Coffee heat rising

Cox the Feeble…America the Disconnected?

Live-Blogging in the Disconnect Mode…

Along about 6 p.m., a little rain started to sprinkle. I’m playing with the computer, my usual pastime, thinking I should get up and turn on the PBS Gnus by way of catching up with the day’s antics in Washington. In passing, as the drizzle begins, the lights blink almost off and back on, so fast and so subtly it’s barely noticeable.

This is the second time it’s happened in the past few days. Nothing much ensued the other day, but it’s something I take note of because the house has aluminum wiring. Anything electrical that’s even faintly unusual makes one itch.

But as before, nothing bursts into flames. Yet.

LOL! You think I exaggerate? One of DX-H’s law partners and his wife went out to dinner and a movie one night. After a pleasant evening they came home…to a slab and a pile of ashes.

No joke! The house had burned completely, altogether to the ground.

So electrical glitches elicit some interesting imaginative scenarios.

The laptop has developed a few glitches of its own, of late. So when its Internet connection suddenly went down, just as I was about to pack it in and go turn on the big iMac for the purpose of “television” viewing, I didn’t think much about it. Rebooted. Still offline. Ohhh wellll…I needed to call the Apple Service people for something else, anyhow.

Haul out of the easy chair and away to the office. Fire up the iMac and…yup. DEAD. It, too, is offline.

Clearly, what we have here is another goddamn Cox thing.

Call the Cox 24-hour service that I subscribe to expensively…or try to, anyway. When I pick up the phone, instead of a dial tone I get buzz buzz buzz buzz… Busy signal???! Whaaaa!

Fortunately I happen to have quite a few minutes available on my cell phone. Dial up Cox’s expensive service, from whom, after a couple of transfers, I learn there’s an outage in our area. They expect to have the service back up around 8:00 p.m.


This is classic Cox. Every time it rains, Cox goes down. And it’s not even raining very hard. It’s barely sprinkling out there.

We have only two residential Internet choices here: Cox and CenturyLink, the ghost of the late not-much-lamented Qwest. CenturyLink has a reputation for being even worse than Cox – in fact, by comparison Cox looks good.

 So…if you live in Maricopa County and you imagine that someday you may need to dial 911, you’d bloody well better have a cell phone.

I now have two of the damn things, neither one of which I know how to work. Managed to figure out how to dial a phone number on the new Walmart purchase and got through to Cox’s alleged service department. That would be where the 8 p.m. estimate came from.

To make the present event even more infuriating, the Macs are showing, with their little “radio” icon, that the wi-fi is on. But it ain’t.

Or…lo! Maybe it is!

Yes. It is on. For the nonce.

Knowing Cox’s fine reputation for reliability though, it probably won’t be for long.


Oooohkayyyy…. Yes, the connection is reestablished. But now the iMac WON’T ACCEPT MY PASSWORD to sign back on. God DAMN IT but I hate loathe and despise the techno-dystopia that we live in. Now I’ve got to try to call up Apple on a phone line that may or may not keep working and try to get my computer to come back on.


Lo! It’s up. And now we’re watching Hari Sreenivasan holding forth about the Pensacola shooting, reporting in awe that the Saudis who shot up the naval base…oooohhh! watched a shooting video before going on their rampage. Imagine that!

Y’know, Hari’s cute. No: handsome. He emanates smarts. He’s probably the best thing on PBS News. But…really…wouldntcha like to have Walter Cronkite back? David Brinkley? Chet Huntley?

PBS seems to me to be the best news show that’s out there, on the air or in the stream. But dayum! Truth is, the wackshit conservatives are right. It’s politically correct to the point of doctrinaire. It’s surely better than anything else we have these days. But it’s NOT objective. It doesn’t even try to report the news objectively.

{sigh} We live in hopeless times…

Ouch! Ugh! and Whew!!!

Whew! It’s hotter’n’a three-dollar cookstove. The air conditioning just ran through what it defines as a cooling cycle and shut off. Still frying in here. Need to go out and fall in the pool again.

Ugh! Reports have it that Apple is going, oh (grumpily) hallelujah, to replace our fine defective goddamn keyboards, for freaking FREE!

So. I guess Monday I will have to traipse over to the Biltmore and hand this thing across the counter, there to have it gone for several days, probably the better part of a week. How can I express my annoyance?

Okay, okay, OKAYYYY you’re right! How can anyone complain when a company wants to make one of its fiascos right all by its little self, not being forced to do so by the federal government?

All very nice, I’m sure. But for what this thing cost, shouldn’t we get a keyboard that…well…you know…works? From the git-go?

Having to attach a Microsoft(!) external keyboard is the least of the annoyances. Yesterday this fine expensive little beast experienced not one, not two, but three system crashes. Plus FireFox crashed, apparently overloaded by having too many tabs open. (Is that even possible?)

These crashes occurred while I was working on the Drugging of America book, sweating over a chapter that has, to give you a clue to its complexity, 83 endnotes. Woulda thought I was gonna die, thank you very much, without the damn computer stumbling around all evening long.

So it was 11 p.m. by the time I wrestled that mess into a corner and then posted Friday’s chapter of The Complete Writer.

And finally, ouch! Now we have some direct evidence that stress makes me clench and grind my teeth at night.

Stopped wearing the mouth guard after the burning mouth episode, which hurt quite a lot and took a good three weeks to clear up fully.

Apparently this was ill-advised. Woke at 5 a.m., sat up, and…YOOOWWWWW!!!!!

Worst pain I’ve EVER felt!

It felt like somehow I must have dislocated my jaw.

In my sleep??? HOW???

Whatever…it was just excruciating, and I thought I was going to have to go to the emergency room…A-fuckinGAIN!

Managed to stagger in to the bathroom, heat up a wet washcloth, and apply. Still couldn’t close my mouth, but did contrive to get online and find, at the TMJ site, the advice that less is more. They’d posted a little physical therapy exercise that supposedly would help this phenomenon.

Couldn’t get any worse. So tried it out, and damned if it didn’t help.

These things always, invariably happen to me on the weekends. So calling the dentist was off the table. Oh well.

By 9 a.m. it had calmed down enough to be more or less tolerable. Resuscitated the mouth guard and left it in all day. That also seemed to help. I guess.

What fun.

Unable to chew anything…luckily a very ripe (and delicious!) watermelon was sitting on the kitchen counter. So that was a lot like eating sherbet. But less fattening.

This afternoon it was off to the nearby Sprouts in Crime Central to pick up a cucumber. Developed a craving for xergis, a cold soup perfect for a day like this. And it doesn’t have to be chewed. 😉

Sprouts has a security guard looming at the front door these days. That’s good. I guess. Yeah. I live in a neighborhood where the local grocery store has to post guards to keep its customers from being brained or running off in terror. Ducky.

You’d think Sprouts would have a decent cuke, wouldn’t you?

Not so much.

You had your choice:

Organic…  Armenian-type, wrapped in plastic but wimpy, no longer than a regular old-fashioned cuke, but thinner. Looked pretty puny under the plastic wrap: dented, scratched, verging on wilted.

Inorganic… Encased in wax.

The inorganic cukes were a buck apiece, but a) I hate that wax stuff and b) by the time you peeled off the contaminated skin, not so much would be left. The sickly-looking organic cukes were two bucks apiece(!!!!!).

Wave good-bye to the security guard…jump in the car…head down to AJs.

There the Armenian-style cucumbers also were $2 apiece — but you’d expect to pay that in the Jewel of Richistan. AJ’s is Arizona’s answer to Whole Foods, only it costs more.

Food’s better, too.

While there, picked up a package of overpriced dog food, obviating the need to drive out again on Monday, when the hounds will run out of the batch they’ve got in the fridge. So that was good.

At any rate, I’m pretty sure this jaw/TMJ thing is a direct result of sitting in front of the damn computer tearing my hair until 11 p.m. and then falling straightaway into the sack. It confirms the dentist’s suspicion: stress. And it explains where the stress comes from.

Working on a computer is a constant exercise in low-grade stress, punctuated by moments of frustration, rage, and despair. Last night’s Triple Crown crash-fest was more extreme than usual…but the fact of the matter is that a computer is a box filled with endless aggravation.

That notwithstanding, today I finished another chapter. It’s rather slight — only about 1670 words. But I decided it would be good to insert the “How to Read a Scientific Paper” squib closer to the front than originally planned. Follow that with the NNT chapter, which will require a degree of science-buff sophistication from the reader.

In theory, with chapter 2 I now have enough to put the proposal together and start sending it out. But I think I’d rather have a more solid chapter to include in the proposal, and the NNT rant is it. It will take two or three days to write that, I expect, using the original blog post as the bare-bones draft.

Really, the relevant posts are functioning like preliminary outlines. This stuff grows like algae on the side of the pool. And of course every word of the content has to be rewritten to sound like something a university press would care to publish… Bloggish doesn’t make it.

It’s 7 p.m., I haven’t finished the current chapter of Ella’s Story, which needs to go live on Monday. And I’m too tired to function. To reiterate:

Ouch! Ugh! and Whew!


Digital Aversion

They say you should start your work day with the chore you like least. Then you have the worst done and the rest of the day is, as it were, smooth sailing. Thus if you’re in sales, you should start with cold calls. If you’re a lawn man, maybe you should pull out weeds by their roots first thing in the morning.

By that theory, I should be over at Amazon right now, X-ing out my existence as the author of six books and creating a new existence as Roberta Stuart, pornographer par excellence. This is how I should start my day: get the most obnoxious, difficult, hair-tearing, time-sucking job out of the way first.

But as you can see…I’m not there. I’m here. Doing this.

It just makes me cringe.

What an ineffable waste of time. Amazon has decreed that you can’t have more than three pseudonyms, and it has further decreed that any variant of your name is NOT your name but is a “pseuodnym.” (I have three, because my dear parents gifted me with an unpronounceable, weird, and insufferably snooty first name.) So in order to build an “Author Page” to peddle my little company’s Racy Books, I have to sign out as myself and sign in with a new email and create a new persona. Then I have to persuade Amazon that the new persona is me. Then I have to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop, presumably, to get revenues for Camptown Races books directed to the corporate bank account. It is going to be a freaking nightmare and I don’t wanna do it!

I don’t want to do it, because it soaks up time. Needlessly. And time is my only asset with any value!

The only element of my life that’s worth anything is my time. And as the seconds and the minutes pass, I have less and less of it. Every time the sun rises, every time the sun sets, I have less time in my spiritual bank account.

The older you get, the more conscious you grow of that particular little reality.

Hence: digital aversion. NOTHING consumes time more voraciously than these wondrous computer devices, programs, and platforms we all have to deal with, day in and day-a-wasting out.

Every day I have to learn some new program, jump through some new digital hoop, contend with some new hassle. Every hour is at least partly consumed  by watching a computer grind away and grind away and grind away. Some part of every day is absorbed by getting around yet another error message, yet another digital roadblock.

As we speak, I’m hassling with WordPress because it’s decided to hang over the upload of a freaking THUMBNAIL, goddamnit, needed to update the Camptown Races Press site. It’s not like this was a gigantic TIFF here. No. This is a tiny little JPEG. Now I’ve had to crash out of the program, my coffee has gone cold while I’ve wrestled with that sh!t, the page is not updated and for all I know may never BE updated and for the life of me I can NOT figure out how to make   control the amount of air between those damn thumbnail images.

I personally have come to hate it.

Yeah, digital technology has done wondrous things for our ability to communicate and to cope with vast quantities of (largely irrelevant) information. But folks…

Life was better without it.

Speaking of Roberta, that wily and prolific author has emitted another new book:

Veronica & KJ 2Girlfriends LORES

And she would be forever in your debt if you would grab it from Amazon and post a fine review of the thing.