Coffee heat rising

Pests and Nuisances, Oh My! :-D

Okay, so here’s something to amuse yourself…and all of us, should you wish to share: How many Pests and Nuisances rate as true pet peeves in your life? Because I’m a crabby old lady, I can count up quite a few. But it may be that normal people take a more equanimous view of Life, the Universe, and All That.

This reverie was spurred by a kindly ninny who elicited one of my favorite pet peeves: good-hearted souls who think God smiles on them when they cede their own right-of-way to people who do not want to invade their right of way and who just wish they would get going and get the hell out of the way. Yesterday Ruby the Corgi and I were headed out of Richistan across Main Feeder Street NW. Cars, as usual, were coursing up and down Main Feeder. We stopped at the corner, safely on the sidewalk, to allow all the motorists to pass. We were next to a stop sign on Richistan Way; there’s no stop sign on Main Feeder Street. This, as youย  must know if you’ve ever driven a vehicle, means that motorists on Main Feeder have the right of way.

This woman comes along. She wants to turn right onto Richistan Way and then hang an immediate left onto the frontage road that runs parallel to Main Feeder. This is obvious. It is not disturbing in any way. It is a perfectly commonplace and benign maneuver. Ruby and I wait for her to make her turn.

But no. She stops in the middle of Main Feeder and waves her paw at us, demanding that I cross in front of her.

Dayum, but I hate that.

Look: When you have the right of way, you have the right of way. Do not wave people across the goddamn road in front of you when you have the right of way!!!!!!

Why? Is it not a good and Christian thing to do, to give others a break?

No. It is not. This is why:

When you fail to take the right of way that by law and custom are yours, no one knows what you are going to do. If I cross in front of you because you’re waving at me to go even though it’s your turn to go, and then you or someone else hits me, you idiot, that is taken not as your dumb fault but as mine!

I speak from experience.

My son was just out of infancy and riding in a car seat when I drove down to the airport to pick up his father, who traveled quite a lot. At the time, Sky Harbor had two one-way ring roads, one leading to the airport toward the east and a parallel one leading out of it toward the west. Each had two lanes. We needed to get across the eastward-bound road to get into the west-running lanes. The east-bound lanes were jammed. We sat at a stop sign for a few minutes, waiting for a break in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Suddenly a guy in the lane closest to us stopped, held up all the traffic behind him, and waved at me to proceed.

Still young and stupid, I didn’t know any better so presumed he knew it was safe to go. It was not. A car coming up beside him slammed into my car, causing quite the commotion.

Fortunately our baby was not injured. I was mad as a cat but shortly realized that was stupid: I should have known better than to trust a moron behind another steering wheel.

Don’t do that. If you have the right of way, take it and don’t make a nuisance of yourself.

In that same department, how about the nitwits that drive into your blind spot and stick there? Yeah: I had one of those today. He cruises up beside me in the left-hand lane, bearing north on Central Avenue, and parks there. Luckily I was able to see the clown in my side mirror — he was not visible in my rear-view mirror, as the ridiculous Venza has more blind spots than visible space.

If I sped up, he sped up to keep pace. If I slowed down, he slowed down. So, with no one behind me in either lane, I hit my brakes, damn near stopped before he grasped what was up, and swerved in behind the bastard. Defeated, he continued on down the road at a normal rate of speed.

A thousand curses upon his offspring and all their spawn!

And how about the air-headed women who effing bathe in heavy perfume? Ya know, laydeez (and gents): a little dab’ll do ya!

This afternoon I encountered not one but two of them in the AJ’s parking lot…just walking from the car to the door. No doubt their perfume was expensive and wonderful and sexy and seductive. But a) I have exactly zero desire to be seduced by some strange woman (or, oddly enough, by any woman); and b) one person’s expensive and wonderful is the next person’s pyuiieee!

Each of these women, who came along separately and appeared not to know each other, emanated a fog of perfume — in the middle of the damn workday! — that was enough to suffocate a vulture.

Don’t do that, please. And forgodsake don’t do it when you’re going to the office!

Then there are the nitwits who walk and text, proceeding across a parking lot or up a sidewalk utterly oblivious of where they’re going or who they’re about to run into. Encountered two of those in the AJ’s parking lot this morning, one as I was walking toward the store and one as I was walking out. The first numbskull was so enthralled with whatever was on her phone, she damn near walked into me. Only reason she didn’t was that I stepped aside before we collided.

Water-“saving” plumbing that doesn’t work. Is there any greater water-waster than this junk? The kitchen faucet that takes half your lifetime to fill a pot…hence, you go off to do some other small task rather than stand there and watch water dribble into the pan, so that by the time you get back, the pan is overflowing. That’s real ecological. The accursed toilets that supposedly take a third of the water needed by a real toilet to flush: meaning you have to flush three times to get everything down.

Yesterday the toilet plugged up. Nothing out of the ordinary had been flushed down there, and I just had the entire system roto-rooted a couple weeks ago, at great expense. Called the plumber. He didn’t call back until after 7 p.m. By then whatever was down there had dissolved, having sat in the pipe for hour after hour after hour, and along about mid-afternoon I’d managed to flush it down without overflowing the bathroom. God, but I hate those damn toilets!

See, one of the things I figured would happen when the climate-deniers took over the White House and the Congress was that maybe we’d get functioning plumbing and real light bulbs back. That would have been one good thing the Republicans could have accomplished. But ohhh no! They have to spend their energy on a hate campaign, and twitching around with a ridiculous clown in the Presidency. Ah: yes, there’s another pet peeve: the politics of the day. What a circus. If they’d given us back real light bulbs and working plumbing, we might have found some way to justify their existence. But noooo.

Speaking of gadgets, we have phones that require batteries to keep running. Jeez. One of my handsets apparently needs a new battery. This used to be an easy problem to solve: take it right up to the Radio Shack around the corner, where the clerk would kindly produce a new battery and prize the phone apart to install the thing. Now I’ll have to traipse across the city to a special store that sells batteries and try, as sweetly as I can manage, to persuade the sales staff to fix the damn phone for me. Good luck with that. If this scheme doesn’t work, I’ll have to buy a whole new set of phones, requiring all new programming and all new coordination of six handsets. Ugh.

A-n-n-d one last shot: the ubiquity of vast, privacy-invading monopolies that have taken over almost every aspect of our lives. They’ve done it so inexorably, so ingratiatingly, and so subtly that most of us aren’t even aware of how dependent we personally — and our entire culture — have become on organizations that are not are friends and not in our service. Take a look at what is happening as one tech writer tries to disconnect from five gigantic electronic entities…and consider the implications of what she discovered when she did.

And you? What are your pet peeves?


Spin Those Wheels!

Well, really, I can’t complain SO much about wheel-spinning. Even though I managed to evade working on the Big Annoyance of the Day — shoveling a foot-deep stack of accursed paperwork off the desk — a bunch of stuff actually has gotten done. Ditz, it’s true…but stuff that needed to get done.

Do you ever feel like, even after you’ve managed to power through a lot of tasks, that you still have been spinning your wheels half the day?


๐Ÿ™‚ Clean out pool pump pot; clean out pool strainer basket; reinstall pool cleaner, run pump
๐Ÿ™‚ Figure out why irrigation system stopped working (FAIL!)
๐Ÿ™‚ Water citrus trees manually
๐Ÿ™‚ Water other plants manually
๐Ÿ™‚ Spray Dawn detergent solution on plants infested with skeletonizing bugs
๐Ÿ™‚ Repair back gate latch
๐Ÿ™‚ Repair kitchen cabinet pull
๐Ÿ™‚ Pick up mess in house
๐Ÿ™‚ Change bed; wash sheets & towels
๐Ÿ™‚ Cook and concoct dog food
๐Ÿ™‚ Clean up ensuing mess in kitchen
๐Ÿ™‚ Pick up dog mounds
๐Ÿ™‚ย  Drag trash out to alley
๐Ÿ™‚ Post today’s chapter of If You’d Asked Me… (how to handle harassment of cute young teenager)
๐Ÿ™‚ Post link to that on Facebook
๐Ÿ™‚ Enter comments in FB writer’s community

Not Done:

๐Ÿ™ Write the next installment of the Drugging of America series
๐Ÿ™ Iron jeans
๐Ÿ™ Write more of Ella’s Story
๐Ÿ™ Cope with gigantic stack of accursed paper

AND…as you might guess, “Cope with gigantic stack of accursed paper” is the chore that all this wheel-spinning has been designed to avoid. I hate, hate, hate dorking with paperwork.

So I put it off. The bills come in. The checks to deposit come in. The statements come in. This nag, that nag, and the other nag comes in from various vendors and doctors’ offices and creditors. They all get tossed on a table.

They’ve been sitting here for upwards of a month now. The table is beginning to groan under the pile’s weight.

Yes. I’ve paid the bills. But all the rest of it is just sitting there.

It is going to take several hours to plow through all that brain-banging shit. And no. I just do. not. want. to. do. it.

Should write the next Drugging of America piece. And could. That also will be a time-consuming and energy-sucking task. If I start on that now, not enough time will be left in the day to fart with the pile of paper distractions. To say nothing of enough ambition.

One thing I probably could do is have the credit union send statements electronically. That would create three fewer pieces of trash to be plucked out of the mailbox. I’m already downloading all the transactions into Excel as it is.

But you just know, don’t you, that whatever form they use to send these proposed electronic statements will not readily convert to Excel. So that will just inflict three more pieces of useless electronic junkmail to deal with. Like I don’t have enough of that?

So little worthwhile stuff comes in the mail anymore, I hardly ever bother to open the thing. Now that the mailbox has to be fortified and locked, the extra effort entailed in tracking down the key, traipsing it out to the curb, wrestling with the mailbox lid, relocking it, traipsing the key back to the house, and hiding it again makes picking up the mail counterproductive. There simply isn’t enough real mail in there to make it worth being bothered to walk out there and wrestle it out of the box.

Consequently, these days I pick up snail-mail about once a week.

Yesterday, it occurred to me to count: EIGHT out of nine pieces of delivered mail went directly into the trash.

That suggests that about 90 percent of mail being delivered by the U.S. Post Office is junk advertising circulars.

And, therefore,ย  for every piece of nuisance paperwork that arrives here, nine pieces of trash have to be toted to a recycling bin. Ninety percent of delivered mail represents pointlessly destroyed trees, pointlessly polluting paper mills, pointlessly polluting ink manufacture, pointlessly expended gasoline to tote trees, paper, ink, and junk mail around, pointlessly expended power to run those mills and drive the printing presses and operate the equipment to recycle trash that is never even opened or looked at.

That pisses me off. It ought to piss you off, too.

Oh, well. /rant.

I’d better get up and go deal with the pieces of paper that actually do require attention. Of a sort.


Other people’s pets

How much do you figure your neighbor’s dog (cat, parrot, boa constrictor, tame alligator) costs you? LOL! I have to say, I expect my own pets to be destructive and figure the repair bills to be part of the cost of doing business. But one thing we tend not to budget for is the depredations of other people’s critters.

While M’hijito’s roommate was in Singapore visiting his relatives and hustling for a job, he left his brand-new Infiniti parked in the driveway (Roommate is the scion of a ridiculously wealthy family).

Quick backstory: Some time back, Roommate became enamored of a cat belonging to the old guy who lives in the house behind M’hijito’s place. He took to feeding and watering the beast, much to M’hijito’s disgust (it uses the vegetable garden as its litterbox), and he has thought of it as “his” cat. In his absence, the cat has taken up residence on top of the Infiniti, where it sleeps at night, out of reach of hunting coyotes and stray pit bulls.

So the other day as M’hijito was headed out to work, he noticed a couple of brown mounds on top of the Infiniti. On closer inspection…oops! Cat mounds!

The cat had deposited two large piles of cat poop on the brand-new silver Infiniti’s roof. Unknown how long they’d been there, but in 115-degree heat, it doesn’t take long for such a substance to bake to perfection. With Roommate due to surface yesterday, M’hijito drove the car to a commercial car wash. This removed the mound, but…well, the paint beneath it was etched and permanently stained.

So, that brand-new car is going to need a paint job. Hope Roommate’s insurance will cover it. Meow!

As I write this, Inez and Carlos the Knife‘s demented dog is running loose in their front yard, once again threatening to eviscerate all comers. I see their new next-door neighbors, the present and blessed occupants of the former Dave’s Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum, managed to dodge inside the house before the dog could catch them between their car and their front door.

Carlos, who is coming onto 90, has a little senility problem. Whenever Inez, who still has all her marbles, turns her back, Carlos sneaks over to the front door and lets the dog out. Once free, it lurks around their front yard but refuses to be caughtโ€”reasonably so, since Carlos is given to whacking it with his belt. From the front yard, it chases young children, bicyclists, and postal carriers up and down the street. Fortunately, the mail came before this afternoon’s fugue.

This antic, too, has its expenses. In addition to the potential for medical bills and lawsuits, the last time the hound got out, the post office declared our entire block terra incognita. They refused to deliver the mail to anyone until the dog was locked up or hauled off to the pound (whence it came). And they challenged us all to call the county animal control officers. It took about a week to get our mail delivery restarted, by which time my AMEX bill was running late. I had to pay American Express for the privilege of paying my bill electronically, something that made me stabby, very stabby.

But maybe I have no sense of humor.

One of my students suffered permanent injuries when an idiot’s dog, allowed to run free by the idiot, attacked her as she was jogging down the street in front of her house. She managed to fight it off with several hard, well-aimed kicks (she was a tall, athletic young woman), but it ripped a tendon in her leg and damaged a nerve, which never healed properly.ย  And neighbor Al carries a shillelagh around with him when he walks his little dog, after the moron 125-pound lady who owns three pit bulls and a retrieveroid had one of her “pets” dig out from under her fence and attack him and his little pooch. She paid the vet bill occasioned by sewing the small dog’s throat back together. Generous of her, eh? Same cur gives Cassie the evil eye every time we encounter the woman and her Iditarod team dragging her down the road.

Sometimes I wonder what possesses people who think their animals are their kiddies, and who imagine the rest of us don’t mind dodging their free-roaming dogs and having their cats defecate and urinate all over our homes (and cars!).

How much has your neighbor’s pet cost you? Can you beat a new automotive paint job?

Annoyed cat, Luis Miguel Bugallo Sรกnchez, Wikipedia Commons
Trained attack dog in action, US Air Force, public domain,
Wikipedia Commons

Ten Great Improvements that Aren’t

Am I the only survivor of the Cretaceous who thinks that some of the grand new conveniences, devices to protect ourselves from ourselves (or from bogeymen), and schemes to force us to conserve this, that or the other add up to a collective pain in the butt of titanic proportions? Here are a few improvements that are NOT:

Grounded electrical plugs with one blade thicker than the other, so the thing will only go into the outlet one way: always the other direction from the way you’re holding it. Yes, I know these things keep us safe and I’m sure they’ve saved a jillion people from electrocution by running their hair dryers while standing in a puddle. But they’re still a nuisance.

Consumer-proof packaging, which forces you to purchase a box-cutter and risk slicing your fingers to open anything from soup to nuts.

Electric irons with no “off” switch, designed to force you to unplug them.

Electric irons that switch themselves off if you leave them long enough to walk into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee.

Electric heaters that come with a glaring, annoying “night light” that will not go off unless you unplug the heater. Yes, I know you should always unplug the heater. I also know you can unscrew the lightbulb and throw the damn thing away, with no ill effect on the heater itself.

Kitchen faucets with dampers on them that dribble out a little stream of water, so that you have to stand there and wait and wait and wait to fill up a pan or the dog dish. The stupidity of these things defies belief. Obviously, when you’re busy and you have five things to do at once, you’re going to set the dog dish in the sink and let the water run while you go on about your business, causing water to overflow and run down the drain. This would not have happened if you could have filled up the vessel quickly.

Showerheads that have to be jimmied to make them dispense enough water to wash the shampoo out of your hair during your natural lifetime. Another stone-stupid invention: obviously, if you have to stand in the shower 20 minutes to rinse the soap out of your hair, you are going to use a lot more water than you would have if enough water poured out of the shower to rinse your hair in two minutes.

Toilets that have to be flushed three times to get the stuff down. Now how does that work? A low-water toilet uses one-third less water per flush, but you have to flush three or four times to make the thing work. Uh huh.

Inner lids on every. damned. bottle. of anything you buy in an American grocery store or drugstore. Yes, yes, I do understand this protects us from the lunatics who want to slip cyanide in our Tylenol. But how many tubes of antibiotic cream have been consumed by people who had to bandage their fingers after slicing them on scissors, knives, boxcutters, or the plastic and cardboard wrap itself, compared to how many lunatics slipped cyanide in the Tylenol?

CFLs. Yes, yes, I do have them in every fixture that will accept them. They are cheap. But let’s face it: the things are ugly and annoying. Their vaguely greenish light is less than perfectly homey, and some people can perceive their fine fluorescent flicker. Put one in a three-way lamp socket, and you have to fiddle through two switches to get it to come on. And when you turn them on, they just sit there glumly, casting a dim and murky light until they finally warm up. Not unlike, say, an old Philco black-and-white television set…

Do these things really make our lives better? What improvements do you love to hate?