Funny about Money

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

July 11, 2020
by funny
0 comments

Too Stunned to Come Up with Titles…

Supposed to be a chilly 116 today. Brrrr! Break out the down jackets! 😀

The heat isn’t the issue: humidity is. We have a skiff of high overcast this morning, and it is like a freaking sauna out there! Walked the dog about 3/4 of our usual doggie route, stopping to chat with my crony Margie about our favorite subject, the (mis)State of the Union. That ole’ Goldwater Girl hates Trump as much as I do! 😀

LOL! For a Republican president to piss off a classic Arizona Republican…that takes some doin’. Impressive accomplishment!

For the past few idle hours, I’ve been coveting a nice shiny new pick-up. Sounds crazy…but…

Around here, it makes some sense to drive a pick-up or an SUV, because the occupants of our roads and freeways are batshit crazy. Speed limits are fairly high, and your fellow homicidal drivers are…exactly that: homicidal. Many are armed. And some are very dangerous. So you want a few layers of steel (or at least plastic…) between yourself and your fellow lunatics. You need at least a 6-banger — an 8-banger is a little much unless you tow a big load, but the piddly little engines that grace most passenger cars today will not suffice to dodge out of a challenging situation. It also helps to have a driver’s seat that puts you where you can see on down the road, thereby allowing you to evade some adrenaline-stimulating moments.

At any rate, the short-bed Chevy (ooohh candy-apple red!!!!!!!!!) will not fit in my garage. Well. It would. But not and also leave room for the washer & dryer. 😀 This explains why so many of the natives leave their pricey rides parked in the driveway, where the local bums break into them. If I had a side yard where I could park it… Hmmmm…. Y’know…they’re going to gate off our alleys, by way of discouraging the resident bums from sleeping behind our yards and jumping the walls into our yards to steal stuff and molest three-year-olds. I wonder…would they allow you to park a vehicle behind your yard, in the gated alley? What would stop you from rebuilding a wall so as to provide a pullout to stash a vehicle?

Heeee! Speaking of the resident Bums vs. the resident Young Urbanites…you should’ve seen what came trotting past me & the pooch this morning.

We’re just approaching Upper Richistan when what should come jogging down Richistan Lane but the most spectacular nubile you’ve ever seen in your life.

Her long, lush hair, which would flow about halfway down her back if she paused long enough for it to settle down, is tied back in a thick ponytail and swinging luxuriantly in the air with every long, graceful stride she makes. A pair of shorts cut off at tush level reveal every inch of her long, graceful legs, and then some. She is drop-down-dead gorgeous, and her every move shouts “CFM.”

And then the locals complain about sh*theads stalking them around the park? Seriously? What is the matter with people?

Of course, the lady had no clue that just yesterday as the hound and I were walking along Richistan Lane about three blocks closer to Gangbanger’s Way, we passed a bum snoozing in the shrubbery in front of one of the horse properties up there. But still…if you live here, you know the oleanders serve as bum motels. And you know most of our honored bums are half out of their heads on meth and other drugs…or just natively out of their heads.

*****

And speaking of “we’ve been cooped up in our houses too long,” this morning at the Sprouts I intercepted THE single BEST come-on I’ve ever heard, bar none:

I’m stalking across the parking lot toward the store’s entrance, all gussied up in the required mask (red flowers: an Amazon special!) and with an antiseptic wipe in hand to scrub down the grocery cart handle. Coming out of the store is a slender middle-aged man. Says he, from behind his strip of cloth, “I LOVE your mask!”

Heeeeee! Is that good, or is that great?

***** Otherwise: GAAAAHHHHHHH!*****

When a trip to the grocery store leaves you craving a bourbon and water at 10:45 in the morning….

So I get to the Sprouts about 5 minutes before their advertised opening time, 9 ayem. The parking lot is half-full, and customers are already marching out with loads of groceries. Ducky.

And indeed, there are plenty of people in the store, milling around and rubbing elbows.

Manage to find most of the stuff on the shopping list, at times with difficulty. The corn-on-the-cob…forgodsake! They toss it in the bin in the husks, which is fine, except they’ve stuck up a sign enjoining you from pulling back the first inch or so to see whether a given cob is ripe or wilted or…what. So this is a pig-in-a-poke purchase.

But WonderAccountant said she got some really good corn on the cob there, so I thought okayy what the heck.

Later, while I’m soaking all the produce in Dawn after I get back, I do pull off the cornhusks and think…hmmmm…you charged your customers money for this??

Oh well. Better than going hungry. I guess.

Now I roll the cart out to the car, bearing several bags of the coveted produce. Fling wide the gates (of the SUV) and find…what?? WHAAAA????? Sitting there is a small full-size watermelon! 

WTF?  I must have bought it the last time I traipsed to Sprouts, longer ago than I can remember, and forgotten to haul it out of the back of the car. This means two very ominous things:

  1. In no way, nohow, do I remember buying this thing(!!!!!).
  2. It’s been over a week since the last Sprouts expedition, which means that melon has been sitting there in 116 degree heat for day after day.

The senility stuff is starting to get ominous. I mean, maybe it’s one thing to overlook a melon sitting in the back of a vehicle, in a spot where you don’t habitually stash the groceries. But for days I’ve been saying to my self “i want watermelon must get watermelon in next Sprouts run i miss my watermelon…” So…I bought that watermelon purposefully and consciously, paid for it, stashed it in the back of the vehicle, brought it home, unloaded all the groceries around it, and…completely, 100% spaced the thing! 

I seem to be getting more and more weirdly forgetful like this. Just now I went to start the washer. Where’s the laundry detergent? Why isn’t the laundry detergent on top of the dryer? WTF, am I out of laundry detergent?

Well. No. It’s where it’s always been: in a gigantic Costco industrial-supply container set up on the work table next to the dryer, parked in such a way as to make it easy to draw out a half-capful of the stuff per load. And “always been” means for years and years.

Now, I think that is damn scary.

At the Sprouts…picked up a bottle of a woo-woo quack nostrum called melatonin, which is supposed to work wonders for you. One of the wonders is that it supposedly helps you to sleep through the night. So sick of waking up at 3 in the morning am I that I decided to try this stuff. To be fair: the Mayo devotes an entire webpage to it, wherein the authors claim that it indeed does help insomniacs to sleep without interruption. (In my case “interruption” is not le mot juste: at 3 a.m., I’m done sleeping, and it doesn’t matter what time I went to bed…) The Mayo says that taken within reason, the stuff is safe to ingest, and that there’s some science indicating that it works. Why not? Nothin’ ventured…

More to the point, some recent studies suggest that chronic insomnia is associated with increased mortality and with major cardiovascular events, and that daytime napping among the insomniac set is linked not with better outcomes but with greater risk.  Well. Every day I try to make up for the lost nighttime sleep by napping in the afternoon…if you believe this research, that’s suicidal! 😀

All of this is spectacularly vague, IMHO. Think very hard about the structure of these studies, and you come away wondering izzat so??? But that nothwithstanding: it is annoying to be wide awake at three in the morning after a full four hours’ of sleep and not be able to grab even a few more winks between three and dawn.

So…we’re justifying the woo-woo snake oil not with science but with a craving to be less annoyed….

At any rate, the richly aged watermelon is in the fridge. It doesn’t have any soft spots on it, so I think there’s an outside chance (way, way outside, as in the outer reaches of the Oort Belt) that it hasn’t spoiled. We shall see. Eventually. All of the other produce and items packed in water-resistant plastic have been soaked in Dawn and cold water, rinsed, dried, and put away.

WHAT a job it is to try to disinfect every goddam piece of produce that comes into your house.

My mother did this every time she went to the commissary for TEN LONG YEARS while we lived in Arabia. Horrors!

We surely fail to appreciate what it means to live in a First-World country. 

July 8, 2020
by funny
4 Comments

Shopping without Shopping…

So this morning I determined to put my life on the line and make a Costco run, after dropping off a client’s check at the credit union. This would normally be routine around here: the CU is right on the way to the Costco on the I-17, and so two errands are easily run in one trip. And that Costco is better stocked than the down-at-the-heels store closer to the ‘Hood — a store slated to be closed permanently in a couple months.

On reflection, though… Why?

Seriously: covid figures are going batshit here. At this point, Arizona is as bad off as New York was at the height of its contagion, and our whole state probably doesn’t have as many people as NYC does. Why risk my health and very possibly my life by charging into the germ-laden atmosphere of a wholesale big-box store? Is that or is that not freakin’ kee-razy?

Well, yes, that is pretty lunatic.

So the decision was made: hold the check until the next one shows up, and hold the suicidal shopping jaunt — indefinitely. Instead, order up the coveted items through Instacart.

There are some drawbacks to Instacart, the main one being that because relatively few Americans make a habit of eating whole foods, most of Instacart’s runners have NO clue how to select fresh produce. Nor do they recognize a decent variety of cheese — to them, all cheese is Kraft rubber cheese, and that is what they will grab off the shelf if you ask for cheddar. Even if you ask for a specific brand! 😀

Costco has self-righteously announced that it will not sell alcoholic beverages of any kind through delivery services. So that means if you need to restock the wine, you have to make a SEPARATE order to some other store. So now I’m waiting for someone to show up from Costco and someone to show up from Total Wine. This, IMHO, is mildly annoying. Not a big deal, but…annoying. Time-wasting. Tip-wasting: now I have to tip two runners instead of the one who was really all that was necessary.

Also problematic is that when it comes to Costco, Instacart sends its staff to the one closest to the delivery address. Well. Our Costco, which will close permanently in another month, is located in a slum. Just the other day a woman was killed in the park there by a drive-by shooter. It’s not a place you would willingly go, if there were an easy alternative. And, like any other sensibly run retail enterprise, Costco markets to the local demographics. So a number of things that are available at Costco stores in more middle-class and up-scale locales are not offered at our Costco. Chunk blue cheese, for example. Apparently the only thing pore folks know to do with blue cheese is crumble it up and sprinkle it over a salad. Hence, the only blue cheese you can get there comes in crumbles packed into a plastic container.

But all in all, my sense is that Instacart has more benefits than drawbacks. Videlicet:

Most obviously, it saves you time and gasoline wasted traipsing around the city. I haven’t bought gasoline since the first of April, largely because I’m not traipsing to stores every day or two.

In the Time of Plague, it puts a layer between you and the Infected, reducing the chance that you will catch the dread disease.

As you get older and can no longer navigate insane traffic and acre-sized stores, Instacart makes it possible for you to stay in your home rather than having to move to a life-care community.

On the other hand…

The Instacart lady just arrived. Instead of the deli-packaged black olives I’d ordered, she bought a bottle of icky green factory olives. The salt I’d ordered, which I thought was coarse-ground, is actually fine-ground and so cannot be used in my salt grinder.

That latter is not her fault: she picked up the item I pointed to online…I failed to realize it wasn’t coarse-ground.

Therein lies another drawback: miscommunication.

Soooo…oh goodie gumdrops! Now I get to sit around and wait for the delivery from Total Wine. Then climb in my car, traipse to Costco, stand in line at the return desk, and try to extract a refund for these useless items.

Directly obviating the specific reason for paying extra for Instacart delivery: to avoid exposure to the covid virus.

July 7, 2020
by funny
3 Comments

The Wine Stash gambit

Okay, tell me what you think of this.

It may be crazy. Hevvin only knows, I am crazy. But what heaven really does know, I personally know not. Soo…tell me if this sounds sane to you, or like yet another variety of madness.

I like a glass (or two) of wine with dinner. Indeed, I like that so much that I ain’t a-doin’ without it.

However, Costco, where I usually supply my stash, has decreed that delivery services such as the beloved Instacart may no longer purchase alcoholic beverages for delivery to customers. I was able to snag a couple bottles and a box of KiltLifter (presently the preferred brew) from Total Wine, but frankly, having to order this, that and the other product from this, that, and the other retailer is what we call a damn nuisance.

It occurs to me that if I’d had a decently stocked wine cellar (or stash, since this house has no cellar… 🙂 ), the bar services would present much less of a problem.

It being never too late to start…here’s my plan:

1. From Total Wine, I order up one box (12 bottles, I believe) of my favorite cheap red and one box of my favorite cheap white.

Note that at this point I now have a lifetime supply of booze. Two crates of wine would, if never replenished, last me a good three or four months.

2. Each time I consume a bottle of this priceless hoard, I order or (one day, I hope, purchase in person) a new bottle, only in a finer vintage than the $8 specials I favor.

3. Keep drinking the cheap stuff, unless guests are here. After a period, all of the plonk will be consumed, and it will all be replaced better wines!

Et voilà! A stash of fancy wines!

My life is improved. The wine industry is supported. And when the next catastrophe hits, I will never feel deprived.

Is that or is that not a brilliant scheme? And what positive changes has the covid bug brought about in your life?

June 30, 2020
by funny
Comments Off on Doggy Divin’ at the Break of Day

Doggy Divin’ at the Break of Day

Dayum! As dawn cracks, the dog falls in the pool. Into the deep end, natcherly.

So I have to leap into the water (fortunately I was about to go swimming so am not burdened by blue jeans and shirts). The resulting tsunami swamps her and her head sinks below the surface. I swim to her, grab her as she’s going under, haul her over to the seat, and lift her out.

I thought she had figured out the pool boundary. She seemed to have realized that the water is not some flat surface she can walk on. But apparently she mis-stepped, and PLUNK! into the drink she went.

Anyway, drag the frantic dog out. She seems not to be at Death’s Door. Lock her out of the pool area, try to dry her with a towel. She’s having none o’that.

Now she’s soaked. The stuff Jim the Pool Dude has been putting in the pool to keep the algae under control really irritates my skin and presumably will do the same to her (expensively, no doubt), so now I have to shampoo her. She wouldn’t let me get near her long enough to grab her and drag her over to the hose, so whenever I get the chemicals washed off myself and out of my hair, I’ll have to put her in the tub and wash her off with the hose-end shower thingie.

Run inside. Jump in the shower and scrub the chemicals off me and out of my hair.

Chase down the dog. Wrestle her into the bathtub, Shampoo her all over, rinse (…fight fight fight fight…), pour hair conditioner all over her, rinse (…fight fight fight fight…), realize the conditioner is still all over the tub’s floor and that makes it too slippery for me to stand up; crawl out of the tub verrrreeee carefulleeee, grab a towel, start to wipe down the dog; realize the conditioner and even some shampoo are still in the dog fur, rinse the dog again and again and again and again (...fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…); haul her out of the tub again, try to dry her off (shake shake shake shake shake…all over the bathroom walls, cabinetry, and floors); give up and let her wander off (shake shake shake shake shake down the hallway); retrieve scouring powder and Simple Green, scrub the bathtub & shower surround, rinse the bathtub, then dry the bathroom walls, dry the bathroom floor, dry the bathroom door, dry me.

Holy shit! You know those little round red bruises us old people get on our arms? Yeah. Now I’ve got FOUR new ones on the right arm. Where, I presume, she dinged me with her claws.

Man, I really got a snootful jumping in. Went running this morning, before this little drama happened. That was enough to confirm that the chronic cough/scratchy throat are NOT covid but, as suspected and fervently hoped, allergies. Both those annoyances disappeared after a little steady, deep breathing. But now my throat hurts again and I’m coughing again.

Dog is snorking. Worried that she breathed water into her lungs,. Vet won’t be open for an hour. Can’t afford the emergency vet; besides, it would take almost an hour to get there, anyway.

But forthwith she stops. Seems to be fine.

Ugh. I’d started letting her into the pool area a week or so ago, because every time I go swimming she has a barking frenzy. She stands at the gate and raises holy Hell. Put her in the house? She stands at the back door and raises holy Hell. If she can come over to the pool, she shuts up and just trots around the perimeter, peering at me.

Heeee! Where she delivered a scratch, I’ve got a long fancy red thin line  extending north-northwest from one of the new elegant red spots. Ah, and she poked a little hole to the north of that. Heh! Looks like a geometry lesson: “what is the angle between ab and cd in an isosceles triangle?” 😀

Good thing I’m too old to care what I look like anymore!

June 29, 2020
by funny
Comments Off on Customer Service(?) at Cox

Customer Service(?) at Cox

Computer will not connect to the Instacart website. Try several times. Give up.

It will not connect to the sites of the retailers who deliver if you dork around long enough to upload an order…

wtf…I figure Cox is down.

Call our honored Internet provider to ask how long this outage will last, and am told (by a machine) to prepare to wait till the cows come home if I hope to speak to a human. Turn on the squawk box, set the phone on the kitchen counter, prepare a substantial midday meal.

Just setting the chow on the table when a person who sounds very young comes on the phone. Her exotic accent, while charming, is so thick I can’t understand about a third of what she says, and it soon becomes evident that this is mutual. But that’s OK — I’m happy to finally reach a living being.

Explain what’s going on. She doesn’t understand what I’m talking about. Explain again. She proposes to send me “a signal.” She wants me to close out of everything I’m doing…I’m in the middle of a LARGE beastly complicated project for a client and y’know, I don’t wanna shut down file after file after file in Word and Excel right this minute.

She still doesn’t seem to quite understand what I’m talking about. She evidently thinks it’s an Apple problem, but I’ve been around the block with Apple so many hundreds of times that I do recognize an Apple issue, and this ain’t one of ’em.

Finally I give up, tell her “thank you,” and disconnect.

Annoyed, I pour a Kiltlifter and stare at the effing screen. Somewhat calmed, I give up and close out of all the client’s files. Reboot. This works. I order a week’s worth of goods from Instacart, then get back to work whilst finishing the can of beer.

Cox? What’s their excuse?

June 24, 2020
by funny
4 Comments

Amazon Reviews: Take ’em with a grain of salt

A few weeks ago, I ordered up a handsomely reviewed mosquito zapper from Amazon. Even though lovely Arizona has relatively few little biters, they do come up in the spring, a nuisance when you often have the doors and windows open to take advantage of the lovely weather. A squadron of the little F-16s had taken up residence in the family room, where I like to lounge in comfort to work on client projects.

So I bought this gadget that’s supposed to electrocute the little ladies by luring them into its trap with a blue light. Must work, because all those reviewers said so, right ?

Soon as the thing arrives, I plug it into a socket in Mosquito Central and await, with delicious anticipation, the wholesale slaughter of the marauders.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait….

Nary a zap. Left the thing on all day and into the night. Got another few bites. But no zapped skeeters.

Having over-anticipated the delights of this device, I’d thrown out the package, so returning it to Amazon was not an option. But I did post a one-star review describing this buggy débâcle. Tossed the thing in the trash. And didn’t think much more about it.

Until… Along came this communiqué from one Paul Bernthal, regarding “Compensation 21,71+20$ for your Bug Zapper Amazon Order!”:

Hello, Victoria. I’m Paul. I heard that our Bug Zapper didn’t work out for you.

We want to get you a compensation for a few minutes of your time:

1) I send you a Full Refund: 21,71$ via Amazon and kindly ask you to Delete your review.
2) I can send you a Full Refund + 20$ Amazon Gift Card, for changing your review to 5 Star Rating.

No need to change the Text. We don’t have a problem with objective opinions of our customers.

Our problem lies in the system of rating on Amazon, so I’m asking for your help

We’re trying to improve our product. But my main task is to get in touch with you and smooth out the “lemon product” situation, at least by providing a nice customer service

Please, choose one of the options and let me know. We can nail it really fast without wasting your time!

Your Review if you’d like to help us: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RRLPRWYTCDYI1/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B0855SVWS2

Hmm… Suspicions confirmed, eh? If you’ve ever wondered if some of those rave reviews on Amazon are bought & paid for, this shoos away any cloud of doubt, no?

Well, no: Not for love nor money would I recommend this useless piece of junk to any other hopeful mosquito assassins. I ignored this message and went on about my business.

But this guy was not to be put off. Couple days later, a follow-up hits the in-box

Hello, Victoria. Need help with changing or can we propose a better deal?🙂

And he pastes in his original offer.

Persistent little bug, isn’t he?

My reply?

Sorry. My ethics are not for sale.

Well. Explains all the rave reviews for the piece of junk, anyway.

Though this is the first incontrovertible proof I’ve seen that Amazon reviews are bought and paid for behind the scenes, it’s something I’ve quietly assumed to be the case. And therein lies the reason that I always start with the one-star reviews when considering what product to buy from that worthy monopolist.

First step in evaluating Amazon reviews is to look at the proportion of positive and negative reviews, as compared with the total number. There will always be complainers, malcontents, and whiners, and so you have to take what they say with the proverbial grain. I figure about 6 percent  negative is normal in the “can’t please all the customers all the time” department. If much more than 6 percent of shoppers have posted one-star reviews, that’s a red flag. Anything less than 6 percent? meh!

Next I look at the five-star and sometimes the four-star reviews, trying to discern what people claim to like about the thing. I tend to take these raves with a large grain of salt. Obviously, it has to be pretty easy to acquire positive reviews — you probably can hire people on Fiverr to write them for you, if you’re too embarrassed to put your friends up to it. Finally I go to the three-star reviews. Here, I expect to find honest remarks that haven’t been bought and paid for, and that are not influenced by excessive delight or by frustration and annoyance.

It was one thing for this guy to email me an offer of a bribe. But to keep pestering me was  beyond the pale. I tried to forward his email to Amazon but found a) it’s now impossible to reach a human there (didn’t use to be!) and b) Amazon’s management apparently doesn’t give a damn.

So the message here is what you always knew, of course: a fair number of the reviews you see on Amazon are fake. Buyer beware.