myBLOG-Online

My AT&T Customer / Tech Support Experience!

AT&T Fiber Support

Four months ago, almost to the day, I switched from Cox Communications to AT&T for my Internet, I had ‘cut the cord’ in regard to TV 2 years previous, there’s nothing on cable TV for me anymore, certainly not at $170 a month. Anyway, you can read all about why I switched from Cox Communications to AT&T here.

Last Monday, July 30, 2018, when I arrived back from enrolling my son in high school at about 7:30pm, I sat down at my computer and it warned me that I was connected to my network, but had no Internet. So, I got on my phone, used the AT&T app to check for outages and there was an outage in my area, so I left it there, expecting the Internet to be working before the evening was out, but by midnight, it was still down.

I waited a little  longer, trying to fall asleep, but, by 2am, being unable to sleep as per normal for my insomniac self, I decided to call AT&T technical support after noticing the red ‘Alarm’ light was illuminated on the AT&T Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which after some research I found that the red alarm light means no optical light signal was reaching the ONT, which explains why my Internet was not working.

During the call, the AT&T tech support rep went through the usual, unplug, restart routine they have to do, being a former tech support rep myself, I realize that sometimes its as simple as a, in my best Roy from The IT Crowd voice, “have you tried turning it off and on again?” to fix a variety of issues. Obviously, I had tried these steps already, but the reps have to go through it regardless of whether I had already done it.

It soon became apparent that something was broken outside of my home, so the rep said that there is no point testing the modem as there was no optical signal reaching my ONT box. So, we moved into scheduling a tech visit and the initial slot she could find was over 36 hours away, which obviously won’t work for me. I explained that I work from home and need the Internet to work, she looked again for a priority slot and found a slot between 2 – 4pm, the next day, July 31, 2018, which I immediately accepted.

The technician arrived at 3pm, the halfway point of the arrival window. When he rang my doorbell, he said, I think I have already fixed the issue, which I knew he had done, as my internet suddenly popped back online. He explained that the fiber cable inside the AT&T box on the outside of my home was broken, which was the old style fiber cable, he simply replaced it with the newer, stronger fiber cable.

I constantly hear how terrible AT&T customer service is, but four months in, my experience has been very different, I really have no complaints, even while dealing with AT&T, on my mother-in-law’s behalf, my experience has been positive. Hopefully, it stays that way and, as importantly, AT&T don’t start throttling traffic from certain providers, as they are entitled to do since the net neutrality rules were rolled back by Ajit Pai’s FCC, If this experience changes, I can assure you that I will write about it on myblog-online.


UNEMPLOYED IV! Time To Breath In And Tighten Our Belts

No Job, No Money, Now What?

My wife has been ‘let go’ from her job for the fourth time in 3 1/2 years, this time because the company she worked for is downsizing, selling off a bunch of their properties. It was only a part-time job, which brought in about $650-700/month, but money was already tight after launching a photography business, so this sudden decrease in income puts us in dire straits, I could really use some ‘money for nothing’.

Unlike previous job losses, we are not drowning in a mountain of debt, thanks to the funds I received from my fathers estate, but there are some debts that we really cannot afford with this job loss, one is a car loan, luckily it is a small loan, less than $140/month and a Best Buy credit card, which has a required $125/month payment to avoid 29.9% interest charges when the promotional interest free period ends.

I’m really angry with myself, as, at the time of purchase, we had the cash to buy the wife’s new (used) car and washer and dryer outright. But I let my wife talk me into putting these items on credit instead of using cash from savings, which is now gone. We have zero savings just 4 months after these purchases, and I am at a loss to where the majority of the money went, other than paying off new credit card balances.

The net result as the title suggests I have immediately canceled anything that is not essential, like the Playstation VUE streaming TV service, Spotify, WWE Network, StreamVia VPN, and Audible subscription (my wife is not going to be happy with me), leaving us with Netflix and Hulu Plus. In truth, we can’t really afford that either, but we can’t just sit in this house in silence with two kids to keep entertained.

There are some business expenses, like our website, Email, Adobe photography suite and insurance that we need to keep. At least we own our camera gear, I insisted that we pay for this in cash, I don’t want to be facing repossession of our camera equipment, that would be disastrous, it’s hard to run a photography business without camera gear. After nine months, we need the business to start paying back our close to $15,000 investment, selling everything and giving up on the business is a real possibility.

I could ramble on for paragraphs about this, but I will leave it here. Suffice to say, one of two things need to happen, my wife needs to find new employment or business significantly picks up on the photography front. My income alone is below what is needed to support my family, I can keep a roof over our head and the lights on, but not feed and clothe all four of us, much to the detriment of my mental state.


Formula 1 German Grand Prix 2018

German Grand Prix 2018

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel threw away a certain victory with a rookie error in slippery conditions at the Hockenheimring, while Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton rode his luck avoiding a potential time penalty to snatch victory, after starting from 14th due to a technical issue in qualifying 1 on Saturday afternoon.

There really wasn’t much in the way of action during the first 40 laps, including the start. Hamilton made his way through the field rapidly with his superior Mercedes car, the British driver was up to 4th place by lap 15 courtesy of a few cars stopping ahead of him. Meanwhile, Ricciardo, who started from dead last after an engine change, had made his way up to 6th before suffering a race-ending mechanical issue.

It started getting interesting after lap 43 when it started to rain, Mercedes made a decision to pit Hamilton for his only stop, switching him onto the ultra soft tires as the rain was isolated to the turn 6 area of the track at that time. A number of drivers, notably, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen switched onto intermediate wet tires, which really didn’t pay off for the Dutchman as the track was not wet enough, having to switch back onto slick tires just two laps later, costing him a potential podium in the process.

Then, disaster struck for Ferrari with Vettel making, what has to be considered a rookie error sliding off the track and into the barrier at the SachsKurve, ending his race while out in the lead, which resulted in a safety car, directly causing the race to turn on its head, while Bottas and Raikkonen pitted for fresh ultra soft tires, Hamilton aborted his pitstop at the last moment, driving across the grass from the pitlane to inherit the lead of the race, which was a fortuitous side effect of Mercedes radio comms confusion.

During the safety car restart on lap 58, Bottas was all over the back of Hamilton challenging for a lap before the Finn was instructed by the team to hold station. Bottas, playing the good #2 driver complied allowing Hamilton to pull away by almost 5 seconds by the end of the race, just nine short laps later. Mercedes clearly fearing a penalty for Hamilton cutting back onto the track from the pitlane, which is a breach of the sporting regulations, gave Hamilton the hurry up as the track dried out in the closing laps.

It wouldn’t be Formula 1 without some sort of controversy, and the German Grand Prix was no different. Lewis Hamilton’s aborted pit stop was a breach of Appendix L Chapter IV Article 4c of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, but a simple reprimand was the [non-]punishment for the Mercedes driver, due to the confusion over the team radio, and the fact that this breach was under safety car conditions.

Many pointed to a similar infraction by Kimi Raikkonen a few years back, in Baku was given a 5-second time penalty for a similar infraction, but race director, Charlie Whiting, differentiated the Hamilton infraction because Raikkonen had performed the same maneuver on a ‘green flag’ track.

Personally, I am getting sick and tired of the inconsistencies in stewardship at race events. I’m not a fan of Hamilton or Vettel, in fact, I have a healthy dislike for both of their personalities. So, I don’t have a dog in the race,  but the fact that Hamilton and Vettel have gotten away with insignificant penalties for rule-breaking, while drivers not in the championship hunt get hit with more severe penalties is outrageous, making a mockery of the sporting regulations, it’s time for an overhaul of the decision-making process.

That said, it was Vettel running out of talent at the sachscurve that ultimately allowed Hamilton to win, the infraction only happened because Vettel put his Ferrari in the wall, yes, conditions were tricky, but nothing a 4-time world champion shouldn’t be able to handle. The net result is that the drivers’ title has taken a massive swing back in Hamilton’s favor thanks to Vettel’s lapse in concentration. Hamilton now has a 17 point lead over Vettel and Mercedes move back ahead in the constructors’ championship.

German Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:32:29.845
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +4.535
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +6.732
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +7.654
5. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +26.609
6. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +28.871
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +30.556
8. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +31.750
9. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +32.362
10. Brendan Hartley (Toro Rosso) +34.197

Why Require Gross Income For Assistance Vs Net Income?

Empty Pockets

It’s that time of year again, kids are back to school in a few weeks and I’m applying for reduced rate meals at school because meals are expensive. For my two kids, based on 20 school days a month, meals will cost $92/mo. With reduced rate meals, that comes down to $16, which was a lifeline during the 2017/18 school year, however, my wife started a part-time job, which puts us $389/yr over the income limit.

Now, if we actually took home $45,344 a year, I would not complain, but we lose 16% of our income in federal and state taxes, plus mandatory medical insurance, which is another 9.7% of our combined income, even after the ACA subsidy. After taxes and insurance, our net income is just $33,691, a difference of $11,653, which unless you’re a millionaire, is not an insignificant amount of money.

I have applied for reduced rate school meals anyway, hoping that the bureaucrats won’t be petty over $389 a year.  To put that into perspective, that’s just $7.48 a week, and the full price school meals will cost $23/week without the financial assistance. But, I’m not hopeful, bureaucrats are petty by nature.

PANIC OVER! I was handed information for the 2017/18 school year, not the 2018/19 school year, we just about scrape under the 2018/19 income limit for reduced cost school meals. But, my point still stands, why do we, as a country, calculate eligibility from gross income without factoring in such things as rent/mortgage costs, electricity, water is also not free, for us that is an average of $330 – $350/mo.

I work in the home rental field, so I know how much average rent costs in the city where I live, and for a 3 bedroom home, which you would need for a family like mine, two adults, a 13-year-old boy, and an 8-year-old girl, is $911/mo; we pay a little more than that, $925/mo for a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home, the fourth bedroom acts as my office as I work from home, which saves me a little money on travel costs.

Moving onto travel, most people have to travel to work, which, where I live is car-dependent, public transport is somewhat limited if you work outside of the central city area. So we can factor in car loan payments, insurance and fuel costs, which for us comes to roughly $480/mo with rising gas prices.

Then, we come to groceries, which weigh in at $650 – $800/mo, we could shop cheaper, but we want our kids to have a well-balanced diet, which costs more, this is why so many families suffer from obesity, there is a direct link between lower incomes and obesity, because unhealthy processed food is cheap.

Finally, we have school costs with many schools moving to a uniform based system, meaning parents have to find another $150 per child, maybe twice a school year to buy uniforms, plus stationery supplies for school, which could easily add another $100 + registration fees, albeit a one time fee per school year.

If you add all of the above together, it comes to over $30,000 a year. I understand that some people have to live with much less, but in our case, where I get a good salary for the area, and we still have to struggle financially. We don’t lead an extravagant lifestyle, in fact, we barely go out, maybe 8-10 times a year, I only eat one meal a day, I rarely drink alcohol, I don’t smoke and we’re still barely making it.

To summarize, it’s a broken system when a dollar amount is taken as a basis for assistance, which the person being judged will never see in their [virtual] wallet. We should also take into account basic living costs, people don’t have their whole income after tax to spend on whatever takes their fancy.


Formula 1 British Grand Prix 2018

Sebastian Vettel celebrating his British Grand Prix victory

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took an impressive victory at Silverstone to extend his world championship lead over title rival Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by a further seven points to lead the drivers championship by eight points going into the German’s home Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring in two weeks time.

The race started off with a bang, Vettel made a stonking start from second on the grid while polesitter Hamilton made a terrible start, dropping back to third by turn 1, losing out to Vettel and Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton’s bad start was compounded at turn 3 when Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen made contact tipping him into a spin, dropping the Briton to the back of the pack.

I’d like to quickly talk about the disparity in performance between the top two teams, Mercedes and Ferrari and the rest of the field. For Hamilton to come from dead last to finish second is crazy, even if he was helped in this quest by his teammate moving aside for him in the closing laps. I remember in days of old, getting spun around and battling from the back meant a low points haul, but not today.

Hamilton was inside the top six by lap 11 for heaven’s sake, and this was with a supposed damaged car, according to his team radio messages. Raikkonen was also rapidly carving his way through the top 10 after serving his 10 second time penalty during his first pit stop, which is another point, inconsistent race stewardship, Vettel was given a five second time penalty in Austria for a very similar infraction.

Back to the race, the field was bunched up on lap 33 when the safety car was deployed to recover Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber. Ferrari elected to pit both Vettel and Raikkonen to switch to the softer yellow marked tire, while both Mercedes continued on with their medium tires, which really cost, race leader, Bottas in the closing stages as he succumbed to both Ferrari’s and had to yield 2nd place to teammate Hamilton.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was outperforming his car, running at high as 3rd, having an epic battle with Raikkonen for what was fifth place at the time, ended his race six laps from the chequered flag, spinning out in front of his teammate, Ricciardo who was closing on the Dutchman. Despite speculation from the commentators, there was no contact between the Red Bull drivers, instead, it was a brake issue for Max.

Overall, it was a bad weekend for Red Bull, they found themselves in a very distant fifth place, being really slow down the straights in comparison to Mercedes and Ferrari, something I alluded to earlier in this write-up. I heard some say that Red Bull was, even with DRS enabled, the same speed as Mercedes/Ferrari without DRS, meaning there was zero chance of defending against the top two teams.

After the race, Hamilton was being somewhat of a dick, in my view, walking away from the post-race interviews, I find this disgraceful, especially in front of the British crowd that adores him. Hamilton alluded to Ferrari using Raikkonen to try to compromise his race, using the term “interesting tactics”, squarely pointing the finger at Ferrari, when Martin Brundle caught up with him on the podium.

Is it possible that Ferrari tried to use “interesting tactics” in the race, yes, however, I think it’s unlikely, but the conspiracy nuts will be all over this, although I will end it there, you can make your own mind up?

British Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:27:29.784
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +2.264
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +3.652
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +8.883
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +9.500
6. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +28.220
7. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +29.930
8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +31.115
9. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +33.188
10. Sergio Perez (Force India) +34.708

Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2018

Red Bull claimed an unlikely victory at the Austrian Grand Prix, which bares its name, the Red Bull Ring in a race that was, in modern terms a race of attrition with only 14 drivers taking the chequered flag.

Straight to the start of the race, polesitter, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas made a terrible start, finding himself in fourth place exiting turn 1 as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen dove in between Bottas and teammate, Lewis Hamilton, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took advantage to also move ahead of Bottas.

The race turned on its head again with Raikkonen challenging Hamilton for the lead into turn 3, getting it all wrong and going wide, which allowed Bottas to come back at him to claim back 2nd place, seconds later, Raikkonen lost the 3rd place to Verstappen through turns 6 and 7 after the two banged wheels.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who also made a poor start, dropping back to eighth place had recovered to fifth place by lap 14, courtesy of Bottas’ Mercedes gearbox suffering a hydraulic failure, which put him out of the race while running in second place behind teammate Hamilton. You really have to feel for Valtteri, he has had exceptionally crappy luck during the 2018 season thus far through no fault of his own.

The Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed and Red Bull, ever the opportunists stacked their drivers in the pits to switch onto the yellow marked soft tires under VSC conditions, as did Ferrari. Mercedes failed to react to the VSC and allowed Hamilton to go around again, eventually pitting the Briton 11 laps later, where he lost the lead to Verstappen and Red Bull was running 1 – 2 after Ricciardo passed Raikkonen.

As the race headed towards the final third, Ricciardo was suffering from significant blistering of his rear tires due to the exceptionally high track temperatures allowing Raikkonen to regain second place. Ricciardo immediately pitted for fresh tires, a set of red marked super-soft tires, after being overtaken.

Soon it was time for Hamilton to suffer from blistered rubber, losing third place to Vettel. Hamilton pitted for the third set of tires on lap 53, losing another place to Ricciardo in the pits, Hamilton now back to fifth place, but just one lap later, regained fourth place, not due to an overtake, but another gearbox issue, this time for Ricciardo, in his third retirement of 2018, two technical and one crash, with his teammate.

10 laps later, just eight laps from the chequered flag, Hamilton pulled off the track with an engine issue, so no points for Mercedes after taking a 1 – 2 in qualifying. This gifted third place to his main title rival, Sebastian Vettel, who, followed teammate Raikkonen home. Many expected Ferrari to switch the two drivers, to maximize the points haul for the team leader, but, thankfully, no such team order came.

Although Raikkonen did close the gap to the race leader, Verstappen, I feel that Max had it under control, managing the gap and his tires, Raikkonen finished the race just 1.5 seconds behind the race winner.

With Hamilton failing to finish the race, Vettel’s third place moves him ahead of Hamilton in the World Drivers Championship by just one point. And with Ferrari finishing 2 – 3 and Mercedes failing to score, that gives Ferrari a 10 point lead over Mercedes in the World Constructors Championship.

It was kinda nice to see cars retiring from the race, especially the normally bulletproof top three teams, reminding me of the past, where the envelope was constantly being pushed and engines expired in spectacular style, much like the Renault engine of Nico Hulkenberg did in the Austrian Grand Prix 2018.

Amazingly, only three cars finished on the lead lap, but due to the high attrition rate, we saw some new names high up the classification, props to HAAS, who scored a 4 – 5 finish with Grosjean scoring his first points of the season, and Force India scoring a 6 – 7 finish, even Sauber claimed a double points haul, finishing the race in 9th and 10th, while Alonso scored 4 points for himself and McLaren for 8th place.

Austrian Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:21:56.024
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +1.504
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrrari) +3.181
4. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +1 LAP
5. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +1 LAP
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1 LAP
9. Charle Leclerc (Sauber) +1 LAP
10. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +1 LAP

Formula 1 French Grand Prix 2018

French Grand Prix 2018

The French Grand Prix is back on the F1 calendar for the first time in 10 years, and it turned out to be a half decent race after the snore-fest that was the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

We started the race with an immediate safety car period after Sebastian Vettel rear-ended Valtteri Bottas going into turn 1, tipping Bottas into a spin and causing a puncture, while Vettel suffered front wing damage, forcing both drivers to pit at the end of lap 1, dropping them to the back of the pack.

Still on lap 1, at turn 3, Pierre Gasly tried to dive up the inside of Esteban Ocon with the pair making contact, putting both drivers out of the race. This is what brought out the safety car to clear up the debris, in the meantime, Bottas and Vettel pitted for running repairs, also switching onto the yellow soft tires.

The race restarted on lap 6 and, nothing changed, not even a challenge for position, let alone a change of position. However, Daniel Ricciardo did move past Renault’s Carlos Sainz in the run down to the turn 8 chicane for third place four laps later, which was expected with Sainz running higher than Renault’s form.

Vettel and Bottas were recovering from the back of the grid, by lap 11, the German had moved into the top 10 while the Finn was up to 12th place. However, it took Bottas a further nine laps to break into the top 10, Mercedes later confirmed that Bottas had floor damage, which was hindering his pace.

Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton was quietly getting on with it out in front, Hamilton had led from pole position, managing the gap in a flawless drive. Followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who benefitted from Vettel’s mistake which took both himself and Bottas out of contention for the French win.

Clearly, after the first lap incident that relegated them to the back, Vettel and Bottas switched to the hardest of the available tire compounds with view of running 98% of the race distance without stopping again, which, didn’t work out for either driver, both drivers having to pit again 10 laps from the end.

Vettel was running in 3rd place, but lost out to Ricciardo and teammate Kimi Raikkonen as his tires were going off, which triggered a stop, but only after Bottas stopped for the same reason. Ferrari was going to do the same as Mercedes to cover off Bottas, who ended up behind the HAAS of Kevin Magnussen in seventh place, while Vettel finished in fifth place, handing the championship lead back to Hamilton.

Ricciardo, who was running in third place was suffering from a lack of front end grip in the closing laps due to debris getting stuck in his front wing, which allowed Raikkonen to close in and pass the Australian with just four laps remaining. Ricciardo put up a robust defense, but could not stay ahead of the Finn.

Sebastian Vettel now has a 14 point deficit to Lewis Hamilton in the world drivers championship, which you have to say, like last season, Vettel is making errors, costing himself valuable championship points.

Finally, conspiracy theory time, Paul Ricard is one of the three circuits where the reduced trend Pirelli tires are used, which are deemed to benefit Mercedes more than other teams. Mercedes won in Barcelona, now Paul Ricard, will it be a slam dunk in Silverstone for a trio of wins with the reduced tread tires?

French Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:30:11.385
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +7.090s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +25.888s
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +34.736s
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +61.935s
6. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +79.364s
7. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +80.632s
8. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +87.184s
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +91.989s
10. Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +93.873s

Financial Woes, Part (I Don’t Know, I’ve Lost Count)

Keeping Our Heads Above Water, Barely

Eight months ago, we were in dire financial trouble, to the point of defaulting on a car loan, personal loan and four credit cards with a total of $65,000 in balances. At that time, it was impossible for me to enjoy life, every waking thought was about the dire financial situation we were in, wondering where the money to make the minimum credit card/loan payments were coming from, to the point of making myself sick.

That issue was solved in the nick of time by a $107,000 inheritance payment from my late father’s estate. I paid off $70,000 in debts, $65,000 in personal/car loans and credit cards plus another $5,000 paying back loans from family members that kept us afloat. We spent $10,000 on better camera gear for my wife’s new photography business, $6,000 deposit, which is half of the cost of a new(er) car for my wife.

This brings us up to $86,000, leaving $21,000 in savings, which has mostly been used to pay off fresh credit card balances, and a whole host of unexpected expenses, like a new lawn mower after ours went up in a cloud of smoke, and we have to spend $1,250 getting treated for bed bugs, for the third time in 3 years, our best guess is the kids are bringing them home from school, the kids don’t go anywhere else.

I let my wife spend $5 – $6,000 on ‘things’, I’m not even sure what, 8 – 10 live music events booked, some still upcoming, which I guess would come to around, maybe $1,500, plus using savings to cover the shortfall on monthly bills, now we are looking at having $1,850 remaining in savings after paying the latest round of credit card balances. We have plans on spending a long weekend in Arkansas next month, which is in jeopardy as the money earmarked for the trip has been wiped out by the bed bugs treatment.

Outside of the normal monthly utilities, I have a $140/mo car payment, $125/mo for a payment for a new washer and dryer we purchased a few months back and $46/mo for insurance for the aforementioned camera equipment. I need to look at all the money we have coming in and come up with a financial plan moving forward, which almost certainly will mean cuts in services we consume every month.

Now, I am here, back with all the financial burden on my shoulders, I can feel the stress and tension building up. I’m getting that sick feeling in my stomach as I know as things stand, our income is not enough to pay all our bills and buy groceries. I do not want to go down the road of using credit cards to make up the shortfall again as that is how we ended up in $65,000 in debt in just 3 years to start with.

Unfortunately, my wife’s businesses including photography and real estate have flopped thus far, we are about minus $13,000 on the photography side and roughly minus $2,500 on the real estate side. My wife works part-time which allows her to concentrate on her business projects, that part-time work brings in about $800/mo on top of my full-time income of about $2,100/mo net salary and $450 of other income.

I don’t want to tell my wife to give up on her business dreams, but it’s not working out, and the financial buffer of the savings is dwindling fast. It’s soon going to be time for her to find full-time work, we cannot continue to keep spending on a loss-making venture, the real estate venture has yielded just $1,000 in 3 years and only $200 in 7 months for the photography business, which is obviously not sustainable.

This all makes me feel depressed and like a failure, I am unable to provide for all my family’s needs.


A New Low For Trump / Separating Immigrant Children From Parents

Immigrant Children Separated From Their Parents and Caged Up In Detention Centers

I don’t often write about our elected president, not because I agree with anything he has done or tried to do, but, because I don’t have enough time to write about all the stupid and diabolical things he has done. But, I feel I need to express my feelings about his latest actions in regard to separating illegal immigrant children from their parents, for no reason other than crossing into the US illegally for a better life.

On April 6, 2018, Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions sent out a zero tolerance order for people crossing the US/Mexico border illegally. This order includes separating children from their parents at the border, the parents are sent for criminal prosecution while the children, who cannot be held criminally responsible are taken, distraught, screaming and crying to separate holding locations around the US.

Let’s be clear, anyone that believes causing children, immigrant or otherwise unnecessary emotional distress, which often has long-lasting effects is acceptable has a cold black heart. And, those in the Trump administration that consistently lie to defend the administration’s policies, Jeff Sessions, Sarah Sanders, and Kirstjen Nielsen, well, as Madeline Albright said “there’s a special place in hell” for these people.

Now, this is where it gets really dark, Trump, all but admitted, that this ‘zero tolerance’ policy was a way to force Democrats in Congress to vote in favor of giving Trump $25 billion for his border wall, which, of course, was one of his campaign promises, albeit without Mexico footing the bill as Trump promised over and over again on the campaign trail. Trump is literally holding these children hostage, blaming the whole situation on a non-existent Democratic ‘loopholes’, which Trump’s base laps up enthusiastically.

Obviously, there has been a massive backlash, the majority of Americans can’t watch and listen to children crying as they are being ripped away from their parents and accept it, which forced Trump to sign an executive order, which allows children to stay with their parents, but this does not affect the over 2,300 children that have already been separated, probably because of the reasons in the paragraph below.

Some reports have suggested that some immigrant parents have already been deported without their children. It has also been reported by some that there is no solid plan for reuniting families when the parents are inevitably deported, which does not surprise me in the slightest, Donald J Trump and his cronies have no clue, they literally could not successfully organize a piss-up in a brewery.

We should also note that the administration has tried to justify the separation of children by claiming that a lot of illegal immigrants are trafficking children, and that the adults are not the true parents of the removed children. Something that the administration has provided no real evidence of being true.

Bottom line here is that the powers that be in the United States of America are using blackmail to get their way, basically holding children hostage, in this immigration crisis and while the GOP were pushing their spending bill and tax ‘reform’, holding CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Dreamers hostage. It’s disgraceful that our leaders are using hostage-taking tactics to pass their self-serving bills.

Then, to add insult to injury, Trump’s wife, Melania, decided it would be a good idea to wear a jacket with the words “I really don’t care, do u?” emblazoned on the back as she boarded a plane on her way to a compassionate visit to one of the centers where immigrant children are being held. Melania’s spokesperson said “it’s a jacket, there was no hidden message”, only to be contradicted by her husband, the idiot and chief, saying it was an attack on the fake news media, which, came in the form of a tweet.

To conclude, we live in a time where our politicians are a law unto themselves, there is zero accountability, at least if you play for team red. This is why it’s massively important that we flip the house and senate blue in November, so we can put a stop to the open corruption before it is too late, There are self-serving assholes on the Democrat side too, but it’s far worse on the Republican side of Congress.


Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix 2018

Sebasitan Vettel Wins The 2018 Canadian Grand Prix

The best way to describe the 2018 Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix is forgettable, with the main talking point of the race being the premature waving of the chequered flag by Winnie Harlow, causing the race result to be classified on lap 68 instead of the scheduled 70, due to an obscure FIA sporting rule. Luckily, despite the flag mishap, it had no effect on the result, other than Daniel Ricciardo losing his fastest lap.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made the start somewhat exciting, getting alongside Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas going into the left-hander at turn 1, and despite hanging on around the outside of turn 2, ultimately lost out, having to settle for third. Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo also made a good start, getting ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at turn 1 into 2, meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel disappeared into the distance.

A few moments later, Toro Rosso’s Brendan Hartley was attempting an overtake of Williams’ Lance Stroll on the outside of turn 5 into 6, when stroll had an oversteer moment forcing Hartley into the wall at turn 5, which caused both driver’s races to end just 30 seconds into the race at the runoff area of turn 6.

Predictably, being Canada, this prompted the safety car to neutralize the race while the two cars were recovered. The race restarted on lap five and a big nothing happened, everyone maintained their position, with the exception of Force India’s Sergio Perez, who tangled with Renault’s Carlos Sainz going into turn 1, with the former losing half dozen positions as a result, much to the chagrin of the Mexican.

During the first round of pitstops, Daniel Ricciardo leapfrogged Lewis Hamilton for 4th place, Hamilton was down on power, according to Mercedes after their planned engine change for Montreal was scrapped due to reliability issues with the new power unit. Speaking of reliability issues, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso suffered another retirement with a broken exhaust causing engine overheating issues.

That’s about all she wrote for the 2018 Canadian Grand Prix, next to no on-track overtaking, a few crashes and a procession at the front after the first round of stops. Race winner, Vettel never looked challenged in his lights to flag (twice) victory, there was some potential drama in the closing stages of the race with Hamilton seemingly closing on Ricciardo for 4th, but it fizzled out with Ricciardo faster out of the hairpin.

This Canadian Grand Prix has really highlighted the issues with the current F1 regulations, with drivers lifting and coasting to preserve fuel and running at a slower ultimate pace to save tires. Even with 3 DRS zones, overtaking was a virtual no-go, I’m not sure how many, if any overtakes were made, I don’t remember a single on-track overtake during the entire Canadian GP, making for an extremely dull race.

If nothing else, the Canadian GP has set up the European leg of the season nicely with Vettel taking a 1 point lead over Hamilton in the world drivers championship with Mercedes seemingly on the back foot. I believe that 2018 could be Ferrari’s championship to lose with Mercedes nowhere near their ultimate performance, but, like last season, Ferrari could be their own worst enemy with unforced blunders.

Canadian Grand Prix 2018 Results

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:28:31.377
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +7.376
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +8.360
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +20.892
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +21.559
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +27.184
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1 LAP
8. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +1 LAP
9. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
10. Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +1 LAP