Lampquest!

And so it was off into the rising sun…

With a printout of a candidate glass lampshade from the Lamps Plus manager, along about midmorning I set out for Phoenix Lamps, a venerable shop that has occupied the same hole-in-the-wall on east Indian School Road for years. Nay, decades.

This is not a place to which I would normally avail myself, because years ago — yea verily, decades ago — their staff was unforgivably rude to me. Never have I returned, and never did I intend to return. But the Hinkley’s lady and the Lamps Plus lady assured me that the joint has changed hands, and the new proprietors were capable of behaving themselves as if they cared whether customers ever came back.

Welp…they’re right. Staff there were visibly human, and they managed to be very nice to me, despite the crankiness of my quest.

Traffic, though? Not so much. I dawdled until around 11 a.m. before dragging unhappily out the door. That was a mistake. Traffic in all directions, on all routes was just effing fierce. What are all these clowns doing out on the roads in the middle of the effing morning?

Phoenix Lamps is parking-lot challenged. They have only a cramped space behind their strip-mall slot for customers to stash their cars. No doubt under ordinary circumstances, this would have been fine. Today, though, was not an ordinary circumstances day.

The store was busy — several parties perusing every item in the store. This would explain why the slot I hogged was the only parking spot left behind the place. But despite the demands on his time and attention, the guy I met up with was very kind and very knowledgeable.

Upon inspecting the wounded Restoration Hardware lamp, he agreed that the proposed replacement glass thing suggested by the Lamps Plus manager was probably the best bet. That notwithstanding, he hauled out a gigantic Sears-Catalogue of the lamp industry and searched. And came up with the same choice. But, he allowed, this thing was not a-gonna fit in the RH lamp: it probably would be too short and too loose. However, his crew could fix that: they could build up the base for the thing and adjust it so the proposed shade would sit there with an adequate degree of stability.

So, he suggested, I should order this thing online, bring it and the crippled lamp in to the shop, and they would make it all work.

Holy mackerel. If the gods aren’t snickering, they surely are smiling.

From there, it was off to the Trader Joe in Town and Country (20th Street & Camelback)…after a lengthy wait until the disabled lady who kindly blocked the entrance and exit to the Phoenix Lamps parking lot with her van reached a point where she felt inclined to move the thing. Staff were not inclined to demand that she get off the dime, so this took awhile. Didn’t bother me — I had nothing else to do — but some customers were a shade miffed. That notwithstanding, staff steadfastly demurred to the lady in the walker.

{chortle!}

Town & Country hosts the snootiest and the snobbiest of the Biltmore nouveau-riche set, and by the time I got there — the lunch hour — the twits were out in force. Parking-lot challenged? Lemme tellya… Fortunately, I prefer to walk a ways (exercise, ya know) and I am…well…assertive. No. Of course I’m not aggressive. Who, me? 😉 I manage to shove the mini-SUV into a spot and hike in to the annoying Trader Joe’s.

Really. Was there some reason I didn’t go to Sprouts, where low-brow types like myself belong? Oh, yeah: the insufficient parking lot. Ohhh well…

The place was simply mobbed. Riots of shoppers, fighting kicking and biting to get at the desired products. Some poor lady was there who had a toddler that…well, the child had simply effing had enough of this bullshit and, trapped in a shopping cart’s kiddie seat, was SHRIEKING HER FRAZZLED LITTLE HEAD OFF.

Poor baby.

Poor mom.

Poor Trader Joe’s shoppers.

I grab the stuff I need, one item I don’t need, and learn that no, of COURSE no self-respecting TJ’s carries anything so déclassé as chocolate chips. Pay. Out the door. Back across the hectic parking lot. Into the car.

And there have to do to-the-death battle with the young, the rich, and the overprivileged just to get out of the fucking parking space.

No joke. Between the parking space and the lot’s exit, three different privileged goddamn wretches deliberately cut me off.

God, but I hate rich people.

Having been a rich person for a significant slab of my life, I can say that. F*ck you all, Rich Wretches!….

Westward on Camelback toward the poor folks’ district. Stop off at Total Wine to pick up a bottle of Everclear, which is damn-near pure ethanol.

Don’t drink this stuff, please. It’s grain alcohol and very much of it will make you plenty sick, if it doesn’t kill you. What it kills even more effectively, though, is microbes. Back a few months ago, I learned (purely by serendipity) that it’s about the most efficient killer of MRSA bugs that you, I, or our doctors can get ahold of. I want some more of it, to use as an antiseptic.

The plonk acquired with surprisingly little hassle, it’s back on the road, headed for AJ’s. My GOD the traffic! Bumper to angry bumper to frustrated bumper to lunatic bumper.

Because I stay off the roads during the rush hours and the lunch hour, I haven’t seen mobs of cars like that in years. And hope not to see them again, unless some taxicab or Uber driver is doing battle with them.

Finally crawl into the AJ’s parking lot. Park a good hike away from the door. This, too, is a purveyor of goods favored by the Rich and the Rude, so navigating their parking lot when it’s full is…well…an adventure. Grab a few goodies and lunch, fly out the door…and find myself once again jousting with The Entitled. One sh!thead cuts me off at the exit, so I veer around him to the other exit and get onto the road before the SOB can. Mwa ha ha!

Driving in Phoenix: a competitive sport.

On Central, too — northward into an upscale residential district — the road was just packed. Managed to veer over to 7th Avenue, which for reasons incomprehensible was much neglected, and shoot up north to the ‘Hood, relatively unmolested.

Finally, home!

Yea verily, back at the Funny Farm. Lampshade thing ordered. Chow scarfed down. A third of a bottle of white wine swilled. And now…enough, already! The dog and I are falling into the sack for a nap.

WordPress to the Rescue…partly

Well, that was…uhm…jolly fun… Spent the better part of the night at the Mayo’s ER after spiking a high temperature and enjoying a spectrum of annoying symptoms. Develops that the UTI that I was enjoying returned with a vengeance. The ER doc re-prescribed the stuff his colleague had given me. She’d written a prescription for only 5 days. He said I needed to take it for at least 10 more days. It was after 2 a.m. by the time I got home, and of course I didn’t sleep very well.

Head hurt like hell this morning…but  eventually I realized it was probably because I hadn’t eaten a thing since yesterday morning.

Client mathematician wanted a word count of the first five chapters of his current book, the edits of which I sent off to him the day before yesterday. In editing math copy, I don’t charge for content that I’m too stupid to understand: videlicet, just about every mathematical expression. Word counts every element in a mathematical expression — all those Greek letters, all those numbers — as a separate word. So in order to figure the actual editable number of words, you have to go through it line by line and delete every equation, every mathematical expression, every graph, every table…on and on and ENDLESSLY on.

Well, Word was having none of that. It kept crashing, and even when it didn’t crash, getting this done in any sane manner was almost impossible.

Finally it dawned on me (ever slow to tumble to the obvious…):

Hey! WordPress counts the words in a blog post. And when you paste copy from Wyrd into a WordPress post, it converts to HTML! 

Hot damn! Unlike effing Wyrd, HTML is extremely stable.

Or maybe just…dayum!!!

It took hours and hours and HOURS to paste each chapter into a post and then, in “Text” (HTML) view, to sift through line by line by line and delete every equation and every mathematical equation. Much of this stuff, WordPress converts into tables. You then have to find the table (even though it doesn’t appear as a table in the more easily comprehensible “Visual” view). This entails more sifting: through the HTML in search of tables, and then having to force WordPress to delete the damn things…which it does NOT want to do.

*******

Along about the time this adventure ground to an end, I realized I had a 100-degree temp on top of a number of unpleasant other symptoms. That’s high for me: my normal temperature is well below 98.6, so if I have a fever of 100 degrees, I am sick.

And I have a splitting headache.

Eventually I decide to drive to the Mayo’s ER, which is a distance. What time? Late…the roads were very clear, which is some sort of a miracle.

Though they kindly saw me promptly and were, as usual, marvelously attentive, it was after 2:00 a.m. by the time I rolled out of there and made my way through the black night to the Funny Farm. They called in a prescription to the Safeway near my house, saying I should show up there the minute the place opened — that would be 8:00 a.m. — to retrieve the pills and start gulping them down forthwith. In the meantime, the doc handed me one (1) of the horsepills to take while I was sitting in front of him and said “Get your tail to the pharmacy the minute they open, grab the Rx, and start gulping these things down!” This, as you will see, is a trick easier said than done…

*******

The few hours that remain to the night pass uneventfully and without sleep. Now I have to be at the Safeway at 8 a.m. to try to extract this stuff from their pharmacy.To make things even jollier, I promised one of the volunteer front-desk workers down at the church that I would do her gig this afternoon so she can visit family in California. That chore runs from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m.

So there’ll be no nap time for me. Can’t imagine how I’m going to get through the day.

First off, though, the problematic issue of getting to the Safeway pharmacy at 8 a.m.:

There are essentially three main drags that run from the north parts of the mid-city through the central commercial district to the downtown lawyers’ and bureaucrats’ district. Central Avenue goes through a genteel old-money residential area and ends at the North Mountains. Seventh Avenue also goes up to the base of North Mountain but then flows into Meth Lover’s Drive, which will take you westward if that’s the way you must go. Seventh Street indirectly joins a freeway bringing residents from the far northern bedroom communities, picks up people who live in the north central part of the city, and proceeds downtown.

Our City Parents, in their infinite “wisdom,” took it into their collective mind to convert the left-turn-only central lanes on Seventh Ave and on Seventh Street into one-way NO left-turn lanes during the rush hours: southbound from 6 to 9 a.m.; northbound from 4 to 6 p.m. While this sort of (marginally) speeds commute traffic (but not so’s you’d notice), it creates a GIGANTIC headache, because…well, no matter where you’re going, you can’t get there from here. Everybody who needs to go left to get to a destination travels on Central, so it’s bumper-to-bumper all the way downtown. The other roads move faster, but you have to perform what is known as an “Arizona turn” to get where you’re going.

An Arizona turn? That’s where you turn right to go left…and in the hands of a gifted driver, this can be quite the little maneuver.

This means that to turn left out of my neighborhood during the rush hours, you have to drive around and around and AROUND Robin-Hood’s barn. Because everybody else is trying to get to the same place you want to go, it creates vast traffic jams on the surrounding streets as people try to avoid those goddamn no-left-turn lanes.

Stupidly, I decide to drive across GangBanger’s Way to 12th Street (going north in order to turn south). This lovely boulevard is heavily traveled by my fellow law-dodgers but usually is navigable. BUT….I fail to take into consideration the goddamn high school on Gangbanger’s. At the high school, the city in its infinite stupidity has installed one of those crosswalk lights that holds up traffic whenever some pedestrian pushes a button. The upshot of that is that around 7:30, when I leave the house, traffic on this 7-lane main drag just flat comes to a dead stop, as kid after kid after kid ambles across the road.

But if you know where you’re going, eventually you can circumvent the schemes of Our City Parents and…yes: get there from here.

A hard left across three lanes of oncoming takes me and the pickup ahead of me into a neighborhood. We weave our way through this fairly dire little slum (there’s a reason I call it Meth Central), back to 7th Street, go north (opposite of the direction we need to go), shear right on Butler, cruise through a slightly less dire slum (yes, even this garden spot is beginning to gentrify), and come out on 12th Street. There we cruise southward, he toward whatever his destination might be and me dodging westward (a right turn) on Glendale toward the Safeway that I can’t turn left into because it’s at 7th Street and there’s no left turn allowed there.

Once I reach 7th Street (turning west now in order to go east), I sail into the nearly empty parking lot, shoot through the Safeway’s front door, and accost the two pharmacists, who bless their hearts are in a pretty good mood at this hour of the day.

However…the lucky soul who chooses to take me on has no clue to the Rx that was supposed to have been sent over at 2 a.m.  Finally she realizes: they’ve made it out in my unpronounceable legal name, a little horror that I never use. Being a little frazzled myself at this point, I don’t think of it, but just as she’s about to send me away (having tried and failed to get thru to the Mayo on the phone) it occurs to me that maybe this funny name thing has been applied to the Rx, and lo! So it turns out to be.

Finally I get home around 8:45. It has taken a full hour to make a twenty-minute round-trip drive and grab a bottle of pills!!!!!

Ugh. Now I have three hours before I have to schlep up to the church, where I stupidly volunteered to take on my friend Barbara’s afternoon shift at the front desk.

When will they ever learn?”  NEVER volunteer!!!!!

I’m too keyed up to sleep now; I really should take the poor little dog for a walk; I’m sure there’s a sh!tload of things I should be doing right this very minute (pay the bills?); and I cannot even imagine how I am going to stay awake through three hours and thirty minutes of excruciating tedium down at the Church.

Why do you suppose they have a switchboard-like phone at all? I do NOT understand that. There’s no reason the staff/clergy (all of about 12 of them) can’t have their own phone numbers that will ring direct to their office phones or to a voicemail. They want somebody lurking around the front office to bounce out the homeless and greet the parishioners?? Whaaa? Maybe two people a day come in. Could the office manager, who appears to be a kind of Guy Friday, be parked in an office near the front, where he can see and greet whoever comes stumbling in the door?

Our rector is in the final running for the position of Bishop. That’s good for him: he’s a pretty ambitious guy and an exceptionally worthy candidate. But it means now we have to get a new pastor. That means major hassle, as you’ve no doubt noticed. I’d like to see them plant our associate priest in that job. She happens to be a woman. She also happens to be amazingly sweet and she can give a killer sermon.

The present incumbent was hired to rescue our merry group from a fairly dire financial predicament, after the prior regime took a richly endowed organization and within three or four years ran its finances right into the ground. Having performed what we might best describe as a dramatic rescue, indeed, he’s ready to move on to the next stage in his career.

We, on the other hand, are not and never will be ready for him to move on….

Live-Blogging from the Doc’s Office

So…here I am at the dermatologist’s office…AGAIN. Ten minutes early: didn’t take as long to fight the traffic as usual. Only one moron, all the way across 103 north-south avenues and six east-west main drags.

Ah! This is amusing. I see typing on a keyboard annoys my fellow waiting-room inmates. Some woman just got up and moved herself closer to the (annoying!) yakathon television. To keep the patients calm, this particular practice serenades us with an UNENDING loop of some TV home-improvement show episodes. On and boringly on about ripping out shelving and installing cabinetry and fixing the plumbing. Sooo soothing…

Young Dr. Kildare’s office is right around the corner – this being the dermatology practice he likes to refer his patients to. Consumed a third of a tank of gas a couple days ago to consult with him about a weird traffic event in which I damn near killed four people by trying to pass an aggressive moron who I thought was in the middle lane but who was actually in the left-turn lane.

That was exciting…

And alarming, because in 42 years of driving, I’ve never gotten so confused I didn’t even know what damn lane I was driving in! So I wanted to…

Oh…the woman disturbed by the sound of keys tapping is yapping on her phone, sharing her personal life with one and all! Love it!

…where were we? So I wanted to ask him if he could tell whether I’m starting to Alzheimer out.

He said. “That’s not dementia. That’s road rage.”

😀

Oh, God! Her kid’s teacher called her on the phone earlier to report that the brat was “having an off day” in school: not paying attention in class. She gets into a worried heart-to-heart about this.

Did any child, anywhere, ever pay attention in those interminable, brain-bangingly stupid grade-school classes?

…where were we? So Young Dr. Kildare says the only thing wrong with me is road rage, and I need to get a grip. And, interestingly, he shares the fact that he also is plagued by constant road rage while driving around Our Fair city.

At this point, I share with him my Universal Theory of Phoenix Drivers. This, as you will recall, goes as follows:

Hypothesis 1: At any given time when you are on the road, one in ten drivers coming toward you is a moron.

He says: “Oh! I would have said two or three!”

I say, “Well, given the volume of traffic on a road like 7th Street, that could be so, but I believe that to be an illusion. Fewer people are morons than we perceive.”

Hypothesis 2: At any given time when you are on the road, one in ten drivers going in your direction is a moron.

Corollary: Therefore, at all times when you are driving in lovely Phoenix, you are surrounded by morons.

He persisted in his analysis, that the numerical value is grossly underestimated. This aspect will need further investigation to produce valid statistical results.

At any rate, the dearth of morons at 10:00 in the morning is puzzling. Usually, one would expect to encounter at least three or four of them.

Today must be some kind of moron holiday.

***

That was easier than I expected.

Meeting with the dermatologist’s PA, I explained that I’d gone to the Mayo to get a second opinion, because that is what I always do, after 40-some years of experience in the Land of Medical Science, and that the alleged doctor I’d spoken with would not give me a straight answer to even ONE of the three fairly simple questions I asked her:

  1. Is the most recently treated lesion, which remains red and has a white spot in it, healing properly, or do we need to do more to clean it out?
  2. What is the cause of the apparent nerve pain up and down my arm, which arose when this lesion was frozen off and has only partially cleared?
  3. Is it really necessary to use the Efudex prescribed by the westside dermatologist’s practice at this time, or can we safely wait to see whether freezing these things off works?

Mayo’s doc simply refused to give me an answer to questions 1 and 2. To question 3, said she: “Well…we normally prescribe that when there are a lot of lesions. Like, 15.”

There had only been two, at this point.

I said, “So, are you saying it’s reasonable not to use the product at this time?”

She said, “That’s up to you. It’s your decision.”

WTF??? Why the hell does she think I would ask her opinion if I had a clue about the advisability of applying a product that is going to blister up my hand, inflict an array of unpleasant and painful side effects, and very possibly cause permanent disfigurement?

So when I tell Wonder-Dermatology’s PA about this, she says…

  1. The recently treated lesion is healing quite well. The redness is to be expected and will go away slowly. The white spots are scars.
  2. It’s really unlikely the arm pain could be caused by treating that particular spot, because to reach the suspect nerve one would have to burrow in a great deal deeper than a squirt of frozen nitrogen can do. Young Doctor Kildare’s theory that it’s a variety of tendinitis or some kind of muscle strain is probably correct. But if it doesn’t go away, I should ask him for a referral.
  3. Hilarious! Yes, actually, we can wait safely to see whether any more keratoses arise after today’s treatment. Fifteen??? We often treat even one or two lesions with Efudex.

And then she kindly sprayed not just the latest visitation on the paw, but the big ugly brown spot on my face, too. The one I’ve been trying to get her to freeze off since I first showed up in her precincts.

Adventures in Medical Science…

Driven?

So, did I end up driven to drive, drive, drive around the city yesterday afternoon? Did I reserve a space at this afternoon’s writer’s group, where I would like to peddle my services in the guise of seeking feedback on my half-baked unfinished noveloid?

Well. No. And also, no.

Yes, I did climb in the car and turn on the ignition. About the time I got to the end of the driveway, a thought occurred: Why am I doing this???????

Got about 200 feet down the road…and then drove around the block, returned to the Funny Farm, parked the car, and proceeded back inside. Where I’ve been fairly happily ensconced ever since, except for a dog-walk or two.

Yes.

Thought: Hey, estúpida! What do you think you’re doing?

Human: Driving to the credit union and to the grocery store on…uhm…some road over there.

Thought: You’re kidding, right?

Human: Uhm…

Thought: Tell me you’re not serious. You’re REALLY going to drive FORTY MINUTES so as to avoid farting around with the accursed Internet for 10 or 15 minutes to deposit two measly checks?

Human: Well, but…

Thought: And this vaunted grocery store is on…WHAT road?

Human: I think it’s at 43rd and Peoria.

Thought: NO, you moron! That’s an Albertson’s, not a Fry’s. And it’s not even a halfway decent Albertson’s. It is, in a word, a CRUMMY store!

Human: Oh. Yeah. Well…but…

I gave up. It took less than 10 minutes to deposit $2500 worth of client monnaie online. This was good. There was plenty of food in the house: two chops from a rack of lamb; tiny delicious little beets to grill (this worked exceptionally well, BTW); excellent buttered spinach to heat, also on the grill. And half a bottle of wine.

Truly, I hate farting with the computer and the credit union’s website to deposit checks electronically. But…hate it SO MUCH that it’s worth driving 20 minutes to the CU, standing in line, and driving 20 minutes back?

Maybe not.

As for today’s proposed introduction to the midtown writer’s group: they meet weekly. The local Play-Nooz reported that the police and fire department are occupying lovely downtown Phoenix with a mock Emergency Response today…and that chivaree sounds like something to avoid.

So I decided to put that little marketing maneuver off for a week: Next Sunday, thankyouverymuch. This will give me time to schlep the printout of the current installment of Ella’s story down to the UPS store and put them up to making and stapling together 10 or 12 copies, rather than expending my own ink & paper for the purpose.

Hmmmmm… Lookee here: for $30, you can get 50 pens with your bidness name on them. 😀 The MO of these writer’s groups is that you hand out a few pages of your golden words and people critique the stuff. What if in addition to a sheaf of paper, you gave each person a pen with your editing outfit’s name and URL? 😀

Apparently this outfit will deliver in four or five days, which would get said little treat here by the end of the week if I ordered it today.

If ten people show up (that’s how many were signed up for this weekend), one order would last for five weeks. Lots more then 10 show up at the West Valley Writer’s Workshop, but there’d still be enough to hand out gift pens there and still supply one or two of the in-town meeting’s participants.

Putting it off for a week will also give time for me to get off my virtual duff and write a plot outline. One of the reasons (one of several reasons) this story has petered out is that I’ve been writing it like topsy, as it grows. Frankly, I have no idea where it’s going.

Well. I know where Ella’s recollected life on Zaitaf goes. But what happens on Varnis, where her currently lived experience is happening, is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. It’s topsy…I do need to cultivate that garden.

And speaking of uncultivated gardens, now I need to return to the client’s magnum opus…

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.

Yeah.

Y’know what?

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

Crazy Driver Season

The theory that one in every ten drivers on the Arizona road is a moron may need revision. Possibly closer to the truth: one in every five. My gawd, were they out in force yesterday!

Several gas stations in Our Beloved City have run out of gasoline. In half-baked Play-Nooz stories, we’re told it’s because fuel supply lines “may” have been disrupted by the weather in the Midwest, another way of saying “we dunno.” Personally, I suspect our country’s present mis-leadership, but that’s another story. Whatever the cause, gas prices have risen by about 30 cents a gallon. Today I have to drive my agèd friends to Costco, but would rather not ask them to sit in the car through the Costco’s long lines and then sit some more while I pump gas. Tomorrow I have to schlep to Paradise Valley Mall and then turn around and traipse way to Hell and gone out to Sun City.

The car had about a third of a tank of fuel, which under normal circumstances would last another week or ten days.

However…if Costco runs out of gas, too…if Costco and QT run out of gas…hmmm….  So, I decided to make a single trip yesterday, just to Costco to fill up the tank.

Sounds easy, eh? And it would be, if we were talking about any normal place.

On the way down, I pass one of the usual road-blocks, on the other side of the street. Every route in the city is dug up. Wherever you’re goin’, you can’t get there from here. Seeing the line of stalled cars stretching westward from 7th Avenue on Bethany, I realize I can’t get home that way. So decide to go up 15th Avenue, a slower route but usually unclogged.

Two morons get in front of me on the way to the Costco, but they’re pretty harmless. Just the usual “don’t know where I’m going” and “texting on the phone” set.

Get filled up, head out, and turn left onto lovely 15th Avenue without incident.

Fifteenth, a major feeder street that runs from Gangbanger’s Way, mostly through neighborhoods, all the way down to the State Capitol area, has been adorned with traffic-harassing nuisances in the form of stupid roundabouts and speed humps. Most people ignore these: in time you learn that you really don’t have to slow down for them. The other day I saw a guy shoot down that road at about 50 mph, navigating the nuisance circles and bumps without a hitch. Most people drive about 35 with no problem.

But…yes. Or rather no. Naturally, I got a Moron of the First Water in front of me.

First hint was that the Moron slowed wayyyyyyy down as soon as it got north of Bethany Home. Then when the Moron came to a speed circle, it STOPPED.

Yes. This idiot slows so far down as to stop before entering the roundabout nuisance and then C-R-R-R-A-A-A-A-W-L-S around it, barely idling foward. About one mile per hour, I’d guess.

No, that is not an exaggeration. The chucklehead is barely moving.

Moron speeds back up to about 30, then as soon as a speed bump pops up, DOES IT AGAIN. This idiot actually STOPS and then, barely moving, C-L-I-I-I-I-I-M-B-S over the thing. Then speeds up to almost 25 mph.

This is why I don’t carry a gun in the car. I’d have blown out the clown’s tires.

Seriously: it’s NO WONDER people shoot at these fools.

We finally get to Maryland, the next east-west road, where the Moron inches into the intersection on the green. I squeeze around him, veer right, leaning on the horn as I leave the nitwit behind. This adds an extra mile to my drive: a half-mile over to 7th Avenue and another half-mile back through the ’Hood.

I think people do this kind of thing on purpose. It’s a game for some folks. And really: it’s a miracle more of them don’t get shot.