Thursday, January 26, 2023


Phone rings. I pick it up.

TD: Hello.

Caller: This is (name garbled) from (name garbled). I'm calling to schedule Judith's exorcism.

TD: Exorcism! You have the wrong number.

Caller (loudly and slowly):  I. SAID. THIS. IS. DOCTOR. (DERMATOLOGIST'S NAME). OFFICE. I'm calling to schedule Judith's "excision."

TD: I'm sorry, I don't have my hearing aids in. She's not home right now.

Caller: That's quite alright. That's the funniest thing I've heard all year. Please have her call us when she gets in.

TD: I will. 


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Another day in technology hell

September 17, 2022:  I get an email from my insurance agent. She says my homeowner's insurance company insists that my house's breaker boxes be replaced; boxes made by the company that manufactured mine have reportedly caught fire. If the boxes aren't replaced by the end of January, the insurer will drop my coverage. She estimates the replacement boxes will cost around $1200 including labor -- that's what she paid for the same job earlier this year. I make a mental note to call an electrician later in the fall to have the boxes replaced. 

September 28:  Hurricane Ian strikes Southwest Florida. Thousands of nearby homes are destroyed. Thousands more are flooded. Luckily, our damage is minor compared to the devastation around us. But by the time our power is restored nine days later, every electrician within 100 miles is booked well into the new year. 

Mid-October: Having called more than a dozen electricians (most of whom don’t bother calling back) I email the insurance agent that I can’t find anyone. She gives me contact info for two electricians she says will definitely do the work as a favor for her because she sends a lot of referrals their way. They don’t call back either.

Mid-December:  I finally receive two estimates on the same day. The one who quoted $5800  can’t get to the job until May. The other, whose office is 30 miles away, quotes $3250 and says he can install the boxes sometime in mid-to-late January. I tell him he has the job but stretch the truth when I say the work has to be finished by January 20 instead of the end of the month. Living in the heart of Hurricane Alley, we can’t be without insurance for even a minute. 

Wednesday, January 11, 8:15 a.m.: The electrician sends me a text saying he is emailing a PDF permit form that needs to be filed with the City of Bonita Springs before he can start the job. He says I need to print it out, sign it and have it notarized, and return it to him, by mail, ASAP if I want the work complete by January 20.

8:20 a.m.: I text him that the email hasn’t arrived, and ask him to make sure he is spelling my last name correctly.

8:45:  He texts that he re-sent it.

8:57: I text him back that I still haven’t got it.

9:10:  He texts that he re-sent it again.

9:15: I text that I didn’t get it, and provide him with my other email address, which doesn't contain my last name.  

9:17: He texts that he sent the PDF to my secondary email account.

9:19: I text him I didn’t get that either and ask him to send it to my wife’s email.

9:20:  My wife receives the email and successfully forwards it to the email address that didn’t receive it in the first place.

9:21:  I send the PDF file to my inkjet printer. It prints out a blank page. Over the next five minutes I hit “print” repeatedly; it prints out blank pages repeatedly.  No owners’ manual came with the damn printer, so I have to search the internet to find out how to resolve the issue.

9:45: After scrolling through pages of useless troubleshooting information (Sample: If the printer isn’t working, make sure it is plugged in), I learn that the black ink cartridge must be empty. It isn’t — my MacBook diagnostics tool can measure the amount of ink left — but it is, indeed, running low, so I drive two miles to an Office Depot store to buy a replacement. 

10:14:  I leave the store with a cartridge the floor clerk assures me will work, even though my printer’s model number isn’t listed on the package. The clerk says they have been out of the cartridge for my printer for a while — supply chain issues — but that the one he found, after looking it up on his cell phone, will most definitely work.

10:33: The new cartridge doesn’t vaguely resemble the old one.  No way I can install this.

10:50: I return to Office Depot. The clerk I dealt with is “on break” (I’d like to break him) but the cashier acknowledges he shouldn’t have suggested the wrong cartridge and refunds my money. He says the Best Buy store down the street stocks cartridges and suggests I go there.

11:11: Best Buy doesn’t have the cartridge either.

11:22: I return to Office Depot and ask the guy behind the desk at the Business Center if I can send a PDF file from my smart phone that he can print out for me. He says that, under normal circumstances, he could, but the store’s email is down.

11:24:  I head for the nearest Staples store, eight miles away. Then I remember that allows shoppers to check and see if their local store has the item they want in stock. I check Good thing I didn’t drive all that way —the nearest store doesn’t have the item. Nor does the next-closest Staples. But Staples’ Ft Myers store, 12 miles away, has it. I order, pay for it online and receive an email that it will be ready for pick-up within the hour but not to leave for the store yet — I’ll get an email when the order is ready. 

1:30 p.m.: The email arrives. 

1:55: I double-park in front of the Ft. Myers Staples store, run inside, and pick up my cartridge.

2:27:  I insert the cartridge into the printer. It prints out a blank page. Again and again.

2:55: The printer online manual says that sometimes, if the three color ink cartridges are low on ink, the black cartridge won’t print either, so I’ll need to replace those, too. Why didn’t it say “Replace all four cartridges at once” in the first place?  My MacBook diagnostics tool says the color cartridges aren’t empty but are only 25 to 30 percent full— odd since I rarely print in color — but I’m running out of time, so I head back to Office Depot for replacements. 

3:11: The clerk I dealt with this morning is back on the sales floor. I swear he has a new piercing — that must be what he did on his break. After searching the shelves and back room, he says the store doesn’t have the exact color cartridges for my machine but he is 100 percent sure the ones they have in stock will work. I’m not falling for that ca-ca again. As I head to the parking lot, I text five friends asking if any of them will print out a page for me. Only one replies: He is on a plane in Connecticut that’s taxiing for take-off.

3:30: One of the neighbors calls, says he just saw my text and, of course, will be happy to print the page for me. I email it to him.

3:33: I pick up the page from my friend and tell him I’m in a hurry — I need to get it notarized before the bank closes at 4 — but will explain later. 

3:50: I hold open the door of the bank for a stooped-over elderly gent (and I don’t say that lightly, I’m 71) carrying a briefcase, and follow him into the lobby. He tells the Customer Service agent he needs a notary. I say I need one too, and am trying to get the document notarized so I can take it to the post office and put it in the mailbox before the last pick-up which I’m almost sure is 4:30. The old fuck says, “I was here first.”

4:31 The ancient sonuvabitch apparently just bought a house or Twitter or something — he had so many documents that needed notarization he was in the notary’s office for 45 minutes. The notary apologizes she kept me waiting. 

4:35:  Notarized permit in hand, I leave the bank knowing I missed the last pick-up of the day at the P.O. but I drive there anyway on the off chance I was wrong.

4:52:  Amazing. One thing today has gone right — the last pick up is at 5 p.m.! I drop the form in the mailbox, drive home, pour myself a large drink, and text the electrician that the form is on its way.

5:30: I order the three color cartridges I still need from I am never setting foot in an Office Depot again. 

Saturday, 7 p.m.: The amazon package arrives. 

Sunday, 11:30 a.m.:  I install the three new ink cartridges in the printer and run a test page. Which prints blank.


Thursday, January 5, 2023

Meet your new Speaker of the House: Me.

As I write, the House of Representatives is getting ready to take a seventh vote to determine who will replace the Honorable Nancy Pelosi (D, California) as Speaker.

The media is reporting that Kevin McCarthy, who expected to be elected but has come up short six times, met overnight with the fellow Republicans whose votes he needs to put him over the top and his supporters claim they are confident he will prevail this time. As a contingency plan, in the event McCarthy loses on his seventh try, I have been approached by members of both parties to have my name placed in nomination for the position on the next ballot — the Speaker doesn’t have to be an elected member of Congress — and after much thoughtful deliberation and prayer, I have consented. If my country needs me, I'm willing to serve. Here’s why I'm perfect for the job.

1. I’ve been both a Democrat and a Republican. Multiple times. Right now I consider myself an Independent — both parties make me want to hurl. I understand what Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle want most: To leave the Capitol richer than the day they were sworn in for the first time.

2. I support the Democrats on some social issues, e.g. I’m against racism. I support the Republicans on others, e.g. prohibiting women who formerly were equipped with peni (if I remember my Latin correctly, I’m almost sure that’s the way to pluralize the word) from competing in women’s sports and earning all the trophies and scholarships. We need to keep open minds when it comes to empowering people but use common sense.  

3. I grew up in a tiny extremely conservative town in America's heartland. I spent most of my adult life in Manhattan and its suburbs, the epicenters of liberalism. I know how to get along with people from all walks of life and, more importantly, how to get them to work together. By the time I leave office, Marjorie Taylor Green and Adam Schiff will be BFFs. 

4. Having no party affiliation, I’ll be free to allow bills that actually benefit the majority of Americans into committee and on to the floor for a final vote. What a concept. 

5. Because I won't be campaigning for myself or my fellow party members, I promise to be a one-term Speaker, after which I’ll write a book, land a deal from Netflix, give highly paid speeches to both liberal and conservative groups, and start my own lobbying firm. These are rewards I’ll deserve after living for two years in Washington, D.C., a town so mired in useless laws that I was asked for my I.D. when I ordered a drink in a restaurant last week. The waiter explained local law requires him to ask everyone.

Please call your Congressperson — this very minute, there's no time to waste — and tell him, her or them to vote for Thomas (Tom) Dryden on the eighth ballot. 

Thank you, and God bless America. And, of course, me. And you.