Coffee heat rising

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.]

 

Using CBD for Peripheral Neuropathy

A reader asks which of the various over-the-counter CBD nostrums available in some American states seem to work best against the depredations of peripheral neuropathy.

This has been my experience:

The only rub-on nostrums I’ve tried are things I’ve found at Sprouts.

Their CBD Oil seems to be the strongest (well…that I’ve found so far, anyway). But it’s messy — like smearing Mazola on your hands or legs. If you’re putting it on your feet, of course you can cover it with socks. I’ve put it on the palms of my hands, which tingle & sting like the dickens, but only right before I go to sleep … hoping not to accidentally rub it all over the sheets.

Sprouts has little jars of CBD balm and of CBD cream. The balm has the consistency of Vaseline. Again: messy…but it seems to be pretty effective. The cream is much like any hand cream or face cream. It also dulls the stinging/tingling/pain some, and it’s much less messy.

You can get a CBD lip balm at Sprouts. That stuff is very effective for the crazy-making tingling lips.

Also found something called “Hemp Travel Balm Plus CBD.” This comes as a rub-on stick very much like the lip balm, only the tube is wider and it’s clumsier to apply. I think this stuff is not as effective as the lip balm. But…nothing ventured…none of these products are gonna put you in the poor house.

Last time I was there I found a “lotion” that comes in a tube. It’s called Garden of Life CBD Intensive Recovery Lotion. Claims to have 800 mg CBD; and it’s THC-free (as I think all of these things are). It seems to work as a moisturizer and it also helps some with the tingling/stinging effect. I think it’s a little milder than CBD balm and cream in jars.

Another product altogether that seems to work on the crazy-making tingling/stinging/burning is extra-strength Benadryl cream. Since this does not contain the Magical Mystery Weed, you can find it in drugstores and grocery stores everywhere.

Of things you can swallow: so far the most effective pill I’ve tried is plain old aspirin.

You could combine an aspirin sparingly — maybe once a day — with an antihistamine pill. Because I’ve been trying to unclog the ears, I’ve been using Sudafed. Try this strategy sparingly — dunno about you, but some antihistamines have been known to knock me into the middle of next week. I wouldn’t try it for the first time before driving, and also be aware that some of the things can keep you awake half the night. But IMHO if you’re NOT tingling and stinging, “awake” is an improvement…

If you have legal head shops in your state, then it might be worth buying some CBD gummies. These are fundamentally CBD-laced gum drops. I’ve never seen them at Sprouts — here in Arizona they seem to be available only at head shops. A friend of mine put me onto them as a nostrum that helps you doze through the middle-aged sleeper’s 3 a.m. wake-up call. I have found these things help quite a lot that way. A-n-n-d…the other night I took a flying leap off the Quack’s Diving Board and tried one to see if it would work against the neuropathy. When the hands were having a tingling frenzy, I chewed up half of a gummy, to see what would happen…and I think it actually did help. But I’d also taken an aspirin an hour or so earlier, so it’s hard to know exactly what might have been going on there.

Bear in mind that I am not a doctor and this post does not constitute medical advice! If you have access to legalized pot products and decide to try them for your peripheral neuropathy, proceed with caution! Do not drive after using any CBD edible(!). Don’t combine them with any other drug — especially not alcohol. And don’t overdo it with any of this stuff.

Dear Amazon: Oversell Is Overkill…

We’re hours from a major holiday, right? A Major Gift-Giving Holiday. The streets are jammed with swarming shoppers.

So of course I take it into my turgid little head to go into the corner Walgreen’s and pick up a bottle of the eyedrops the ophtalmologist recommended for the terrifying lump that recently emerged on an eyeball. Since I could barely see to drive after yesterday’s eye-dilating exam, I put it off — actually thought “betcha i can get these on Amazon.” Then staggered in the house and crashed in bed, exhausted.

By this morning, that “Amazon!!” thought has escaped my fevered brain. I figure on the way down to the AJ’s overpriced fancy grocer for the Great Xmas Dinner Shop, I’ll drop by the Walgreen’s and grab the eyedrops.

No kidding: the line at the cash register extended three-quarters of the length of the store! A good two dozen people were lined up along the west wall, six feet between them…standing…and standing…and standing…

Thanks! See ya!

No, of COURSE AJ’s does NOT carry exotic lubricating eye drops. It’s a gourmet grocer, not a flikkin Safeway! 😀

Not that I didn’t look…

The traffic simply defies belief. Naturally, after the side trip to the Walgreen’s it was coming on to the lunch hour by the time I reached the AJ’s, which peddles gourmet take-out meals as well as fancy groceries. WHAT a mob!!

Extracted what I hope will be enough for Xmas dinner: two gorgeous prime New York steaks (one of which is enough for two meals for me), a fistful of fresh asparagus, some packaged roasted taters (with Parmesan! with garlic!!), a bottle of wine, and enough ice cream to concoct something that looks like a dessert. Not very fancy, but spectacular enough in its humble way. I think.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and finally get through the thronging hordes. Stagger into the shack. Unload the truck.

Finally, the groceries put away, I sit down to order up the stuff on Amazon.

Amazon is supposed to be easy to order from, ain’t it? And ain’t it supposed to spare you the stupid stuff from hustling marketers?

Finally locate what appears to be the product the doc wants me to use. Go to order it. A-n-n-n-d…get hustle on top of hustle on top of hustle!

Pay more and get it delivered sooner.
Buy this instead and get a discount.
Buy twice as much as you need and get a discount.
Buy…buy…buy…bye bye…

Actually, I did go back and find one Amazon vendor whose pitches were…lower-pitched. The stuff is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. Since apparently this ailment or whatever you wanna call it is pretty benign (it COULD go away on its own, we’re told), I figure a delay of 24 hours will be OK.

In theory, Amazon can and should be Our Savior for gotta-have-it emergency purchases amid the dizzying holidays. But dayUM! When will marketers learn that Silence Is Golden???

Merry Weird Christmas!

It’s been awhile since I’ve added a post here…under the weather in an alarming way. The new ailment causes typing to make my hands hurt!

LOL! Poetic injustice, isn’t it?

So…this is about the weirdest Christmas I can remember. No, not “about”: THE weirdest. The church — and especially choir — has been closed down for months. Turns out that during an epidemic singing is about the most dangerous thing you can do.

So: Nix on the midnight mass. Nix on the singing. Nix on the Christmas Eve potluck. Nix on Life, the Universe, and All That!

In more pedestrian fields: My hair is halfway to my butt, because I’m afraid to go to the stylist to get it trimmed. Literally, my hair has never been this long, ever. Don’t have much fear of the stylist himself, since he’s a guy with pretty sterling common sense. But you could not pay me to stick my head in a public sink to get my hair washed, with someone lurking over me breathing into my face. I haven’t asked…but if they’d let me show up with wet hair and skip the in-salon hair laundry, I’d probably do it.

Truth is, though, I don’t even know if the beloved Shane is still there or if the salon is still in business. For years, he’s talked about retiring and moving to Prescott, where his family lives. He and his sister bought a house up there to use as a vacation home…he may simply have tossed in the hair-stylist’s towel and left town. Bizarrely, I had an appointment on the first of April, which was right when the whole covid-19 horror descended. My son called and asked me not to leave the house, even to go to grocery stores (or maybe especially not to go to grocery stores. His step-brother and his best friend are both medical doctors, and coincidentally they both phoned him on the same day in a great sweat and told him to keep the old people indoors — that if DXH, New Wife, or I catch this thing, we will be DEAD.

Accordingly, I canceled that appointment, and I imagine a whole bunch of the salon’s other clients did, too.

If you believe their website, they still seem to be operating…but no clue whether the redoubtable Shane still lurks there.

But…now that I have a death-dealing “pre-existing condition” on top of what is regarded as senescence, I guess I’d really rather have eccentric flowing tresses with split ends than risk catching a potentially fatal disease.

Locking oneself up in solitary confinement does, it must be said (à propos of flowing tresses), lead you to diddle away your time on some surprisingly bizarre endeavors.

This morning, as I contemplated the tangle of split ends finishing off the eccentric flowing tresses, I recalled that back in the Dark Ages when I was but a young pup, my mother used to treat my hair and hers with a thick, rich conditioner called “Kolesteral.” It had the consistency of library paste. You massaged it in to your abused tresses, left it to soak for half an hour or 45 minutes, then washed it out. Et voilà! Your hair would be magically transformed!

I think this may be the stuff…

But I thought it was spelled “Kolestral” (or something like that), it was made by Wella, and it definitely came in a tube. But then…so did everything: except for Pond’s cold cream nothing came in a tub. In fact, I don’t think they even made cosmetic jars in plastic like they do today…and a big glass jar like this would have jacked up the price of the product more than any marketer of a low- to mid-priced hair nostrum would have liked.

Not being sure that this really was the original magical mystery hair goop, I set sail for a short cruise across the Internet, in search of laydeez recommending their favorite split-end fixes. And lo! What should I come across but this charming woman!

COCONUT OIL??!!???  Well hot dayum! I’ve got a whole jar of that stuff, sitting on the nightstand! By golly: don’t even have to order some expensive gunk from Amazon!

So as we scribble, I’m sitting here with the oiled tresses wrapped up in a plastic bag, sealed in under a bath-towel turban. We shall see, in an hour or so, how well (or if) this scheme works.

Mwa ha ha! We already know the stuff works superbly as a furniture polish. Why not hair polish, too?

LOL! When I was a little kid, I would have killed to have hair halfway down to my tailbone. But my mother…well…she just WOULD not allow it. No matter how much I begged her to let my hair grow, every two or three months she’d plop me on the kitchen stool and do a hack job on the hair, chopping it off at about ear level. Since the other little girls had their hair done by the lady in camp (we lived in an oil camp in Saudi Arabia) who had worked in a hair salon in her US incarnation and got fancy haircuts in Beirut or Paris when their parents went on leave, this made me look even weirder than I already looked — which as a little girl who wished she was a boy and who was dressed in ugly clothes ordered from the Sears catalog , was pretty damn weird. (Yes: the other little girls got clothes from Paris or, when their parents went to New York on long leave, from Bergdorf’s. Not that I cared: I wanted to be a boy; specifically, I wished to be a space cadet. Or an astrophysicist. Or both.

I do not know what birthed her dread of long, flowing locks on her little girl. It may have been the nuisance factor: she probably didn’t want to listen to me squalling as she yanked out the tangles. Or it may have been a dread of letting me look sexy: sexiness was something to be avoided in her strait-laced world.

Probably, though, she was inspired by abhorrence of our even more strait-laced neighbors, a couple who declared themselves to be extreme Southern Baptists. In their belief system, girls did not cut their hair. They had three daughters, for each of whom they became slightly more liberal as the children grew. The eldest, Ann, was NEVER allowed to cut her hair, ever. By the time she finished the eighth grade (at which point the Aramco school quit and kids had to be shipped either to the American school in Beirut, to a boarding school in Switzerland, or back home to the US for high school), that poor child’s hair hung all the way down to her feet.

The second girl, Mildred, presumably was so inelegantly named that there was little risk of hair sexiness, and so she was allowed to wear her tresses dowdily at about shoulder length. And the third child, a little girl named Helen, was allowed to live and look pretty much like a normal American kid. I believe the pressure on the parents from the other Americans’ disapproval of this silly practice is what led them to allow Helen and Mildred to wear normal hair styles. As for Ann? The instant her feet hit the tarmac in New York when they shipped her home for high school, she was off to a hair salon, where she had the ridiculous mane hacked off.

LOL! Just imagine what those folks would have thought of some woman vlogging from the shower! 😀 About oiling her sexy hair!! 😀 😀

My mother would have fainted dead away. But Mildred’s mother surely would have had a heart attack at first glance.

In another three hours, it’s off to my son’s house, where he proposes to fancify a beef roast. That will be nice. I hope he likes his Christmas present… He asked for a salt cellar. But it had to be a certain size, because he wanted it to perch on the window ledge next to the stove, which is less than one Mexican tile wide.

(Yes. Men do ask for weird gifts.)

So I found a really handsome one that I think will fit there, at (where else) Amazon. Ordered that up…and to my amazement, they sent TWO! So now he’ll have a pair of them. Plus a gigantic plastic jar of Costco’s white salt, plus a gigantic jar of Costco’s cool, picturesque pink salt, which comes with a salt grinder on the side.

He’ll never run out of salt. That’s something. I guess…

 

Exit Facebook, Stage Left

This afternoon I lost my temper with Facebook and announced, to the dismay of some readers and friends, that I was gonna close my account, and that would be THAT.

After one person said “don’t do it,” I reconsidered. But not for long.

The issue is that Facebook has found a way to override Adblock Plus, a fine piece of software I use to clear away the chaff and debris that gets in the way of smooth web surfing. All of a sudden, every third post — literally every third post — is a goddamn ad.

Do a little Web search to see if there’s anything you can do about this latest little outrage, and you find advice both from Facebook itself and from various users on adjusting ad preferences. So beside your FB page, you put up a web page explaining, step by step, how to do this. Nary a word of this advice works.

Okay, so the problem with trying to adjust ad preferences by way of minimizing the new Facebook intrusions is apparently that I don’t have a regular user account with Facebook. My account was set up by a marketing agent whom I hired when I was trying to publicize my books and my sideline businesses. The result was just hilarious. Any of you who might be thinking of advertising on Facebook might enjoy the tale:

So she sets up this account for me, and she’s very proud. I have several books for sale at Amazon, where their track record ranges from poor to abysmal. We pick a title. She asks me to keep an eye on Amazon’s sales reports and let her know, day by day, how the thing does. And voilà! She launches an ad campaign on Facebook.

The book had been selling, BTW. Just very feebly. A copy every few days.

When the ad came online? Sales…collapsed. They dropped from almost nothing to nothing at all.

When I reported this to her, she was floored. She actually DIDN’T BELIEVE ME. So I sent her a PDF of the Amazon report, over the three weeks following our launch. She was even more floored. We might say: subfloored.

After several more weeks of assiduous thrashing around — she did a sincere job of trying to make this work — we had sold NOTHING. Not. One. F**king. Copy.

“This has never happened before!” quoth she.

“I’ll bet,” I thought.

Finally we had to give up. But I was left with the account. And so I’ve used it to socialize. It’s been wonderful to reconnect with old friends. And wonderful to stay connected with current friends. But it doesn’t sell much of anything.

And that is why I find the new advertising blitz SO, SOOOO OFFENSIVE. Either Facebook has found some way to override AdBlock Plus, a Firefox extension which in general works very effectively, or Adblock itself has failed. If the latter were the case, though, ads would appear on other sites. Because they do not, I surmise this mess is peculiar to Facebook and presumably engineered by Facebook.

I would not have installed AdBlock if I enjoyed having ads shoved in my face. I do not go to FB to buy stuff. If I could afford to buy random junk, I wouldn’t seek the random junk on Facebook while I’m trying to focus on something else. Thus an annoying ad popping up between every three posts is annoying first because it’s an intrusive distraction and second because it reminds me of the considerable amount of money I wasted on FaceBook Ads myself.

On reflection, I will not shut down my FB account, but neither will I continue to spend hours here. Instead, I’ll continue to post links to new posts here at Funny, and hope any friends who care will come on over and join the circus. Maybe some will even subscribe.

With less time diddled away over coffee at Facebook…and over another cup of coffee at Facebook…and over ANOTHER cup of coffee at Facebook, maybe I’ll have time and energy to get back to writing books. Got to finish Ella’s Story. Got to get the bathroom reading collection in print and on a few local news-stands. Got to find new things to do!

And so, away! Perchance to waste less time. 😀

Phone-dango!

So… I’m in the Costco thinking about replacing my houseful of phones, the current system evincing signs of advanced age. All the batteries are running down, so every time I turn around I pick up another dead handset. And lo! There on the shelf at the Costco is this elegant Panasonic model. It’s an elaborate lash-up, very much like mine only updated for the 21st century. Not only does it include 87 gerjillion (well…four) wireless handsets plus the required answering machine, this thing includes a call-blocking feature similar to the much-missed CPR Call Blocker.

I threw my CPR Call Blocker out after Cox barged in and forced its customers to switch to VoIP, having been told it wouldn’t work with Cox’s accursed modem. Cox, however, now offers NoMoRobo, supposedly the be-all and end-all for nuisance call blocking.

Not so much. The CPR Call Blocker 5000 cut the nuisance calls to at most one or two a day, but more typically to none.

NoMoRobo? Holy sh!t, what a nuisance! It takes the robocall nuisance and multiplies the aggravation by a factor of about 10. It does not block robocalls, because the robocallers automatically generate thousands, hundreds of thousands, and ultimately (one presumes) millions of fake phone numbers. They target your area code and phone exchange, or one close to where you live, so that incoming calls appear to be coming from someone in your neighborhood. The kids’ school, perhaps. Your neighbor across the street. Your pharmacy, telling you a prescription is ready. WhatEVER. Pick up the phone, and you get a scam.

The deal here with NoMoRobo is that it can not be programmed to block all calls in a given area code. None of my friends, acquaintances, or business contacts have the same exchange as mine. This means that any call incoming from this exchange is, by definition, a scam and nothing but a scam.

I get between six and twelve such calls every day, starting around seven in the morning and running through till nine at night.

To block spam calls, you have to go to NoMoRobo’s website, type in the offending phone number, describe the circumstances, and send the squib. This turns an ordinary nuisance into a time-consuming nuisance. And it’s pointless: the scammers don’t care that you blocked thus-and-such a combination of figures…their machines are constantly generating new combinations.

Even when NoMoRobo blocks a number, it lets the first ring jangle you up! So…yeah. That’s real helfpul, isn’t it? When you’re trying to focus on something — or hell, trying to take a nap! — the god damned phone jerks you away from what you’re doing, even if it’s a blocked call!

Most of the calls, however, are not blocked, because the spoofers generate many, many more calling numbers than NoMoRobo can catch.

At one point, I suggested to their alleged customer service that they should allow users to block entire area codes. They said ohhh no! That can’t be done!

Well, it sure as hell can be done, because the CPR Call Blocker does exactly that. It can be programmed to block calls from whole countries, to say nothing of local exchanges.  So either NoMoRobo’s developers don’t want to be bothered with making their system do that, or their customer service people are not altogether forthcoming.

At any rate, when I saw this fancy Panasonic wonder-phone, I thought hot dang! Kill two birds with one stone: replace the aging Uniden phones and get a built-in call blocker!

So I grab it off the shelf.

Having become ever-so-much-more wary over time, though, before opening the box and setting up this complicated marvel, I looked up the user reviews on Amazon. And then on Costco’s website.

Not so good.

A lot of people on both sites complained of poor sound quality. This seems to be a nigh unto universal issue. Also roundly hated: poor customer service and incomprehensible instructions. Ten percent of Amazon reviewers pan it with one (!) star. Interestingly, the rate is about the same over at the Costco site.

At Amazon, I figure when one-star ratings add up to more than 9%, that ain’t a happy sign.

For 8 bucks, I could buy four rechargeable phone batteries supposedly approved by Uniden. So I ordered up eight of the things, for a total of about $18 including tax…a far cry from $108 for a complicated phone system that may or may not work.

So I decided to replace the batteries in the existing handsets and hope for the best. If that doesn’t work, Uniden sells the handsets alone: it’s still cheaper to replace a few of those than to buy a whole new Panasonic system.

Apparently, if I’d just waited until the steam stopped shooting out of my ears after the Cox fiasco, I could in fact have attached my old CPR Call Blocker to Cox’s accursed modem. But I can’t find the thing now, so I guess I must have tossed it in a rage. That would be pretty typical.

It’ll cost another hundred bucks to get a new one. But at this point I’m thinking…let’s see if these new batteries hold a charge. If they do, fine: invest in a new CPR 5000, call their excellent customer service on the phone, and get them to coach me through connecting it to Cox’s accursed modem. Et voilà! Say good-bye to the NoMoRobo joke.

Schlepped the unopened Panasonic back to Costco this morning; received a fistful of money back on the card.

Now I’m going to think about this for a few days and, if I can confirm that the CPR 5000 will work, with the hated new Cox equipment, then I’ll just bite the bullet and buy another one. I know their customer service will coach me through connecting the thing to the complicated junk Cox cluttered my desk with — at least, I think they will. They post a phone number at Amazon, which I’ll call tomorrow to see if they’ll agree to do so.

Failing that?

Well, frankly, I think the only alternative is to disconnect the land line. Replace it with an iPhone for actual calling and texting, and several charged-up but un-connected cheap clamshells for dialing 911 in a pinch.