If You Were Your Kid…

If you were your kid and you were an American, come of age in a time when America the Great was rapidly turning into a Third-World Country, what would you do differently from what your parents did? From what your kid him- or herself is doing right now?

Do strange little thoughts like that ever cross your mind? They sure as Hell cross mine.

My father planned carefully for his retirement and his old age. Thanks to his planning — and to his lifetime of amazingly hard work —  I haven’t had to put in that much single-minded effort: he left me enough to live on comfortably through my dotage. But that’s not so true of my son.

Although my son’s dad is affluent, like me he also no doubt will live (expensively) into advanced old age. My son’s grandmother just died at the age of 106 (no, that is not a typo), having spent the past 20 years wasting away ruinously in a nursing home. The new wife is a good 20 years younger than me, and though she has a highly competent son, she also has a feckless, dependent daughter who never will be able to care for herself and her offspring. Thus most of whatever my son’s father has now will be dedicated to supporting the less gifted occupants of that side of the family.

My son, the recipient of a spectacularly expensive private education, has a decent job but not one that will make him rich. It can, however, allow him to work remotely from just about anyplace that he chooses.

My mother smoked herself into the grave in late middle age. We have no clue how long she might have lived had she never picked up a cigarette. Her father died of Hodgkin’s disease, an acquired cancer not uncommon in his part of the country: we have no idea how long he might have lived had he dwelt someplace else, never smoked, and never drank. Her mother chippied herself into the grave: we have no idea how long she might have lived had she never been exposed to the kinds of reproductive viruses one acquires during a wildly misspent youth. But the other women on her mother’s side of the family were Christian Scientists who lived into advanced old age: we do know that in the absence of alcohol and tobacco, they lived into their mid-90s even without ever going anywhere near a medical doctor or a patent medicine.

So what we have here, in the planning department, are two people — me and my son — each of whom have a shot at living into advanced old age. Or not.

What can be done for my son — by me or by him — to ensure that he will be financially secure into his dotage?

We know that I absolutely positively do NOT want to spend my last years in a “life-care community,” a rabbit warren in which to lock up old folks. My father consigned himself to one of those places after my mother died, and I have several friends who are now living (expensively) in similar prisons. I will take a swan-dive off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before I allow that to happen to me…and that also is neither a joke nor a typo. My house is paid for: if I die tomorrow my son will inherit a piece of property worth about $400,000, free & clear. My son’s house will be paid for in another 10 or 15 years; it will be worth around $325,000 to $350,000, if all things remain equal. He lives frugally and invests in IRAs, and so he presumably will have some retirement savings in hand, if he lives into his dotage.

BUT…

The Covid-19 fiasco has shown his employer, clear as handsomely chlorinated swimming pool water, that there is no reason to maintain expensive office space to support a profitable insurance business. He believes the company will never re-open its pricey new digs in Tempe, a dreary suburb of Phoenix. Shortly before the Covid fiasco began, he was promoted to a managerial position. He remains a manager: remotely.

What this means is that there’s really no reason for him to continue living in a dump like Phoenix, a vast, ugly, crass bedroom tract that we might kindly call L.A. East. If the company settles permanently into a mode in which most or all of its mid-level employees can work online, he could in theory live anyplace he pleases.

And there are many, many better places to live.

In Arizona alone, for example, towns such as Prescott, Bisbee, Patagonia, the outskirts of Tucson, and even Payson have far more temperate climates and are nowhere near as grubby and  crime-ridden as Phoenix. Nor is there any reason to stay in a culturally backward hole like Arizona. If you want to live in the Southwest, there are many better places to live in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and parts of New Mexico. If you don’t mind jumping on a plane to visit your employer for monthly staff meetings, Oregon, Washington State, parts of Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and waypoints are highly desirable venues. With a fistful of cash from the sale of two houses, you could easily install yourself in the Low Countries, Ireland, the south of France, Italy, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, or parts of Australia.

Why stay in a declining economy with a corrupt leadership and a moribund health-care system?

Why not use the capacity of electronic telecommuting to ensconce yourself — now, while you still have some years to enjoy life — in a better place?

If I were my son, I would be so gone. Right now: I wouldn’t wait for retirement, certainly not given the wacksh!t direction into which our country’s politics have dragged us. I probably would leave the US, given half a chance to pull it off. But even if I chose to stay in the this country, you can be sure it wouldn’t be in Phoenix.

Speaking of the which: as we scribble a cop helicopter is buzzing its way toward us, the dog has flown into a batsh!t frenzy, and I suppose I’m going to have to get up, dig out a pistol, and lock the security doors. So much for the scheme of taking a moonlight dip in the pool.

Where would you want your kids to spend the best years of their life?

Crabby as a cat…

Grrrrrrrr! This is one of those can’t touch it without causing it to go T-W-A-A-A–N-G!-!-! days.

Mostly I’ve been too damn lazy to touch anything, thank God. Didn’t make it out for the wee-hours doggy-walk: sucked in to the hilariously lurid news reporting on our national politics. Sat glued to the digital screen until it was way too hot to take the dogs (or me) outside.

This: it’s just too good. Too, too, TOO good:

Uh huh… 😀 Our role model

Except really, you couldn’t make this stuff up. Not a chance!

And how lovely: if enough weren’t enough, my touchpad has stopped working. I’ll have to go get the mouse, put in new batteries, and find something that it can squirchle around on. Never. A. Fuckin’. Dull. Moment.

Naturally, that thing doesn’t work, either. So….I guess I’m without a computer just now.

Well…nooo…lookee here. Now the damn touchpad lash-up is working. Sort of. In a half-assed way. Better than not at all. I guess.

Oh, god!!!! I have SO had it!

After diddling the entire morning away, I decided I should shift around and get something done. How’s about I deposit this stack of checks from Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff?

It’s a task I tend to put off until the stack gets so high it can no longer be ignored. I hate depositing checks electronically. It is a ditzy hassle, every damn inch of the damn way.

So I ditz around and ditz around and ditz around: scan the checks, crop the checks, store the checks to disk as jpegs under distinctive filenames, make a record of each check and its amount and where it comes from so as to be able to explain to WonderAccountant what on earth those random cryptic figures represent and then upload the front of each check and upload the back of each check and print out the receipt and staple each check to its receipt and file it away in a CE Desk file folder and what a gigantic fuckin PITA!!!!!!!!!

Almost as much of a PITA as driving through the wackshit traffic to the credit union, halfway to San Diego, and depositing them in person.

Today I got the best of both fucking experiences.

When I uploaded the first check to the credit union’s site, I got back a message reminding me that it’s a crime to deposit the same check twice, and no, they would not accept any more checks from me.

WTF?

No, it was NOT a duplicate check! The thing had been sitting on my desk for the past two weeks, waiting for the whole pile to accrue. If I’d already deposited it…well, cf “print out the receipt and staple etc. etc. et-endless-cetera”!

Furious, I now gathered the mound of checks and set out through the murderous heat, humidity, and traffic for the credit union. There, hearing this story, the teller remarked, “Oh, yeah. That happens…sometimes it thinks checks are duplicates.”

Oh, thank you so much. I just LOVE having my time wasted and my patience tried!

So, after this, to cut down on the aggravation factor I guess I’ll just have to drive all incoming paper checks up to the credit union in person. What a fuckin’ waste of gasoline and time!! About the best I can do to ameliorate that is plan to coordinate with Costco trips, and do my Costco shopping in the store up on the I-17, which is not my least favorite outlet, but still is far from my favorite.

Pisseth me off.

But I was already crabby, for reasons that are unclear. The weather, I expect. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s allergenic as hell. My ears are plugged like drums, I can’t sing without choking on gook in my throat, and believe me, nothing constructive is getting done.

About all I’m good for is watching our Honored Leader twist in the breeze.

Speaking of the which, it looks like a helluva storm is blowing in…here as it is blowing into Washington. Towering clouds all around, closing in from every direction.

I give up. I’m going to take a nap.

Mall as Dinosaur

Used to be you couldn’t find a shaded place to park at Scottsdale Fashion Square for love nor money. Especially  not on a weekend.

Yesterday morning I had to drive to darkest Old Town Scottsdale to visit the Hair Stylist from Heaven. He’s talking about moving to Prescott, where he and his sister own a house that they trade off using as a weekend retreat. If Shane moves to Prescott, I am goin’, too.

Drove past Fashion Square on the way to Shane’s place. It’s one of the few malls around there that’s still going strong. There are probably three, one of them a sprawling open-faced thing supposedly modeled on a small-town Main Street, with expensive apartments upstairs over the stores.

Y’know…I haven’t been in that place — Scottsdale Fashion Square — in years. I used to go there all the time, not necessarily to buy things but just to walk around. Really didn’t buy much — sometimes I’d buy nothing. But it was pleasant to just schmooze around in the stores, see what’s stylish and what’s on sale.

Don’t know when I stopped, precisely. Probably when I lost my job. When you don’t have a regular cash flow — more than Social Security provides — you don’t go into stores. These days I buy most of my clothes at Costco and a couple of small boutiques, and all my shoes at a boutique in Tempe. Yard and household items: Target or Home Depot. Otherwise: Amazon.

The boutiquey places aren’t cheap. But on the other hand, I don’t shop there much. They’re not places you go to window-shop; they’re places you go to buy specific items.

On the way home, I missed my turn and had to cut through the parking lot to get back to 68th Street. There was hardly anybody there. I could’ve parked right outside the door of any of the tony department stores, or had no problem getting a close-in spot in the shade structures. Admittedly, it was a 118-degree day. But…it didn’t use to be that way.

Wonder how much longer that place will survive? The middle-class shopping malls around here — Paradise Valley Mall, Metrocenter, Christown, Fiesta Mall — are decrepit wrecks. None of them are places you would go to walk around for the fun of it. Some are dangerous. One is being converted into a medical center.

On the other hand, Scottsdale Fashion Square is and always was in a different class  from those has-beens. although it had (still has) a Dillard’s and a few other more or less normal stores, it’s also got a Nordstrom’s and a Nieman-Marcus and an Armani store and a Gucci store and naturally a Prada store and a Tiffany’s and a place to buy your Ferragamos… Not likely to go away soon. I guess.

 

Life in these United States…

gets creepier and creepier every day

Just imagine giving this guy access to that kind of data collection by virtue of the nation’s highest public office… Because Big Brother isn’t the government bound by the US Constitution but is a company that can be subpoenaed, just about every detail of our private lives is accessible not just to anybody who wants to sell us something or push ads in our faces, but to anybody who wants to control our behavior and our thinking. Or put us in jail because we don’t agree with their thinking.

big brother...watching you
big brother…watching you

Image: Scanrail; Depositphotos