Kraft stupid? No, evil

| by Ken | in Soapbox No Comments »

As a father of a young and crazy Patriots fan, I’ve been avoiding this story. I haven’t wanted to think about what Kraft did and I sure as hell don’t want to talk to my son about it. And I’ve read and heard a number of people talking about how Kraft was stupid – with the infinite amount of money he has, he could have paid for anybody at any time anywhere – i.e. go the Heidi Fleiss route instead of the strip mall with a Publix. Therefore, the prevailing wisdom is that Kraft was both stupid and really stupid.

I’ve been puzzling over how Kraft could have been so stupid and I have come to the grim conclusion that he was not. I think he realized that going with high-paid escorts would mean lots of people in positions of power would have awareness of what he was doing. Instead, going the seedy strip mall parlor route would mean no one would know – especially since the women who worked there would be unable to share that knowledge due to their situation. And that’s when I realized that his patronage of a place like that was specifically because he knew that the women who worked there were in no position to disclose what was going on. And the fact that the owner of the business had previously been arrested in Massachusetts for human trafficking means that Kraft could have gone to this business in Florida because of prior visits to one in Massachusetts. Which means Kraft’s choice was not stupid, it was evil. And the only reason he was busted is because of some awesome police work. While he was right that he didn’t need to worry about powerful people leaking information about what he was doing, he was wrong that nobody was on the side of the victims.

Franken Too? Nope

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox No Comments »

Sexual assault is wrong.  Let me start with that.  Also, what Senator Franken did is sexual assault.  And he has admitted as much in his apologies.  But “Franken Too?”?  No, not “too”.  At least not when we are talking about Moore and Weinstein and Trump and Spacey and Rattner and Wieseltier and Nassar and Toback.

Continue reading »

Is Trump Racist?

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox 2 Comments »

Is Trump racist? He says he is not. But his actions indicate otherwise. If you ask a white supremacist if they are racist, they will either say they are or say that they merely believe that whites are superior and they don’t see that as racism. (Actually, that’s conjecture – as far as I know I’ve never met one and if I did, I don’t know if I’d ask.)  But Trump really thinks he treats all people fairly when he obviously does not. And that should not be surprising to anyone. Trump is the least self aware person ever. He claims he is really smart in such an non intellectual way it is almost tragic.

And for this reason, I cut him some slack. I see his lack of being self aware as a sort of mental disability. And even if he was more typically self aware, there are many people who grew up thinking they were treating everyone equally when they were not.  So can you be racist when you are not self-aware?  Yes, definitely.  In fact, I think the majority of racism in America is exactly that.  People thinking they are treating everyone equally even when seemingly small choices may tend to be different depending on skin color.  And those small choices when taken together can have big consequences.

However, that’s a far cry from overt and self-aware white supremacy.  Trump’s defense of the people who were at Charlottesville and at least adjacent to the white supremacists was certainly weird.  But I don’t think that even Trump, as terrible a President as he is, is actually a self-aware white supremacist.  Nor does he actively endorse those who are.  So I think the rhetoric indicating that goes too far and has the unfortunate result of somewhat normalizing the un-self-aware racist that he actually is.

The Political Divide Explained

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox No Comments »

Time for some blunt talk about politics.  Some are certain to be offended but I’m just really frustrated about how people keep talking about how polarized the country is and how it is a matter of some people feeling one way while others feel another.  The typical discussion about the polarized country describes the situation without reaching any conclusions as to why it is like that.

Continue reading »

I’ve been using the same cordless phone system for probably 15 years.  It is a Panasonic KX-TG2720 base with lots of handsets.  An important feature for me is that it has 2 lines.  We still have a landline for the “house” and I have a work line.  I use the speakerphone.  We have Comcast voicemail on both lines and the handsets are setup to show when there is new mail and you just push a button to listen to your messages.  The handsets also include speakerphone capabilities.  The range is fantastic and covers our whole house including basement and all of our yard which isn’t saying too much, but the point is it is exactly what we need.

A month ago I re-jiggered our home network and replaced one of the older routers with a new one.  Since then we’ve been having interference between our handsets and the WiFi.  Frankly, it’s surprising we haven’t had a problem before since the old phone system is a 2.4 Ghz system and of course, that’s the band that WiFi has been operating in for years.  (And while I’d love to disable the 2.4 Ghz antenna from the routers, I have too many devices that don’t work with the 5 Ghz band.)  The new router has been a problem, though, making the phone sound really warbly when anywhere on the first floor – i.e. close the new router.

Continue reading »

Have you been to Disney World in the past 10 years?  Have you stayed within the park and therefore traveled on the “Disney Transportation” system?  For a few of you, that would mean riding the Monorail only but for most, it involves spending time on a bus.  And it probably involved a fair bit of waiting for buses to come, waiting to board buses, sitting on buses, and walking from buses.  Overall, while the bus system does successfully move a massive quantity of people around the World, it does not do it efficiently.

How about the Monorail, you ask?  I remember riding the Monorail when I was a kid (in the 70s) and it was awesome.  Futuristic and smooth and just plain cool.  It is 40 years later and it hasn’t changed since.  The world (and the World) has gotten better around it.  These days, the best that can be said about the Monorail is it elicits nostalgia.  But for most people, they will see a worn coach that takes forever to load and unload and isn’t going where you want to go.

How about a personal car?  Well, you can definitely get to and from parking lots quickly but then you have to pay for parking and everybody knows how far away you have to park – so far from the entrance that you need a special parking shuttle to get around the parking lot.

The upshot is, getting around Disney World is a complete pain in the ass.  And when you are on vacation, you don’t want to spend time sitting around in a bus, a museum Monorail, or a traffic jam in a parking lot.  Especially at Disney World where you have to book what time you are going to do a ride months in advance (that’s another post!), burning up precious time just trying to get to the theme park of the day is downright stupid.

So if you are like me (and I hope for the sake of your fellow vacation travelers that you are not), then you spend much of that time on the bus thinking about how it should be done better.  And then when you get home, you kill a day studying maps and working out transit routes.

Continue reading »

Back in 2008, Mrs. Katharsys and I bought a high end mattress.  With my back pain, it seemed worth the $1847 for the queen-size Nature’s Rest “Conservation” foam mattress.  (No box spring because of the platform bed frame.) We also got a “Protect A Bed” mattress cover that supposedly would keep the mattress like new regardless of how much we sweat while sleeping.

We realized we had a problem very soon, however.  “Body impressions” were forming.  Looking at the instructions, it said that that was normal.  But we also realized that we had less springy-ness in those body impressions.  In September of 2009, we called the store and they had a manufacturer’s rep come out and measure the impressions.  Kevin was really nice but the news wasn’t good for us.  The way the warranty measuring goes is from top of the bed to the bottom, not side to side.  And top to bottom, our mattress’s impressions were only 1/4″ down when the threshold for determining a problem is 1-1/4″.  There is also no measurement for resiliency.  So in a business where they tell you not to worry about body impressions, they only test for body impressions.  And in a business that is all about the firmness and resiliency of a mattress, that’s not something they test for.  Well, I figured, it’s only been a year.  The warranty is for 20 years.  I’m sure I’ll hit the threshold soon, I thought.

Continue reading »

ASUS Product Repair Experience

| by Ken | in Soapbox, Technology 2 Comments »

Earlier this year, I bought an external monitor for my laptop.  When I travel, I can still have two monitor’s worth of space.  Well, the travel monitors are smaller than the home monitors, but it is still better than a single laptop display for times when I am doing more than checking e-mail.  Fortunately, I am not on the road all the time but I still managed to justify the expense!  I got an ASUS MB168B which received mixed reviews due to a bit of a learning curve with how to work the stand/case.  Once you understand how to do it, though, it’s ingenious because there are only 3 parts – the monitor, the case, and the cable – where the case turns into a stand without additional parts and therefore keeps the travel weight down.  The only thing I would have liked was to get a higher resolution on the monitor.  The MB168B has 1366X768 while my internal laptop display is 1600X900.  Not too long after I bought my monitor, ASUS released (or it became available where I couldn’t find it before) the MB168B+ which has a resolution of 1920×1080, seemingly in the same case.

One day the monitor just didn’t work.  Plugged it in, Windows 7 did the little “pa-dunk” noise as usual, and…  nothing.  I had a white LED on the monitor indicating that it was on, I could drag windows to it, Windows 7 Control Panel showed it active but I didn’t see anything on the screen.  As though it wasn’t getting power.  But obviously, the panel was getting power to the whole unit so it was clearly an internal issue. Continue reading »

While Market Basket was experiencing some turmoil, I had a chance to check out some of the stores I wouldn’t usually frequent.  I planned a 6-store comparison report that compared Market Basket, Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Hannaford, Whole Foods, and the new arrival to the market, Wegmans.  I did manage to compare the first 4 but things fell apart when I got to Whole Foods and Wegmans.  For Whole Foods, there were just too few things to compare to a “regular” grocery store.  Like trying to use a Phillips screwdriver to drive in a slotted screw – wrong tool for the job.  Sure, some people manage to rework their life around what Whole Foods has.  That’s not me.

But the Wegmans issue was much more surprising.  I’d read about Wegmans on foodie blogs and the store seemed perfect.  There was the promise of good prices with abundant produce on top of amazing selection and with gourmet bakery and prepared foods to boot.  It sounded like Whole Foods for the masses and on a massive scale.  I have checked the Wegmans web site every 6 months or so waiting to see if there would be one coming near me.  So when the Market Basket shutdown went into effect and the first area Wegmans opened, it was time to make the drive (a half hour seems silly for grocery shopping when are so many grocery stores between me and Wegmans, but considering that previously the closest Wegmans was an hour away and before that was 6 hours away, a half hour didn’t seem so bad).

Continue reading »

The Great Grocery Store Comparison

| by Ken | in Soapbox 2 Comments »

I have been doing the majority of my grocery shopping at Market Basket for years now.  The grocery store closest to me, Johnnie’s Foodmaster, was never that great and it had been going downhill for years before it was sold to Whole Foods.  So I haven’t minded a few extra minutes and driving by 2 other grocery stores on my way to Market Basket.  But this summer, the Market Basket ersatz shutdown forced me to change my grocery shopping habits temporarily.  I’m now back to Market Basket full time but I used the Market Basket downtime to shop different grocery stores and do some comparisons.

I kept track of my purchases at the 3 major competitors and when Market Basket came back online (so to speak), I checked their prices on the same items.  I ended up with a pretty full spreadsheet but it still had a number of holes.  So this morning, I ran around to the 4 stores to plug as many of those holes as I could.  The following is a compilation of the comparative data I collected.  Yep, this is the kind of thing that only an engineer would apply to grocery shopping.

I’m going to jump to the price results because most people reading this would be interested in that first and foremost.  I have totaled a list of 34 grocery items of various types that were fairly easy to compare across the various stores.  Market Basket had all 34 items and I had prices for all of them.  Stop & Shop, Hannaford, and Shaw’s all were missing a few of the items or I goofed on getting prices for things so in those cases, I substituted an average price from the other 3 stores.  In the case of Stop & Shop, they still do a loyalty card for savings which effectively means 2 different result sets from one shopping trip so I treated those results as different (more on that below).  And for Shaw’s, there were a number of sale items that changed things considerably so I’ve treated those results as different too (again, more on that below.)  Here are the results:

Market Basket: $88.11

Hannaford: $96.16

Shaw’s normal prices: $108.91

Shaw’s with sale prices: $103.21

Stop & Shop without card: $114.75

Stop & Shop with card: $105.01

And here’s the full detail about how I got to those total prices:  grocery2014.numbers

Market Basket is the clear winner and Stop & Shop without a card is the easy loser coming in $26.64 higher.  That’s 30% higher than Market Basket!  And to put that in perspective, if you were to switch from Stop & Shop without a card to Market Basket and buy these same items for 52 weeks straight, you’d save $1385.28 in the course of a year.  Even Stop & Shop with a card is 19% higher than Market Basket with a 52 week difference of $878.80.  The prices tell a lot of the story, but there’s a lot more to consider when grocery shopping and those things may vary for different people.


Continue reading »

All content Copyright © Katharsys LLC Created with Wordpress, Theme "Synergy" by Pagelines modified by Katharsys LLC