SOME STUFF NEEDS INVENTING – Marilyn Armstrong

In a world where we are launching cars and other vehicles that can drive themselves, why can’t anyone create a pump for soap, shampoo, hand cream, and other gooey stuff that will keep working until the bottle is actually empty?

I’ve been a very good sport about paying huge amounts of money for fancy creams to deal with rashes. Soaps free of anything that might be remotely allergenic to use for my body and for the washing of clothing. The “good” dish soap that is safe the environment and is supposed to outlast all the other soaps but never does.

I have — for example — a soap dispenser for the Dawn in the kitchen. Why? Because Garry is a firm believer that more of whatever goop it is is always better than less. Thus he uses twice as much toothpaste as I do and ten times more kitchen soap. I figured if I put it in a dispenser, he’d get tired of pumping it out a lot faster than he would if he were to have his hands on the entire half-gallon container.

Today, though, he couldn’t get anything to come out. I opened it and it was more than half full, so I figured — as usual — it was all gunked up with soap. So I rinsed everything out with hot water, then found a pokey pointy thing to clear out the pump in the front, then washed the entire pump container which was all sticky and gooey.

After which, it worked. I commented that if we can replace human beings in production plants with AI devices, why can’t someone make a soap or hand cream pump that doesn’t clog up? Or, for that matter, a dispenser for packing tape that doesn’t stick to everything except the package you are trying to get ready for shipping?

Kitchen jar opener

If we can make so many complicated things that will ultimately make most people unemployable, why can’t we make the simple things work? Make child-proof drug dispensers that don’t require a wrench, lockpick, and hand-ax to open?

How about one of those zip pull envelopes that works? How about a “push here to open” place on a box that will actually open the pasta or whatever it is supposed to open rather than simply caving in the entire container?

I keep knives, scissors, and small wrenches in my night table and that’s just to open up sealed pill containers.  I have special implements to open the tops of jars and bottles. Even with all of these items conveniently at hand, sometimes, I can’t get them open and Garry can’t get them open either. Maybe Owen could, but he’s not here. Usually punching a hole in the jar’s lid works because it breaks the seal. But then you have a jar with a hole in the top.

Very expensive shampoo dispenser

I’m really tired of throwing away half a container of expensive goop because no one can get it out of the container. It is aggravating and a big waste of money. I want someone to FIX the problem.

My favorite innovation? Amazon charges you extra to get a package that a normal person can open without special tools.

THE SUPER BOWL OF GROCERY SHOPPING – Garry Armstrong

Men can shop. I shop. Moreover, I am a highly competitive shopper. This is Guy Shopping, in three scenarios.

Scenario #1

I’m one of those guys who, if shopping “solo,” can zip through the aisles, getting everything on the shopping list. Sometimes I time myself. It’s like a “Wide, Wide World of Sports” event for me.

As I exit the supermarket, my cart full of groceries, I look at my watch. A big smug — almost “45-ish” smile on my face. I quietly proclaim in a “Howard Cosell-Marv Albert” style, “Yesssss!!

Scenario#2

I’m on my game as I begin shopping. First stop, produce.

As I check over the tomatoes, a cougar lady in stilettos, low-cut tank top, and stretch jeans — strike up a conversation about how nice it is to see a man knows how to handle tomatoes. I switch into my TV guy mode, wrap the chat, and move on. Next aisle, it’s the “groupies.” Folks who grew up watching me on TV. They’re blocking access to the pasta sauce and other canned goods. I do two or three minutes of my greatest hits and move on.

The deli section is always difficult. There are inevitably two or three people buying a quarter pound of everything. They must taste a piece of each item to make sure it’s quality stuff. Oy!!

Now, I’m trying to make up ground. Taking short cuts through various aisles and BAM — elderly people, crying kids, and a Mr. Know- It-All, blocking access. I silently curse their birthrights and smile my TV guy smile.

Finally, finally, I’m at the checkout counter.

Groceries bags are lined up in front of my stuff on the counter. The “hot and cold” bags are clearly open to be used for frozen food, meat, and so on. I slowly and clearly explain how the bags should be used. You know — perishables into the “hot and cold” bags. Please pack evenly.

I always bring extra shopping bags so I don’t have to lug overloaded bags up two flights of stairs.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

What was I thinking? It’s like I was speaking Klingon. Outside, I repack stuff at the car, loudly cursing the gods. The drive home is slow. Very slow.

The slow drivers who are always waiting for me are blocking the lane. Probably the same folks who blocked the supermarket aisles.

Scenario#3

I enter the supermarket and eyeball the “self check out” section. Do I have what it takes? I promise myself to try. Someday.

I can do it.

Fast forward. I approach the checkout counters, eyeball the “self check out” counter. No! I don’t have it. No true grit. Maybe next time.


Note: I omitted the folks who still ask why I don’t have “my people” shop for me. They are of the opinion that we are too rich to shop for ourselves. Yeah!

STATS FOR THE FIRST HALF OF 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stats

This is a good time of year to look at statistics. It’s just past the middle of the year and in theory, it should give you a reasonably good idea what the year will look like. But my stats have gotten pretty erratic and I have bursts of big numbers, then occasionally surprisingly low numbers … and we are still hoping to go on vacation next week which will probably mean a nearly zero week for the numbers game.

July’s bar chart (it’s still early today …)

I really shouldn’t care. I’ve been at this a long time and I know that stats don’t mean much except when they dip very low and I realize WordPress has disappeared me from their database.

Again.

Overview. I had 1500 additional Facebook followers a couple of weeks ago as well as 2000 more Blog followers. I wonder where they went?

I’ve had years when I got a huge explosion of big numbers from them and years when I get almost nothing. For reasons I don’t understand, about 1000 of my Facebook followers have recently vanished along with about 2500 blog followers. Not sure what that’s all about but I haven’t cared enough to follow the trail of crumbs and see what’s going on. It would require yet one more annoying conversation with their Happiness Engineers.

Aren’t those people embarrassed by that title? I would be ashamed to tell anyone I was a Happiness Engineer for WordPress or for that matter, for anyone.

Yesterday’s reading states. For unknown reasons, it was a good day.

But I suppose a paying job is a paying job and these days if you get one that pays the most of the bills and keeps and your family living in a house with heat, light, and a roof that doesn’t leak, you’re doing fine.

We used to have higher standards, but as time as marched on and things like “raises” have become scarcer than hen’s teeth, we are just happy if we manage to keep even.

Now that we are on a fixed income, we can’t even count on staying even. In theory, Social Security pays “cost of living” raises to its recipients, but whenever Congress is feeling poor, the first people whose “cost of living” that mangle are retirees. After all, we are old and therefore we don’t need anything, right? Like … you know … food. Medication. A home. A car. We just need a little, dark room in which to quietly disappear.

If we would just stop doing annoying things like voting, we could be completely dismissed.

Except we do vote. More than any other age group, we vote. Moreover, we think about voting well in advance of doing it. We actually watch the news with all the advertisements for medications we can’t afford, reverse mortgages that will ultimately leave us living on the sidewalk, how to sell off our life insurance, and how to sue people who have ripped us off.

Can we sue the Federal Government? They are the biggest ripper-offers of all time.

In God we trust. We might as well trust in God because we sure can’t trust the people we elected. Or other people elected. I’m sure I didn’t elect them!

Stats. I have pretty decent stats. I don’t work at them anymore and when the numbers drop into low digits, I shrug. Tomorrow will be better. Probably. If it isn’t, does it matter?

Basic numbers

All of this mattered more years ago when I was trying to establish a “base.” Now? I’ve got one. It isn’t gigantic, but it’s not tiny, either. If I keep writing, someone will read me. Maybe someone who matters will read me. Maybe I’ll make a difference.

I would like to make a difference, though I’m not sure what that means anymore. The world in which I live is twirling on its ear and the future is looking a bit abbreviated.

SHARING MY WORLD – IT’S THAT TIME OF WEEK AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 7-8-19

Are you a Summer person?   A Winter person?   Or one of the other seasons suits you best?

I’m definitely Autumnal. If we had springtime, I’d probably like that too. I prefer cool, not hot, weather and I could at this point in my life skip deep winter and be very happy about it.

What is your favorite summertime clothing?   

Loose, cool dresses from India with sandals.

Do you find yourself eating out more during the summer?  Or making ‘cold food’ like salads and stuff you can heat in the microwave?

We don’t eat out more. There are no decent restaurants around here and anyway, we don’t have the money. We do eat a lot of salads and cold foods. Lots of fruit. Cherries, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe.

Do you like watermelon?   What’s your favorite summertime treat?

No remains — except the pits

I like watermelon. I like most fruit. We don’t grow very good peaches or plums around here, but we do grow wonderful corn. Not a lot, so you have to grab it when it becomes available.

Are you thankful it’s finally (sorta) dry and warm?

We needed some dry weather to get some of the work done on the house. We needed three dry days to get the first coat of color on the deck and we need another three for the next coat. We also need some dry weather to get the deck propped by up.

Wet, but clean deck!
Deck with a new color on it.

It’s hard to get much done on the house when it is pouring all the time, especially with a lot of lightning and high winds.

BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK – Marilyn Armstrong

Bi-Weekly Photo Challenge: Black

I remember the year that dark brown was the new black and another year when orange was the new black. Personally, I’ve always thought black was the new black and more than half the clothing I own is black.

In Israel, a co-worker asked me if I was secretly a nun because I wore so much black. In a country that hot, black wasn’t a popular color, but I came from New York where black was always the most fashionable color for dressing up … with other dark colors close behind.

Why? Well first of all, if like me, you tend to wind up wearing your lunch, black hides everything. I used to own a lot of white blouses and one by one, they got a sufficient number of tomato-based stains on them to become officially wearable only at home with the dogs for company.

Almost all of these pictures were taken by Garry with a couple of exceptions, as noted.

 

I had one fatal encounter while wearing a white silk blouse — oh what a beauty it was, too — involving dipping one breast directly into the pasta bowl. It wasn’t a great fashion moment, but it sure did make everyone laugh!

That was the last time I wore a white silk anything, not counting my wedding dress. I didn’t eat anything at my wedding, not because I wasn’t hungry but because the photographers — video and still — owned us for the day. I tried to set some food aside for later, but my cousin got hungry and ate it. There was no food left on the table because we invited 90 people and 120 showed up.

The primary problem I have with all my black clothing is I can’t find anything in my closet. It has a light, but everything looks the same. Even clothing that isn’t black is dark — dark red, deep blue, denim — and half the things I want to wear, I can’t find. They are there. I know they are. But they are all lost amidst the other dark items closeted there.

Moreover, I can’t resist a nice pair of black pants. Because they go with everything. Blouses? I can wear many colors as long as they aren’t pastels (which look really awful on me) and if the pants are black or denim or navy, all will be well. When I was working, not having to match tops to weird color bottoms was the difference between getting out the door in time to arrive before someone missed me … and not.

I got rid of about a quarter of my wardrobe recently, but it doesn’t seem to have helped. I think I need to lose at least another 50% to make it work. Between one thing and another, clearing out my closet is not at the top of my agenda this year.

BUT WHAT HAPPENS IF THE FAX IS BROKEN? – Marilyn Armstrong

In case you haven’t noticed, doctor’s offices rely heavily on faxes to get prescriptions to the pharmacy. Although that has always left me a bit twitchy — personally, fax machines and I get along about as well as my printer and I get along, which is to say, not well — I have come to assume they know what they are doing.

I know, for example, that my doctor’s office is very good about getting prescriptions done quickly. If I call in the morning, the pharmacy usually has the script ready to pick up in an hour or two. Considering I pretty much left my last two doctors because they couldn’t seem to get a prescription ready inside of a week, I consider this amazing.

Windy day in a parking lot

Since two important prescriptions were canceled last week due to unavailability and we are planning to be away on vacation next week, I’ve been trying really hard to get all this stuff worked out. There really isn’t anything crazier than realizing your script ran out and you’re miles from your pharmacy.

I got the prescription worked out for the pain medication over the weekend. Not only did I get a prescription, but it works a lot better than the previous one. I actually wake up in the morning feeling like I can move. Not very fast at the moment because my left knee is pretty dodgy, but the rest of me feels almost like … well … normal. I didn’t think it was possible!

As for the Adderall gone missing, it’s all CVS’s fault. Through some accident — I’m serious about this, so laugh all you want — they ordered ALL the Adderall. All of it. So if you don’t shop at CVS — I don’t because I can go to Hannaford and get a prescription immediately — while it’s always a half an hour wait on a long line at CVS. For just about anything.

But honest to god, that’s what the doctor’s office told me. So all the smaller pharmacies are completely out until the next order. You think maybe CVS did it on purpose?

Eventually, we got this worked out. I’m getting double strength pills and I just have to split them. I already split some of my BP meds, so it’s no big deal … but I had a lot of weird mental issues about CVS ordering ALL the Adderall from the manufacturer. They must have tons of it. Literally tons.

The problem with my regular doctor was far more peculiar. I called, said the medication had worked gangbusters and I was really happy with the replacement and they said they would ship the fax over immediately.

But the pharmacy didn’t have the fax. I called again — both doctor and pharmacy — and the doctor’s office sent another fax and Hannaford didn’t get it.

Because, as it turns out, the fax machine was broken.

Some of the ladies who work in the front office are not tech savvy. They manage to deal with computers, but they always look emotionally and mentally strained. They are sure — always — that something is going to blow up.

I’m very patient with them. They are nice women and work hard. Not everyone does well with electronics, even very smart people. I can do almost anything with a computer but put me in front of a printer or fax machine and my brain dies.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Their fax machine was broken. That’s why Hannaford didn’t get the fax.

Apparently, they didn’t know anything was wrong until they started getting calls from all the pharmacies in the area that prescription faxes hadn’t arrived. Putting two and two together, they got at least 22. Most of the pharmacies agreed to take the orders by phone — just this once. I guess now they are going to have to (gasp) buy a new machine. Hook it up. Convince it to connect. It’s probably wireless and will only work when it feels like it.

Just like my printer.

So I spent almost all day on the phone because the fax machine in the doctor’s office is broken and they didn’t know it. Apparently, the people at the pharmacy worked through the problem with them.

And meanwhile, my glasses are ready to be picked up tomorrow! Yay! Are things finally beginning to run a little more smoothly? Will we make it to vacation alive? Tune in!

FAILURE TO BOUNCE – Marilyn Armstrong

Again, I tried to find a prompt for this, but nothing fit. Ironically, yesterday’s “writhe” would have fit today’s post, but I’m pretty sure you only get one use per prompt so I’ll just have to wing it.

Winging it is definitely the wrong word.

Yesterday evening, I stepped out of my shower, hit a damp piece of floor, and my bad left knee crumpled under me and down I went.

Defining bad left knee: When I was in my mid-20s, I fell and tore all the ligaments and tendons in my left knee. All of them healed except the ACL (anterior Crucis ligament). Repairing that ligament was major surgery followed by a year of physical therapy and healing time. And the surgery doesn’t always work.

They have to thread a new ligament (or whatever they use as a new ligament) through your knee and stitch it into place and then hope that it “takes” properly. The general advice was that unless I was a skier or a serious hiker, I could just be careful about the knee. Mostly, I had to not twist that leg because, at any angle other than straight, the knee recognizes its lack of ligament and collapses. It’s not painful. It just stops working like a knee.

It only hurts when you hit the ground.

At some point, when I was around 40ish, I discovered falling down was not like it was when I was younger. I couldn’t just get back up, dust myself off and move on. I had to be very careful on uneven sidewalks and “offroad.” As long as I kept my knees straight, no problem and if I needed it, I could get a brace that would give me a little extra support for the knee.

Mostly, I been very careful. I took a few falls in Boston, on Beacon Hill where sidewalks are notoriously bad. Since then, I’m careful to the point when I forget I have a tricky knee.

It wasn’t a huge fall. I didn’t break anything. I got some bruising in miscellaneous place and my knee is sore as was my back (no surprise there). What I hadn’t realized is that I had pulled a ligament or tendon (not sure which) in my groin area. A classic baseball injury and Garry assures me I’m now on the 10-day injury list.

I was really surprised at how sore I am. I did an unexpected split across the entrance to the shower and pieces of me hit the ridges that hold the shower doors in place. Sharp little things when they scrape across your thighs. By the end of the evening, I was limping around and complaining a lot. Mostly, I was complaining because I didn’t do anything dangerous or careless. I was so mad at me!

So I slept late this morning on the theory rest would help … and it did. It hurts a lot less than it did yesterday and I’m hoping that by tomorrow, it will hurt even less.

Garry said I should be more careful. I said if I were any more careful, I could just wrap myself in bubble wrap and never leave the sofa because I can’t be any more careful than I already am.

The real problem is at 72, I don’t bounce. What would be a very minor fall in earlier years is a much bigger deal.

Nothing reminds you of how you have aged quite as much as falling down.