Coffee heat rising

California Dreamin’…or is that a nightmare?

Amazed to learn from my son that, like me, he also is bothered by driving over the increasingly Southern California-esque roads here in lovely L.A. East. He is a confident, assertive driver who isn’t bothered by lunatics, morons, flashing red lights, gunshots, and assorted other features of driving on the homicidal streets of Phoenix. Nor is he inclined to fly into fits of high rage, as his muther is…

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could leverage that to persuade him to move SOMEPLACE less massively tacky?

To my mind, the Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun gets more and more like the crowded, smoggy, grody L.A. Basin with every day that passes. I detested living in Long Beach, with its air that would make me sick and its blandly ticky-tacky aging suburban style and the streets mobbed all the time and the grodily casual style of its fine inhabitants. And the longer I live here, the more I think I’d like to be living somewhere else.

I don’t think he’ll choose to make an escape, because his dad is firmly stapled to the Valley floor. Current Wife has a daughter who works as a librarian here, and so she’s unlikely to agree to move to Prescott or some such. As long as DXH stays put, my son will stay put.

Hm. Wonder if I could talk him into investing in a second home, off in some remote locale. Then I could stay there most of the time. He could come up and hang out when he wants some peace and quiet. But he’d still have a foothold down here, from which he could keep an eye on his Dad and New Wife.

Wonder if he could be talked into moving to Fountain Hills? That at least is pretty far from Crime Central. But truth to tell, it’s a long way from his Dad’s place, too. If either of those two old folks has a stroke or a heart attack, it would take him 40 or 50 minutes (at best) to get to the hospital. Here, all three major metropolitan hospitals are within five or ten minutes of his house.

DXH, who was happy to escape life in small-town Western Colorado (actually, it was the largest burg on the Western Slope…but still: a backwater), absolutely positively will NOT be persuaded to move out of central Phoenix.

Hm. Maybe. Unless..he thought that Fountain Hills, being adjunct to Scottsdale, would put him closer to the Cultural Venues he favors. But…no: the Chamber Music Society is performing at Central Methodist — they used to haunt the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. AZ Theater Co performs downtown, too…so that scheme wouldn’t work.

BUT….really, the kid and I are both very spoiled to a) living in central locations and b) construction that is not ticky-tacky. Most of Fountain Hills IS ticky-tacky. All very nice and new(ish), but strictly from stick-and-Styrofoam. In Wickenburg–formerly a railroad town on the way to Las Vegas and southern California, now effectively a suburb of Phoenix–you can find some very pretty properties, but the same issue holds: newer structures are certifiable junk. I happen to favor houses with WALLS. Remember those?

The more I look at the real estate listing in those suburbs today, the better I like my house. And neighborhood.

Construction is better. Houses here are not QUITE right on top of each other. The place is centrally located. No jet aircraft graze the top of your chimney. A-a-a-a-n-d…as gas skyrockets up, the fact that we’re right on the lightrail line starts to look better and better. Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s way, along which the lightrail is slated to run, begin to look like assets.

Contemporary house construction is cheapied down to the point that if they built the places any flimsier, people would be living in tents.

Interior walls hardly exist anymore. Those that do often don’t go up to the ceiling — they’re more like room dividers. Most late-model houses have no gas service, and builders proudly present you with a glass-top hotplate instead of a real stove. For most people, that’s prob’ly OK, given that Americans don’t cook anymore. But…I still want an actual stove!.

Even expensive tracts are now fields of houses built eave-to-eave — in one Wickenburg development, even with the tricky marketing photography you can see that the neighbors behind you can gaze right straight in your back windows. So ALL of your drapes and blinds would have to be closed ALL of the time! Why have windows at all?

Meanwhile, in quieter venues like Wickenburg and Fountain Hills, those nice desert-y backyards are gonna be full of coyotes and rattlesnakes. Dandy! You wouldn’t dare let your dog out to snuffle around in peace. And in fact, you probably ought not to let a small child play in those yards unsupervised. Every…minute…the…kid…is…outside, Mom or Dad or Babysitter will have to be peering over her shoulder.

Here in the ‘Hood, our houses are made of block. Interior walls are insulated. Gas service allows you to have a real stove in the kitchen. And you don’t have to take out a bank loan to drive to the grocery store, what with gasoline now almost $5 a gallon.

It does make our centrally located districts look highly desirable — notwithstanding Biker Central and the constant cop copter fly-overs and the late-night drag-races and the nuisancey lightrail and the panhandlers in every parking lot.

Ugh. I guess next week…or maybe this afternoon, depending on mood…I’m going to have to think through a set of Instacart lists. With the price of gasoline now, unless Instacart has jacked up its rates accordingly, it will cost no more (maybe less) to order up delivery of grocery and Costco items than to traipse around the city after them. This would relieve me of two hassles in one trip: Californicated roads and astronomical gas prices.

Wow! Life in These New-nited States!

Looney Toons in the Brave New World

Wow! I don’t know whether it’s me –– have I lost my marbles? am I getting too old to keep up with change? am I skateboarding toward senility Hell? — or maybe it’s just Our Changing World…one whose changes are about 40% for the worse. But I sweartagawd, some days I think Life in the Los-Angelized Valley is just not worth keeping up with.

What a day! And not very different from yesterday’s what-a-day.

Yesterday the high point was driving home through the gawdawful unholy traffic, watching a column of black smoke apparently hanging right over the ‘Hood. In fact, one could hypothesize that it was towering directly over my house.

The traffic in this city has become monstrous, whatever the time of day. But by then we were in the early part of the rush hour, so pushing through the mobs and mobs and mobs of vehicles was a b*tch. Took a good half-hour or 40 minutes to make a drive that should have been doable in 10 to 15 minutes.

And no, the fire wasn’t in the’Hood. It was quite a ways to the north.

Yesterday I was down at the T-Mobile store at 20th Street and Camelback, where the service is infinitely better than what is offered at the store down at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Main Drag South. This morning I had a question, and since I needed to go to the grocery store vaguely in that direction, decided to swing a bit out of my way to visit them again.

Possibly Saturday was not the best choice of days for this little safari.

The traffic — mid-morning (not lunch hour, not rush hour, not anything special) — was just unholy. Mobs and mobs of cars…and of course, wouldn’tcha know it, road construction. Endless traffic jams as people got stuck, stuck, and re-stuck in stretches of torn-up asphalt behind barriers of red-and-white sawhorses. Even though  I do know my way around this city and I surely do know every short-cut and dodge there is to be had, it took for-f**king-EVER to get to the shopping center in question, much of that EVER occupied by dodging accidents, sliding around traffic jams, sneaking into short-cuts and figuring out how to get back out of them.

Struggled and struggled and struggled. Got to the T-Mobile store. Explained my objection to giving their bot my Social Security number, as demanded by an email their company sent. T-Mobile lady said oh, no no no…you don’t HAVE to give them your SS number.

I don’t? Sure as Hell looks like they’re saying I do, if I want the service.

Dinna worry about it, sez she: just ignore it.

Ohhhhhkayyyyyyyyy…..

I plow my way home through deep, dark thickets of traffic, gawdawful traffic, flocks and flurries of fruitcakes and fanatics. Stumble into the house. Bang around. Throw a second load of laundry in the washer. Then sit down to engage in a little computerized correspondence.

And…

and…

and…

WTF?

CANNOT FIND MY LAPTOP!

I took it with me. Did I leave it at the store?

Surely not. It was right in front of me and in front of the T-Mobile guy — if I’d started to walk off without it(???????) he would have hollered.

I search from pillar to post and back again. Search the car. Search the house again. Search the car again.

By now I’m freaking out. Where the Hell could i have left my computer??? and WHY the Hell would i have left it?????

After what feels like endless banging and thrashing, I finally do find it, right where I left it. In a perfectly reasonable spot to have left it. No, not on the floor of the car. No, not in the back compartment of the car. No, not on the back seat of the car.

In the house. Just not in the usual spot

Criminey.

I must have looked right at it at least three times without seeing it!

At this point I realize this is probably another unholy Senior Moment. I already had one of those this morning, when I lost the keys.

Why did I lose the house and car keys? Because I didn’t put then in my pocket and I didn’t stick them in the office door’s deadbolt (where they usually reside).

Although I do have informal spots where I habitually set down stuff I drag into and out of the house, I’m now thinking I need to designate specific, formally identified places to set things down when I come into the shack. Possibly put boxes or bowls out for stuff to be set into.

But the problem with that theory is that yes, I do have just a couple of places where I put things like that down. And no, when I found the computer and its wad of paperwork, it was not in any exotic or strange or out-of-the-way spot. I must have looked right at it and not seen it.

If that ain’t senility, I’d like to know what it is.

All told, I probably killed a good half-hour or 45 minutes thrashing around the house searching for those things.

Do hafta say: I suspect at least part of the problem has to do with the interminable, brain-banging drives through truly unholy Southern California-style traffic.

This damn place gets more and more like Anaheim and Long Beach every day. And I can assure you: I did NOT enjoy living in those parts and do not want to stay here if what we have now is their clone.

Whatever can go wrong…

STOP THE WORLD! I wanna get off, and get back on in about 1947.

Holy mackerel! Whatever CAN go wrong WILL go wrong. Whoever made up that hoary saying must have been living my life in a previous incarnation.

Greeted the sun this morning by finding a hard thing in my mouth. Whaaaaa???

It’s part of a tooth. A back molar simply fell apart.

So now in half an hour, when the dentist’s office opens, I’ll have to call and make an appointment to get THAT fixed, no doubt to the tune of a great deal MORE hassle, expense, and painandsuffering.

Meanwhile, I’m supposed to spend the afternoon at the church office, staffing the front desk. How I’m gonna do that and sit in a dentist’s chair at the same time escapes me. But we’ll deal with that when the need arises. I guess.

At 9 a.m. — less than half an hour — I need to surface at Leslie’s Pool Supply, therein to get them to test the water and sell me the chemicals needed to rebalance the chemicals.

Pool Dude was here yesterday — while I was traipsing from pillar to post around the Valley — Dermatologist in Avondale, then hours at the downtown credit union, then up the moribund Target on 19th Avenue, therein to buy some area rugs so that my son’s dog can walk around on the tiles without falling over (he’s old and weak and his feet slide out from under him when he tries to walk on tiles — and my whole house is tiled).

The Target folks insist they’re just remodeling, even though it’s hilariously obvious that they’re selling off merchandise with intent to close down the store. If they admitted that the location is going out of business, of course, they’d have to clear out the junk with a sale. As it was, I realized that Charley does not need fancy rugs; all he needs is the rubbery stuff you lay down underneath them, which give him plenty of traction to move around. Poor old pooch.

Dermatologist removed more suspicious growths. Reported that none of the last crop had turned to cancer. Yet. I remarked on my one-time best friend’s brother-in-law, a healthy and athletic man who, I recently learned, died of skin cancer — malignant melanoma.

More than one of which I’ve enjoyed meself.

At the credit union, I explained to the extremely nifty dude that I can’t get into my account. We dorked around and dorked around, changing my password. As it develops, these days to change a bank password you have to have a cell phone!

Fortunately, I’d brought the useless iPhone my son gave me — useless because with the plague, the senior center nearby shut down its iPhone class, because Apple’s “class” was a sadistic joke (more so for the alleged instructor than for the customers), because I do not know how to get into it, because…on and on. We were able to fire it up and use it to reset the bank’s password. Now all we have to do is get me into my account there.

With one headache and crisis after another since then, though, I haven’t had time to attempt that trick.

This morning will be consumed with dealing with the swimming pool. When I left for the dermatologist trek — before Pool Dude surfaced — the walls were festooned with fresh algae. I left a check in an envelope for him and flew out the door.

When I got home, I found the empty envelope on the pavement near the pool and the pool’s walls festooned with fresh algae.

Tested water…chemical balance seemed OK — good enough for gummint work, anyway. But decided I should take a bottle of it up to Leslie’s for a full array of tests, and while there try to snab some granulated chlorine.

The chlorine shortage continues — kicked off by a fire that leveled the factory of the major US producer, a year or so ago, and dragged out by political correctness (chlorine being bad for you, after all). So I’m going to have to pay through the wazoo to re-fill my pool supply kit…I’m down to something like two three-inch tabs. Eventually I’ll probably have to re-plumb and install one of those salt-water systems, which will cost an arm and a leg. As I recall, it didn’t do that great a job on La Maya and La Bethulia’s pool. But…I guess if we can’t buy chlorine anymore, we’ll have to take what we can get.

Come four o’clock this morning, good old Cox’s phones were down. Come five o’clock: same. Come six o’clock: same. It finally came back online. Fortunately, I’ve learned to use the iPhone just enough to get into my email and to also onto the Web to check what time Leslie’s opens.

Speaking of the which, it’s ten till. Sooo…off and running!

Day from Hell, in the Mode of L.A. East…

Phoenix gets more and more like L.A. East every day. Which is another way to say “a worse and worse place to live”…

***

Driving (…driving…driving…driving) out to the Mayo yesterday, I glance down at the dashboard and see the “low tire” light has come on. Rich people don’t need gasoline and car care, of course, and so there wasn’t a real gas station or garage as far as the eye could see. At the Mayo, their security guy was able to refill the tire with a portable air thingie, and I limped alllll the wayyyyy across the Valley to lovely North Central Phoenix.

Straight to Chuck’s, the beloved mechanic shop I’ve used for years.

Well. It’s no longer Chuck’s. The only thing Chuck-like about it is the name, which the new owner (wisely) has never changed.

The new regime repels all boarders! They tell me to go up to Discount Tire, a chain store with an outlet not far away on Camelback Road.

You never saw so much traffic in your LIFE! And it’s not even rush hour. I have to fight my way up there and then turn in the middle of a block across a torrent of traffic. This entails driving past the shop to a place where I can pull a u-ie — a risky maneuver on that road under the best of conditions — and then pulling into a lot that’s just flat jammed with cars and people standing around.

There, the guy tells me it’ll be a three-hour wait!!! The place was soooo mobbed you could barely creep across the parking lot to get out.

So I figure M’hijito can drive with me back up there, take me to his place or else home, and then drive me back whenever they get the tire on. I’ve forgotten my cell phone (an alien object, in my world), so I can’t call him…have to schlep to his house and tell him this sad tale.

He, being an experienced insurance adjustor dude, says oh hell no! 

Since I always buy my tires at Costco, he knows I can get a better price there, and they may give me a discount, because they warrantee their products.

*******

He makes an appointment: 6:00 p.m. By now it’s around 2:00.

Decide to drive home, let the poor little dog out, and continue on to Costco so as to get there before the tire goes flat again and, with any luck, not end up stuck by the side of the road in even worse traffic. Take the computer to while away the time and start driving driving driving up to the Costco at the freeway and Yorkshire. This, we might add, is a LONG drive through difficult, high-speed traffic.

Actually, they fixed TWO things that had gone wrong with the tire — not only the nail but also the valve, which they said was not in the best of all possible shape. Charge? Ten bucks and change. The appointment M’hijito made was for 6 p.m. Got there around 3:00 and took a seat, figuring to spend the next four hours or so ensconced in their waiting room.

They were DONE at 6 p.m.!!

Hmmm… This morning I see I’ve busted another molar…probably from grinding my teeth half the day. That’ll be another expensive fix. Won’t be able to call the dentist first thing because I have to be at the dermatologist to carve off some more cancerous spots at 9:30. She’s in Avondale, so I’ll have to leave here before quarter to…before the dentist’s office opens.

Got no advice from the new MayoDoc about the lump in the eye…but the usual lecture about the blood pressure, which (for obvious reasons…) shoots into the stratosphere every time I go near a doctor’s office. Probably does the same every time I have to get into a car around this accursed place.

Now she wants me to repeat the tooth-grinding rigamarole with the Omron to prove, as I’ve already done twice, that I don’t really need drugs that make me sick to avoid a heart attack or a stroke.

What I NEED to avoid a heart attack or a stroke is not to live in freakin’ L.A. East! 

At any rate: today’s project, other than to drive to the far side of the galaxy again, is to ask on the Facebook neighborhood page if anyone can recommend a decent mechanic. Think I’m done with Pete and company.

MacHassle

Okay, so this morning I have to traipseagain — to the far west side, to the Apple store at Arrowhead Mall, there to take a course in how to use the iPhone. My son gave me this thing months ago but, being no fool, refuses to try to teach me to use it. So it has set, brickish, on my desk for month after expensive month.

Yes. I do have service for it.

No. I do not know how to use that service.

Nor, entre nous, to I especially want know. Ohhhh goodie! Another intrusive device that effing solicitors can use to interrupt what little peace and quiet we have left.

But it’s now clear you can NOT do without a cell phone of some kind. And since I already have Apple computers, I guess it behooves me to use Apple’s phones.

Not that I’m likely to continue using MacComputers much longer. The fact that you can’t get adequate service for these devices from Apple tends to discourage….especially when Best Buy will send a guy out to your house tout suite if you have an expensive contract with them. Especially when getting service from Apple entails driving halfway to San Diego or halfway to Payson, trying to explain to explain what’s wrong without the salesman/tech dude/whateverheis being able to see what’s happening or being able to ensure that it’s not a connectivity issue, leaving the device there for days, then having to schlep across the city to retrieve it, schlep back across the city to get it home, and then try to reconnect it to power and modem and godknowswhat, all by your untechie little self.

The Best Buy techs do know how to fiddle with Apple products, it’s true. But PCs present a number of advantages, not the least of which is that MS Word on a PC does a far, far more professional job of word processing.

Apple’s Pages word processor…ugh! What a piece of junk. The damn thing double-spaces between paragraphs, forgodsake. Well, actually, it spaces-and-a-half between grafs.

No. You cannot submit that to a scholarly journal.

No. You cannot format a manuscript for a typesetter with any such stupid gaffe in it.

I haven’t even tried to use their spreadsheet software. Why, when Excel does the job just fine?

The prospect of trudging across the city again this morning does NOT appeal. It’s a 45-minute drive out to Arrowhead Mall. Admittedly, Arrowhead has its appeals — it’s a very nice mall. But…but…I should drive 45 minutes through lunatic traffic for window-shopping?

Well, it’s almost 9:40. Better wrap this up and start driving…driving…driving…

Just about Brave-New-Worlded Out…

Wow! Just deleted what must have been two or three thousand emails from the old Google Mail account, going back to 2013.

My Apple Mail account has died, apparently worked to death by too many old messages sitting in its memory. Or something. If that’s the only problem, we’re in luck. But it’s probably not…  Because in reality the number of back messages sitting there is not out of the ordinary. Exactly…there ARE too many, but the issue is apparently with iCloud, a storage system — not with MacMail.

G-mail forwards to MacMail, so if you send a message to funny-about-money@gmail dot com, it clones itself at my private email address. This G-mail trait would explain at least some of the tons of spam at MacMail…and if old, old, and older emails have been piling up in iCloud the same as they’ve piled up in Gmail, it’s NO WONDER the system has hung.

MacMail is also telling me “Login Failed.” Dunno what it wants me to do about that. Probably some password either no longer works or is now wrong. The Password Conundrum gets exponentially worse when you reach a certain age, and it does appear that I’ve arrived there. I can barely remember my name, much less dozens of passwords, most of which have to be changed every time you turn around.

Apple has arranged for a tech to call me this afternoon. I rather doubt this exchange will be helpful. Even though the Apple folks can share your computer screen on theirs, half the time I don’t understand what they’re doing. So though I can do it while they’re online and guiding me through the endless hoop-jumps, the instant they disconnect I can’t figure it out anymore.

At any rate, I think the G-mail address that’s still functional is for Funny about Money. As I recall, I had several gmail accounts…I may have one in my name or something close to it. How to find it and get into it, though, escapes me. A

Hmmm… If I’m reading this one strange feature in iCloud right, apparently iCloud doesn’t delete email messages that you mark as “delete.” Lo & behold…here’s a button that says “Erase Deleted Items.” It doesn’t say that until you right-click on it…how the heck would you know you were supposed to right-click on these things?

What it means, though, is all those hours I’ve spent during the past couple of days clicking “delete” on junkmail and out-of-date stuff have been…so much wasted effort, where our problem is concerned. At any rate, speaking of wasted effort, right-clicking and deleting does nothing to get rid of the symbol that seems to say MacMail is full and you can’t use it anymore.

Boyoboy am I sick of the technohassles. And I really dislike G-mail, which is weirdly tricky to use. Just now the composing pane (is that “pain”?) has scootched over to the far righthand side of the screen. NOTHING will make it re-center. But meanwhile some things will totally disappear the message pane, resulting in a time-sucking roundabout search for it.

Yesterday was consumed, pretty much, by traipsing back out to the West Valley to return the unneeded refurbished MacBook the predatory “repair” guy persuaded me to buy, and then running into the Apple store to try to arrange some help with an Apple “Genius.” It would have helped a whole lot if they’d agree to make an appointment with a live human being, face to face. But that ain’t happening. They’ll have someone call me on the phone this afternoon.

§ § §

The west side is definitely Anaheim East, no question of it. You never saw such masses of humanity in your life…unless you’ve visited California’s Disneyland, smack in the middle of the real Anaheim. Mile on mile on mile on mile of ticky-tacky stick-and-Styrofoam houses, jammed together roof-to-roof. How a look-alike lean-to is an improvement over an apartment escapes me.

Seriously: for what you’d pay for one of those little boxes, you could buy or rent a VERY nice apartment in Scottsdale or Phoenix. And get someone else to take care of the pool and the lawns and the desert landscaping and the roof and air-conditioner and the painting and the plumbing…

Lots and lots of stuff going on in those parts, though. There’s a big stadium out there. The Seattle Mariners practice there. I passed an ice rink(!!!!). We used to have a couple of those in town, but they’re gone now…what fun it was, ice-skating! And there’s more shopping than Carter has oats. In fact…I was surprised and a little shocked to realize how close the independent Apple store that’s been trying to sell me a used computer is to Arrowhead Mall, where the actual official Apple store resides — it’s only a few blocks away.

Drove across on the surface streets this time. The other day when I took the freeway…well…

To start with, my objection to the freeway route is that, though you get there without having to stop at many lights, it takes you MILES out of your way: it goes wayyyyy up north, and then loops wayyyyy back down to Thunderbird. If you drive straight across on T’hunderbird, you save many miles of wear & tear on your car. And if you know the secret to driving on the surface streets here (i.e., drive about five mph over the limit…) you hardly ever stop at a light.

Then there’s the fact that the damn roads are constantly under construction here. If you get stuck in construction on the freeway, there’s no escape. You just sit there and c-r-r-r-a-a-a-w-w-l along until you finally get out of the traffic jam. If you’re on the surface roads (and if you know what you’re doing), it’s pretty easy to weasel your way around building sites and wrecks.

And there are Phoenix’s hordes of homicidal drivers. My GOD people are stupid here! The other day when I did come back into town via the freeway, I passed a brand-new wrecky-poo on the right side of the road. The guy had somehow flown off over the shoulder, across another 20 feet of dirt and gravel, sailed THROUGH a chain-link fence (bashing down a steel post in the process), skidded across more dirt and gravel, and crashed into a 12- or 14-foot-high block wall, coming to rest upside down.

Not bad, eh? You have to admit, it takes real skill to pull off a trick like that.

Got off the freeway and cruised, out of curiosity, through the corpse of the defunct Metrocenter Mall, once (when it was newly built) the largest shopping mall in the nation. lt really IS a ghost now: just eerie driving around in there! Stores and restaurants that we used to frequent: boarded up. Parking lots vacant. One semi-truck driver and I knew this little short-cut as a way around a near-stationary slab of freeway traffic…his truck and my car were the only vehicles in there.

Well, till you get to the Walmart store that has taken up residence on the south side. That is now the ONLY business — or anything else — open on that huge property, except for a Petco way up on the north side. Oh, and the silly amusement park ride on the east side, next to the freeway.

Eerie!!

I dunno. I suppose that if that property isn’t significantly improved (they’re workin’ on it…sorta), it might be wise to move out of the North Central area. There certainly is a lot more going on in other parts of the Valley. Many fewer bums out in the Arrowhead area. Noisier. More hectic. But definitely not moribund and definitely not at risk from accursed political construction projects like the damned lightrail and brain-banging reverse lanes on the main drags. My son doesn’t want me to move — why he cares escapes me. But it puts the eefus on decamping to Prescott.

Better get up, fix a pot of coffee, and scrounge something to eat. And so, awawwyyy!