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User Journal

Journal Journal: Obamacare to the rescue...not! 1

Well, my employer decided to let me go , so after all these years of paying into the system, I figured the system owes me a little something back now. So I went in and put in all my information into Turns out I am not eligible for assistance, and the premiums are going to comprise 47% of the income from my wife's job. According to the information I read, assistance is only available for those that make between 100% and 400% of the poverty level, and we make less than 100% of the poverty level, so we are not eligible for assistance, nor are we eligible for tax credits.

Interestingly enough, we previously made between 100% and 400% of the poverty level, but we also were not eligible for assistance or tax credits back then either.

I can only conclude that nobody is eligible and all of the extra money that is being taken by various avenues to pay for Obamacare is being stolen by someone or many someones rather than being doled back out to those in need.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Tricked into creating a Steam account 3

I never steal media, and I don't like to download media either. I want to own my content, including the shiny disc that it came on. I don't want my software phoning home someday and due to some issue, like the company going belly-up, I suddenly can't play my game that I fully paid for.

But I saw a deal on Steam that seemed too good to pass up. There was a Tropico 4 Collectors Bundle with about 12 different downloads, all for $9.99. I already have Tropico 4, bought and paid for at my local Best Buy. And I have played through all the scenarios, so the downloadable content would be a nice change of pace. This seemed a reasonable price for 12 packages, so I went through the hassle of creating a steam account, verifying my identity, typing in all my payment information, telling them not to save it, and then, here comes the final payment page. $39.99. Excuse me? You lure people in by saying it costs, $9.99, and then on the final page, you say $39.99, with a little asterisk saying (some items have changed price since place in your cart)? Well, that seems unconscionably underhanded and slimy.

When I go back to the main page, it now shows $39.99 for the bundle. How do they do this, I wonder? Do they record it by IP address and present the lower price to people who have not looked at it before? Or do they just offer it for the lower price and as soon as someone tries to buy it, they up the price for everybody? It seems to come up as $39.99 for all my devices now, but they are all on the same cable modem, so they may appear to the outside to be coming from the same address.

Well, I have learned my lesson. Never trust a downloadable software company. Always buy a physical disc installation media.

User Journal

Journal Journal: still unusable

Well, after spending thousands of dollars worth of my time last year in getting healthcare setup for my family, I was notified that my premium, which had gone up by 50% last year when I signed up for ObamaCare, has gone up by 50% again.
So I tried to login using my password from last year, but it wouldn't take it. Apparently they think it is a good idea to expire passwords every 90 days for a site that people will use once a year.
So I had them send me a link to create a new password. Well, I still can't get in. It says I didn't answer the security questions correctly that I set up when I started the account. Well, that would be because I didn't set up any security questions when I started the account, so naturally I woulnd't know the answers. Also, one of the questions is "name a significant date in your life?" Well, it won't take dates as input.
So off to another year of spending thousands of dollars worth of my time just to get into this site, where they will probably show me that my current option which is now three times what I paid 14 months ago, is probably the lowest cost option now. Strangely my salary has not risen by a factor of three to keep up with the increase of Obamacare premiums. Why can't we go back to the cheap coverage that I had before Obama started this fundraiser for the insurance companies?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Windows 8 is unusable 6

I knew the metro interface was going to suck on Windows 8 machines, but I hadn't realized that you can't effectively turn it off and use the computer as though it were not a cell phone or table.
Today I got a new laptop for a contracting project and the laptop is Windows 8. I have discovered that it is absolutely unusable. While trying to navigate to something on the desktop, other applications will just randomly come up and take over the screen. There is some stupid widget that comes up and says "slide to switch apps", which will not go away and hides items behind it. If you try to reboot the computer, it just says "Getting Windows ready Don't turn off your computer" and doesn't actually restart for about 20 minutes.
It is pretty obvious to me that this OS is completely unusable except as a tablet or phone OS and probably not even then.

User Journal

Journal Journal: !@#&^$&*!@^$ ObamaCARE!!! 8

Holy mother of GOD!! Why did my insurance premium go up by a multiple of 3.5 in only one month? I have private major medical insurance and it has already jumped up by over 300% in the previous two years, but now it has gone up another 450% for a total change of over 800%. That's right, my premium is 9 times what it was just 3 years ago. I have had no major claims. And, of course, it being major medical, they didn't pay a dime out of pocket. I paid it all. I didn't get anywhere near the deductible. Yet my premium has skyrocketed. Coincidentally, this is right after Obamacare is enacted. i wonder if there is any correlation? What do all of those Pro Obama people think now? I hope they can afford to pay for me to go to the emergency room on their dime because I am dropping insurance and paying the fine. I can't afford to pay the Obamacare Premium.
My premiums alone on this plan are 1.5 times the maximum outlay for premiums and deductible that Obama says we would ever possibly have to say. If I include the deductible, it will be over 300% of the maximum out-of-pocket that Obama says I would ever have to pay.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Took the bait again

Once again, I have shown myself for a sucker when it comes to online paying of bills. Every time I think I will learn my lesson, but I don't. Everybody says how much more convenient it is to do online bills, and how writing checks is a thing of the past. But every time I go to do a bill online it takes far longer than it would have to just write a check and drop it in the mailbox.
I fell for the trick again today. I noticed that my utility company said I could pay the water bill online. So I went to the web site, navigated around for a minute or two until I found the right place and then clicked "Pay Bill". Oh, well first I have to set up an online account. OK, so spend a few minutes doing that. Now, let's pay the bill. Oh no, I have to wait for my e-mail with the link I have to click on in order to open the account. OK, so wait a few minutes for that. Click the link, log in. Oh, wait, they don't have my utility bill account associated with my online account. I have to associate them myself. Oh, and what is this? They need my last paid amount. OK, spend a few minutes hunting that down. Now, finally, we are ready to pay the bill. Hmm, the only option is by credit card, no checking account debits. All right, let's use American Express. Oh, wait, they don't take American Express. Okay, I guess I will use my Checking Account Debit card. Spend a few minutes filling out that information, and click "Pay Bill". Okay, another payment summary screen pops up. I have to click "Pay Bill" again. Oh, crap, but wait, I didn't linger long enough to see that they are charging me $1.50 paying online fee! Crap, can't back out now. They've already done the transaction.
So, after you have spent half an hour navigating their website, setting up accounts, linking accounts, figuring out your last paid amount, entering info for a card you don't want to use, THEN is when they are going to tell you that there is an extra fee for using this service which is cheaper for them to maintain then somebody handling the mail?
Well, they can look forward to my check next month. It'll be in the mail.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Getting tired of misdirected mail

My postal carrier is incredibly lazy. We are the last house on the route, and whatever he has left over gets put in our mailbox, whether it is addressed to us or not. Today, he put one in that was for one block further south. I guess he didn't want to turn around and go back. Earlier this week we got one for a different house number AND a different street, several blocks over.
This is on top of the fact that whenever we get a package, he sticks a "sorry we missed you" card in the mailbox which directs us to a delivery center 7 miles away. It doesn't matter if we are home, he doesn't come to the door to check, just puts the note in the mailbox.
I have a real hard time justifying their constantly increasing stamp prices for the downward spiraling service that they are providing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Cable modem bandwidth caps?

Today I got an e-mail from Cox communication saying that I had exceeded my bandwidth cap of 250 GB on my internet plan. Well, this is a complete shock to me. I am not aware of any bandwidth limit on my internet plan. It's not like it's a phone where bandwidth is expensive (and unlimited on my plan).
So, I am only about halfway through the billing period, which I guess means that I have used 250 GB in about 11 days. That is pretty heavy, I must admit. Especially since I am only a casual user of internet at home. We don't do hulu, or netflicks or anything like that. My girls are home from school for the summer, and they play minecraft and watch youtube and play flash games, but I would think it would be hard to use that much bandwidth on those.
So cox directed me to a site where I could monitor the bandwidth usage. I went there and it asked for my login. I don't have a login to my knowledge, so I tried to register. It told me I already had a login, so I asked it to look up my login. After verifying all of my information, it asked me to call customer service. Well, screw that. It sounds like they have assigned me a userID and didn't tell me what it was, so I am not going to waste my time waiting on hold for them.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sony losing points

Well, after all my defending Sony throughout the Playstation Network debacle, they are now trying to make an enemy of me. They offered me two free games from a list of about 10 as recompense for the inconvenience. However, when I go to try to collect on the offer, they say it is no longer a valid offer.


Journal Journal: Oil Munching Microbes 1

Researchers have discovered a new microbe that is eating the gulf oil spill fairly readily, with the added bonus of not depleting the dissolved oxygen supply too much. (abstract only, article is paywalled)

Certainly a piece of good news out of that mess.

Here's an odd thought I had some years ago..what would happen if these sorts of bacteria got established deep down in the big pools of oil? As in, one day we find out we are a few months away from no oil because it is being eaten up....wouldn't that be interesting.

United States

Journal Journal: Mortgage Jubilee 9

Due to excessive greed and stupidity in the higher levels of repackaged mortgages, you might have the opportunity to own your property a bit earlier than you might have thought. Worth a look Mortgage jubilee

If by any odd chance people don't get the jubille reference, it is an old "all debts are cancelled" deal, plus pardons and whatnot. Basically, wiping the slates clean, start over.


Journal Journal: Untethering from the Utility Monopolies 14

Many more people are choosing to go "off the grid", untethering from traditional utility connections like electricity, natural gas, even municipal water and sewer, in whole or in part. Reducing demand while increasing your personal production of power can lead to energy independence, plus more security, and in a lot of cases, just plain more comfort.

Most off the grid people approach this situation from both ends, going to eliminate demand by wise construction techniques, using a lot more insulation, better windows, planned air in and out,etc. This drops the normal high level demand that most homes have and is the number 1 utility bill, for heating and cooling. Following similar steps, it is quite possible to enjoy all the niceties of modern life, without being part of the problem of massive fossil fuel use, along with eventually eliminating that monthly bill you can never pay off the traditional way of staying tethered. Another advantage is that these systems work-when the main centralized system doesn't.

They also mention in the article the concept of buyers clubs, getting together with other folks and negotiating bulk buy discounts for such things as solar PV panels, etc. The food co-op model taken to energy, which I have advocated in the past as one good way to reduce upfront costs. Another way to go there is the step by step method, just replace one circuit at a time, starting with your most critical "needs to work all the time" circuit.


Journal Journal: Water, food, shelter, security 16

note: cross posted at my site as well:

Long time readers will know my big four survivalist needs, what to get independent on, are, in order of importance:

water, food, shelter, security

Now look at this BBC article about floods in Pakistan and what they determined to be the basic needs for all these displaced people

"The government said the most pressing needs would be for clean drinking water, food, shelter and healthcare."

Pretty dang close!

And that is why I picked those out years and years ago, because I have "been there, done that" in emergency and "you are completely on your own" type situations. This is *my* tech expertise, threat analysis and mitigation.

People who "invest" in $1,000 TVs or the rigged crooked "stock" market, etc and such like and don't even have a good gravity water filter..eventually, this chronic dumbness is gonna bite them hard. EVERYONE will go through at least one-if not several- serious emergency situations in their lives, and it might last for a long time, weeks or months, who knows. If you ain't are gonna lose it, bad. And you can NOT rely on government or "why don't *they* do something"?, you know this "they" guy over there someplace people always refer to when they mean anyone other then themselves. And this can be beyond some natural disaster, look at the economic situation, you could lose your job tomorrow, or the dingbats could decide we need a much larger war in the middle east and the price of crude could jump to 300 bucks a barrel..whatever, black swan events outside your control.

    Sorry, reality doesn't work that way with this "they" guy "saving you" or "doing something"!!

  Any medium to large scale emergency, there ain't a government out there, including all the rich nations, that has enough resources to do this. We don't have entire backup cities and regions just sitting around with all the infrastructure intact in warehouses or whatever, which is what it would take to come up with a huge numbers of refugees in need of aid situation, a large scale one. It is not possible, it doesn't exist, it isn't going to happen, so you will be on your own, so you need to get it in gear BEFORE any bad stuff happens, well before, that is acquire gear/supplies plus the needed skills to use that gear and supplies.

Just like with computer data, if you have no backups, and if something weird happens, you got nothing and will be in a world of hurt.

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: China and Brazil 3

Another example of how china is taking the west's surplus cash it ships there, and turns around and invests heavily in places to get access to their natural resources, then they turn around and sell to them, developing new markets.

The developed world is going to be the late not so great de-developing world pretty soon now. China invests in Brazil

All these western economists go on and on how we don't need "protectionism"..well, why is it then with china being so protectionist, they are advancing at a record pace? Could it be that some protectionism is necessary to keep from going bankrupt?

"Chinese firms have bought stakes in Brazil's electrical grid; they are building steel mills, car plants and a telecommunications infrastructure in that country. Chinese grain companies are negotiating to buy huge tracts -- some larger than 600,000 acres -- of Brazilian outback to plant soybeans. Chinese firms have the inside track on landing a huge high-speed-rail contract. They want to help realize Brazil's gargantuan plans -- estimated at more than $250 billion -- to tap its offshore oil reserves. "

And they have all this investment money because our glorious leaders said we didn't need old fashioned manufacturing, oh noes, that is passe', that we would be some sort of combo financial services (90% high stakes casino games), IP (ideas=dime a dozen), service (we'll mow each other's yards and get rich!) and governmental workers (in a shrinking economy, by all means, quadruple the size of government as the first step, raise taxes on those still barely producing any real wealth, plus add a few trillion in debt!) economy.

  Well, that mastermind theory sure has worked out just swell....and we still keep electing these people who let those pirates keep selling off what is left of the national seed corn for a fast buck. Corporate raiders, nation sized. Our political and economic "leaders"... When does this get to shift from just "sucky" to "treasonous" anyway? Oh, I guess that is passe' now as well, to be loyal to one's nation first.

And I can't blame China, they would have been stone idjits to not take the golden egg laying goose when it was offered. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing as a nation, looking out for themselves FIRST. After that, sure, get generous, but if you can't take care of affairs at home first, you won't have any "extra" to be generous with. You have to make wealth before you spend it, that's the real economic bottom line, and manufacturing is the top way to make wealth today, closely followed by agriculture and mining/natural resource extraction.

    The big kahuna though, is the factory. Destroy your factories, you lose, end of story. You aren't replacing them with *anything*, that's the fairy tale they get people to believe in. Destroy your ag, you lose + starve, end of story. Sell off your natural resources cheap, fat city for some years..then you lose. You gain a few warlords who own a lot of yachts and limos and tanks and jet fighters eventually, that's about it for selling off natural resources cheap, that's the end game there.

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