Asphalt picnic

July 30, 2022

Why would a family of eight — momma, poppa, and six kids ranging from two to twelve — have a picnic where the sidewalk meets the parking lot of a Dollar Store? There are no trees, no benches, no chairs, not even a strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk, but there they were, sitting on the concrete, sharing sandwiches and beer from home (assuming they had a home) and chips and soda (maybe bought at the Dollar Store?).

The oldest girl was blocking the walkway that leads to the store's door, and I said "Excuse me please" not "Your ass: Move it" but her father said "Hey!" and looked at me with hostility. I gave him the hands-up what-the-heck gesture, and went inside to do my shopping, mostly for frozen cheeseburgers (which I've never yet eaten on the sidewalk or in a parking lot).

When I came out of the store, the picnic had ended and the family was gone, but I still don't get it. If you want a parking lot picnic, there's nothing but asphalt at the Dollar Store, but there are trees and shade at the drug store's lot two blocks north. There's also a city park five blocks northwest, where you could have a real picnic picnic, with trees, tables, grass, ants, the works.

Again today, an ad on the radio was telling everyone not to ignore the early warning signs of a stroke. Drop everything, call 9-1-1, rush to the hospital, etc. It's sound medical advice, but real people have to stop and consider the cost.

Yeah, I have a story.

One evening, my wife had symptoms of a stroke. She was suddenly incoherent, having difficulty speaking, trouble flexing the muscles in her left arm, so of course all those ads came rolling into my brain. You're damned right I called 9-1-1, and rode in the ambulance with her, and stayed the night with her at the hospital.

It wasn't a stroke. They never figured out what it was (and unlike on TV shows, that's what usually happens — the doctors never figure out what it was).

Afterwards, we got the bill, and it was $13,000. Nobody from the American Stroke Association volunteered to pay, and because it wasn't a stroke, we had to battle the insurance company for months to get the ER and hospital stay covered.

At least we had insurance, though. A few years earlier — when we didn't have health insurance — my wife went to the ER with very severe abdominal pain. We waited hours to see a doctor, and all he did was write a prescription for extra-strength antacid, while completely missing what we later learned was the obvious diagnosis: gallstones.

For that visit, the bill was around $5,500. No, we didn't pay it, but it certainly added stress and worry we didn't need.

Whoops, I promised you a story and told two stories instead.

The moral of my two stories is: If we want people to drop everything and rush their loved ones to the hospital when they're having stroke symptoms, then damn it, remove money as part of the decision.

Universal tax-funded all-paid heath care — now.

Until today, I was still a member of Heritage Credit Union in Wisconsin, slowly letting that account dwindle down, and occasionally transferring funds to my new credit union in Seattle. Heritage was never perfect, but it was always better than a bank.

They're now being taken over by some other credit union called Connexus, so I'd be leaving them even if I'd stayed in Wisconsin, due to my a long-standing personal policy against dealing with businesses that have nonsense names. From Exxon to Verizon to all the rest, no.

Heritage will cease to exist tomorrow, Sunday 7/31, so all direct deposits, debit and credit cards, and scheduled monthly payments need to be re-set up in the Connexus system. That's no fun, but probably unavoidable. I set everything up with my new credit union instead.

Connexus is bungling other things badly, though. Debit and credit cards stopped working a week earlier than Connexus had announced, and they keep emailing that they're working on a solution to the problem.

As of Thursday/Friday at midnight, 72 hours before the great disconnect, the Heritage online banking system went down, too. For 30 hours, they kept sending emails about that problem, saying gosh, we're sure working on it. Sorry, folks.

Now they've given up. Two days earlier than the announced shut-off date, an error message says "Login invalid. Heritage Credit Union has officially merged with Connexus Credit Union. Please register with Connexus online banking.

Ah, but Connexus online banking doesn't accept my Heritage login, and also won't let me register as a new user, and customer service is not available for the weekend due to the takeover, so I'm slightly frustrated, and closing my account quicker than I'd intended.

Head's up for anyone in Wisconsin: Think twice before connecting to Connexus.

On the bright side, I'll offer a big salute to King County Public Libraries, where branch hours have been extended into the evening during the heat wave. Listed hours of 10AM-5PM have temporarily been extended to 10AM-8PM, so libraries can serve as community cooling centers, because someone in charge ain't an idiot — and that's *so* refreshing (literally!).

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not…

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Once they have you locked in, the people behind social media seem determined to make the experience as increasingly awful as they possibly can. 

Yes, social media really is undermining democracy 

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We are the tyre (tire) extinguishers 

We are people from all walks of life with one aim: To make it impossible to own a huge polluting 4x4 in the world’s urban areas. We are defending ourselves against climate change, air pollution and unsafe drivers.

We do this with a simple tactic: Deflating the tyres of these massive, unnecessary vehicles, causing inconvenience for their owners.

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How right-wing school panics seek to repeal modernity and progress 

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Amtrak has a bold vision for the future: slower trains than the days before color television. 

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Republican mocked big girl, who then launched a fundraiser for abortion rights 

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Wisconsin judge declares GOP’s 2020 election "review" a failure 

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Has the writing on the wall ever been so clear? 

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Google's Nest will provide data to police without a warrant 

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Trader Joe's store in Massachusetts becomes first to unionize 

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Fake barking dog for home security 

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Under anesthesia, where do our minds go? 

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Uvalde shooting: elementary school principal reinstated after dumbass suspension 

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UK heatwave: Weather forecasters report unprecedented trolling 

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"All bodies are beach bodies" 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

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The End
Alan Blaikley
Bernard Cribbins
Fred Cuming
John Froines
Ritzi Jacobi
Bob Rafelson
Ann Shulgin

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'm on Day five of an internet fast but i can't stop reading your stories. I'm reminded of the colorful protest letters I wrote when our Credit Union changed it's name to Vocality, probably shouldn't have bothered to protest (I called for the resignation of the board and one of the board member's husband dissed me after that), retired gadfly equals quixotic protest fo sho...(PM)


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