Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Trying To Fly

Between us, TBG and I have somehow accumulated 112,000 American Airlines points.  

Have you priced airline tickets lately?  Even Allegiant, our go-to-for-cheap-fares carrier, wants hundreds more dollars to fly me to see my grandbabies... or to fly all four of them to fly to see us..... than they did before Pandemica..... and certainly more than they were during Pandemica.

But that shouldn't matter, right?  We have all those points.  That should cut the cost in half... at least... or that was what we imagined.  TBG and I were on the hook for two of those tickets; rather than put ourselves through airports, we'll redistribute that money to the younger crew.  And there are all those points, which should have made this a cash-less transaction.

Or so we thought.

Little Cuter figured out dates and ruled out certain times and then she went on the website.  Armed with all the information in the land (KTN, loyalty number, birthdates, account numbers, sign in information), she found flights, followed all the directions, filled in all the little boxes, and was unable to pay.

She tried.  She used to do this as part of her job.  She's talented.  She failed.  More than once.

She called the help line.  It wasn't much help.  She had to go back in and hold a trip then pay with miles except she didn't have enough miles to pay for all of it so she could buy more miles (for $1600) to pay for the rest of the $548 trip.

Yes, the numbers are correct.  Yes, it is inexplicable.  Yes, she hung up.

She called back.  The same woman answered.  She hung up and sent her mama an email confessing that she was unable to complete the task to which she had been assigned.  She was abashed.  She was losing her mind.  She had to stop.

I read the email after we spoke on the phone and I heard the saga from her own lips.  I promised that I would attack the problem when I got home from Pilates.  I wasn't thrilled to step in, but the kid asked; there was no choice.

I cleared my desk.  I gathered the relevant numbers on several pieces of paper surrounding the computer.  I logged on.... and was refused entry to my account.  I have the password written down.  Instead of arguing with the site, I reset it and moved on.

I ticked the Use Miles box and entered the dates, assuming that a one way ticket would require 20K miles.  I don't know why I thought that, but I did.  I was so very, very wrong.

I didn't have enough miles in my account to pay for any part of the trip.  I signed out and went into TBG's account, which had more than enough miles for some of the trip.  The only way to do it with miles was to book separate reservations.  That complicated the seat assignment situation, but I got through it.  

The longer it took to figure things out, the higher the price went.  The more I tried to use the miles, the more miles it seemed that I needed to buy.  And they were quite pricey.

I closed the computer.  I sent Little Cuter links to the work I had done.  I hugged TBG for a long time.  

She called me to say she couldn't think about it either.  We'll try again in the morning.  We all want this to happen.  It shouldn't be this hard.  

Monday, January 30, 2023

How Many Quarterbacks Are Enough?

Up until he hurt his elbow, early in the 1st quarter, San Francisco quarterback phenom Brock Purdy was passing successfully 100% of the time.  He ended the game the same way he started it, stats wise.  3 for 3 for 22 yards.  

For those who haven't been following the made-for-tv-movie that has been the 49'ers' season.  Brock Purdy was the very last player chosen in last year's NFL draft.  That earned him the title of Mr. Irrelevant. He sat on the bench, watching 2021's third round pick, Trey Lance start..... for exactly two games..... when an ankle injury sent him to the hospital.

Jimmy Garoppolo, the handsome, merely-adequate, former 49er's starter, came back to the lead the team,  and did a stellar job ...... until he injured his foot in week 13.... in the middle of a game.... in which the 9'ers were behind.  

Enter Mr. Irrelevant, a 4-year starter at Iowa State.  He led the team to victory after victory after victory - seven in a row - until, in the NFC Championship game today, he hurt his elbow and had to leave the game.

They were down to Josh Johnson, a 36 year old journeyman quarterback, who lasted until the start of the second half when, unprotected once again, his head hit the turf and the concussion protocol sent him to the bench, too.

And then there were none.

Running back Christian McCaffrey was fitting a helmet that could receive the signals from the sidelines as Brock Purdy took his unable-to-throw self back onto the field, finishing a game that should've been called for who-wants-to-watch-this-reasons alone when Purdy went down.  

It was an ugly way to end a promising season.  My boys were delighted that their team had reached this game; they would have been satisfied with a well-fought loss.  Instead, Big Cuter turned off his tv and went for a walk, which was exactly what I suggested to his father five seconds before the kid called to prove that the mother-son bond is unbreakable.... and that a change of venue was the only way to salvage the afternoon.

I mean, really, how many back up quarterbacks does one team need?

Friday, January 27, 2023

There Is Snow

There's snow on the mountain outside my window.

I drove behind a car covered in fluffy white snowflakes yesterday.  I am certain that the driver, who took the time to meticulously remove every offending flake from his front and back and side windows, was much less pleased with the situation than I was.  

It was a little bit of winter.... real winter.... boots and mittens and rosy red cheeks winter...snow angel winter. 

I was living in Tucson winter... Winter Lite, as it were.  I had thick socks and long tights and a few tops and sweaters on before I left the house.  There were more over-garments on the front seat of my car.  

The thermometer on The UV read 41.  I turned my heated seat to the highest setting and waited, impatiently, for the climate control system to remember that there was a heater in there, too.  

I laughed as I realized at least I don't need gloves.  .

There's a reason I live here

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Kevin's Circus

Well, that was going to be the topic, anyway.  

We watched Ilhan Omar stand and speak eloquently next to Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwelll, calmly calling the Speaker of the House a vengeful, bought and paid for politician.  I had a few points in mind before I started to do some research.  

I never got to those points.  I got stuck here, at house.intelligence.gov.

At the moment, the irony, the obvious oxymoron, is more painful than funny.  Click through.   

You may be greeted, in the center of your screen, as I was, by an advertisement (or maybe it's part of the Committee.... there's no indication otherwise) for Fox News,  Hannity in the corner (interviewing Arizona's former Attorney General, Mark Brnovich), a ticker across the top wondering what the Dems knew about the Steele Dossier and when did they know it.  

It took me quite a while to come down from my ire - this is my government and it's promoting Fox News?  

It's absolutely terrifying, starting with the fact that Devin Nunes is the ranking member.  This is a man who sued @DevinNunesCow, a parody Twitter account purportedly written by Devin Nunes' cow.  

Ranking Member Nunes: We can’t counter a hypersonic missile launch with better pronoun usage is a link to a video I couldn't bring myself to watch.  It's right there on the first page of the site.  

I went to the site to find out who the members of the Committee might be.  The interwebs had been no help.  I couldn't find a list out there, so I went inside.  Or so I thought.  Maybe it's because the whole House has to vote to approve the membership so it's not official just yet.  But there's no help on the site, either.

There was so Members button to click.  There was a Minority button; it refreshed the home page.  There was no Majority button on the home page, which seemed odd until I realized that one had appeared when I clicked through the Minority button.  I clicked on the Majority and ended up at the minority party's page from last session, when they were the majority.

I guess website maintenance is a lower priority than investigating the January 6th Committee, which is the first thing that Nunes and Jim Jordan produced for their Congress's consideration.  

Paul Gosar, whose family took out ads declaring that he is a wretched human being, who was banned from Committees by the last Congress, is now on the Oversight Committee.

Again, the irony is more painful than funny.  I guess the title of this post is apt, after all.  It really is Kevin's Circus.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

They Are Coming

It started ten days ago.  It will continue through April.  Snowbirds have been driving my roads and clogging my restaurants since Thanksgiving, but my friends have only started showing up recently.

Big Cuter's family left early on the morning I took She Who Does Not Make Left Turns to the airport.  I returned to a vacant space - no holiday decorations, no extended family, no friends.  There was an empty space in my heart .... for a split second... until I realized how quiet it was.

Quiet is good.  There were no people requiring tending.  There was no one to amuse.  I could walk naked to the laundry room without the risk of scarring my son for life.  I reveled in it until boredom set in.  I was lonely.  Then, I got sick.  Having no visitors was a good thing.

And now, I'm recovered, and life is resuming.  Added on to my usual routine, friends are coming to town.  Without COVID scaring people (why the calm, I do not know) travel is happening again.

I had lunch with My Purple Friend today.  She moved from Tucson to Minneapolis and now she's back for the winter because it was 13 degrees below zero and that is cold.  

I've invited a single friend to come for a long weekend.  Friends from Lamaze class 40 years ago (40 years????) are returning to their VRBO casita.  I hope The Kibbitzer and The Doula will make a pilgrimage once again this February.  

Dr. K and Not-Kathy are back from Europe.  Fast Eddie and JannyLou want us to visit them in their new digs in Tempe.  Taos Bubbe and I have plans to walk every week; our chats are mini-vacations to the past.  

But the best news of all was delivered late this afternoon.  Mom, your nagging worked.  We're coming to visit for Spring Break.

Cue every positive emotion in the land.  They haven't been here since January, 2020.  The first week of April can't come soon enough.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Sports Weekend

I felt well enough to walk on Christina's path this weekend.  I attended the rose seminar.  But mostly, there was football.  

A friend wondered if I liked it.  I asked what she meant by it.

I despise the culture of violence.  I am discomfited by the exploitation and the physical toll on bodies pushed to the breaking point and playing on (cf Patrick Mahomes on Sunday).   I'm uncomfortable with the white patriarchy's inability to recognize potential head coaches of color.  The whole thing feels very 20th century to me..... when it doesn't feel vaguely 3rd century BCE. 

Y'know, the whole gladiators in the Colosseum thing, an opportunity for the rich aristocrats to display ... wealth and power (cf Jerry Jones in his box during the game; Jerry Jones discussing Dak Prescott in the press scrum after the game).

Most of the time I'm on the couch without my hearing aids, reading or crocheting or playing Candy Crush Soda Saga on my phone, while TBG talks to the refs and the coaches and the players.  Sometimes they listen.  Sometimes, I listen. For the most part, it's white noise to whatever else I'm doing.

But when the boys are together on the couch, hooting and hollering and high fiving, then I like it.  When TBG nudges me and rewinds to a really special play, I like that, too.  There are often teams that capture my attention, and then I care.  

But this weekend there were teams and players and rivalries - twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday.  I did crossword puzzles and read books and cooked and thought about things and the games were always on.  I paid attention to the 49'ers defeating Dallas because my emotional investment was required.

I'm an ambivalent football fan.  As long as the 9'ers are winning I'll be watching.  Ambivalently.

Monday, January 23, 2023

A Rose Seminar

I recognize that those of you who are contending with the third of many months of gloom and cold and frozen soil are probably gnashing your teeth at the notion of sitting outside and learning how to prune roses.  But that's what I did on Saturday.  
Katie,  Rillito Nursery's Assistant Manager, started her talk on time, paused when the MedEvac helicopter buzzed the hospital across the street, repeated the crowd's questions loudly before answering with just as much detail as necessary.  
 She told us how often and how long she runs the irrigation in her own yard and in the nursery.  She described her fertilization schedule in detail.  And she was brutal about her pruning advice - be ruthless.

Look at the structure of the plant.  Use bypass pruners,
aiming the point into the heart of the plant, cutting just above an outward facing node above a cluster of 5 leaves. Working above the graft, cut back the canes that criss-cross, the ones that turn inward, the suckers, leaving only 5 or 6 canes.  Daub some wood glue on the wound to keep out boring insects; disinfect the pruner between plants to minimize the spread of disease.

Those directions are easy to follow on most of my sadly neglected but delightfully resilient plants.
I managed to get this one in the ground, but couldn't bend down to remove the tag.  It's been glaring at me for a long time, and yet I've done nothing about it.  
I did mention that they've been neglected, didn't I?  
And resilient - see the yellow flower that managed to eke out enough nutrients to strut its stuff.
There are leaves, but the plants are telling me that it's time for them to rest.
Except for this beauty.  
She's blooming.  She has buds yet to open.  
I just can't cut her, not even a little haircut.

Looks like I'm going to be a doing a controlled experiment in my own backyard this year.
Does benign neglect hurt?  
Time will tell.

Friday, January 20, 2023

PNC Redux

In yet another installment of how to alienate a customer, PNC decided that my closed account was overdrawn......and that the $12 delinquency was for the monthly charge on that closed account.

I discovered in early December that a trip to the physical branch was required in order to close an account.  I went to the branch.  I withdrew all the funds.  I signed the papers (okay, the tablet with the pixels) agreeing to close the account.  I left, assuming that I had done what needed to be done.

A thin envelope arrived in the mailbox last week, the PNC logo visible on the return address.  I got around to opening it this morning, assuming it was a won't you reopen your account, we miss you missive.  Instead, it was a demand letter for $12.

I called the number at the bottom of the letter.  The automated system didn't have my option, so I pressed 0 a gazillion times.  That got me no where (I do not recognize that number.).  I said Representative a few times, then switched to HELP! and found myself connected almost immediately with an absolutely delightful woman who wasn't at all put off by the close-to-bitchy-annoyance in my voice.  

She agreed that there was no money in the account and that there was no activity on the account since I withdrew everything.  She agreed that the only logical explanation for my actions was not what was appearing on her screen.  To her, my account was active, no matter what she tried to do.  

Not only that, the computer was not extending the courtesy of a refund at this time (I wrote it down to be sure I got it right) even though my helper assured me that I'd never asked for a credit before, and that my cause was just.   

Go to the bank, she said.  It's your only hope.  So, I did, after leaving a compliment on her supervisor's voice mail.  

The young man at the bank also understood the situation.  He also came to the conclusion that I was correct to assume that the account had been closed.  He tried and failed to help me (They've taken away our ability to fix this right here) but assured me that he'd take it right up to the manager, a really nice guy; I'm sure this won't be an issue.

I didn't know where to start.  Won't Be An Issue????  A Really Nice Guy??? Why should that matter? Isn't it a no brainer?  I have no account here.  You are charging me for an account here.  Somehow, I don't think I'm going to pay this.  And anyway, how are you planning to collect this enormous sum?  

I smiled.  I bit my tongue.  I asked that this not reflect poorly on my credit score.  I shook his tattooed hand and walked briskly out the door, admiring my self restraint and pleased with the notion that I could come home and vent to TBG and type to you and then put it in my rear view mirror.

I'll keep you abreast of the situation, especially if the banking authorities take punitive action.  For now, I'm going to make lasagna.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

George Who?

For a quick second, I thought that George Santos represented the district in which I grew up.  It gave me chills.  Then I Googled, waded through a variety of redistricting maps, and found out that he is the elected representative of the North Shore not the South Shore of Long Island.  

The North Shore, a little bit richer, a little bit whiter, a little bit more conservative than my home turf, the South Shore.  There's a little bit of Queens tucked into the western corner of the district, but most of it is that upper crust.  And they have only themselves to blame for the fact that George Santos is their voice in Congress.

And not only is he their voice, he's part of the coalition of right wingnuts who are trying to dismantle our democracy, one Jim Jordan committee chairmanship at a time.  

I keep trying to grapple with people who defied subpoenas issuing subpoenas.  

The Oversight Committee's Republican membership includes members who were deemed by their peers in the last Congress to be truly terrible people in need of oversight themselves.

Juan Ciscomani, whose face sat behind Kevin McCarthy during the last 10 votes or so, a pretty prop, my freshman Congressman, will be sitting on the Appropriations Committee.  

And then there is George Santos, who somehow ended up in Congress.  I've been wondering the same thing that a former roommate told the NYPost:

“I kind of assumed that he had made up, you know, about going to Baruch and NYU. But then I thought, ‘Well, maybe I was wrong,’ you know, after the election, because I’m sure the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and RNC [Republican National Committee] would have, you know, investigated him and at least his opponent would have done some opp[osition] research,” Morey-Parker said.

 And that's where I come down on this whole situation.  Wasn't anybody paying attention to this?  There's a narrow margin in the House; what were the Democrats thinking by not knowing about this guy?  

The revelations just keep coming.  He stole a $3,000 Go Fund Me campaign for a veteran's sick support dog.... and the dog died.  The vet was on CNN tonight; he's very sympathetic.  Then there are the pictures that might just be of the Congressman, the pictures of maybe-him dressed in drag.  

He's been relegated to two low level committees, but he's still representing CD 3 in New York.  

And it's only the first month of this new regime.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Sun Is Out

The air is ionized. 

The sky is blue.

The clouds are high and white.

There's snow on Mt. Lemmon.

I don't feel well enough to enjoy any of it.  It's not COVID (funny how that's the first thing we do these days).  It's just overall body aches, sore-ish throat, headache, and absolutely no energy at all.

I had nothing on the calendar.  I was waiting for a package requiring a signature so the day was going to be full of closet emptying and rearranging and desk clearing and holiday boxes going back into the closet in the garage. 

None of that happened.  I kept trying to do something but I never got very far into reading or laundry or those closets.  I did manage to type to you, but only to update you on the situation.  I plan to feel better tomorrow.  I promise to be more interesting when next we meet.

Until then, I'm going back to lie on the couch and feel sorry for myself.