Sun. Dec. 1, 2019 – on the first day of Christmas….

Warm. Damp. [not as such, 61F and 44%RH at 730]

Did day one of my class yesterday and day two is today. It does involve some minor metal work, some esoteric knowledge, and some hand work, so if I stretch, really far, under very specific types of collapse, it MIGHT have some prepper applications. But I am doing it to learn new things and keep my brain working. And it is a great way to spend some time with guys in meatspace with a shared interest.

Subsequently I will be away from the internet most of the day.

We did get our Christmas tree up and dressed last night, and some of the indoor decor in place. I do love the smell of a tree. We’re supposed to have a couple of clear days in a row, so I’m hoping to get the outdoor stuff up tomorrow afternoon or Monday.

We’re on the downhill slide to Christmas and the end of the year now. We’ll be traveling for the holidays too, which is another whole ball of wax. I’m really hoping for a white Christmas for the kids, and a dozen inches isn’t unusual in Michigan…

God willing and the creek don’t rise…

n

45 thoughts on “Sun. Dec. 1, 2019 – on the first day of Christmas….”

  1. Costco Visa tried the late fee with interest game yesterday.

    Officially, the payment was *one day late* … again. I mail a week in advance, and the check goes to Louisville, KY from Austin.

    Caught lots of grief from the phone rep, but they reverse the charges if you stick to threats to cancel and don’t waiver/hesitate.

    “But you’re giving up $90 in rewards in January over $32 in fees and interest.”

    “Your cashflow problem, not mine. Cancel the card.”

    “Ok. Well, we’ll do this one more time, but you can’t get the credit again for 24 months.”

    “If it happens again, I’ll call to cancel … again. I have yet to travel for the job — the original reason for the card — and I’ll see what Sam’s Club Master Card does with payments mailed a week in advance.”

    I’ll bet the reps are spiffed to retain card holders.

  2. “I’ll bet the reps are spiffed to retain card holders.”

    That’s almost a certainty.

    n

  3. At least 11 people shot in the New Orleans French Quarter: Chaos on Canal Street as gunman opens fire into crowds amid heavy police presence after the Bayou Classic college football game

    A suspect opened fire on Canal Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter just before 3.30am Sunday”

    Ok, this one is a classic “don’t be there.”

    And the presence of cops doesn’t mean you’re safe–

    “Officers confirmed they were just a few feet away from the shooting, and initially thought they were being fired at but couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from.”

    n


  4. payments mailed a week in advance

    I do my payments electronically, scheduled the date the payment is due. Thus no issues with late payments and if there is, it is their problem. I have had issues with snail mail that makes me uneasy. Water payment got lost. Only found out when the water people showed up to cut off my water. Bill pay service was on the hook for the late fee and paid that for me.

  5. Ok, this one is a classic “don’t be there.”

    Before USF had a football team, Tampa used to host a similar game, The Florida Classic, between FAMU and BCC, but the associated crime from individuals not actually attending the game created problems for the local mall, and, after the mall closed early one year to avoid the mess, the schools’ boosters moved the game in a huff with lots of bad PR for the city and accusations of racism.

    Now the game is held in Camping World Stadium in Orlando, with Disney subsidizing the event via ESPN TV coverage — “HBCU Outreach” — and hosting performances by the marching bands. I don’t think Tampa misses the economic impact since the USF-UCF “War on I-4” has much broader demographics and more local interest.

  6. I do all my payments electronically, and yes I monitor all my accounts daily as well have notifications emailed and texted for all activity. On credit cards, I pay the current balance, not just the statement balance. My Wife’s got a bit of dementia and panics with bills, so I have gone electronic in addition to paper on all bills. My Kids’ understand my method and use it themselves and are turning out to be quite the money managers. They have also learned what vultures so-called Money Managers and Portfolio Managers are. Nobody should make one red cent on your money if you don’t and even then they had better be providing some real tangible benefit.

    If you are so cash strapped you have to use “float” then you had better reexamine your spending. I learned the hard way over 30-years ago, bankruptcy is no fun.

    Particularly at this time of the year, the mail cannot be trusted.

    BTW, OFD would be reminding us that this is Advent, Christmas is not until December 25 and then it should continue until January 5 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve), popularly known as the 12 Days of Christmas.

    The Kids have been on a trip to Portland OR for Thanksgiving and will be home tonight if the snow in the Columbia Gorge and ORDOT cooperates. So I am making the Family Thanksgiving meal tonight, pies in the oven and the turkey is prepped to go in next.

    Peace

  7. Heading back to my micro-apartment near work, so I’m now really back into the model of commuting “home” on the weekends. This will be the first time I’m in the apartment for more than a day, so I can finally get the “man cave” set up a bit better.

    Also, I hope I can get a lot of work done. What with moving, handing over the house, and setting up our temporary apartment near the building site, I’m way behind. Piles of projects to grade, exams to write, etc, etc.

    Coming back to the mountains late Wednesday.

  8. If you are so cash strapped you have to use “float” then you had better reexamine your spending. I learned the hard way over 30-years ago, bankruptcy is no fun.

    Particularly at this time of the year, the mail cannot be trusted.

    I’m time strapped, but not cash strapped. The bill was for $150 IIRC, and I sent it out a week in advance.

    The Citibank/Costco card organization is playing a game. I believe @Nick mentioned once that Costco abandoning Amex, another Berkshire Hathaway holding, in favor of Citibank Visa was the result of a p*ssing match between CEO’s.

  9. The Kids have been on a trip to Portland OR for Thanksgiving and will be home tonight if the snow in the Columbia Gorge and ORDOT cooperates. So I am making the Family Thanksgiving meal tonight, pies in the oven and the turkey is prepped to go in next.

    ODOT and WSDOT will get the salt trucks out. Of course, they don’t say it is salt. It is “deicer”.

  10. Opinions on this hypothetical situation please…

    Lets say you and a subordinate were in a server room, alone. You are both having a discussion, venting about another department and their lack of action. Suddenly, the door opens (controlled access), and one of the employees from the other department sticks their head in, smiles, and says “I heard everything” and then leaves. 10 minutes later, that employee’s supervisor sends an email to you , copying your boss, your bosses boss, and the employee who eavesdropped, which recounted much of the conversation and essentially reprimanded you. What would you do?

  11. Opinions on this hypothetical situation please…

    I’ve been chewed out before.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCSW761CuWk

    Seriously, leave the building next time to vent. With the implosion of the unicorn startups and the possibility of open borders starting within a year’s time, you’re going to face the possibility of much tougher competition for your job from people for whom lying comes as easily as breathing.

  12. Opinions on this hypothetical situation please…

    I’ve been chewed out before. I don’t sweat it too much, but management already told me I’m not the future where I work.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCSW761CuWk

    Seriously, leave the building next time to vent. With the implosion of the unicorn startups and the possibility of open borders starting within a year’s time, you’re going to face the possibility of much tougher competition for your job from people for whom lying comes as easily as breathing.

  13. Seriously, leave the building next time to vent.

    Second that.

    Heard of an incident at my former employer in which a long-time, baby boomer-era fellow employee muttered something uncomplimentary under his breath about his Gen X boss on his way back to his cube after a rather unsatisfactory meeting with said boss which was overheard by another Gen Xer who ratted him out to HR, resulting in a period of mandatory “performance improvement” or some such thing for the long-timer. 🙁 There’s definitely a “snitch culture” in place in business nowadays.


  14. There’s definitely a “snitch culture” in place in business nowadays.

    Nowadays? Nope. It has been around a long time. Back in 1993 I said something about the contractor representatives that worked in my facility. These people mostly did nothing. Frank was running sort of BBS, Leon (the senior person) spent 3 to 4 hours a day in slumber land. Corky, the senior person’s assistant, spent his time doing crosswords, Carol (the super hotshot programmer) was woefully poor at programmer and a rectum-orifice.

    One day I made some comment to a co-worker about these highly paid sloths and how they were put in their current position because no one else in Lockheed-Martin wanted them. Within two hours I am called into the office with my boss, Leon and a HR person of some level. Being grilled on what I said. I stated I thought my private conversations were private. The HR person said someone had stated what I said. I demanded to know who, and to challenge them, otherwise what they had was nothing but hearsay. The HR person demanded to know what I said to which I responded it was a private conversation and none of her business.

    I was told to watch what I said otherwise the next offense would be dealt with severely. That is when I stopped talking to anyone except to answer questions. I also generally made certain there was another person present when I had a conversation with any of the Lockheed-Martin people. I think one of them rated me out.

    Later on I told Leon that if I was ever called on the carpet again by his people that I would make certain to report the behavior of his people to his superiors. That if his people wanted to play the game I was more than willing to up the ante and make certain the next round would not turn out well for anyone. I never had any real interaction with Leon or any of his people after that.

  15. Costco Visa tried the late fee with interest game yesterday.

    Officially, the payment was *one day late* … again. I mail a week in advance, and the check goes to Louisville, KY from Austin.

    Citibank ?

    I have gotten nailed twice in the last two months. I blame USPS. They are falling down on the job.

  16. I never had any real interaction with Leon or any of his people after that.

    No doubt management was totally mystified as to why employee morale seemed to suck.

  17. I do all my payments electronically, and yes I monitor all my accounts daily as well have notifications emailed and texted for all activity. On credit cards, I pay the current balance, not just the statement balance.

    I am thinking about going electronic also. I pay all my bills except the one credit card three months at a time but USPS has managed to screw even that up for me.

  18. “I’ll bet the reps are spiffed to retain card holders.”

    Spiffed ???

    Commissioned.

    I don’t remember the acronym exactly, but SPIF was the code in the Service Merchandise computer display which would have a percentage number if something carried a commission for the sale.

  19. Citibank ?

    I have gotten nailed twice in the last two months. I blame USPS. They are falling down on the job.

    In this case I blame Citibank. My mortgage goes to LA, and that check is cashed within three business days, like clockwork. Costco Citibank Visa is probably a deal like the auto buying program, where the vendor pays Costco for access to the customer base and use of the name.

    The only other monthly bill which causes as many problems is BBVA, where my wife’s Exploder payments get sent. They’re not making anything off of that loan at 2%, especially after I clawed back about $5000 in extended warranties on top of whatever the F&I jerk got for sending them the loan, so the bank plays late fee games with any mailed payment. If I don’t want to get hosed, I have to make the payment in person.

    My intended use for the Visa was work travel, but the bosses haven’t sent me anywhere to date.


  20. I am thinking about going electronic also.

    I use a bill pay service offered by my credit union or the vendor’s site.

    For CITI (Costco Card) I use the CITI site and schedule the payments. Generally just the balance owed. Schedule on the day the payment is due. They have not missed in the last three years. If they do, it is their problem.

    For others that do not offer sites to pay I use the credit union’s service. Especially for utility bills. The utility companies have sites but they charge a small fee. Nope. Credit union is no charge. I schedule those on the day they are due as the bill pay service guarantees the payment will arrive on time. If the payment does not arrive on the scheduled date the bill pay service pays the late fees. So far they have not missed. Generally payments arrive the day before due. I pay nothing, no postage, etc. A good bargain.

    Only thing I do not use bill pay or vendor sites is for property taxes. Those are paid with a check, mailed when it is advantageous to my tax situation. For example I paid 2018 taxes in January, 2019 taxes in December the same year. That way I can double up on the tax deduction every other year. Next year, 2020, I will not pay until January. I also keep copies of the image of the cancelled checks from the credit union. For county taxes I go online and download the proof of payment. For the city I call and ask for a receipt. I have been burnt once, never again.

    City applied my property taxes to my water bill. Thus, taxes were late being paid, thus delinquent. I had a discussion with the mayor and the city manager about how a check, properly addressed, specific memo line, got deposited and credited to the wrong account. The delinquent fees were also reversed. I hope the person handling the mail got disciplined. I found out when I got my water bill showing a credit balance of several hundred dollars.

  21. In other NCAA football news, the fallout from Jimbo’s tenure in Tallahassee continues.

    I didn’t even see the other Jimbo news until just now.

    The only thing working in his favor right now is that the Yucs are showing signs of life in Tampa and the owners won’t have to look for someone to blame for Jameis Winston at the end of the month. Heck, Winston might even get a new contract.

  22. @IT guy, depending on your tolerance for unemployment, and how important you are to the company, if everything you said was based in truth, then I’d personally stand by it. But then I was generally known as an assho!e and I was critical to a major customer’s happiness. I weathered several incidents that were similar, but I didn’t care if they fired me, and it was 8 or more years ago. Times are different now, and the p#ssies are waiting to cry over anything…

    I wrote a group wide email after one incident, which resulted in our whole group being told not to talk to anyone onsite at the customer’s location. AT ALL. For 10 hours a day, weeks on end. I explained in my email that this wasn’t going to happen, that if they didn’t want us talking to the customer, they could make damn sure the product worked BEFORE sending it to us onsite, so we wouldn’t have to be there a second longer than necessary. Only one person in the group had the balls to comment to me on the email, and then from a non-company addy….

    They expect you to cave, kowtow, and abase yourself ritually if called out. My personal observation is that it is never enough, they’ll do what they want to you eventually anyway, so why bother.

    Again though, I had a powerful customer in my corner, and I truly didn’t GAF what happened.

    n

  23. I pay credit cards online. I do it manually though. After each one, I print the confirmation page to PDFs and save them forever.

    Good idea about saving proof of property tax payment. Mine is payed by the bank from escrow, but it I won’t hurt to have proof that it was paid.


  24. People, in general, suck.

    Sooner or later everyone comes to The Wisdom of Steve.

    I answer questions honestly, if I deign to answer them at all. A surprising number of coworkers, friends of my wife, and so on never seem to figure it out, if they aren’t prepared to hear the answer they shouldn’t ask the question.

    As regards work, I’m with Nick. I need income, which basically means I need a job because I generally suck at doing self employment as a primary income stream rather than as moonlighting. However, I don’t need any particular job. I won’t bow my head and mumble the appropriate words. I’ve been fired a couple times because of it, but generally don’t care. And, as Nick says, bending to the demands of office tyrants is like bowing to the demands of SJWs or any other tyrants: no matter what they initially demand, no matter what you do, it’s never enough. They’ll always escalate when they see they’re winning.

    I’ve been the critical component on a number of my contracts. When I left for whatever reason, the project often suffered massive disruption or even fell apart. Whether or not I was a team lead I always did my best to share design and coding decisions, document what I was doing, and all the other right steps, but it seldom did any good. When a team of eight has a bozo team lead, two bozo front end developers, me, and four lumpenprogrammers allegedly doing 80% of the back end work, it doesn’t matter how much diligence I put into making sure everyone is prepared for me to leave at the end of my contract; development is going to slow waaaay down. (Some of you may have to work hard to control your shock when I say that the seven non-me team members are all H-1Bs, mostly from India, with all the expected implications for work ethic, other ethics, and competence.)


  25. Mine is payed by the bank from escrow, but it I won’t hurt to have proof that it was paid.

    When I bought my house two months of taxes were to be paid by the title company. Ten years later when I refinanced I found out that had not been done. I now owed the taxes, penalties and interest. This past due was never put on the tax notices that were received each year.

    I went back to the title company who claimed they paid the amount. If their records were correct it would cost me $100.00 to get the information. Title company claimed it was the county’s problem as the title company would have researched an uncleared check.

    The tax bill I owed was $75.00 and I could be out $100.00 to prove the county was wrong. I would be out $25.00 if the title company was correct. Title company said if they were wrong they would pay the taxes, but not interest and penalty as it was my responsibility to verify the tax bills. Such bills not showing any past due amounts. Either way I was the one shafted for some other clod’s error and incompetence.


  26. For others that do not offer sites to pay I use the credit union’s service.

    +1 !!

    I have used my credit Union’s Bill Pay service for twelve years, and they have never malfunctioned, even when changing providers. It is very convenient, has many features such as recurring payments, and is free. For accounts with charges that vary, and need prompt payment, such as a credit card, I have the card holder automatically deduct from a checking account. Of course, it is a good idea to keep that account with a minimum adequate balance, and no overdraft “protection.” This is something I also do for those occasional “interest free” one-time major purchases where any glitch could cause very large penalties and interest. The key, as Ray said, is to have those companies handle everything, so if there is a problem, only they can be at fault. Don’t forget to keep enough balance in that special checking account!

    For government entities, such as property taxes, I also use that checking account electronically. This avoids their fees, and gives me proof of payment.

    Wherever I can, I pay bills automatically with a cash-back credit card. Not many accounts offer this, but my rewards add up.

    One small variation. I don’t print receipts, statements, check images, or anything. I simply save them as printable files. That way, if there should be an audit, I could print anything I might need. I also scan what few paper things are unavoidable and destroy the paper. I worked all this out, and survived a routine audit with favorable compliments from the auditor, years ago. Since that, I got a new CPA (past one retired,) who has given me advice on how he does these things; we are very similar. And, yes, I DO back up, one of my little paranoia quirks: whole ‘nother subject. BTW, I ask my paper-loving friends how they back up their paper. Only one does, and could survive a fire. He is much more diligent than I am. I suppose either of us could ADD the other’s method to our own.

    I now occasionally have to be away from home suddenly and for unplanned periods, and all this automation sure comes in handy. Yes, I could do manual stuff from my phone or a carried laptop, but I don’t have to. Sure don’t miss the old days when none of this was available.


  27. When I left for whatever reason, the project often suffered massive disruption or even fell apart.

    A couple of jobs I was asked to leave I shared no knowledge. One placed called me a week later and asked how I did a conversion of the teller data string to make it work with the new system. I responded it would cost them $10,000.00 for the information. They laughed, I laughed. Then dead silence. I said goodbye and hung up. The project was never successful. I didn’t care. They had the code but it was really complicated, done in BPL, and no one left in the organization knew BPL. That was intentional on my part.

  28. They had the code but it was really complicated, done in BPL, and no one left in the organization knew BPL.

    And it almost goes without saying that no one could be bothered to RTFM.

    I always had the feeling that most of my fellow programmers never got beyonf Chapter 3 in their COBOL text book–assuming they’d even had a text book.

    Anything ALGOL-ish, fugeddaboudit!

    (I still have my complete set of books by Donald Gregory: Algol on the B6700 (multiple volumes), WFL, CANDE, etc.)

  29. Heh. I taught myself COBOL from my sister’s course book when she was failing the course. (Not that she’s a dumbhead; IIRC over half the class was failing at that point. One might suspect the teacher was substandard.) Got a compiler for DOS and started tutoring her. Then helped a classmate or two. Then started having “office hours” at the community college library, which housed the terminals used for the course. Then got banned from the library by request of the instructor, presumably because all of “my” students were passing where they had previously been failing.


  30. Algol on the B6700

    Really liked ALGOL. Wrote a single pass compiler to generate B-2900/3900/4900 code that would execute directly. A specialized language but had everything you would expect in a language, control loops, decision making, branching, output formatting, etc. Input was controlled by another language that defined inputs. Really fun project. 33K lines of Algol code that would compile in less than two minutes on that big B-6700. Creating byte oriented code on a word oriented machine was a challenge.

  31. Citibank ?

    I have gotten nailed twice in the last two months. I blame USPS. They are falling down on the job.

    In this case I blame Citibank. My mortgage goes to LA, and that check is cashed within three business days, like clockwork. Costco Citibank Visa is probably a deal like the auto buying program, where the vendor pays Costco for access to the customer base and use of the name.

    I am not getting my bills from DirecTV and Citibank.

  32. I am not getting my bills from DirecTV and Citibank.

    Double check your DirecTV customer settings on the web site. My former corporate masters are very sly about sneaking in “electronic billing only” configurations. They are loathe to send out paper, but I make them bill my landline that way — keeping the paper flowing isn’t easy.

    Plus, after moving to Colorado, my weed head former partner went from our project to various web interfaces for DirecTV. Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by a developer programming under the influence.

    Weed head currently works for Comcast doing the same thing. I’m sure that will work out. 🙂

  33. He’s back ! ! !

    He fought in Vietnam.

    What about Sugar Mommy, the Ketchup Queen?

    Wonder who ghostwrote that book. Buried in Kerry’s military records, released after the 2004 election, was the revelation that he carried a lower GPA at Yale than the “Gentleman’s ‘C'” held by “W”.

    GPA isn’t a huge deal with me when hiring, but the press made a big deal about Kerry being smart.

    I do have a new rule of thumb about GPA — If the candidate has a recent non-thesis CS Masters degree from a state school, and the GPA is just barely above the 3.0 required to graduate, they just floated through the OPT diploma mill. 3.5 or higher or else why bother?

  34. Especially with grade inflation, which is apparently rampant in US colleges. Seems like anyone can get a 3.0 GPA just by showing up.

    That’s something I’m glad about here. Our scale has three passing grades: 4, 5 and 6. You can sort of look at these as C, B and A respectively. We are regularly reminded that our average ought to be between 4.2 and 4.8, so below a “B”. Most teachers abide by this – some of the “fluffier” courses (ahem, “communication”, ahem) will be higher, the technical courses lower.

    So, we’re waiting with bated breath to see if the crazy neighbors have registered their official complaint. We saw them walking up the hill towards the town offices on Saturday, so we expect they dropped it in the mailbox. But who knows.

    FWIW they will lose. We may have to give in on some small point or other, just because that’s how you do it in Switzerland, but on the core issues the neighbors are wrong.

    Related: I had decided against installing security cameras in our new house, because – living in a town of 400 people – who needs security cameras? My wife has asked me to reconsider – she is that unsure of just what these nut-cases are capable of. Especially after they lose the legal case that they are about to start. She is, for example, seriously worried that they might poison the animals.

    So: Advice from the geezer forum:

    If you wanted discreet but effective surveillance of your property, what approach would you take? I could put a camera just under the roof, on each house corner, but that’s really very obvious and a bit intimidating to visitors. Alternatively, I could hide a camera just inside of various windows, so that they aren’t easily visible from outside, but that’s not very attractive on the inside.

    Also important: It is illegal for us to have surveillance on the neighbor’s property. So the cameras have to be carefully directed to only capture what happens on our land.

  35. @brad, you want something like this–

    https://www.amazon.com/Indoor-Outdoor-Mini-Dome-Camera/dp/B00NG4WFXW?tag=ttgnet-20

    installed under the eaves, painted to match, you don’t even see it. I’ve installed a bunch of similar cams. The key is “mini dome”. You might need a separate ir emitter if you want to see at night. In that case, you get a poe to 12v splitter, and install it next to the cam.

    I’d say you absolutely want cams, even if you are in a little town. You might be able to go with on camera SD or MicroSD recording instead of an additional NVR, or many newer cams will stream to a NAS drive.

    I have not used this one, but ubiquiti products are pretty darn good.

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1244763-REG/ubiquiti_networks_uvc_g3_dome_unifi_g3_series_2mp.html

    You can mount it up under the eaves too.

    n


  36. that’s really very obvious and a bit intimidating to visitors

    In your case I would consider that a good thing. Make certain the neighbors know that there are cameras and anything that happens on your property is being monitored. Your friends would understand and not be intimidated.

    I have security cameras on my place, over the garage, over the front door, two over the pool, one inside the house. None are hidden, fully visible, and I consider that a good thing. People desiring to do something less than desirable know there is a good chance they will be caught.

  37. I have 12 exterior security cameras, some obvious (such as Ring Floodlight Cams and Doorbell) and some not-so-obvious Wyze Cams (the Vivint door-to-door salespersons can never point out all my cams). Sure the Wyze Cams are supposed to be indoor only but mine have been out for over 2-years. They are small and unobtrusive and very inexpensive but very high quality and reliable. If you read about people having issues with Wyze and/or Ring cams the fault is usually a poor WiFi system. And NO, Ring does not allow the authorities access to your cams without specifically limited authority, don’t believe the MSM and the tin-foil-hat crowd.

  38. Thanks for the advice. Oddly, a lot of the popular brands are not available here. It looks like LevelOne has some decent products, though, and I can get those.

    We’ll see what the spousal unit thinks, when she sees the price. The cameras are the least of it – the biggest cost will be running cables from the corners of the roof to my little IT closet. At Swiss prices: I figure about $500 per cable. I hope that’s pessimistic, but an electrician earns a very nice salary…

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