Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

July 31, 2019
by funny
3 Comments

Drivin’, Drivin’, Drivin’…

Welp, I’m on my way…first to a hair appointment of long standing, and second to the Mayo, where they urgently wish to see me. Looks like the clindamycin is, as I tried to tell the endodontist, indeed very possibly causing a fine case of C. difficile. So it’s off to their acute care section, where I have to be at 2:40. It’s an hour’s drive, and I have to be at the hair guy at 1 p.m. So…40 minutes to Shane, another 40 minutes from his place to the Mayo…should work out just about right…

ugh. Just what I wanna do with a nice, humid 112-degree afternoon.

***

Like a rocket, straight across the city to lovely Olde Towne Scottsdale!…

Well… More like a mule and a flatboard…

So here I am at the hair stylist’s, about 10 minutes early. He’s still eating his lunch. Appointment isn’t until 1:00, but fortunately, suspecting the usual worst, I left 50 minutes beforehand.

***

Yea verily, as usual in lovely Phoenix, wherever you’re goin’, you can’t get there from here. Hence, almost an hour to make a twenty-five-minute drive was cutting it close. No sooner do I turn out of the Hood onto Main Drag East than I spot emergency lights flashing at the Desired Intersection, about a mile & a half down the road.

Dayum! think I: Wrecky-poo. Better turn left at First Intersection so as to dodge that mess.

Weirdly, there is exactly no traffic on Main Drag East. This is one of the mainest of main drags in the city. During the noon hour, lots of my fellow homicidal drivers should be dodging up and down it. Nary a soul.

So I get into the left turn lane and hope for a break in the traffic on Main Drag South, enough for me do dodge suicidally onto M.D. South, eastbound. From there it will be all the way to 12th Street and then down to Glendale, which turns into Lincoln Blvd, which will take me to Goldwater Drive, which turns into Scottsdale Road, which deposits me at Shane’s salon.

Cross-traffic on M.D. East is heavy. A cop pulls up and parks on someone’s yard, and I think Ah! He’ll direct traffic and let me turn left. No. He never gets out of his car.

So naturally I dodge suicidally in front of the Oncoming, make it onto the eastbound arterial, and fly away.

Maneuver down to Glendale, past closed stores and a bum sleeping on the sidewalk, driving driving driving.

At 24th Street our honored City Parents have Glendale/Lincoln CLOSED DOWN TO ONE LANE while they excavate the road.

Mile on mile on mile of road. Lincoln is restricted from 24th Street all the way to Tatum Blvd. This is, says Google Maps, only three miles, but when you’re puttering along at under 25 mph while you try to get to an appointment on time, it feels like about 30 miles.

Water line replacement.

I do not know why it is that wherever I’m goin’ they have the roads torn up, wrecks littering the landscapes, crazies banging around, ambulances and cops tearing back and forth…but it never, ever fails.

***

Oh well. I make it to Shane’s place. He does a beautiful and expensive job on my long flowing locks, chatting all the time. His brother died, sadly enough. Colon cancer. The guy lived homeless in the woods outside Flagstaff, his schizophrenia making the sound of human company an agonizing distraction.

Shane has one last photo of his brother, the two of them posing together. What a strange and heart-breaking contrast: Shane handsome, healthy and vigorous; Bob tired, gaunt, and streetworn.

***

From Shane’s it’s up to the Mayo Clinic, where I have an appointment a scant hour and a half after the hair get-together. This, arranged on the fly along about 9 this morning.

For the third day in a row, I have runaway diarrhea. And if you read the flyer and the online material for clindamycin, you see that clindamycin is associated with Clostridium difficile infections, and that often this comes within a few months of taking it. So…it’s tiiime!

Heavy traffic on Scottsdale Road, but not bad eastbound, halfway to Payson, and into the Mayo.

So here I am… Just talked to the cutest young doctor in training. He thinks it’s not C. diff but more likely a passing virus; maybe a bacterial infection. He thinks it’ll go away in a few days.

Let us hope so!

Doc-in-Training’s boss doctor comes in, a middle-aged soul who has the look of a person who has absorbed considerable acquired wisdom during her life. She also opines that I do not have C. diff, and reels off a number of good reasons. She offers to do a test. I say if she feels confident that this is really just a passing minor bug, then in my opinion less is more. She inclines to agree. I am out the door.

Now I have to get home. How to avoid whatever that was, if it’s still there. Three hours (plus) have passed, so presumably the mess, signal outage, whatEVER is gone by now. But if not..,.

Ah yes, if not…by the time I get there it will be High Rush Hour. Rush hour starts at 3:00 in these fine parts. That’ll add a mess to a mess.

***

Driving driving driving back through central Scottsdale, reflecting that the stores and malls there have hardly changed since my friends and I were in graduate school and this was our stomping ground. What has changed was the tract where my best friend B and her husband bought a little (tackily tossed-together) house on a big chunk of horse property. The structure was so cheaply built that you could see the sky where the living-room window didn’t fit the frame. The builder hadn’t even bothered to fill the gap with putty.

Shortly, she divorced her husband of the moment, mostly – truth be known – because at the time she took up with him, she was playing at being countercultural…but he really was countercultural. Alas, at heart, countercultural was not her game; under the long straight hair and the stylishly hippy clothes, she was a nice middle-class bourgeoise. When it occurred to her that he was getting more and more like his father (a dyed-in-the-wool eccentric) and that she did not want to be like his mother (to whom it fell to support the father and their three children), she flang him out.

She ended up (how, I do not know) with the house, and the debt associated therewith.

Now comes the amazing part…

Not very long after the break-up, along came a real estate developer. He wanted to buy up all the properties in that tract so he could convert the land into a shopping mall. A freeway – now known as the Pima Freeway or Loop 101 – was on the drawing board, and so the proposed mall promised to be profitable.

B refused to sell.

The developer was uncowed. He came back with new offers…the most attractive of which was “how’s about I buy you another house?”

She said, “I might consider that. But only if my mortgage payments remain the same. And it needs to have lots of space between me and the neighbors.”

Incredibly, the guy finds her a place on what was then the eastern edge of Scottsdale on over an acre of land, with a desert wash running along the back property line – adding another good 30 feet of width. The house was about 2900 well-built, handsomely equipped square feet. Basically what he did was give her a very fine home in one of the most desirable parts of Scottsdale, for the cost of the piece of junk she was living in.

She lived happily ever after there, working away as a college professor. Recently she retired, and she and her second husband sold the place for $737,620, just about enough to buy in the Pacific Northwest, whither they decamped.

***

Sailing homeward across the Valley on Shea Boulevard, I encountered traffic that was thick, heavy, but moving. Hit the freeway and you get the aggressive demented idiots, people who try to pass you on the right shoulder when you’re tailgating the guy who’s moving up the onramp ahead of you. Luckily, I also am aggressive and demented, and so in response to one of these this afternoon, closed the six or eight feet between myself and the guy ahead of me to four or five feet, fuckyouverymuch Jerkowitz.

***

So now it’s 4:19 and the Human has just made it into the Funny Farm. The light at the entrance to the ’Hood was functioning, but while I was gone, the City shut down a lane coming and a lane going, indicating that we will have to use Gangbanger’s Way for ingress and egress while they dig up the road, if we are to avoid yet another interminable traffic jam.

July 30, 2019
by funny
4 Comments

Hotter Than the Fourth of July!

Literally. The Fourth scored a chilly 104 here in lovely uptown Phoenix. This afternoon it was 108, sez Wunderground. The pool is more like a bathtub than a swimming pool…especially saturated with algaecide, which creates bubbles!

Aaron the Pool Dude’s discovery that the pump was partially jammed with a chunk of palm tree debris seems to have largely solved the London Fog problem. The water has hovered between clear and crystal clear since he fixed that. The problem right now is that it is demanding SO much liquid chlorine that I fail to see how I’m going to be able to afford to maintain our present scheme. Yesterday it consumed a full gallon of chlorine — put in half a gallon in the morning and by mid-day it was just about out. Dumped the other half-gallon in, and by this morning it needed another hit.

I can’t afford to pour a gallon of chlorine in there every day…not at six bucks a gallon. So we need to find some way to stabilize the chemicals. Meanwhile, I have other fish to fry…

And we do mean fry. Today I had to schlep, once again, over to the far west side through the sizzling heat, there to visit the dermatologist again. Her crew thinks it’s too soon to tell whether the most recent little procedure failed (as I think it did) to get rid of a budding skin tumor. They recommended massaging antibiotic ointment into it.

Hm. Never occurred to me to massage a wound. But in fact, it worked, and promptly. It’s already feeling a little better and looking a lot better.

Finally managed to extract a prescription for some goop to whiten the brown spots all over my face. That, she called in to the Costco pharmacy. Schlepping way to hell and gone down there through the unholy heat was more than I could face, so that will have to wait until I can get into Costco for a regular shopping run.

Maybe later.

Tomorrow I have to traipse almost as far in the opposite direction, to the hair stylist in Scottsdale.

The effort to find someone closer and cheaper failed. I couldn’t even figure out how to get in the beauty school’s front door: apparently they’re closed to the public. So went across the street to the beauty salon in the run-down Albertson’s shopping center.

LOL! “Run-down” doesn’t describe it. Would you go for dark? How about dank? Decided against making an appointment there.

Helle’s Belle’s. Even though Shane is spectacularly expensive, with my hair halfway to my fanny I only need a trim once or twice a year. I can afford sixty bucks, at that rate. His salon is beautiful…and so is he. And he does a reliably excellent job.

So…in short: I have gotten nothing done today except running around through the heat and dumping chlorine bleach into the swimming pool. Whee!

 

July 26, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Report from Foggy Bottom

Yes! This afternoon’s first tentative signs that the London-fog pool might clear proved to be prophetic. By 7:00 p.m., the thing was clear as glass again!

And that was before I dumped in the recommended two gallons of liquid chlorine.

Aaron, the swim-pool dude, recommends that we drain and refill the pool because of the high phosphate levels. This will be another expensive endeavor, especially if we do it in the summer. In the past, the City of Phoenix, which dispenses water here, used to give you a special break on the price if you had to drain your pool, not something one wants to do. In the 16 years I’ve been in this house, the pool has been drained only three times. and the last time was so as to resurface the shell.

Water bills here can be higher than utility bills, which are bracing. The city jacks up its rates during the summer, which it bases on the amount you use during the winter. So the more water you use in the winter, the more they shaft you in the summer, when you most need the water to keep your yard alive, to run (energy efficient!) evap coolers, and to replace water evaporating from the pool.

Note that of late the City has taken to adding phosphates to the drinking water, by way of lubricating their equipment. This, rather than the untrimmed palm trees, explains why the phosphate levels have been so elevated.

Since I live on a flat amount per annum, and since I had to pull down the amount needed for the resurfacing job from savings, there’s no way in Hell I can afford to drain and refill the pool now. So it appeared we were looking at just accepting murky water until about next November. Thankyouverymuch, honored City Fathers.

As you can imagine, then, I was thrilled to walk out there this afternoon and find the drain covers in the deep end clearly and crisply visible.

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!

Apparently when Aaron pulled out the piece of palm-tree debris he found blocking the pump’s innards, he fixed the problem.

😀

I suspected something was wrong with the equipment but thought the issue was with the filter, not with the pump…though it must be said the thing was running with a slightly labored sound. Now it sounds fine, and it seems to be working fine.

The prospect of essentially shock-treating the pool with liquid Cl gave me some pause — two gallons is a lot. However, the water is extremely warm. Chlorine is burning off within hours — it was well into the “ideal” range at 11:00 this morning, but by 7:00 this evening was essentially absent. Had about the same chlorine level as the tap water.

We shall see, then, what the upshot is tomorrow. The Leslie’s guy says adding chlorine causes cloudiness. I’ve found the opposite to be the case, but some say shock-treating can cloud the water. If that’s the case, though, it should clear by mid-day, which is about how long a heavy dose of chlorine survives at this time of year.

July 26, 2019
by funny
0 comments

Progress Update in the Do-Nothing Department

So the Swimming Pool Service and Repair Dude arrived, as arranged, along about mid-morning. What a nice man!

Hmmm… Suppose we could get cuteness PLUS bottled water?

He discovered a clog in the pump motor, which he fixed. And he opined that the clouding problem had to do with the use of too much granulated chlorine (no!!!! Use liquid chlorine!!!) and with the high phosphate levels in the water. And he revealed that, astonishingly, the city has been adding phosphates to the water supply, the theory being that the stuff lubricates their machinery.

Uh-HUH.

Makes bottled water look pretty good, doesn’t it…

Shortly I got distracted with the important business of the day — to wit, loafing — and so did not run right out there with the two bottles of liquid Cl I happen to have laying around.

And now, along about 1:30, I venture out into the ungodly heat with the uncrated bottles of chlorine in hand, only to find that…gosh! The water is one WHOLE helluva lot clearer. In the famed ungodly heat (which usually induces clouding), the water is freaking clearing up.

Okayyy…. Before we indulge in dumping in both bottles of this stuff, bought at the cost of considerable annoyance with a trip to Home Depot, that emporium where we have vowed never to shop again, let’s just hang loose for awhile.

Dollars to donuts, that thing will be clear by this evening.

Our guy wants to drain & refill the thing, which will be a pricey experience at this time of year, when the City charges a premium for its water.

But I’m thinkin’….hmmm… Clogged pump, eh? What if the damn thing is clearing up because the pump is now operating optimally?

If it’s clear by tonight, this evening I’ll add one (1) bottle of liquid chlorine and then let the pump run overnight. If it’s still clear tomorrow morning? Well…then we’ll just wait and see what happens next.

Which is…sorta what we’re doing anyway.

The Cox tech showed up. What a charmer!

Mohamed. With a wonderful Arabic accent.

Well, Moslems tend not enjoy the company of dogs, so I figure I’d better pick up Ruby, whose mission in life is to love every human on the planet to death, lest she pounce him the instant he walks through the door…and LO! He announces that he loves dogs. He has a German shepherd. He thinks Ruby is the best thing this side of German shepherdom.

Amazing.

So he fixes the computer and reboots the modem and upgrades stuff, all the while chatting his charming young head off. Damn. Born 40 years too soon. Again.

So…can anybody think of some OTHER reason Cox needs to send a computer tech out here?

😀

Now to spend the rest of the afternoon working on all the stuff I’ve neglected, creativity-wise. The plan: get back up to date with the Ella story, sketch out the plot (which actually is already sketched out, roughly, so this will conveniently not entail much work), and set up another installment of Fire-Rider to go online next week.

July 25, 2019
by funny
1 Comment

Prioritize the Freakin’ Priorities!

It is SOOOO hot that it is physically impossible for Person nor Beast to get anything done. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Actually, no: I’m determined to come unstuck.

The past few weeks have put me into a kind of coma. I get up, walk the dog, feed the dog, fart (interminably!) with the pool, then plop down in front of the computer and…and…yeah: sit there. Allll day long. Reading the news. Corresponding with friends. Reading the news some more. Reading those links that Google sticks in the pages upon which it forces you to rest when you enter a search. Writing a blog post (which is akin to writing a diary entry). Posting it to Facebook. Cruising Facebook interminably. Playing Internet games. Reading the news some more. Playing some Internet games some more. Fighting with the hazy swimming pool some more. Writing a Quora post or two. Driving to the grocery store or some odious appointment when forced to it. Fight with the pool again. Playing Internet games some more, again….and so on until around 6 p.m., when it’s time to feed the dog again, wrestle with the pool again, and waste some more time watching PBS news.

In short: I get exactly NOTHING done.

So…something’s gotta happen here. Decided it should be A Schedule: Set aside specific periods of time in which to do things. Write Ella’s Story, which I dropped and forgot about as I sank to the bottom of Lake Comatose. Post Fire-Rider segments, which also have languished. (Interestingly, revenues from Amazon have risen, suggesting the idea of posting freebie chapters from the various books actually does boost sales.)

And today I did, somehow, manage to drag myself around to preparing, finding images for, and posting Part VI of Fire-Rider and then posting links on Facebook and Twaddle.

Sounds great, eh?

Except that already tomorrow a fly will drop into that ointment: Not one but two workmen are slated to show up between 10 and noon. If one of them doesn’t soak up the entire day, the other will. Together they’re guaranteed to put the eefus on the “hour-a-day” scheme.

The pool is still foggy. A little better than it was this morning, but still a disaster area. I figured out it has something to do with the filter, which is operating in a suspicious manner.

The hand lesion that was found to be on the verge of flipping over into a squamous cell carcinoma is not healing. It hurts. It itches. And this morning I find a white spot — a very itchy white spot — right at the location of the original white nasty itchy actinic keratosis that send me to the dermatologist in the first place. And it’s growing. Growing very fast.

So, come Monday I’ll have to traipse halfway to Yuma AGAIN — just the drive there and back consumes almost two hours. This thing is going to have to be removed surgically…I can feel that in my bones. And how many gerzillions of hours will that consume? Don’t even bother to try to estimate.

Tomorrow morning will be consumed with trying to explain to the pool guy what has been going on — complete with photos — and, probably at the same time,. trying to explain to the Cox dude what the goddamn VoiP modem they stuck on my computer did yesterday, dragging me offline in the middle of an Amazon movie.

In the meantime, here’s something you can do for pore, pore pitiful me… 😀

This post at Quora is racking up more “likes” than any squib I’ve ever stuck up there. How’s about you visit that link, enjoy the anecdote (true story! 100 percent!), and if you so choose, click “like” at the bottom of the post? The thing is inching toward 1,000 likes…and I would get quite a kick out of it if it actually did reach that coveted goal. Share it on Facebook and Twitter and whatever other platform you haunt.

In the time-wasting preoccupation department, how cool would it BE to rack up 1.000 votes for that post?

Moving on: after about three hours of sleep last night, I cannot hold my eyes open even though the sun has yet to slide beneath the humid, hot horizon. And so…away….

 

July 23, 2019
by funny
4 Comments

The Hotter’n’Hell, Pool Mess, Dog Menace, Little Ol’ Lady Jamboree

These jamborees get better and better.

Arizona’s “monsoon” has finally arrived. What IS that? Rain, that’s all. It’s a late-summer rainy season. This is the time of year when reasonably tolerable 110-degree “dry” heat gives way to unreasonably intolerable swamp heat. Rainstorms blow in from the Sea of Cortez whilst it’s hotter than the hubs of Hades, combining soggy air with annoying temperatures. Sorta like a Georgia summer. ’Ceptin’ we don’t have no bitin’ flies…

Had to drive to the far West side to revisit the dermatologists, whose work of art looked less than artistic this morning. The current actinic diagnosis was regarded as just on the edge of flipping over to carcinoma…and it grew so fast it was enough to scare the bedoodles out of you, me, and a person with a degree in medical science. It’s not acting like previous frozen-off lesions have, so I called and asked….they said “get your butt out here.” That entailed about 90 minutes of driving through heat and unpleasant traffic.

There’s a big anvil cloud rising up like an angry cobra, off in the east. So I expect we’ll get more rain, more wind, and more mess in the pool.

The pool is cloudy again. Now it’s green cloudy, not gray cloudy. Just when I think I’ve got it fixed, it clouds back up again. Dumping wads of chlorine plus a third of a bottle of Skill-It into the water this morning did not help. Just dumped in more wads of chlorine plus more soda ash. I will be surprised if this works.

I think the filter needs to be cleaned. Its pressure gauge hasn’t moved off 10 psi since they replastered the puddle. And…y’know…THAT ain’t normal. Ohhhh no. You have no idea how ain’t normal that is.

I also suspect the plastering crew failed to apply stablizer when they refilled the puddle. That would explain the chronic cloudiness, and it would especially explain the volatility of the chlorine.

The pool replastering dude is supposed to come inspect on Friday. I called and suggested they should give me an estimate on jackhammering off the goddamned Pebblesheen surface and applying plain old-fashioned white plaster. He was audibly alarmed.

If you have or dream of getting a pool, for godsake do not EVER apply PebbleTec or PebbleSheen. I don’t know what that stuff is doing, but it has totally screwed up the system’s chemistry. And brushing the algae off the surface is a lost cause: the accursed coarse surface EATS pool brushes. It wrecks your pool cleaner, too, BTW.

Moving on…

I spent I dunno how long this morning driving around the neighborhood trying to map out a two-mile dog-and-human walking route that will take us out of the way of the Shi-Tsu Lady who, propped up with braces and two canes, hobbles along with her aggressive, lunging little doggy pest in a path that intersects our way. This remapping project is not an easy trick, since our usual route goes through the shadiest, coolest part of the ’Hood…and when it’s 90 degrees at 5 in the morning, “shady” and “cool” are fully operative terms.

No matter when I leave the house or what route I try to take through Richistan, we do not seem to be able to avoid the Shi-Tsu lady. The issue is that her little dog goes batshit berserk when it sees Ruby the Corgi, who tends to respond in kind. This would be annoying but maybe not problematic if this lady were not 93 years old (her admission) and barely ambulatory.

Here’s the issue:

Our lively old gal only barely has her 25-pound killer dog under control. In fact, she does not have it under control. And given the state she’s in, a frantic 25-pound dog could indeed pull her off her feet, with dire results.

I do not want this sweet old gal to get hurt just because I happen to be walking along her morning route with my dog, whose mere presence drives her dog into a frenzy. So…this is developing into a problem, since she surfaces over there no matter what ungodly hour I leave the house. Get out at 4:30? There she is. Have a halfway decent night’s sleep and leave the house at 5:00 a.m.? There she is. Wake up at 3:00 a.m., manage to get back to sleep (sort of…), and don’t hit the road until 5:30? There she is!

This is a problem, because when I see her I have to cut our walk short, and we don’t get the two miles needed to keep me in shape and the dog…doggish. Another potential problem has insinuated its way into my hot little brain: liability. If her out-of-control dog lunges at my lunging out-of-control dog, yanks her off her feet and breaks her hip (or her back, or God only knows what), what will be my liability for any such fiasco?

Dollars to donuts, a lawsuit will ensue.

So now I’m trying to find ways to get the doggywalk in without having to encounter this woman.

Welp, I made a little discovery. At one point the Shi-Tzu Lady remarked that she lives on a neighborhood street we’ll call Gentrification Lane.

The other day I drove past Gentrification Lane, a cul-de-sac off one of the streets on our route. Glancing up the road, I spotted a couple of white, unmarked mini-busses…the kind used by places like the Beatitudes to ferry the inmates to doctor’s appointments and occasional grocery-store outings. Hm. What if…thought I…what if she’s not actually “aging in place” in her own home but lives in one of those convalescent homes various marginal operators slip into neighborhoods?

So I drove down Gentrification Lane yesterday morning, on the way home from the gas station, where I needed to score a couple of overpriced gallons from the QT to fuel a junket out to the far west side and back.

Yeah. There are two houses down there that are suspiciously run down and do not look…well…like anybody who cares how they look lives there. Side by side. In the middle of an area full of upscale houses with high-value maintenance.

Look up the addresses and find, lo! one of them is owned by Hacienda Health Care, a place in which one vegetative patient was notoriously raped and impregnated by an employee. Said outfit was in the news a couple years ago when relatives found maggots in an out-of-it elderly patient’s surgical wound. Here in lovely free-market Arizona, though, this fine enterprise remains in business.

Intriguingly, Tony the Romanian Landlord has gotten out of the house-rental business and into the quasi-nursing home game. After the economy recovered from the recession, he bought a house over in South Lower Richistan, which he razed to the ground and replaced with  a two-story boarding house, which he presented as a convalescent home. He kept this for a few years, and then about a year ago sold it.

Then someone — Tony, dollars to donuts — purchased a house at the intersection of Secondary Feeder N/S and Main Feeder E/W and converted it into a residential care home. It had been a rental for a long time — well maintained and stable, so we know Tony was not the landlord. It was a rental before Tony came on the scene. And out of Tony’s price range, so one would think. But now I learn from my neighbor Josie that she managed to get out from under the truly grinding care of her demented husband Manny (whose marbles long ago fell out his ears and rolled off to Yuma) by getting him into Medicaid nursing care.

And where is he? In that house! He gets out and wanders around the corner there, looking kinda lost and embittered. That house last sold for $430,000…right about the time Tony sold the boarding house. It’s now estimated to be worth over $750,000.

And what do you bet Tony is either renting that house on Gentrification Lane to Hacienda or runs it as a nursing home himself and contracts to Hacienda for customers?

When he had the boarding house…uhm, first convalescent home…, he put Pretty Daughter over there in charge of it, as its “manager.” So now she would have Experience and could hire out to places like that as an administrator.

Never a dull moment here in Paradise. 😀