Coffee heat rising

Crime Central Comes a-Visitin’

You think I’m kidding, don’t you, when I call Sunnyslope, the venerable slum to the north of us, “Crime Central”….

Heh. Well, no. A joke it ain’t.

The place is aswarm with thugs, thieves, swindlers, murderers, and wannabe-all-of-the-aboves. When they’re not sticking up pawn shops, peddling dope. smoking up, or stealing cars, they come down into the ‘Hood and nearby tracts of upper North Central for the purposes of burgling and an occasional rape.

One of the neighbors reported, on the local Facebook page, that some dude (or dudette?) broke into their home while they and their dogs were there:

They went through the back gate, broke through garage door, went in the house quietly (did not wake any of our multiple dogs) and took purse, wallets, AirPods and collector sports items. Within a few hours they used all debit and credit cards at places like QT, Circle K, Light rail, water filling station, 7-eleven, Taco Mich. High end criminals…

Yeah. You see what I mean by Crime Central. That was a very practiced burglar.

To circumvent him, you’d need to have alarms on every door and window in the house. And I’ll tellya, that is a nuisance!

I speak from experience. For awhile I had little squealers, yes, literally on every door and window. It means you can’t open a door — ever — without remembering to turn the thing off. It means you can’t open a window, either, without turning the damn thing off. THEN you have to remember to turn them all back on when you close the window or door. So you get to live with a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week nuisance on the chance that you might be burgled!

Well, I figured one of the dogs would fly into a high yap-fest if a burglar tried to come in a window or door. But as you can see from that neighbor’s report…NOT SO! Apparently their burglar managed to get in without disturbing the dogs.

My house has heavy-duty security screen doors with deadbolts on every entrance, including the side door to the garage. But…those deadbolts are just ordinary locks: if you know how to get past one, you know how to get through those security doors.

But dayum! I guess with a cat burglar like that around, I’d better buy a new set of squealers and put them on all the sliding doors and windows. Again.

Wow! Virusified!!

Welp, the Beloved Laptop is at Best Buy to be decontaminated (we hope!). It was zapped by a virus along about noon and rendered basically nonfunctional.

This came from an e-mail ostensibly from a choir friend, whose subject line invited me to see a recently posted display of her photos. Soon as I clicked on the link, ZAP!!!

So now my laptop is trashed, and I’m writing this from the ancient desktop. Since my hips hurt like Hell when I have to sit in a desk chair, not much is gonna get done….

If you get an email inviting you to view a display of a friend’s images, DON’T OPEN IT! The subject line says “pictures posted by [name of friend].”

Thank goodness I signed up for Best Buy’s fancy customer service contract. This is the second time it’s been well worth it! You might want to check it out, if you have a BB in your parts.

Whoops! Here’s a new message from Connie the Long-Haul Trucker: she says she got a similar message!

Wow! If you get anything like this, let your friends know not to click on it.

{gronk!} Dawdling away the day…

ohhhh B-A-A-D HUMAN! 

I’ve dorked away the ENTIRE MORNING playing time-waster computer games. Things that needed to get done?

We ain’t got no steenking things to get done! Eh?

No. The dishes are not washed. The blog post is not written. The run on the credit union and then on the d**ned Costco remains to be done.

Yes…the credit-union run, to be followed by the Costco run, two things I do no, not NOT wanna do.

For the second time in human memory, Costco refused to take my debit card.

Costco wants you to use its MasterCard, of course. And I’ve tried.

Tried and found their MasterCard service just as wanting as the service from past MasterCard accounts I’ve (not) enjoyed. All that was proven was that Mastercard’s service sucks.

Whereas American Express’s service proves itself excellent, top-flight, beyond amazing…EVERY TIME one deals with MasterCard, one has an issue.

To force you to use their MasterCard, Costco quit accepting American Express. You can pay in cash, presumably you can pay with a check, or you can pay with MasterCard. You cannot pay with AMEX.

I do not carry a checkbook around with me. I do not carry cash. The reason, as you may have perceived if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, has to do with Wild-West character of the parking lots and strip malls around here. One thing no sane woman would do is walk across a shopping center with a purse hanging from her shoulder. Especially not a purse containing anything resembling a negotiable instrument. I’ve had guys try to steal my purse as I walked into grocery stores (not once, but twice! Slow learner…). A neighbor was shot by a guy who thought she was resisting when he ripped her purse off her shoulder as she tried to shield her daughter. You would be effing CRAZY to carry checks, cash, or anything that contains ID that can be used to steal from you.

This happened some months ago: I presented my AMEX card and Costco’s machine rejected it. No one else’s machine rejects it. Just Costco’s. All the time I spent roving around in there loading up the cart was wasted. All the stuff I’d piled up to buy was rolled off to be stacked back on the shelves.

So the last time I went to Costco — last week — I whipped out my debit card and was  once again was told it wasn’t valid.

This is the second time Costco has pulled that stunt. Last time, I drove straight from the store to the credit union, where staff assured me nothing was wrong with the debit card.

I’ve about lost patience. Today is gonna be my last try. Today I will return to the CU and ask them what’s wrong with the debit card. If they say “nothing,” I will try to persuade them to put that in writing.

Then I’ll move on to the Costco up the road, and when they pull their usual stunt I’ll show them the evidence from the credit union.

Give me any more BS, and that, right then and there, will be THE last time I ever go into Costco. Well. Except maybe for their tire shop. 😉


Where Ya Gunna Go?

So I’m visiting the Albertson’s down at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Main Drag South. Normally I won’t go in there because I don’t enjoy being panhandled in the parking lot (once I had a bum actually chase me, at a dead run, across the parking lot). Yesterday, though, I wanted a roll of masking tape and, the Albertson’s being a huge general store as well as a grocery store, figured I could find it there.

Plus the store (or maybe the mall owner) has hired an armed guard, who’s posted outside the market’s front door. So I feel fairly confident that if I park close to the front door and walk directly in — and do not carry a purse slung over my shoulder! — I’m probably going to get in and out with a minimum of pestering.

My father would’ve liked that Albertson’s. Because it’s fairly huge, it carries a vast array of products, from pharmaceuticals and personal care products, to house and auto care products, to…of all things…food. But I can tell you for sure he wouldn’t have shopped there, because of the number of black folks who habituate the place. He was, as he liked to crow, “a bigot and proud of it.” The vast blocks of working-class apartments across the street are very similar to the ones where we lived in Southern California…well, except for the black folks. My mother would’ve been outta there like a rocket the instant the first dusky face surfaced. Whereas my father openly bragged about his expertise as a hater, my mother generally kept her mouth shut about her bigotries. But like him, she also lived by them. She wouldn’t have moved into our lily-white neighborhood because of the number of African-Americans dwelling right across the huge main drag that separates the ‘Hood  from the apartment blocks up here.

So as suggested, my father would’ve loved that store…it would have appealed to his workin’class genes. But my mother?… She probably would have thought of it as I do: fine in a pinch, but lacking in some aspects that one would like to have for shopping on a regular basis. Nevertheless, neither of them would have shopped there (or lived here, we might add…) because of the number of black folks among the customers.

My problem with that store, though, is that even though it’s huge and even though it carries most things you’d like to have, its offerings are kinda boring. Prepared foods are by and large additive-laced schlock. AJ’s, it is not. And…if there’s something you want right now and you went there because you were pressed for time and didn’t want to drive halfway to Timbuktu to get it at a Walmart or the Safeway, you can be sure they won’t have it.

On this particular trip, what I wanted was a roll of masking tape.

How hard is this? Masking tape.

Searched from pillar to post.

No masking tape. Picked up a couple of incidental items, though — a chunk of cheese, some fresh produce. But having found no masking tape I was flying down an aisle toward the checkout where…hallelujah! There on a bottom-most shelf next to the floor was one, count it (1) roll of masking tape. Not the blue type that I favor. But was I going to drive across the city to score a role of BLUE masking tape?


Out the door, much relieved not to have to schlep to the paint store.

Albertson’s armed guard lurks outside the door, where he oversees the customers’ and the bums’ comings and goings. This is a considerable improvement — in fact, it is THE reason I will go into that store these days. Once a panhandler actually chased me across the parking lot there, at a dead run. With a hired cop-like creature out front, that kind of thing is a lot less likely to happen.

Though…well…yeah. The last time I was there they had a shooting in that parking lot, in front of the block of buildings that houses the T-Mobile store.

Guess you can’t have everything, hm?

Key Shopping Accessory


Yesterday in an antique online copy of the old ARAMCO newsletter Sun & Flare, I came across a photo of my grade-school pal, a boy named Ennis, one of the very few kids who was friendly to me when we lived in the dreadful oil company outpost called Ras Tanura.

Ennis! What a nice kid. Last time I saw him, he and I were pushing adulthood. It was someplace north of Santa Barbara, where his parents had gone when they retired. How fun would it be to track him down and say hello?

Well. None, as it develops. I could NOT find him for love nor money. Nor could I find any trace of an obituary. So, dead or alive, he’s nowhere to be unearthed.

In fact, his tracks are so thoroughly covered, it’s hard to escape the sense that he had a professional hide his identity and location. I’m pretty damn good at navigating the Internet and finding folks who think they can’t be found — as a researcher, that little skill comes with the job. But there was NOTHING, not a single mention anywhere.

On one level it’s interesting and reasonable — how much would you pay to bring an end to the blitz of advertising and spamming email messages? Just this morning, I’ve already deep-sixed seven nuisance messages in 45 minutes or so that I’ve been reading the news, and that doesn’t count the spam that’s automatically sent to the trash.

On another, it’s alarming…why would you care enough to erase yourself altogether? Is he a federal agent? An international spy? Maybe a crime boss? Or…a nut case?

I block phone calls from most area codes but my own, by way of limiting the number of nuisance phone solicitations. But erasing your identity altogether? That’s different from blocking those who pester you.

Could he have died? Possibly. He was only two or three years younger than me. And as a male: yeah, he could have keeled over from a heart attack by now. Plus the very air in Rasty Nasty was carcinogenic: filled with fumes from the refinery, long before anyone thought about limiting air pollution. Stinking air was just part of life, back in the good ole’ days.

But there are no obituary notices for him: not that I can find. No home-town papers or remarks in the Aramco Brats pages to the effect that he croaked over. Weirdly, I found an obituary for his father Tom, which goes on and on about the family members…but does NOT mention the son. WTF?

Nor does it mention his stint in Arabia…it mentions his wife and provides her photo, so yeah: it’s the same Tom. But an entire era of his life — including mention of the son who made up part of that era — is missing. And the obit was written by his niece, who surely would have known the family members.


Another Fine Day from Hell y-Cumin’ In…

Yes: this is going to be a day from Hell. Only quarter to eight and I’ve emptied the refrigerator & freezer, packed what would fit into the big freezer in the back of the house; stashed the rest of it on the kitchen counter.

Can’t empty the refrigerator compartment until the guy gets here to deliver the new fridge, which could be any time between now (ten to 8 a.m.) and 5 or 6 p.m. So all that stuff will have to be taken out and stashed…who knows when? Who knows where? Then immediately placed in the new refrigerator, which we can only hope will chill down fast. Fortunately, it’s wintertime, so if I turn off the heat, the ambient air can be relatively cool in the house. So with any luck, nothing will spoil.

Meanwhile, the brats in Tony the Romanian Landlord’s day-care for juvenile delinquents* continue to make pests of themselves. Just now a big van drove up to that house and dropped off a bunch of them. One of the girls over there has taken to showing up at my door begging for help, claiming someone has hit her (quite possibly true, given what we know of the way he brought up his own daughters). After this, when I see that kid at the door, I’ll call a cop. She can explain the problem to the police, who are the ones who should know about it.

No sign of Pool Dude. It’s 8 a.m.  He’s usually here by 7:00. Hope this doesn’t mean we’ve lost him…I have nooo idea where to find someone else to do battle with that thing. He does a wonderful job: the water is pristine clear, with nary a sign of the usual algae curtains growing on the walls.

His presence or absence may be moot, though: with no end in sight to the growing Southwest water shortage, the city or the state may mandate that pools have to be drained. In that case, I may build a patio over the top of the thing. But…let’s borrow that trouble a little later.

Later this week: another expensive home improvement: installing motion-sensitive lights and a security camera on the side of the house facing the Romanian Reform School. The little dollinks throw rocks at the side of my house and the roof. Although I’ve seen them in action, I want some proof so that I can call the cops on him again. And if I can find out what agency he’s working with, I can put in a complaint with that outfit.

Four hundred dollah for that little embellishment!

Really, I should put the house on the market and move away from that mess.

That would make sense, eh? Blow 5 or 10 grand to escape a malicious nuisance? Right….

Probably makes more sense than fighting it. BUT…my son is dead-set against my selling this place and moving somewhere else. Why? Escapes me. I suspect the sub-text is that he may want this house for himself, and he hopes to sell the aged, un-air conditionable shack where he’s living now.

Hmmm… Supposed to rain tonight and all day tomorrow, continuing into the week. Goodie…a little more hassle!

A-n-n-d speaking of expensive home improvements: we’ve got delivery of a new refrigerator AND a new microwave scheduled for today. Yeah: they both crapped out at once, to the tune of $1500!!!

Satan and Proserpine, who were inveterate DIY nuts, replaced all the appliances in the kitchen. As one might expect of a set of gadgets installed at the same time, they’re all crapping out at once.

Actually, the built-in double oven crapped out a long time ago. Since I can’t afford to replace that and it’s not something I must have to live a halfway normal life, I use those ovens as storage cabinets. The countertop oven and the backyard BBQ take up the slack. In theory, I could even bake bread in the countertop oven, but since I can get excellent bread at the corner Sprouts and down at the beloved AJ’s market, that idea is moot.

Ohhh well. If I have to sell the house to get away from the Tony Situation, at least we’ll have two brand-new kitchen appliances as a selling point.

* Hmmm… Looks like I’ve never held forth on Tony’s Home for the Delinquent and the Hapless. Okay…well, that tale will be forthcoming, maybe today while we await the advent of the appliance guy. And what a tale it is!