CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Cash

The first time I saw that sign in a package store, I stood there and gawped. CASH not accepted? But … isn’t cash our money? I mean, isn’t it supposed to be accepted everywhere?

These days, the sign is not so uncommon. A lot of places won’t accept cash. Why not?

CHANGE

Cashiers can’t make change. No one told them how to count backward to get to the right amount. They can’t do basic arithmetic in their head. I;f they are supposed to give you 99 cents and you say “Wait, I’ll give you a penny, and you can give me a dollar,” they look baffled.

If you repeat it, they look frightened. Are you trying to steal their money? Their register says 99 cents and by god, they are going to give you whatever the register says. They do not understand that if you add the penny to that 99 cents, it equals a dollar. It’s what modern math has done to the brains of our youth.

Furthermore, they don’t understand that 100 pennies make up a dollar. I’m pretty sure they are even less sure about half a dollar or quarter (a quarter of what?) and are equally vague about all the other coins. A lot of our quaint American speech — like “two bits” has gone the way of the dinosaur. Two bits equals 50 cents because a quarter is “one bit.” In case you aren’t from around these parts.

CASH IN REGISTERS GETS STOLEN

The guy with the Saturday night special (a cheap handgun for those of you not up to cop street language) isn’t looking for credit card receipts. He just wants cash to pay his dealer or his bookie or the guy who sells booze down the street.

YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF MISTAKES HANDLING CASH

Even if you know how money works and even if you can count properly, that doesn’t mean that the amount of money in the cash drawer at night is what it is supposed to be. I was (oh so briefly) a cashier before I was really working for a living and I don’t think I ever came out at night with the right amount of money.

Sometimes enough is not enough

I wasn’t short (or long) by much. Usually a few dollars and sometimes, even a few cents. But it’s got to be exactly right or your boss gets peckish about it and is likely to fire you.

A LOT OF MACHINES ONLY TAKE TOKENS

The baskets on toll roads often don’t take cash. These days, they just read your license plate and send you a bill in the mail unless you have a “reader” in your car. Why not?

Let us fondly remember the golden olden days when you were trying very hard to drive from New York to Washington D.C. and the entire Garden State Parkway (New Jersey) would only accept cash in its baskets. But NOT pennies because pennies are not real money. Certainly not paper money. So there you are behind someone who is digging through every compartment of his car including the floor, the trunk, glove box et al because he’s missing a nickel.

Squared toll booths?

Traffic cannot flow until he comes up with that nickel and his five pennies don’t count. Or a cop comes by and arrests him for lacking a nickel. I don’t think they hang you for that these days, but the other drivers behind you might.

PAPER MONEY CHANGE MAKING MACHINES

For that matter, you know those machines that are supposed to take your paper money and give you change? They were very popular for selling lottery tickets.

Except they don’t accept your money because it’s wrinkled. Machines cannot read wrinkles. Or, they don’t have enough change so they just keep your five or ten — and you get a very expensive soda or nothing — in return.

This is why you find elderly people using up the last of their physical strength trying to get a machine to give them their money back (assuming it took it in the first place) or at least give some change in return.

$100 BILLS NOT ACCEPTED

That’s because the cashier can’t tell a real $100 bill from a counterfeit and neither can I. My mother once got $300 in counterfeit money from her bank and they wouldn’t take it back. No, that’s not true. They did take it back, but she got nothing for it. Apparently, we are supposed to know if it’s counterfeit — AT THE BANK.

Banks are not supposed to give you counterfeit money. There are laws about that. That was at least 50 years ago, so $300 was quite a lot of money. In fact, it was school clothing for me and my sister.

So where can you use cash?

      1. Liquor stores. They get cash because a lot of drinkers don’t want it on their credit card. ‘
      2. The grocery store when the power is down and the registers won’t work.
      3. Your bookie only takes cash as does the guy who runs the gambling saloon in the basement of the liquor store.
      4. I never have any cash because even taxis take plastic these days and everything is so expensive, I’d have to carry a big fat roll of cash to even buy groceries.

If you want to look rich, buy 100 single dollar bills plus one 20 to put on top. Everyone will look impressed and you can pay for newspapers for at least a month and a half. Maybe even coffee and donuts!

THEY DON’T CALL THEM FILTHY RICH FOR NOTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Guileless but white

For all the right-wing evangelists, have any of you noticed that at no point in the Torah or the Gospels is there any mention of race or skin color? Nor any mention of superiority based on color, either.

It’s not that there was no such thing as color. Some people were dark, others much lighter. Especially in the Mediterranean area, colors vary quite a lot and no one seems to care.

Why do we care? What makes us so special? What makes white people superior? We aren’t better farmers or better people. We are cruel, vicious, and willing to destroy the world while guilelessly sitting on a fence saying “who me?”

Why is it important to be “white?” Were the Sphinxes built by “white people?” Not unless the Eqyptians have done some serious color shifting. How about the great Mayan and Aztec pyramids? They weren’t white either.  All the palaces and temples in India were built by brown people as were those in Tibet and other areas of Asia. No white folks there, either.

How about the Great Wall of China? A lot of white people building that one?

So other than our greed and cruelty to those who are different than us, what makes white people special? As far as I can tell, nothing. We invented a lot of technology which hasn’t done the world any good and is in the process of doing it permanent harm.

So as we sit around, guilelessly acting as if we are the world’s great innocents, ponder who has done the worst things to most people. Who has done the most slaughtering? Who has the biggest butcher bill to pay?

You guessed it. White people. Now we want to take over the world because we haven’t done enough damage.

Why not? We’ve been trying to do that for hundreds of years. We might get there yet. I’m not sure what kind of world we will be taking over or if there will even be a part of it that remains safe for humans to live.

We can be proudly white in a world of horror.

IT’S GONNA BE A HELLUVA WEEK – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

It’s going to be a rough week. We are supposed to take a vacation at the end of this week — visiting friends — but I need something to get worked out here and make sure we have a house to come home to. I at least need to know what’s going on around here — if MAPFRE is going to help at all with this repair or we are just left hanging.

And I have also very quickly hire a contractor who will do a good job at a decent price. Soon. I’m almost as terrified of finding a decent contractor as I am of somehow guilting the insurance company into not abandoning us.

I had hoped by now I’d know if the insurers would come through before I tried to find a contractor, but I don’t have any time left. Summer is disappearing and suddenly, winter will drop by — and then nothing gets done until next spring.

What a sky!

It is a bit tricky without money. It’ll get done. How exactly? Good question, but it’ll get done. Somehow.

Garry looking for the best shot

Sometimes, when you are looking at what is going to be a very difficult period of time, it’s good to get out and take a few pictures, which we did. There’s not even a hint of autumn outside. Usually by September — even near the end of August — at least the maples are beginning to shift colors and the aspens are yellow. But this time, it’s just solid green, green, green.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong — The perfect canal.

On the other hand, the weather was wonderful. Cool, dry, with puffy white clouds and reflections like mirrors in the canal.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn leaning on the fence and Garry taking great pictures.

Just be patient with us. There’s an awful lot we need to get done and we have very little time in which to accomplish it. I think the biggest miracle will be managing to get something happening before the snow flies!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – I made him leave the woods. I live in fear of lethal mosquitoes!

ANOTHER VOICE HEARD FROM – GUEST AUTHOR – BEN TAYLOR

WTF! Not Another Dime

We elect representatives to … uh … represent us.

They are paid healthy salaries, enjoy the best health care in the country and draw a salary after retirement, even when voted out of office. What a great job to have. I’ll take it!

Then, you ask for more money from us who have little more than an opinion to give.

So, here’s an idea: How about doing the job you were elected to do, without requiring us having to cough up contributions, for which there seems to be an endless number?

And what gives corporations the right to make huge donations and project opinions that are as likely as not unshared by employees? Employees who, for fear of losing their jobs, are hesitant to express any political opinion which is not in line with the handful of upper management rich people who have the funds to make those big donations?

Wouldn’t that donation money be better spent by passing it on to the employee’s salaries, not to mention, sharing those the giant bonuses given to executives they don’t need it since their already huge salaries are more than sufficient to cover any living expenses they might incur?

So, why do the wealthy need tax breaks? We don’t ask you to contribute to our lives, donate to our household budgets or help us pay our mortgage or car loans. All we ask is to be allowed to take care of ourselves with dignity. That you as our representatives, prevent the rich — who can pay for anything out of pocket — from taking away what little we depend on to scrape out an existence.

Just think of what kind of country we’d have if everyone was poor. Is this what is meant by making “America Great Again?”

Impoverishing everyone? Ignoring science? Destroying the planet to the advantage of the few who might profit? Maybe even returning slavery to create a cheap workforce? Employing social media to carry on petty quibbling while allowing foreign governments to meddle in our elections. Not to mention racial, religious, ethnic and other cultural injustices while great, and potentially greater natural disasters occur all around us, all over the world?

What small people Americans have become. We were great when we fought injustice, however briefly it lasted. Whatever happened to justice? Who ARE we?

And meanwhile, you want me to give you money?  Who are you? What makes you think you deserve my money? Or anybody’s money?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!
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NOT ANOTHER DIME!

A.B. NORMAL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Abnormal

What is normal? It there such a thing? Does anyone lead a “normal life”?

This has been a week when it feels like I should not have gotten out of bed. Or, for that matter, gained consciousness. Every time a hint of consciousness appeared, I should have taken something that would put me back in a chemical coma.

Between the news about Bonnie and discovering one wall of my house is about to fall off (and there is no money with which to fix it) and the critical invasion of lethal Eastern Equine Encephalitis Mosquitoes — it has not been a good week. It hasn’t even been a bad week. It has been an atrocious, abnormal, messed up, disgusting, horror of a week.

Wolf spiders vary greatly in size. The smallest may measure only 3 millimeters in body length, while most lycosids are larger, reaching up to 30 millimeters. Many species live in burrows in the ground, and most are nocturnal. Most lycosids are brown, gray, black, pale orange, or cream. They often have stripes or speckles. The head region of the cephalothorax usually narrows. The legs, particularly the first two pairs, are often spiny to help the spiders hold their prey. And this is exactly what it looked like.

A coma seems my best possible choice. Or a long leap off a very tall bridge. My primary problem with long leaps off tall bridges is that I might not die. I might just get broken into many pieces and have to live with that, which probably would make things worse — although I figure at that point the powers-that-be might consider that we need to have a place to live. Or, who knows? Maybe they will just drop me by the side of the road and drive away.

Who needs all these “old people” cluttering up our world?

It’s all about climate change. The climate change we don’t have has been battering this house with endlessly pouring rain and raging wind storms. Apparently on at least one side of the house (the short side) has had the vinyl siding so ripped apart that not only is the wood beneath it soaked, but the actual vinyl is soaked. The door which the vinyl surrounds is black with mold from the endless wetness and for reasons that I cannot fathom, hordes of yellow jackets seem to be trying to make a nest on our deck.

There is nothing ON our deck. We removed everything when we repainted it. The only remaining things there are broken pieces of branches from the trees and one of the most enormous wolf spiders I’ve ever seen.

Mind you, I knew they lived in the woods, but this one wanted to climb in through our screen and I finally pulled out the really poisonous spider stuff and sprayed him to death. The first couple of time he sat on the screen and leered at me, I just knocked him off to (I assume) the deck below. The fourth time, I decided it was war.

I killed him. Through the screen. With spider poison spray. So his carcass — his rather enormous carcass — is stuck between the boards on the deck and between the huge dead spider and the hundreds of yellow jackets, I’m staying home.

And still trying to figure out how we can repair the house — it really looks like we should completely redo the vinyl siding and the gutters which have been battered by falling tree limbs so they don’t do anything useful.

But we have no more money. Any money we had has gone to fixing the well, replacing doors, replacing half the front of the house and putting in a new window. The deck is falling off the house.

I’ve been running through my possible ways “out” of this life, not because I expect to see heaven, but because this life just isn’t working out for me. People say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but these don’t seem particularly temporary. The house really needs work and we can’t do it. I’ve been trying every way I know and just winding up in enough debt to wonder if either Garry OR I will live to see the end of it.

He’s trying to find some work. I just want to leave all the details to anyone who wants them and slide into oblivion. NOT because I think oblivion would be nicer, but because I’m not going to try to live on the street. As a simple start, I’d last about three minutes and they wouldn’t be nice minutes and the other because frankly, I’ve had enough.

Every time I think I’ve found some solution that MIGHT work, I discover that there’s oh so much more that needs to be done.

I’ve looked for solutions, but there don’t seem to be any solutions. It may look like a solution but it’s really just another trap. A tar pit. Maybe we should go back to the caves, but I’m pretty sure it would be full of big spiders too.

BRING ON THE ANGRY MOBS! – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m mad at life. This is not what I planned. In fact, it’s not even close to what I had in mind. I was planning to go gently into my elder years, able to do whatever I always did, but perhaps a bit more slowly. Gray hairs which turned out to be white — about the only thing that worked out the way I planned.

But all the other stuff? Poverty and ill-health? The endless crumbling of the house? It’s just not fair!

I do not feel insightful, but I could probably incite a riot. I feel very non-insightful. Mostly, I’m pissed.

I want is to win a ton of money so I can not only fix the house, but improve it so that it’s comfortable for both of us. I want our lives for the first time ever to become easier.

My childhood was rough. Adulthood has been, to say the least, bumpy. Somehow, I thought as I wandered into Older Age, life would get easier. Those things we’ve always needed to do would slow and maybe even give up. We could relax, surrounded by our nurturing family who would take care of our needs and maybe even provide a few small luxuries.

That has not been exactly been how it has worked.

Meanwhile, I’m just pissed about the whole “getting old” thing. Why doesn’t someone else cook dinner? Why are we both still scrubbing and vacuuming and cleaning? Why does the house persist in requiring maintenance and repair even though we’ve already fixed it more than once? Isn’t there an “end” point when you don’t need to fix it anymore? What’s wrong with this picture?

I say let’s round up the angry mob and attack age. Who’s with me? If we can’t evade age, maybe we beat the crap out of it.

HOW DO THEY DO IT? – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been trying to pay off credit cards which got used to repair the house. It was a bad idea, but it seemed reasonable at the time. It wasn’t either reasonable or good as ideas go. Now, it’s payoff time.

So I got a notice today that Discover had gotten their big payment. I wanted to see if I had overpaid or had a small remaining balance. One way or the other, it would be less than $100.

I couldn’t remember my username. I didn’t know my password. After a long back and forth between me and Discover I eventually rediscovered my username and eventually, learned I didn’t have a password — I had a pin number. Which I also didn’t remember. More back and forth through email.

I won’t give them my mobile number. Sorry. Won’t do it. I don’t need to carry around anything else that can be easily hacked.

Eventually, I got it sorted out. Then, I thought I should check and see if any other of the bills had been paid, but I didn’t remember my username or passwords for any of them, either.

I spent the whole evening doing this and I’m exhausted.

How do hackers figure it out? I can’t figure it out and I created these usernames and passwords in the first place. If the creator of the username and password can’t get them straight, how do hackers figure it out?

It’s all too much for me.