Wed. Dec. 16, 2020 – I’m TNT, I’m dy-no-mite…

Cool, but no rain forecast.

Tuesday it rained.  All over town in varying degree.  Lots where I was.  Not so much at home.

I ran my errands.  Fixed the plumbing issue at my rent house.  Got it the first time, with the stuff I had with me, and didn’t have to do the second part after all….   that’s two miracles and a ‘nice save’…. I feel like a lotto winner.

Of course I also found out that my tenants are getting married in May.  Which means I’ll need new tenants when they get pregnant.  House is fine for two, too small for three.  And he had the ‘rona, but she never got it.  Locked in with him, and him with both symptoms (mild to ‘this sh!t sucks’) and a positive test, her with two negative tests.   Three whole weeks and she never got it.  Crazy.

Harvested two stalks of broccoli from the garden.  They are about fist sized heads.   Maybe they’ll be dinner tonight.

While sitting at my computer I’ve been ripping my way through the hundreds of CDs in the two binders I picked up.  The burned copies were all bad.  But I’ve been having good luck with the commercial disks.  Almost all have ripped, although some have taken a whole lot of re-reading and oversampling.  A couple just needed washing, and I polished 2 so far that I really wanted to rip.    I’ve done a couple hundred so far with the same left to go.  Then the physical media goes to storage.  I’m not the guy who rips his collection then sells all the disks…  anyway, I like owning physical media.  After this, I’ll have just about every Lynyrd Skynyrd disk ever released- something that wasn’t one of my life goals, but I’m a completist.   If I’m going to burn all the disks, I’ll burn ALL the disks.  Even 20 or more Skynyrd disks.  Le sigh.

Today I’m home with the student, so I’ll be doing home stuff.  There’s certainly plenty to do.

Perhaps I’ll get a chance to do some stacking…  Something I recommend to everyone 😉

nick

 

 

Author: Nick Flandrey

Mid 50s, stay at home dad, with two elementary school age girls. Love my family and my life.

87 thoughts on “Wed. Dec. 16, 2020 – I’m TNT, I’m dy-no-mite…”

  1. Got a notice from the VA that I will be notified when I can get the COVID vaccine. The VA listed VA healthcare workers will get the vaccine first, followed by veterans in healthcare facilities, followed by high risk veterans with significant health issues, followed by older veterans (me), and finally the rest. Thus it seems the VA will be administering the vaccine. I suppose I have a better chance of getting the vaccine at the VA rather than private providers.

    Which brings up the question of do I actually get the vaccine. In the long run I don’t think I will have a choice. I suspect that schools and people that work at schools are going to be mandated to have the vaccine or not work at the schools. Losing my sub job would not be a big deal. Between the wife and I we only brought in $2000.00 for the year.

    I suspect the real motivator will be flying to foreign countries. Wife and I had scheduled to fly to Europe in 2020 but that got squashed. We are going to try again in 2021 hoping all the COVID crap is over with. I highly suspect that entering a foreign country will require proof of inoculation against COVID before entry is allowed. Show the passport and the COVID card to get on the plane. Show the passport and COVID card at immigration to get into a foreign country.

    So, yes, I will be getting the inoculation along with the wife. Wife will have to get the vaccine at a private provider.

    And in other news I am going to paying Comcast for a modem. Unlimited data on their network is $30.00 a month. However, if I get their modem it is only $25.00 a month. As I stream more data limits will become a problem.

    I currently have my own modem (Netgear CM1100V) and my own router (Netgear R7000). Both have worked well and I really hate to change. But cost considerations stand in favor of changing.

    I will be losing my guest network, which I keep turned off unless someone is staying in the house while I travel. I will lose my network shared storage that Netgear provides. Although I may reconfigure the router as a WAP device just sitting on the network although that is unlikely at this time. The network storage which was just used to transfer files may be replaced by a USB sneakernet device.

    Comcast also provides network security from the outside world on their device. That is not a big deal as I am fairly well protected with Windows Defender and Acronis True Image 2021. I will also eliminate any urinating contests between myself and Comcast if I have problems. I have in the past and having my own device always comes down to “it’s your device, not our network” response from Comcast. One time I had to agree to tech visit for which I would have to pay. The problem was in their drop from the pole to my house so I ultimately did not pay. It is just the aggravation.

    Comcast offers two modems, the XB6 and the XB7, the latter being the newest and supports WiFi 6. If I don’t get the XB7 I will have to visit the Comcast store in Knoxville and exchange for an XB7. The modem arrives today and I hope it is the newest model and not some recycled modem from a meth infected mobile home trailer. (Yes, the happened once on a TV box. Also had roaches in the box).

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  2. SIPRNET breach.

    This is what happens with the wholesale violation of oaths of office by elite politico-pukes who are sure that any means is justified to get the results they want.

    Wind it back a few years. What if Petraeus and the staff that helped him cover up his affair had been busted flat with loss of pension and prison time? Time to be served in a Haitian prison.

    I have no experience with the SolarWinds product, but I’ve heard from friends who say that it is sold using what I call “hookers and steaks” marketing, and the purchasing decision comes from C-suite execs or the military equivalent.

    I looked up the company’s address here in town, and SolarWinds is out in the “California lite” section of the metro west of Mopac. Austin is a lot of hype, and that area is doubly so. The breach probably would have been worse if SxSW had gone on as scheduled.

    Petraeus. He’s the poster boy for why “hookers and steaks” works.


  3. Will doctors and hospitals require proof of vaccination before services are rendered?

    For me, I’m OK. My test kit requested last Wednesday and arrived Saturday by FedEx. Saliva specimen dropprd off at FedEx Sunday. Arrived at test facility yesterday AM. Results, negative, available to me yesterday evening and I downloaded PDF just now.

  4. While sitting at my computer I’ve been ripping my way through the hundreds of CDs in the two binders I picked up. The burned copies were all bad. But I’ve been having good luck with the commercial disks. Almost all have ripped, although some have taken a whole lot of re-reading and oversampling.

    With music CDs, try cdparanoia on Linux Mint if all else fails ripping a disc’s contents. If you need a GUI, IIRC, Rhythmbox uses cdparanoia as a back end.

  5. Got a notice from the VA that I will be notified when I can get the COVID vaccine. The VA listed VA healthcare workers will get the vaccine first, followed by veterans in healthcare facilities, followed by high risk veterans with significant health issues, followed by older veterans (me), and finally the rest. Thus it seems the VA will be administering the vaccine. I suppose I have a better chance of getting the vaccine at the VA rather than private providers.

    You’re more knowledgeable about the VA’s plans at this point than my wife. She may get word today, however, if letters are going out to the patients.

    Mandatory vaccination for staff would be tough to enforce at her outpatient clinic, especially among the physicians. The clinic is already down three doctors.

  6. “For me, I’m OK.”

    — 0 of 10 Doctors recommend PBR as a prophylaxis !

    n

    (good to hear.)

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  7. In terms of COVID seriousness: Deaths in Switzerland average about 1300/week at this time of year. We have been running at 2000/week for several weeks, so a solid 50% above normal. That is roughly extra deaths of 0.01% of the population per week. So far, excess deaths have killed about 0.1% of the population. In the worst hit regions, statistical life expectancy has dropped by nearly a decade, from early-80s to mid-70s.

    I find discussions on both sides of the issue to be very simplistic. On the pro-lockdown side: every life is precious, we must lock down fully regardless of the cost. On the other side: just it’s the old and sick dying, so lockdowns and masks are silly – let ’em croak. What is missing from this discussion – on both sides – is any attempt at a rational, objective cost-benefit analysis.

    Re vaccinations: The government expects that, by June, everyone who wants a vaccination will be able to have one.

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  8. The government expects that, by June, everyone who wants a vaccination will be able to have one.

    June of what year?

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  9. I find discussions on both sides of the issue to be very simplistic. On the pro-lockdown side: every life is precious, we must lock down fully regardless of the cost. On the other side: just it’s the old and sick dying, so lockdowns and masks are silly – let ’em croak. What is missing from this discussion – on both sides – is any attempt at a rational, objective cost-benefit analysis.

    In the US, the lockdowns and masks haven’t worked because sick people are not required to stay home — again, unlike the common practice with TB — and a lot of patients who contract the bug do a lot of selfish/stupid things under cover that they are “asymptomatic”. Most are not, but the media propogates a fiction that a sizeable number of the population are symptom-free “super spreaders”.

    At this point, absent a serious reversal in public health policy, what will happen with this pandemic is going to happen regardless IMHO. The horse left the proverbial barn in April. Texas and Florida did a good job managing the fallout from the 4th of July and delaying the inevitable shuttering the bars, but Christmas is the big FOMO holiday. More lockdowns after the Inauguration are just politics.

  10. Weirdness in youtube comments.

    Magdalen Henry
    Magdalen Henry
    1 day ago
    The witty shoemaker natively interrupt because fork archaeologically trust as a threatening dust. hallowed, three laugh
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    Jamie Howard
    Jamie Howard
    1 day ago
    The mean satin promisingly intend because bengal phylogentically weigh modulo a undesirable cafe. delirious, quarrelsome tornado

    Hmmm, bad machine translation? Some sort of crypto? [that would be interesting, using comment spam to pass messages] Or comment spam? If spam, to what end?

    n

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  11. Weirdness in youtube comments.

    Hmmm, bad machine translation? Some sort of crypto? [that would be interesting, using comment spam to pass messages] Or comment spam? If spam, to what end?

    Possibly crypto. Depends on the video.

    Social media sites are well known as communications channels for espionage. A Bang Bang operating in the US pretending to be a “woke” Asian trying to fit in with a CA population is going to be a social media regular. A VPN or SSH session overseas would draw attention and used only in SHTF situations.

    An Israeli company claims that they’ve broken Signal. In my experience, the crypto companies there are all tied into Mossad so figure the CIA and NSA have it as well.

  12. @Nick: Sure looks like crypto. Probably working off of some large text source that was agreed beforehand (for example, this list contains all words used). Transform each word to a number (the line on which it appears). Then reconstruct the original message, using some other word list.

    Could be something silly, like school kids playing around. Could be something more serious. The joy of crypto: there’s no way to tell. Which is what drives governments nuts, because – of course – they have the right to read anything they want to, and would never, ever, ever abuse the privilege.

    Speaking of which: in the EU, they’re trying yet again to require backdoors to all cryptography. It’s left as an exercise to the user how to do so without reducing security. /sarc

  13. Speaking of which: in the EU, they’re trying yet again to require backdoors to all cryptography. It’s left as an exercise to the user how to do so without reducing security. /sarc

    The US has FIPS. The random number generator specified by the standard is sketchy IMHO.

    Fortunately, FIPS is a huge hassle and only something the US Government cares about when buying civilian agency crypto services.


  14. Social media sites are well known as communications channels for espionage.

    That was my guess when IMDB pulled their message board. Sure, the signal/noise ratio was lowest of the low, but it was still fun.

  15. Well, Xfinity sent me an XB6 rather than an XB7 modem. XB6 only has two ethernet ports, XB7 has four ethernet ports. XB7 has been out for at least eight months so why is Xfinity still sending old equipment? Must have lot in inventory. For most people two ethernet ports, slower speeds (XB7 has a 2.5 gig port), are good enough for most people. Probably good enough for me except for the lack of ports. I do have a switch but prefer to leave that out of the mix. The fewer cables, connections and boxes, the better.

    I will install and activate this evening. I also have to change all of the WiFi parameters on the XB7 to match my current equipment. I do not desire to go around and change the WiFi on four plugs, four Echos, one garage door, two iPhones, two iPads, one thermostat, security cameras and two wall switches. The iPhones and iPad are easy, the other devices not so much. Plus I do not want Xfinity to know my WiFi credentials.

  16. I will install and activate this evening. I also have to change all of the WiFi parameters on the XB7 to match my current equipment. I do not desire to go around and change the WiFi on four plugs, four Echos, one garage door, two iPhones, two iPads, one thermostat and two wall switches. The iPhones and iPad are easy, the other devices not so much. Plus I do not want Xfinity to know my WiFi credentials.

    The whole point of offering you a discount to take their modem is to create a WiFi roaming service blanketing the city as part of provisioning their wireless service plans. Random Xfinity wireless users in the immediate vicinity of your house may be routed through that equipment.

  17. “Walmart: Here’s What We’re Doing to Stop Bots From Snatching the PlayStation 5”
    https://www.pcmag.com/news/walmart-heres-what-were-doing-to-stop-bots-from-snatching-the-playstation

    “As scalpers continue to buy up and resell the PlayStation 5 at inflated prices, you may be wondering if anything can be done to stop automated bots from hoarding all the stock.”

    “According to Walmart, the retailer has had success in stopping bots from snatching new PS5 units before real consumers can buy them, pointing to a recent incident during a pre-Thanksgiving sale for the in-demand console.”

    ““One bot preventative action we implemented just hours before the PlayStation 5 event on Nov. 25 blocked more than 20 million bot attempts within the first 30 minutes alone,” Jerry Geisler, Walmart’s chief information security officer, wrote in a blog post.”

    Good night !

    Some how we need to punish the scalpers but I have no idea how to.

  18. “Some how we need to punish the scalpers”

    –why? seriously why? there is no guarantee you can buy anything from anyone at any specific time or for any specific price. If you don’t want to pay the higher price, don’t buy it. there isn’t any coercion in the process.

    if no one bought from the flippers, they’d go broke holding a bunch of unsellable inventory. They don’t, so people are willing to enter into the transaction freely.

    Once you start deciding who to sell to by judging their intent or worthiness to buy, you open the door to all kinds of abuses.

    n

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  19. “Supreme Court rejects attempt to revive Kansas voter ID laws”
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/supreme-court-rejects-attempt-to-revive-kansas-voter-id-laws

    “The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Kansas Republicans to revive laws that require people to prove their citizenship before voting.”

    “The law, which a Kansas district court struck down in 2018, was instituted in 2013 and required voters to present a passport, birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship before registering. It had been championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom President Trump appointed in 2017 to head up the commission studying election integrity in the 2016 election.”

    So much for the five conservatives on SCOTUS.

    We must have Voter ID laws to keep the voting fraud down.

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  20. Good night !

    Some how we need to punish the scalpers but I have no idea how to.

    Eliminate in-store returns for consoles ordered online and delivered by mail/UPS. Returns shipped free via SmartPost with a prepaid label.

    In-person purchased consoles go through the special return process WalMart uses for select Black Friday merchandise that involves more bureaucracy and 10-15 minutes additional time for the store manager to perform some computer kabuki.

    You have to really want the money back on those $5 kiddie jammies stamped “NOT FLAME RETARDANT” in big, bold lettering on the front of the package.

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  21. Weirdness in youtube comments.

    Radio Londres. “Before we begin, please listen to some personal messages.” “John has a long Mustache.”

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  22. “North Face Reportedly Snubs Oil And Gas Company, CEO Points Out Hypocrisy”
    https://t.e2ma.net/webview/66kard/94690e3dd5c8a2041dc1a0971b16da0f

    “A company in the oil and gas industry, Innovex Downhole Solutions, wanted to get its employees The North Face jackets with the company logo on them for Christmas. When the company reached out to The North Face, however, their request was denied based on their industry, the CEO said.
    CBS7 reported that Innovex CEO Adam Anderson said the company that would provide the jackets didn’t want to support the oil and gas industry, just like it wouldn’t support the porn or tobacco industries.
    “They told us we did not meet their brand standards,” Anderson told the outlet. “We were separately informed that what that really meant was that we were an oil and gas company.”
    Anderson noted to the outlet that it was ironic for North Face to deny them the jackets considering the oil and gas industry makes it possible for the outerwear company to make their products.”

    The Oil and Gas industry is what makes the extended population of the world doable. Take away our cheap energy and the world will fall apart quickly.

    But somehow, we have become the pariahs of the world. People have disassociated the action of flipping on the lights or turning on the heat with the oil and gas (and coal) to make these actions available.

    I foresee massive energy taxes in the near future to further punish the oil and gas industry. Massive. Canada is already planning on $175/ton of CO2 in the near future. That is well over a dollar per gallon of gasoline.

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  23. “Some how we need to punish the scalpers”

    –why? seriously why? there is no guarantee you can buy anything from anyone at any specific time or for any specific price. If you don’t want to pay the higher price, don’t buy it. there isn’t any coercion in the process.

    if no one bought from the flippers, they’d go broke holding a bunch of unsellable inventory. They don’t, so people are willing to enter into the transaction freely.

    Once you start deciding who to sell to by judging their intent or worthiness to buy, you open the door to all kinds of abuses.

    n

    Well, I guess the punishment for the scalpers is to end up with a lot of product and no buyers.


  24. “The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Kansas Republicans to revive laws that require people to prove their citizenship before voting.”

    My understanding is that it was the requirement to prove citizenship, not to show and ID that was the issue. Sounds like they could just require a RealID DL approved ID and do the same thing.

  25. Good night !

    Some how we need to punish the scalpers but I have no idea how to.

    Eliminate in-store returns for consoles ordered online and delivered by mail/UPS. Returns shipped free via SmartPost with a prepaid label.

    In-person purchased consoles go through the special return process WalMart uses for select Black Friday merchandise that involves more bureaucracy and 10-15 minutes additional time for the store manager to perform some computer kabuki.

    You have to really want the money back on those $5 kiddie jammies stamped “NOT FLAME RETARDANT” in big, bold lettering on the front of the package.

    Standing in Walmart’s return line is a punishment all unto itself. I have been the next person up for over 30 minutes as the person in front of me brings back a shopping cart full of crap which the returns person goes through individually. It is a horrible experience and probably designed that way.

  26. “The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Kansas Republicans to revive laws that require people to prove their citizenship before voting.”

    My understanding is that it was the requirement to prove citizenship, not to show and ID that was the issue. Sounds like they could just require a RealID DL approved ID and do the same thing.

    Most of the illegals that I have known in Texas had a Texas Drivers License. Sometimes that TDL even matched their names.

    BTW, I was able get a Texas Real ID TDL in March after we moved without going in to the DPS office.

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  27. If you want to talk about an industry with arbitrary pricing, set at whatever the market will bear, with no price transparency and legal protections from price fixing and anti-trust laws, and very little discretion on the part of consumers, look no further than the medical industry.

    Epi pen pricing? Narcon? Anti snake bite venom? Just to name a few. From my own personal experience an antifungal, econozole, so old and cheap only one company still makes it. So they get bought and it goes from ~$3/tube to $300. Even my pharmacist couldn’t believe it.

    n

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  28. Standing in Walmart’s return line is a punishment all unto itself. I have been the next person up for over 30 minutes as the person in front of me brings back a shopping cart full of crap which the returns person goes through individually. It is a horrible experience and probably designed that way.

    Black Friday special returns are an added hell requiring completion of a yellow post-it form, tagging of the merchandise, and a high level store manager signing off individually on each item before it is run through the register.


  29. create a WiFi roaming service blanketing the city as part of provisioning their wireless service plans

    Yes, I know. There is some discussion on that part. Some have said that on the XB7 that portion is disabled. Of course it can probably be activated at any time. There are few houses close to me, probably not close enough to get a signal from my modem. I really don’t care if there is a secondary use. Does not affect me as it supposedly a separate channel on the xfinity system.

    I am on their wireless service plan. Have been for about three years. Have not really had an issue. I only pay $36.00 (with tax) a month for three phones. Verizon was over $120.00+tax for three phones even with the veteran discount.

    Sometimes that TDL even matched their names.

    Sometimes that NAME even matched their TDL. Fixed it for you.

  30. Epi pen pricing? Narcon? Anti snake bite venom? Just to name a few. From my own personal experience an antifungal, econozole, so old and cheap only one company still makes it. So they get bought and it goes from ~$3/tube to $300. Even my pharmacist couldn’t believe it.

    That’s the generic. What does the brand cost?

    The pharamacists get a spiff for moving the generics from the manufacturers. My wife has to specify “brand only” on the prescription if she doesn’t want the substitution attempted.

    People get detached from the price of their care thanks to insurance. I was the only one at the last job I knew of who took the high deductible plan with the HSA.

  31. Yes, I know. There is some discussion on that part. Some have said that on the XB7 that portion is disabled. Of course it can probably be activated at any time. There are few houses close to me, probably not close enough to get a signal from my modem. I really don’t care if there is a secondary use. Does not affect me as it supposedly a separate channel on the xfinity system.

    There is a limit to how much 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrum is available. I have so much WiFi going on around me, particularly the sysadmin next door using his mesh network, that I can’t get 80 MHz channels in 5 GHz. Lately, at night, if my wife has leftover work to do at the VA, she logs in using a hardwired connection provided by the otherwise currently unused MOCA adapter in our living room.

  32. Plus I do not want Xfinity to know my WiFi credentials.

    Roger that. In my volunteer support role, we have a business account with the local cable provider, Mediacom. About three years ago, we replaced everything: computers, server, UPSes, and the cable interface equipment. At the time, we had a “residential” account. The new modem had its settings controlled through the upstream server, and we could not positively disable Wi-Fi, a requirement; there were also other issues that involved our VPN. As a result, our headquarters support folks changed our account to a business account. That got us a simple modem that we could control. I was part of the conversation between the tech and Mediacom, and he said we needed full control, and Mediacom would simply provide access. Took some setting up, but worked perfectly.

    A few months ago, Mediacom said they had to replace the old modem with a new one, because they were changing some service protocol, and the old one didn’t support that. It was being shipped for self install. I was the “self,” and expected problems, but it went well. I called a special support number, and the tech walked me through the changes. We were up and running in short order. We still have full control. Some times, we get lucky.

    My DSL provider, Frontier, sent me a new gateway made by Arris. This replaced a fairly new one by Netgear. Their reasons were that they could support it better, and it might help with my poor line quality. I expected loss of control, but that didn’t happen. If anything, the new one is much better, and the UI is greatly improved. I sure hope luck cones in threes!

    These things should be simple and dependable, but they aren’t. They are designed by network nerds to be useful in zillions of situations, but it often takes someone with good knowledge to cope with them. I have become that, but not willingly. As I said, they should just work for me, not me for them.

  33. Spend some time in ATT DSL support hell, especially if you are trying to do anything different, like have local addresses that are not in 192.168.1.x or you need port forwarding. Freaking ATT tech hoses me every time he goes to my clients house.

    Their paid upgraded support option is actually worse as it goes to the subcontinent and the rigid script kids working their call center. 2-3 minutes delay for every question asked as it gets translated, answer or next question looked up, rinse and repeat for up to 6 hours.

    I have ATT fiber here, and it has been very good. No upsell, no triple play, nothing but ‘net. Configurable modem with good wifi, and understandable UI. Service was a bit unstable at first but that settled down. It even got cheaper since we installed it.

    n

  34. Standing in Walmart’s return line is a punishment all unto itself.

    Odd. In our small town, I seldom have had wait more than five minutes over the years. We don’t return much, however. I often return stuff while my wife shops.

    Costco is another matter. I wouldn’t go near their return line after any holiday. Plus, they have given me grief for attempting to return something more than 90 days after purchase. I tell them we are 90 miles from the nearest Costco and only visit about twice a year. That is true, about the nearest Costco. We actually go to others farther away, probably about five times a year. Not a fan of Costco. I can get a lot of what I need at our local Walmart, often for a lower price. YMMV.

  35. Spend some time in ATT DSL support hell…

    Frontier phone support has been astonishingly good, much better than Verizon. Of course, they tell me they would not consider me eligible for DSL under their distance rules. As for the techs who come to the house, I have been on a first name basis for years. Almost went to one’s retirement party. OK, kidding, but close. Their field people are good; Verizon’s were so-so. Their biggest problem is that they are broke and the infrastructure is old. Verizon had the same infrastructure, wasn’t broke, but didn’t care about their customers.

    Hurry up, Starlink!!

  36. Walmart’s stuff is almost always lesser quality. Thinner material, reduced packaging, something. Vendors are under INTENSE pressure to reduce price to walmart.

    Costco versions of major vendor things are different from their normal product too, but it’s usually features that get cut afaik. The concierge warranty means that the electronics vendors can’t cut back too much.

    Returns lines? Just go another time, or try again on your way out. I’ve seen big lines at costco, but they are usually surges from what I saw. The ability to return is one of the reasons to shop there. And really ANYWHERE after Christmas is going to be bad.

    One of the things I can’t stand about walmart is the smell of the stores. It’s consistent across the stores and it’s very irritating to me. When I was traveling for work I shopped in a lot of walmarts. They are open later than anyone else, and often had some version of the thing I needed to get the job finished or at least keep moving. I’ll give them convenience, and price if price is the only metric. I won’t shop there given a choice though.

    n


  37. … Their field people are good; Verizon’s were so-so. Their biggest problem is that they are broke and the infrastructure is old. Verizon had the same infrastructure, wasn’t broke, but didn’t care about their customers.

    Hurry up, Starlink!!

    Pretty much sums it up.

  38. My experience with internet providers and their modems: when I moved to WA, Wave Broadband was the choice (CenturyLink is also here; they share lines). My house has cable run to house. Wave gave me their cable modem free for a year as part of the signup deal. After the year was up, I returned their cable modem and bought my own, rather than pay the monthly fee for their modem. No problems returning their cable modem and cancelling the monthly modem fee.

    Now I have a Arris cable modem (modem only) – ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 8×4 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem (16×4 Cable Modem) – bought from the Zon. One ethernet port that feeds into my wireless modems, which I control.

    The newest wireless routeris “WiFi 6 Router-AX1500 Gigabit Dual Band Wi-Fi Router, Next-Gen 802.11ax Wireless Router Supporting MU-MIMO, Mesh and OFDMA with 1xWAN Port and 4 x Gigabit LAN Ports, WPA3, WPS for Whole-Home Coverage” https://amzn.to/3ms5Kkc

    Actually have two wireless routers; added the above as a second one for “801.1ax’ feature. Original one is still there, connected to various devices that I didn’t want to reconfigure.

    With the cable modem being cable-only, I control the wireless networks at my house. Have a guest network, but it (and the others) are all password-protected.

    Starlink send me an offer to join their beta group, but at an initial cost of $500 and monthly cost of $50, I declined.

  39. One of the things I can’t stand about walmart is the smell of the stores. It’s consistent across the stores and it’s very irritating to me. When I was traveling for work I shopped in a lot of walmarts. They are open later than anyone else, and often had some version of the thing I needed to get the job finished or at least keep moving. I’ll give them convenience, and price if price is the only metric. I won’t shop there given a choice though.

    You forgot the free mugging in the parking lot at 2 am !

    I have tried and tried to keep the wife and daughter from going to Walmart after dark. So now I have to get out of bed, get dressed and take the wife and daughter to Walmart. The Covid has been a blessing in that our Walmart now slams the doors shut at 830pm prompt and turns off the registers. It is a hard close and I never thought I would have seen it in my lifetime. So the wife and daughter now go at 8am just as the parking lot scum are going to bed.

  40. Walmart’s stuff is almost always lesser quality. Thinner material, reduced packaging, something. Vendors are under INTENSE pressure to reduce price to walmart.

    Walmart’s brand is the lowest price possible. The vendors bear the brunt of it.

    Among other brands destroyed by Walmart poking into the manufacturer’s operations to identify and “suggest” cost cutting is Rubbermaid, but, to be fair, Home Depot and Lowes destroyed Hunter Fan, Schlage, and many others with similar antics.

    The upside to Walmart is honesty, and, unlike Amazon, they won’t knowingly sell something dangerous.


  41. Not a fan of Costco. I can get a lot of what I need at our local Walmart, often for a lower price. YMMV.

    Same for Sam’s Club. It does depend on what you want to buy. But for me, the local Wal-Mart is good enough especially after allowing for a Costco or Sam’s membership and then the time/gas/toll road to get from Burnet to either place.

    I mean, the math of $60/year just to be able to shop at Costco to save 15 cents a can when buying tomatoes, yeah, no thank you.

  42. Standing in Walmart’s return line is a punishment all unto itself.

    Odd. In our small town, I seldom have had wait more than five minutes over the years. We don’t return much, however. I often return stuff while my wife shops.

    Costco is another matter. I wouldn’t go near their return line after any holiday. Plus, they have given me grief for attempting to return something more than 90 days after purchase. I tell them we are 90 miles from the nearest Costco and only visit about twice a year. That is true, about the nearest Costco. We actually go to others farther away, probably about five times a year. Not a fan of Costco. I can get a lot of what I need at our local Walmart, often for a lower price. YMMV.

    I am equidistant from two Super Walmarts, six miles to each. The eastern one has 250,000 people living around it in a five mile radius, the western one has 150,000 people living around it in a five mile radius. Sometimes I suspect that half of those people are in the Walmart.

  43. I mean, the math of $60/year just to be able to shop at Costco to save 15 cents a can when buying tomatoes, yeah, no thank you.

    I am beginning to wonder if the $45/year fee to shop at Sam’s Club is worth it.

  44. Walmart’s stuff is almost always lesser quality. Thinner material, reduced packaging, something. Vendors are under INTENSE pressure to reduce price to walmart.

    I found the same to be true of Old Navy’s adult clothing. It’s basically disposable clothing. Horrible durability and shrunk a lot in the wash (“prewashed/preshrunk” my ass). Kids is probably as bad, but mine tended to outgrow it before it disintegrated.

    Among other brands destroyed by Walmart poking into the manufacturer’s operations to identify and “suggest” cost cutting is Rubbermaid, but, to be fair, Home Depot and Lowes destroyed Hunter Fan, Schlage, and many others with similar antics.

    I have an uncle that worked in Rubbermaid management. Walmart dictates prices. They basically say, if you want to sell these in our stores then you have to sell them to us at this price. Otherwise, fuck off. Rubbermaid usually did not comply. Well, at least with storage totes they didn’t. Which is why Rubbermaid tote selection at Walmart was always so poor, but Sterilite filled the shelves.

    Not a fan of Costco. I can get a lot of what I need at our local Walmart, often for a lower price. YMMV.

    I mean, the math of $60/year just to be able to shop at Costco to save 15 cents a can when buying tomatoes, yeah, no thank you.

    I’m more or less of the same opinion, but my wife wants a Costco membership so we have one. Most of their savings is when you buy their store brand, Kirkland Signature. I also don’t like that so many of their jumbo packages of things are variety packs. It’s like, for example, “Hey, thanks for that great price on 150 granola bars, but we’re only going to eat 30 of them because the other 120 are flavors we don’t care for.” So, we ignore a lot of that merchandise as it has flavors or variants we’re not fans of. Likewise, they’ll have a brand of something we’re loyal too but not have the specific one we prefer (e.g. they have Charmin TP, but they only ever have the Ultra Soft and not the Ultra Strong). I mostly find it frustrating to shop there. I refuse to buy something just because it’s a great deal. $100 worth of something I don’t want available for only $20 isn’t an $80 savings (like my wife thinks it is). It’s $20 spent on something I don’t want.

  45. I haven’t noticed a “smell” in Wal-Mart. Just a smell of stuff… new clothes, tires, and whatever. Nothing nasty.

    Kind of like the Sears and Roebuck in Mobile. They had a lady making popcorn near the escalators. A dime a bag. Yep, back in 1970. So new school clothes and whatever /with/ popcorn! Real nice.

    Sometimes Mom would get a couple of bags on the way out. Mostly to shut us up. It was good popcorn.

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  46. At Walmart, I only buy stuff like Mobil 1 oil and other name brands that are not affected by WM’s house branding. Agree, their store brands are often poor quality. One exception might be their car batteries, at least that was true up to a couple of years ago. I have written on this before. Now, the same batteries, manufactured by Johnson Controls, look slightly different, and instead of being made in the giant Mexican plant, come from several other places in the world. I haven’t read anything about these newer versions, as I am not in the market to buy. Change is constant.

    I will say that I have a Costco Interstate battery that is three years old. It was about 70% the price of the Walmart battery, $83 vs $120. It performs well, and tests OK, but its resting voltage is the lowest I have ever seen, around 12.35 volts at full charge. That is a worry. It is in a car that might be going to auto heaven in a year or so, and that battery would go with it. It worries me.

  47. “First Glitches Emerge In COVID-Vax Rollout; Alaska Health Worker Suffers ‘Serious Allergic Reaction'”
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/alaska-health-worker-had-serious-allergic-reaction-pfizer-vaccine-rollout-suffers-hiccups

    A healthcare worker in Alaska was hospitalized on Tuesday with a ‘serious allergic reaction’ after receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/16/health/covid-pfizer-vaccine-allergic-reaction.html

    So if you end up in the ICU for a day or two, do they pay your hospital bill ?

  48. The main problem with shopping at Walmart is Spandex poisoning due to involuntary exposure to acres of poorly restrained jiggling flesh.

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  49. The main problem with shopping at Walmart is Spandex poisoning due to involuntary exposure to acres of poorly restrained jiggling flesh.

    That reminds of a comedy routine (can’t remember whose), “Just because they make it in your size…”

    My SIL is a large woman and she has this pair of pink leggings where the shade of pink is a little too close to skintone. So, sometimes when she walks into a room I have a panic attack for a second thinking she has no pants on. lol

    With almost 8B people on the planet there’s a lot of somebodies somewhere that are probably into that. 🙂

  50. “LGBT Activist Calls For ALL Children to Be Put on Puberty Blockers”

    What could go wrong ?

    Adolescence already extends into the mid-20s.

    At the last job, I had an interview candidate I guessed to be somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum ask about the age range in our shop, stating that they “didn’t want to work with a bunch of old men”.

    I still passed along the recommendation for hire because we needed the skills, but I regret that decision in the wake of my termination.


  51. Standing in Walmart’s return line is a punishment all unto itself.

    Can’t beat Big River – just bring the item to your local UPS store (or Kohls) and show the QR code on your phone. No need even to box it up, although occasionally I bring it in the (opened) shipping box if the recycle bin is full.
    And surprisingly yesterday, an item I need to return because I ‘no longer needed it’ was a free return if dropped off at Kohls. Usually they ding you for some postage if you pick that as the return reason. I usually can find a reason that’s their ‘fault’ but in this case I just couldn’t find an appropriate match. Hopefully one less item that will turn up on the net pallet Nick buys from liquidation.com LOL.

  52. Can’t beat Big River – just bring the item to your local UPS store (or Kohls) and show the QR code on your phone. No need even to box it up, although occasionally I bring it in the (opened) shipping box if the recycle bin is full.

    Big River’s retail operation is subsidized by AWS. At some point, they will have to generate a real profit, but, for now, they can continue to ‘delight’ the customer.

  53. Memory issues can be reversed?

    Researchers studying cognitive deficits following traumatic brain injuries have discovered what they say is a revolutionary drug that could provide the cure for aging.

    The study by the University of California San Francisco has shown promising results among mice, essentially reversing age-related declines in memory.

    “We went on with this crazy experiment…and were able to return their cognitive function to as if they were never injured,” said Dr. Suzanna Rosi, UCSF professor in the departments of Neurological Surgery and of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. “Since traumatic brain injury is really a form of accelerated aging, because your brain ages faster and develops those deficits, is it possible to even reverse aging?”

    Researchers are using a drug called ISRIB (Integrated Stress Response InhiBitor). It works by rebooting a cell’s protein production after it’s been stunted by a stress response.

    Source: https://kutv.com/news/nation-world/researchers-discover-drug-that-reverses-mental-decline-aging

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  54. If you have a costco nearby, the membership more than pays for itself IF you actually use it. We buy gas for three vehicles at Costco. We buy a lot of food there (although exactly what varies as they drop brands and replace them.) I’ve bought a lot of big TVs there. The first year, we bought our bedroom set there, and that paid for the membership.

    I do recommend spending the extra bux to get the Executive level membership, which comes with cash back. Then double dip, use a visa with cash back to pay for all your Costco purchases.

    Every year we get the cost of the membership back and the same or double in cash back to spend.

    The trick is to buy when stuff is discounted, buy enough to get to the next discount cycle. Buy stuff there you might not think of, like clothes, socks, shoes, jacket, underwear. Buy tires, battery, oil, wipers, all when they have additional discounts (well, the batteries don’t go on sale but the rest does.) They have good pricing on apple, dell, hp, phones and phone plans, jewelry, even major appliances, if what they have fits your need.

    The kirkland brand quality is uniformly high, but there are things I just prefer the original brand.

    My costco has charmin blue and red alternating with scott (during normal times.) I prefer the blue and so does the family. We’re working thru the last of the red (the ‘strong’ one) this month.

    WRT buying when on sale, they usually have TP and paper towels discounted the same month, but they will alternate with napkins and kleenex so you can’t just get all your paper goods at the same time if you want the $3/ savings. I watch the flyer and plan accordingly.

    I buy butter there, and cheese -string, sliced, and shredded. I usually buy milk and heavy cream and eggs at my HEB, but that’s based on convenience and package size not price.

    I don’t usually buy condiments there, but the maple syrup is $3 cheaper than HEB and we use a lot!

    n


  55. Memory issues can be reversed?

    I wish they could because I’ve been wracking my brain all day trying to remember that short-lived TV series starring Jimmy Walker. Thanks, Nick! :-p

    I saw that news on a Neuroscience website a few days ago. Read like a press release for snake oil.


  56. If you have a costco nearby, the membership more than pays for itself IF you actually use it.

    Amen. I buy meat, cheese, wine, coffee pods, and canned goods there. Some selected frozen foods also. My executive membership more than pays for itsself.

  57. “When “Smart” Homes Turn Stupid: Google Users Literally “Left In The Dark” During Monday Outage”
    https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/when-smart-homes-turn-stupid-google-users-literally-left-dark-during-monday-outage

    “By now, Monday’s massive Google outage is history for most people. While it was a minor inconvenience for some, with most Google services being down for hours on end, it was a much larger pain in the electronic ass for the tragically hip who have surrendered their “smart” homes to Google.”

    “In fact, of the services that went down, it was Google Home users who were literally left in the dark during the outage on Monday, RT notes. As a result, “smart home” users were complaining about not being able to perform once-simple tasks at their homes – like turning on the lights.”

    ““I’m sitting here in the dark in my toddler’s room because the light is controlled by @Google Drive Home. Rethinking… a lot right now,” one Twitter user tweeted in the midst of the “blackout”. Another user from the U.K. said that connecting his lights to Google Home now “feels like a fatal error.””

    If I connect my home to Google then my wife is going to kick my …

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  58. “remember that short-lived TV series starring Jimmy Walker”

    Good Times?

    “Good Times” actually ran for a while.

    He’s probably thinking of “At Ease”, an early (bad) John Hughes effort.

    Amazingly, at the same time, Hughes had the “Mr. Mom” and “Vacation” scripts in the works, landmarks in film comedy.

  59. A few years ago, when Internet of Things was becoming known beyond the bleeding edge technohipsters, I looked at the devices and was underwhelmed. I looked at the security and the subscription models and the fail-safe modes (by reading whitepapers and specs and by asking a few people, not by reverse engineering) and was thoroughly unimpressed. And I looked at the “design your own IoT widgets” kits and was even more unimpressed.

    I now wish that I’d put some time into developing a family of devices which communicated securely and which could operate without phoning home and which defaulted to manual operation if connectivity was lost. As people experience more of the inconvenience and vulnerabilities of the current raft of garbage, they might buy something less heinous. Even if it didn’t promise to contact Amazon if the toilet paper roll ran out.

    There might be good IoT stuff out there now. Haven’t looked in a while.

  60. @stevef- wazziszzname over at market ticker has that exact sort of system for sale to any interested buyer who wants the whole thing. he’s been running it at his house for a while now and says it’s stable.

    @ech- wine! yes, I forgot wine. that too and lots of it.

    You can also do eyeglasses, vacations, home windows, renovations, heating and air, lots of things that pay back right away.

    n


  61. users were complaining about not being able to perform once-simple tasks at their homes – like turning on the lights.

    Every one of my devices can operate without internet. The lights all have a manual override button. These people must be idiots. Unable to move a light plug to a regular outlet. Sad these idiots are the future.

  62. Whoohoo. Won several more of those 65AH batteries that I won a couple of months ago. I got 3 @ 55AH batteries too. Good prices, <$25 each. My super sexy battery charger brought them right up last time, so I'm not worried about these. Now if I can just find a nice solar charge controller, I can get my solar system together.

    n

  63. I’ve used SolarWinds in several jobs, and it works, but has strange limitations, and they company claims the performance doesn’t increase on newer hardware. Strange.

    The security guy at the new job got a little excited this week and pushed updates to all the firewalls, just in case. The security consultants sent an email with lots of red text.

  64. I’ve used SolarWinds in several jobs, and it works, but has strange limitations, and they company claims the performance doesn’t increase on newer hardware. Strange.

    It takes a lot of time for all of those transactions to be handled on Chinese servers.

  65. Whoohoo. Won several more of those 65AH batteries that I won a couple of months ago. I got 3 @ 55AH batteries too. Good prices, <$25 each. My super sexy battery charger brought them right up last time, so I'm not worried about these. Now if I can just find a nice solar charge controller, I can get my solar system together.

    What voltage ?

    Ah, 12 volts. Gotta big inverter ?

  66. I’ve used SolarWinds in several jobs, and it works, but has strange limitations, and they company claims the performance doesn’t increase on newer hardware. Strange.

    Friends who had it in their organizations say that the decision to buy SolarWinds always came from on high.

    The location of their HQ here in town makes me wonder. At a certain point, your office can be *too* nice. I don’t think any development work actually takes place here.

  67. “Microsoft unleashes ‘Death Star’ on SolarWinds hackers in extraordinary response to breach”
    https://www.geekwire.com/2020/microsoft-unleashes-death-star-solarwinds-hackers-extraordinary-response-breach/

    “This week Microsoft took a series of dramatic steps against the recent SolarWinds supply chain attack. In the size, speed and scope of its actions, Microsoft has reminded the world that it can still muster firepower like no one else as a nearly-overwhelming force for good.”

    “Through four steps over four days, Microsoft flexed the muscle of its legal team and its control of the Windows operating system to nearly obliterate the actions of some of the most sophisticated offensive hackers out there. In this case, the adversary is believed to be APT29, aka Cozy Bear, the group many believe to be associated with Russian intelligence, and best known for carrying out the 2016 hack against the Democratic National Committee (DNC).”

    That is a very large dancing bear. MS, not the Russians.

  68. Always have backups.

    I nuked my RAID tonight attempting to straighten out the mess I made installing a secondary OS on my home server.

    Fortunately, I keep backups of the SVN repository stored on the RAID. The code archive goes back at least 10 years and covers most of my grad school material.

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  69. @greg, I hope it does in fact all come back. I still haven’t recovered my failed raid. I decided I didn’t need anything on it bad enough to build a whole machine just for the recovery.

    “Ah, 12 volts. Gotta big inverter ?”
    –yup, a couple. I’ve been collecting pieces for a while. Just takes time to do it………

    n

  70. These are the ones who would command us–

    Woke Crusaders Strip Great Emancipator Lincoln’s Name From SF High School Because “Black Lives Never Mattered To Him”

    by Tyler Durden
    Wednesday, Dec 16, 2020 – 21:50

    It looks like the leaders of San Francisco’s unified school district are preparing to scratch the name of former American President Abraham Lincoln off of one of their schools.

    The reason?

    Lincoln wasn’t “sufficiently woke”.

    No words better capture the lack of intellectual and historical content of much of the cancel culture sweeping the nation that the following:

    “We did not belabor the point.”

    –Lincoln. Now, he didn’t believe they could live with whites, but he did free them from slavery…

    n

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  71. “This week Microsoft took a series of dramatic steps against the recent SolarWinds supply chain attack. In the size, speed and scope of its actions, Microsoft has reminded the world that it can still muster firepower like no one else as a nearly-overwhelming force for good.”

    Did that firepower include bringing Ballmer back to throw some chairs?

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  72. @greg, I hope it does in fact all come back. I still haven’t recovered my failed raid. I decided I didn’t need anything on it bad enough to build a whole machine just for the recovery.

    It all came back. The backup was on a slow thumb drive, however.

    The upside is that I put the RAID on BTRFS. The disk is an ongoing experiment.

    The only loss was the config file to connect the Subversion repository with the Apache server. That can be re-created however.


  73. At some point, they will have to generate a real profit, but, for now, they can continue to ‘delight’ the customer.

    Just like making the Covid vaccine required, some day soon so to will having a Prime membership 😉

    You can also do eyeglasses, vacations, home windows, renovations, heating and air, lots of things that pay back right away.

    Unfortunately for me, my vision insurance provider (Eye-Med) is not in-network for Costco Optical.
    Oh, and don’t forget hearing aids.


  74. Plus, they have given me grief for attempting to return something more than 90 days after purchase.

    The 90 day limit primarily applies to electronics. IIRC it used to be 365 days and was lowered in part I’ve heard to help discourage people from “renting” the biggest TV available for a Super Bowl(tm) party.
    We’ve gotten a hard time recently from one person working the return desk at our local Costco…”why aren’t you satisfied with this item?” she asks with a demeaning tone. Next time it happens I’m going to have her get the store manager to explain to her their return policy which is on a big sign on the wall…
    Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    On Merchandise: We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price*, with the following exceptions

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  75. If you want to talk about an industry with arbitrary pricing, set at whatever the market will bear, with no price transparency and legal protections from price fixing and anti-trust laws, and very little discretion on the part of consumers, look no further than the medical industry.

    Medicare For All fixes this, right?

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  76. “Medicare For All fixes this, right? ”

    –yep, by making sure you don’t get ANY care.

    n

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  77. “Medicare For All fixes this, right? ”

    –yep, by making sure you don’t get ANY care.

    n

    Hey, they are going to give you a bottle of Aspirin. What else do you want ?

    And Greg has it right, it will be Medicaid For All ™.


  78. defaulted to manual operation if connectivity was lost

    What, and destroy their business model?

    I have some bits of really old hardware, like one of the first Sonos speakers ever released. Great audio quality, and it does still work. But somehow, basically every time I use it, I have to re-hook it to our network. This is an insane inconvenience, and I am quite, quite sure it is intentional. They really want me to buy new hardware from them, not keep using old stuff.

    The actual effect, of course, is different. I will never buy another Sonos product, precisely because it cannot work without being connected to their servers.

    There might be good IoT stuff out there now. Haven’t looked in a while.

    No. There isn’t, at least, not in the sense that you mean.

    Our new house came equippedc with all sorts of stuff communicating with other people’s servers: the heating system, the solar system (two different company’s servers), the shutters (also two different companies), and probably more stuff I’m not even aware of. Heck, the heating system doesn’t even go out over our network – it has it’s own SIM-card and communicates directly.

    For anyone who cares about having control of their own data, it’s nuts. I hope to find time this Winter to see what I can do about it.

    The “s” in “IoT” stands for security

    @Mark: Can I steal that? Seriously? I need to write another article for one of the Swiss IT magazines, and I’m considering security as a topic.

  79. I’ve returned an opened bag of brusselssprouts to Costco. They went off in days after opening the bag. I’d had the same thing happen several times with their bagged produce and was tired of it. After the refund, I stopped buying bagged produce there.

    n

  80. If you have a costco nearby, the membership more than pays for itself IF you actually use it.

    While not a Costco member, I agree with this sentiment if you are using any sort of club or bonus point system. Years ago, I started collecting Air Miles. I only collect these and double-dip when possible by using a linked credit card. That paid for airfare and a week for 2 in an all inclusive resort in Mexico every 3-4 years. Don’t join 6 different discount plans because you will never accumulate enough points/credits/widgets/whatever to make joining worthwhile.

    What I find frustrating is when folks that barely use a points membership then get terribly irate when the company wants to cancel their points. Air Miles gave people 2 years notice they were cancelling points that were a decade old and unused, and everyone that had sat on $15 worth of points started crying like they were being deprived of oxygen. Up until then, Air Miles held steady at about 15 cents per mile. The province stepped in and banned cancelling points. So Air Miles have “debased the currency” in response. Now worth about 11 cents per mile so the damn fools now have only $11 in points that they STILL have not used.

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