Things I Know

I have a part-time job. Most part-time jobs are a few hours a week. Mine is a few weeks a year, and a few hours from time to time otherwise. I just finished the few weeks a year, so I’m back.

Ernie Banks has passed away. Mr. Cub was the embodiment of those things we’d like to believe are right about baseball. In his honor, let’s play two.

Bullying is pretty much constantly in the news these days. Out of curiosity, I recently Googled the guy who bullied me in high school. One day, for no apparent reason, he chased me through the halls of the school. When I got around a corner, I stopped and when he rounded the same corner, he found me with my hands clenched together. He was running full-speed ahead when I hit him hard in the stomach, as if I were batting right handed. He didn’t bother me a lot after that. Unless there are two of him (and his last name is unusual), he couldn’t attend his class’s 10th high school reunion because he was doing time for selling a little marijuana–two tons of it!

My car insurance covers damage to rental cars. So does the insurance most people carry on their own cars. The only reason I can think of why you would want to buy the insurance they sell at the car rental counter is if you intended to trash the car. Last time someone asked me if I wanted to buy rental car insurance, I told the woman that if I bought it, I’d really, REALLY use it.

It’s really kind of frightening how little privacy there is in the world. Every once in a while, I try to locate someone I knew in the past. I recently located the second girl I ever dated. Women are harder to find than men, because most of them still change their last names when and if they marry. Not to narrow it down too much, Shirley is married and lives in Connecticut. I’m just proving something to myself and I’m not going to look her up. If I were ever to run into her, my only thought is I’d say I was sorry for acting like a jerk in the way I broke up with her. My only defense for acting like a jerk then is (and you have to admit it is a good defense) I was a 15-year-old boy.

A recent survey by the Oklahoma State University department of agricultural economics found that more than 80% of respondents favor a government-required label on all food containing DNA. Every living thing contains DNA. I’m telling you this because based on the result of that survey, a lot of people don’t know it.

I like the Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions. I try to watch them when televised and I’ve even been to one a few years ago. Since Speed Channel went out of business, I don’t like the TV show as much as I used to. First, having different parts of it on different channels is a pain, especially when I don’t receive all the channels. I’ve always thought it could be a better TV show if they had a few features about special cars, but they’re more likely to highlight bidders than delve deeply into a car. And recent trends toward emphasizing social media and hiring people who don’t know much about the cars for the telecast are bad. I don’t have any research to prove this, but I think people who watch this on TV are mostly interested in the cars.

You can’t tell it from shopping where I live, but you can still buy Lifesavers roll candy. Around here, they only sell the pouches of big, individually wrapped Lifesavers. If you want the rolls, you may have to order them on line.

I am not one of the 100,000,000 Americans suffering from . . .whatever: I’m one of the 300,000,000 Americans suffering from robocalls.

Woe’s Tale

Sad on-line shopping tale. I’m a photographer. A hobbyist, not a pro, but I have almost enough equipment to make a pro think I’m a pro too. One more lens and one more speedlite ought to do it. The other body I have my eye on will probably overdo it. If I ever win a big lottery, I’ll buy Canon lenses until the money runs out. And I’ll hire someone to carry all this stuff for me too.

So, I ordered a small quantity of drawstring bags on line. I want them to hold and protect things like spare camera batteries, the battery charger and wireless flash triggers. The bags come from China. It took the vendor seven weeks to ship me the wrong ones, too small and too thin for my purpose, but at least they shipped nine times as many as I ordered. There is that. It took three weeks and two email exchanges to get them to agree to ship what I actually ordered. Since the mistake was not mine, I asked for expedited shipping. They didn’t say no, but they didn’t do it either. They said expect them in six weeks. Shipping costs more than the bags, so they don’t want the wrong ones back. That would be cool except I have no use for what they’ve already sent me. Six and three and seven equal sixteen, don’t they? Three-and-a-half months for some little bags. I hope I still like to take pictures by the time they get here.

Things I Know

I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but if you file quarterly estimated federal income taxes, today is the deadline for your fourth quarter filing. I’ve already mailed mine. Have you?

We visited the Library of Congress in Washington DC over the weekend to see the copy of the Magna Carta from Lincoln Cathedral on display. This is one of the four copies dating from 1215 known to still exist. It’s amazing to see a written document, 800 years old. It’s displayed to protect it, but the way it’s displayed makes it hard to read and hard to photograph. Can’t read it anyway. It’s in Latin and the writing is surprisingly small.
The Jefferson Building of the Library is amazingly ornate and beautiful. It also hosted an exhibit on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was extremely informative as well. The Magna Carta exhibit closes on January 19th.

Sunday, January 11th, was a day when some New Yorkers took to the subway, wearing no pants. They did wear underwear, just no pants. I’ve been living for two weeks in this climate with no winter coat, making do with layers and a windbreaker. If I were going to ride the New York City subway sans pants, I’d pick a much warmer day for it.

I’ve never met the writer Larry Doyle. Among other things, he used to write a blog in Huffington Post, but I don’t read the Huffington Post regularly. I came across one piece of his work on a recent rebroadcast of the NPR show, “This American Life.” The episode is called, “It’s Never Over.” If you’ve ever been dumped by someone you dated and thought of as the love of your life, download this podcast, or go to, find and read the piece he wrote in 1990 called, “Life Without Leann.” I’m sure it won’t appeal to everyone, but I found it hysterical! I found out that Larry did finally discover love with someone else. I have too.

I hate to say anything nice about Navient, but at least this month, they didn’t call me before the end of the grace period. And, perhaps, if they knew the maker of the loan was not going to pay in December, calling me before the end of the grace period was a way of alerting me so I wouldn’t pay late fees. That would probably be a good idea, but the call sounded too bill-collector for my tastes and for the fact that I wasn’t late.

Update on my jacket. The good folks at the sportswear company have agreed to send me a warranty replacement for the jacket that suffered unusual wear on the right sleeve. Mistakes happen. A reliable company deals with mistakes and stands behind its merchandise. If this one follows through (and I believe they will), I’ll let you know which company it is when I receive the new jacket.

Since it’s going to take another five to ten business days to get the coat, I am doing without a winter coat for essentially the entire month of January. Let that be a lesson to me. If another coat ever needs warranty replacement after one season of wear, I should return it in the summer, not after Christmas.

Things I Know

I would probably procrastinate if I only could get around to it. I bought a new winter jacket for the 2013-2014 season. I wanted a warmer one than I had and the new jacket was warmer, but it started to wear out in a few months. I should have tried for a warranty replacement during the summer, but I didn’t until after Christmas. I’ve always been pleased with the brand I bought, so I hope they’ll replace it, but in the meantime, it’s January and I’m cold.

I like to call the bank I deal with, “Bank of a Large and Powerful Country.” That’s not its real name. The computer program they use to answer the phone has been modified since last time I called. I don’t know when it was modified because I don’t call them a lot, but it now wastes a lot more of my time than it previously did. So, I guess that’s new and improved.

It really annoys me that when I call the bank, the phone robot tells me the balances on all my accounts. I wouldn’t mind if it asked if I wanted my balances, but it doesn’t give me a choice. This wastes time because first, they do send out statements unless you ask them not to, and second, as I understand it, a few people now have computers in their homes and this thing called the Internet, so they can look that up on line. My cable company does the same thing and it annoys me for the same reason.

But, what bothers me most about my bank, and my bank isn’t unique in this, is when I call someone at the bank who is designated a “specialist,” but doesn’t know basics about their operation. I asked a loan specialist why the balance on my home equity line of credit doesn’t go down a little more each month I make a regular payment on the same day. She said it was because of the variable interest rate. The loan has a variable interest rate, but the rate hasn’t changed so that isn’t and can’t be the answer. Whether you’re interested or not, I covered the real reason in my blog post on Friday.

I frequently berate the advertising industry for making commercials that appeal to the wrong demographic. For example, Eartha Kitt, singing a song from the very early 1950’s in French, to sell Vodka, when Vodka is associated with Russia and they probably can’t sell a huge amount of Vodka to people over 75. However, I do not do that with respect to the latest Honda commercials. Using Stretch Armstrong and Skeletor as spokesmen to sell Hondas to people in their 30’s and 40’s is positively brilliant!

Things I Want (or need) to Know

If my elf on a shelf takes a picture of itself, is that picture a shelfie?

What would you like to do differently in the new year? I think I’ll finally paint the walls in our master bedroom. My wife picked out a lovely shade of blue. I also hope to repair the back porch before I fall through. And now that I know how to build radiator covers, I have five more to create, but I’ll probably paint them instead of staining them. It’s a lot less work and I can make them out of less expensive material if I paint them.

I called my bank to ask why, if I make the same payment every month, the balance goes down some months a little less than it did the month before. Let’s call the bank, “Bank of a Large and Powerful Country.” The nice lady on the phone said it was because the loan has a variable interest rate. It does, but it hasn’t changed, so that isn’t the answer and she doesn’t seem to know it can’t be. After a few questions, we figured out it’s because the interest accrues daily. That means there’s a little more interest charged in 31-day months. My mortgage doesn’t do that, but my home equity loan apparently does. I know the people who answer the phones, even if they’re called “specialists” aren’t the highest level of the bank’s employees, but should I be concerned when I have all my money in the bank and I call up and have to explain what they’re doing to them so they can answer my question?

Should I also be concerned that changing banks wouldn’t help that situation?

Why does Flo, the advertising image of Progressive Insurance dress like a baker in all the TV commercials? I know why bakers wear white (it doesn’t show if you spill flour on your clothes), but why does an insurance salesperson need a white apron?

What is the purpose of an app that will add pictures to the contacts in your phone? If I have both a picture of you and contact information about you, wouldn’t I already know what you look like?