Good and Bad

We could use a slider replaced.  Got a hold of a contractor I’ve used for nearly 15 years.  He will come by later this week to take measurements, etc.  The guy is the son of the guy who started the business.  They’re good people.  I’ve been dealing with them for almost 15 years.  It’s probably going to cost a lot, but these guys are fair on the labor charges.  That’s the good.

The bad is that I had to plunk eight 3″ round chlorine tablets into the “turret” of my pool circulator/pump.  Not as bad as chipping/digging out a quart of cal-hypo crystals from what’s almost a 50 pound cement pail, thankfully.  I still reek of chlorine, though, even after washing my hands and arms twice.

After all this, it’s still too cold to go swimming, or floating around the pool.  The water looks great, but it’s still cold.  I’m not going in there yet.

On another note, we look after our neighbor’s chickens when they’re away.  Those girls are nice chickies.

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Minnesota and Back

The best states in which to buy gas between the northern East Coast and MN are Ohio and Iowa.  Hands down, at least 20-30 cents/gal. cheaper than the other intervening states.  Weather on the way out sucked; on the way back, it was glorious.

The family reunion went off without a hitch.  My M-I-L was happy to see all of us.  With her poor health, it might be the last time we get to see her.  We got home after being away for nearly six days, and the cats were fine.  Fetched the dog from our neighbor who agreed to take in in while we were gone, and all is well.  Our neighbor’s dog and our get along fine, plus we look after their chickens when they’re gone.  We just need to bring them a bottle of wine and a batch of freshly baked cookies with a Thank You note.  I’m not baking those cookies until tomorrow, though.  Forty hours round trip on the road, even w/o delays, takes more out of you than you’d think.  I need to decompress.

My B-I-L and I had a good discussion about rifles, and things that look like them, but aren’t.  He saw a raccoon out in broad daylight, acting really funny, so it probably was rabid.  He went into the house and came back out with is .22 LR.  I asked to see it, since it looked exactly like the ones I had used when I was a kid.  Looked like it was from the ’50s, and the ones I used as a kid were probably that old, too.  Bolt action, single load only.  Mine’s a LOT newer than that, but the main difference is that mine has a standard 10 round magazine, which I don’t have to use, if I don’t want to.  Then, when I handed it back to him, he went and picked off that problematic raccoon.I wasn’t trying to impress him

Then, we moved onto BB guns and CO2 pistols at a later discussion.  We both have some.  He got a nifty find at some yard sale that was a Crossman BB gun made to look like an M-1 carbine.  He got it for $2 because it had a broken stock, and the guy who tried to sell it for $5 didn’t know how to load it, either.  B-I-L snagged it for the $2, looked it up online for the owner’s manual, figured out how to load it, and knew he could make a new stock for it himself.  SCORE!  I asked him to send me a picture of it when he’s done repairing it.

I wasn’t trying to impress him, but I think he had no clue we have firearms, plus other things that look like them in our household, and that I know how to use them.  Nobody else there among their guests would have even been interested.

A few cribbage games broke out.  My M-I-L is the queen of those, but the rest of the family is pretty good, too.  I’ve never learned how to play, and have no desire to, but it’s still interesting to watch.

For a side trip on a free Saturday morning/afternoon, we went to Four Daughters Winery for brunch, and a couple of sampler flights.  One was mixed reds, whites, and rosés.  The other was of their various flavors of “Loon Juice” hard cider, which they only make using Honeycrisp apples.  Bought a 6-pack of our favorite Loon Juice, brought it over for the Sunday party, and it was a hit with people who knew what it was.  oh, and the food at Four Daughters was really good.  I was impressed.  The place is out in the middle of nowhere at the northern end of Spring Valley, as 63 does its zig-zag along 16.

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Verizon Cell Service, Begone!

We finally were able to sign up with a new cell phone service, on our new unlocked phones.  The new company made it easy peasy, but Verizon gave us the run-around, and made it as difficult as they could, making us drive to a corporate owned Verizon store 45 minutes away to get a transfer PIN.  Sheesh.

Anyway, when we receive our SIM cards from the new carrier, all we have to do is swap out the ones that came with the phones for the new ones.  We should be good then.  It should happen later this week (3-4 days?).

The fun part is going to happen when we have to learn how to use the new phones.  Our previous ones were 15 year old Motorola Razr models.  The new ones are also Moto flip Razr models, but they run on 5G, and will take some getting used to, since we’re not used to smartphones.

Anyway, we signed up for the base unlimited talk/text plan.  We’re not connected to our cell phones with an umbilical cord, so we don’t need or want more than that.  For half the price of Verizon with the same coverage nationwide, into Canada, it’s worth the switch.

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JFC Switching Cell Carriers

We like our 15+ year old flip phones, but 3G is going the way of the Titanic, so we had to upgrade phones at long last, to be compatible with 5G.  Okay, fine, but switching over is proving to be a lot more complicated than it should be.

We have nifty new unlocked phones, and just need to get the SIM cards to pop in, then activate service.  No problem, right?  But, even though I plugged in all the info for our current cell numbers, and the IMEI ones for our respective new phones, I could not get the payment page to load.

Shot off an email about it since it was after hours to call.  Should get a call back tomorrow to fix it all, inasmuch as when I initially inquired about switching to them, someone called me back the next morning to discuss my plan options if I did decide to go with them.

Hopefully, this will work out well.  We seldom use our cell phones, and usually don’t even bring them with us unless we’re going away on vacation, so all we want is a talk and text plan.  I’ve already got both phones hooked into our house wi-fi, so we don’t need data plans, although we’d be on our computers here, rather than our phones for internet stuff.

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Inflation Bites!

It’s bad enough that gasoline and groceries cost a lot more than they used to, but office supply type stuff from Staples is through the roof, too.  I needed one ream of printer/copier paper, and I wasn’t even looking for high quality, ultra bleached stuff.  Couldn’t find anything less than a 3-pack of reams.  Also needed some manila envelopes, mailing envelopes, and binder clips.  I used to be able to buy envelopes in quantities of 20 or 40.  Nope.  Nothing less than packages of 100 was for sale.  The binder clips were reasonable, though for 25 of them.

The bill came to nearly $55 for those four items.  The good news, I guess is that I now have a two year supply of printer paper, and a 10 year supply of envelopes.  Fortunately, I didn’t need any printer cartridges.  Those would have been much cheaper to buy online, anyway, from some wholesaler on eBay.

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Yikes! Taxes!

Depending upon in which state you live, state taxes may be due either this Friday, or next Monday when Federal is due.  Oh, man.  I got stuck with a fortune for federal, and a smaller one for state, this year.  Some years, I overpay estimated, and end up owing nothing.  Some years I end up owing nothing for estimated quarterly, but then get stuck owing a fortune when I end up making more than I thought I would.

This year is one of those in which I owed both a large fortune for last year, plus a mini-fortune for 1Q estimated, to both my state, and Uncle Sam.  My accountant and I agreed that this year was highly unusual for my capital gains, so we decided to half last year’s to estimate this year’s.  It’s not really a bad guess.  If I end up overpaying for 2022, I won’t be giving the government too huge of an interest free loan, and if I underpay, it won’t be by enough to trigger a penalty.

This is what happens when your income is highly variable year to year.  Hope the rest of you don’t have the kind of roller coaster ride I’m having, but I guess if you owe a fortune, it’s better to pay it now before taxes get raised again.  That won’t happen during an election year, but you can bet it will come up for discussion in congress in 2023.

Buckle up, people.  We’re all in for a ride over the next 2-3 years.

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Two of Four Pets into the Veterinarian Today

Our dog is an old man by now.  At 13, for a medium sized guy, he’s getting up there, gray muzzle and all, but he’s still in good shape, doesn’t weigh too much, and the women at the vet’s were fawning all over him.  He got his checkup, shots (we declined on the bordatella one, because we’re not boarding him in a kennel this year), and behaved himself.  Other than being a little stiff when he gets off the sofa after a couple of hours worth of a snooze, then working it off as he stretches, he’s fine.

One of our cats was just there for her annual checkup.  She passed with flying colors.  At a mere eight years old, she’s the baby of our family.  Her formerly oversized caboose matches the rest of her, which it didn’t a couple of years ago when we first got her.

The bill came to $190, but for two critters in one visit, and the dog’s shots, and heart worm test (negative),  it was quite reasonable.  Other vets in the area charge a lot more for the same services.

I was rather lucky to get them both in at the same time.  There just happened to be a double cancellation yesterday right before I called to book the appointment(s).  If I had called last Friday when I got the postcard in the mail, I might have had to wait a couple of weeks.

Well, that’s two down, and two to go with the critters.  Our other two cats aren’t due for their appointments until next summer.

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Good News For a Change, Twice

I was so frustrated with my eye doctor’s office ordering me a spare pair of contact lenses.  At first, I was told “I can’t do that.”  Later, I was told “I don’t know why you were told that.  Your prescription hasn’t expired.  We’ll put in the order for you.”  Two weeks later, i called to ask if they had arrived, and since they hadn’t, whether they had been ordered in the first place.  Supposedly, they had.  Two weeks after that, I called to follow up again, and the clueless person on the phone put me on hold for a few minutes, only to come back and tell me a “contact lens specialist” would call be back as soon as possible to follow up.

That was two weeks ago, and nobody ever got back to me.  No contact lenses had come in.  Fuck ’em.  I scanned in my Rx, saved it as a graphic file, and attached it to an email with my order from another contact lens lab.

Got the lenses today in the mail, and they’re perfect.  Even with shipping, the cost came in a little under $75 for both lenses.  No fucking way am I ever going to pay $125/lens from my eye doctor’s office.

I’m not even going to call them back to follow up (again) on that lens order.

Tacking to a different subject, my M-I-L landed back in the hospital for a week with heart problems.  She’s back home, so instead of sending her some silly “Get Well Soon” card, we sent her an advanced level cribbage book that had some tough problems to solve.  She loves cribbage, and dove right into solving some of them.  She loved it!  Besides, she’s a former librarian, so books are her thing.

So far, two things have gone right.  Forget March coming in like a lamb, and going out like a lion.  That’s a story for another day.

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Mom Had a Laugh

She had health issues last week, with the incompetent peeps who run her retirement community, getting over her favorite home aide.  She gets pushy, and will bug people until she gets what she wants.

I’m less obnoxious.  But when it came to my eye doctor ordering a replacement lens, she will only order one, not also a backup pair.

I needed to get that contact lens prescription from them.  The doctor is fine with this, but the administrative staff  is incompetent.  Took three calls to get the order through.

Receptionist:  “Don’t y0u have some eyeglasses you can use”?

Me:  “Yeah, but, my depth perception is off wearing them, so I can’t  drive wearing them, even though it’s legal.”

Receptionist:  Your doctor says you can wear your 1978 hard lenses. Just clean them rally well.”

Me:  Yes, I know that.  Thank you for your help, and have a good afternoon.\

My mom had a good laugh about how much I have turned into her.  “I learned from the best, mom!”  She told me that when I was a child, she wanted to buy a pillow  that read “I have become my mother.”

 

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Here We Go Again

I’ve been wearing rigid contact lenses since the 1970s.  Way back then, they were convention hard lenses, then when gas permeable hit the market, I switched to those.  The RGP ones don’t last forever like the conventional hard ones do, and they don’t make my eyes scream in pain if I doze off while wearing them in front of the TV for an hour.

The eye doctor I found last year to fit me for a new pair (my old lenses were ~15 years old) is good, but works for a place that has numerous doctors and three locations.  Getting through to them on the phone is quite an exercise in patience.  The only way to bypass their voice jail which requires leaving a message, and nobody ever gets back to me, is to pretend I’m checking in from the parking lot.  At least then, I get a real person on the line.

Here’s my deal.  I had the one new pair from last year.  AFAIK, my prescription hadn’t changed from my 15 year old one, but the new lenses weren’t all scratched up like the old ones were, so my vision was fantastic.  But, I blinked, and lost the left lens.  Couldn’t find it, even with a flashlight, after hours worth of searching.  I need to order a replacement left lens, and want to order a new spare pair of left and right lenses.  Yes, it’ll take the lab a week or so to make them, and deliver them so I can go pick them up, but they’re not something incredibly complicated like bifocal lenses.

This shouldn’t be difficult to do.  I miss my old eye doctor, who ran his own practice, and had one receptionist who was really on the ball, when I had to call them.  If I need a replacement lens, or a spare pair, it took one phone call, I didn’t even have to speak directly with the doctor, and a week later, i could pop in to pay for them.  Unfortunately, that guy was in a different state.

I like this new eye doctor, but the administrative staff there is another matter altogether.  Can’t tell whether they’re incompetent, don’t give a shit, or a combination of both.

Yes, I have a pair of glasses for backup, but I get nowhere near 180 degree peripheral vision with them, and they make my depth perception a little off, so that things look a little farther away than they really are.  Standing barefoot, looking at the floor, makes me feel ~1-2″ taller.  I wouldn’t want to drive wearing my glasses, even though it’s perfectly legal.  Parking wouldn’t be a problem with all the warning beeps if I get too close to something, but theoretically, I could think I’m keeping a safe distance on the road, when I’m not.

Even after getting through to a real person at my eye doctor’s office, I was still told by the administrative staff person who answered the phone that someone would call me back.  So far, no call back, but it’s only been a couple of hours.  I intend to bug them again tomorrow if I don’t get call by COB today.  Sheesh!

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