Coffee heat rising

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.

Cutting Out the Technohassles

Y’know…computer technology is amazing, and an amazing gift to humanity. But…

Yeah: BUT… It’s also a a curse, most often manifested in the form of endless technohassles: long, complicated struggles with the operating systems of every damn thing we need to live our lives in an “advanced” society — from can openers to phones to cars. The telephone is a particular problem. What used to be a simple enough device is now a portable mini-computer and an indefatigable carrier of nuisances. Nuisance procedures, nuisance programming, and most of all nuisance calls from solicitors and hustlers combine to make us feel miserable and harassed.

What to do about it?

Well, I have A PLAN.

Mwa ha ha! It just came to me as I was out driving around in search of gasoline and fresh bread:

Henceforth, one day a week — one whole 24-hour day from 6.a.m. to 6 a.m.— will be declared, promised, and dedicated as a Techno-Free Day.

  • No computers
  • No computers disguised as telephones
  • No email
  • No online news
  • No blogging
  • No telephone interruptions
  • No online scams
  • No nothin’!

The accursed computers go off and stay off for 24 long, quiet back-to-back hours.

This will mean, as you might imagine…

  • No aggravation
  • No frustration
  • No unsolvable ditzy impossible-to-grasp problems
  • No pestering
  • No unknown parties tracking what we do
  • No distractions
  • Minimal annoyance

Yeah.

Seriously: I have HAD IT with the constant technologically-driven distraction and annoyance.

And…I’ve decided I deserve a break from it — as should all of us.

Pick a day of the week, then, and…revert to the freakin 1950s!

  • I like to read the morning news. Fine: zip down to the grocery store and buy a newspaper before breakfast.
  • Create an answering machine message saying something like “I do not answer the phone or check my email on [thus-and-such a day]. If this a real call from someone who knows me personally and has a real reason to speak with me, please leave a message and I’ll call you back tomorrow. If it is an emergency, please call 911. If you are a phone solicitor, please find another use for the time you would waste filling up my machine with your pitch.”
  • Do not answer the phone.
  • Do not even turn on the computers.
  • Find some relaxing and fun things to do outside the house and go do them.

It is time to disconnect from all the crazy-making techno-crap. I can’t stand another minute of it!

Weather Report: Scattered Scam Flurries

Honest to Gawd, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many scamming emails fly in over the digital transom as have come in over the past two or three weeks. Every time you turn around, here’s another wacksh!t scam. Check out the latest:

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Customer Service” <elijahbillingdepartment@gmail.com>
Subject: Attn: We have noticed unusual activity in your PayPay account….
Date: April 22, 2022 at 12:08:50 PM MST
To: vickyhay@mac.com
Reply-To: “Customer Service” <anthonybillingdepartmentus@gmail.com>

Dear User
Attn: We have noticed unusual activity in your PayPay account

Thanks for your patience while we review the unauthorised activity case on a payment you have sent. We’re happy to confirm that this transaction is eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection, and we’ll cover the full disputed amount for you if there are any.

The payment for this transaction is now pending in your PayPal balance awaiting confirmation from the sender. If It’s you, There’s no further action required from you at this time. We’ll let you know if we need any additional information.

Transaction details:

Merchant’s name: Home Depot LLC.
Merchant’s transaction ID:973476LAIPXJ
Your transaction ID:5896321478LWISUSD
Invoice ID:49598-WPLS-268P-4178-9689
Transaction date:22 April 2022
Transaction amount:$1296.97 USD

If you did not authorize the charge, you have 72 hours from the date of transaction to open a dispute. For more information, We recommend you to get in touch with us.
PayPal Customer Service toll-free for the USA & CANADA +1 (805) 421 4441 or info@paypal.com
Please don’t reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and click help in the top right corner of any PayPal page.

Great stuff, ain’t it?

It’s particularly interesting — IMHO — that they seem to assume the targets of their scams are spectacularly stupid. Guess there must be enough morons out there to make it worth their time.

Hey…we elected Donald Trump to the august office of President of the United States. We can’t be all that bright, as the citizens of a nation, can we? 😀

Still…you’d have to be even stupider than that to not remember the details of a $1300 charge on a credit-card-in-the-sky.

Forwarded this direly urgent notice to Paypal. Not that they can or will do anything about it.

But we can!

Pay effin’ attention, folks! Do not believe anything that comes in over the email. Even if you think it’s credible — today I also got one claiming I owed for some purchase I imaginatively made on Amazon, whose delivery services I use all the time — check, check, and double-check before you send money or information to any email that comes in over the transom. Look it up: did you really make that charge? Did you seriously not pay it? Really? Did you receive whatever they claim they’re sending to you? Do they really have your mother-in-law kidnapped in Guatemala?

Report these efforts whenever you can. Here’s the address for fake PayPal demands: https://www.paypal.com/uk/smarthelp/article/how-do-i-report-potential-fraud-to-paypal-faq2422

Google the business involved and “phishing,” “scam,” “email fraud,” and/or whatever other relevant term comes to mind. This should elicit a department where you can report attempts at fraud using the company’s identity.

A number of agencies investigate online fraud operations, plus just about anything that spills over state lines can be reported to the FBI. Here are a few places to report these fine schemes:

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
USA Gov: Report Scams and Frauds
Gmail: Avoid and Report Phishing E-mails
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation: Spoofing and Phishing
FBI: On the Internet

There are many others. Google where to report phishing emails to access the bonanza and possibly to find sites especially relevant for whatever scam has come your way.

Know that there are widely available mailing and telephone lists organized by age. I first was made aware of this when I magically became eligible to join AARP. Suddenly I found myself not only the target of endless pitches from that august institution, but for hustle after hustle after hustle from scammers who clearly hoped I had arrived at the threshold of old age absent some of my marbles.

In about three weeks, I will reach the 3/4 of a century mark. Clearly, this also is another milestone for hustlers, peddlers, and effin’ crooks: they all think if you’re pushing 75, you must be shuffling off to Senility Acres.

Keep your wits about you as you approach your allegedly Golden Years. The gold these clowns see is in your pocket and your bank account.

 

A-n-n-n-n-d….Another Day in Computer Hell

The Macbook still is running amok, though the ancient iMac seems to be working fine.

I’m told my Apple ID password has been “updated.” I did NOT reset it. If it’s been changed, I have no idea what it has been changed to.

I’m still getting into DropBox and iCloud. But…

Incoming emails are going into the “Archive” folder. Sent emails appear to go out as multiple copies — in one case, 15 or 16 of them! — though it’s unclear whether more than one copy reaches a recipient. Asked one recipient if he had received a pile of copies, and he said he did not.

Messages that I’ve sent to others are landing in “Archive,” too.

So…I retrench by going over to Funny about Money’s G-mail account. Some messages do seem to be getting through. At least one ended up in The Copyeditor’s Desk’s G-mail account — and no, I did not misaddress it.

Sent messages show up in MacMail’s “Archive” folder, not in “Sent.”

An email sent from the Funny about Money G-mail account arrived with a return address for The Copyeditor’s Desk. No, I did not send it from the CED G-mail account.

An email sent from the Funny about Money gmail account arrives in “Archive.” It does not appear in “Inbox.”

An email sent to myself from MacMail lands in the “Junk” folder. MacMail will not let me mark it “not junk.” Manually moving it out of “Junk” to inbox causes it to jump back into “Junk.”

Nothing I do seems to fix any of these problems. How can I count the ways I am fed up? 

The plan now is to jump Apple’s ship. This will entail an involved, brain-banging process.

  • First I’ll have to save as much data as possible to disk or to DropBox. This will be a trick, because for years the Macbook has refused to back up to an external drive.
  • Then I’ll need to trot over to Best Buy and score a PC, preferably as a laptop with Microsoft Office installed. (Mostly I use the big iMac desktop as a TV.) Get their techs to figure out how to access Dropbox and iCloud if possible and how to access MacMail (apparently this can be done, strangely enough).
  • Relearn the use of MS Office, which I quit using years ago. This will entail spending some unholy amount of time at GDU’s or at the community college’s computer commons, pestering staff to help me figure out how to use newer versions of the software.
  • Call Best Buy’s Geek Squad back in to attach the new laptop to the modem, which the Cox tech apparently up-gescrewed when he fiddled with it, fixing nothing.
  • Trouble-shoot God only knows how many new nightmares that this process necessarily will cause.
  • Eventually (I hope: not now!!) replace the iMac.

With any luck, by next week I can begin to migrate the Web Empire over into the PC environment.

It’s sad. I’ve loved my Apple computers, and I use them every day. But Apple has made it clear that the company does NOT want to deal with the likes of me. They’ve done everything they can do — purposefully or not — to make it hard for twerps like me to deal with them.

  • They moved their place of business out of the North Central district, closing the Biltmore store and leaving only the Arrowhead and the Kierland Commons store — each about 15 miles from the central part of Phoenix, through heavy, obnoxious traffic.
  • They do not have tech service that will come to your place of business or home to address issues (they never have offered any such thing, that I can recall).
  • An Apple store is a madhouse. How their employees retain their sanity (if they do) is a mystery.
  • If they suggest anything, it’s not remotely helpful. Apparently Apple repairs are expected to be a DIY adventure. Given the quality of their “class” on using the iPhone, they apparently don’t give a damn whether you ever do figure out how to use their devices effectively.

Meanwhile, Best Buy has staff who will come to your home, who are highly knowledgeable, and who can actually fix the current problem. These guys will explain what they think you need to know, so that by the time you’ve finished an exchange with them, you at least have some idea of what to do.

It’s hard to imagine how they stay in business. As one friend remarked, their customer-service behavior suggests that Apple has dedicated itself pretty much to the telephone business. Desktop and laptop computers are now a sideline — evidently one that they’d like to dispense with.

In my case, they’re gonna get their wish.

Another lovely day in beautiful Arizona…

So I thought I’d found the problem with MacMail, but that was wrong. It now appears that Apple’s elaborate data storage thing backs up all your mail, all your data files, all your everything. Apparently you get a huge but finite amount of space on this server. And…after the six or seven years I’ve been using the current Mac computers, it’s about full!

Everything you think you’re deleting apparently is not really getting deleted. All that junk mail, all those old emails, all those clients’ involved complicated academic papers, all those Excel files, all those notes you wrote to yourself….apparently they’re immortal!

Man, i yam all tech’d out!

This morning I traipsed wayyyy to hell & gone back out to Arrowhead Mall AGAIN, this time to take a ballyhooed class in the iPhone.

Do they have a dedicated space where you can listen to the tutor talk?

You had to ask? Seriously?

So there you are in the middle of the (very busy!)  store, one entire wall of which is open to the two-story-high ECHOEY concrete mall. The Apple tech is hollering to make herself heard, but you can’t hear her well enough to follow her because she’s zipping right along and she assumes you know something of what she’s talking about

The other issue is…this lady (or her boss) is NOT a teacher. The poor thing had NO clue how to organize content for a class or how to conduct a class. She was doing the best she could, which was charming and all, but at least for me, she wasn’t at all helping one to understand how to use the damn device.

The more I watched her, the angrier I got, thinkin’ I just wasted an hour of my time and a quarter-tank of $4.47/gallon gas driving out here.

Got up and left.

Stalking back out toward the Macy’s exit, I happened past a T-Mobile store.

Asked the guys in there, who had nothin’ much to do, if they could advise on how to learn to use the iPhone.

Sure! said they: YouTube! Do a YouTube search for “how to use the iPhone” and enter your model.  They’ve got instructions for every model, and their stuff is great.

I’m going DUH! Why TF didn’t I think of that?????

So it was out the door, feeling at once frustrated, put-upon, and stupid.

Cruising eastward, ever eastward through the endless fields of eave-to-eave plaster and concrete houses… Interesting. Really, they’re not so different from the houses in our less sprawling North Central tracts: just newer, closer together, and…more. Ever-so-much more of them.

What’s neat about them is that commerce is tucked in around them cleverly, so that no matter where your tract happens to be, you’re practically within walking distance of restaurants, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, auto repair shops, SOME kinda shopping.

Pump more gas. Continue eastward, ever eastward.

Arrive home. Snab the mail out of the box. And discover…

An IRATE message from Cox saying I haven’t paid in two months and I owe more than $250 and they’re gonna shut off my phone and internet service.

Say WHAT?

I thought the CU was supposed to be autopaying that!

Get on the phone: persuade Cox to call off the hounds.

Back in the car. Drive back up to northwest Phoenix. Charge into the credit union, which I’d just passed about a half-hour earlier. Discuss. Discover that no, we’re not auto-paying Cox, because I don’t trust Cox, which I consider to be a nest of crooks.

Drive home. Get Cox back on the phone. Charge $250 on my debit card. Pissed.

CU guy suggested setting Cox payments to be autopaid on a debit card. Done, even though this sounds like a sterling bad idea.

Four in the afternoon, virtually nothing of any value has been accomplished, and I yam whipped!

Let’s see if this works….

Here we are in Computer Hell. Everything in sight is crashing, malfunctioning, and running amok. Got a trip to the Apple store scheduled; had THE world’s most adorable Geek Squad dude show up and labor mightily. Wackiness continues.

Dinnertime is here, and the Old Bat has recourse to Bogle’s Best,.

LOL! Actually, that was supposed to be absurd, but the truth is — hang onto your hat — Bogle’s astonishingly cheap Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a damned respectable drinkin’ wine.

Tastes just fine and doesn’t seem to clash with much.

Except with Reality. Which, we might add, fits me well: apparently I clash with today’s Reality! 😀

The techno-frustration level exceeds Reality. In fact, at this very moment, a thought occurs to me:

Given the password to my Blogging empire and whatever secret codes are needed to operate the iPhone my son kindly gave me, y’know…in reality…or in Unreality….I would not need anything more than an iPhone.

Maybe I could do without owning and operating a laptop or a desktop?

Because as a past employee of the Great Desert University and of the Maricopa County Community Colleges, for-freakin’-FREE I can use their computer labs. Truth to tell, I don’t NEED to access all the horrors from my house or from my own (failing) computers. I could run over to GDU or to the closest community college, take a seat, and ensconce myself in my whole Computer Empire.

God’s truth is…it may not be necessary for me to own laptop at all. Especially since, far’s I can tell, the iPhone contraption IS a computer.

Why the f*ck am I torturing myself with this connectivity horror show? Why don’t I move the three-ring horror show over to the nearest community college or over to GDU?

Added benefit of moving the online empire away from the Funny Farm: it would force me to meet other human beings!

Truly. the roof has rotted away and is falling in on Funny’s blogging empire. I can’t get online to my email. I can’t print stuff in any rational way. I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…well, yeah: I CAN’T STAND ANOTHER MINUTE OF THIS techno-horror show!

It’s two in the afternoon, and just now I’m excruciatingly exhausted after hours of struggling with this computer horror and that computer horror, with gmail and Macmail and things I can’t even remember as the timer beeps to tell me lunch/dinner is ready. Please, please, dear God: take me back to the 19th century!

What’s a little American Civil War compared to what’s going on in the Ukraine, hm?

Shee-ut. Was Abraham Lincoln our protean Vladimir Putin?

‘Tis an article for the New York Review of Books…