Some of you probably heard Jay mention this problem in his posts about attending World Fantasy Convention. Well, it's all true. Americans get charged extra for entering the UK now.
I've been to London numerous times. I've lived in York, and at one point I was flying back and forth monthly. So I knew it would be expensive to go to London for a Worldcon. But I had more than enough experience living there to know what it should cost. Until I ran into the new American tax.
I am right now seeing plane flight pricing for economy seats at what used to be first class pricing. I am literally (and yes I know what literally means) seeing prices for economy plane tickets alone being higher than my entire budget for attending LonCon not including the hotel.
Currently estimated price for two for the cheapest economy airfare and 4 days at the convention hotel is over $5,000 USD. Before your first cup of tea. I'm not going to fly to London, go to the convention, then go home because I can't even afford the small train fare to go back to York and see friends, nevermind any other sightseeing.
This is completely ridiculous. This makes no sense. The exchange rate for pound to dollar is nearly twice as good as when I was going there often. I used to trade .4 dollars for a pound, and the exchange rate now close to .7 and somehow everything is twice as expensive? That math is entirely backwards.
Oddly, this tax completely disappears if you aren't coming from the Americas. No kidding, you can fly to the UK cheaper from Sydney, Australia (halfway around the world) than you can do a 6-hour non-stop from SFO. This is nonsense. This is a tax against Americans coming to London. Well, good luck with that. I'll be sailing on the Mediterranean instead, where they want our money. The budget for my entire vacation fits within the cost of landing at Heathrow.
Two full memberships will be up for sale unless airline and hotel pricing become something reasonable by January 31.
It would appear that it is a lot easier to send ebooks as gifts this year. Here are the guides I have found:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/NOOK-Book-App-Gifts-FAQ-Questions/379003362/
Giving a digital gift is quick and easy - we call it eGifting! NOOK Books and NOOK Apps can be eGifted to anyone with a valid email address. You do not need a NOOK to purchase a digital gift.
To eGift a NOOK Book or NOOK App, click the "Buy as Gift" link under the "Buy Now" button on the product page. You will have the opportunity to enter your gift recipient's email address and an optional gift message. You may preview the eGift email before purchasing. When you are ready to place your order, just click the "Buy Now" button.
You have the option to select a date that you would like the eGift email to be delivered. You may set the delivery date up to one year from the date you place your order. The email will be sent to your gift recipient's inbox in the early morning hours on the date you selected.
- Sign in to the iTunes Store with your Apple ID.
- Find an item in the App Store or iTunes Store that you want to gift.
- Click the arrow to the right of the price and select Gift This.
- Type the email address for the person you want to send the iTunes Gift.
- If you like, add a message.
- Pick the day you want to send the gift and click Next.
- Do I have to own a Kindle to give or receive a Kindle book as a gift? No. Kindle books can be given and received by anyone with an e-mail address. Kindle books can be read either on Kindle or using one of our free reading apps.
- What if the recipient doesn't like or want their gift? Kindle books received as gifts can be exchanged for Amazon.com gift cards.
I am thinking my way through a long post coming shortly about how I no longer believe in doctors, in their goodness or their ethics, and I now believe that the health insurance racket isn't the only thing wrong with the system. The entire system is inherently broken from top to bottom, and we aren't going to be healthy until it is replaced.
Today, I stumbled on this article from Jay's links and his experiences really match mine on an unbelievable mirror level. His problems were worse than mine (brain tumor), and his need is greater than mine -- but the problems with doctors and health insurance that he documents exactly mirror what I have gone through in the last two years. As he says:
The health care system should make it easier for patients who need vital medications to actually get them every time. And new technologies should be used to make it easier to get our prescriptions filled and to understand why they are held up... the health care system hinders my access to the chemicals I need to live. I am far from alone in this situation. It’s time we changed the system.
Every word he says about the system is true. Read it all here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/opinion/sunday/bringing-back-my-real-self-with-hormones.html?_r=0
Even though I've had some remarkable experiences this year, I think that 2013 will go down in my memory as the year of pain. The sciatic pain I had early this year has been beaten back, but it always lurks just one step away, one inch farther than I've moved today. I grew so used to the ongoing pain that I didn't even notice as the bone spur in my foot regrew, providing me with ongoing random bursts of pain. Throughout all of it, I just kept pushing through. Kept doing what it took to ignore the pain, work around it, keep it from preventing me from shuffling through life.
Shuffling through life. That's what this has become. Just a few years ago, most people would consider me at least semi-athletic. I'm now 25 lbs heavier and struggling to just get home and rest when I get past 7k steps in a day.
It was at this point that I realized how my life choices were narrowing down. I had always intended to retire and go spend time hiking up mountains in south america, skiing down mountains in Switzerland, and enjoying life in a manner that the daily rat race doesn't allow for.
Hey guess what, dummy? If you can't walk up 6 flights of stairs without pain, hiking in the mountains ain't in your future.
And now comes Fear. I can't live like this. I must get out of this. I must be in good enough shape to enjoy retirement. So, how do we get out? Well, how did we get here?
1. Abandon the Palo Alto Medical Foundation: ever since I switched my medical to PAMF, every problem has been met with disbelief or disregard. No matter how badly I was in pain, the doctors at PAMF keep saying "oh, that's normal" or "you need to learn to accept this". Even when an MRI showed discs bulging in my back, a problem for which hospitalization is not uncommon, I was literally met with "so what do you expect us to do?" kind of responses. Part of why I gave up was that fighting them was too difficult, too time consuming to get anything done. Yeah, they won. I lost. I need to go elsewhere.
2. Learn to listen to my body. Realizing that your right calf is swollen two inches bigger around than your left one because you're muscling around pain in your foot... CLUE! I need to spend time taking stock.
3. I've been learning to not push people so hard. I think I applied that lesson to myself, and that wasn't a good thing. I need to push myself, HARD. I don't get anything done with half measures. I need to push myself, to have a goal, before I'll complete anything. It's time to set real goals and deliver.
Here's to a 2014 where I can recover and enjoy life again.
For the first time in 12 years, I won’t roll a wheel on a racetrack for an entire calendar year. I was preparing to start practice late this fall in preparation for racing in 2014, when we discovered that the bone spur on my right ankle had regrown. I’m currently scheduled for surgery on November 19th, and will spend two weeks on crutches.
Part of me is tempted to do a Christmas vacation track day if I can find one, but I think I need to submit to reality.
I expect to be cleared for bicycle training in December. See you on the roads.
This was originally posted at http://www.fastlizardracing.com/2013/11/2013-is-a-complete-wash/. You are welcome to reply at fastlizardracing.com or here.
I think I finally hit bottom on work load and lack of sleep. When I got home from work today I was seriously nonfunctional, unable to perform even basic physical tasks. Even laying in bed my mind was struggling to comprehend horizontal status enough to relax.
I just woke up from 4 hours of refreshing sleep and I'm doing some basic responsibilities like feeding my dog then going right back to bed. I'll have to catch up on life tomorrow.
I think this letter is a good thing for any business to read about how to treat customers. It's a great idea to give them a loyalty program so that they will bring you more business. But you need to treat them better for being part of your loyalty program, not use it to embarrass and annoy the customer.
Dear Starbucks Gold Program,
After 4 or 5 years on your gold card program, I am returning your Gold card and its illusionary advantages to take my business elsewhere.
When I signed up for your program, I was fully aware that I was giving you my personal information, and subscribing to do more business with you, in order to gain certain advantages that seemed valuable to me at the time. I wanted a fast checkout with zero paper waste, and I wanted some rewards for bringing you an average of $3,000 a year in business.
I enabled auto-reload in order to have the convenience of digital checkout from my phone. I wanted a fast transaction with zero paper waste. I did not do this to be called back to the register as if I am some scalawag with a credit problem. Every 5 or so transactions you forget to do a reload, and call me back to the register as if I am some thief about to run away with your coffee. I am stuck there pulling out my wallet to find an old-world credit card while everyone in the line glares at me because I have slowed up the line.
This is never because I spent too much that day. When I go look at the transaction report, I find that you've left my account balance at $3 or even just 30 cents for a week without reloading my card. This is never my fault, yet I am always treated as if I am somehow a bad debtor.
Has it never occurred to you that you have all of my credit information, you have the ability to instantly debit the card set up for auto-reload... perhaps embarrassing your customer and frustrating a dozen more standing in line isn't the best way to handle this?
You don't pay out the rewards for credit earned -- I get an average of one free drink a year, even though I buy several hundred drinks each year.
In short, I'm not getting any advantage out of this relationship. This program does not make my life better, it's just a vector for random harassment and embarrassment for factors that you control.
You've been receiving a concentration of my business because I perceived that I was receiving value. Well, your Gold program is less than Pyrite for me, and I'll be enjoying your competitor's much better tasting, and much less sugary coffee.
Our household finally has no machines which need ps2 keyboards. I have a fully working ps2 natural/split ergonomic keyboard for anyone who wants one.
Today we saw a conversation we see far too often, about some nasty men who harass women on the Internet. They aren’t speaking their opinion, they are attacking women. It’s reprehensible behavior, and it needs to stop. And it needs to stop now. I am shamed that we allow this behavior in our society, and I wish I could do more to stop it.
( Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )This was originally posted at http://www.jorhett.com/2013/10/be-something-better/. You are welcome to reply at jorhett.com or here.
I have two large dog food bins available to any of my friends who want them.