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I Hate Living In A One Utility Company Town

70% Water Bill Increase

I seem to be on a roll this week in regards to rants about life. This one is about the fact that Wichita, KS has one electric company, one gas company and one water company, which also happens to be the local city council. Without competition, utility companies can do as they please and charge what they want.

This particular blog is about Wichita Water, run by the City of Wichita. As I went to pay my water bill, which is usually between $62 and $67, I get a shock when I see $111.32. So, naturally, as you do when your bill makes a significant jump upwards, you call the utility company and ask what the hell is going on?

The rep immediately went into “I have a leak in my home”. Yes, our toilets do run from time to time, maybe 2 – 3 seconds, every 15 – 20 minutes. The toilets have done this for years and there has been no frequency increase. I pointed this out to the rep and she said that if not fixed, the leak can get progressively worse, but a 70% increase would be exponentially worse, and I’m damn sure we’d notice.

The other thing that the rep kept repeating is that if I paid to get the [non-existent] leak fixed and send them a copy of the repair invoice, they might partially refund some of the difference. Notice the might in the above sentence; in my head, that means they will find any reason to not credit my account. She wouldn’t even entertain the idea that the meter reader might have gotten the reading wrong.

And I learned something else while talking to the Wichita Water rep. After you use what they, the City of Wichita consider to be average/fair usage amount of water, they charge a premium on the excess over, in this case, 7,320 gallons. And it’s a hefty premium, a 248% increase over the average base charge.

Unfortunately, my options are limited, I cannot switch to another water provider, because Wichita Water has a monopoly. So, my options are, pay the bill, suck it up and hope next month will be lower, or cancel the utility, which is not an option really, we need water and also, because we live in a rental, we need to have utilities connected, believe it or not, not having water connected is a rental lease violation.

As I said, I hate living in a town with monopolized utilities.


PURESHREDCLEANSE.COM Fraudulent Charges

Pure Shred Fraudu·ent Charges

On Saturday while catching up with some banking stuff I needed to do, I noticed that my account was overdrawn by a little over $20 when I knew it should not have been. Yes, the balance was low, about $60, but more funds were due to be deposited on Monday and no money needed to be spent at this time.

We think that all this stemmed from a singular purchase of Zenergy Fat Burner, which was a trial, however, the order page, on a different URL to pureshredcleanse.com, made no mention of further charges, if not canceled. When I went to pureshredcleanse.com and read all the terms and conditions, the amounts charged to my wife’s debit card was exact, from the trial charges to the monthly charges.

I wasn’t there when my wife signed up for the trial, but what I can say is that after the trial bottle of Zenergy Fat Burner, we have not received any more deliveries of whatever Pure Shred Cleanse is. This company has billed us under two different brands, PURESHREDCLEANSE.COM and PURE-SHRED-ADVANCED.CO, both out of Georgia, for a total of $359.62 in charges between 2/28/2019 and 4/15/2019.

The charges that were made under PURE-SHRED-ADVANCED.CO was in addition to what the terms & conditions stated on the pureshredcleanse.com website. Again, these terms and conditions were not shown or linked to on the original order page, that was hosted on a third party seller domain.

My wife tried to call pureshredcleanse.com, on the number provided on our statement, and she was greeted with a generic recorded message that said something similar to “thank you for calling customer service.”, continuing “all our representatives are busy, please hold.”, after 10 minutes we gave up and headed to Meritrust, to stop more charges, a red flag for me is the lack of company name in the greeting.

We visited our credit union, Meritrust, who was amazing in dealing with this, Zac was friendly and exceptionally helpful in resolving this issue. My wife’s debit card was immediately canceled and a new card issued. And Zac sat down with us going through our statements to identify the fraudulent charges, passing this information onto VISA, who will follow up and refund the charges within a few days.

We used this opportunity to create a separate bill pay account with no overdraft protection, so charges like this will be rejected in the future instead of going overdrawn. Also, this secondary account will help us manage money better as all bills will come from this new account and only have funds for bills deposited.

Moral of the story, be careful what you sign up for online. A virtual credit card, which is a card number that can be created and deleted readily is one solution to limit your exposure to fraud. Another option is a pre-paid VISA card, which you can load with just enough money to cover your purchase. Or at least use a credit card, not a debit card as credit cards have inbuilt protections. We were lucky that our credit union is amazing, not all banks will be as helpful with fraudulent purchases on your debit card.

Disclaimer: I am not saying that pureshredcleanse.com, walnutcreeklabs.com or SPH Media Group, LLC, all named on the terms and conditions are fraudulent companies, what I am saying is based upon a single purchase, we have been billed five times for products or services we never agreed to.


Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix 2019

Chinese Grand Prix 2019

As Formula 1 celebrates its 1,000th race, we were treated to a disappointing race where Mercedes claimed a third 1 – 2 of the season with the lead Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel a distant third. I know Mercedes were lucky in Bahrain two weeks ago, but they were there to take the plaudits when it counted with their second 1 – 2 of the season, while Ferrari has technical, strategic issues and driving errors.

The start saw Lewis Hamilton get the jump on polesitter Valtteri Bottas to lead the pack into turn 1, meanwhile, on the second row, Charles Leclerc took advantage of Vettel having to get out of the throttle behind the slow-starting Bottas to slip up the inside of turn 3 for third place. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez made a monster start to come out of turn 3 in eighth place, four places ahead of his grid spot.

The ‘torpedo’ Danill Kvyat did what he does and clattered into the McLaren’s of Carlos Sainz first, then Lando Norris in the space of 2 seconds through turn 2, for which, Kvyat was handed a drive-thru penalty, for causing a collision. And amazingly, all three drivers continued on after pitstops for running repairs, although Norris and Kvyat did retire later in the race after it was clear no points were in the offing.

Ferrari ordered Charles Leclerc to allow defacto #1 Vettel through on lap 11, as the Scuderia believed that Vettel was faster, which turned out not to be true, Leclerc stayed with the German while Vettel himself could make no inroads into the gap to Bottas. Because Vettel was the leading Ferrari, he pitted first in response to Red Bull pitting Verstappen for hard tires, leaving Leclerc out for a further 3 laps, which put the Monégasque driver on the back foot. Ferrari doubled screwed Leclerc in the second stop, hanging him out to dry, bringing him in for medium tires 7 laps after Vettel, costing him a 4th place to Verstappen.

Honestly, after just three races, I’m ready to hand the drivers and constructors titles to Mercedes. Ferrari is woefully inept, bad strategy calls, technical issues, and driving errors have cost them big time and they are not fast enough, it seems the gap from Mercedes is 0.3 seconds. Today’s bullshit with switching drivers around and then sacrificing Leclerc for Vettel has cost themselves 4th place. Ferrari made more personnel changes over the winter and Ferrari are still out in the wilderness compared to Mercedes.

There was better news for my favorite driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who started 7th, had an anonymous race and finished in 7th place, which is a welcome change after two zero points scores in races 1 and 2. It’s a shame that he does not have a car underneath him at Renault to really challenge, to be able to make his trademark overtakes into corners from way back. Also, an excellent drive from STR’s Alex Albon, who started from the pitlane to battle up to 10th place to claim the final world championship point.

Red Bull chose to pit Pierre Gasly two laps from the end to fit a set of soft tires to his car as he was safe in sixth place, to challenge for the fastest lap point, stealing the point from Vettel, with a time of 1:34.742. I still don’t much like the point for fastest lap, in this case, it added nothing, no places were gained or lost in the effort to win the fastest lap, but I guess, it also does no harm, it’s just another gimmick in my view!

Overall, a very forgettable race to celebrate F1’s 1,000th race, disappointing.

Chinese Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:32:06.350
2. Valterri Bottas (Mercedes) +6.552
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +13.744
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +27.627
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +31.276
6. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) +1:29.307
7. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1 LAP
8. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1 LAP
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1 LAP
10. Alex Albon (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP

And My Wife Wonders Why I’m Depressed!

Financially Induced Depression

I’m going to start by saying I am not talking (writing) behind my wife’s back, I have discussed this with her many times, but she refuses to change her spending behavior, so I am writing this for my own sanity, or at least what’s left of it. This blog was inspired by my wife complaining about how my depression affects her, she will often ask what she can do to help my depression, I request that she reduce her spending, especially on credit cards, she might change for a week, then it’s back to spending as normal.

Our combined income is roughly $3,700 per month, which should be enough to live on, and it is enough without having to pay multiple credit card minimum payments, her Discover minimum payment alone is $122 per month, of that $98.59 is interest charges. This balance, assuming no additional charges are added will take 25 years to pay off, if only paying the minimum payment, paying a total of $23,284 on a current balance of $6,075. in the last billing cycle she added $919 in charges, do you see the issue here?

Honestly, I am seriously considering letting her default on that card, that will at least stop her adding more charges. I recently wrote another blog article about irresponsible lending by credit card and loan companies, read it here. I have zero faith that my wife can reign in her spending habits, as she continues to say “I can’t live like you, I need to have a life” as a justification, which I call bullshit on, if your finances don’t allow for the lifestyle you want, you have to change your lifestyle, to live within your means.

I have canceled all my monthly services I liked, like Spotify, WWE Network and the VPN service I had to watch UK TV programming, to save money. I don’t see the doctor, or take the medication that I need to control my diabetes because we don’t have the money to cover the cost without leaning on credit cards. Frankly, I isolate myself from my family because of my stress and depression caused by this situation.

I don’t even get to escape from this misery as the thing I love to do, attend live gigs is not possible, I can’t even spare $20 – $35 for a ticket to shows. I feel trapped by this situation, and honestly, every day, my motivation to get out of bed and go to work dwindles to the point that I wish I would not wake up at all.

Our debts amount to $12,500, which includes my wife’s car payment, her Discover balance, and my Discover balance. This causes me massive anxiety and depression. 18 months ago, I paid off over $60,000 using my inheritance from my father’s estate, then set my wife up in business, with an initial outlay of over $10,000, with ongoing expenses of about $50 – $100  per month. Not to mention her second real estate career, which costs $1,000+ per year in fees and dues, without any sales to recoup those fees.

I just paid off $4,000 of debts, most of those being store cards my wife had signed up for, using part of our tax refund. I have kept aside $3,000 to pay for repairs to my wife’s car ($2,000) and finance a trip to Colorado to see Korn in August. I bring this up because, today, my wife asks me to transfer some of that money to the checking account, so she can go to the renaissance fair with her friend and her kids. She has gone to the fair anyway, so no doubt, I’ll be seeing more charges on credit cards in the coming days.

Is it time to separate our finances? and pay equal halves of the household bills, I’ll pay my cards, approximately $1,600 and my wife can manage her own cards and payments. I cannot continue to support my wife’s chosen lifestyle, managing our joint finances. Maybe she’ll understand the dire situation we are in if she has to pay her own bills, clearly talking to her about it makes zero difference.

The most worrying thing, I will be 43 years old in October and we have nothing in place for our retirement, no savings accounts, no 401k’s,, we don’t own a home, we have no collateral other than our cars, which amounts to maybe $15,000 – $18,000 currently, of course that value will depreciate. We are going to be working until the day we die, unless things change in the immediate future. And, buying a home is out of the question, I will not commit to such a large loan with my wife’s spending habits.

I dearly love my wife, but I am questioning whether this marriage is good for my health. The direction we are heading is bankruptcy when my wife spends anywhere between $500 and $1,000 per month over our income level, this is not sustainable in any way, shape or form. My wife keeps on suggesting that I go back home to the UK, and if it were not for my kids, I probably would have done just that, but no matter how depressed I feel, or how much I dislike living stateside, I cannot simply abandon my children.


Credit Card Companies: Irresponsible Lending

Irresponsible Lending

Back in mid-2015, after finding out that Costco wouldn’t accept my Discover card, I signed up for an American Express Blue Cash Everyday card with a $6,000 credit limit. Within months, this was doubled to $12,000 and within a year, it was increased again to $20,000, neither of these two increases was initiated by me. The more I used the card, the more the limit increased, obviously higher limits mean more interest charged. This is how they make money, but knowing my income, it was also very irresponsible.

At the beginning of the month when I paid the balance of a little under $500, I noticed that I only had $9,500 in available credit, which is a big drop from $20,000. I correctly assumed that it’s a case of “use it or lose it”, this was confirmed today when I received a letter from American Express saying due to my low usage over the past 12 months. they had decreased my credit limit by half of what it was previously.

It doesn’t affect us financially, as I barely use the AMEX, but what it does do is damage my credit score, as my overall credit card utilization percentage increased, as my total credit limit has been reduced by about 20% across all my credit cards. During a time, when we were less financially secure, leaning on credit cards to make ends meet, with balances increasing by hundreds of dollars monthly, AMEX was happy to give me more credit when we just cleared the minimum payment, which was 2/3 interest charges.

I’m annoyed because American Express has said, we are unable to make any significant money out of you, so we are going to penalize you for being a responsible credit card user. For all they knew I might have been about to pull the trigger on a large, say $12,000 purchase. That was not the case, having gotten out of significant debt, more than $60,000 just 18 months ago, I don’t plan on getting back into unmanageable debt, I’d much rather change our lifestyle than continue to support a lifestyle using credit.

I am now evaluating whether to keep the American Express card. Average monthly charges are $35, for Google Services and my children’s school meals which are automatically debited as needed. These could be easily switched to my Discover, meaning one less payment per month, albeit no less money going out.

The point I am making is that credit card companies need to be held accountable for their, in my opinion, irresponsible lending practices. Why would they automatically increase credit limits, when a customer is paying, just the minimum payment, which is made up mostly of interest charges? Clearly, the customer is struggling to pay the balance when minimum payments are being made, and overall balance increases.

The target of my ire is American Express because of their actions this month, but all credit card companies, basically rip off their customers, with increasing balances, minimum payments, and interest charges, forcing them into financial servitude. Never being able to pay off the balance, without a major financial windfall, like inheritance in my case, likely increasing limits to allow for more spending. This is wholly irresponsible lending, financial institutions need to be regulated better by our government.

But, this is the United States of America where bribing of elected officials is perfectly legal through ‘campaign donations’, meaning banks/lenders are allowed to use such practices and when it goes wrong, they are bailed out by the same people that they are ripping off, the credit card holder and taxpayer.


Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2019

Bahrain Grand Prix 2019

Ferrari’s rookie driver, Charles Leclerc had a certain victory stolen away from him 10 laps from the end of the race when his MGU-K failed on him, meaning he lost the 160 horsepower boost from the battery energy recovery system, costing him 1.5 seconds a lap, leaving him helpless as Lewis Hamilton, then Valtteri Bottas closed the gap and passed, demoting him to third by the time the chequered flag fell.

Back to the start of the race, Leclerc got a bad start allowing Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel to get ahead through turn 1, then lost out to Bottas, who got the better of his Mercedes teammate, Hamilton off the line, moving into third place, giving him the opportunity to attack and pass Leclerc through turn 4.

After a scrappy first lap, Leclerc fought back to pass Bottas on lap 2, getting better drive off the exit of turn 1 through turns 2 and 3, to make the pass into turn 4 to move back up to 2nd place. This put Bottas on the back foot, allowing Hamilton to retake 3rd back from his teammate through turns 5, 6 and 7.

Leclerc made significant inroads into his teammate’s lead, to be in a position to overtake by the start of lap 6, Vettel defended by moving to the right to cover the inside of turn 1, but Leclerc was faster, driving around the outside of turn 1 to regain the lead, where he remained until his Ferrari MGU-K failed.

During the first round of pitstops, Hamilton tried something different, putting on another set of soft tires, while the other frontrunners, moved onto medium tires. Which really did not work out well for Hamilton due to the high degradation nature of the Sakhir tarmac. Leclerc was pulling away from the British driver, while Vettel caught and passed Hamilton for a Ferrari 1-2 running order on the 23rd of 57 laps.

Later, during the second round of pitstops, Hamilton switched to the medium tire, and suddenly his car came alive and on lap 38, Hamilton made the pass on Vettel through turn 4 to move up to 2nd place. Not only did Vettel get passed by Hamilton, but he also had a spin as he got back on the power, then later on the same lap, lost his front wing underneath his Ferrari, causing him to drop back to 9th after a pit stop.

Vettel fought back to 5th place, while his Maranello stablemate dropped to 3rd place and was saved from falling off the podium by a double retirement for the Renault drivers, both cars having catastrophic failures at turn 1 on lap 55, which caused a safety car period to recover the two Renaults, that ran until the chequered flag, meaning that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen could not claim the final podium spot.

Charles Leclerc deservedly won the driver of the day vote and the fastest lap point. Leclerc is a clear future world champion if he has reliable machinery to power him to a world drivers title. You have to be impressed with his driving and maturity, he didn’t lose his head after his scrappy first lap to fight back, and after the race, his pragmatic response while talking to Martin Brundle was mature beyond his years.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:34:21.295
2. Valterri Bottas (Mercedes) +2.980
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +6.131
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +6.408
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +36.068
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +45.754
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +47.470
8. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) +58.094
9. Alex Albon (Toro Rosso) +62.697
10. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +63.696

PARENTING HELL! Entitlement Syndrome

Parenting Hell: Entitlement Syndrome

Here I am again writing about our continual struggles with our 14-year-old son’s behavior. He has now elevated to theft, taking my old Galaxy S4 from my desk drawer, claiming he was entitled to it.

I don’t often look in that drawer so I would not have discovered the phone was missing. We found out while attending his annual IEP meeting at school, a number of teachers had noted that he was using his phone in class. Of course, our reaction was “what phone?”, we did not allow him to have a phone, for this exact reason, we knew he would be distracted by it, to the detriment of his academic performance.

Clearly, our son has his own version of the world. He claims we gave him the phone before taking it away from him, hence why he feels he is entitled. The truth is that we loaned him the phone to use with his Cozmo AI-powered robot a couple of Christmas’ back as his tablet would not work with it. And we took it away because he was abusing the privilege, watching YouTube videos until 3 – 4 am on school nights.

We also found out that our son has not been handing in his assignments, despite, in ours, and his teachers opinions, he is more than capable of doing and getting a high grade. Instead of the D’s and F’s he currently has in the three subjects where his teachers had noted the phone use in class.

As our son continues to lie and cheat his way through life, he has lost all videogame privileges. He has eight more weeks to get his grades in order before the summer break. If he cannot show some good faith and improve those grades to a C or higher in all subjects, he will have 3 months of no videogames over summer and also be attending summer school, which will cost $160, but it’s worth the cost in our minds.

The bizarre thing is; when I got my hands on the phone, I couldn’t access its contents. It was boot looping and was not accessible by a computer, my computer acknowledges the phone as connected, but I could not access it, like the phone’s firmware/image had been wiped from its memory. But it had been working according to his teachers, so I don’t know what happened, either way, I have disposed of the phone.

I don’t accept the argument that everyone else in school has a phone, so I am entitled. We made a judgment call, which was correct, given his failing grades and the many reports of the phone being used during class time. The funny thing is that the wife and I were discussing buying a phone, with service, for him next school year as he will be 15 by then and hopefully mature enough to use it responsibly.

He claims to be mature while crying in front of his teachers when he realized that he had been busted for taking the phone. He claims we treat him like a child, our response is, don’t act like a child and we won’t treat you like a child. Someone, who is mature can accept responsibility for their actions, rather than shifting blame to everyone but himself, a mature person realizes they are not entitled to anything.

As I wrote above; we were going to allow him to have a cellphone for the next school year. We were also going to start paying him for chores, if he did it without us asking and be done to our standards, which are not that high really. The caveat being that we would no longer buy him chips or soda’s, if he wants those things, he will have to use the pre-paid debit card that we would have given to him.

Now, moving onto school policies, why the hell do USD259 allow cellphones in class anyway? Why do they not force students to leave their phones in their lockers? Especially today with modern devices and the wealth of things that they can do with them, including the potential to cheat with the Internet at their fingertips. Not to mention phones ringing, notifications sounding, disrupting the whole class.

Bottom line here is the lack of respect on my son’s part, the way he speaks to us is massively disrespectful. His entitlement attitude is hugely disrespectful, we make sacrifices so our kids have what they need. If my wife and I spoke to our parents like our son does to us, there would be hell to pay.

Honestly, I wonder where we went wrong; we never raised him to be this way, we have no clue where this attitude has come from. We have been told that what we are doing is the correct course of action by therapists, teachers, and other parents, but it honestly does not feel like it.  But, what’s the other option? allowing him to get away with these actions, especially the theft of the phone, that cannot stand!


Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 2019

Valtteri Bottas celebrates his victory on the podium at the F1 Australian Grand Prix

Formula 1 2019 kicked off in anger this weekend, but it’s a bittersweet weekend for drivers, teams, and fans alike as it was announced that FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, just days before the first race of the season in Melbourne, Australia, suffering a pulmonary embolism at the age of just 66. Charlie’s passing is a great loss to F1 and motorsport in general.

The second, albeit less sad thing that happened in the weeks leading up to the Australian Grand Prix, is the introduction of a point being awarded to the driver with the fastest lap, as long as that driver finishes inside the top 10. I have to admit that I thought this was a gimmick, and still do to a certain extent, but it seems to be a real incentive for drivers, the top drivers were all pushing near the end of the race to claim the extra point for fastest lap, so I will admit that I was wrong about the effectiveness of this incentive.

After qualifying, like many fans, who are not Lewis Hamilton or Mercedes fans, I was disappointed to see the 7/10 of a second deficit between Ferrari and Mercedes on the grid. And from the race result, it seems worse than we feared, it looks like Ferrari are third in the pecking order, behind Red Bull. So much for Ferrari being the favorites going into the season with Mercedes 3/10 behind the Maranello based team.

Finally, onto the race itself and it was Valtteri Bottas that got the jump on polesitter Hamilton to lead into turn 1, Hamilton seemed to bog down slightly allowing his teammate to get ahead off the line. Daniel Ricciardo in his first race for Renault was squeezed onto the grass by Sergio Perez, breaking his front wing and causing damage to the right-hand side of his RS.19. Which, ultimately resulted in his retirement from his home race on lap 28 as a precaution, as he was circulating a lap down with little to no pace.

Between lap 2 and 31 there were some pitstops, and after the shakeup, the top five were back as they were on lap 2. HAAS’ Romain Grosjean had a terrible pit stop, his crew had issues with attaching his left front wheel, dropping him from 7th to 14th place, and on lap 31, he pulled off the track with a loose left front wheel. In the meantime, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, caught and passed Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari for 3rd place, getting a run on Vettel out of turn 1, through turn 2 to be clear of Vettel heading into turn 3.

Unfortunately for Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Pierre Gasly, after running in 6th place on the medium tire, when he stopped for fresh tires, he dropped to 11th place behind sister team, Squadro Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and despite having the same Honda power unit and the faster soft tire, could not make an impression on the Russian driver, ending the race in 11th. But, despite Gasly’s failure to score points at the Australian Grand Prix, it’s a good showing for Honda in the back of the Red Bull’s.

In the final half dozen laps, Charles Leclerc closed to within 0.7 seconds of Ferrari team leader, Vettel, before clearly being told to hold station by the pit wall. Red Bull’s Verstappen also closed in on Hamilton for second place, but a small off-track excursion cost him the few additional seconds he needed to be in a position to challenge Hamilton for second place, finishing 1.6 seconds behind the Mercedes.

Race winner, Valtteri Bottas also claimed the fastest lap for a total haul of 26 points. Although I was hoping that Ferrari would be closer to Mercedes, I’m kinda happy to see Bottas win the race, maybe 2019 will be Bottas’ year? Maybe his change of preparation for 2019 is making all the difference, he seems like a changed man, compared to where he was last season, constantly being beaten by Hamilton.

Australian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:25:27.325
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0:20.886
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0:22.520
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0:57.109
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0:58.230
6. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +1:27.156
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1 LAP
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1 LAP
9. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) +1 LAP
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP

Trump Defies Congress & The People On National Emergency with VETO

President Donald J. Trump vetoes Congress' resolution of disapproval.

As I wrote about in a previous write-up, President Donald J. Trump couldn’t get his way in the Democrat-controlled House, so he created a Fake National Emergency to circumvent Congress completely using The National Emergencies Act to fund his monument to racism, his promised wall on the US/Mexico border.

On Thursday, 3/14, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a resolution of disapproval in regard to Trump’s use of national emergency powers, with 12 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with Democrats in the Senate. Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate had enough votes to make the resolution presidential VETO proof, and Trump’s response was to tweet a singular word “VETO!”, like a fucking child.

This VETO just goes to show how broken the US political system is. We, the people, is a joke, the people have no power, the power lies with the rich, and corporations with their lackeys in Congress. And even more so, the executive branch of government. 2/3 of Americans don’t support the wall and the use of emergency powers to fund it; while about 6/10 of Congress disapprove of President Trump’s actions, using emergency powers to circumvent congressional power, stealing money from other programs.

Unless Congress can cobble together enough votes in both chambers to override the presidential VETO, it looks like we are heading to the courts to decide on the legitimacy of Trump’s use of emergency powers. And given that Trump has stacked the courts and the judicial branch with extreme right-wing judges, in an effort to sway the judicial system in his favor, he might actually be successful in the federal courthouses.

Clearly, this is a manufactured national emergency, little has changed between January 2017 and March 2019, yet the southern border is suddenly a national emergency according to the President. It would have been much easier for Trump to get the funding for his signature wall when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate, but it was not enough of an emergency then, despite official numbers indicating otherwise, because they had to pass tax cuts for the wealthy and trying to kill the Affordable Care Act.

The question I ask is; how can the USA call itself a democracy when one person, the president, can overrule the will of Congress, unless 67% of Congress votes in favor of a resolution, making it VETO proof? That’s like 66% of voters being overruled and the candidate getting 34% of the vote gets elected.

2020 cannot come soon enough for me, and many other Americans. Hopefully, the Democrats don’t run another corporate Democrat, like they did Hillary Clinton in 2016 when a far better option was available. Someone who polled much better against Trump at the time of the Democratic convention, but no, Bernie Sanders was hindered by the DNC, and now we have Donald J. Trump as president as a result.

If this is allowed to stand, it’s open season for the next Democratic president, who can call healthcare a national emergency to push a Medicare For All agenda, or maybe the issue of large parts of the country not having lead free drinking water, how many years has Flint, MI been suffering? these are national emergencies. Not to mention climate change, which is a global emergency; and the clock is ticking, we have just over a decade to take action, while Trump and many Republicans dodgedly deny its existence.


PARENTING HELL! My 14 Year Old Son Wants to Be Paid For Chores

PARENTING HELL! My 14 Year Old Son Wants to Be Paid For Chores

This is yet another blog about my 14-year-old son and his piss poor attitude to life and school. This behavior and attitude is getting increasingly worse as he gets older, frankly, he is turning into a self-entitled brat, a trait, neither his mother nor I exhibit, we have worked hard for everything we have, rarely getting something for nothing, so we are truly baffled where he is getting this attitude from.

On Saturday, he made a comment that he can’t wait to be 18 so he can move out, my response, joking, of course, was “why wait? go down to the courthouse and start emancipation proceedings, and you can move out before your 18″. If he thinks chores are, well a chore, he’s in for a shock when he will be financially and legally responsible for himself, no more money from the bank of mom and dad!

Recently, after he claimed we are putting too much pressure on him in school, with our expectations of a C or above grade in all subjects. I said, fine, “I”, that’s me, not his mother, would not mention grades and that I would allow him to play video games all he wants until the end of the school year in May, calling his bluff about pressure from us causing his terrible grades, which are actually due to missing assignments.

To give you an idea of the burden we put on him, we expect him to keep his own room clean and tidy, load and unload the dishwasher, wash the few pots and pans in the sink daily, and vacuum the living room and hallway, 2 – 3 times per week. Which, being generous is maybe 2 – 2 1/2 hours per week out of his busy schedule of being sedimentary, sitting watching TV and playing on his Nintendo Switch.

My son’s attitude is night and day from his 9-year-old sister, who does the majority of the laundry, including my son’s laundry, keeps her own room clean and tidy for the most part, she sometimes needs some prodding, and also vacuums the carpets, maybe once a week, she actually gets upset if we don’t allow her to help with household chores. Why is this? we have raised them the exact same way.

Back to my son; let’s say we pay him, being generous, $15/hour, which is supposedly a living wage in the United States. For what we ask him to do, that’s 2 – 2 1/2 hours per week, so taking the higher number of hours ‘worked’, that’s just $37.50/week. That is not going to go far, trust me, it costs us far in excess of that amount every week to feed, clothe and keep a roof over his head, get him to and from school etc.

But, in all seriousness, we are massively concerned by this behavior and the progression in severeness of his attitude. We try to correct his behavior, and it just causes his behavior to get worse. All we are trying to do is guide our child in the right direction to be a productive member of society, teaching him the life skills he needs to achieve that. But, his attitude is that of entitlement, having everyone hand everything to him, without him having to lift a finger, seemingly unwilling to do anything to help himself.

We have considered the option of military school, I had some friends, that attended cadets, back home in Plymouth, UK, who were on the wrong track, who went to military school, and came out much better people. Maybe some military discipline and structure with straighten out his attitude and improve his work ethic, both in life and school, as we are clearly failing miserably in achieving that goal.

He wants to go to Full Sail University to study game development, but he is unwilling to put in the effort required to make that a reality. We try to encourage him, and he throws it back in our faces, we offer to help him with his school work, he refuses, not even bringing it home, for us to look at. I can’t believe that as a freshman in high school, there’s no homework. Personally, I feel I am failing as a parent with my son.

His behavior has been an issue since he started middle school, but these behavioral and school grades issues have been doubly bad since he started high school last August. I can only assume that something in school has inspired this terrible, disrespectful behavior from him, nothing has changed at home.

Over the past 3 1/2 years, we have tried reward systems, punishment, hybrid reward/punishment systems, nothing works to motivate him. He just wants to be left alone, preferably, not having to go to school, which, obviously is a legal requirement, he cannot choose to not attend school, even if he chose the emancipation option, which is not really an option, he doesn’t have the $150 – 200 filing fee.

I don’t want to give up on him, but we are at a loss of where to go next. We have talked to life coaches, therapists, teachers and many more, and they all have said, we are doing the right thing. For us, it’s hard to believe that is the case, when everything we try makes his behavior and attitude worse.