Coffee heat rising

Have No Fear…

Funny will be back. 😀

The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus while I’ve juggled several large projects. Right now am on page 26 of 57 pages in the client’s  Chapter 2…and she’s just getting on a roll.

Seriously, it’s a sophisticated and heavily researched academic book whose author is not a native speaker of English. And I do not speak her language (gotta learn it!!!), so sometimes it takes some figuring to Englishify it.

Sooo much crazy stuff going on in our world…to say “have no fear” seems a little…ridiculous. Some of us are scared sh!tless. Pool Dude is presently armed to the teeth — he seriously expects riots in the neighborhood lanes if Trump is voted out. You can’t buy ammo for love nor money, not that it would matter because I personally have no time to pass down at the range training myself to hit a target dead-on. Nor, offhand, do I happen to have any targets laying around the house just now.

Further from the realm of neurotic fantasy and closer to the realm of reality: if you haven’t already done so, it might be wise to be sure you have enough paper towels and toilet paper to last a month or so. Was just over at the big Fry’s (the local incarnation of Kroger’s) and found the shelves about bare where those things were concerned.

Rubbing alcohol is also absent. Remember that Windex contains alcohol and will also disinfect surfaces, as will hydrogen peroxide (good luck laying your hands on any of that!). Failing either of those, you can buy straight grain alcohol under the brand name “Everclear” at Total Wine — depending on what state you live in. It’s illegal in some states. The stuff is actually a more effective disinfectant than rubbing alcohol. Do NOT drink it, no matter what anyone suggests — unless you wish to be numbered among the microbes it removes from this earth.

Back to work! Stay well…

Summer Budget: Very tight…like a noose around the neck

In my usual OCD way, I continue to worry about how I’m going to make it through the summer. With no idea when the surprise reimbursement for the online course prep will happen, I’m not relying on that to underwrite the astronomical summer utility bills.


In a low-desert summer, power and water bills take off for Saturn’s orbit. If they weren’t already burdensome enough, both local power companies and the city water department hiked rates, so I’m figuring an extra 10 percent for both electric and water. Southwest gas also raised its rates; add another five or ten bucks there, too.

Meanwhile, in May the breathtaking costs for Medicare kick in. Part B—$110 a month—is deducted by the Feds from your Social Security check, commensurately reducing net income. The $20/month Medicare Part D plan I signed up for magically morphed into a $40 bill. The woman there had some excuse for this, but it was such double-talk I couldn’t follow her pitch, so just gave up. Though I paid upfront for a year’s worth of $90/month Medigap coverage, as a practical matter another $1080 to pay for next year’s bill will have to come from somewhere—make that $1080 and then some, because you know they’ll jack up the premium in 2011. So I’m having to self-escrow that out of cash flow. These two costs plus the $200 monthly savings and the $325/month self-escrow to cover property tax, homeowner’s insurance, and car insurance raise the monthly nonnegotiable expenses from $800 to $1240. That’s if the lawn man doesn’t show up.

Even that is a little short. Budgeted power and water bills are based on past high watermarks. But the fact is, those are way past watermarks. I’ve been figuring $225 for power and $125 for water. Last summer’s highest bills, though, came in August: $257 for electric and $133 for water. Add about 10 percent for the rate increases, and you get estimated August bills of $282 and $146, respectively. The grayed-out items below represent estimated figures for statements that have yet to come in.

Two things are saving me this year: a rainy winter drove cool-season water bills as low as $57, and learning to live in a cold house produced four months of $60 to $70 electric bills, both well under budget. So there’s some cushion in the checking account to cover the summer’s astronomical costs.

However, everybody has their hand in my pocket. Three years ago, when I had a decent income, I pledged $100 a year, for three years, to Andrea’s Closet. They neglected to bill me last year, but now that I’m unemployed and about to be broke, they want their money. I guess I’m going to have to pony it up, since I said I would, but it’s going to make things awfully tight. Charity’s dandy, but not when you need some yourself…

Well OK, I don’t. But it still frosts my cookies. I wish I’d just given them the three hundred bucks then, rather than going along with their pledging strategy.

Anyway, as you can see, I should make this month’s budget with about $5 to spare. That’s if the lawn dude doesn’t show up. And assuming I don’t pay Andrea’s Closet…

But of course, Gerardo the Lawn Dude is going to have to show up, because the damnable palm trees are already sprouting spikes from which to launch their pool-clogging blossoms. Even if I don’t let him do any clean-up, he or one of his compatriots will have to climb into the trees and cut that stuff out, to the tune of about $200. So at least one month this summer—undoubtedly June—is going to end in the red.

According to my ditzy calculations, there should be enough to carry me through the summer, if no major expenses arise and if I can manage to do most of my own lawn and pool work. Big, big if.

If the college actually pays the $2,400 that was bandied about, I figure the net should be around $1,920. That plus the alleged $400 end-of-summer remainder would come to $2,320, a pretty comfortable amount of play.

But it remains to be seen whether that comes to pass.

Saguaro Image: Artist unknown. Public Domain.