Stocking stuffers

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Honestly, if you do stockings for Christmas, either for a spouse or children/grandchildren, how much do you spend? Do you have a budget for your stocking stuffing?

The things I am seeing advertised as “stocking stuffers” is kind of ridiculous, if you ask me.

Who buys a car for someone and drops the keys in a stocking?

Who buys a refrigerator at a stocking stuffer? (never mind the other implications of buying an appliance as a gift…)

Who spends hundreds of dollars to fill a stocking?

I know companies gotta sell their wares, but seriously do the people that write these commercials or the marketing department even consider that most people are working on a budget and can’t afford the lavish gifts they are pushing as stocking stuffers, let alone as a gift during the holidays.

People in the real world gotta work within a budget and I don’t think my budget has ever been above $50 per person ($60-70 if you include all the stocking stuff). That happened to be a pretty generous year as I ain’t made of money and isn’t typical at all.

Besides, Christmas isn’t about gifts anyway…well, at least it shouldn’t be ya dang heathens…

Gas lit

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High gas prices and getting higher. OPEC+ announced earlier this month that they are going to cut production. It’s hard to know exactly who to blame. Some say it is the result of inflation. Some say it is the result of government policy. Some say it is the result of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Some say it is just the oil companies jacking prices for profit. It obviously isn’t as simple as one of these things and trying to make it solely about one of them is foolish.

However, here in the the US, it has a lot to do with the fact that our government (the Biden administration) has chosen to take a route with energy policy that does’t keep access to oil easy or convenient. As such, the supply is always short in the US when we could actually be nearly oil independent. The administration refuses to allow more refineries, more drilling, and no new pipelines.

The Democrats believe higher energy prices will force Americans to finally get behind “clean” energy of wind and solar, the faster the better in their view. But they also see the peril in allowing prices to get too high, especially when it comes time to vote. Biden has been trying to keep prices low (very unsuccessfully) over the last couple months because of the looming mid-term elections. With an upcoming election and prices rising rapidly, the Biden administration is trying to put pressure on Saudi Arabia because the cost of fuel (well, the cost of everything really) will be weighing on the minds of Americans when they fill in their ballot. When Americans feel pain at the pump and in their wallet they tend to vote away from policies that made it them feel it.

As an example, I have three receipts less than a month apart. In that time span, the gas price as my local Costco (nearly always the cheapest price) has gone up $1.10/gal. That’s a lot of pain at the pump in less than a month. The worst part is that fuel prices are typically going down this time of year (after Labor Day) since the “driving season” is over and consumption/demand is lower.

My last three fill-ups.

Obviously, this is weighing on my mind. I make a pretty good income, but I am feeling the pinch. I can imagine how others who were already on tight budgets are feeling now. It’s a struggle and really hard choices are having to be made. I am sure the last thing they are thinking about is clean energy and long term policy. They (we) all want some relief.

Manipulating voters before an election is nothing new. Both parties do it. It’s irritating as hell that most people don’t see right through it. But, put a little money in the pockets of voters shortly before an election and they tend to forget the pain they felt for a short time while they vote. We’ve seen this fairly often too – and in a not so transparent move, California (the largest state, dominated by Democrats) is giving money back to voters just in time for elections. It apparently goes by many different names – “Middle Class Tax Refund”, “Inflation Relief Check”, “Gas Tax Refund” – but the goal is all the same, make sure voters try to forget their pain at the pump and other places for a short time. Also, just in time (not a coincident or a surprise), the president releases more oil from the strategic stock pile. Didn’t see that one coming…*sarcasm*

Anyone else tired of the garbage going on in DC, or their own state? Anyone else tired of the rich and elite manipulating the government for themselves?

The OPEC+ decision to cut oil production will make prices spike in the short term. How that ends up translating to prices at the pump remains to be seen, obviuosly. However, can we be confident that the OPEC+ members will actually abide by the agreement? Not really. Traditionally, they decide on a production cut and then one or more members decide that the price spike is too good to lower production so they keep producing at the current level to maximise profits during the price increase. Members always accuse other members of violating their agreement and everyone ends up producing just as much or more than previous levels to make up for lost ground in the market.

Ultimately, their announcement is market manipulation and likely won’t really happen. But, it also might be American election manipulation too. To say that oil producing countries are “pleased” with American Democrats and their progressive push towards climate alarmism would be more than a mis-statement. Another political party would be friendlier, in their opinion. This may be their actual goal, but time will tell.

Flavored coffee

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Why oh why?

Let me clarify, if you want to put flavored creamer into your coffee I think that is perfectly acceptable. However, flavoring the actual coffee grounds seems like weird practice. Mostly because I have now seen some of the strangest combinations of flavors in the office I work in.

I have co-workers who apparently like to try different kinds of flavored coffee. I have mentioned one of these in the past. I have yet come across another completely weird and out of character coffee flavor, at least I think so.

When you think of Death Wish Coffee Company’s coffee you envision an ultra-strong, no frills, no nonsense kind of coffee (at least I do). I have had their original coffee and it was strong and hit the spot. I liked it because it lived up to it’s name.

But, the other day I was at the office coffee maker when I saw someone had use a coffee pod that was a Death Wish Coffee Company’s Pumpkin Chai flavored coffee.

Image. Destoyed. Busted. Deflated.

Frilly, trend-following, wimpy coffee. At least that was what suddenly came across my mind.

I know because I said something to someone about it and magically a pod appeared on my desk later in the day with a note saying to “Try it.”

I did. Opinion not changed. Thankfully the chai flavor was stronger than the pumpkin, but overall wasn’t impressed.

I went out to their website and see that this appears to be the only flavored offereing. Sure, they have other “flavors” but they are more like the original with variations on strength and blends.

Anyway, have you seen this stuff? Tried it? Do you think it holds with the percieved image of the company?

Selling point

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So, here’s another question for you. I don’t expect that you are going to answer it but I have to voice it – partially because it’s a frustrations of mine but also because sometimes (well, most of the time) I think people are just stupid. The question: Why do people post that the “tabs are up to date” when selling a vehicle?

Do they think this is a selling point that needs to be advertised? Because if they really thought about it (and here’s where the dumb part comes in), it isn’t.

The tabs on a license plate indicate that the vehicle has been registered and is therefore legal to be on the roadways. In most cases, it is registered to the owner of the vehicle. So, to some degree is also signifies who is financially responsible for the vehicle (yes, insurance also does that too but there is a difference).

Here’s two reasons saying the tabs are up to date is dumb and really incomprehensible as to why someone thinks this is a selling point.

  • The person buying said vehicle will have to transfer ownership into their name (usually within 14 days) and in doing so will also have to register it themselves, meaning it doesn’t matter how much “life” is left in the current tabs. They will have to buy new tabs to license the vehicle in their name. Once registered, they will get new tabs (and in some cases even new license plates). There is extra money coming out of the purchaser’s pocket no matter what, so this doesn’t save anything for them.
  • The person selling the vehicle wants the purchaser to transfer ownership of the vehicle so that they aren’t held responsible for financial damages\issues when the vehicle is used improperly. Whether it is ticketed for some reason, or abandoned, or used to commit a crime, the former owner doesn’t want it staying in their name.

I am sure there are more reasons why this particular statement makes for a poor selling point, but that is all I can think of right now.

What do you think? Am I way off on this or do you agree? Does it really make a difference in a decision to purchase a vehicle?

Ghost power

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Weird thing occured today. I am working away in my home office (aka the garage) when I notice something out of the corner of my eye that isn’t right…

Sitting on a shelf to my right is a Lighthouse 400 lantern made by Goal Zero. I have had a couple years and have used is less that a handful of times. I bought it from someone who received it as a gift and didn’t want it. It was in the sealed original packaging when I picked it up.

It caught my attention because it was on, while sitting on the shelf.

It wasn’t that way when I started work this morning.

It caught my attention in my periphial vision because it was blinking slightly and then just came on.

Now, mind you, the power switch for the lantern is not on. It hasn’t been powered on. As it sits next to me now, it is in the off position.

I can turn the lantern on to the right to use both LED lights and return it to the off position. The light stays on. I can turn the lantern on to the left and use only one of the LED lights and return it to the off position. The light stays on.

I have no idea what is going on.

I searched the internet to see if someone else has had a similar issue. I only found one instance and it was a different model and it was after the person had physically turned on the lantern themselves.

So bizarre.

I have contacted the company but haven’t heard back yet.

For now, I am going to leave the thing on an open concrete floor in the garage in case it decides to set itself on fire too…

Bottom flavors

OK, first world problem here….but dang it already, something needs to be done about this!

Raise your hand if you have gone to Dairy Queen and ordered a Blizzard of your favorite flavor. My favorite flavor happens to be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but that isn’t really the point here. In this case I am going to Piss and Moan about, I ordered the new Drumstick with Peanuts flavor. Again, that is not really the point here.

The REAL point here is that when you order a Blizzard and you are enjoying it because of all the tasty flavor pieces in the ice cream is just awesome, only to get to the bottom of the Blizzard and find no flavor whatsoever. NONE! Two-thirds of the Blizzard cup is a great blend of vanilla ice cream and whatever flavor you ordered, but the bottom third of the cup is just plain vanilla ice cream.

This is rather irritating. No, not rather, it is very irritating.

I want flavor ALL THE WAY to the bottom.

This can’t be that hard of a thing to do. Seriously, DQ, get it right.

Put a scoop of flavor on the bottom of the cup, put in some ice cream, another layer of flavor, more ice cream, final layer of flavor. Mix.

See how easy that would be to solve this seriously tasteless bottom of the Blizzard issue? Who the heck is over there in the corporate offices letting this happen? I am sure it has been an issue for years and years, so why haven’t they solved it? I’ll tell you why. Because they don’t care. People still buy the things and the outrage hasn’t been enough to make them listen.

It’s time to boycott Blizzards and DQ until they fix this. No more. It’s the 21st century and technology exists to fix it. It has to be possible.

Boycott Blizzards and DQ.

Tweet it on Twitter. Tik Tok it. Post it on social media everywhere. Gram it on Instagram. Make a story on your choice of social media.

Make it go viral.

That’s the only way they will listen.

Towel throwing

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At what point do you just, “Throw in the towel?” Literally, if we throw the towel into the washing machine we don’t know if it will actually get cleaned or not.

At the beginning of March, we bought a Kenmore washing machine from Costco.com. It wasn’t the cheapest model, but it also wasn’t the most expensive. We decided that we didn’t really need something fancy, but one with “triple action” agitation without the agitator sounded good. We had it delivered, mostly because they would haul the old machine away at no charge and then I wouldn’t have to do it.

The new Kenmore washer didn’t work correctly from the very beginning. No matter what I did to it to try and “balance” it, it sounded like there was a body inside of the machine and that it was bouncing around inside the laudry room. When I finally did get it close to balanced it squeaked and squealed like a pig getting chased around it’s pen. It was taking two, sometimes three, “Drain & Spin” cycles to get a load dry enough to even put into the dryer.

I called the repair service. Mind you, this was a new washer and it was only two months into it.

The first guy came out and said it was the drive belt and clutch. Ordered parts. Service is covered by warranty.

Parts arrived. Second guy comes out and says the first guy didn’t actually diagnos the issue correctly and the parts that were ordered weren’t needed. Second guy dug into the machine and said, “I have been doing this a lot of years and I have never seen this part (can’t remember which one he said) in that color. I am going to replace it.” Luckily, he had several parts in his van that he said needed repaired. He left and it supposedly was repaired.

The very next load run through it again sounded like someone was in the machine. Stopped the load, tried to balance it out (which by appearances it looked fine), still banging. More loads. More banging and squealing.

So, today after work, I get to unhook the thing and haul it back to the local Costco.

I have no idea what the plan is to replace it.

Perhaps running water and some rocks in the backyard.

Marry Me

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A movie review. What the heck am I doing while the world burns around us…? I don’t do many of these and I am trying to clean out my “drafts” folder.

I recently watched “Marry Me” on Peacock, because it was free (at least to me). Why not watch a free theatrical release instead of paying too much at the theater? Boy, am I glad I didn’t pay to see it in the theater, not that I would have but you know what I mean.

The movie stars Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. If you don’t know anything about it, check out the trailer on your preferred search engine. I am not going to do a whole synopsis, but basically it was a Hallmark movie but not on Hallmark. Love, break up, new love, break up, happy ending. Blah blah blah…

What really stuck out to me about this movie wasn’t really the plot line. It was pretty generic and formulaic. What stuck out what the total and complete, blatant, product placement. It was like watching a commercial without watching a commercial!

First and foremost, the movie was basically a two hour music video for JLo’s (latest?) music. She pretty much plays herself, except that she goes by a different name. LOL The glamour, the glitz, the celebrity. All highlighted. Then there was the product placement throughout the movie. It seemed like every 5-10 minutes you were blatantly confronted with a well known product by a company that was using the movie as an advertisement. The characters fawned over the products, played pitch-people for the products on social media, learned about the product from another character, sent or gave products to other characters.

Maybe I’m weird, but I was really distracted by the commercialization in the movie. I kept saying, “There’s another one” and “Wow, that was obvious product placement!” It’s probably a good thing I was watching this at home because the theater likely would have kicked me out because I couldn’t stop talking about how the movie was being used. Obviously, this movie was paid for by a lot of corporate sponsors who all had their brands used directly in the script.

Is the future of movies? Blatant commercials DURING the movie? I have noticed this more and more in TV shows too. We can’t escape any longer.

I hope I didn’t ruin your movie or TV experience by making you more aware of the advertising. I still enjoy both forms of entertainment. This one just struck me with how obscenely obvious it was.

Subtlety has been lost.

Late delivery

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Could FedEx possibly be the worst delivery company ever?

I bet there are a few other people asking that question after their orders didn’t get delivered in a timely manner before, during, or after the holidays.

I ordered something that was supposed to be delivered on 12/24/21. Cutting it close to Christmas, but it was actually for a birthday on the 30th so not a big deal. Or so I thought.

Tracking a package these days shouldn’t be all that difficult, but that also seems to be a challenge for FedEx. They has some service called “SmartPost” which apparently has the package transferred to USPS for final delivery, or started with USPS and then transferred to FedEx for final delivery. The explanation on the website is less than helpful.

But here is the kicker of the whole thing.

The package arrived in Kent, WA on 12/20. That’s four days before scheduled delivery. Timing was looking good. Now, keep in mind Kent is approximately 2.5 hours (with traffic) from my home. It’s actually less than that but trying to give some benefit of doubt. Anyway, that’s a Monday and scheduled delivery day was Friday, meaning they had all week (yes, it was the week before all the snow and ice) to make the delivery. But, once it was scanned in at Kent it seemed to have disappeared as there was no more tracking of the package at all.

I was planning on having someone stop by and pick up the package while I was out of town so it could be delivered to the birthday person on time. I waited, and waited, and waited…nothing. Nothing!

I checked all of the following week. Nothing. Not delivered by New Years. Not delivered the day after New Years. No tracking. No alerts. Nothing.

On Monday the 3rd, I checked again before I was going to actually call and raise hell. Suddenly the package had been scanned in the next town and was out for delivery…by FEDEX.

The truck that dropped off the package was FedEx.

WTH?!?

Maybe FedEx just hates me. I shared a video on here way back where the FedEx driver walks through my flower beds to get to the front porch. Not just one driver, but several have done it. So, now an untimely delivery I guess just adds salt to the already irritated wound.

It literally took 13 days to deliver a package that was scanned at one point only 2.5 hours away.

Way to go FedEx. Way to go. You have earned the “Worst delivery service ever” in my book.

Don’t use this company if you care about your packages.

They don’t care about them.

Just saying.

Shopping sales

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It seems Black Friday started at the beginning of October this year. I guess we are living, supposedly, in perpetual “Black Friday prices” land for the foreseeable future. Today is Cyber Monday and best I can tell they are just the Black Friday prices recycled. Anyone else feel that’s the way it’s been for the last several years?

Yes, I am paying attention to the sales, though I haven’t yet left the house to go to any…because, why? Why leave home for a sale when you can get the same thing online? “It’s for the experience.” LOL Been there and done that in my younger years. Wasn’t worth it. No one needs that experience. Besides, there isn’t anything that I want that bad.

Oops, did you catch that in the last sentence?

“…anything that I WANT that bad.”

Hence, the problem with shopping the sales this time of year. Anyone else have a hard time not shopping for themselves?

As I look through the various sales, I inevitably find things that I want – either have been looking at in the past and was waiting for a sale or it’s something completely random and I just WANT it.

I typically resist this urge, but at times it is difficult. This time of year sucks because the budget can only handle so much (even with planning) and then all of the sudden I find myself thinking, “It’s on sale? Sweet, just what I have been waiting for!” Half of my browsing is seeing things I want to buy or would buy if I was Christmas shopping.

Anyone else’s shopping dominated by thoughts about just buying stuff for yourself?

It’s a problem and I don’t like it. Not because I don’t have the money, but because my discipline is seriously eroding with each passing moment.