Coffee heat rising

Gettin’ all computer-hassled out…

Or maybe that’s “all hassled out,” in a more general way.

Tried to get in to Funny’s dashboard this morning. It wouldn’t take my password.

Tried again. It wouldn’t take my password.

Tried again. It wouldn’t take my password.

Tried…on and on.

Dug out the email address for BigScoots, the better to pester them. Type type type…

Tried again. This time it accepted the password. The SAME password I’d just entered repeatedly.

Yes. I do understand the need for computer security. I get hack attempt after hack attempt. Yes. And scam after scam after scam lands in my email inbox. Every day. Yes. I do know — from experience! — that there are large mailing lists organized by age, which sales hustlers use to target the marks they figure will the most vulnerable. If you’re over about 70, they figure you’re ripe for the taking.

As dawn cracks, for example, just in the e-mail inbox (not counting all the other possible avenues for scamming) we have

Hi Victoria,
I’ve selected a few opportunities you may want to explore. Apply directly if interested. If you’ve moved recently or would like to see different jobs click here and help me better serve you.

Have I applied for a job lately?


Have I contacted this outfit in any way, directly or indirectly?


Do they think I’m stupid as a post?

Sure enough

This morning I have to visit Young Dr. Kildare — his office is many miles closer to my house than the Mayo is, and so I’ve taken to seeing him for minor ailments, reserving MayoDoc for the heavy hitting. This is another nexus of computer hassle: every time you visit, they want you to sign into their annoying “Portal” and fill out redundant form after redundant form after redundant form. My computer will NOT let me into the thing, no matter what fu*king password I try. So I have to show up 15 minutes early and beg a staff member to help.

This is complicated by the fact that my appointment is for 9 a.m. — and they don’t open till 9 a.m.

but… <hard return hard return>…waitwaitwait!!!

lookee here! I’ve…


OMG! A miracle has happened.

I can’t believe it!

The night-long overcast has coalesced into a steady, pouring rain. The road crew out front has run off, presumably to a coffeeshop, leaving an army’s worth of equipment out in the road. I looked at that weather and thought…ohhhhhh shee-ut! Time for a strategic prevarication.

{grrrrr grrrrr…} I will be dayumed if I’m driving up the gawdawful Cave Creek Road to YDK’s office in the rain, through the rush-hour traffic under dusky early-morning skies.

one ringy-dingy
two ringy-dingies

Phone lady picks up.

I prevaricate extravagantly: “The city is digging up the road — apparently the sewer system has gone awry. [true; and true] I can’t get my car out of the garage [fake] and so it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to get up to your place by 9 a.m. [faker than fake].”

She buys it!  Or at least, she kindly pretends to buy it…so I’m outta there.

Actually, the ailment that led to this morning’s appointment has magically faded away. Ear weirdness: felt like (are you ready for this one?) a strand of hair had somehow worked its way into the ear canal and was poking me in the inner ear.  Just in the past hour, though, that sensation (which I’ve been enjoying for the lo! these many days) has pretty much gone away.

Soooo…here we are, loafing in an easy chair, watching the rain and enjoying the enforced silence out front (soon to be broken, whenever the heavy machinery can be fired up). If I had any sense, I’d go back to bed and try to catch a few extra Z’s before these guys get down to work.

But no one has accused me, not lately anyway, of having any sense.

Tony’s Home for Wayward Delinquents is quiescent. Some of the kids live there; others are bussed in by van each morning. Strange. Do they close down when it rains?

Unlikely. Could be, though, that the city warned them that all mechanized Hell was slated to break loose this morning, so they may have arranged for the least stable of their inmates to be kept elsewhere today.

For awhile, I thought he’d acquired the house next door to the south of the Institute. But…now I think that doesn’t appear to be the case. Hard to believe the city would let him glom more than one house in a row to convert into reform schools.

What. A. Place. If I had any sense — and my son would pipe down and quit threatening to have me institutionalized if I dare to sell this house — I would move far, far away from here. EVERY DAY is a new litany of crime and craziness. And since the ‘Hood is bordered by the tired and sleazy west side, just on the other side of Conduit of Blight Blvd., and by one of the most dangerous slums in the state just to the north of Gangbanger’s Way, one does not feel very safe here. And one is bloodywell not very likely to extract enough from sale of a home here to move into anyplace safer other than the dreary, depressing Sun City.

Ain’t it fine?

Gas station barricade–wheee!
QT Employee stabbed! Yeah: you can walk there from here, no problem…
Build-to-Rent: The newest rage in real estate. Uh huh…that’ll add a lot of class to this area
Escaped prisoner captured in Phoenix Hotel. Hmmm…how d’you tell the difference between an escaped convict and the local yokels?
Body found in local canal. That’s about 20 blocks from here. You could walk there from the university.
Cop creamed in crash; suspects run off.
Another officer-involved shooting. This one, at least, is a distance from the ‘Hood. For a change.

One could go on and on and on. The local news runs like this every day, and a substantial number of the Happenings occur near or in the ‘Hood. This is why I drive across the city to go to a grocery store, rather than walking or driving to the nearby Albertson’s. It’s why I’d rather drive almost out to the university — any day! — to go to the Sprouts, rather than buy at the one within walking distance of the Funny Farm.

Computer hassles. Real-world hassles. Good grief! Where do I go to buy a cave in the red-rock country of southern Utah?

Ben FrantzDale, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Birds Are Gone

On a beautiful morning like this — cool and clear, the kids across the street playing, the dog roaming about, the coffee cooled down to drinkable temp — the side yard would normally be alive with doves, sparrows, and wrens. Not so today.

This is the first morning all winter that I’ve decamped to the westside deck to swill the remainder of a the breakfast pot of coffee. And y’know…there’s not a single bird out here. This, presumably because I haven’t hung a feeder full of seed out here in months — not since we were enjoined to quit feeding birds, because of a bird plague that was holding forth. Apparently, though, I was about the only one who knocked off feeding them. We can hear mad chirping and frolicking coming from somewhere across the road…no doubt someone else is luring them that way.

In fact…let us get up, stumble out front and see if we can spot where they’re congregating…


Nope. Wherever the attraction is, it isn’t visible from the front yard.

What is visible? The aging paloverde tree in front, the one I had planted when I installed all the desert landscaping. It’s sagging to the east, and come the next stiff windstorm, very probably will fall over, pulling up a fair amount of gravel and fake “hills” with it. And likely knocking down the tree next to it.

Hm. I could have it taken out. Or just wait until it falls over and see if the homeowner’s insurance will pay to clean up the disaster area.

Meanwhile, in the Department of Home Improvements, the new refrigerator has about stopped making its obnoxious, loud noise.

Check out the saga, if you haven’t been following along:

Chapter 1: Kickoff
Chapter 2: Run-Run-Run-Run-Runaround Run-Run-Run-Run
Chapter 3: Fiasco Central
Chapter 4: Fridge Fantasia
Chapter 5: American Products in the Can

The criminal refrigerator is now working reasonably well, if you can imagine. At least, it works for the time being. Its motor still makes more noise than I would like, but it’s not intolerable. The problem, evidently, is that the vendor sold me a damaged item, but forcing them to take it back appears be outside the realm of possibility.

BECAUSE I had, at the behest of an older and wiser neighbor, charged the damn thing on my American Express card (rather than paying for it out of pocket, as I’d planned to do), AMEX went in for the kill when I called and reported the antics described in these parts. They not only refunded my money, but they seem to have so intimidated the vendor that the crooks have never come and retrieved their clunk of a refrigerator.

In the meantime, I called a repairman who, with what we might call minimal effort (all that was needed was one, count it: 1 screwdriver!) managed to get rid of the contraption’s most annoying noises. Upshot: even though I surely would prefer a better unit, what I have now does work and does not require me to close the bedroom door to sleep at night.

Hence there’s no hurry to run out and buy another refrigerator. Eventually, I will. But…not now.

The message being, I reckon: ALWAYS charge major purchases on a major credit card! No matter whether you pay for the purchase on time, or in one fell swoop.


Hmmmmm…. Lookee here: I need to put up new Cat Barriers.

Tony the Romanian Landlord’s “Other Daughter” (as opposed to the one he calls his “Pretty Daughter”), who lives two houses to the west of the Funny Farm, is a cat lady. She collects the damn things — it seems to be one of her psychoses. When I had a vegetable garden, the beasts hopped over the fence and converted it to their personal outdoor sandbox…rendering all the veggies I was growing inedible. Tried putting mouse traps along the top of the wall, but the cats had no problem negotiating their way past those things. So now I strap strips of carpet tacks to the decorative row of block that tops the wall. This DOES work effectively to keep the little darlin’s out.

Looks weird. Annoys the Hell out of me. But annoys me one helluva lot less than cat shit in the veggies.

Surprisingly, they’ve lasted quite a long time — several years. But after all this time, the weather has pretty well done them in. So…before it gets hot outside, I’d better take them down and replace them with fresh strips.

Another little household task I could bestir myself to take on — before it gets hot! — is fertilizing the roses, which haven’t been fed in several seasons.


Aaaaahhh shee-ut! Cop Copter just barged over, flyin’ low.

He seems to have moved right on, though: probably headed to the scene of a crime in some other precinct.

I am soooooooo tired of the endless round after round after round of Events here! If I could move away, I would be outta here so fast it would make your proverbial head spin.

Where would I go?

Ideally…Oro Valley, a suburb of Tucson nestled against the foothills of the Santa Rita mountains. Less than ideally but probably OK: Prescott, once the state capital but now your basic tourist trap. Both venues are very pretty…relatively low in crime…large enough to possess most of the amenities one would like in an urban environment (adequate medical care, decent shopping, reliable utilities that don’t require you to truck in propane, something resembling a cultural life, proximity to airports, pleasant enough housing). They offer many qualities that this place doesn’t have and don’t harass you with many of the negative things that you have to put up with here. Like crime, crime, and more crime…

HowEVER… My son is dead set against my moving away from here. I believe he may want this house, which is several decades newer than his place, or that he wants me and his dad to stay within easy driving distance as we stumble deeper into senescence. Neither of us is more than about 10 minutes from his place, and our location puts each of us within easy shooting distance of not one but two major hospitals.

Oro Valley and Prescott; either one is a good two- to three-hour drive from here. Even Fountain Hills, which is conveniently close to the Mayo and many a mile from the local blight, is about 45 minutes away. One-way. I expect he realizes that if I were to move, it would be to someplace a good long way from these precincts.

Ohhh well. Speaking of moving on: up, up, and awayyyy!

Wanted: Indiana Jones for Senior Consumers

One of the many joys (yes: that’s /s/) of aging is the attitude of Americans toward the elderly. This ranges from the nasty to the predatory: overall, Americans regard their older compatriots as idiots, negligible fools, and nuisances. One aspect of this is said to be that merchandisers all across the board target the elderly (when they notice us at all) for scams and rip-offs.

It’s true: they can and do pull the wool over your eyes more often and more easily, because older people tend to be more trusting. And if experience serves…that opinion appears to be true. I do not remember vendors, back in the day of my Misspent Youth, trying to cheat me, people trying to feed me ridiculous and obvious lines of bull, salespeople trying to overcharge me as a routine matter…and on and on.

The business with the junk refrigerator is a case in point. Nothing more has been heard from AMEX about that fiasco — one of the several “fun” chores on the slate for today is to call American Express and rattle their cage about that. Meanwhile, I need to buy another refrigerator — one that doesn’t keep me awake all night rattling and roaring…which will set me back another $1400.

It useta be… that when I wanted something, I would do the research on-line and in consumer publications; then go into a store and say I want this and this and this, and I do NOT want that and that and that. The sales person would appear to understand plain English, and s/he would show me this and this and this and NOT show me that and that and that.

Now that I’m Old, though…EXACTLY the opposite happens. Sales people seem to assume that I’m naive, stupid, and just plug-incompetent.

When, O dear merchandiser, when you insist on hustling me to buy something that is not what I asked for, and when I can see that what I asked for is right there on the floor, then I perceive that you’re trying to rip me off. (Yes: upselling me when I know exactly what I want IS a form of rip-off, thankyouverymuch.) And, my friends…that perception happens more and more often with every passing month of age. How can I count the ways that I’m sick & tired of nitwits trying to rip me off when they decide that because I’m old, I must be stupid?

At this point…seriously: I would be willing to pay a fee to someone who would go to the vendors in town to do the shopping I need to have done — I would PAY YOU to order a refrigerator for me. I would PAY YOU to buy me a new microwave. I would PAY YOU to take my car to the dealership, get it serviced, and repel all offers of unnecessary work. I would PAY YOU to get the plumbing fixed. Because even if I paid you for those things, I would save money…and also escape a great deal of aggravation and frustration.

Dispatch from Costco’s Tire Shop: Monday as Day From Hell

Any day could be a Day from Hell, I suppose. Monday’s as good any for spiraling downhill. After a full morning in Hell (cleaning lady, nail in a tire, driving round and round Robin Hood’s Barn), as we scribble we’re now parked on a bench in the Tire Shop at Costco, waiting a predicted two hours to get one flickin’ tire fixed.


Dave, the doughty fella manning the customer service desk, is so busy he hasn’t had time to take a deep breath. Literally: the action here NEVER STOPS, not even for a minute or two.

This morning I had to take Ruby the Corgi to the vet to find out about getting her stinky teeth cleaned. This is a much neglected task: having foolishly imagined that I would be responsible enough to clean her teeth myself, I’ve let it go and let it go and forgotten about it and let it go until now she stinks so much she no longer can be ignored.

Actually…the issue is that her mouth is too small to allow me to fit the finger-sized tooth-scrubber thing in there. So no amount of pretend scrubbing does…well…anything. So this morning I took her to the vet, who wants A THOUSAND DOLLARS to clean her teeth.

This was no surprise, because the same vet used to pull the same stunt on La Maya, who (more or less) willingly forked over the cash for her two dachshunds.

Expecting this, I told her that on Social Security there’s no way in Hell I can afford anything like that.

She recommended some outfit called Doggy Dental, which supposedly does nothing but clean dogs teeth, for something vaguely resembling a reasonable fee.

That notwithstanding, she charged me for X-raying the dog’s teeth (did I ask her to do that?), and of course for the privilege of walking into her office.

So on the way home I stopped by a newer, closer vet to ask what they’d charge. Walked in. NOT A SOUL AROUND! Waited awhile. Left.

Next: low tire light comes on. Sumbiche!

Stop by the Firestone shop on the way home – they’re up at the corner Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way. Guy there says the tire needs to be replaced. And that’ll be a thousand bucks.


See ya!

So now here I am at the Costco, waiting and waiting and waiting to see if they can fix the tire and, if, not to simply buy a new one. Which, you may be damned sure, will NOT set me back a thousand dollah.*

This place is hectic!!!

The guys at the desk haven’t had a chance to take a deep breath since I walked in. But now…weirdly!…the crowd has abated, people have roamed off, and it’s downright quiet in here.

Meanwhile, NATCHERLY today is Cleaning Lady Day. So Luz is on her own at the Funny Farm. Fortunately, because I had to duck in there on the way, I did manage to pay her. That’s something. I guess.

Dayumnation! Somewhere, somehow I’m gonna have to find a vet that charges reasonable fees. And is competent.

That’ll be quite a trick. All the good old vets that I knew have retired and sold their veterinaries. So I don’t know anyone anymore. And they don’t know me, either…so haven’t the slightest compunction about charging me through the schnozzola. {sigh} Because of that, I reckon, Ruby  the Corgi is going to be the last dog to live at the Funny Farm.

How much longer, I wonder will the Ruby last? Overall her health seems to be excellent. So, barring accidents…what? Three to five years?

Holeee shee-ut! In five years I’ll be EIGHTY-TWO YEARS OLD! Assuming I’m still alive, that is.

Doesn’t seem possible.

That’s actually not out of the realm of possibility, though. On the California side of the family, women have lived into their 90s…and since they were Christian Scientists, that was in the absence of medical care. One of my uncles was 88 when he croaked over…. But… my mother’s New York grandparents weren’t so fortunate. Her grandmother died of diabetes in what must have been her mid- to late 30s…early 40s at the latest.

So then we’re confronted with the question of whether, after Ruby passes on to her furry fathers, can I justify getting another dog? Or even handle having another dog?

. . . .

Tire Shop Desk Dude: It’ll take about two hours to fix that.
Customer: That’s fine. I’ll do some shopping. The car is right outside.
TS DD: Where’s the wheel lock key?
Customer: In the glove compartment.

Uh huh. NOBODY would ever think to look for it there….

Guy just came in with a tire that needs fixing. Warrantee expired three years from the day he bought it: YESTERDAY.


. . . .

As we were saying…. Can I, should I get another dawg after Ruby passes on to her Furry Fathers? Assuming she predeceases me, that is.

Unless the proposed successor to the Crown is already pushing old age when she arrives in the Realm, I’m not likely to survive her. So…who will take her? Can my son be bamboozled into agreeing to take in an ancient dawg when his mother croaks over? Hmmmmm…..

Old Guy comes in, pays a bill, walks out. He’s wearing well-used jeans held up with suspenders. Looks like he belongs in the Ozarks.

Prob’ly cruised in from Paradise Valley in his Rolls.

This is the West Side, though. Not impossible that he could be an old cotton farmer or rancher. Not likely, though.

Hey: Tire Dude says the guys are just finishing up with the Venza. Give it 2 minutes; then walk out to the second bay.

Hungry hungry hungry. By the time I get home it’ll be dinnertime, almost. So I guess that’ll be the main meal of the day.

How much longer before two minutes have passed?

Ohhhh how I wanna go home!



* Oh, and it cost $12 to replace the tire… It was on warrantee.



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!

PayPal: It Never Goes Away

Trying to send a complaint to the FTC. Their website form apparently “sees” some character in this disquisition as a disallowed weird character, even though nothing out of the ordinary appears in it. So…Here’s an effort to get it to them by posting it here and asking them to come over and take a look at it. Wish me luck, folks!


Some time ago, my business partner and I closed the PayPal account for our business, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc., since she was beginning a new career and I had decided to get out of the technical editing trade. Recently, I have been getting statements from PayPal to the effect that hundreds of dollars in billing have been racked up on the supposedly defunct PayPal account, for the purchase of furniture from some outfit I’ve never heard of. I have tried twice, using addresses from PayPal’s website, to straighten this out, but it’s impossible to reach a human being at PayPal. Now today in comes another demand for payment of something in excess of $800 for a purchase neither of us ever heard of. Below is a copy of the email I just sent to PayPal, presumably into the ether.

“Into the ether” indeed: when you send an email to the contact address given at PayPal’s website, it bounces right back with an “invalid address” message. Please investigate. And if you would, please, inform these crooks that they’re not getting any money out of me.

Below: message sent to PayPal email address ( requesting cancellation of fraudulent charges on closed account:


Okay, see the BS below? This is a fraudulent charge to a PayPal account that SHOULD be defunct and that we have tried to close, apparently without luck. We closed our business, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc., some time ago and are no longer doing business through PayPal.

Apparently some swindler has charged up hundreds of dollars worth of furniture on that account. I attempted to contact your people and clue them that no such charges were made by us, and that the account should be closed. Apparently you either have no people or none of your people care whether your customers are scammed.

I am forwarding this email (plus my requests to you to shut down that account and negate this fraudulent charge) to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission.

Once again: CLOSE THE ACCOUNT for The Copyeditor’s Desk Inc., Millicent V. Hay, Victoria Hay, or Vicky Hay. DO NOT HARASS ME FURTHER WITH FRAUDULENT CHARGES.


Victoria Hay, Ph.D.
Former director, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.

I would appreciate some help from someone who is in a position to bring a stop to this fraud. Thanks for your attention.

Victoria Hay


There seems to be no way to reach a human being at PayPal. However, their business is essentially a form of banking and so should be regulated by U.S. authorities. How does one go about submitting a complaint to the relevant regulatory agency? And what IS the relevant U.S. regulatory agency?


I don’t expect to get far with this call for help to the banking regulators, even though PayPal is regarded as a type of banking operation and even though they have offices on US soil.

Don’t do business through PayPal, folks! They are totally, bullet-proofedly untouchable. You can’t reach a human for love nor money. But meanwhile they’re wrecking your credit by letting crooks rack up false charges on an account they refuse to close.