Coffee heat rising

Weather Report: Scattered Scam Flurries

Honest to Gawd, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many scamming emails fly in over the digital transom as have come in over the past two or three weeks. Every time you turn around, here’s another wacksh!t scam. Check out the latest:

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Customer Service” <elijahbillingdepartment@gmail.com>
Subject: Attn: We have noticed unusual activity in your PayPay account….
Date: April 22, 2022 at 12:08:50 PM MST
To: vickyhay@mac.com
Reply-To: “Customer Service” <anthonybillingdepartmentus@gmail.com>

Dear User
Attn: We have noticed unusual activity in your PayPay account

Thanks for your patience while we review the unauthorised activity case on a payment you have sent. We’re happy to confirm that this transaction is eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection, and we’ll cover the full disputed amount for you if there are any.

The payment for this transaction is now pending in your PayPal balance awaiting confirmation from the sender. If It’s you, There’s no further action required from you at this time. We’ll let you know if we need any additional information.

Transaction details:

Merchant’s name: Home Depot LLC.
Merchant’s transaction ID:973476LAIPXJ
Your transaction ID:5896321478LWISUSD
Invoice ID:49598-WPLS-268P-4178-9689
Transaction date:22 April 2022
Transaction amount:$1296.97 USD

If you did not authorize the charge, you have 72 hours from the date of transaction to open a dispute. For more information, We recommend you to get in touch with us.
PayPal Customer Service toll-free for the USA & CANADA +1 (805) 421 4441 or info@paypal.com
Please don’t reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and click help in the top right corner of any PayPal page.

Great stuff, ain’t it?

It’s particularly interesting — IMHO — that they seem to assume the targets of their scams are spectacularly stupid. Guess there must be enough morons out there to make it worth their time.

Hey…we elected Donald Trump to the august office of President of the United States. We can’t be all that bright, as the citizens of a nation, can we? 😀

Still…you’d have to be even stupider than that to not remember the details of a $1300 charge on a credit-card-in-the-sky.

Forwarded this direly urgent notice to Paypal. Not that they can or will do anything about it.

But we can!

Pay effin’ attention, folks! Do not believe anything that comes in over the email. Even if you think it’s credible — today I also got one claiming I owed for some purchase I imaginatively made on Amazon, whose delivery services I use all the time — check, check, and double-check before you send money or information to any email that comes in over the transom. Look it up: did you really make that charge? Did you seriously not pay it? Really? Did you receive whatever they claim they’re sending to you? Do they really have your mother-in-law kidnapped in Guatemala?

Report these efforts whenever you can. Here’s the address for fake PayPal demands: https://www.paypal.com/uk/smarthelp/article/how-do-i-report-potential-fraud-to-paypal-faq2422

Google the business involved and “phishing,” “scam,” “email fraud,” and/or whatever other relevant term comes to mind. This should elicit a department where you can report attempts at fraud using the company’s identity.

A number of agencies investigate online fraud operations, plus just about anything that spills over state lines can be reported to the FBI. Here are a few places to report these fine schemes:

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
USA Gov: Report Scams and Frauds
Gmail: Avoid and Report Phishing E-mails
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation: Spoofing and Phishing
FBI: On the Internet

There are many others. Google where to report phishing emails to access the bonanza and possibly to find sites especially relevant for whatever scam has come your way.

Know that there are widely available mailing and telephone lists organized by age. I first was made aware of this when I magically became eligible to join AARP. Suddenly I found myself not only the target of endless pitches from that august institution, but for hustle after hustle after hustle from scammers who clearly hoped I had arrived at the threshold of old age absent some of my marbles.

In about three weeks, I will reach the 3/4 of a century mark. Clearly, this also is another milestone for hustlers, peddlers, and effin’ crooks: they all think if you’re pushing 75, you must be shuffling off to Senility Acres.

Keep your wits about you as you approach your allegedly Golden Years. The gold these clowns see is in your pocket and your bank account.

 

Fill up that afternoon…

…with HASSLES!

Yep: I spent the entire afternoon shift down at the church reception desk putting out fires ignited by the theft of my card wallet and every credit card and ID card to my name. Three hours of figuring out what recurring charges need to be OKed by the credit union, which ones have been in place since the memory of Person runneth not to the contrary, and which are new charges that the CU staff need to know about.

I’m now prepared to gallop into the CU tomorrow morning, let them know which autopays are legit and should stay in place, which autodeposits are real and must not be fu*ked up, alert them that my son’s account is vulnerable, too (won’t he be thrilled?), and try to order up a new Medicare card (good luck with that!).  This afternoon — just a few minutes ago, I found the original of my Social Security card, so that is one truly major hassle evaded. But trying to get a new Medicare card involves a fine hoop-jump with a faceless, brain-banging system. And…because my son has linked his credit-union account with mine by way of juggling payments on the mid-town house…ooooohhh gawd! Presumably if the sh!thead can get into my account, he can get into my son’s.

So THAT highly convenient arrangement will have to be demolished.

I’ve been afraid to tell M’hijito about this débâcle. But…depending on what CU staff say tomorrow morning, I may have to tell him about it. And oh my friends and ah my foes, you may be sure I’ll never hear the end of it!

😀

Man! I’ll tellya…I’m hoping (against hope) that tomorrow’s visit to the credit union will be as close to the end of this headache as we can get. If push comes to shove, o’course, we can close both accounts and start over with new account numbers. But that will just be stage 2 in the marathon headache.

I have a sh!tload of autopays that will have to be re-done; probably will need the advice and consent of credit-union staff to pull that off. We already have a new debit card. But some of this stuff, like Social Security and Medicare cards, cannot be issued anew. Big Brother will give you a new card, but  with the same number. So if the jerk has got your name and your card number, you’re just flat outta luck for whatever bills he runs up.

So, what can Funny’s readers learn from this fine fiasco? Well…

1. Photocopy all the cards in your wallet, front and back. Store these copies in a safe place where you can find them quickly.

2. While you’re at it, compile a list of all your credit-card issuers with contact information. Do not lose this!

3. If some doctor’s office’s staff demands that you carry your Social Security card around with you and show it to them every time you visit (ahem! are you listening, Young Dr. Kildare?) tell them to take a flyer at the moon. Remind them that it is illegal to use a Social Security card as ID and that they have no business demanding that you bring your Social Security card every time you walk in the door. Nor, for that matter, once they’ve recorded your Medicare data, is there any reason to expect you to flash your Medicare card for every visit.

4. Keep an up-to-date running record of every charge, credit, and debit you make. Don’t wait for statements to come in. Keep your own list of debits and credits!

5. Although auto-pays of recurring costs like utility bills are convenient, consider that they may morph into first-class hassles if a theft requires closing a bank account. It may be better to write (gasp!) paper checks or manually send electronic payment. While manually paying every little routine bill is a time suck, undoing your carefully crafted bill-pay system is even even greater time suck…and a chaotic one.

The Endless Tide of Hassles…

In the Never-a-Dull-Moment department, Funny has surely taken the proverbial cake. The past two weeks have devolved into hassle after hassle after ever-more-astonishing hassle.

Surprisingly, Funny is still on the air. Fancy that! Since last we scribbled at each other, in came another threat from the scammers impersonating staff at BigScoots, which provides the web hosting service for this blog. By then we had ascertained that this is a fraud, a fraud, and nothing but a fraud.

Problem is, it’s extremely difficult to tell whether the demands for money are coming from the scammers or whether in fact it’s time to update the auto pay for BigScoots. As we sit here, yea verily here’s another dunning email floating around in MacMail. Just now I’m too harried and too maxed out on annoying ditz to try to figure out whether it’s real or not. I believe not, though: BigScoots was auto-paid.

Which sounds good EXCEPT….

Yeah. Always an except, right? Just now the True-Life Except is that BigScoots is still paid out of my corporate account. I decided to close down the technical editing business...think I will just freaking DIE if I have to read another 30-page scholarly disquisition that purports to prove, using the highest and most intricate of intricate higher math, that automobile exhaust emitted from cars traveling along an inter-city highway in China backs up against the foothills of a bordering mountain range and…

…wait for it…this is too, too amazing…

causes smog!!!

Holeee mackerel! Who’d’ve thunk it?

Academia. What a place! Apparently it’s no less ridiculous a place in China than it is here in the U.S.

Face with Rolling Eyes on Apple
So anyway, in my enthusiasm for BREAKING FREE(!!!!!) of academic editing, I conveniently forgot that the corporate bank account happened to host a whole slew of auto-pays. Meanwhile, it’s been one fiasco after another, leaving exactly zero time and energy to dig out the paper statements from the credit union and figure out exactly what those auto-pays are and track down the creditors and change the auto-pays to my personal account. So not only do I not know for sure that the latest nuisance demand for payment to BigScoots is real, neither do I know exactly which creditors need to have new auto-payments set up.

Speaking of the meanwhile….I’ve got to wrestle with the income tax data for WonderAccountant. That  took up the better part of two afternoons last week. Mind-numbing, grinding, booooooorrring ditz, hour after hour after hour of it. For the life of me, I do NOT understand how accountants can stand it

To frost all those cookies, last week I again had to traipse up to Young Dr. Kildare’s office and beg his staff to give me a password to their accursed portal. Been there, done that…and promptly lost the damn thing.

The accursed peripheral neuropathy is flaring, and it’s driving me crazy. He only just found out about that, because we haven’t had time to go over all my endless series of effing ailments since he arrived in my precincts. I had to drive up there AGAIN and get them to give me another new password, because I promptly lost the one their gal made for me, and then finally we made a new appointment.

He thinks the dizziness is caused by allergies…apparently it didn’t occur to him that peripheral neuropathy can also take the form of vestibular neuropathy, an affliction of the nerves in the inner ear that can also cause vertigo. To his credit, though, he referred me to a neurologist. Haven’t had a chance yet to call and make an appointment with that guy…and I have a very bad feeling that I don’t wanna, because whatever treatment they inflict on you is likely to be worse than the ailment.

YDK has theorized, though, that the endless spin stems from congestion in the eustachian tubes. And that actually make sense. The air here in lovely uptown Arizona has been just ungodly bad, with days when the haze obscured houses a block away, and the hills to the south have been submerged in a blanket of dirty air. Most of the time my parents and I lived in lovely Southern California, the air was always like that. And I was sick all the time. This was in the early 1960s, before air pollution laws kicked in — SoCal enjoyed phenomenal smog In fact, all the time I lived there, I didn’t even know there are mountains behind the LA basin. Never saw them once, in all the time we dwelt in lovely Long Beach.

Tellingly, a light breeze has come up and this morning you could see the North Mountains….a-n-n-n-d this morning I could breathe. This morning the world was only gently revolving around my head. So chances are YDK’s guess is right — especially when you consider that 1 aspirin and 1 Sudafed will do the trick pretty well.

At any rate, one more distraction, that.

In the meantime, the other day I hired a guy from Barbecue Doc — a backyard grill-cleaning enterprise — to come shovel the grease and crud out of my barbecue. He was the first of two workmen that day: in the morning we had a guy come over to repair and lubricate the garage door.

The barbecue dude, who came over in the afternoon, stole my my credit-card wallet off the patio table, where (after paying him) I’d set it down  between the time we inspected his (highly excellent!) work and the time I showed him out the door.

The upshot has been (and apparently will be, into the foreseeable future and then some) an amazing series of hassles. I’ve been running from pillar to post ever since I discovered all my ID, all my credit cards, all my whatnot was GONE.

Spent an entire day running from pillar to post and back again. All the way out to darkest Maryvale, a low-end suburb (the term we’re groping for is “dangerous slum”) on the west side, there to stand in line for 40 minutes to apply for a new driver’s license. Get up to the front of the line — which moves fairly fast, since they’ve got about two dozen windows open — explain the predicament, and the clerk kindly arranges for a new license to be sent to the Funny Farm. While I’m watching her work, I remark that her tattoos — full-color works of art decorate her arms — are really cool. (No, I’m not what you’d call a tattoo lady, but this was really out of the ordinary and the finished project actually was beautifully decorative.) She, sounding a little tickled, says “Oh, thank you.”

When she finishes taking my picture and filling out all the paperwork and generating a temporary license, she pushes the thing across the counter quietly and says g’bye. Got it? SHE DIDN’T CHARGE ME THE $25 RENEWAL FEE.

Yeah. Be nice: it pays off. 😀

Canceled both AMEX cards — corporate and personal. Arranged (I sincerely hope) for a new personal card to be sent my way; decide to opt the separate account for “business,” since I’ve decided to fold the business. If I get some little project from a former client, it’ll be easy enough to flag income from that for WonderAccountant, but I don’t expect to be making enough money to make it worth any elaborate apparatus to divide out bidness and personal income/expenses.

Meanwhile, because YDK’s staff insists that you show a Social Security card when you check in (is that even legal?), BBQ Dude ripped that off, too. Y’don’t s’ppose this is WHY the SS Administration emits a warning, when they send you the card, NOT to carry it around in your purse or wallet?

I figured I was going to have to trudge up to the SS office in Paradise Valley and sit there for the usual four hours to get in to see a live human being to beg for a new card. But…lo! Believe it or not, you actually can order a new Social Security card online!

If this works, it’ll be some kind of a miracle. The proverbial ointment fly is that to make the online form work you must have a current driver’s license. And of course BBQ Boy ripped off my license, too. So I’ll have to wait until the replacement gets here to do virtual battle with the Social Security bureaucrats.

Fortunately, I do have a photocopy of the SS card. Which brings us to the Aesopian moral of this tale: Keep a list of all the cards in your wallet, AND keep a photocopy of each one.

Can’t wait to see what new headaches and fiascos this latest gambit causes. Pool Dude, who has been around the block more than once, says that identity thieves who know what they’re doing always make a small, preliminary debit from your checking account — small enough that, with any luck, it won’t be noticed. If it goes through, then they head off to the nearest Harley-Davidson dealership to buy themselves a new hog. Or some such.

A-a-a-n-d…damned if he ain’t right. A day later, up popped a debit for $2.17!

The theft has been reported to the credit union and they’re raising the barricades. But it means that for the next few months, I’ll have to check my online accounts virtually every day, and flag every fake debit. Actually, they may be able to change the account number and issue a new card with a new number, which will foil our boy. Or whoever he sells the card to.

In theory BBQ Boy’s gambit wouldn’t be that big a deal, if it hadn’t come on top of the health-care hassle and the headaches entailed in closing the business account and the 2022 tax calculations hassle and the PITA auto-pays hassle and…JAYZUS am I tired of this stuff!

Interestingly, you can’t report a credit card fraud or theft to the Phoenix Police Department. At least not over the phone. They have two numbers for the Great Unwashed to call: “emergency” and “non-emergency.” When you dial the latter, first you get a blabathon, and then you get a high-pitched, LOUD, eardrum-shattering squeal SKWEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! blasted into your ear. No, it’s not some kind of fluke: it happens every time you dial the non-emergency number.

What are they tryin’ to say to us?

To further frost the cookies (you didn’t imagine we’d run out of frosting, did you?), the roll of (expensive!!) dog food I bought for Ruby proved to be slimey-spoiled when I cut into this morning. Normally one of these things lasts her about ten days. But this one: less than 20 seconds: I had to throw it directly in the garbage.

Fortunately I have a few cans of dog food to act as backups.

But this is the second time it’s happened. First time, I schlepped the stuff back to AJ’s and they replaced it, gratis. But this time…y’know…I’ve got quite enough to do, thank you, without having to drive way to Hell and gone down to Central and Camelback to return the stuff. Again.

So, I believe that will be the last time we patronize that maker of overpriced dog food.

Fortunately, deep in the freezer reside the makin’s for DIY dog food, which I know Ruby will love. So tomorrow (or maybe this afternoon, if I manage to get off my duff) we’ll be concocting a week’s worth of chicken dog food for Her Ladyship. And so it will be henceforth.

And all that ain’t the half of it…

She’s B-a-a-a-a-c-k!…

And in case you wondered where she was, well…it’s been a bit of a Looney Tunes saga.

To start with the most immediate phenomenon: Funny about Money was knocked off the “air,” as it were, along with its sister sites, Plain & Simple Press and The Copyeditor’s Desk. At least, we believed that to be true…and so it may have been, for awhile.  Or maybe not.

This fiasco began when I made up my venerable mind to close my technical editing business, having tired mightily of reading academic papers in mathematics, political science, and economics. First step in this process, I figured, was to close my corporate bank account and transfer its funds into my personal checking account, thereby (I hope) simplifying next year’s tax efforts.

This process disappeared all the credit union’s data for CE Desk — some years’ worth. Fortunately I had already downloaded all the 2021 transactions. This was…wise, lucky, whatever-you-wanna-call-it. Because of course nothing can be simple…and the history of all those transactions was about to be needed.

I had been auto-paying a slew of bills out of that acccount — anything that could even remotely be construed as business- or tax-related, This included utility bills, XXS, YYY, and whatnot. I listed all of these creditors so I could call up their billing departments and arrange to have the autopays made from my now much-bloated personal account.

So I’m tooling around, more or less going on about my business, when LO!

In comes a message saying I haven’t paid the Web hosting bills for Bigscoots and they’re going to take down my three websites.

Huh?

By now, of course, the business bank account is long gone, but as far as I can tell from the year’s worth of entries I downloaded to Excel, I’ve never autopaid Bigscoots from CE Desk’s account. Repeated threats to close the three sites keep coming in.

To make a long and painful story short, eventually my Web guru, Grayson Bell, was informed of this, since it appeared we were about to lose my little Web empire altogether. He did his own thrashing around and eventually elicited a report from Bigscoots that my bills are paid in full, and there is no delinquency.

So…it appears that this was another scam like the one that came in from Amazon a few weeks ago.

The alarming thing is, these people know wayyyy too much about me. The crooks who tried to extract money from me over some supposedly unpaid bill at Amazon knew what was in my Amazon seller’s account. Or…at least they appeared to.

They certainly could have surmised some fairly accurate guesses simply by studying what I was selling (or, more accurately, not selling) at Amazon. But how would they know Funny is hosted by BigScoots?

Welllll….it develops that it’s pretty easy. You can find out where a website is hosted here… and here…and here…and here….and on and on and on. It’s public information.

Once you know a blogger’s Web host, it’s a simple matter to try to scam him or her. And that appears to be what has happened.

I don’t expect these clowns will stop harassing me, now that they’ve got me in their crosshairs. On Monday, I intend to call the FBI just to report this. The website gambit, of course, is a negligible matter. But trying to hack into my bank accounts? Not so much.

Meanwhile, the uncomfortable — sometimes outright painful — peripheral neuropathy persists. About that, the main thing I can say is that it appears our medical system leaves much to be desired. But then, we knew that…

About 18 months ago, in mid-2010, my doctor at the Mayo decided the cause of the crazy-making tingling and stinging in the hands, feet, lips, and gum were the result of a vitamin B-12 deficiency. This, she surmised, was occasioned by what she takes to be alcoholism.

Say what?

A glass of wine with dinner alcoholism does not make…at least not so as I can tell. I do not toss back half a bottle of cabernet with breakfast. I do not drink until I’m drunk. I do not drive after drinking. I do not qualify as a lush by the Mayo clinic’s criteria, or by a prominent alcohol treatment center’s self-test, or by Alcoholics Anonymous’s criteria…  Turns out the woman the Mayo has assigned to me as my primary care doctor was raised by a pair of Christian Scientists.

My mother’s family were Christian Scientists, too. They are quite extreme on the subject of booze: disapprove of letting so much as a drop touch your lips.

At any rate, six months of uninterrupted tee-totaling did nothing to improve the neuropathic symptoms. Clearly if booze was the cause, there’s no cure for the ailment. But clearly, too, booze is not the cause: six months on the wagon did exactly nothing to help the misery. Nor did a year of gulping down megadoses of vitamin B-12.

When, in December of 2020, I developed vertigo — dizziness so severe that at times it was unsafe to drive my car — I started to look around…and discovered that vertigo can be caused by OD-ing on vitamin B-12. Not only that, but the British National Health Service inveighs against taking B-12 supplements at all! Turns out the stuff is not a benign drug. Not only it cause vertigo, it also can cause or aggravate peripheral neuropathy. Yea verily, it turns out the Mayo Clinic itself says the stuff can cause dizziness.

Yeah verily.

Meanwhile, a checkup at the Mayo revealed the supposed B-12 deficiency was gone. Not surprising, since I’d been tossing back 1000 micrograms a day for months and months.

Quit scarfing the B-12, and after a few weeks, the vertigo is beginning to seem better. Telling, isn’t it, that the world started spinning about three months after I started dropping megadoses of B-12…

On the other hand, a month ago I managed to reconnect with Young Dr. Kildare. He thinks the dizziness is caused by inner-ear inflammation brought about by allergies. And it must be said, the air here has been even worse than usual — which ain’t good. We’ve had week on week on week of classic Southern California-style smog. Not surprising, since our wise City Parents have modeled development of Maricopa County directly after Los Angeles County. And during all the three years we lived in unlovely Long Beach with its air so thick you often could barely see across the high-school campus, I enjoyed head and respiratory symptoms just like the ones I’ve been enjoying over the past few weeks.

YDK suggested using one of several over-the-counter antihistamines. None of them seem to do much good except for Benadryl, which has its own untoward side effects. However, taken in extreme moderation, it seems to help some.

Also the fact that a West-Coast storm system has (finally!!!) made its way over the Coastal Range and has blown the smog out of the Valley may have something to do with it.

I can’t live with this kind of smog. If, as I suspect, it’s now a permanent Thing, I’m going to have to move out of the Valley. My son is dead set against my moving at all — even to another neighborhood (to get away from the racket on Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s way and away from the commercial nursing home Tony the Romanian Landlord is installing across the street). He’ll be particularly displeased if I propose to move to Prescott, Oro Valley, or Patagonia…

None of this miasma has been helped by the two years’ worth of covid isolation.

The church pretty much shut down in response to the plague. Choir stopped. And this left nothing for me to do with my time other than walk the dog around the neighborhood.

Seriously.

Choir is now slowly resuming for social-distanced services…but alas, I dare not rejoin them. I can get spectacularly sick from just an ordinary flu bug. When I was a little girl, a doctor slapped me in the ICU and told my mother I would not be alive the following morning.

Guess that was the first time I gave the lie to a doctor, eh? 😀

But the truth is, I do NOT want to get the covid bug. That really is likely to kill me. Choral singing is one of the most dangerous things you can do during time of contagion. And I ain’t ready to go yet!

Lo! A day ago, our interim choir director sent out an email announcing that six of the members have come down with covid. Surprise!

In the absence of choir, I volunteered to help staff the church office’s front desk: receptionist duty.

Appropriate: I started my life in the work world as a receptionist…and now am ending it in the same job.

Except my first gig as a receptionist — in one of the Southwest’s largest firms — was fun. We were busy all the time, and in slow times were assigned various filing and mail-room chores. In this volunteer position…well. Literally, you can sit there all afternoon and not get even one real phone call. A  phone solicitation, maybe, but that’s it. There is otherwise almost NOTHING to do. And…well…if I’m going to do nothing, I’d rather do it at home.

Meanwhile, a dear friend fell and broke her hip…within days after marrying a man she met online. Had to have surgery to fix the femur. It looks like she’s on the mend, but she’s going to have a long haul. Her doc told her the same thing the orthopedist told me: it will take about a year for the bone to heal. Arrrghhh!

Well, speaking of doing nothing, it’s almost 5 a.m. The dog has gone back to sleep, having dragged the human off the bed so as to go outside and then to mooch a doggy-treat. So I’m gonna knock this off and go back to sleep, too. I hope.

For Nothing Happening…

…an awful lot has been going on!

By and large “awful” is the operative term. As in “whatever can go wrong WILL go wrong…”

The past few days the smog here has been SO thick that it rivals the filthy air we had when I was [not] enjoying high school in California’s lovely Long Beach (known by one of my ex-boyfriends as “the armpit of the West Coast”). What a dump that place was! And by God, Phoenix works hard to outpace the place in the Department of Bad Air. By mid-day yesterday, a gaze three blocks down a neighborhood street felt like you were peering through fog. South Mountain was blurry through the haze.  North Mountain and Shaw Butte — I could walk to Shaw Butte from the Funny Farm — were greyed out.

The smog and the crime and the lower-rung cultural life were the reasons I was very glad when my mother wrangled me into the University of Arizona at the end of my high-school junior year, so that my father could retire early and they could move us  to Arizona, where at least the air was clean.

“Was” is the operative term. Nowadays, the air here is, most of the time, Southern California redux. Which is another way of saying “so filthy you can’t see through it and breathing it makes you sick.”

And this new gray-brown incarnation of Arizona’s formerly blue skies has done exactly that: made me good and sick. Again. My ears are so clogged I can barely hear. My nose is so stuffed I have to squirt toxic fluids up there to inhale and exhale. I’m gulping a pile of effin’ pills every goddamn day, just to breathe and to be able to sorta think clearly.

“Sorta” is the operative term. My brain — quite possibly because it’s pickled in toxic chemicals — has about quit functioning. I couldn’t remember my name if it weren’t written down on my driver’s license. Which of course requires me to remember where the driver’s license is, a very iffy proposition.

Yesterday, on Young Dr. Kildare’s advice (he’s b-a-a-c-k! Hooorayyy!), I bought a bottle of Flonase nose squirt, which he claims lacks the kickback effect of nose squirts that work, such as Afrin. (If you haven’t been fortunate enough to have to stick a bottle up your schnozz and squirt decongestant in there, Afrin does indeed clear your head quickly and effectively…but then it irritates the membranes so you get a fierce kickback that clogs you up as bad as or worse than you were clogged to start with. He says Flonase doesn’t do that.

He also wants me to drop a Claritin every few hours.

So I picked up a bottle of Flonase on the way from his office to the credit union (ohhh gawd! more of the tale attaches to that!), and yes! Yes indeedies, it does work. While there, I grabbed a packet of Claritin, too.

This morning I woke up with a pretty clear head, but after I’d been running around the ranch for an hour feeding and wringing out the dog, feeding myself, reading the gnus, and banging around, the sinuses needed attention again. So it was off to the bedroom to snab the Flonase off the nightstand, where…where…noooooo….I had NOT set it down there last night.

Dayum!

  • Not in the drawer.
  • Not knocked on the floor, into the trash, or under the bed.
  • Not in either bathroom.
  • Not in the medicine cabinets.
  • Not in the hall closet where an entire shelf is dedicated to hordes of pill bottles, cough medicines, prescription creams, on and freakin’ on…
  • Not in my office.
  • Not in the kitchen daily-pill cabinet.
  • Not on the kitchen counters.
  • Not on the dining-room table.
  • Not on the table next to my favorite easy chair.
  • Not under the table or the chair or the ottoman.
  • Not in the car.
  • Not in the garage.
  • Not in the storage bedroom.
  • Not in any of the trash cans.
  • Not…fukkk! I give up!!!!!

😡😡😡😡

So now at this point I figure I’ll have to schlep out and buy more Flonase, which ain’t cheap (paid 16 bucks for it at the Walgreen’s.).

😡😡😡😡

So, so happy to reconnect with the beloved Young Dr. Kildare. So, so wish he would hire competent office help.

When I showed up for our first appointment, the receptionist demanded that I pony up my Medicare card.

Huh?: That’s never happened before!

“You must want my Medigap card,” say I, forking that over beneath the plastic barrier.

“No, I need your Medicare card.”

No you don’t, I refrain from saying. “I don’t carry it around with me. In fact, the material that comes with it tells you NOT to carry it in your wallet, because if it’s lost or stolen, you’re going to have to wade through a giant pile of bureaucratic hassle and grief.”

“We have to have your Medicare card.”

Now, in the 10 years since I got this ticket to bureaucratarama, no doctor’s office has EVER asked for my Medicare card. But I can’t get past this chickadee, so I leave without seeing YDK.

When I get home, I look for it and…can’t find it.

Ohhhhhh sheeee-ut!

After tossing my office once, I give up and resign myself to the fact that now I’ll have at least one and probably two or three four-hour waits up at the Social Security office trying to see a representative and get a new card.

Eventually, I do find the Medicare card in an obscure file folder, make a new appointment, and traipse back over to YDK’s.

In more quotidian gnus, we’re told the cops pledge to clean up the crime in the corridor west of the I-17, which makes it dangerous to drive between North Central and points west, and which efficiently feeds burglars, rapists, and purse-snatchers into our neighborhood. With the big, once-amazing but now out-dated shopping mall there closed down, that entire area is shooting downhill on a skateboard.

Well,  notes one of the locals on the neighborhood Facebook page…that new policing project is nice, but…but…what about the strip to the east of the flickkin’ freeway, which feeds the ‘Hood with hordes of criminal types? What about the bums imported up here on the accursed lightrail, which anyone can ride for free because there are no turnstiles to keep freeloaders off the damned trains? The end of the accursed light-rail line is right at the north border of the ‘Hood, so all the lovelies who jump onto it for free are discharged to sight-see through the local attractions. The panhandlers and the oleander-sleepers and the molesters of thee-year-olds in their backyards ride up to the end of the line, where they’re made to get off…and from there end up infesting our neighborhood.

Speaking of the which, on the way home from YDK’s office and waypoints, I turn into the ‘Hood and what do I see but yet another cop helicopter hovering over our little corner of Paradise.

No. Make that right over my house!

Holy sh!t!

Is their perp in my yard? (AGAIN?) Or, better yet, in my house?

Holy sh!t!!!!! My little dog!

Has the jerk broken in and, in an effort to get in or get out, let her escape through the door? If he left a gate open as well, she’s headed for Timbuktu! Assuming the bastard hasn’t stolen her for dog-fighting bait or kicked her senseless or shot her….

Naturally, I don’t have a pistol in the car. WHY do I keep doing that?

Cop glides off as I pull up to the driveway. Park the car in the garage. The door into the house is still locked. Dammit, I don’t even have a functional knife in the garage.

Get into the house.

Kitchen door is closed.

Call the dog.

No dog.

Grab a kitchen knife.

Call the dog.

No dog.

Head down the hallway toward the back of the house.

Front door out to the courtyard is closed. That’s nice: either he has good manners or he neither came in nor went out that way.

Call the dog.

No dog.

Check the hall coat closet please dear God don’t let some dude be hiding in here!

God obliges.

Call the dog some more. Head toward the back bathroom, where Her Majesty’s resting chamber resides. Grip that knife tighter.

One more favor, Your Godship: could you also kindly arrange for him not to be hiding in one of the bedrooms?

“Ruby!” Whistle the elaborate dog-calling tune. “Ruby-Doo!! Come, dog!”

click click click click click…
Little dog toenails on tile

Out she emerges from her nest.

Whew!

Speaking some more of the nostrums Young Dr. Kildare foisted upon me: Claritin is spectacularly expensive. Walgreen’s wants $20 for a package of 30 pills — a package in which each pill is sealed invincibly and annoyingly into a sheet of plastic and tinfoil.

Hm. The active ingredient of Claritin is loratidine. Amazon is selling THREE HUNDRED pills of the stuff for $10, and delivering them practically instantaneously. They’re already here as we scribble, and guess what: one pill of the cheap stuff works just fine. In fact, maybe even better than the overpriced stuff. Most Amazon reviewers say the knock-off works just as well as the brand-name; a few complain that it’s not as good. For ten bucks, I’ll take a chance on it.

On the way home from Costco, which is on the eastern and southern fringe of an upper-middle-class White ghetto called Moon Valley, I happened to cruise through a neighborhood that I’d never visited. It’s right up against the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, only on the eastern side instead of the southern side, where Sunnyslope blights the landscape. I actually thought I would be going through a part of dankest Sunnyslope on this particular excursion — a workaround after I made a wrong turn on my normal route — but apparently…not.

Most of Sunnyslope is beleaguered working-class — tidy, small homes: older, cheaply built, but OK for people who have no choice but to dodge bullets every night; or biker-gang dominated slum; or dire barrio the likes of which you see in northern Sonora along the train tracks, poverty that most Americans can’t imagine. But this area was not like that at all. The houses were very much like the little castles here in the’Hood. In fact, I came across a street or two that looked like they probably were constructed by our builder. The place was well maintained. Pretty free of blight. Nice view of South Mountain way across the smoggy city, from a slightly elevated plateau just beside North Mountain. Interestingly, the neighborhood up there must be regarded as not-quite-Darkest-Sunnyslope. Just one house is for sale in the area: Construction is similar to mine but it’s only about 1,000 square feet: significantly smaller than the Funny Farm.

Housing prices here in Phoenix are hovering in the outer layers of the stratosphere. I paid $100,000 for my first house in the ‘Hood — same model as mine, but a block and a half closer to Conduit of Blight and a block closer to Gangbanger’s Way. Several years later, when SDXB and  I moved to get out of earshot of those colorful features, I paid $235,000 for my present house, a carbon-copy model; he paid much less than that for his (big time!) fixer-upper a block to the north of my place. More than one Realtor has told me that my house is now worth $550,000.

Can you imagine? For a little tract house less than a mile from a dire slum and two blocks from a bunch of crummy apartment buildings bordered by the noisy, (literally) bum-ridden light-rail train tracks!

For living on the “right” side of the tracks, you gain about $130,000: this little palace essentially clones mine — clearly the same model by the same builder, even has the same swimming pool in the same backyard surrounded by the same kind of block wall. For that thing, they want about $410,000. And apparently they haven’t been able to sell it: Zillow has dropped the price three times, to less than what they paid for it!

Interestingly, the little North Mountain neighborhood was crisply delineated from the direr parts of Sunnyslope by the southeastern flange of the mountain park. So, while the local burglars can easily access your home, at least you don’t have to look at them every day. Or drive through a dank slum to get home.

Anyhow, back to the crisis of the moment: no pills.

How can I count the ways that I don’t want to drive down to the relatively safe Walgreen’s — about five miles from here? The Walgreen’s in the Sprouts shopping center across Conduit of Blight from the ‘Hood has…well, recently they’ve done weird stuff to it. Maybe its franchise somehow changed hands? They’ve moved all the merchandise around, rearranged the shelving, and…as usual, the front door is graced with a gauntlet through which you would prefer not to run… This means I’ll have to drive further than I wish to drive after yesterday’s two hours of rubbing fenders with my Fellow Homicidal Drivers.

In comes an email from Bigscoots, the vendor that hosts Funny about Money, Plain & Simple Press, and the Copyeditor’s Desk’s business website. The auto-pay for the hosting bill failed to go through.

Yeah? Well, that would be because I closed the CE Desk’s bank account, because — HALLELUJAH BROTHERS AND SISTERS! — I’ve decided to get out of the technical editing biz.

Of course, by this time it’s too late to schlep across the city (AGAIN) to the credit union and figure out what to do about this new fiasco. It’ll have to wait until Monday. Between now and then, I’ll have to sift through the account’s statements and figure out what other auto-pays are in there. Not many, I think. I hope.

Bang around the house searching for the Flonase. Can’t find it. Drop a Claritin…and yes, it does help a bit. Whenever I finish scribbling here, I’ll…

a) Call up Amazon and order a BOTTLE. not a goddam plastic-and-cardboard packet of Claritin pills, and get its active ingredient in generic form ($9) instead of trademarked form ($36)

b) Study page on page of checking account statements and try to figure out how to move that Bigscoots auto-payment into personal checking

c) Communicate with Bigscoots to see if only one of my three blogs was autopaid or if all of them were. Figure out how to switch all three of them, if indeed all three were paid out of of the CE Desk account.

d) Pull out some more of my hair.

e) Give up and take the dog for a walk.

Blogger Beware!

If you run a blog, here’s a little caper that you might want to be aware of…

Yesterday, in came an  email that looked convincingly like it came from BigScoots, saying that my hosting bill there was overdue and I’d better pay right this minute or they were going to take all my sites down.

Well, that bill is autopaid, and the autopay was set up so long ago I don’t even remember how or when. I think Grayson, the Web Guru from Heaven, set it up, since he effectively runs interference with all vendors for the blogsite. When he saw the email, he also thought it was fake — but an amazingly convincing fake. He said it looked exactly like real correspondence from BigScoots — but he was able to ascertain that the account was paid up to date.

Before long, in came another strange message, this one purportedly from Amazon, saying I must change the password to my Amazon Seller’s account. I alerted Amazon to this, but of course…good luck trying to get through to a human at that outfit.

Today I’ll call or, better, physically go in person up to the credit union to let them know that someone may be trying to hack into my bank accounts.

At any rate, it looks possible that someone has targeted me through one of my blogsites, trying to extract scammable data. Obviously, if I went through their links to make the allegedly required updates, they could  be able to snab my bank account or credit card data. So…just to let you know: if you get any messages along these lines, watch out!