WUHAN VIRUS !!!! My On The Road Dinner

This is a WUHAN VIRUS related post since I now have to work overnights because of the  current pandimainia.

WUHAN virus, you know, the virus from China that the Chinese covered up and allowed to spread worldwide……………

So I learned something because of the WUHAN virus, you know, the virus from China that the Chinese covered up and allowed to spread worldwide…..

I love Ramen noodle soup and thought that it would be a good food to take on my overnight route.  I am working overnights right now because of the WUHAN virus, you know, the virus from China that the Chinese covered up and allowed to spread worldwide……………

WUHAN_Ramen

So I pulled out the old thermos, crunched up the Ramen and poured in the boiling water.

About 3 hours later I decided to have some soup.  Opened up the top and poured into the cup and all I got was the liquid and just a tiny bit of Ramen.  That was odd,  poured out a second cup and the same thing happened.

Turns out the Ramen kept absorbing the water and despite me breaking up the hard noodles enough to get them into the thermos, they could not get out.

I stopped at the gas station and had a gas station dinner.

All because of the WUHAN virus, you know, the virus from China that the Chinese covered up and allowed to spread worldwide……………

Shortage of Carny Workers in America??

A story in the mostly useless Chicago Tribune about pay theft by the employer of some carnival workers:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-carnival-workers-wage-theft-0810-biz-20160809-story.html

The part of the story that I was interested in was this:

Two of the plaintiffs are South Africans who were brought in by All Star Amusement on temporary work visas called H-2Bs, meant for hospitality and other nonagricultural seasonal jobs. Like with other temporary work visas, including the high-skill H-1Bs and agricultural H-2As, employers wishing to bring in H-2B workers are supposed to establish that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to do the temporary work and that their wages won’t adversely affect the wages and conditions of U.S. workers.

 

Seriously?? We have to import carnys??

If you don’t think we have a problem with Federal immigration laws……………………..

 

Oh, and off topic, Gary Busey made a good movie called “Carny.”

I Stimulated The Economy

Below is a photo of my “Family Truckster” (Chevy Chase/ Vacation reference).

A 2004 with 150,000 miles on it.

For me, a vehicle is just transportation.  I don’t try to make a statement with it or any attempt for it to be an “image”.

I never “needed” a pickup for my job that I have today (I had a pickup supplied by the construction company I worked for years ago) but it has been very useful to have when I did any home improvement projects or to pick up “curb treasure” for my wife, carry my bicycle around or just to toss the fishing poles in.  You’d be surprised to see how many tables, dressers, chairs, cabinets etc we’ve found that we’ve either resold or repainted that have come via curbside.

Truckster

Below is my new car that I traded The Truckster in for.

I really didn’t want to have to buy a new vehicle, but it was time.   In this  Obama Economy, my money is tight, really tight.  This will be the second year in a row that there will not be merit raises.  The Truckster got about 19 MPG and I knew (because I am compulsive about tracking my expenses) that I spent quite a bit of money on gasoline, but The Truckster was paid for and it didn’t really make too much sense for me to trade better mileage for a car payment.  We haven’t had a car payment in our household for over 6 years.  But I needed new tires and it was going to need brakes sometime this year and I just couldn’t be sure that The Truckster wasn’t going to go “Bluesmobile” on me at any moment flying down the tollway !

Car_001

The only way I could make this deal work is if I save a lot of money on gas.  The Chevy Cruze is rated to get 38 MPG on the highway.  60 of the 66 miles I drive daily are on the tollway and is a small blessing considering how much I would have been spending on gas if I had “city” driving instead.  Worst case scenario, if the new car “only” gets 30 MPG, I should still be saving about $100-$125 a month in gas costs and that is a third of the car payment.

Now, being the notorious cheap bastard that I am, I have in the past year and a half cut out as much as I can from the family budget, and it’s still going to be a stretch to “find” the rest of the money for the car payment.  Several good things are that we do not have any credit card debt and I can at least count on not having any major repair bill on The Truckster.

Well, I’ve had the car now for two weeks and have driven to work 10 times.  I got gas after the first five trips to work, but since I wasn’t sure how much gas the dealer had put in, I couldn’t be sure how accurate the numbers were going to be but it did figure to be 33 MPG which I thought was good, but considering I drive the optimal conditions for achieving the highest EPA rating, I thought that it should have been better. (Phew, feel like I pulled a Hemingway with that run on sentence!!)  The wife did make about 50 miles of city driving trips that surely lowered the MPG.

Below are some calculations on the second tank of gas.  This time there were very few superfluous miles added on.

Gas_001

Bottom line is that I got over 36 MPG and saved $33 !!

Very, very happy about that.

My biggest long term concern was going to be how comfortable the seat is.  I am a full figured gentleman and some 17 years ago had a L5 Microdiscectomy.  I feel best when I can sit back /thighs/legs all being at 90 degrees and the bench seat in The Truckster was great for that.  But as it has turned out so far, I have been able to adjust the bucket seat in the car so that it has not been an issue.

I also have to say that I am very impressed with what has been done in the past 30 years with small car engines.  This car has a 1.4 liter engine, and it is not lacking in the “giddy up, go” department.  This was the last 1.4 liter car that I drove:

Little dead chevette

Little dead chevette

My mother came home one day in 1978 with a used 1977 Chevette. The only thing worse than a 1977 Chevette was a used 1977 Chevette.  This actually isn’t the worst car that my mother brought home.  She out did herself with a 1980 Chevy Citation.

Well, I guess Disney is off the list for this year.

60 more payments and it’s all mine !!

Mr. Blutarsky – 0.0

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Now, you may have to wonder how future Senator Blutarsky could be in college for seven years with a 0.0 GPA.

Obviously he had federal funding:

Chicago State to repay $312,000 in federal financial aid

Nearly 129 students who failed to meet standards were given grants, loan

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-10/news/ct-met-chicago-state-financial-aid-20130309_1_financial-aid-chicago-state-university-university-president-wayne-watson

Chicago State University has to repay nearly $312,000 in federal financial aid given to students who were allowed to stay enrolled even though they were failing.

The South Side public university had a policy that students with a GPA below 1.8 were to be dismissed “for poor scholarship,” but the Tribune reported in 2011 that students with grades as low as 0.0 were allowed to register for classes, in part to boost enrollment.

Chicago State has been fined $311,963 by the U.S. Department of Education for federal grants and loans given to 129 students from 2008 to 2011 who did not meet the university’s academic standards, according to an Education Department report obtained by the Tribune.

Those students “should have been withdrawn from the institution,” and the university therefore is liable for not enforcing its academic policies and paving the road for students to receive the aid, the Education Department found.

Between 2008 and 2011, 129 students were below Chicago State academic standards (and the government allows  the discretion of the school to determine the standards).  Those students received $613,616 in aid.  OK, let’s do the simple math………  That’s less than $5,000 per student, but it sure adds up for Chicago State.

According to Democrats, there is nothing to cut from the budget.

AT&T Customer “Service”

Ok, here are the prelims:

I have had AT&T services for over 20 years.

Land line

DSL

Wireless phones

I pay about $140 a month to AT&T for these services.

A few months ago I saw that AT&T raised my DSL price from $30 to $33.  I personally think that DSL/internet service is worth about $25 to me.

So at that time I went on to their website and tried to get my price lowered.  Currently DSL is being offered for $14.95.  AT&T makes it a little hard for a customer to make contact with them for help.  I finally got around to making a serious effort to work out this issue.

In the first place, I had to go through 4 different customer service reps to get help.  I explained to “Maurice” that I was a long term, multi service using customer and that I would like to have my DSL cost reduced.  Well, I was told that only bundlers getting U-Verse service qualify for the $14.95 price.  I asked if there was a supervisor that I could speak to and “Maurice” said “Yes, but he will tell you the same thing”.

After a couple more minutes of chit chat, “Maurice ” told me that what he could do for me was to give me a $5 a month credit, lowering my DSL to $28.   With no other options, that’s what I accepted.

I’m not happy with AT&T

“We Don’t Care. We’re the Phone Company. We Don’t Have To”

What’s Old, Is New Again

I grew up at a time in America when gasoline was cheap.  But at about the time I began driving (legally) it shot up from about 40 cents to over a dollar !!!!

Now also at that time, everyone didn’t run around with credit cards and debit cards, we paid cash for most things unless they were the big ticket items.  When filling your vehicle up with gasoline began to get expensive, more people started using credit cards to buy gas.  I remember that many gas stations had two prices for gas: one for credit, and a lesser cost for cash transactions.  For people that don’t work in the retail sales environment, it costs the seller (and in the long run the buyer) more for items that are bought with a credit card or debit card.  Simply put, the bank that owns the credit/debit card charges the merchant fees for completing the transaction.  For small businesses and others that survive on low margins, this is a lot of added costs.

BUT !!!

With the possible settlement of this lawsuit:
Visa, MasterCard and banks to pay up to $7.25 billion in ‘card-swiping’ settlement

Visa, MasterCard and several of the nation’s largest banks have agreed to pay as much as $7.25 billion to settle retailers’ complaints over the fees they are charged each time a customer swipes a credit or debit card, according to court documents filed Friday.

If the proposal is approved by a judge and fully executed, it would represent the largest private antitrust settlement in history. It would also mean that shoppers could start seeing prices for products vary depending on how they choose to pay.

The proposed settlement stems from a 2005 lawsuit brought by 20 merchants and trade groups over “swipe fees,” also known as interchange. Swipe-fee rates are set by card processors, like Visa, but are paid by retailers to banks each time a shopper uses plastic. Swipe fees typically run between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price.

Retailers have long argued that they have little power to negotiate the amount of the fees, calling them “hidden” taxes on consumers that total as much as $50 billion a year. But financial companies say they are charging merchants for providing a key service that many shoppers find indispensable. Last year, the Federal Reserve set caps on the size of swipe fees for debit cards but left credit cards untouched.

Those new rules include allowing merchants to raise or lower prices on a product to reflect the amount of the swipe fee. Gas stations, for instance, could charge less for using cash. They also require Visa and MasterCard to negotiate in good faith with retailers who band together.

Well, yesterday I saw my first gas station with prices for both credit and cash !!

I am a person that uses very little cash.

I have two credit cards that get paid off monthly and each one of them I get some form of “Reward” from.

BUT !!!!

Being the notorious cheap bastard that I am, what am I going to do if I can spend less on the same item by using cash???  I spend $65-$85 every 6 working days to fill my truck up.  I can’t image having to have cash around all the time to make all of my purchases.