The 2017 Formula 1 season kicked off in anger this weekend, and I believe the new regulations have made things worse, with only one bonafide overtake during the whole of the Australian Grand Prix. The race was won by good strategy and the fact that overtaking is very difficult, with the former race leader getting stuck behind a slower car allowing for a change of lead through pure pit-stop strategy.
The race started badly for the hometown crowd with Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo stopping on track with a gearbox issue on the way to the grid. His car was recovered to the pits and Ricciardo eventually did start the race from the pit-lane on lap 3, starting the race one lap down, due to an aborted start on lap 1.
In my view, the most exciting part of the race was the first 15 seconds from the start. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton got away well into the lead from pole position, Vettel had a slower start allowing the second Mercedes of Valteri Bottas to get alongside going into turn 1, the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen got somewhat blocked by Vettel’s slow start allowing the Red Bull of Max Verstappen to get alongside. But, no change of position actually took place, the top five remained unchanged going into the second turn.
Hamilton and Vettel exchanged fastest laps during the opening stint with the gap yoyoing back and forth, but ultimately it remained status quo until the first round of pit-stops. Hamilton stopped first on lap 18 from the lead to change the ultra-soft tires he started with onto the soft tires and came back out in fifth place behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Vettel stayed out for a further six laps while Hamilton was held up behind the Red Bull, this allowed the Ferrari to leapfrog the Mercedes for Vettel to lead the race.
Vettel came out of the pits just ahead of the Verstappen / Hamilton battle and quickly started pulling away, while Hamilton remained behind Verstappen for another lap before the Dutchman pitted for tires. After the pit-stops were made, positions remained the same as before with the exception of Vettel and Hamilton switching positions, followed by Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen in 3rd, 4th and 5th.
The secondary story was the number of retirements, one-third of the grid failed to make it to the end. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso retired from the race, disappointing for Alonso who was running in 10th place until he suffered suspension failure on lap 54. In addition to Alonso, the list of retirements include Romain Grosjean, Jolyon Palmer, Marcus Ericsson, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, and Kevin Magnussen.
My concern is that we find ourselves in the same situation as the early 2010’s where it was almost impossible to overtake due to “dirty air” coming off the rear wing of the car in front. The fact that there were only three overtakes, two of those caused by mechanical issues or mistakes, while the same race 12 months ago produced 26 overtakes, those are some ominous stats for the rest of the 2017 season.
F1 really doesn’t need to have racing dictated by grid position, starts and strategy only. Last season, I found myself watching highlights only as racing was so damn dull, and if it becomes worse this season, many might not bother watching at all. The only saving grace so far is that race 1 was won by Ferrari, a return to the winner’s circle after a drought of 18 months will do wonders for the sport. We’ll just have to hope and pray that this result was not an anomaly and Ferrari can challenge for the rest of the season.
Australian Grand Prix 2017 Results
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:24:11.672
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +9.975
3. Valteri Bottas (Mercedes) +11.250
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +22.393
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +28.827
6. Felipe Massa (Williams) +83.386
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP
9. Danill Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP
10. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
I work as an online/digital marketing specialist for a property management company, and part of my job role is brand reputation control, which includes reading and responding to bad reviews online.
Frankly, the number of libelous lies that are written is astonishing. I can’t go into specifics for obvious reasons, but if the company elected to go after these people in the courts, it would be an easy win as the former resident’s claims are unsubstantiated and we have folders of evidence to disprove their claims.
The reality behind most of these bad reviews is that the resident is far from innocent. Often these residents have multiple lease violations issued and evictions filed against them. They think they can make up a completely fictitious story to excuse their behavior and make us, as a company look bad.
Some of these bad reviews have an element of truth to them while others are 100% false. Some claims that are made are not even in the same ZIP code as the truth, so outrageous that it’s almost like a rejected B-movie script. I really wish I could name and shame these people and tell some of the truths behind the lies posted online. Sadly, I represent a professional company and have to respond accordingly.
My stock response is to say that we don’t comment online about individual cases and request that they call our office to discuss their issues in private. However, this often ends in these people being very aggressive and threatening, verbally abusing our front-line staff because we don’t tit-for-tat argue online.
Sadly, most happy residents never think about posting their opinion of the company online, 80% of the reviews posted online are negative, dragging our star rating down into the doldrums. However, this is just a side effect of advertising and making yourself visible online, the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Bottom line, not everything you read online is truthful, there are many keyboard warriors out there. Don’t judge a company solely based on what you read online, 95% of our residents are happy with the service we provide, unfortunately, the 5% are the loudest, the silent majority do us a disservice in that respect.
About six months ago, I was playing with my 7-year-old daughter and she accidentally kicked me in the side of the jaw breaking my wisdom teeth on the right side of my face. It hurt initially, but the pain subsided after a few days and I forgot about it for five months. Then, suddenly, the pain came back with a vengeance about three weeks ago, so I chose to get it dealt with and this is my story of dental surgery.
I had been suffering from bad tooth pain for three weeks and it was clear that it wasn’t going to go away of its own accord, so I called up Wichita Family Dental and they got me an appointment the same day, which was a great relief as the past three weeks had been miserable, very little sleep and work was a struggle when every second thought was “ouch”. Time for my first dentist office visit in over 30 years.
I arrive about 15 minutes prior to my appointment, knowing that there would be paperwork to complete as a new patient. I was taken to the back a little after 2:15pm and was asked a whole bunch of questions about the reason for my visit before being taken for a 360° X-Ray scan. Everyone I dealt with was friendly and courteous and as is par for the course, my British accent raised a few questions from staff members.
Dr. Pierson introduced himself and explained that after looking at the X-Ray he’d recommend that the two damaged Wisdom teeth be removed, I agreed. Next up was the dental hygienist who gave me a number of numbing shots before Dr. Pierson returned to start the surgery. Initially, the pain was extreme, so Dr. Pierson injected me with more numbing agent, afterward, the pain was much more manageable.
The surgery was not fun by any stretch of the imagination, however, it was tolerable given the violent procedure of extracting a tooth, lots of prodding, tugging and breaking away of the tooth material, a very disconcerting sound I can tell you. The bottom wisdom tooth was stubborn, I would estimate that Dr. Pierson was working on the tooth for a good 30 minutes. Once the procedure on that tooth was complete, I had a handheld X-Ray in the dentist chair to confirm the whole tooth and nerves were removed.
It was the same procedure for the upper wisdom tooth, however, this was much easier, this tooth only took about 2 – 3 minutes to extract and was much less painful than the extended ordeal of the bottom tooth extraction. I can’t say I’d recommend wisdom tooth removal, but it was not as bad as expected. It’s definitely better than the constant pain of a toothache caused by a broken and infected tooth.
I can certainly recommend Wichita Family Dental, they managed to make me feel at relative ease with their friendly and professional manner. At no point did I doubt their competency to complete the work to the highest standards and was kept informed of the costs at all stages of my experience. Now we come to the cost, as my dental coverage had lapsed due to circumstances, it came to $1,230 and some change.
It’s money that I could have done without spending at this time, but I could not continue to live with the pain, and it went on a credit card, so I can pay off the balance over time to blunt the financial trauma.
I was given a script for Hydrocodone and Amoxicillin to help with the pain and infection, which thankfully were not very expensive, less than $9 each. I did wake up at about 4am with massive pain on the right side of my face, my face had swollen massively, so I took a Hydrocodone and a couple of Acetaminophen which took the pain down and took an Amoxicillin for the infection in the morning as instructed.
I’m hoping the swelling and pain will subside within the next few days, there is still a little pain in the teeth next to the extracted Wisdom teeth, but I guess that was to be expected as the area is swollen and inflamed at this time. Despite this, I still feel much better and in less pain than I did prior to the surgery.
I am a self-confessed AMD “fanboy”; every system I have built has been AMD based, with the exception of my wife’s rig, which is Intel Pentium G4400 based, albeit with an AMD Radeon 6770 GPU. I do have a couple of Intel-based laptops, an i3 gen 2, and i5 gen 3 because I had heat issues with AMD laptops.
I don’t own a Ryzen CPU currently, for a couple of reasons, 1) I’m waiting for the technology to mature for six months, and 2) the ever present financial reasons, i.e. I don’t have $700-$800 to drop on a CPU, motherboard, cooler and RAM at this particular time. As much as I’d like to just go ahead and get the latest and greatest from AMD on a credit card, the pesky wife and kids require feeding and watering.
Looking at the online benchmarks, it does look like the Ryzen 1800X does match the $1,000 Intel i7 6900K’s performance at half the price in a productivity workload, which is my particular area of interest. However, where it does not compete is gaming performance against the i7 7700K which will overclock to 5GHz. Clock speeds are much lower on the AMD chip especially when dropping down to the Ryzen 1700 which is the price competitor for the 7700K, but the R1700 will kick the 7700K’s arse in productivity.
The fallout from the Ryzen launch has been ridiculous; people throwing their toys out of their pram over the lower than expected game performance. Not to say that game performance is terrible, it’s still very good, but nowhere near the i7 7700K using the same graphics card. But what many have missed is the fact that the ZEN architecture is brand spanking new, unlike the Intel platform. There will be improvements and optimizations to come which will boost the performance of the “ZEN” architecture.
I’m very excited about Ryzen and the upcoming VEGA GPU architecture. I’m truly hoping that it will create true competition and wake up Intel and Nvidia. Intel has been lazy in the years since the AMD FX CPU’s and has not innovated whatsoever, they’ve evolved, better optimized and lowered power requirements, but the architecture has basically remained unchanged. Competition is great for consumers, bringing down prices and pushing innovation, the last five years since Bulldozer has been really dull.
My 12-year-old son’s behavior has been the bain of my life since he started middle school 18 months ago, with multiple out of school and in-school suspensions, detentions, general bad behavioral and academic issues. You can read all my previous blogs about these issues by clicking here (first six results).
I won’t bore you with the entire story, there is a lot happening so I will start with Wednesday 3/8. I turn up at my son’s school at 4:05pm after chess club, where he is allowed to watch but not play due to consistently being on the D & F list; and I see the Assistant Principal walking towards my car.
The Assistant Principal explains that Conner will have after school detention for misuse of school resources, i.e. having multiple tabs of nonschool related websites up on the school Chromebooks during his math class. For the rest of the semester, his access to technology has been rescinded, he will be handed a paper worksheet. I have no issue with this action, I welcome it as my son cannot help himself.
The stupid thing is that my son got busted for the same crime just six weeks ago. I have every reason to believe he continued with the same behavior in math class and only just got caught again on Wednesday.
At home, the net result is that my son lost the last few pieces of technology he still had. I took away his mp3 player, his radio and strobe light he likes to sleep with. And as a bonus punishment, he was not allowed to stay overnight at his grandmother’s house this very evening I am writing this.
Not being able to stay over at his grandmother’s house seems to bother him much more than anything else. He has been asking us if he could do anything to be allowed to go over to “Mimi’s”, so maybe the threat of losing the privilege of staying over at his grandmother’s house will change his behavior?
Fast forward to this evening, I caught my son in my closet where I put his gadgets during previous behavior issues. Of course, the gadgets were not in the closet, I don’t store the confiscated gadgets in the same place every time. I was in my office which is located next door to my bedroom, and the closet shares a wall between the bedroom and office so I could hear him rummaging around in the closet.
I confronted him just as he closed the closet door and he tried to make excuses; which, of course, I was having none of it, there is no reason why he needs to be in my closet. I challenged him to give one reason why he needs to be in my closet and he just stared at me blankly like he does when he has no answer.
The bigger concern is my son’s lack of interest in doing his schoolwork. He has been on the D & F list for all but three weeks since the start of the school year and we’re about to end the third semester. He constantly has 2 – 3 assignments past their due date and even with an extension he fails to attempt the work. Even when the threat of losing his technology is present, he still goes straight to his room instead of doing the homework that was due the next day, despite promising us and his teachers he would do it.
I have come to the conclusion that punishing him, talking to him and encouraging him is a waste of time. Now, he will have to come to me and ask for help, only he can decide that he wants to change his behavior, when he does, I will give him all the help I can, for now, I’m done with dealing with this shit!
I’ll start with some back history about why I suspect the US Postal Service is selling our address details. About 4 years ago, while contracting as an Online Marketing Specialist before taking a position at my current employer, I was mistakenly sent a check under the name of Alternation Design, which was the brand I was using for my services, however, payment should have been made out to me personally.
Ever since that time, I have been receiving postal mail addressed to “Alternation Design”, not my name and Alternation Design, just the brand name. Everything from corporate credit card offers, to stamps and postal supplies to office furniture. I receive 3 – 5 pieces of postal mail for Alternation Design each month.
Fast forward about 2 1/2 years when I registered a domain name, AmericanEnglishRealty.com for my wife when she qualified as a realtor. About six weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from Domain SEO Service Registration Corp, who are well known for trawling the WHOIS database and spamming Email and postal addresses listed on the WHOIS database with fake SEO service renewal notices.
Three weeks later, I start receiving mail for American English Realty, which became more numerous over time, I now receive an additional 3 – 5 pieces of mail for this fictional company. At this point between the two non-existent companies, I get anywhere between 6 and 10 pieces of marketing mail sent to me monthly, often two by two, I’d receive the same marketing mail for both companies, today it was AMEX.
Given that I didn’t receive any postal mail for these fictional entities before the singular pieces of mail as described above. The only company that knew of these new entities at my address would be the US Postal Service as I had never publicized either of these brands anywhere with my address attached.
I found an article on The New York Times website, which clearly states that the USPS has been licensing a computerized list of all its change-of-address forms to marketing, insurance and credit companies. USPS claim to not be selling this information, however, USPS charge an initial licensing fee of $80,000 and a yearly charge of $52,000; given 25 years of inflation, that must be in the hundreds of thousands by now.
By licensing, albeit, for financial gain, they can skirt around the law. However, once a private company has your details, they can sell your information for profit, just go to Google and search USPS Address Lists and see for yourself. Anyone can buy these lists through third parties that have deals with the USPS.
Next time you move, don’t fill out a change of address form and don’t fill out the form that the USPS leave in your mailbox to inform them of the names of the people who live in the home. By completing these forms, you are giving them permission to
sell, sorry license that information to third parties.
To be clear, the situation I expressed in the first few paragraphs of this article has no relation to the change of address issue. But it does sound somewhat fishy, a single letter to my home address with the brand name printed and then the floodgates open, too much of a coincidence I would suggest.
Due to life changes and new financial restrictions, we’ve made a few changes to the way we consume live TV, firstly we canceled our $160+ cable TV package then tested out live streaming TV services, Sling TV and Playstation VUE, both services offered one week free trials. After a few days, the wife and I decided that the latter was the better option for us due to the better channel selection on the Playstation service.
Given how much we, as a family watch TV, paying $160+ makes no sense, we probably watch an average of 2.5 hours TV each day. $45/mo is much more reasonable and to be honest, with one exception, we don’t miss having cable TV. Playback can sometimes be a little choppy and does have very short periods of buffering, however, we can live with this for the $115+/mo savings, it’s not a deal breaker for us.
Despite its name, Playstation VUE works on more than just Playstations, it works on newer Roku, Chromecast, Android, iOS and Windows devices but sadly no Windows 10 app. The program guide works well if a little laggy and slow to populate, channel names run along the top with vertical time slots.
Stream quality is excellent, to my eye, it looks equal to that of cable TV, although sometimes it does look a little choppy, almost like it’s skipping frames, especially when displaying scrolling news tickers. Audio is stereo only, not Dolby Digital like a lot of cable TV channels, however, we can live without 5.1 sound.
Playstation VUE has a cloud DVR system, all you have to do to record your favorite programs is add them to “My Shows” and it will make those programs available “on demand” for up to 4 weeks, however, due to network and regional restrictions, some programs are not available after the live showing.
Not all channels are streamed live, however, these channels are offered “on demand” and have all the programs we personally watch. The channels that are on demand are ABC, FOX and NBC, this might be different in your local area, available on demand channels listed are for the Wichita / Hutchinson area.
We chose the Elite Slim package that offers all the channels except premium channels for $44.99/mo, however, prices start from $29.99/mo. For a full list of available channels and price points, click here.
The thing I do miss is the instant on of cable TV, there’s a lot more involved in getting Playstation VUE up and running, it’s not as simple as turning on the TV and flicking through the channels to find something to watch. That said, the $1,380 yearly savings make the extra hassle of getting PS VUE started worthwhile.
Our only concern with Playstation VUE or any streaming TV service is going over our ISP’s (and cable provider) data limit and getting charged, what can be considerate overages. That remains to be seen whether it will be a problem as I tended to stream Netflix, Hulu and Youtube 90% of the time anyway.
This is another blog inspired by the struggles of my own life; this time it’s about the lack of transparency in medical billing. There has been a number of situations over the past 8 years where we have received large unexpected medical bills due to a lack of cost transparency (read: lies) on the date of service.
This issue concerns Via Christi Home Medical and their blatant lies about contacting our insurance carrier to confirm pricing. My wife received a CPAP machine from Via Christi, we were told on the date of service it would cost $200; 2 months later we receive a bill for $973, a 386% increase on the quoted price.
I paid that bill on a credit card knowing I had plans to consolidate our credit cards. Now we are being threatened with our balance being sent to collections for a second bill for CPAP supplies, this is for another $438, we were told that our medical insurance would cover 100% of the cost of these supplies. So, Via Christi is either incompetent or they’re consistently lying to patients, either way, it’s unacceptable.
At this time, due to having a single income, we’re unable to pay this balance. I have to keep a roof over our heads, food in our mouths, I don’t give a fuck about whether a rich medical organization doesn’t get their $438. Via Christi claims to be a Catholic organization with Christian beliefs claiming “Service of the Poor“. Yes, they will treat you, but will also send you a huge bill, then threaten you with collections and try to refer you to high-interest loan companies so they get their money, very Christian, right?
Ultimately, if Via Christi Home Medical wants to send our balance to collections, go for it, it won’t change the situation, WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY THIS BALANCE WITHOUT SACRIFICING ESSENTIALS OF LIFE. My family’s needs are far more important than the wants of any business.
Basically, from what I can see, these medical companies can make up prices that have no basis in reality or bring in the services of external resources without telling you. For example, during a hospital visit, an external specialist consults with you, however, you are unaware that a separate bill is coming your way until you receive a bill months later, this is another personal experience from Wesley Medical Center.
In this case, Via Christi gave a price, based on most medical insurance, however, this is not made clear, they give you the impression they have checked with your insurance and the price they quote is the price you pay. If these providers said, most people pay this amount, but you should check with your insurance company to confirm your actual costs, most people would check before accepting the service.
This is a systematic problem, not a specific problem with Via Christi or Wesley Medical. This is a symptom of our corrupt system of governance where companies are people and money talks. These medical companies spend millions of dollars each year to create laws and regulations that benefit them at the cost of the American people. And it will only get worse under the Twitter troll President, Donald Trump.
UPDATE [Mar, 2 2017, 17:54]: It seems that this blog has attracted the attention of Via Christi, we received a financial assistance form and a letter thanking us for our feedback, see below.
While browsing Facebook yesterday, I stumbled upon a story about a waitress that received a $0 tip on a $187 PF Changs restaurant bill in my feed and here are my views on the situation and tipping in general.
The waitress, Taylar Cordova took to Facebook to scold the customers that left the zero dollar tip, writing the following message on her Facebook page, later, her rant was removed from her page.
“This. This is the reason I work so much. This is why I cry in the shower. I STRUGGLE to put clothes on my daughter’s back and food in our bellies because of THIS. You, are the lowest of the low. Whenever you feel like it’s probably fine to not tip your server, that’s one more bill stacking up because they’re short on money. This is food for the week that our families will go without because you didn’t think it was necessary, even after asking for everything under the sun and receiving it free of charge, mind you. This is one less basic necessity my daughter needs because even TWO more dollars is too much for you. Every decision has a consequence. Servers are paid a base pay of $2-5/hr depending on the employer, so next time you don’t want to tip, regardless of the situation prior to receiving your bill, think about how much you would have to work that week off $2-5/hr to feed your family, not just you. Could you pay your bills based on that pay alone? Could you feed your family AND yourself? Because that’s what happens when you choose to not tip. Please, please tip your servers. Even if it was the worst service you’ve ever received. A 10% tip is a big enough slap in the face, this completely tore me apart. Don’t even bother walking into a restaurant if you can’t afford to tip. There’s a McDonald’s down the street if you’re that cheap.”
Let’s start with the obvious, why are restaurant owners allowed to pay slave wages as little as $2.13/hr in the first place? It should not be the customer’s responsibility to subsidize their business model. Everyone should be paid a living wage, not… I can’t even call it poverty wages, federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr is poverty wages. Ultimately, the system is the problem, tipping is common, but it’s not a requirement.
Personally, I do tip 15 – 20% when I do eat in a restaurant, however, if it’s “the worst service you’ve ever received”, why should I tip? A “10% tip is a big enough slap in the face”, are you kidding me? In this case, a 10% tip would have been $18.70, that’s equivalent to fast food workers pay for more than 2 hours. I’m a salaried white collar employee and I don’t make 18.70/hr when broken down into an hourly rate.
I simply do not think I should feel obligated to give a tip on service that was poor. Plenty of people work customer service jobs for federal minimum wage and they don’t complain. Food service workers know what they signed up for and I know there are good servers that make twice what I do working tables in restaurants. But, that never gets mentioned, it’s always poor little me, I got stiffed by a customer.
I believe that Miss Cordova has a shitty attitude, be grateful that you have a job at all, many people do not. If you don’t like your situation, take steps to change it instead of blaming customers because they make a choice to not tip. For all we know, the customers could have left a cash tip on the table, we are only hearing one side of the story and I often hear about these stories being faked for social media clicks.
Back to the system, what we need is a federal minimum wage for food service workers equivalent to other workers. Restaurants make money hand over fist, why should they be allowed to pay as little as $2.13/hr? The general public should not feel obligated to make up the shortfall in wages paid by the employer.
The system in the United States is stacked in favor of employers and in general screws over the employee. If a server works in a busy restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights, they can make a huge amount of money in tips, however, there is no guarantee of that. There are positives and negatives of working in every job, and in food service, sometimes not receiving a tip from the diners is one of the negatives.
A few weeks back, I didn’t leave a tip due to exceptionally poor service, the waitress messed up our drinks order and then never came back to take our food order. Why should I pay a 10% tip for non-existent service? We had to grab some food in the movie theater as we didn’t get to have a nice sit-down meal.
As a secondary income outside of my job in rental home marketing, I am a real estate photographer. A friend of my wife, who is a realtor asked me if I would take some photos of one of the homes she has for sale. She asked how much I charge, so I told her it would cost $70 + mileage at $0.25 per mile.
The realtor thought that it was kinda expensive, which is far from true, this job would take up 5+ hours of my time, plus a 90-mile round trip. It would take 55 minutes to get to the property, one hour to shoot the home, 55 minutes to drive back, then 2+ hours of post processing in Lightroom / Photoshop.
The total cost to the realtor would be $92.50, which breaks down to $18.50/hr. If she thinks that is excessive, then she is in for a shock, I provide a professional service, I have invested in expensive camera equipment, which still has to be paid for as I used a credit card to purchase these items to move forward.
The realtor then asked if she could pay me when she closed on the house. Again, I do not work for free. If the house is not sold, I don’t get paid, which means I make a loss as I have to absorb the cost of fuel plus the intangible cost of my time. Photography is not a service payable upon on the client getting paid.
If this realtor is not willing to invest in her work to make money, then clearly she does not value her client or the home she is trying to sell. I spent thousands of dollars on high-quality camera equipment to provide the best service possible to my clients. If I turned up with a $50 point and shoot camera and expected to be paid $70 plus mileage, I’d expect the client to tell me to take a long walk off a short pier.
Plus, once you start doing favors for people, they will never pay for your services, they will expect it for free or on an “I’ll pay you when I get paid” basis. In business, you have to play hardball, you cannot let yourself be taken advantage of, this is a job, not a hobby where I do it because I enjoy photography.