The Real Meaning of Covfefe

Covfefe. It is a word that Donald Trump made up to describe what news reporting in this country has become.

See, it used to be when the cameras started rolling, or when the press reporters started tickling the Royal keys, that they would deliver news stories containing facts. Sure, sometimes they’d get a fact wrong. Sometimes, an element of personal bias would creep in. We’re human, we make mistakes.

But those days are long gone. Now, when someone on a so-called news broadcast opens their mouth, the facts may or may not be correct. You really don’t know anymore. And the element of bias? That is guaranteed.

Schools and universities have utterly failed in the solemn responsibility to teach students how to think critically. No one is teaching people how to separate what they feel from what is objective reality. It has all become one giant conflated mess.

One giant conflated mess of coverage and feelings. Coverage and feefees. Covfefe.

Trump never said the word, he just tweeted it. No one figured it out before this because the snotty pseudo-intellectuals were seeing it and making up the pronunciation in their heads based on their  understanding of second-year French. So all these idiot pundits saw the word and said in their heads “covfayfay.” Or some pseudo Spanish “covfehfee” (like Pepe). I think he deliberately used -fefe to throw people off so that they wouldn’t get it so easily. He does like to feel that he’s smarter than everyone. 

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#covfefe

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A New Phase of Life

It’s been a few weeks now at work, that the illegitimi have been carborunduning the crap out of me. New boss with no spine. Newish boss of boss, having spent about a year sort of getting to know the ropes, has now grasped them and begins to tighten. Crabseye tests out as a Creative (one personality test), a Mastermind (a different test), and an INTJ (the biggie test). Crabseye is a problem solver, a thinker outside of the box … 9 to 5 schedules and business casual are nauseatingly restrictive. The noose tightens.

Fortunately, I live pretty frugally and have done so for many years. I forego eating out and expensive recreation activities. I indulge a high food budget due to the costs of organic foods; and I do have a bit of an electronic gadget habit, but control it pretty well. But I sock away a good amount of money, invest prudently though a bit toward the risky end of the spectrum (just means I’m heavy into equities).

Bottom line. Through my 30s and 40s, and even most of my 50s, just like most of you, when the illigetimi were acting up, I had to grin and bear it. Vent stream by looking for a new job. Spend enough time looking that the crisis blows over and there I remain, till the years added up to 25 and the retirement fund added up to “you can do this if you’re careful.”

So I’m staring at that moment we all dream of, when if I want to, I really can tell them to go pound it.

I’m standing on the edge of a new, exciting, weirdly scary phase of life. Like Indiana Jones as he nears the cave where the Crusader guards the chalice of Christ, and he faces a bottomless chasm and knows he must step off and have faith in his portfolio (no wait, I’m getting mixed up).

Will I take the step?

Stay tuned.

5 Home Energy Saving Tips

A couple of years ago, the sale of electricity was deregulated in my state, and in the months before it happened, there were dire predictions about short-term spikes in prices as the market transitioned from regulated prices to free-market prices.

I began to look for good ways to save or conserve electricity use. To do this effectively, it’s important to know the biggest consumers of electricity in your household.

According to recent Dept. of Energy statistics, in the average home, the top 10 (really 9) energy users are (in order):

  1. Heating/cooling (31%)
  2. Refrigerators (14%)
  3. Water heating (9%)
  4. Lighting (9%)
  5. Home Electronics (7%)
  6. Dryers (6%)
  7. Spare freezers (3.5%)
  8. Ranges (3%)
  9. Dishwasher (2.5%)
  10. Other Stuff (the rest)

If you can make some significant cuts in the top 5 energy users in your household, you can, truly easily reach 10% savings, more if you do more.

I’ll tell you the 5 things I did that made a real impact in my electricity bill:

  1. I got a programmable thermostat. Previously, I tried to remember to set the temperature up (in summer) when I went to work (down in winter only affects my gas usage). But automating the process means no “oopses.” I set the temp to go up at 6 a.m. — I leave at 9 a.m., and it takes a few hours for the temperature in the house to rise to uncomfortable levels, even on the hottest days. I tell it to start cooling down about 1/2 hour before the first adult comes home. There are ones that are purported to “learn” your habits and preferences. Yeah, for $250, whatever. The point here is to save money, not put it into some scammer’s pocket.
  2. I also set the thermostat to 79 for the coldest setting. And I bought the quietest fans I could find to use for extra cooling in the living room, bedroom, and home offices. Moving air really does subtract at least 4 degrees in the perceived temperature indoors. Besides using less electricity, you wear out your central air conditioning unit less too.
  3. I changed light bulbs to compact fluorescent. Yeah, LED is supposed to be the wave of the future, but it ain’t waving at me until the price comes WAY down.
  4. At night, if the temperature outside is under 74 degrees F, I open the bedroom window and let the free cooler air come in. (Obviously, dependent on how quiet your neighborhood is, whether it’s going to rain, what floor the bedroom is on, etc.)
  5. I bought some good quality weather-stripping and put it around my front door, which is the only spot where there was any significant leakage. If your house is older, you should check out other doors and windows.

There are other common sense things too, like making sure you turn off lights as you leave a room, wearing season-appropriate attire (do you know anyone who wears shorts in winter then turns the thermostat up to 85?), unplugging vampire charging devices (or buy some switches for the outlets), turning off the drying cycle on the dishwasher (tip the accumulated water and let the air dry the dishes … only takes a few hours).

In general, things that make heat or cold (intentional or not) are the big energy users in the house. Find ways to safely make them work less, and that’s how you can rack up savings on energy costs.

Ebooks, Prices, and Libraries

I have to say I have fallen in love with ebooks. My personal reader of choice is the Nook Simple Touch, but had the Kindle been given just a few additional features (expandable memory, replaceable battery), I would likely have chosen it.

What I like about ebooks is how little space they take up compared with real books. My house is small, my bookshelf space limited, my collection … too large for available space. I can store ebooks on the reader itself, in the cloud, on my PC, etc., and none of those options uses up a even a square millimeter of space.

I like that every book is as easy to hold as my Nook, whether it is Pillars of the Earth or The Little Prince.

I like that I can take 100 or 1000 books with me wherever I go.

I love being able to adjust fonts, text size, and margins. Love it.

I like that I can access thousands of free, public domain works without leaving my comfy chair at home.

I don’t like the prices very much. I am hoping the US Dept of Justice’s lawsuit will smack down those prices a bit, as the publishers who banded together to keep prices high are forced to comply with the laws that forbid price fixing.

Until then, my personal DOJ action is simple: I refuse to pay more than a couple of dollars for an ebook. Nope, I can’t get the latest releases at that price. Nope, I can’t even get older releases by popular authors for that price. But I can get lots of dam fine books for that price, and that’s fine with me.

I still buy printed books: coffee table type books, those that aren’t available in ebook format, or those that I can pick up, used, for $4 when the ebook is $10.

That too, highlights a weakness of ebooks vs printed books. With DRM ebooks, I can only lend it once, to someone with a Nook. I can lend a real book to anyone I choose, as often as I choose. Or, when I’m done with it, I can give it away or sell it. No can do with an ebook.

We are just in the infancy of the ebook phenomenon. The publishers have to make smarter choices about selling these things, or they’ll suffer similar fates as record publishers, whose every knee-jerk reaction puts another nail into their commercial coffins. One such nail for book publishers is the situation with public libraries. Some publishers flat out refuse to sell their ebooks to libraries (see any shades of the recording industry here?), and some charge egregious prices. Considering that ebook readers are currently a luxury item, I have to say I would have no objection to paying a small fee to “borrow” an ebook from a library … say $.25 a pop. This could help offset the costs charged to libraries. Such a fee would have to be kept small, to not alienate borrowers, but large enough that it isn’t lost in the overhead of administering the program.

Anyway, surely there are arguments for and against such a scheme. What are your thoughts?

Apple’s latest delusional statements

It’s obvious that Apple thinks that a large portion of the world is not very bright. But do they think that EVERYONE is an idiot?

I almost choked when I saw today that they are claiming that they were forced to collude with the book manufacturers in order to be able to compete with big bad Amazon. Seriously? Seriously? Apple is over 7x the market cap of Amazon. If they wanted to compete, all they had to do was LOWER their book prices like Amazon did. Only Apple could construe collusion to keep prices artificially high as fostering competition.

And what good did their collusion do for anyone who doesn’t choose to get sucked into their inbred ecosystem? Um, none. I have a Nook. Their entry into the bookselling game did me no good. All their price-fixing agreement with book publishers did was inflate the prices of books that EVERYONE buys, including me, people with Sony readers, Kobo readers, Kindles, and anything other than an Apple product.

They’re so full of crapple. They’ve been treated with kid gloves for too long. Its time that they learn to live by the rules that everyone else lives by. Want to sell more product? Lower your prices. Stop breaking the law and looking for some kind of sanction on it.

I wonder if their lawyers show up in court wearing black knit shirts, grinning and nodding as they peddle their crapspeak bs to the court.

Money-wicking athletic wear

There’s a big US company that markets its athletic wear, at amazingly high prices, as being “heat wicking” or some such nonsense. The gist of their very effective marketing campaign, besides getting many professional sports teams to wear their gear, is that the moisture wicking nature of the completely synthetic materials is supposed to magically make you cooler when it’s hot and you’re sweating.

Well, um, no. Wicking doesn’t make you cool. It just makes you dry. If you don’t believe me, get all hot and sweaty, then dry your face. Does it feel cooler? I’m going to bet, no.

The best place for moisture-wicking material is places where moisture causes a problem, but provides little benefit. Diapers, for example. Or feet, for example. Wet feet rub excessively, the moisture softens the skin, soft skin rubbing makes blisters faster. So, moisture wicking socks = good thing. Hikers have known this for years. Wear soft cotton socks, get blisters. Wear polypro liners and wool socks. Walk all day without blisters.

But moisture wicking in your t-shirts and your shorts? Well, that’s not only not effective at cooling you, it’s counter-productive.

What cools you is the natural mechanism of perspiration > evaporation. The body produces perspiration as a method of cooling your surface temperature. Notice how you get flushed when you’re overheating? Your body opens the capillaries so that your blood collects at the surface; it makes you perspire so that the evaporating perspiration cools your blood which cools YOU. Boom. Now remove that perspiration, and your body is just as hot, but now dry … and needs to make more perspiration to cool you.

Look at the clothing worn by people who live in perpetually hot climates, such as the desert. The clothes tend to be natural, breathable fabrics cut to fit loosely. Not skin-tight and synthetic. The air flow achieved with loose fitting garments is going to increase evaporation, which increases cooling. These people have been living in, and successfully dealing with these hot climates for millennia. They’re not in it for a big house in Worthington Valley. They’re in it because it’s how they survive in a harsh climate.

So next time you are enticed by some “heat gear,” well, go ahead and buy it if you like. But realize you’re paying for marketing and hype.

Or, be smart … buy something loose and comfortable at 1/3 of the cost. Your body will appreciate it more.