New Case of Amazonitis

Amazonitis struck again. Packages were supposed to arrive by Sunday. When such didn’t happen, I checked the calendar (yes, yesterday was Sunday and today is Monday) and the front porch (nope, no package — but was it stolen?) and then went to Amazon. After clicking on Orders and Track Package, I was given this message:

Now expected January 11 – January 12

We’re very sorry your delivery is late. Most late packages arrive in a day. If you have not received your package by tomorrow, you can come back here the next day for a refund.

Well, where was it, then? When I checked on Saturday, they assured me it was ‘on the way’. I clicked on a link for more shipping details.

Wow. I was impressed! That package worked hard on Friday, making tremendous progress from Vancouver to Portland, rushing between Amazon facilities and carrier facilities. Where’d it go after that?

Who knows? If only there was some capacity to track these things, some system whereby the packages are provided a number, and then under that system, let’s call it a tracking system, where its progress is followed, with details provided to the expectant customer about when it’ll arrive.

Fortunately for me, in this issue, it’s again not at all crucial. It’s more of a minor annoyance. I put the annoyance factor below the football team that I root for (we’ll not speak their name) getting bounced from the playoffs. It’s not like the package is carrying critical medicine, desperately needed food, or almost as importantly, coffee.

This is more of a first-world whine about setting expectations and having those expectations dashed. (Well, ‘dashed’ is a little strong. Let’s say, ‘failed’.) Yes, I’m aware of COVID-19. I’m aware many people are at risk out there for this stupid little package. I’m grateful to those people. I’m just having a little pre-coffee Monday morning fun, venting. It’s not like I have places to go.

It’s not like I’m a package.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Went out shopping yesterday, Trader Joe’s and Costco in Medford, OR. We were masked up. We heard it wasn’t bad…

They were wrong.

Costco won’t allow entrance unless you have a mask ‘on’. Everyone wore a mask, but not properly. Several had the mask down below their nose and/or mouths. The store has signs up about keeping social distance, and people around with signs. Signs won’t ever deter the ignorant or self-absorbed. Those who ‘know better’ don’t give a shit about signs. Frustrating Costco experience.

It was bliss compared to Trader Joe’s.

TJ’s controlled entrance; one shopping unit out, one group in. Separation was begun on the sidewalk outside. Tape marked off six feet segments.

Most folks outside were not wearing a mask. Why wear a mask? They’re outside. The man in front of us was eating a sandwich. That seems safe.

Inside the store, about three-quarters were masked. Not all of them practiced six-feet of SD; either they didn’t care, were self-absorbed and didn’t notice, or thought all of this was trumpshit (you could see that by their actions).

Yeah, it pissed me off, but I remembered people. Doing the right thing is hard. It requires mindfulness, practice, and patience. Few U.S. citizens are ever accused of being those three things.

Finally, worse though, in both stores, were the employees. Focused on work, they frequently blew through the idea of being six feet apart.

I can only imagine the shit that they’re saying about me at home. I was a senior NCO in the military. My eyes can express a great deal of anger and contempt when it finds its way in me. Yeah, I’m not a patient and tolerant person, especially when I think someone is being stupid.

As an addendum to the whole thing, groups are organizing together in freedom rallies. What cracked me up is that they said, “a military mindset” must be used. A ‘military mindset’ to me means order, structure, discipline. It means listening to your intelligence in the sense of the experts who gather and analyze data. It does not mean asserting your will to do something else in the face of the intell provided.

From all of this, a fave song by The Offspring jumped into the stream. From 1994, here’s “Come Out and Play”. Obviously, it’s chosen for the line repeatedly employed, “You gotta keep them separated.”

By the way, our county had been steadily reporting no new cases. We went ten days, I think. But guess what? New cases of testing positive are being reported. 

Gosh, I wonder why?


Blue Jeans

Wrangler, Lee,

Lucky Brands,

and more than I can say

they’ve wrestled with my waist,

swathing my legs in new



Bell-bottomed, flared legged,

low-riders, relaxed fit.

Button up, zip down,



Straight legs and boot cut,

now they try to move me new ways

with stretchable materials

and flattering stays.

What would I be without my jeans

defining my blue ass

and stretching tight

at the seams?




I used to be such —

Ah, ‘used to be’. Famous words that begin many tales.

I used to be a model. I used to be a salesman. I used to be very flexible. I used to drink more coffee, stay up late and party, and go to work early.

Words of memory, ‘used to be’ invokes a sense of gentle passing on what was, a point to pivot onto the current moment. In my case…

I used to be such a desirable customer. Oh, the offers that came in the mail. First were the weekly avalanches of credit card and banking offers, magazines, and book and music clubs. They all wanted me. Every day, I considered and rejected suitors. No, you’re not for me, American Express. No thank you, Delta. I’ll pass today, Discover. Come back another day, Book of the Month.

Ed McMahon and American Family Publishing dropped in sometimes, delighting me with the news that I MAY HAVE ALREADY WON. I didn’t win, but I appreciated their optimism. Sometimes, Publishing Clearing House also came by to tell me that I’m a potential winner. Both wanted me to buy magazines. I did, once, because I was a newly appointed young adult, with an income, and I liked car magazines. They billed me later.

Dating services targeted me for a while. I guess they thought I was lonely. Then came ways to save via coupons on buying new checks, eating out at restaurants, getting my car repaired or painted, my carpet cleaned, and my windows washed.

As we passed into the last half of the past decade, suitors come less frequently. Maybe they were giving up. Their pitches changed. Cruise lines and vacation resorts showered me with beautiful people having wonderful times in beautiful, exotic locations. Politicians solicited my support and donations. I started hearing from hearing-aid companies for a while. A few companies wondered if I had enough health and life insurance. Others wanted me to plan for how my loved ones and I were going to be buried. Concerned investing firms approached, offering to buy me a meal while worrying whether I had enough money saved for retirement. I appreciated their efforts, but gently tore their offers in half and deposited them in the recycle bin.

A few realtors approached, asking if I wanted to sell my house, telling me that I could really make some money because they already had buyers lined up. The Great Cable Wars brought more offers for a few years in my late fifties as satellite dish companies sprang forward, trying to gain market share. Sometimes I received three offers in one day from them, three, I tell you, in one day. Yep, I was a wanted man.

Alas, I’m no longer a young adult. The mail suitors have disappeared. Oh, some have changed with the times and approach me via email, notably AARP and Viagra, competing against Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, the DNC, all who beseech me daily to give, give, give, along with urgent requests to sign petitions. Then,of course, they’ve called, too, but with caller ID, they soon learned that I don’t answer the phone.

Now, they’ve all stopped trying, it seems. All that remains is Spectrum. Having taken over Charter, they’re trying hard to win me. They’re doing it the old fashioned way, too, first with people coming door to door (charming young men) asking me how much I pay for my phone service and what Internet service provider I use, assuring me that I’ll do much better with them.

Then came the mail pieces, one every day, (except Monday, a holiday), but a piece came Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Tears of memory sprang to my eyes as I realized, Spectrum wants me. It’d been so long. I almost hated tearing up their offers, and held off for a few minutes, thinking about their kindness, reaching out to me for my money, just like the old days.

“Thank you, Spectrum,” I whispered, and then tossed the offers away.

It feels good to be wanted.

Low Priority

Snark time.

We receive our credit card statement by old-fashioned (in this era – it was modern in another time, I swear) snail mail. A personal check is written to cover our charges, and then it’s mailed back, with a stamp. Each month, the credit card company then sends me an email, verifying that the payment has been received and the bill is paid. They also tell me, “Next time, quickly and easily pay your bill using any checking, money market, or savings account – at home or on the go – ”

Yes, because one BIG priority in my life is to PAY MY CREDIT CARD BILL MORE QUICKLY. Because that benefits me…how?

I think we know who benefits from paying my bill by an e-process or app more quickly, and it ain’t me and my wife.

Here We Go Again – A Microsoft Rant

Microsoft has done it again; they’ve “improved” their Word product. 

Three features that I’ve grown used to are suddenly no longer functioning correctly after the latest MS “update”. As a writer, I liked the recently used files, pinned files, and the bookmarker that lets me pick up where I left off the last time that I was in a document. Stupidly of me, I like them so much that I trusted Microsoft to leave them as they are.


I’ve been dealing with Microsoft products for over thirty years. Their updates and improvements regularly ripped up what I’m used to using, slowing me down, wasting time, and adding unnecessary aggravation.

My latest used files, according to MS Word, was in September of 2016. This is from a program that I use every day. The pinned files? All unpinned. Thanks, Microsoft. You’re a fucking peach. 

After finding the files that I used yesterday, the bookmark for where I left off is absent. I know where I was working, etc., but what the hell?

Of course, I must laugh. I must release long, bitter peals of angry laughter because, while Microsoft taketh away and fouls things up, it urges me, “Look! Look at our bright, shiny, NEW stuff. We’re improved, not like the sucky old product that we used to be.”

  1. Why should I look at your new and improved shit when you just removed my normally used shit, Microsoft?
  2. Why can’t I keep using the old, sucky shit.

(And yes, I recognize that the MS Word features that I’d grown accustomed to using were themselves new features, once upon a time. It’s great that they created an provided them. But can’t they see how it builds distrust when they do this sort of crap? It’s like good ol’ Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the bowl. She always pulls it away, and he keeps believing that THIS TIME it’ll be different. Then, Lucy, like Microsoft proves, nope, we fooled you again.)

It’s the world’s way, innit? Don’t know about that, but it sure as hell is the Microsoft way.


The Excuse

Two people were in the cross walk. The red Volkswagen Jetta had plenty of time to stop, but the young woman drove through the crosswalk, missing a pedestrian on either side by two to three feet.

Enraged, they gestured and shouted at her. She had a good excuse for not seeing them and stopping, because she was on her cellphone.

The Amazing POS That’s the Free Mail Google offers

Warning: this snarky rant has some profanity.

Well, I should have known.

I’d been using Gmail for years. It started sliding down hill a few years ago. To save it, I went to Inbox.


Four years later, and a year of PERSONAL frustration for me, frustration that included random shifting of mail into different places. WaPo’s news letter will be in one place on one day, somewhere else the next.

Delete an email? Not under this POS. Delete may work. It might not. The emails show up again and again, driving me crazy as I remembered already reading that mail and deleting it, sometimes THREE TIMES IN ONE DAY.

Earlier this year, Google announced they’re dropping Inbox. Does that mean they fucking improved Gmail?

Not fucking likely.

Being Google, it still works like crap. However, they’ve managed to add several infuriating features. One particularly pisses me off. Each time I delete an email or change a tab — hell, anytime I do anything in Gmail, a small offer comes up:

Gmail Desktop


Nothing stops this zombie question. Can’t be turned off. It just asks me again, and again. Hide? Fat fucking chance. It comes right back up after I do something. Click the X? No, that shit doesn’t help, either. Yes, it offers a brief respite, but nothing more. It’s always there, obsequiously asking me if I want to use their fucking feature.

As Rake would say, “Oh, fuckity fuck, fuck.”

Snark Alert – Firewise Edition

As the weather has grown hotter and dryer every year, wildfires have become a frightening threat to our southern Oregon community. To help improve the chances of our structures surviving wildfires, Ashland participates in the Firewise USA program. Besides offering assessments on your property, the program offers building and landscaping tips to improve the chances that your property will survive.

One tip is not to have a wooden fence that attaches to the house. I mentioned that to friends as we visited with them on their back deck. “We don’t have wooden fences attached to the house.”

We were sitting on a moderate-sized wooden deck attached to their house. “What about this deck? It’s attached to your house.”

“It’s not a fence.”

Oh, I see, yes. The wildfire will burn through the wooden fence surrounding your backyard and across the trees and grass, but then will come to your wooden deck and say, “Wait! That’s not a fence. That’s a deck. We better leave this alone.” Thus their home will be saved.


Guidelines for A Relationship with Your Muse(s)

I’ve been coping with my muse(s) for years. I’m not certain how many I have. I may have one muse with shape-shifting skills and multiple personalities, or a horde with very distinct skill sets and ideas. I suspect my muses are both of these ideas.

Muse(s) can be fickle. Having employed some mechanisms that helped me get along with my muse(s), I thought I’d compile some brief, general guidelines. These are recorded to help me in the future, but since I’m typing them up, I thought sharing them might help others when they’re dealing with their muse(s).

  1. Shelter your muse(s) like kittens, puppies, kits, and fledglings. They’re cute, tender, and impressionable, and need to be fed, protected, and nurtured. They depend on you for everything.
  2. It helps to act like you’re handling a fourteenth-century Ming dynasty vase when you’re conversing with your muse(s). They’re rare, fragile, and irreplaceable.
  3. Regard your muse(s) like they’re famous geniuses such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Stephen Hawking, Jackson Pollock, Maya Angelou, or Frank Lloyd Wright. They have a lot to offer, and you should pay attention.
  4. Behave with your muse(s) as you would with family that you enjoy having around, and respect and interact with your muse(s) as you do with family that you must love because they’re family, but you have no idea why they do the things that they do.
  5. Follow your muse(s) like they’re a famous performer, like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Beyonce, or Kanye West, or a movie star like Jimmy Stewart, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Dwight Johnson, Jerry Lewis, Casey Affleck, or Bruce Campbell.
  6. Care for your muse(s) like a favorite elderly pet who seems to be fading.
  7. Obey your muse(s) like you’re a child and they’re your parent(s).
  8. Nurture, protect, and teach your muse(s) like you’re their parent(s) and they’re your child, perhaps a two-year-old, or a sixteen-year-old. They could be both from moment to moment. Part of the fun is understanding which one they are.
  9. Interact with your muse(s) like they’ve been convicted of being a serial killer who escaped from prison and is standing in your bedroom.
  10. React to your muse(s) like they’re the monsters under your bed. You’re not sure if they’re real, but you keep hearing noises, and it’s really, really dark.
  11. Embrace your muse(s) like a bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm. It can be painful and illuminating, but rewarding, if you survive.
  12. Finally, have fun with your muse(s). Pretend that you’re all celebrating graduating high-school and becoming an adult by getting drunk.

Employing these simple strategies have rewarded me with the same sort of wonderful relationship that I have with a stranger that I bump into at a parade. With a little observation and effort, you can have the same kind of relationship.

Good luck!

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