Friday, 23 May 2014

07:35 – Barbara is taking today off work. With the holiday Monday, that gives her a four-day weekend. We’d planned to sleep in this morning, but Colin woke us at 6:15 vomiting. At least he wasn’t up on the bed at the time.

Barbara has lots of work planned for the next few days, including painting the new columns on the front porch and the new threshold at the back door. I hope we can keep Colin away from the wet paint. Over the years, our experience with Border Collies and wet paint hasn’t been good.

There’s an article in the paper this morning about state government subsidies for movie and TV production companies. North Carolina has been a major participant. Most of the action takes place in Wilmington, where many TV series have been or are being produced, including Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Hart of Dixie, Under the Dome, Revolution, Sleepy Hollow, and Eastbound and Down.

But now many states are rethinking these tax breaks and production credits, wondering if they’re getting enough bang for their bucks. Many states are eliminating subsidies entirely. North Carolina is tweaking the rules, eliminating subsidies for talk shows and sporting events and focusing more on credits for building production facilities and other infrastructure. I suspect that North Carolina has already reached critical mass, with major production facilities already located here, a continuing flow of talented and skilled graduates from Winston-Salem’s North Carolina School of the Arts, and our generally low cost of living.

09:16 – In terms of physical components, chemicals are by far the largest cost item in our kits. The chemical cost for a bottle ranges from a few cents to a few dollars each, depending on the chemical. But the second largest cost item for physical components is the containers themselves, which range from about $0.15 to $0.90 each. That may not sound like much until you realize that one kit may contain 50+ containers.

Until recently, I’ve been happy with our primary container supplier. Their prices are competitive, they stock most of the containers and caps we need, and they ship quickly. They also provide free ground shipping on any order of $250 or more, which isn’t a problem for us. But I’m starting to worry about them. In the past, I’d place an order with them and it would be shipped the same day or the following day. I’d generally receive it two or three days after I placed the order. But on the last couple of orders they’ve been much slower to ship. It’s not a backorder problem. When I placed those orders, they showed all items as in-stock. But rather than ship the same or the following day, they’re now taking five to ten business days to ship. In one sense, that’s not a big problem. I always keep reasonable stock levels of the containers we use. But I do wonder what’s going on with them.

11:44 – Amazon just added a new benefit for Prime members, called Amazon Prime Pantry. They charge $6 for shipping, but that’s for a very large box. Adding a Prime Pantry item to your cart starts a new box. Each Prime Pantry item states how much of a box it fills. If you exceed the volume or weight capacity of the box, it automatically starts a new box.

So I started playing around with it, just to see how much would actually fit in the box. I’m still building our long-term food storage (as opposed to just the car emergency kits). Lipids are an issue for long-term storage, and one of the best ways to store lipids is canned Crisco. The manufacturer says Crisco remains good for at least two years, but in fact an unopened can will remain good for at least ten years, and probably a lot longer. We don’t routinely use Crisco here, but Barbara frequently uses vegetable oil for frying chicken, stir-fry, etc. Crisco works just as well for that as liquid oil, so I decided to add some Crisco to the box. (Incidentally, canned Crisco is also excellent for emergency lighting. Sticking a piece of string in a can gives you an emergency candle that’ll burn all day long for literally a month.)

Despite Python, I happen to like Spam canned meat, so I added a few cans of that as well. I ended up with 11 48-ounce cans of Crisco and 14 12-ounce cans of Spam in that one box. Amazon informed me that my box was 100% full and asked if I wanted to check out.

I typically place several orders per month, and every time it offers a discount if I apply for an Amazon Visa card. I finally decided to click on the Learn More link, and I liked what I saw. I’d been using our Costco AmEx card at Amazon. It provides a 1% rebate on all purchases, with a higher percentage for Costco purchases. The Amazon card provides a 3% rebate on Amazon purchases, and lower percentages on non-Amazon purchases. So I filled out the on-line application, asked for a second card for Barbara, and clicked Submit. After about 10 seconds, the screen refreshed and said the card was approved and that it had been set as our default payment method for Amazon purchases. It also said I’d been issued a $60 credit that would be applied automatically to our next Amazon order unless I told them otherwise.

Given that we make a huge percentage of our purchases from either Costco or Amazon, it makes sense to have a stored-branded card for each. We already have a Visa card from our credit union, but it’ll be easy enough to cancel that. The new card has only a $5,000 credit limit, but I’m sure we can get that increased if we need to.

31 thoughts on “Friday, 23 May 2014”

  1. S&H used to be a decent money maker for most large retailers. UPS and FedEx gave them huge breaks on shipping costs (because they ship such huge amounts and those carriers want their business) which they in turn did NOT fully pass on to the customer. So, a box that costs you $9 to ship may only have cost them $3 to ship. However, they would still list the S&H at, for example, $6 and then pocket the extra $3. Thanks to Amazon shipping almost everything same day and sending it via 2-day mail in many cases, customer expectations have changed and now most customers expect their packages to be shipped within 1 business day and to arrive within 3 business days. Of course, there are added costs for getting packages out the door sooner and higher rates for quicker delivery. Consequently, that profit in S&H is largely disappeared for many major retailers that ship orders.

  2. I just saw those initials, “S&H” and immediately flashed on the green stamps and booklets of long ago. Like buying savings bonds at skool.

  3. I’m still building our long-term food storage (as opposed to just the car emergency kits).

    I am still wondering what to do about about long term medication usage in a emergency. I take a 25 mg metaprolol daily for blood pressure plus a 225 mg rythmol for tachycardia. Plus 8.5 mg per day of warfarin to prevent a stroke. Laying up a long term storage of these drugs is difficult if not impossible. I guess that while everyone is sacking the local HEB and Walmarts, I will be heading for the Walgreens.

    My thoughts are that I probably will just go to sleep 30 days after running out and not wake up. Or wake up a drooling idiot at which point I hope that someone will throw a pillow over my face and hold it there for a while.

  4. Lands End irritates US with shipping. Any normal retailer makes shipping proportional to weight, and for large orders may even throw shipping in for free. Lands End, at least for international orders, makes shipping proportional to total price, which just makes no s need at all. Worse, last I looked it wasn’t linear, but actually became disproportionately expensive for orders over $400.

  5. “US” = “us”
    “no s need” = no sense.

    I entered that from my phone (thanks, autocorrect), and somehow can’t edit it now that I’m on my PC.

  6. No need to attempt to justify the “errors”, Brad. We all know you’re a spy and are reporting back to your handler through the pattern of “typos” in your comments.

    I have a similar steganographic reporting system: my findings are encoded in my belches. Facebook listening technology was developed specifically to listen for meaningful belches, but then someone figured they might as well apply it to TV and radio broadcasts.

  7. “…Or wake up a drooling idiot at which point I hope that someone will throw a pillow over my face and hold it there for a while.”

    As accomplished by the dragon girl in “Game of Thrones,” and probably lots of other wives over the centuries, not only when hubby is terminal but when he snores too loud or you’ve otherwise really pissed her off.

  8. Ha. I read the first GoT book and enjoyed and admired it, but won’t touch the series again until it’s complete. A few times over the years I’ve started on a good, long-running series, only for the author to die before it was done. And GRRM is getting on in years and has been working on the current book for quite some time and has one to go before it’s done, so I’m guessing that GoT is a good candidate to be added to the “completed by some hack” list of dishonor.

  9. I am enjoying Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Jr. books that were completed by Mark Greaney:

    I am listening to the audiobooks that were read by Lou Diamond Philips. He does a very good job of the reading and I have always liked his acting, including his latest series, “Longmire”. Greaney is OK but nowhere as compact in his story as Clancy was.

  10. “…so I’m guessing that GoT is a good candidate to be added to the “completed by some hack” list of dishonor.”

    You’re probably right; I used to read those long-ass trilogies, too, such as Neal Stephenson’s series and “Pillars of the Earth” stuff but I don’t have the patience anymore and don’t feel like installing a database to keep track of all the characters and situations.

    So I watch the video versions if there are any and my reading remains on mostly nonfiction, primarily history, political stuff, biography, and, though I dug the long epic poems back in grad school days (Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Commedia, Decameron, Alexiad, Faerie Queen, etc.), I’m more apt to look at much shorter lyric poetry and even archaic Greek and Sumerian fragments now. Senile ADD, probably.

    Overcast here in the northland today and because of all the driving rain yesterday, the lake is right up there with pier mostly submerged and we have standing water or running water on a bunch of roads in the area. The yard is sopping wet and Mrs. OFD has to open up her studio for the Vermont Craft Studio Weekend deal tomorrow and Sunday, where punters swan around the state looking in at local crafts people like her and maybe buying stuff and possibly even paying cash. I keep a very low profile during these times as I don’t wanna scare anyone off.

  11. “I am still wondering what to do about about long term medication usage in a emergency.”

    Tell your doctor that you’re planning to retire and travel the world for two years, and that much of that time will be spent in the middle of nowhere. Ask him to write prescriptions for all of your medications for a two-year supply. More, if you can talk him into it. Most drugs can be frozen, but not all. Research that, and freeze the ones you can.

  12. I am still wondering what to do about about long term medication usage in a emergency

    Since we’ll be “eating our dead” make sure you pick some corpses you know have the same afflictions as you. Get your drugs and a meal at the same time. The fresher the better.

  13. Do not cancel your CU card as that will negatively affect your credit score. Just keep the card open and not use it. Your score is affected by available credit and length of account. Your credit score will affect your insurance rates for auto and home. I got stung on by having opened two credit cards, affiliated, in one year. Apparently that is not good as far as insurance and credit scores are rated.

  14. My wife makes some wicked salsa that would go good with the freshly dead.

    I know we posted on this, but shouldn’t Kerry be in Mexico demanding the return of our Marine, instead of blathering on about climate discombobulation. Get the grunt back and let the Marines sort it out. He could have been up to no good, but the Marines would dig out the truth.

  15. Lynn, I take the same kind of drugs. For a year I used Brilanta and a low dose asprin. Doc switched me to Plavix and lda but it tore my stomach up (even with the previcid sub I take to combat that). Doc switched me to one full strength aspirin each day, good as rat poison, well at least so far.

  16. You know, there are 25,000 Marines just 30 miles away from TJ. Just sayin’.

    They do like to take day trips all over the place.

  17. Hey aspirin will replace some of that rat poison. I did not think about that.

    What does that full strength aspirin do for your INR? I am taking 8.5 mg/day of rat poison which I think is about double normal dosage.

    The number one drug that I must have is the metaprolol. Just 25 mg of that beta blocker keeps my blood pressure from spiraling up into a complete disaster.

  18. All I have now is the BP med, daily, and for life, the doc told me earlier this week. Chlorthalidone, 25 mg. Mrs. OFD takes some other BP med and permanently life-saving meds for her thyroid condition. Miss a couple of weeks and she’s dead. Her cousin, a judge in upstate NY has the same condition, but worse; he misses a day and he’s gone.

    I keep telling her to A.) see about stockpiling, however the means, the thyroid meds, and B.) get a pair of regular glasses to supplement the contacts, but the years come and go and she hasn’t done either yet. My brothers’ wives don’t listen to them, either. Maybe it’s our delivery…

  19. As previously discussed, my wife doesn’t listen to me at all. It’s not just me, though: she doesn’t listen to anyone who doesn’t tell her what she wants to hear, or reinforce what she already “knows”.

    Some years ago she’d had a contractor come in to give an estimate for something on the house. He left in a huff without giving a quote or even finishing looking over the job because she kept interrupting him to tell him what the problems were and how to fix it. As he pointed out, a couple interruptions before he left, he’s been doing this longer than she’d been alive and maybe she ought to let a licensed whatever do his job.

    If my wife manages to get herself killed or seriously injured from not listening, I doubt I’ll grieve. Just roll my eyes and say “Gee, what a shock”, probably. It’s unlikely to come to that. Cars are very safe, most medications have been babied down so they’re not terribly effective but they’re not terribly dangerous, emergency services are usually just a phone call away. Looking at a broader picture, that’s one of the big problems with the US, actually: it’s too difficult for the stupid to kill themselves off. More precisely, it’s too easy to keep the stupid alive despite their stupidity, and usually at someone else’s effort and expense.

  20. Lynn, well I bruise easier and bleed more but not that much. Don’t know the numbers but Doc sends me for blood work every 4 months. Take the metaprolol too but don’t have high blood pressure, Take Atorvastatin for cholesterol but that’s not really high either. What I did have was chest pains and ended up with an angioplasty and a stent.
    Hereditary traits are the actual cause and so they keep the levels low.
    Didn’t have a clue how unhealthy I was until I started going to docs. Have had two doctors tell me to eat less red meat, but I think they’re just trying to save cows.

  21. well I bruise easier and bleed more but not that much

    Oh man do I bruise and bleed now. I’ve got a five inch bruise on the back of my right thigh that is bright blue and looks like someone nailed me with a baseball bat. Evidently I fell last week but I sure do not remember it.

    And I will look down and notice that I have cut a finger and bled out all over my pants and shirt. And keyboard and mouse. And … All this to keep from becoming a drooling idiot.

  22. All this to keep from becoming a drooling idiot.

    Presumably “drooling” is the significant part. You’re married, which means you have a wife, which means you have someone who will regularly inform you, others, or both of what an idiot you are and have been since before birth.

  23. Presumably “drooling” is the significant part. You’re married, which means you have a wife, which means you have someone who will regularly inform you, others, or both of what an idiot you are and have been since before birth.

    She is rather kind. She only informs me that I am an idiot in private. Of which, unfortunately, is very true.

    Yes, extreme drooling is the significant part. Should that happen, please do not feed me or give me liquids. And, DNR me.

    We had to do that with my mother-in-law. Heart attack #8 or #9 (we are not sure) was a baddie and she spent 18 minutes in total afib with no flow through the heart. The EMTs got her heart back in rhythm but it was too late. We took her off the respirator when the brain waves dropped to zero after a day or so.

    She survived that and so we stopped all liquids and nourishment. It took her three days to pass. She would open her eyes when you talked to her but you could tell no one was home. She was 58 and it has been 20 years. I still miss her as she was a kind and gentle lady.

  24. Secret code through typos? Belching? Who remembers the “coughing code”?

    Just started on bp medicine here. Entirely due to the job – I just can’t deal with stress as well as I used to…

  25. The last time I visited a doctor, he said I was in superb condition. Of course, that was 35 years ago or more.

    Back when I was 20 years old and playing serious tennis, my rest pulse was in the 30’s and my blood pressure was so low that the nurse who checked it thought I didn’t have any. I remember probably 25 years ago Barbara and I were in a shopping mall in Virginia. They had a kiosk set up with EMTs to check people’s blood pressure. Barbara finally convinced me to have them check mine. She assumed it’d be bad. As it turned out, it was so low that the EMT asked me if I fainted frequently. I told him I’d never fainted in my life.

    I suppose I should check it to see if it’s gotten any worse. But I smoke a pipe, which I suspect is all the blood-pressure medication I need.

  26. Bob: if that was the last time you saw a doc, I would highly recommend you find a good one ASAP and get a full physical, also ASAP. You probably are still in wonderful condition, but ya never know until ya have it checked out. BP may have gone up; or, FSM forbid, haha, they find something else.

    Seriously; you’re even older than me.

  27. Regarding a certain person’s boasting about the health benefits of tobacco:

    “If I had taken my doctor’s advice and quit smoking when he advised me to, I wouldn’t have lived to go to his funeral.” – (98 year old) George Burns

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