random responses to stuff that happens


Begins with a leak.  From the third-floor bath into your second-floor bedroom closet.  Ugh.  Nasty. You wash about 10 loads of laundry. You dry clean.  You throw stuff out.  You wait.  Because with the water valves turned off, no problem.

Months go by.  Then, someone’s going to be using that bathroom, say, a returned college kid or a summer guest.  You bite the bullet.  You get an estimate.  It’s gonna be expensive. We gotta rip up the floor, they say.  You’re gonna need a new floor when we’re done.

Okay.  That floor was pretty bad anyway.

The job begins.  The problem is in the waste line.  The toilet is removed.  Ditto the sink.  Ditto the waste line from the tub.  Two guys are working, working, working two straight days.

Ut-oh, the problem is still not fully fixed.  Something’s still leaking.  We gotta tear out the ceiling to your closet to get to the other leaks, they say.  You’re gonna need new plaster when we’re done.

Okay.  That closet’s plaster was pretty bad anyway, after the initial leak happened.

The job continues. Two large pipes get replaced — big splits in both of them.

Look, they say.  The wall beside the tub is rotting behind the tiles.  Someone just glued tiles directly to plaster.  The whole thing is caving in.  You might want to replace those tiles, especially since the tile guy will be here installing your new floor.

Okay. That wall looked pretty bad.  You had to admit that those green tiles were beginning to undulate like the surface of a vertical ocean.

Okay.  You’ll do it.  Why not?  It will have to be done eventually anyway.

Listen, they say.  You sure you want to reuse that same faucet and shower head.  They’re not going to look so nice against new wall tiles.  They’re like, ooooold.

Okay.  That faucet stunk.  Shower head wasn’t so bad though. Might as well get something new, something that matches.

Look here, they’re saying, pointing at the upper wall.  This curved curtain rod is mighty rusty.  Looks about fifty years old.

Yeah.  You’re adding that on the list.  Only that’s got to be “special ordered”.

You still haven’t picked out the new wall tiles, the faucet, or the shower head. You have no idea where to order a curved shower curtain rod of unusual antique length.

And besides that, are you sure you really want that old dingy vanity in that new bathroom?  Are you?


What does it take? An act of congress?

Hey Linked in,

I’m wanting to, like, linked out.  Okay?  I’ve asked you nicely.  I’ve done all my account closing activities. But I’m still there.  Me and my pathetic 15 linkedin contacts.  People are still trying to linked up with me.


I don’t link up.  I don’t link on.  I don’t link in.  I don’t link around.  I don’t give good linkage.  


Drop my account, Linked in.


Cut the linkages between us.




I mean it.



very, very, very, little, little, pathetic, little, people

So you get hacked. How do you find out? Well, someone calls you unexpectedly. Says that some of your retirement funds have been transferred at your request to some random account at some other random bank. The only problem is, you never made any request. Wha happened?

Who knows. You only know this. Some hacker hacks into your email, poses as you, writes a letter (from you) requesting the transfer, and attaches that letter to a back-and-forth conversation already in place with your retirement guy. The hacker only needs to locate a conversation thread between you and your retirement people (which, by the way, had no data in it, only the company’s name), and locates it in one of your many trashed, old, or not-yet-replied-to emails.

No matter that you clean your email carefully and frequently. No matter than you do NO (that is, ZERO) on-line banking, use NO public computers, change your passwords frequently and share them with NOone. That’s all irrelevant. If you think all those activities will get your protected from hackers, I’ve got a Bentley on my personal island I’d like to sell you — I just need a grand or so for airfare to your city, so we can sign-off on the deal.

But back to the little, cowardly hacker people. What happens next. Two ladies walk into a bank on the other side of the country. Try to withdraw the funds (you know, the retirement funds you worked so hard to earn). They could have been successful. Fortunately the bank manager thinks something smells fishy. Wait a minute, he thinks to himself. Why would anyone transfer funds into a new investment account, only to request to withdraw them 24 hours later? Mr. On-the-Ball bank manager calls your old company, the one that transferred the funds. Tries to authenticate the transfer. Finds out the transfer was fraudulent. At some point, the police are “in the building” but refuse to get involved. At some point the “ladies” (I have other words, but they aren’t really for human ears) leave the bank. Sayonara, bitcccchhhes.

Now what. Everything’s groovy right? Wrong. You’ve got a bunch of credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, professional accounts, email accounts, writing accounts, social media accounts, random accounts, etc., that need new email addresses, new passwords. Some of them need new account numbers. Your bank CD’s, for instance, need new numbers, except you can’t get them unless you withdraw the funds prematurely and take a hit on the interest. Hmmmmmm, you’re thinking. Why should I take a hit on the interest, when my funds are protected against fraud. Only the bank stands to loose.

Bag the CD account number changes, you say. The bank will have to take the risk. They’ve been notified. With all the fraud that happens, they ought to have developed a process for changing account numbers for situations like this.

Now, everything’s good, right? Wrong. You’ve got frequent flier miles, you’ve got several publications that communicate with you about your writing submissions, you’ve got neighborhood lists, poetry lists, library lists, etc. You’ve got your health insurance, your car insurance, your life insurance. Why should those matter, you ask. Because all those are sources of information for hackers. All of them can provide little tiny pieces of information, which lead to larger pieces of information, which lead to information enough for hackers to make your life miserable.

Besides, didn’t you just do all this account “updating”? like, less than a year ago? See post for August 24th, 2012. Yeah, that’s right. You did.

What’s going to happen to them, these people who will impose a shi*-load of work upon you during the next few weeks, which, by the way, happens while your stepfather is dying a gruesome and devastating death? Nada. Bupkis. Nuttin. Not a freakin’ thing. Because, there’s not enough time and resources to go after the problem. Besides, the funds were recovered. No matter that the hackers continue to send correspondence to your contacts, trying to get them to release more funds. No matter that they have information about your financial picture – the kind of information that you don’t release to anyone, even close friends. No matter that the women are on videotape. No matter that a report is filed. Why? Because there just ain’t enough investigators on the planet to go after these creeparoos. That’s just “how it is”.

Does this sound like a complaint? Well, sort of. But the Respondicator really only wants to say one thing. It’s something to the little hackers out there. The greedy little people who spend their lives making your’s miserable. Here it is, you little, little, cowardly, little, little, very little people: Get a job. Grow up. Be something worthy of being written about.

That is all. I got a few dozen more calls to make…..

Labor Day Cramps and other Consumer B.S.

Dear Williams and Sonoma VISA Card,

Could you kindly give me a reason why I should not immediately shred your card into oblivion?

Okay, so you dangle the carrot in front of my face in the store with all kinds of promises –discounts, free shipping, points.  I’m buying a stupid electric tea kettle, a place mat, and a jar of discount hot mint jelly. Does that sound like anything a serious cook would buy?  No matter, forget the question.  You offered me a discount.  It sounded pretty big.  $25 bucks.  The tea kettle was only $31.  So, that’s, like, getting something for free, right?


Not so quick little miss burnt muffins.  Your credit card will arrive as promised.  You will activate it on Labor Day, because it’s rainy and you don’t have anything to do except drink bad tea and eat all the leftovers from your cancelled Labor Day bash.  Then you will read the “fine print” , which, oddly, is printed in large font size. To get your free one-year shipping (on all eligible online purchases for 12 months), you instruct TheResponder, she must enter her “RESERVE Shipping Promotion Code.”

The code, unfortunately, is absent.  TheResponder has just decided to drink directly from her beer keg’s tap, because – why dirty another 24 oz red plastic cup?  Why limit herself to 24 ounces?  Why count beans?  or bean count?  Whatever.

Why does TheResponder suddenly feel the urge to anesthetize herself with alcohol?  Because, she realizes that she must now make a phone call, in order to get the “benefits” that were described so cheerfully to her in the store as she was eyeing the bars of nougat priced as if they were gold.

Okay, you’re saying, so what?  Quit yer bitchin’.  It’s not the end of the world.  Your propane tank is still full.  You still have 15 pounds of raw ground beef in the fridge.  So what if you’re a vegetarian, or flexitarian, or whatever.  You’re not gonna starve.  And besides, your 8 pound Chihuahua is gonna be in hog heaven for, like, about three years before all that dead cow is gone.

TheResponder has a great distaste for telephone prompts that send you through an algorithm of choices only to get waylaid on “hold” for eternity, listening to very bad dance music from the 80’s played with enough static to make one believe that we’re in the middle of nuclear catastrophe.  Not that that’s Williams and Sonoma’s problem.  TheRespondicator just has to “get a life” and be  okay with being on hold for 10 minutes only to be cut off just when the “agent” answers.  Maybe TheRespondicator should just “ease up, would ya?” after she calls back and holds for about another 20 minutes only to be transferred to a Pottery Barn VISA lady who’s so nice TheRespondicator would like to offer her a refrigerator full of ground beef and a nearly new tea kettle with small dent, the result of being thrown against a kitchen wall during a difficult consumer telephone call situation.

TheRespondicator cannot offer these items to the new “agent” because she is on hold listening to something that sounds like music but tastes like beer mixed with dental drilling.

So what if 25 minutes of your Labor Day life are wasted.  You have the opportunity for FREE SHIPPING.  Don’t blow it!  If you hang up now, you’ll ruin everything.  Including your chances to ever become a good cook.  They’ve got Peanut butter in Williams and Sonoma that makes your peanut butter look like something that would choke a monkey.  Your PB & J sandwiches will always suck, if you don’t get that free shipping from Williams and Sonoma.  And besides, they have pumpkin bread mix already prepared in a bag. You can’t f-it-up, because everything’s been measured by  stainless steel measuring cups and spoons manufactured by Williams and Sonoma’s highest quality factory in China, where everything is Standardized to the U.S. Department of Weights and Measures, just so no one dies from an overly-shitty-tasting slice of pumpkin bread.

You GOT to stay on hold.  You’re NEVER gonna be a good cook, if you hang up now.  Oh, who cares? if when they finally return, they give you a new phone number to call.  Call the “RESERVE” number, another agent says.  The RESERVE employees should be able to help you out.

TheRespondicator is sick of this post.  Not vomit sick.  But modern-bullshit-empty-vacuous-consumer-living-sick.  She’s not going to finish this story.  She’s gonna try to put a little garlic in a pan, add some dead cow, some olive oil, a spray of beer, one twig of peppermint from the cocktails that never happened, a dash of meanness, and stir that sucker up into meat sauce, hold the sauce.  Oh.  And salt too.  Williams and Sonoma’s authentic unground sea salt freshly ground by her Williams and Sonoma salt mill , which she’d otherwise like to use to shred her new Williams and Sonoma VISA card.

But she doesn’t dare shred it now.  She’s on hold.  She doesn’t have two hands available to do all that.  She doesn’t want to miss any telephone prompts telling her what buttons should be pushed next……

One of the various preparations for political discourse in Tampa….. (link)

Here’s the link:  Red, White, and Blue Booty Boom Boom

“They’re, like, creating secret passageways and tents so that limos can drive up, and the occupants can get out unseen and get into the club.”

TheRespondicator is speechless.  A little nauseated.  But mostly just speechless.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

How do you trust a world when you can ‘t count on language? For instance, when you’re a baby, you experience, and then you feel.  But you don’t have a sophisticated language for that experience.  You just “are”.  You just “are” in every moment.  You just react, feel, respond.

 Every moment you “mature”:  you grow up,  you “learn”.  You learn to speak and to contextualize.  To “understand.”

Which comes around to today’s puzzle — how to understand the word “conservative.”  The GOP passes that world around like it’s something sacred.  Something like “blessed” or “holy”, or at least “better than thou” especially when thou = liberal.

You’re puzzled. You’re not near your Webster’s dictionary.  What do you do?  You look up “conservative” on  Here’s what you find:

con·serv·a·tive  adjective


disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.


cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.


traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.


( often initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.


( initial capital letter ) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.

You know, it’s just hard to get it.  The word.  Conservative.

You look at number 4, and you say, okay “conservative” does not equal “a Conservative”.  So you surf over to Wikipedia and look up Conservatism.  You discover an interesting quote by Viscount Hailsham (The Conservative Case) found in the Wikipedia introduction:

“Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself.”

Clear as mud, right?  To bring things into focus, you study the entire page.  Granted, this is not “The Bible” of conservatism.  It’s just a bunch of people’s opinions about conservatism.  The ones who care enough to write about conservatism, that is.

While scanning the text, you are reminded that there are many forms of conservatism:  Liberal conservatism, Conservative liberalism, Fiscal conservatism, Green conservatism, National and traditional conservatism, Cultural and social conservatism, Religious conservatism, Progressive conservatism – and those are only the ones listed for the United States.  There are other forms of conservatism in other nations.

Now, you try to put that information together with what you see and read coming from the mouths and pens (or keyboards) of Conservatives.  That’s when things get really interesting.  Because, as happens with most things you examine in this complicated world, you only come up with more questions.  Like these, for instance:

How conservative is it to call one of your own party member a “selfish swine” as Anne Coulter recently said of Akin after his incredibly ignorant claim about women and rape?  How conservative is it to sell T-shirts accusing a Supreme Court justice of being a “traitor” and a “coward” as Glenn Beck said of Justice John Roberts after the recent “Obamacare” decision?  How conservative is it to spew vitriol and hate mongering as Rush Limbaugh liberally does on his nationally broadcast radio show?

Would your mama (God bless her lovely soul) say you were being “conservative” if you did those things?  Or would she say you were being “a Conservative”?  Wouldn’t she just wash your mouth out with soap and send you to your room to “think about it”?  Even if your mama approves, don’t you have your own standards?  Do you really want to associate yourself with such a level of “refinement”.  Which isn’t to say that Democrats and/or Liberals don’t have their own ugliness.  Your’re just wondering how, amidst the deluge of banality and lack of integrity, anyone would want to be called  “conservative” or even “a Conservative”.  You think it sounds like a Fraternity with a hazing policy that extends ad infinitum.


TheRespondicator does not want to be called conservative.  Ever.  Even when/if she agrees with an expressed “conservative” ideology.  TheRespondicator does not believe this is an argument about political ideals.  TheRespondicator thinks this has something to do with being a decent human being.  About being a humanist, which says means:

hu·man·ist  noun


a person having a strong interest in or concern for human  welfare, values, and dignity.


a person devoted to or versed in the humanities.


a student of human nature  or affairs.


a classical scholar.


( sometimes initial capital letter ) any one of the scholars of the Renaissance who pursued and disseminated the study and understanding of the cultures of ancient Rome and Greece, and emphasized secular, individualistic, and critical thought.

TheRespondicator is talking about definition number one.


She, who we call Rose, by any other name would…..

So, boo-hoo you get divorced.  It’s hard.  You cry.  You get angry.  You wish evil on he-who-has-hurt-you. You pay some lawyer gobs of money so that you don’t lose every “thing” you own.  You get dragged through the dirt.  You get blindsided, mud-swiped, ego-battered, and halfway annihilated.  You re-introduce yourself to smoking.  You get therapy. You gain a few pounds.  You gain a few more.  Then, maybe, you travel somewhere; say, South America.  Or maybe you don’t.  Maybe you just buy a little house in the near suburbs of a mid-sized city.  You pout.  You feel lonely.  You look for new connections.  You say goodbye to old ones who have already said goodbye to you without saying goodbye to you.  You Internet date.  You meet a lot of toads – some extremely warty (like, say, that professor), some not.  You write a poem or two.  Maybe they get published.  Maybe not.  You can’t keep living like this.  You need money.  You need something to do.  You need to get out of your insular head, out of your house, out of your pajamas!  Going on Facebook cures you for a short while.  So do trips to museums, lectures.  The occasional literary salon.  A meet-up or two.  Then you just want to get down to basics — you want to find someone who can give you a little prediction about things to come.  Are you going to get a job? date an actual “man”? get back in shape?  What the hell is your life going to look like in, say, ten years or so?  You know, the life that used to look like an intact family growing old together, complete with grandchildren and the whole nine-yards – festooned holidays, weddings, the heartbreak of a variety of unanticipated problems…..  That’s when you consult for a while.  Then….


What was I saying?




Somehow I veered from my original message.   How annoyingly typical.


What I meant to say was….. You’ve split from some man who couldn’t handle change.  Now, you’ve got to convert every single account back to your maiden name.  (For those ladies who were brilliant enough to retain their maiden names, you can just stop gloating now.  You’ve had your share of challenges too. )


You start with the big stuff.  Retirement accounts, checking accounts.  Your auto registration.  Maybe life insurance papers or a trust account.  Your triple-A membership information.  Magazine subscriptions, neighborhood directories, school directories, IRS forms, Costco membership.  Your Comcast account.  Your cell phone carrier.  All your physician’s offices – primary care, gynecology, ophthalmology, shrinkology, mammography unit.  Dentist.  Every credit card you own – American Express, MasterCard, Macy’s, Talbots, Capital One Visa, etc.  Your pathetic .8%-interest-earning CD. Your gym membership.  All your close professional contacts.  Approximately thirty-seven of them.  All your distant professional contacts.  Let’s not go there.  Your five piddily stock accounts, averaging about $25 dollars each.  Your magazine subscriptions, professional journals, professional licensing boards.  Your Whole Foods, Safeway, Giant, Genardi’s, and Super Fresh memberships (Whole Foods probably doesn’t have a membership card, but you won’t know that for a while.  You’ll keep searching for it like a mad woman).  YourRiteAid and CVS discount cards.  Your….


I’m getting exhausted.


You get the point.


Last, but certainly not least (and also disregarding all the things I’ve forgotten), there are your various hotel accounts for which you’ve gained many, many “points” and your frequent flyer accounts – USAir, American Airlines, Southwest Air, Virgin Air, and others, many others, because you’ve traveled a lot of random places over the last 25 years with your now ex-husband.


Which brings me to my point.  British Airways.  You get to British Airways.  You send British Airways your name change letter, indicating your name and address change, enclosing a notarized document from the court certifying your name change due to divorce.  So far, you’ve mailed about 1,000 of these to the various places named above.  You’ve had to pay for each notarized copy.  You’ve had a bit of a struggle with various “institutions” that wanted further “proof” of your identity.  Okay, you say.  You’re okay with carefulness, because you don’t want to be a victim of identity fraud.  Yes, you say, I will provide a copy of my driver’s license, passport, a copy of a letter mailed to me, etc.  You want to body scan me?  Fine.  You want my fingerprints.  Okay.  You want to compare my nipples to those on my last mammo…. well….I guess…


But British Air is different.  British Air is sticky.  British Air responds to your request in an unexpected and odd way.  Here’s a copy of their reply:




Dear Ms. ­­­­­­­­(my name removed)

Thank you for getting in touch with us.

Just to confirm that your name on your Executive Club account has been amended.  I have also ordered a new card for you, which you should receive in the next 28 days.

With regards to your new address details.

I can see from your Executive Club account you are part of a Household Account. As you may be aware, each member of a Household Account must have the same home address and only the primary member can make any changes to this address. As Mr (ex’s name removed) is the primary member, I’m afraid I am unable to update your address.

If all of your household has moved, then Mr (again, my ex’s name) will need to log in to His account online at to make any changes.

If you are the only person that has moved, then Mr (yes, you got it, my ex again) will need to log in to His account online at and remove you from the Household Account. When you are no longer a part of the Household Account you can log in to your account online at and make any changes.

To log in to your account you will need your membership number as your Login ID and your password or 4-digit PIN. If you do not have a PIN or password, or if you have forgotten it, you will need to apply for a new one online using the link ‘Forgotten PIN/Password?’ at As soon as you receive your PIN, You can make changes to your account by clicking on ‘Manage my account’.

I hope you will find this helpful. Thank you for choosing British Airways and I hope you fly with us again in the not too distant future.

Best regards

Michael Browne
British Airways Executive Club

Your case reference is: (xxxxx) 
Executive Club Number: (xxxxxxxx)


Please do not reply to this email as we will be unable to respond.


If you have a particular query about British Airways, you can ask your question online, or send us an email:




Wow.  What just happened?


Hmm.  Were you just told that you would need your ex’s “permission” in order to change your address?  Oh.  Double wow.


What to do?  I mean, short of sending a giant mound of cattle shit marked “C.O.D.” to the London Bridge.


Well, once you rebound from your indignation, you do what you do best.  I don’t mean you give them the stink-eye.  They can’t see the stink-eye from way over there across the Atlantic.  No.  You write an email response.  You label it “Are you kidding?  Check your calendar for the current century!”  But your email is hog-tied.  “It can’t get there from here.”  Because you can’t email them directly from your Google account (by the way, did you change your name associated with your Google account, Facebook, twitter, blog, and instagram?).  Because for British Air, you have to use their special email delivery system.  Or maybe you don’t, and I’m just too techno-challenged to understand it all.


Now, for all those readers who have followed this saga to this point, I would like to sincerely thank you for your goodwill and attention!  The whole reason for this post was for TheRespondicator to share with you her response to B.A. Here’s what TheRespondicator filled into the little B.A. complaint box on-line:


Dear BA executives,


At the bottom of this correspondence I have attached your recent email-response to my request that you change my name and address due to divorce.  As you will notice when you review the paperwork I submitted to your offices, I sent an OFFICIAL NOTARIZED COURT DOCUMENT indicating my name change due to divorce.  I think that it follows that I no longer fall under the “household” auspices of my former husband, despite your archaic wish to continue me in that status.


Surely this email that you sent in response to my request represents a very bad clerical error on your part.


In our civilized country, the courts recognize divorce as a legal division of a prior marital relationship.  As such, they do not require women to obtain their ex-husbands’ signatures for situations such as the one in question.


I ask that you change my address immediately and without further insult to me.  In addition, please correct my title to  “Dr.” unless that change is also objectionable to you or incompatible with your policies.


Thank you most kindly for your swift attention to this matter.


Dr. (my new name)




Friends, what more could The Respondicator do?


And, by the way, that’s a rhetorical question……

“You can’t HANDLE the truth!” (or can ya?)

So, if you’re like me, you’re not “zen.”  Your life is not “in-balance.”  Your mind is not “settled.”  You’re not “in the moment.”  You’re not even sure what “being in the moment means.”  Except that you’re wondering every moment you try to “be in the moment” whether you’re succeeding at “being in it.”

And that sucks.  Royale.

But, if an old saying from an old book  is true – “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” – and furthermore, if we each really should be our own “best friend,” then I say, go with it. Go with every annoyed, chaotic, neurotic, pathetic molecule of you.  Namaste.  (I don’t know what that means exactly, but I think it sounds nice at the end of that sentence.)

You with me?

So, if bitchin’ bugs you, click the little “x” now.  Bye-bye.  If you need to denigrate someone’s good old healthy dose of bitchin’, ditto and see ya (wouldn’t want to be ya).  But, if you can handle a little sarcasm that occasionally verges on whining or bends towards the sardonic, then step right up.  Come ‘ere, come ‘ere.  I got sump-im ta tell ya…….

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