porch Pirate Heaven!


On the security screen at the front door:


Interestingly, this barrage of messages works!

LOL! As you may gather, these people are almost as pesky as phone solicitors. So a sign that says PRIVATE does exactly no good. And about 10% of them ignore “NO SOLICITING” SIGNS. But apparently beating the sleazes about the head and shoulders with your message gets through to most of them.

Now. If you could only do that with the phone….

Heh… Our neighborhood techno-guru, Will, set up a video system at his front door. So…he can and does capture the antics that happen in front of his house, when Amazon and UPS trucks turn up with thieves’ cars in tow. There’s one woman, in particular, who follows the Amazon truck around in her car, waits till the delivery dude drives off, jumps out of her car and grabs the delivered packages, runs back to her car, tosses them into the back seat, and takes off down the road after the Amazon guy.

Is Amazon Guy aware of this? Could they be in cahoots?


As likely as not, I’d say. You’d think after awhile he’d notice he’s being followed. But…it’s gotta be a mind-numbing job. Maybe, just maybe he really doesn’t notice.

Anything’s possible. I guess.

At any rate, for the nonce the “no soliciting, no petitions” message is working. Now…if only I could make that work on the phone!


Wow! In the past few weeks and months, I’ve been the target of scam after scam after scam!

Latest: a Paypal scam.

In comes a message from PayPal saying I charged up a piece of furniture for something over $900. Uh huh.

You understand: we closed that account months and months ago. As in “enough time for my former business partner to go back to graduate school, earn a master’s degree in psychological counseling, complete an internship, and open her practice as a shrink.”

The months, thus, translate into years. At least two or three years.

Trying to reach a human at PayPal is damn near impossible. After running round and round and round Robin Hood’s Barn, I finally did get ahold of a fella with a pleasingly exotic accent. He says the problem is hereby solved: the fake charge is disallowed and the account is closed.

Right. I’ll believe that when I see it. Or when I don’t see another notice of a fake charge.

You know, there are mailing lists organized by age. That’s how AARP knows to start hustling you to buy a membership, the minute you hit about age 62.

My guess is that some list now shows me as pushing 80 — which (can you believe it? I sure can’t!) is pretty close. Thus the various bad actors know there’s a good chance enough of my marbles have slipped away that they can scam me easily. Hence the endless stream of telephone scams.

I’ve stopped answering the phone — either land line or iPhone. Almost every call is a hustle of one sort or another.

And yeah: I do know about the National Do-Not-Call List…har har! They just ignore that. They know nothing will happen. The numbers they appear to be calling from are spoofed, so even if you were to call the feds and complain, it wouldn’t matter: you couldn’t provide the information needed to track them down, even if they were calling from within the US (which they probably aren’t).

With the iPhone, you can block all incoming and set the thing to let only selected callers through. But I still haven’t been able to figure out how to use the complicated damned thing. As devices go, it’s just brain-banging.

This PayPal stuff spooks me. I’m afraid that if I refuse to pay for the phantom furniture, they’ll wreck my credit. This is one reason I posted a narrative of the little saga here at FaM: If Paypal starts harassing me for the supposed charge, I’ll have a record of when it happened and a public statement that it’s fraudulent.

Basically consumers are pretty much defenseless against the barrage of soliciting and scamming phone calls. It’s virtually impossible to block them without blocking access from legitimate callers. And look it this involved rigamarole Verizon recommends to us!!!

Seriously, guys? Who has time for that kind of BS?

I’ve stemmed part of the tide by blocking calls from area codes where I don’t know people. The Phoenix metropolitan area, for example, has three area codes: 602, 623, and 480. Blocking calls from area code 623 cuts down significantly on the harassing advertisements…but it has a BIG (and obvious) downside. One of my doctors’ offices is in the 623 area code: they can’t get through to me on the phone. Same is true for anyone in 480. Or 520 (Tucson). Or 213 (Los Angeles). Or 415 (San Francisco), 408 (San Jose), 510 (East Bay), 562 (Long Beach, Whittier, Norwalk, Lakewood, Bellflower, Cerritos, southeast Los Angeles County and a small portion of coastal Orange County)…. That is a WHOLE lot of friends and business acquaintances who are cut off from reaching you by telephone. I give out an email address whenever I can, but the truth is, most people don’t quite grasp the problem.

And the problem, apparently, is that as you advance in age, you become a juicier and juicier target for telephone scammers. Before I started blocking area codes and some local exchanges, I’d get as many as ten or twelve calls a day from crooks pestering me.

The 21st Century…Dante would’ve loved it!

Dear-Sir-You-Cur of the day…

Sprouts Corporate Headquarters
5455 E High St Ste 111
Phoenix, AZ 85054

Dear Sirs and Mesdames:

Here’s a suggestion for you: Why not hire cashiers who possess basic civility and ordinary politeness? Surely these are not SUCH rare commodities that you can’t find any minimum-wage workers who possess them.

This noon I dropped by the Sprouts at Northern & 19tth Avenue, here in lovely uptown Phoenix, hoping to buy some ingredients to make food for my little dog and to make lunch for myself. Found the stuff for the dog food…and found a cashier who…well…I wouldn’t treat a dog the way she treated me. Among the several things I set on her conveyer belt was a package from your deli cabinet department labeled “Penne Pasta NRE Chicken.”

What, I asked — politely enough, I thought — is “NRE” chicken?

She gave me a disgusted glare that suggested she thought I had an IQ in the negative numbers, and grunted “I dunno.”

“Well, EFF you very much, too, dear,” thought I. Because I was pretty nonplussed (to say nothing of hungry!), I bought it anyway — if I’d had my wits about me I would have said “if you don’t know what you’re selling, then don’t sell it — I ain’t buying it.”

I’m sorry that your employees think I’m white trash and that they can treat me accordingly. They’re probably right in their assessment of my roots (though my net worth is something in excess of 1.5 million bucks just now…). But even when you think people are WT, nice folks don’t make that line of thought obvious. Merchants who wish to keep selling to members of the public teach their employees to keep their scorn under control.

Please, please, PLEASE rest assured: I will NEVER go into that Sprouts again. I probably will never shop at the Sprouts at 7th and Osborn, which is an infinitely better store. Nor am I likely ever to shop at the Sprouts at 16th Street & Glendale or the Sprouts at Thunderbird and 43rd, both of which I’m given to patronizing as I drive between destinations.

Done. Finished. Kaput with Sprouts.

oh…the “NRE chicken?” Whatever it is, it’s almost devoid of flavor. Another good reason not to shop there again, hm?

Yrs truly, [Etc.]


New Marketing Strategy Kicks In

Okay, so having been ejected outrageously from Facebook, I’m moving my marketing efforts to saner climes: to wit, LinkedIn, Twaddle, and Pinterest.

A-a-a-n-d the first effort is an article at LinkedIn on the degree to which decent customer service works as a marketing tool for any business. Check it out. In case you can’t see that live link:

Been awhile since I’ve written quite that formally. The kind of self-indulgent diary writing that characterizes most blogs (not excluding this one…) obviously isn’t going to fly at LinkedIn, home of the tailored suit and the expensive professional mug shot. Now I think I’ll need to put up at least one post a week there — ideas are welcome, dear readers!

And speaking of you, dear readers, if you would please post said LinkedIn article at Facebook and also at your other favorite social media sites, angels will sing for you and I will be forever in your debt.

And by the way, as long as we’re speaking of things Internetish: I intend to send out a kind of newsletter that is not exactly a newsletter but more like a piece of friendly personal, non-spammy correspondence about this, that, & the other to regular readers of Funny about Money. This will NOT emanate from MailChimp but rather will be sent from one of my gmail accounts. Readers who are personal face-to-face friends may receive it from my Mac account.

If you would like not to hear from me outside of Funny about Money posts, please let me know and I’ll take your name off the proposed mailing list. You’ll also be able to let me know by replying to an email.

And so, onward…

Customer service is all!


Pricing: Is it all in the presentation?

We all know the prevailing folk wisdom to the effect that if you price something a penny or two less than a round number, buyers will perceive the cost as less than the actual price. So, let’s say you need to get $15 for your Advanced Digital Doohickey to pay your workers, cover your store’s overhead, and take home a few pennies as net income. You’ll sell more A.-D. Doohickeys if you price them at $14.99 (or even $14.98, such a DEAL!) than if your price tags read $15.00.

Sounds stupid, is stupid. But apparently it works, because everything you see everywhere is priced a penny or two below a round figure.

But…are people really that stupid? Well….

So a couple weeks ago, I decided we should revise our rate schedule at The Copyeditor’s Desk. We’ve been charging a page rate that ranged from three or four bucks a page to $15 a page for the truly unintelligible.

It struck me, after much cogitation, that it would be easier and fairer both for us and for our clients if we charged a per-word rate.

The page rate had proven problematic in several ways. To start with, Microsoft in its infinite changeability has “updated” Word’s page margins from one inch top and bottom and 1.25 inches left and right to one inch all the way around. Since our rates were calculated on the old default, that translates to about a 10% cut in pay for us. So when I tell a client $X per page, I have to make sure we’re talking about the same page size. Changing their page layout, naturally, is off-putting: it looks like I’m trying to extract more than the job is worth.

And we often find prospective clients submitting copy set in 10.5- or 11-point type with half-inch margins. Interesting, isn’t it?  You want me to help you get your dissertation accepted so you can get a cushy academic job instead of working in a rice paddy or a kibbutz, but you think it’s OK to cheat me.

A word rate obviates both those problems: no more figuring out whether the manuscript fits our parameters, and no more arguing over the length altered by the font size. It’s easy for everyone to agree on the number of words, and no hard feelings are generated.

So I changed our billing from $4 to $15 per page to 2 cents to 6 cents a word, depending on the copy’s difficulty and technical level. I calibrated the word rates so they would equate to the similarly sliding page rates — the truth is, on the lower end the word rate adds up to a little less than we were earning per page.

But here’s what:

When people see a price tag of pennies a word, even though the cost adds up to the same as the page rate, they don’t even blink.

And m’dears, the work is pouring in the door. I can freaking not believe it.

Apparently, two or three cents a word looks like pocket change, whereas four bucks a page translates mentally to an extra-large latte for each page. The price is the same. The attitude to it: night and day. Or, from my perspective…day and night.

How amazing is that? Apparently it really is true that people’s perception of how much something costs depends on how the price is presented.

Do you mentally translate the cost of a $14.99 doohickey to $15? Or do you think of it as costing around 14 bucks?

Yeah, I was right…

…I hate Twitter. Yes, I do. I hate Twitter.

Now, admittedly I thought I would hate Twitter when the thing first developed. The very concept was anathema, then as now. But okay. I know. One must go with the flow. Especially if one wishes to sell stuff, apparently. Or if one wishes to waste vast swaths of one’s time. I guess.

Lookit this:



Pretty typical stuff, it is. Either ad after ad after mind-numbing ad for low-rent self-published fiction (and YES that IS exactly what we’re publishing over at Camptown Races Press) or toilet-paper rolls of drivel and irrelevancy.


Can it possibly be effective, even faintly effective, to cultivate a presence in any such swamp? How? How on earth can anyone manage to get any worthwhile attention amid all this meaningless, mind-numbing, brain-thwacking static?

Okay. I’m tired. It’s raining. It’s so humid that just sitting here on a chair in front of a computer causes dew to form all over your body. The dogs are comatose. I am comatose.

But I believe the reason I’m comatose has more to do with Twitter than 90% humidity on a 90-degree day.

Ugh. Wasting my time gives me hives.