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.

Yeah.

Y’know what?

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

Life in Outer Dystopia

So yesterday (is it today already?) I spent OVER FIVE HOURS traipsing miserably from pillar to post, accomplishing…what?

No WAY can you get there from here…

The MacBook, upon which I depend for almost all things computerese, croaked over. So, Apple having closed its store within reasonable driving distance of my house, I had to drive way to Hell and Gone to a tony shopping center called Scottsdale Quarter: 14.5 miles. Add to that the 3+ miles in the other direction, over to the north side of the Metrocenter ghost mall, and you get about 30 miles round trip through the city’s wacksh!t traffic, in which approximately one in every ten drivers is crazy as a loon or dumb as a post.

Before heading east for Scottsdale, I had to drop by the FedEx store at Metrocenter — on the far side of the I-17 — by way of sending a paper(!) manuscript back to a client. This annoyance, because the lines at the post office are so long you’ll stand there for 20 or 30 minutes to get a package weighed, buy stamps, and drop it in the outgoing mail. You actually save time by driving out of your way to go to a store that will sell you the postage. This junket, then, took me six miles out of my way.

Wherever you’re going in the dystopic Valley of the Sun, you can’t get there from here. During this endless junket, I ran into eight roadblocks. If the drive weren’t long enough, it stretches toward eternity while you grind your way through traffic jam after traffic jam. The roads, thanks to all these afterthought asphalt-digging programs and lowest-bidder asphalt-laying, are potholed and ridged every inch of the way. To any drive you choose to make — near or far — you have to add about 10 minutes to your projected driving time, because somewhere along the way you will come to a stop and sit. And sit. And sit.

This time I had enough sense not to park my car in Scottsdale Quarter’s underground labyrinth. Instead left the car across the street in Kierland Commons’ parking lot.

Scottsdale Quarter — to say nothing of the glass box that is the Apple store there, with its ear-splitting ambient noise echoing off the glass and metal walls — is not a pleasant place to spend your time. It is crowded, and not crowded with nice people: the inhabitants by and large are snobbish parvenus, rude and obnoxious. Even outside, the noise level is headache-inducing. Lest any of the customers be disturbed by a moment of introspection, SQ’s designers have kindly lined the sidewalks with fake rocks from which blare a peculiarly annoying type of faceless Muzak. Everywhere you turn, the racket is brain-banging.

Finally, though, I reach the Apple store. And yeah: naturally, they had done exactly what I told them NOT to do: erased the operating system and updated it with the latest and greatest. And by the way deleted the connection to DropBox, which they refuse to deal with because they want you to store your data to iCloud, not to their competition.

My resident Word program will not run on an OS later than Sierra. I went around and around and around with the tech explaining this to him, and explaining that because I am a crazy old lady I do not want my clients’ work in Microsoft’s Cloud, nor am I going to pay Microsoft an expensive subscription for the privilege of having to work in their Cloud. So, when I showed up there after a second nightmarish drive and found they had done exactly what I had asked them not to do, I threw one of my more colorful shitfits, a phenomenon that I am capable of generating with élan.

They agreed to restore the system, but…but…did I have a backup? Of course, they thought I did not. But luckily, I hadn’t taken the external drive that contained the most recent Macbook back-up out of my car, and so yes, it was sitting in the parking lot across the street, in the Kierland Commons shopping center.

Retrieving it required me to walk a quarter mile and cross Scottsdale Road, a huge and hectic thoroughfare, at signals that do not stay green long enough for a rabbit to get from one side to the other at a dead run. But to their amazement I traipsed out, snabbed the thing from the car, and resurfaced in their glass box bearing a two-day-old back up.

So supposedly they have now recovered my system. Tomorrow I have to traipse out there again and pick it up. And you may be sure — because it never fails — that the thing will be totally, utterly, irretrievably fucked up. And you may be sure I will have to spend at least an hour, possibly much longer, trying to get reconnected to DropBox, a chore that is likely to be a horror show of the first water.

Because I still have an antique iMac running, a device I use as a TV substitute, Time Machine has made current backups of all my data. And I can reach DropBox from the iMac. But I don’t do my work on the iMac: my old bones ache so much that it hurts to sit in an office chair in front of a desk for hour on hour. Or, come to think of it, for minute on minute. I have the MacBook so that I can sit in a chair that doesn’t cripple me while I perform the endless work I do for my clients.

Okay, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, when I fell face-first on the concrete pavement the other night, I scratched my expensive pair of glasses. So…oh goodie! Now I get to buy a new lens.

I had gone to Costco a few days ago to pick up a copy of the new prescription I had made there last November. Meanwhile, the fancy optometry shop that dispensed these fancy glasses was priced out of the AJ’s shopping center where it resided for many years and has moved around the corner on Camelback, where you have to navigate around the damned train tracks and where a restaurant reserves most of the parking spaces with posted threats to tow your car if you leave it there.

So I decided to go to the expensive store La Maya frequents for her glasses, which lies tangentially on my homeward-bound way.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and dodge construction and dodge homicidal drivers and jerk left across freeway-sized thoroughfares and finally arrive at this glasses place. Get into the cramped parking lot, find several empty parking spaces in front, park, jump out, prance up to the front door…which is LOCKED. They’re closed. On Monday, at midday.

So I and drive and drive and drive and drive some more and dodge construction and dodge homicidal drivers some more and jerk left across freeway-sized thoroughfares some more and finally arrive at the new venue of my old glasses place. Trot in, show the scratched lens and the prescription to the guy, and ask if they’ll replace the lenses.

Sure, says he. That’ll be $395.

Got that? Three hundred and ninety-five dollars for a pair of plastic lenses. No, that doesn’t include the frames.

Holy sh!t, said I. So it’s back to Costco!

By then I was too tired to make the 11-mile return trip to Costco to order up a pair of dowdy glasses from their optometry department. But I will have to stop there on the way home, tomorrow, from what I expect will be an upsetting trip to pick up the MacBook, which we are told is ready to go.

Right.

Imagine. $395 for a pair of fuckin’ plastic lenses, and they don’t even have to write the prescription.

I may stop by Sassy Glasses — La Maya’s favorite joint — to see if they’ll make the lenses for something within reason. The frames were wildly expensive and they’re my favorite glasses of all time. I really, really don’t want to have to throw them away. But obviously I can’t afford four hundred bucks to replace the lenses. Costco does not make lenses for this kind of specialty glasses, and so if Sassy Glasses can’t do the job for a reasonable price, then it’s back to the ugly old, clunky old plastic glasses from Costco.

Life in beautiful uptown Phoenix. Life in Dystopia.

The Pre-Dawn Doggy Walk

Having rolled out of the sack somewhat before five, the dogs and I were on the road as the minute hand hit 12. (Remember those? Yes, my house still has clocks with hour and minute hands!) It was dark out yet. The sky began to pale a bit as we hit Richistan. We got back to the Funny Farm right at 5:40, about the time we usually head out.

But oh! Is it lovely to get out at that hour! Though in August it’s a bit sticky out there, the air was reasonably cool. No sun beating down on you. And no one around!

We encountered one human: a guy on a bike with a headlamp to help him make his way. That was it.

No bums.

No coyotes. (Surprising, as dawn is the prime hunting hour.)

No neighbors standing out in front to intimidate you from letting your dog dump on their yard. 😀

No early morning commuters headed for Starbucks in a dazed and cranky mood.

And most charming, no fellow dog walkers!

Not that I don’t love my fellow dog walkers…but wrestling with two gingery corgis who want nothing more than to pounce your (fill in the blank: pit bull/mastiff/German shepherd/90-pound lab/Great Dane/angry Chihuahua) is far from the most pleasant way to start the day. Nor, indeed, does every one of my fellow dog walkers appear to be having the best of all possible fun keeping their own hounds under control. Odd, isn’t it?

So really…the dark before dawn was pretty much the ideal time to circumnavigate the ‘hood with the dawgs.

And now, a couple hours later, it’s still pleasant enough to sit outside. The various kids are frolicking around the street before they’re carted off to school. Ruby is yapping at every passing dog and its human, the hummingbirds are grating, and the doves would be feeding were not for Ruby chasing them.

We have a nice little covey of whitewings hanging around. So I decided to put up a couple of feeders for them, it now being too hot for much food to be readily available. The bugs go to cover, underground or under the rocks. The seeding plants barely cling to life. One wonders why the birds don’t migrate north with their relatives.

Well. The reason of course is that a city full of humans amounts to a riparian area on steroids. Stuff grows here. Water flows from long hollow ropes strung across the ground and sprays out of mysterious springs that erupt at the same time each day. And a forest of trees provides a lot of cover and roosting space.

How do you like this gadget I scored from Amazon?

Dunno how well you can see the device: it’s a wrought iron hook that fits over the tree branch and then swings down into an elegant swoop to hold your bird feeder. It works handsomely, and it makes reloading the feeder so much easier, by making it easier to take the thing down and put it back up.

The reason I bought it, however, had nothing to do with aesthetics or convenience and everything to do with the usual yard hassles.  Luis, when asked to clear some space so Gerardo’s men could move around the backyard without risking decapitation by tree limb, blithely hacked a big chunk out of the lime tree, exposing its interior to the full blast of west sun. I was surprised, because Luis is usually pretty savvy about trees. But he sure missed the proverbial boat this time!

To keep the tree from dying, I had to wrap swaths of shade cloth around the major interior limbs. That wasn’t enough to protect it from the summer blast furnace, though; this spring I had to drape more lengths of cloth across its entire west face.

This meant I couldn’t hang the feeder from its usual perch in the lime tree…said perch now being wrapped in plastic shade cloth. Lovely.

We still have a feeder hanging from the north eave, but it’s not readily visible from the deck. And since the main reason one hangs up a bird feeder is to watch the birds, I missed the lime tree station greatly. Solution: hang it from the paloverde tree.

Alas, though, the hang-it gadget I had would not fit over a paloverde limb. New solution? So obvious: AMAZON.

Forthwith they sent three of these swell doodads. The top hook just fits over the desired limb. Though it’s a little closer to the ground than I’d like — leaving the birds possibly vulnerable should one of the neighbor’s effing cats come over the cat-repelling wall — I think they’ll have plenty of time to escape should that happen.

Matter of fact, Ruby just strolled there and terrorized them. They all flew off, leaving a bold wren behind to gorge down as much as it can before the competition returns.

Ruby is actually drawn by the twitta-twitta-twitta alarm call of a whitewing dove. If one of them makes the outtahere! noise, she rockets out the door like a furry little missile and gallops around under the trees. Doesn’t seem to occur to her that by the time they’re making that noise, they are already soooo gone.

Summertime, and the cacti are blooming. Across the street a neighbor has a huge, invasive columnar cactus. The things can be quite a job to keep under control in your landscape. However, it makes these amazing blossoms:

Strange and wonderful, aren’t they? They attract strange and wonderful pollinators, too, especially bats (which is one of the reasons they open at night) and a particularly crazy flying critter called a “carpenter bee.” This little animal can best be called a sorta flying thing. Like a bumblebee, which it sort of resembles, it leaves you wondering how it ever imagined it could get airborne. Tried to catch a photo of one, but it came out a bit on the unclear side.

That flower is as big as your whole spread-out hand. So you get an idea of the critter’s size. Hysterical posts published by exterminating companies aside, carpenter bees are pretty harmless (unless you try to grab one) and are actually highly beneficial pollinators.

Also in summer we still have the ghost of Arizona’s once vigorous monsoon season. The “heat island” effect now bounces rainclouds away from the urban areas, and of course the climate change that all the President’s nitwits…uhm, “men” tell us does not exist has created a decades-long drought. That notwithstanding, we’ve had at least had some impressive cloud displays.

Alors. It’s warming up out here. So I suppose it’s about time to go inside and get started on something constructive. À bientôt, then.