Business

Amazon.com’s Subscribe and Save

First off, let me say that I LOVE Amazon.com. It is, by far, the best website on the planet. A store where you can buy almost anything you could ever imagine. It started with books and CD’s, then went into every category you can think of. I have spent a lot of money with this fine company over the years and have been satisfied 99.9% of the time.

They now have a service called subscribe and save- it’s for items you need on a regular basis. Groceries, hair care products, soaps, toilet paper, paper towels, medicines, etc. You sign up to subscribe that you want X amount of product A, B, and C delivered at a regular interval. I think you can choose every 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, or every 6 months.

Better yet- you get a 15% overall discount on top of the discounted price you would get just by buying one of the products. Amazon.com has discounts on most items. I just subscribed to get 2 cases of 12-bowls of Chef Boyardee beefaroni. Lately, I have been staying at work for lunch and eating the 14.5 oz bowls of these things. You nuke them for 1 min 30 secs and you have lunch. Easy, quick, and cheaper than even fast food which would usually be around $5 for me for lunch. So, I will have 24 bowls a month automatically billed to my credit card ($25.50 total a month)- that’s fairly decent savings. Right around $1.00 per bowl (beats the supermarket), and it’s delivered to my door which is an added bonus. Free shipping as well.

I ordered that and I placed 1 regular order for the following:

* 1 of: Kellogg’s Family Assortment, Individual-Serving Boxes, 1.02-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 72)
* 1 of: Kool-Aid Drink Mix, Sugar Sweetened Strawberry, 19-Ounce Container (Pack of 4)
Sold by: Amazon.com, LLC

The total for this order was $30.54 with free shipping. So, I now have cereal for at least 2 months and a bunch of kool-aid mix (I love kool-aid). That’s lunch covered for 1 month and breakfast for 2 months for a total of around $46 right? Not too bad if you ask me. I’m looking to save money, so this works for me. Tho, I’m sure I will soon grow tired of beefaroni and cereal! I will buy yogurt as well- that stuff is cheap at Wal Mart. That and bags of salad with the italian dressing spritz on dressing.

Dinner is another thing altogether which I will look into. I might look into those services that have the trucks that drive around and sell you stuff door to door a lot of the time…

Any ideas? Suggestions? I’m just trying to save money (aren’t we all?) And I’m trying to make lunch a smaller meal, as opposed the regular fast food junk which I get and always buy too much of for 1 meal.

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The Don Imus Effect

This is absurd. Opie and Anthony have been suspended from XM radio for 30 days for laughing at a tasteless scenario that a guest thought up involving forced sex with Condi Rice and Laura Bush. It was very out of taste, and it was stupid- but this took place on an “UNCENSORED” channel that has a big “XL” next to it denoting the fact that it’s uncensored and contains graphic language!

This is, by far, some of the lamest stuff I’ve heard from this show. It’s downright tame to some of the stuff they and their guests have said in the past, and I listen on a regular basis (from home to work and back at the end of the day.)

So, XM sets up an “uncensored” channel with shock jocks, then they censor them? This is insanity, and I blame it on media matters for america and Al Sharpton. Media matters for their obsession over the story, being the ones who started all the chaos to begin with…and Sharpton for being the racist hypocrite he has always been.

This Don Imus effect is insane! They fired a pair of jocks for making fun of a chinese guy- it was actually pretty funny…then they suspended some guy for making a Jewish jab. What country are we in here, folks? If you don’t care for it, TURN THE STATION! People are too easily offended anymore..it’s actually rather sad.

Now, the message boards show that O&A have been fired from XM. If this is the case, I am seriously considering canceling my subscription. They said it best Monday, “We’re under the same scrutiny as it doesn’t make sense.” Indeed, it does not…

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Republican Debate on Fox News

This stuff is actually sort of a joke…ten candidates on a stage is absurd. I was sort of torn on this- why allow only the top candidates? I feel the media is partly responsible for the top spots as it is…they push a few candidates all the time, no wonder they have the most support in current polls. All should get a chance to give their opinions and share their views. But, when you see them all together- you see this just doesn’t work.

A few thoughts- Giuliani…don’t much like him. The fact that he’s on his third marriage is upsetting to me personally. The fact that he’s pro-abortion is another aspect of his views I dislike a lot. I don’t think I can vote for a supporter of abortion. I also find his evasion of questions annoying. McCain and Romney are guilty of this as well. Sadly- the most open and honest candidates are those on the bottom of the polls. I’m sick of seeing a question asked and the top 3 guys dancing around with their answers.

Ron Paul- this guy is out of his mind. He doesn’t want us to lead the world basically…that’s the feeling I got from him. He wants an America that doesn’t intervene in international fights? Too bad our actions doing just that in WWII lead us to the spot as super power! I’d never support an anti-war “conservative.”

McCain- he just looks like a zombie to me. He’s constantly got this weird stare on his face- looks as if he’s staring at one spot or something. It’s a bit creepy. That and I forgot he voted against Bush’s tax cuts twice.

Tancredo has good ideas on immigration.

Personally- I think the best bet would be a Fred Thompson candidacy.

The top 3- McCain, Giuliani, and Romney are stepping over each other whining they wall want 30 seconds. Ugh…

I’m not very impressed at all. Out of this group- I’d vote for tough talking Tancredo.

UPDATE: I should mention I find Giuliani’s adoption blathering stupid when asked about abortion. He refuses to be clear and straight on his support for abortion, instead going on a tangent about how adoptions in NYC rose when he was mayor. I see that in the May 3 debate he claimed a 70% increase- I think tonight he said it was a 130% increase. It turns out, he’s full of it either way. FactCheck.Org has more info.

Note to Rudy- when asked about your support of killing soon-to-be-born babies…don’t go on and on about fictional adoption rates! ‘I support mothers killing babies, but hey- I’ll claim adoptions were up when I was mayor!’ Insulting.

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F.C.C. Nonsense: Trying to Tame TV Violence

TV is often violent. Broadcast TV in prime time is often violent. It’s the nature of TV. The F.C.C. wants to limit violence on broadcast TV while kids are awake. This idea is always full of problems in my view. Who says what is too violent? Is the news out of bounds when they show scenes of true life violence? Are scenes of real violence worse than scenes of phony violence within a fictional program? Shouldn’t the government find better things to do with OUR money than spend over $300 million on a campaign to inform parents about the V-chip? Will any amount of money cause the government to take over the role of the parent?

I do not support censorship. I support the marketplace. Clearly adults want this stuff, or else they wouldn’t watch the shows, advertisers would put their money out, and the networks would soon cancel the programs. I don’t think it’s right to infringe on the choices of adults to “protect” children, when I’m not even sure they’re being protected.

Parents need to make sure their kids aren’t watching programs they don’t want them to watch. It’s not the government’s role to play nanny. The founders would be having heart attacks if they had any idea how much of our lives are controlled by seemingly neverending rules and regulations set up by our government.

I also oppose the moves to create cable systems that are wholly ala carte. This, in my mind, would no doubt lead to higher prices. You’d have to pay for each channel or packages of channels individually. That would mean you wouldn’t necessarily pay for certain channels you don’t watch often enough to pay more for but get now as part of your cable package. I sense it would also mean fewer choices- fewer channels would stay on the air when so few people pay for them via ala carte. Some of these cable nets just wouldn’t make it in ala carte land. I’m also not sure how it would protect children. Are we to believe that adults are going to suddenly watch only kid friendly programming because those are the only channels they added ala carte? Hardly. Adults will keep watching the same networks, which means they will have to pay for them, which means the kids will still have access to them.

Best idea in all of this- parent your own kids. Don’t expect government to do your job. Politicians need to stop trying to create an even bigger nanny state, and parents need to sit down and take the time to learn how to use cable filters, blocks/locks, etc.

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100 Largest Electric Plants

http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/rankings/plantsbycapacity.htm

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No Shocker: Minimum Wage Increases Decrease Middle Class Buying Power and Hurt Unskilled Workers the Most

Minimum wage increases never help anyone. It’s a lose-lose situation for all. This is the lesson of history. A lesson we cannot, for the love of all that is holy, learn over many many years. A lesson being felt by many businesses across the country- this one in Arizona being an example.

Min wage increases decrease the buying power of the middle class. When you make $4 over min wage due to your labor skills and/or experience in the field you work in- you’re buying power is decreased when the min wage goes up and suddenly you make a mere $2 above that min amount that an employer can legally pay.

Furthermore- the workers with the least skills and experience are the ones who get hurt. Those are the ones that politicians and advocacy groups claim to want to help with these increases. Except- when a company has to pay $2 more for every hour each employee on min wage works- take a gander at who are the first employees to be let go…teenagers and low skilled workers. Teenagers are low skilled in general, as they have less experience than most others, due to their time in the workforce. A company pays what the market can bear- a teenager that is highly unskilled in general isn’t a hot comodity. Teens are also more likely to start a job then quit in a few months. Most adults can’t afford to do that, but teens can do it quite easily. The training costs alone, coupled with high turnover is enough for any business to stop hiring teens period.

I didn’t even mention the higher prices that go along with min wage increases. Most companies can’t afford to cut too many jobs…which means they have limited options. The business owner either takes a hit at the wallet, or he raises prices. Higher prices means that the min wage worker, tho making a bit more now, is paying higher prices for everyday items, which means the hike, in large part, is canceled out!

You’re buying power decreases, low-skilled workers who are most vulnerable lose their jobs, prices rise…you’re left wondering who benefits. In general, when the wage hikes take place, no one benefits. History has shown that to be quite clear. But, we’ll never learn. Politicians will pander, ignoring top economists who do this for a living…advocates for low-waged workers will keep their jobs while those they claim to fight for lose theirs. It’s a neverending cycle that can only be broken with common sense and sound financial decisions on the part of lawmakers everywhere.

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MSNBC: Super Size Me= Journalism, Michael Moore Next?

I have to wonder about MSNBC. That lowest rated of all cable news nets…the home of Krazy Keith Olbermann (full of a never-ending supply of Bush hatred and a sick obsession with Bill O’Reilly)…home to the lefty lowest rated cable news series, Chris Matthews…home of nonstop Chris Hanson and those annoying Dateline NBC “to catch a predator” episodes.

The station is taking a turn toward the tawdry and editorial. With a liberal bent.

Super Size Me, the absurd ‘documentary’ from Morgan Spurlock (definitely not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination), has been playing every weekend a few times on Saturday and Sunday.

Why? I’ve no idea. Propaganda, perhaps?

I was watching it (again)…and the ending really shows you how full of it Spurlock is. The entire film is an anti-McDonalds tirade…disguised as a “golly gee- fast food chains are evil making you CHOOSE to eat at their places. Let’s do what we can to put them out of business for the good of all” piece of proganda.

Here is a video clip of the ending…

Super Size the nonsense
(DOWNLOAD VIDEO- 1.5 MB wmv file)

Now, unless you’re a brain-dead zombie, you no doubt noticed a few things he said that didn’t make any sense.

First off- Spurlock can’t decide who to blame. Is it evil McDonalds or you? He says that the argument will be ‘no one eats McDonalds everyday 3 times a day. But, in fact, some do.’ I, myself, have never met a person who eats fast food for every single meal of every single day…or even fast food every meal for half the week. Spurlock wants to tarnish McDonalds with the rare exception out there who eats way too much fast food. Then again- there are people that eat fast food several times a week, never exercise, smoke, and drink, and do nothing about it and live to be 100 years old…while others exercise daily, eat right, and stay as healthy as they can and drop dead of a heart attack at 40. That’s a fact. It happens everyday. So- his message of doom and gloom and certain death is nonsensical from the start.

Secondly- Spurlock complains:

“why not do away with your super size options? Who needs 42 ounces of Coke…a half a pound of fries? And why not give me a choice between french fries and french fries?”

The emphasis I added says so much.

Morgan is a man without direction. It’s McDonald’s fault, but the choice is YOURS. Does this guy not understand the meaning of the word “choice”? It means you literally can choose to never eat at McDonalds period. It means you can choose to NOT super size your meal. But, why take away that choice from those people who DO CHOOSE it? Spurlock is all about choice- demanding that McDonalds offer healthier choices…except, he’s not a big fan of a choice of fries or a super size option. Guess what Morgan? DON’T SUPER SIZE IF YOU HATE IT SO MUCH! Get a clue, man! What’s good for you is what’s demanded of us? How about you let us live our own lives?

Spurlock then goes onto to moan that McDonalds isn’t loyal to you, but rather to the stockholders. This is why they won’t change. Except- their loyalty to the stocholders IS loyalty to you. If you refuse to choose their restaurant, the stockholders aren’t happy. The goal is to keep people coming to McDonalds. And shocking news- people don’t go to McDonalds for healthy food! They go for stuff that isn’t necessarily health food, but it tastes good! There is, in fact, a direct connection between the stockholders and the customers. This is the case with every business. Your goal is to provide a service people want to choose.

He then says “the bottom line- there a business, no matter what they say.”

Now- has anyone EVER heard McDonalds claim otherwise? Is McDonalds running ads proclaiming they’re no longer a business, but rather a health food non-profit? A church maybe? A community group that wants to feed all the good little people salads and vitamin-fortified water? This statement makes no sense…of course they’re a business, and of course they don’t deny that. Why would they? They’d have a hard time bringing in a profit, then trying to claim they’re somehow a not for profit!

Spurlock then whines “by selling you unhealthy food, they make millions, and no company wants to stop doing that.”

No kidding? Thanks, Sherlock Holmes. Companies are in business to make as much money as they can by offering products people will CHOOSE to buy which, in turn, brings in more money. It’s that money that allows the business to keep offering their products. Besides, he’s being dishonest. He wants to portray them as evildoers with the goal of selling unhealthy food when, in fact, their goal is to sell the products people WANT. McDonalds has tried various products over the years…they’re tried the veggie burger, but do you order it? Do you know anyone else that orders it?

McDonalds actually still offers a veggie burger in some markets. Which markets? The ones where the burger can actually sell! They don’t offer it in markets where no one wants it. Most markets can’t sell it, because people don’t want it. Spurlock would have McDonalds force feed you veggie burgers?

McDonalds echoes this obvious point on their own website:

Q: Why doesn’t McDonald’s offer a veggie burger on its national menu?

A: After testing several types of veggie burgers in different parts of the country, we’ve chosen not to offer one on our national menu at this time. We’ll continue to look at these options and make decisions based on good business sense from a customer interest and sales perspective. Ultimately, however, it’s our customers who choose what’s on our menu. We’ll continue to offer those menu items that are most popular with a majority of our customers.

Precisely! A business does what makes good business sense. To STAY IN BUSINESS. To keep employing their millions of workers and the companies that provide them with raw materials to make their products…the companies that make the paper for the straw wrappers, the box companies, the utilities that are paid to utility companies, the taxes paid to local, state, and federal government, and on and on and on. It’s called free market capitalism, and it works. The menu items offered are the ones the CUSTOMERS CHOOSE. Veggie burgers aren’t big business- so you don’t keep it on the menu. Just as you don’t keep a stock of liver and onions on tap for the rare customer that wants liver and onions…you want that, go down the street to the restaurant that serves it!

Morgan goes on to confuse us even more by announcing that the current paradigm can only shift by YOU choosing to make a difference. Eat healthier (duh), don’t eat fast food all the time (duh), don’t always super aize (duh tres).

He ends it by asking- who do you want to see go [into the grave] first- you or them [McDonalds]?

Good question. Answer? Stop the dishonest tactics against the fast food chain…and let US choose. If it’s all about my right to choose- why make this piece of propaganda to begin with?

Better yet- why is this common MSNBC fare now? And is Michael Moore next?

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GottaPlay Game Rental Service

I signed up for GottaPlay‘s game rental service the other day- it’s $12.95 for one game out…cheaper than the others from what I saw.

I signed up on Jan 13, which was a Sunday. No mail on Monday due to MLK Jr. Day. I checked my “Gamer Q” just now and they still haven’t sent any games out- I added nearly 20 to my list, and a few of them are really lame games I added simply to see if all the good games were out.

I called their customer service line, and both times I got a message saying they were busy with other customers and to leave a message and my number, and they’d try to call me back as soon as possible. No way Jose- if you offer customer support, I’m of the view I shouldn’t have to leave my name and number like I’m calling a buddy whose late meeting me at the cinema.

They still have yet to reply…this was nearly 2 days ago I E-Mailed them, asking when a game would be sent out, and how I would know when one was sent out.

The thing is- unlike Netflix, for example, and many other services- they don’t have any status on any of their games. There’s no “available,” “short wait,” “long wait.” NONE of that at all. Just a “Gamer Q” that lists your games with a message that says “ATTENTION: For the best possible service, add additional titles to your Rental “Q”.”- a list of your games and buttons to move them up the “Q” for top priority.

I’m a bit concerned already…this doesn’t sound like good customer support from their delay in responding, and the way they leave you in the dark as to what status the games are in is troubling as well.

I’m going on a hunch here- this isn’t going to be a good service. I saw another review where someone said the times in getting games back were fast. He said when he sent out a game on Monday, he’d usually get the next game the next Monday or Tuesday. (this is not fast shipping.)

GottaPlay, on review sites, and on their own site, list that they have 5 shipping centers located around the country, so they have the fastest shipping times. Doesn’t sound like the real world experience is matching up with the hype.

I’ll write on this again if they ever send me a game…

UPDATE: I called once again and finally got through to someone. The lady I talked to said she saw that no games had been shipped, and that she had no idea why no game was sent out. It takes 2 days after signup to send out the first game…if a game doesn’t go out in 7 days, they automatically extend the trial period (it’s a trial period of 10 days for $1)- so, my trial will be extended almost surely…

I noticed their website says they reply to all E-Mails within 24 hours. Unfortunately, that’s not even close to true. I sent two E-Mails and got one reply 4 days after my initial E-Mail! 24 hours? Nope- 4 days. Big difference. Poor customer service in my view. Make no promises of quick replies to E-Mails if you’re 3 days off on the guarantee.

The E-Mail said that they had an influx of new customers and they can’t keep up with game demand. Basically- they can’t send me any games, because they don’t have any games in stock. A VERY bad sign for any business. I will cancel my account and urge others to steer clear of this service. Having low inventory is one thing, but they need to make this clear on their site. They don’t list status for any of their games, they give you no clue as to when a game will be sent, if any games are available, why a game isn’t being sent…that and the slow reply to E-Mail when they promise a 24 hr response time. Calling centers that are so booked they say THEY will call YOU back. Too many problems with GottaPlay. Thumbs down big time.

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“Speaking Engagments”

I think people that make a living off “speaking engagements” are absurd. The idea that a person would give a speech and ask $9, 000 an hour is just downright offensive in my mind. I don’t care if your a celebrity, a journalist (journalists getting paid massive fees to speak seems ethically dunious to me!), or a former president.

That an organization would pay tens of thousands of dollars to hear you blab for an hour just seems ludicrous no matter how you spin it.

People need to get paid- I wouldn’t expect someone to go speak to groups all over the country and not get paid, but $90, 000 plus fees to have Pat Riley give a speech? If this guy is so willing to give his wonderul insight on life to his fellow man- why does he charges $90, 000 plus fees, plus a first class ticket to get to the event? I guess he’s too poor with his tens of millions of dollars to speak for $9, 000? Or $900? When you realize your organization spent 1/10 of a million dollars to have him give a friggin speech- do you even listen to what he says? For me, I’d be stuck on the idea that this guy charged me both arms, both legs, and my internal organs just to give a chat!

I’ve always loved looking through the profiles of “speakers” on these various sites. Going through some of these, you can’t help but laugh. Want to have a contestant from CBS’ Big Brother come to talk your group about his Christian faith? Well, get ready to pay $2, 500, fees, and 2 coach class tickets to bring him to your church, youth group, etc. Want a former Miss America come to talk to your group about what it’s like to shake your stuff in a bikini and basically be known for being attractive? Get ready to hand out nearly $7,000 after paying her extra fees and airfare. I’m sure her speech on how to wear a bathing suit and walk in high heels while doing so is just fascinating!

I understand these groups get these speakers and then sell tickets to the events…which helps them either break even or make a small profit off the event, but I just can’t never imagine charging ANYONE thousands, let alone tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to come TALK to them. I mean- you come, you talk, you might answer some questions, you give some insight you might have on a particular subject, but for heaven’s sakes- when you’re worth millions, you have a job that pays hundreds of thousands a year, do you really need MORE money to come and say a few words?

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Unions Do What’s Best for Unions…Period.

Very quickly. I just have to say- only the very naive among us actually think unions have their members best interests at heart…

Unions do what they do for one reason- to make sure there are more union members. Why? To keep the union dues coming in. Let’s not pretend we live in a fantasy world where unions do what they do because they just care so gosh darn much about people.

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