Coffee heat rising

A Touch of Heaven in a Day from Hell

OKAY, this one is as amazing as it gets…

So Apple shipped off my MacBook to its repair shop in Tennessee, where the thing has been for the better part of a week. But before very long, they finish and ship it back. Supposed to arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. today.

Sent off a chapter to one client. Read another client’s chapter and sent that off to him.

Come 11 a.m., no sign of it. I call Apple. Their rep gets ahold of Fedex, who say their guy tried to deliver it but no one was home. Of course I was home. And Gerardo was here with four of his guys, too! I expect the guy delivered it to Josie’s house: same number as my house, same street name except “Lane,” not “Way.” Apple CSR  gets the various numbers for me to try to track this down.  I call FedEx and get a robo-phone runaround, so I figure I’ll drive up to the Fedex office on Meth Lover’s Lane in person.

I’m cruising across SubFeeder Street headed for Conduit of Blight — NOT my usual route, because I hate turning left at the signal at CofB and GangBanger’s Way (because of the Fucking Train), so I normally backtrack around Robin Hood’s Barn to avoid it. The intersection of CofB & Meth Lover’s is impassible with construction, so you have to drive to 23rd on Gangbanger’s Way, go north to Meth Lover’s, then right on Meth Lover’s and left on 21st. And 21st is jammed with frustrated drivers trying to get around the roadblock at CofB and Meth Lover’s. Wheeeee!

As I cross Local Lane West, I see a Fedex Truck headed in my direction. Hot DAYUM!

I lay on the horn, jump out of the car, and flag him down.

And believe it or not, HE HAS THE COMPUTER and…another believe-it-or-not… he FORKS IT OVER.

Holy mackerel. He swears he’s been here and left a notice.

Check when I get home, and by golly, he’s right: the doorbell button on the gate doesn’t ring. Must have run out of battery juice or gotten wet in the rain and ruint.

But…can you imagine? Actually encountering the guy on the way out of the ‘hood?????? Wow!

As expected, I spent the entire afternoon wrestling with the computer, trying to get it back online. It goes, but it goes slow.

Tomorrow I’ll have to spend half a day wrestling with DropBox, which seemed to be cooperating up to the point where it supposedly synced itself with the newly refurbished (i.e., key tools erased or up-gefucked) machine. After making me jump through a thousand hoops and forcing me to dream up a new goddamn password and seemingly starting the 24-hour process to sync the zillions of gigabytes worth of files I have stored in DropBox’s precincts, hours after the process has started they send me an email with some new numeric code, which they demand that I enter to “finish signing in to DropBox.” But…they don’t tell me WHERE to enter it.

So that process, which should have been about 2/3 done by tomorrow morning, is now stopped, and now I’ll have the pleasure of trying to roust a human at DB (good luck with that!) and trying to get him to explain WTF and where the hell I’m supposed to enter this magical number, and then…yes…it will be another 24 hours before my files are synced.


Y’know what?

I. want. my. Smith-Corona. back.

Live-Blogging (sorta…) from Bureaucracy Hell

So…I’ve lost my Social Security card and my Medicare card was stolen. Getting these back, as you can imagine, entails an unholy amount of hassle. Which do you suppose would entail less pain?

  • Call Social Security on its 800 number; jump through a thousand robotic hoops, and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait… Finally reach a person who has no clue what she’s doing. (As you might guess: been there, done that!)
  • Drive in person to the Social Security office in Scottsdale, the bureaucracy’s nearest brick-&-mortar venue. Take a number and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait… Sometime today (maybe) get to speak with a human who knows how to solve the problem.
  • Go to the Social Security Website, create a “My Social Security” account (or, if I stupidly did this some time in the past, find it and figure out how to break into it), dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and dork around and screw around and MAYBE get the new cards ordered. Or not.

Any of those involves time-sucking frustration of the first order.

Experience shows that physically going to a Social Security office is less time-consuming (despite the drive time), less frustrating, and less outright enraging than either of the other two options. So early this afternoon, after finishing the minimum amount of work needed to make progress on the client’s huge project, I climbed in the car and started driving.

Arrived at the SS office right at 1:44 in the afternoon. They close at 4 p.m.. That left two hours and 15 minutes, sooo…there was at least a shot of getting to speak to a functionary before they threw us all out.

Drew “Welcome to Social Security” coupon number Z140. Sat and waited for them to call that number







And on. And on. And fuckin’ ON.

Meanwhile, I’d learned that to get a new Social Security card I had to apply at this office. But to get a new Medicare card, I had to go around the corner and stand in ANOTHER line to beg for that.

Finally, after about half an hour or 45 minutes of this futility, I think oh fukkit and get up and leave.

I walk around the corner to see if maybe I could at least get the Medicare card with a slightly more reasonable wait. Pass through the security guard — this one a lot more hostile than the guy in the Social Security office. Yeah: a WHOLE lot more hostile. Help a couple of terrorists in their early nineties figure out how to use the punch-a-button nuisance to generate a ticket to wait. Generate my own. Sit down.

Many fewer victims here. I figure out that actually there are only about five people ahead of me. Take a seat and…well, yeah. About ten or twelve minutes later, my number is called.

I claim that both my cards were “lost.” If you define “thieving” as a variety of “losing,” that’s probably accurate. Why do I resist admitting that the Medicare card was stolen? Because the gummint’s web page says you have to file a police report before asking for a replacement. And THAT will cause still more trouble and headaches that I DO. NOT. NEED.

To my astonishment, the doughty bureaucrat behind the desk asks me a series of rote questions, goes CLICKETY CLICKETY CLICKETY on his keyboard, and announces blithely, “The Medicare card should arrive in two weeks; the Social Security card will take about three months to show up.”


“But…,” say I, “they said I have to go to two different offices and apply for each one separately.”

“I just ordered them both.”

Oh. My. GOD! You beautiful, spectacular ebony saint of a man! Can I take you out to Ruth’s Chris Steak House and buy you a T-bone? How about an orange soufflé swimming in heavy cream for dessert? A bottle of Domaine Loubejac Pinot Noir to go with?

Stop by the Fry’s on the way home to stock up on veggies and miscellaneous junk. Stumble in the house, bolt down a box of sushi and a couple bottles of beer.

Having finished the day’s ration of the client’s index before heading off for the Adventure in American Bureaucracy, I now sit down to write this post, and….

In comes this fine message from DropBox:

Hi Victoria,

We really appreciate taking the time to write in.

For security reasons could you please confirm the restoration?

Just to summarize, we are going to undo the following event link in order to remove the selective sync conflicts from your account:

I just want to confirm that you want these events reverted in their entirety, and there are no other actions you’d like me to take on your account at this time.

Once you’ve written me back to confirm that’s the case, I’ll pass this along to our Restorations team to perform the requested operation on your account. If there are other things you’d like done, please write back with additional event links or a description of the circumstances surrounding your situation.

I look forward to hearing back from you!


I have not asked Dropbox to do anything in the past week. The last I looked — about three hours ago — all is well. I do not know what this means, but “remove” or “revert” sounds a whole lot like DELETE stuff. Random fuckin’ stuff.

This causes a complete, total, exhausted-old-lady can’t-stand-another-minute-of-bullshit-hassle MELT-DOWN!

I have NO idea what this worthy is talking about, but I can NOT afford to have some good soul delete the project that I’ve spent the last gawdAWFUL number of torturous, tedious, brain-banging, mind-numbing hours on!!!!!!! GAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

E-mail back, also having no idea whether a reply will reach a human being, DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING and frantically start copying key folders to the iMac’s desktop, not knowing whether the machine has anything like enough memory to hold that much data.

Meanwhile… The MacBook, the one whose repairs absorbed some six hours of driving time, days of down time, and hour after hour of fuckup-recovery time, is NOT fixed. Last night it started shutting down again. Same story: PLINK, out of the blue. Reboot, find there’s plenty of power on the battery, data has been lost, pages have disappeared, fuckups have been fucked up. Last night I call Apple’s 24-hour service and reach a tech in Australia. Explain that this saga is beginning to wear on me. She says with AppleCare I have two or three in-house visits coming. She tries to set this up but because of course Apple has gone to bed in this country, she can’t get through. Gives me a phone number to call.

Reach one of Apple’s accelerated AppleCare dudes here. He says well, that would be true if we were in Australia, but it doesn’t apply in the US. I complain about the interminable drive to Scottsdale, now that the bastards have closed down the central Phoenix store. He says they have a deal where they will send me a shipping box and cover the cost of FedExing it to the repair dudes and FedExing it back to me.

Well. That’s better than a hit on the head, anyway. Best of all would be if you could FIX the damn thing.

Finish copying stuff to the iMac’s desktop, including all The Copyeditor’s Desk’s present and past client data.

By now it’s getting dark.

Take the dog for a doggy walk. She lunges onto a neighbor’s lawn to have a good grass-wallow and then launches into one of the worst episodes of reverse-sneezing she’s ever had. If you’ve never seen a dog doing the reverse-sneeze thing: it’s much like a kind of seizure. Even if you know the dog will get over it, the dog doesn’t know that. And the dog tends to panic. Now Ruby is wheezing and gasping for air and shaking all over her little body in terror.

Whenever she gets to the point where she can more or less breathe again, I have to pick her up and carry her the quarter-mile back to the house. Jolly fun.

Day from Hell…

A-n-n-d It’s Back to Nightmare Central

Okay, with any luck the Human is now recovered enough to cope with another headache-filled day.

When the Apple tech left off on Saturday, we still had not solved the problem with my MacMail. This was after a total of around six or eight hours wasted on the phone, wrestling with it.

Yesterday he had something come up and took a day off work. So this morning I called his extension & left a message.

Meanwhile, yesterday along came a demand, in the part of the email still working, that I pay for the use of iCloud. I believe this to be phishing, because the sender’s email was not at or anything even vaguely resembling it. Not impossible, though: right now the only way I can get at my email is through iCloud’s server: somehow my regular MacMail account has been disabled. But whatever: I am NOT paying for iCloud, a service that I do not want and that I highly resent having foisted on me.

While I’m waiting for him today, I guess I’d better prepare a mailing list for a message I can send out from Gmail, telling all my friends and business acquaintances to deep-six the Macmail address and use one of the old gmail addresses. This REALLY pisses me off, because compared to Apple’s mail program, Gmail is cumbersome to use and a damn nuisance, and of course, Google wants to serve you ads. I don’t see them, because I use an ad-blocker; but presumably ads will be sent, in every message, to my friends and clients. Which I do. NOT. appreciate.

Even more than I do NOT appreciate Google spying on every word I transmit through my private goddamn messages.

And mean-meanwhile, in the headache department: The swimming pool repair company’s guys showed up at 6:30 a.m. to start jackhammering the old plaster off the pool.

WHAT a freakin’ racket! This is an all-day project: they’ll be banging at the pool’s gunite walls until late afternoon or early evening. It’s one bitch of a job, and one gawdawful noisy job. Its only saving grace is that it must annoy the hell out of the annoying neighbor behind me: revenge for the business with the flammable debris dumped behind the wall on the 4th of July.

The thing is, these guys — all Mexican laborers, nary a one of whom speaks English — are working completely unprotected. They have no ear protection, no eye protection, and only a bandana tied over the face to keep the fine, lung-cancer-inducing plaster dust out of their noses.

And that is fuckin’ inexcusable. What does it cost to buy your employees — or contract laborers, which is probably how these guys are paid — a few pairs of ear-plugs, some cheap plastic goggles, and nose masks? Exploitive bastards.

Trying to think of a tactful way to suggest this to our honored pool company owners, but failing just now to come up with any polite words. Maybe I could send them away until Swimming Pool Service and Repair comes up with some basic safety and health equipment?

That, of course, will entail having to hire some other company to finish the job…presumably also with unprotected and probably illegal workers.

Welp, I haven’t heard a thing from the Apple guy. So it’s off to compile a list that can be sent out from Google, and then say good-bye to Apple Mail.

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

DepositPhoto; Rainy Weather © dnaumoidWell…the metaphorical rain, that is. The real rain, of which we’ve had a fair amount the past couple days, can hang around for awhile. The storm that blew in from the Sea of Cortéz has broken the heat, saturated the earth, refreshed the plants, cleaned the air… And in the micro-bargain, filled up the swimming pool for free! Other than saturating the wiring that runs the AC system (which just now isn’t needed anyway), it seems not to have done any damage here at the Funny Farm.

Roads were flooded. The usual contingent of morons drove into flooded washes and had to be rescued from their cars’ roofs. One moron even walked into a flooded wash.

I haven’t gone down to my son’s house to see if everything’s OK there. If it’s not, there’s little I could do about it. And he’ll be back in a day or so.


It was one thing after another yesterday. Among the highest of the many low points: Medicare.

Jayzus Aitch Keerist!

So while I’m at the Walmart buying pee pads to protect my floors from the sick dog’s ministrations, I decided to get a flu shot. Medicare has just sent a new card. Somewhere in Washington — after HOW many decades? — it registered with a bureaucrat that maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea since the creation of Adam and Eve to make everyone in the country over the age of 65 carry around a card bearing their name and Social Security number in order to get medical care.

Ya think?

So they decided to issue new Medicare cards with new computer-generated numbers. That’s good.

Many days late and a dollar short. But good.

Mine came in the mail a couple days ago.

At the Walmart, the pharmacist asked if I had a new Medicare number. Yup. I fork it over so as to get the shot covered on Part D.

It won’t work. She struggles and she struggles and she struggles. She can NOT make it work. She gets on the phone to Medicare — this involves the usual frustrating punch-a-button hoop-jump and yakathon/obnoxious Muzak heel-cooling routine. Time passes. NOTHING that they tell her, nothing that she does will make it work. She’s still wrestling with it when, after about 20 or 30 minutes of watching her try to get through, I say “Look. I’ll just pay for it. Any day I’d rather be short 40 bucks than get the flu.”

So I ended up paying for a shot that was supposed to be covered by Medicare Part D, for which I pay.

When I got home, I called the number for Medicare shown on the back of the card.

MY GOD, the run-around!!!!!

After a good ten minutes of button-punching, hoop-jumping, waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting listening to aggravating yak and excruciating Muzak, a clueless woman got on the phone.

They train these folks to read a spiel to you. You ask your question, and they get out the spiel and start reading it from start to finish. This one was a lecture on what the flu shot will do for you, what the flu is, why you need a flu shot, and whether Part D would cover it. Believe it or not, she did not KNOW whether Part D covers the flu shot and so wasted some more of my time while she looked it up. I finally interrupted her in the middle of this yak-fest — what’ she’s doing is reading from a Web page and no, this is NOT the first time this fine experience has happened to me when I finally reached a human at a government office — and practically hollered, “I know that! Please don’t read that stuff to me. My question is why didn’t my new Medicare number work when I tried to get a flu shot?!??!?”


Now that we have that figured out, she proceeds to try to find out. To make a very long story short, she doesn’t know. She insisted that the number I recited to her off the card was correct, that everything was in order, and that it should have worked. Curious, she got into the system to see if the Walmart lady was entering something wrong. A-n-n-n-d she could find no trace of an attempted transaction.

She suggested I go back to Walmart and tell them to try again, because Part D still might reimburse me for the $40 that I had to pay to get the shot.


See those random, rather poorly written posts you occasionally come across at Funny? The ones that natter on meaninglessly about such topics as “four good stocks to buy,” as though you’re going to take stock advice from a retired professor of English? Those are paid posts. I get paid over a hundred dollars A MINUTE to put one of those things online. Just now a new editing assignment hit my in-box; for that kind of thing, I get paid upwards of $60 an hour. You seriously think, dear Medicare bureaucrat, that I’m going to go stand around a Walmart for another hour or so, grinding my teeth and arguing over forty bucks? Really?

So now I’ll have to find out whether this incident was a fluke or whether something is fucked up deep in the works of Medicare. Whaddaya bet it’s the latter?

At any rate, she said it will be the middle of next April before all the new cards are mailed out. In the interim, they believe the old cards bearing one’s SS number will still work. She suggested continuing to use that for as long as possible.


So there you have it: that was the general tenor of the day. The whole damn day went like that, with the exception of the actual arrival and success of the guy from Liberty Wildlife, who liberated the hummingbird trapped in the kitchen skylight.

not so much…

My stove is acting up. I tried to reach Southwest Gas to see if there was some kind of outage. You can NOT reach a human being at Southwest Gas. Even when you send an e-mail, you get a machine-generated fuck-you-very-much response. Whenever I catch my breath from yesterday’s marathon set of run-arounds, I’m writing a complaint to the Corporation Commission about that.

The appliance guy is booked out into the middle of next week. Fortunately, two of the burners — the small ones — are still working, and I do have a camp stove. SDXB, when told this story, thought it sounded more like a problem with the stove than with the gas delivery and thought I shouldn’t try to use the stove at all. But my propane grill doesn’t have a side burner (the one that came with the last grill I had never worked very well, so I decided I’d rather have a shelf than one of those things on the present model). So without a functioning stove, I can’t even make a cup of coffee without heating the water in the microwave.

The aging microwave…

The afternoon will be occupied with the volunteer work I agreed to do down at the Church. Can’t get out of that, because I had to abdicate last week while trying to deal with Cassie’s illness. Fortunately, it’s so quiet there I can bring my computer and do editorial work…which I’ll have to do because today’s incoming consists 8,000 words of arcana due to the publisher on Friday.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to carry a bottle of dog pee to the Second-Opinion vet, to ascertain whether Cassie has a UTI. On Wednesdays, 2nd-O Vet closes his clinic until 4 p.m., then is open from 4 to 8 p.m. So I’ll have to wring out the dog this morning, store the pee in the fridge, FLY back home from the church, let the dogs out, haul the dogs back in, grab the bottle of pee, and drive across the city to the veterinary office. Yes. Through the rush-hour traffic. Over roads that were flooded yesterday.

Not gone yet…