Funny about Money

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

January 29, 2020
by funny
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And the Evening Not to Be Outdone by the Day…

So I come rolling in to the ‘Hood from choir along about 9:30 p.m. and see, buzzing over the southwestern precincts, a low-flying and very angry-looking cop helicopter. He’s in hot pursuit of someone, apparently fleeing down Conduit of Blight Boulevard. But he’s not alone. To the north and also to the west, another cop copter is hovering over my old house, scanning the intersection of Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way.

By the time I get the car stashed in the garage and the pooch out in the side yard to pee, the dragonfly to the south is circling Conduit of Blight and Main Drag South, and the one to the north is over the crummy apartments and the senior-citizen trailer park above Gangbanger’s. Wring out the dog to the lovely serenade of buzzing helicopter engines, fly back inside, and lock the doors.

🙂

Welcome home!

It’s never boring around this place.

January 29, 2020
by funny
2 Comments

Dear Credit Union: What ARE you thinking?

This morning I finally bestirred myself to open the stacks and stacks of not-quite-junk-mail, pesty notices, Important Tax Information, and statements and bills that have to be attended to, sooner or later. And what should pop out of an envelope from the credit union but not one, not two, but THREE negotiable (-looking) blank checks in my name, with my  credit union account number them, along with an invite to hurry right out and cash them.

WTflyingF?????????

Turns out they’re an offer to fork over chunks of cash from my line of credit.

Yes. I have an old, unused line of credit with that august institution, one I took out when I was doing some renovations to my previous house…from which I moved some 16 years ago. I haven’t borrowed on that account in a good 20 years, but apparently it’s still very much alive. And the worthies of the credit union very much wish I would please rack up some more interest on a nice fat loan.

The things looked just like checks for an ordinary checking account. The sales pitch: fill these out in the amount you want, take it in, and cash it. Soooo simple!

HOLY ess-aitch-ai! You sent that to the mail thieves and the trash scavengers, dear Credit Union?

They may not be truly negotiable. But they sure look like they are. All it would take is a smart trash scavenger (or his boss) to engineer some fake ID with my name and address on it, hand it to his girlfriend, and send her in with a five- or ten-thousand-dollar check to manufacture a real nasty surprise for me.

Honest to God. What possesses people?

So I had to take a break from ripping open envelopes, filing, and trashing to send a written request to those chuckleheads: please do not mail me anything that looks even faintly like a negotiable instrument.

Into the shredder the things went. But…what an annoyance!

January 26, 2020
by funny
4 Comments

It’s the Little Things That Count…

Ever feel like the dopiest little things make you feel as gratified as the occasional major triumph? Maybe more so?

Case in point: the blue jeans ironing-fest.

Thanks to Costco’s bargains, I live in jeans. Hardly ever wear anything else. For years, I’ve pressed these fine garments every time they were washed. Because…well…because. Not until a young fellow choir member gasped, as she was climbing behind me up the stairs to the loft, “You iron your jeans??” did it strike me that this was weird behavior. They’re cotton. They wrinkle when you wash them. They’re tacky. They look less tacky when they’re pressed. So I press them.

Admittedly, though, it’s a bit of a tedious job.

Tiring of tedious jobs and feeling liberated by her surprise at the very thought of ironed jeans, over time I quietly gave up pressing denim. Nobody seemed to notice.

Nobody but me, that is…

This evening as I lifted three pairs of jeans off the rack by the washer by way of hauling back to the closet, I reflected that these things just look scruffy! I hate unironed jeans. It also occurred to me that the other three pair I’d just pulled out of the washer and hung up to dry would probably dry looking pressed if I ironed them right that minute, while they were wet. Hmmm…

Looked like that would work. Sooo…while the iron was hot, out came the rest of the baggy jeans from the closet. By the time Rachel Maddow had finished holding forth, I’d ironed ten pairs of jeans, each with nice straight creases running up the legs.

Hot diggety!

Speaking of Costco, by yesterday the Venza was about out of gas. So along about mid-morning I capitulated and traipsed down to the store by the Bum’s Park, which often has the cheapest gas in town.

That, as you might guess, means it has the longest lines in town. {cringe!} Saturday morning: I expected to sit there and sit there and sit there. But resigned myself to that fate, because I’d kept the gasoline wolf from the door a few days earlier by buying a couple gallons from the rapacious QT up by the canal and did not wish to endure another emergency rip-off so soon.

So it was down to the Costco. Long line turning left off Bethany Home onto 15th…and of course every car turned right onto Montebello, headed for the store’s entrance. One guy cruised straight on through the intersection behind the store. Gone! But another guy crossed into the intersection from the left, coming from the rather dire apartments that border Bum’s Park.

But WHOA! He didn’t glide into the gas station’s lot — a miracle. He just proceeded straight for the parking lot. The truck right in front of me, though, did dodge into the station. How many gallons does a pickup hold? Eighty??

Mirabilis! The guy didn’t realize or didn’t care that Costco’s gas tank hoses are extra-long, so that you don’t have to park your vehicle with the gas tank lid next to the pump to fill up. Poor guy plodded over to join a line that would put his gas tank as close to the pump as possible. A long line.

And then another miracle: here’s a pair of pumps with only one car parked in their lane. And the woman hogging both pumps has just put the pump handle back, collected her receipt, and climbed into her car. I nuzzle up behind her. She dawdles but eventually starts her engine and putters away. HOLY mackerel! I’ve gotten to a pump in a matter of seconds! And without anyone barging in front of me to cut me off.

So I got in there and out in just a few minutes, rather than the 10 or 15 minutes I expected. A-N-N-N-D…I paid 22 cents a gallon less than the QT charged!

Definite major minor triumph. Ohhh the smugness!

Doesn’t take much to make some people’s day, does it? 😀

January 25, 2020
by funny
10 Comments

How Much Time, Lord…

…is freaking wasted wrestling with computer software?

This afternoon, in one tiny household in the middle of one faceless city parked in the middle of a far-flung desert: three hours. That’s this afternoon alone.

I’ve lost track of the number of hours I’ve spent on the phone with Apple Support, to say nothing of the number of hours consumed by driving back and forth to Apple stores, by trying to figure out a problem by myself, by reconstructing lost data…ohhhh good grief.

Seriously: the Apple Support folks are a godsend. Without them, by now I would have picked up a number of expensive gadgets and thrown them across the room, to collide at a high velocity with a wall.

Which, one might speculate, would be counterproductive.

These computers we all have, all the manifold devices most of us tote around with us: they’re wonderful devices. They allow us to perform feats of data entry and calculation that would have consumed our lives had we tried to do them with a typewriter or an adding machine or a spreadsheet. This is because they do these tasks at outrageous speed, with little need for thought from the user.

So….why does riding herd on the damn things still consume our lives?

It is Saturday evening. A weekend. Remember those? Do you remember them as “free times”? I sure do: once upon a time you didn’t spend your weekends working.

Today I was on the phone with Apple from 3 in the afternoon until 6 — three hours — trying to figure out why Apple’s iCloud keeps nagging me that something is wrong. Wrong? Wrong with a password, we surmise. Between me and the two excellent gents I worked with, we changed my passwords at least three times, in three different venues. Finally we got online and got iCloud to accept the result…only to find that iCloud decided to quit sending my email to my computers.

The second of said gents, gazing upon the little mystery through a direct connection to my computer, quietly performed a bit of prestidigitation and…zap! Undid whatever was done and disappeared both the conundrum and the endlessly nagging, pointless messages.

In the course of this, I lost track of what we were doing, became hopelessly confused, thought I had lost the new passwords, discovered they were not lost after all, and then realized…waitaminit…these passwords we’re using that are now magically working? They’re the same damn passwords we started out with! And yea verily, they’re still all different.

That’s right. We spent three hours farting around and ended up right where we were at the outset. Only with the software inexplicably working.

For the nonce. We’ll see what it’s doing by the break of day.

Here’s what I think about this:

Yes. The 21st century’s astonishing technology does speed our work miraculously. Makes it easier to perform, by far. Makes our product look far more professional than most of us used to be able to produce with a typewriter and a photocopier and a calculator. BUT….no savings in work time ensues.

Vast numbers of hours may be saved in the performance of routine and mind-numbing tasks. But do we use that saved time in worthwhile pursuits like watching soap operas and shopping for underwear? Nooooo….

Hell, no! Any and all free time is devoured by learning new and unnecessary changes in the software and hardware, by trying to keep the software running, and by figuring out and fixing whateverthefuck is wrong when the damn things go down. In fact, I’d venture to say most of us spend more time working, when you add in the time required to learn, relearn, and re-relearn the endlessly morphing technology and in keeping it running, than we ever did at work with our antediluvian tools.

So confusing and baffling are these ubiquitous devices that even the experts get confused. Two of them, over the past few weeks, have told me that the reason for the mysterious nuisance messages from iCloud was that the passwords on my two Mac computers are different. The key, they felt, lay in syncing passwords. Ideally, I gathered, the same password should be used for both computers. And possibly it should be used for iCloud, too.

After all that wrestling to make this happen, after finding a gigantic glowing golden FAIL at the end of that rainbow, this evening the guy who answered the phone at Apple said…well…noooo… The computers’ passwords do not have to be the same.

Make up your minds, guys!

This one, it appears, was right. We ended up with different passwords for the MacBook, the aging iMac, and iCloud…and with the click of a couple of buttons on his ends, he magically disappeared the iCloud problem.

What the problem ultimately was, I have no clue. Nor do I want to have a clue.

THIS is not what I got a Ph.D. in English literature and history for…

January 24, 2020
by funny
2 Comments

One Damnfool Thing after Another

It’s 9 a..m. sharp. Cox’s internet (and consquently its phone service) has been down since 10 p.m. That’s right: last night.

Uh huh. If you’ve got business to do or calls to make, f’get it!

At 1 a.m., I woke up with pain in…something. Chest? Belly? Whaaa? Did I need to go to the Mayo’s effing ER again??? Decided maybe I was going to be forced to take those blood pressure meds the last ER doc prescribed. But when you read the package insert, you find they say you must proceed with caution if you have a sulfa allergy.

Allergy? Are they kidding? As a toddler I had a monster reaction when my mother’s cat scratched my face and a doctor gave me a sulfa drug to fight off “cat fever,” whateverthehell that was supposed to be. At the intensive care ward, a doctor told my mother I would not live through the night.

So…ohhhkay…. Tried to get online to check out the sulfa connection: nope. Picked up the phone to check for a dial tone: busy signal. Reset the modem: nope.

The same holds forth just now.

Luckily, I seem not to have died of a heart attack. At 7:30 in the morning, I neurotically take my blood pressure: 117/79. Whatever ails me, apparently it’s not a near-death experience.

Morning having dawned with Cox’s internet system still not working, I figure I’ll have to drive to The Little Guy’s coffee shop and buy some token product so as to get online. But right at 10 a.m., the service (and phone) came back on.

In the phone department, I’m slowly getting used to the new Panasonic landline. It’s really a pretty nice production, as those things go. To my astonishment, its built-in call blocker works – only three or four calls have gotten through since I installed it. That is at least as good as the CPR V5000’s performance; possibly better. My attempt to block “Name Unavailable” calls failed, but otherwise it apparently detects and blocks most robocalls.

Far as I know, nothing like that exists for cell phones. Which is one of several reasons I do not want to go out and blow a jillion bucks on an iPhone.

We’re told, though, that Apple is about to promulgate a low-rent iPhone. When that happens, I may get one. In that case, will discontinue Cox’s overpriced VoIP service. Since I got the phone at Costco, I can take it back if I decide to get rid of the fake landline.

At 9:30, I figure I’d better start to fly, so as to get dressed and start batting from pillar to post.

Before the outage, Costco did get through to report the repaired glasses were ready to pick up, so willy-nilly I had to schlep across the city to retrieve those.

Stopped by the Home Depot on the way.  I’ve let the side yard go wayyy too long, so want to pick up some plants to replace a number of very tired critters that did not survive the period over the summer when the watering system quit working (it only takes a day or two without water to kill a potted plant here).

Looks like those dwarf bougainvillea I put in front are going to croak over. Annoying. It may be that they’re just suffering from the cold…but it hasn’t been that cold. We haven’t had a hard frost this winter. I’m thinking I may pull them out and replace them with roses, which I know do well in that exposure. But it frosts my cookies…speaking of frost.

The huge rubber plant in a vast pot on the side deck is dying. Why, I do not know, but it’s just as well because those things do tend to get out of control. I figure a ficus or a scheffleria (sp?) would do well in that spot. A bunch of smaller pots need new plants. Plus I’m determined to get the coveted rose food.

****

But alas. The Depot has neither a ficus benjamina nor Bayer rose food.

Apparently ficus has gone out of style as a house plant.

I mean…really???

I guess it’s obvious to normal humans: of course there are styles in houseplants, evolving tastes, even a strong non-taste for plants that have to be watered couple days or even just a couple times a week. But…dayum! Ficus????

As for the rose food, apparently the product or the company has been acquired. The maker is now called “Bio.” Same blue bottle. Same size bottle. Same shape bottle. Except instead of Bayer Rose and Flower Care, now it’s Bio Rose and Flower Care. The Home Depot dude was…nonplussed. He looked it up on his smartphone and found that yea verily: Bayer has been taken over by something called “Bio.”

WhatEVER. Grab!

From there it was on to Lowe’s, a straight shot across T-Bird, in search of a ficus plant.

Not without, however, having grabbed some spectacularly gorgeous orange poppies (ostentatiously labeled with a cancer warning, for those of you who hope to distill them into something…ahem…usable).

Lowe’s had three, count’em, three little Ficus benjamina. Two were ratty and tatty. One was in OK shape. Grab!

By now I’ve driven miles and miles and fuckin miles to pick up three, count’em, three items.

Back at the Funny Farm, the MacMail is still out of whack.

{sigh}

This means a call to Apple Support.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Apple’s support staff. They are wonderful. They are endlessly patient, and they are freakin’ geniuses. They can solve problems that God Herself could not figure out (or would prefer not to expend Her infinity on). But ohhhh…God in Hevvin….

Two hours later We have MacMail operating, and we have finally figured out why I get nuisance pop-up after nuisance pop-up after nuisance pop-up, all day long and all night long, informing me that my iCloud sign-in is…well, out of whack.

These annoying messages are stimulated by a fuckup among Apple Geniuses. Last time I dragged the MacBook to Scottsdale to be fixed, some moron…uhm. sorry, Genius took it upon him/herself to change the iCloud password for the MacBook. It did not register with this person that I own another Mac computer…but then, forgodsake, why should it.

Well, it develops that if one personoid ends up with two Apple ID, havoc is sown. And that explains the puzzling panoply of hassles.

Both computers have to have the same iCloud password, quoth this young(-sounding) fella. The way to do this is to arrange something arcane that I do not understand no matter how clearly he explains it (and the guy is a master of clarity). All I understand is that I will get a phone call that will announce a four-hour window in which I have to be available and ready to rise to this challenge.

Don’t call them. They’ll call me.

I explain that I have…you know…a life.

He explains that the life will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Holy ess aitch ai.

At any rate, he seems to have the mail program running adequately for the nonce. But experience shows that with Apple, “for the nonce” most decidedly does not mean “forever and ever, amen.”

Ohhh dear God.

***

Now, right along in here, after I get off the phone from this worthy, somehow it crosses my mind that I do not have the old pair of glasses that the new swell pair of glasses replace. Where TF are they?

Well, the optical department folk gave them to me in a strange little three-dimensional case, which one of them tossed in the bottom of the cart I was pushing around. From the optical dept I made my way through the store to pick up four or five items on my list. Then rolled the cart out to the parking lot and packed the debris into the back of the Venza.

Was the glasses case amongst the debris?

I do not remember.

Ohhhh cripes. That was a $400 pair of glasses, which I planned to use as a back-up for the new $150 pair of (not as stylish but functionally better…) Costco glasses.

Where TF were those elegantly, expensively stylish old glasses?

Gone, that’s where they were.

Now I call the Paradise Valley Costco and ask if they’ve been turned in to Lost & Found. And lo! They have. The guy says it looks like the case was run over by a cart, but the glasses themselves are fine.

Holy ess aitch ai, indeed!

It’s now 4 p.m.

I’ve had nothing to eat since 6 in the morning. It’s been one hassle and one frustration after another. But I need those damn glasses.

Soooo… back into the car and off to the East Side.

Well. Sort of east. Closer to Richistan than the ‘Hood, anyway.

Bat my way through the rush-hour traffic.

Yes. They do have the honored vintage glasses. They are undamaged. Collect these and head back to the Funny Farm through now even thicker rush-hour traffic.

This is a sixteen-mile round trip. Times 2? That would be 32 miles of junketing back and forth between the Funny Farm and the Paradise Valley Costco.

Running low on gas, but cannot contemplate either paying a premium to refill in a rapacious gas station nearer my house or schlepping to the mid-town (lowest prices in the city!) Costco and standing in line there until the Northern Star traverses its nightly path.

Make into the ‘Hood. Ghosting across the neighborhood lane that leads toward the Funny Farm, I come across a gaggle of young children playing on the sidewalks, in the front yards, riding bicycles and assorted contraptions.

Thank the Good Goddess and All Her Minions that I slow down — a lot — to enjoy the sight of these beautiful young creatures playing. Because…

One of them, a lovely, heedless little girl, decides to veer into the street and then make a U-turn on her bike…right in front of my car.

Hm. Well, we now can say something good about the hated Venza: its brakes work.

At least, they work very well, indeed, at excruciatingly slow speeds.

The beast managed to stop just as the child swerved straight out in front of me.

omigod omigod omigod

The child appeared not even to register how close she came to ending her life at about the age of seven.

But you may be quite sure the Fatlady registered it. Holeee shit!

What. A. Day!

 

January 23, 2020
by funny
2 Comments

And we’re ordering from Amazon…WHY?

Am I the only one who’s noticed that Amazon’s prices on a wide range of goods are…well, exorbitant? Surely not…

Okay, admittedly: it’s worth something not to have to traipse around the city to get this, that, and the other doohickey at that, this, and the other separate store. But…is it worth almost TWICE as much?

On the list of purchases to make is a new bottle of Bayer Rose and Flower Care, a granulated systemic fertilizer and disease resister. I’ve developed a flinch reflex about trudging to Home Depot, so this morning thought Ohhh WTF! Why schlep up there when I can have someone else schlep it here?

Over to Amazon, and yea verily, there it is: $17.79 for four pounds.

Hmmmm… That seems a little high, think I. But then… But it’s not cheap and besides I don’t wanna drive way to Hell & gone up to HD. As I’m about to click this little gem into Amazon’s “Cart,” another thought crosses the fevered mind: What IS the Depot selling this stuff for, anyway.

Off to the Depot’s website: they have FIVE pounds of it, for $9.97.

But HD’s version is the “Two-in-One” variety, not the “All in One.” They do sell the all-in-one: 4 pounds for $19.97, overpriced by Amazon’s lights.

On the other hand: The two-in-one is what is in my garage. The two-in-one works handsomely: all I need it for is to fertilize the roses and maybe, with a little luck, beat back a few aphids. It does that. Why do I need to spend eight or ten bucks more for one extra ingredient? Especially given that if I had my choice I wouldn’t dump any industrial chemicals in my flowerbeds at all?

A second search — this one of the Web, not just of Amazon’s offerings — reveals that Amazon does sell the two-in-one variety: $15.99 for yes, five pounds.

Hm. Driving to Home Depot will not consume $6.00 worth of gasoline. And I have to go up there for some other things, anyway. Soooo…. ?????

What price, roses? 😀