Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Night Flyover Country

We play both kinds of music here. Country. And Western.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is That A Glock In Your Pocket Or Are You…

My new pocket protector arrived yesterday. This new little 42 will be by my side watching over me when venturing out among the great unwashed and unpredictable masses.

It weighs a slight 13oz empty but when loaded it gains approximately 1200 grains. It's small and light, just the way I like it. With an aftermarket replacement floor plate pinky-rest the overall grip will be perfect for my big paws.

The first thing I did when we got home was a total dismantling and reassembly. The innards are a bit different than my larger models but this little guy is just as simple and easy. All of their products leave the factory with +/- 5.5 lbs of pull. Considering upgrading the pull to about 8.5 lbs. to avoid pulling a Fife, since there will always be one in the pipe. This new little friend is not intended for winning marksmanship contests or IDPA matches. We're playing defense here so a hard pull won't be an issue.


One customer who is an NRA Certified Instructor at the local rifle club owns a 42 and gave it a fabulous review after putting it to his test. Light, accurate and surprisingly little muzzle flip, meaning good follow-up shots. Others who have purchased these tell me the same. I have no lack of confidence my 100gr Cor-Bons aren't enough to get the job done.

The new 42 is the perfect solution for concealed protection during the summer months. It is light enough that my loose fitting elastic band shorts won't be dropping to my knees unexpectedly.

Saturday morning we'll head out to the range and break it in. Let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gullible's Travels

Before I Forget, Happy Earth Day!

With five hours remaining in this hallowed day of worship I would be remiss not to spread the word.
Was it that long ago someone decided that earth worship deserves a special day? What happened to earth since then? All depends on who you ask.

We would like to believe this noble effort has helped clean the air we exhale and the water we pee in. Haven't we as a society banned many chemicals and pesticides to make life far better? Don't vehicles get far better mileage and consume much less fuel? Doesn't recycling by just about everyone relieve strains on landfills? Haven't the earth worshiping celebrities given up their gas-guzzling limos, Range Rovers and private jets to save this precious planet? Well let's not go that far.

Sad to say, if we believe the gullible Gaia worshiping, camera hogging pop culture trend setting Hollywood celebrities, professional media parasites, and power hungry democrat politicians the earth is in far more peril than it was in 1970. How could that be? As with all far left progressive causes, if we solve the problems and there are no more problems to solve there would be no reason for far left progressive parasites to exist. Planet saving happens to be a highly sustainable way to shift government spending and grab more power.

Man made global warming climate change is a noble effort hoax and the most gullible concerned believers happen to be the more educated book smart among us. If man is able to control the climate one way or another before we are able to cure the common cold something smells. The whole thing is a bamboozle, a fraud. It's all concocted to line someone's pocket invest in the future.

I read not long ago that when those who warn of man made global warming climate change begin to live as if they believe it then it may be real.

Here are some quotes from the very first earth day. Enjoy!

"Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind."  — Harvard biologist George Wald
"Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years." — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
"It is already too late to avoid mass starvation," — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
"In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half." — Life magazine
"At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it's only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable." — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
"By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won't be any more crude oil. You'll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill 'er up, buddy,' and he'll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn't any.'" — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
"[One] theory assumes that the earth's cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun's heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born." — Newsweek magazine
"The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age." — Kenneth Watt
As a skeptic climate change denier all of this nonsense would be funny if so many idiots morons college educated scholars scientists citizens weren't fooled by it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Don't Suffer Through WiFi Dead Zones

 Recently I started working out with weights in my bedroom because it is a bit harder for me to get around.  Just like when I was a kid in the basement - you need some tunes to get you moving.  Nowadays instead of an expensive stereo system it is just some mobile device (my iPad) and a Jambox bluetooth speaker and you are ready to go with Sirius XM or Pandora or whatever.  Unfortunately my bedroom is pretty far away from the wireless router so my music was coming in intermittently which was annoying - as you can see below no one wants the immortal "Ace of Spades" to be fading in and out.

But everything is cheap on the internet now.  I just bought this WiFi range extender for $36 bucks on Amazon (you can see it plugged in on the upper left in the photo above) which just plugs in to a power socket and creates an extended network of your existing WiFi network with an "_EXT" after it.  While I only get a couple of MB up and down (my unit is 30 MB both ways near the main router) this is fine for listening to tunes especially since it can buffer shows on Sirius XM (when it isn't live).

Don't suffer through dead zones.  Buy a wireless range extender and then you don't have to curse your extended abode anymore.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday Night Flyover Country

Chicago International Movies and Music Festival

There is a festival here in Chicago focused on movies about music which also has a bunch of bands playing as well.  It is our attempt to have a little "South by Southwest" action in the city of Chicago.  At least they have some nice weather this year - this weekend seems to be the start of spring and everyone is out side and on balconies and has a lot of positive energy.  Here is a shot from one of the movies on the cover of the Reader.

Unfortunately I can't go to any of the events because I can't stand in lines for too long and I can't be jostled or have someone step on my foot and that's what usually happens at a concert.  I will look for some of these movies out there on the internet though later or if they come to an art house movie theater or something.  Here is the site listing what is going on and an interview with the founder on Chicago Tonight (a great program) and below are some of the ones I'd go to see if I was able to do so.

  • "Danny Says" which is a movie about the manager of the Stooges and the Ramones.  That guy must have seen a lot of crazy stuff
  • "808" a story of how a device never intended to be a beatbox helped launch hip hop and modern music
  • "Morphine - Journey of Dreams" one of my favorite bands of the 1990's was Morphine and I was very saddened when their lead singer / bassist dropped dead at a show overseas.  Also the remaining members played a show under "Vapors of Morphine" as well
  • "Jaco" is about the fantastic bass player Jaco Pastorius who was a little crazy and unfortunately died young after being beaten by a club bouncer.  At the festival the bass player from Metallica (who is from Suicidal Tendencies if you go way back to "Institutionalized") talks about Jaco, as well
  • Local H is playing too.  They are awesome and one of the few survivors of the 1990's.  See them when they come to your town

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Google Rankings

There is no one who cares less about our Google rankings than Dan, Gerry and myself.  OK, maybe I care a tiny bit.  In any case we've got a lot of good stuff on this site and if people go search the ol' intertubes then they might as well come here.

Recently Google changed their method for rankings.  If your site isn't "mobile friendly" they ding you in the search results.  Since we are on blogger I went in and turned on the mobile friendly version which they said was cool and now we won't be on the "bad list".  Way back in the day I tried the mobile version and it sucked but it looks cool on my iPhone 6 right now.

If you have a site and want to see whether Google ranks it as mobile friendly check it out here.

Unusual Encounter

When deciding to enter the firearms business many veterans salesmen explained to me there would be occasions that would be unusually interesting. Some would be extremely unusual and some downright peculiar. One such firearm sale/transfer happened to me last weekend.

A man and woman approached the gun desk to look upon all the offerings in the cabinet and on the wall. I approached and asked if they would like to see something. This couple was in their sixties. He was a mountain of a man standing about 6'5" with a thick white handlebar mustache. She was slight by comparison and obviously his mate. He asked to take a look at the Mossberg 22LR rifle that looks like an AR15.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Twenty Nine Dollars

Much ado has now been made about this tweet from Gwyneth Paltrow (sorry I was having trouble embedding it so here it is in broken up form):
Gwyneth Paltrow @GwynethPaltrow  ·  Apr 9
This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week.

There has been much laughter about this tweet from the "folks" as O' Reilly calls them - it is painfully obvious that Paltrow made critical errors in her shopping with the kale, cilantro, and especially the limes.

 Anyone who has had to seriously budget for food knows these things. She was wise with the rice (should have taken cheaper, refined rice), eggs, and beans though. And likely she (or her handler) shops at Whole Foods or some place like that where even the kale is free range. However, some assumptions need to be made.

It is highly unlikely that Paltrow runs her own Twitter account. Most celebrities don't. Perhaps she does, but who really knows. In the end, this $29 thing has become some sort of rallying cry to spur donations to the New York City food bank. It if helps them and Paltrow gets a few bruises on her pearly white flesh from hayseeds like me tossing stones, I would say that is a success. Never mind that she could likely just give them a million dollars and be done with the whole thing, but whatever.

Also, Paltrow's tweet gives the assumption that "poor people get $29 a week to feed a family", which is wrong on a ton of levels. The "S" in SNAP program stands for Supplemental, which I could go in into detail, but others have done that for me already.

 On top of all of that money available for aid, you can find food kitchens, churches and other charities that can "help a brother out".

There is more to this, but I want to get to the crux of this post and I am not writing this to bash on Paltrow or this line of thinking (although it would be well deserved).

 I decided to go to my local grocery store to see if I could get enough food to live on for one week for $29 - we are talking one person, not a family.

There are some parameters that I had to set up and some assumptions that needed to be made. The caloric content can't be for someone like Michael Phelps or a Tour de France rider. In fact, since I was assuming that I was poor, I took it for granted that there wouldn't be time for exercise since I would need to be out working or job hunting. I know.

Also, I am assuming that there are a collection of spices (at least pepper and salt) at my poor, ramshackle apartment. Most everyone has at least some dried spice of some sort - and I found bulk spices for .99 at the store, so at least you can flavor these ingredients up a bit. Also, I didn't coupon clip. A Sunday paper would cost someone $1.50 - however the coupons in that paper would FAR outweigh the cost of the paper and would certainly help out. In fact, I remembered that the convenience store always has a mountain of un-bought Sunday papers waiting for hauling away on Monday morning - it is likely that if I was determined enough that I could procure a Sunday paper for free, in one way or another - that would have saved a ton of cash.

So off to the store I went, $29 in hand with my 14 year old daughter in tow - her job was to make a running total and she was also there so she could learn a thing or two. Here is what I ended up with:
There were several things that were interesting.  When you are on a tight budget, you learn quickly to read the price tags on the shelves more carefully.  The most important thing was the cost per ounce - in the yogurt aisle, it was astounding how much cost that convenient packaging adds to the cost of the product.  Individual servings were double and sometimes triple the price of the bulk tub.

Vegetables, frozen, are a great deal.  Here also, there was a large spread in the price per ounce.  We cashed in on the spinach, broccoli and beans that were on sale for cheap.  The green beans were the best value at .89/lb. - only 5.6 cents per ounce.  The broccoli and spinach were a bit more expensive.

The chicken thighs were an easy choice for protein.  The frozen ones above were only .47 per pound so we got the six pack and it cost us $2.88.  Fresh thighs were much more expensive.

The mayo cost us $1.59 - but that will help stretch all of that tuna that only cost us .625 per can (there was a deal at 4 for $2.50).  I would plan on tuna fish sandwiches or that PB and J for lunches at my job, and would bring an apple or banana along.  The bread was only .89 for the loaf.  For breakfast I could imagine a fried egg atop toast with a little yogurt and/or fruit on the side.  The cans of chicken noodle soup were an astounding .49 each.  For dinners, I imagined rice (.99 for the bag - and that is a lot of rice), and chicken with vegetables.  As I mentioned before, almost everyone has some dried spices laying around to make it all work.

So the total for all of this food above was $23.99.  I found out (and I think I knew this before) that there is no tax on food here in Wisconsin. 

I am sure that by now you are chuckling about that rum.  Well, I figured in my new, crap life that on Friday or Saturday I wouldn't mind a drink or two to drown my sorrows.  This was probably the most interesting part of the trip as I haven't spent any time looking for value booze since college, when I would get the "Picadilly" brand of hard liquor.

The above flask of Shellback Spiced rum was $4.19 - but liquor is taxed so the grand total was $4.42, bringing my grand total up to $28.18.  That money for the booze would have gone a long way in a budget like this but I thought it would be a good thing to put it in the experiment.  This wasn't even the cheapest booze delivery system.  They had a giant tub of larger size flasks that were marked "two for $6" but that would have put me over budget and honestly I would at least want to mix this gasoline with diet coke and consume it rather than pouring it down the drain immediately. 

There is some fudging that you can do with this experiment - there is no way you can eat all of that rice in a week, so that would save you some on your budget and the mayo and other things can get stretched out, but I think I pretty conclusively proved that one person could easily eat for $29 for a week and still have money left over for bad habits like drinking.  And if you wanted to go full survival mode, you could invest in a bottle of multi vitamins and save money on the fruit and veggies and just eat cheap eggs and whatever else for your protein.

But, as usual, I am peering down the rabbit hole a bit here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

LITGM Around the World

For some reason our site tends to get a lot of hits from around the world, especially Russia. Not sure how they are getting here or if it is just some sort of web crawler or something but for whatever reason, hello world. This was from a single hour a few days ago, but traditionally about 20% or more of our hits are out of Russia.

Funny Video

I usually don't post stuff like this but it is pretty funny.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Internet of Things... Connected Weather Station

I have been laid up for a little while and like a good shut in I was shopping on Amazon for things to buy. One item that is always of interest to my parents and relatives is the weather. A while ago I bought them an Ambient Device weather forecaster which they still use today and they find very useful (sadly, that company went out of business).

I recently spent about $150 to buy a Netatmo indoor and outdoor temperature / weather station. It is quite fascinating. Here is the indoor module that tracks temperature, sound (in decibels), CO2, humidity, and other elements. When you push the top button it will glow based on the CO2 levels (green is "good"). I plan to hide it behind a couch so you can't see it. The indoor unit connected to my phone via bluetooth and then I was able to get it to sign on to my wireless network. It took about 5 minutes.

Here is the outdoor component. This unit measures humidity and temperature and connects to the "base" station above. The outdoor unit is battery powered and all weather so once you put it outside (on our porch) you can ignore it and it will send readings to the base station.

The really cool part is that you just download an app onto your phone and voila! you can have updates and graphs and charts and see your temperature in and out of your house anytime. They also have alerts so that you can be notified if there are temperature changes (such as below freezing weather outside or interior temperatures that drop enough to freeze your pipes) and also for CO2 alerts and other customizable features. It is all very easy to understand.

This "weathermap" from Netatmo allows you to see all the stations that are set up in your neighborhood. The temperatures may be in celsius don't be fooled. It is fun to pick any area you are familiar with like your home town and see how many weather stations are already set up.

They also have a rain gauge and are coming out with a wind velocity measurement system, as well. I will think about buying both of them, although the wind velocity would be more useful because my balcony is partially blocked from the balcony above which might impact the ability to accurately measure rain.

This is a fun system and I'd imagine it will only get cheaper so I'd recommend it for anyone who is interested in weather. It could be a good gift for parents or an in-law. Also the alerts are very cool and it is nice to be able to check in on your house while you are away.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Sunday, April 12, 2015

25 Stories About Work - It's All About Cash Flow (Part I, Small Companies)

I was recently on a plane doodling and thought of some funny / interesting stories from 25+ years of working and traveling. So I decided to write them up as short, random chapters of a non-book with the title of this post. Hope you enjoy them and / or find them interesting. Certainly the value will be at least equal to the marginal cost of the book (zero)...

The USA, early 1990's to mid 2010's

Recently I saw this little blurb in the NY Times business section which perfectly encapsulates one of the most important lessons I've learned in all my years of working - it is all about cash flow.

The simplest measure of success for a business is bringing in more cash than you pay out and having a positive bank account balance at the end of the month.  When you are in charge of a business and attempting to make your payroll these sorts of concerns should always be "top of mind".

Cash Flows in a Smaller Firm

When we started our consulting firm you have to put up enough capital to pay salaries for a while (we took a small "draw" to keep us afloat, not our former total compensation) until we were able to bring in cash from customers.  However, this is a longer process than you might imagine if you weren't educated in the realities of all the crucial steps in the chain necessary to get paid.  Since we were accountants and finance people we went into this with "eyes wide open" but I can only imagine the types of trouble that creative types meet up with when facing this same conundrum.

Thus our sequence of cash flows at a high level when starting up a consulting firm looked like this:

- Additions - capital contributions from partners.  Based on the equity you wanted in the final firm, you needed to put in capital (that maybe you'd never receive back) to start up the firm
- Additions - loans.  We didn't take out loans but we could have.  Banks generally never loan you money unless you have collateral and we didn't so it would have been credit card debt at the time
- Reductions - office space and rent.  We needed to start somewhere.  Initially we just used a room in our boss' house which worked out fine and later we rented a space near a bowling alley.  Note that everyone you are renting from eyes startups with a rueful glance and you can't expect to get much in he way of credit because they don't want to end up holding the bag
- Reductions - insurance, legal fees, taxes, office staff, computers.  All the ephemera of an office needed to be purchased but we did it second hand. We also used our own skills rather than hiring third parties whenever possible (almost all of the time)
- Reductions - payments to core staff.  We used "draws" which were minimal amounts to cover life expenses and in a way were payments in advance of what you'd earn, not like a salary that you receive regardless of the end state of the enterprise and your personal contribution.  For office staff we picked up later we needed to pay them a normal salary

All of this happened before we even met a potential customer.  Then we needed to fly out and meet customers (we already had a lot of connections; much of our early success came from bringing on existing clients from former consulting firms), convince them to sign us up, agree on a price and contract terms, and then begin doing the work.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Night Flyover Country

It's Payback Time

Social Security is a subject that isn't given much thought most of the time unless you're in your late 50's or early 60's. Occasionally a politician will use SS to leverage attention in the media and it becomes news.

Discussion ensues and the SS debate rages. Is it solvent? Will it be changed? Does it need fixing? Will YOUR money be there when YOU are eligible? Will the entire concept eventually be scrapped? The dust settles, elections pass and all is forgotten again. The subject of SS soon fades away, kicking the can so to speak.

SS is NOT an entitlement like welfare or EBT Cards. We, as hard working Americans pay into a fund and at the age of 62 our wonderful benevolent government dribbles it back to us.

I must admit we were concerned when that pompous, ever bombastic blowhard Al Gore made it a campaign topic sixteen years ago. Being near the age of eligibility and considering all the money we put into it the thought of not having it back when we were promised caused us much concern. This was only one part of our retirement plan but essential to overall comfort late in life. Besides, it's OUR MONEY.

My eligibility confirmation came in the typical brown government envelope Friday.

I turn 62 in two months. We have read a lot of propaganda about how much more we would collect per month if we waited a few more years instead of claiming eligibility at 62 years old. Wait for 66? Not a chance. Our calculations conclude it would take up to six years beyond that before making up the difference. We wanted our money back and we wanted it ASAP, before someone or a group of someones change the rules.

Our wonderful benevolent government would like us to delay eligibility. This means they could hold onto my money longer or I could pass away before collecting. That would let them off the hook. No way.

It's no secret Social Security is a ponzi scheme, a gummint bamboozle. One generation pays for the next. When our parents and grand parents became eligible there were plenty of baby boomers to pay into the system. SS didn't begin that way but that is how it now works.

As baby boomers, Gen X'rs and the next younger generation will be providing us with our extra retirement income. Problem is there are far more of us than there are of them. WIll they contribute enough to keep SS afloat? Who will bail it out if it needs bailing out?  Maybe they can bring in some more hard working Mexicans to make up the difference. Until then at least we know we will be getting ours when originally promised. For the following generations? Not so sure.

She has already been collecting since she is older than I. When my deposits begin in two months I will be getting a considerable amount of cash and her deposits will double so this is no chump change. 

We have crossed the finish line. We will be getting ours.Thanks a Gen X'ers!