To Mask or Not to Mask, That is the Question

Wear a mask or not wear a mask, is a health, social, and of late, a political issue. The world does have experience with this issue, we have either forgotten or ignored it. From the World wide Flu Epidemic of 1918 which was overshadowed and somewhat ignored due to a another event taking place. We are Human, and we do not change our behavior lightly.

World War 1 and the World Wide Flu Epidemic

The 80’th annual motorcycle meetup and party tradition going on in the moment in Sturgis, South Dakota. Most of the tens of thousands attending, are freedom loving, restrictions of any kind hating people. Masks at the rally are seen as being restrictive.

2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

One can only imagine in a few weeks, how Covid Virus will bloom in the cities and towns were these freedom loving people go back home to live in. Maybe it’s human nature to behave the way many do, and refuse to take precautions or care about the well being of others. Perhaps we have repeated history more often than we are aware?

To Mask or Not in 1918

 

Maybe because for most of us, it is not yet personal, we can’t relate, and we ignore it. 1918 here we come again. The 102’nd anniversary of a world pandemic in action. Few people have ever had the opportunity to relive history. And here we are.

 

 

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Buying on Credit? Easily Find the Best Offer

I watched this furniture store television commercial the other day, and wondered how many people would be foolish enough to make a purchase under the loan terms. The commercial had an example, where the buyer (You and I), could buy a front room furniture group valued at $2,599.00 for only $35.00 a month! Sounds great, but to make the offer even better, they also offered no interest fo the first five years.

Wow, we should all rush out and buy furniture with that offer right? Not so fast, let’s look at it a little closer. If we were to purchase the furniture at 0% interest and made payments of $35 a month, how long will we be paying as out furniture gets worn out?

$2599.00 / 35 month = 74.26 months worth of payments. 74.25 months / 12 = 6.2 years of payments! How worn out will out front room furniture be in six plus years we will need simply to pay it off? Then there is the interest!

There is what looks like a great deal, “no interest for five years!” Wow, sounds great. If you look closer and listen better, there are no interest payments for five years. They are still calculating interest each month, but interest is saved until five years of payments are made. Of course they are charge interest on the interest itself.

Then there is interest. If it were only simple insterest, lets pretend at 10%. That would be $260.00 dollars worth of interest. That’s not too bad. Unfortunately interest does not work that way unless you ae borrowing from your parents.

In the long run, those cheap payments of $35.00 a month for $2,599.00, probably end up costing somewhere in the neighborhood of five or six thousand dollars and ten years to pay off!

Fortunately, there is a fairly simple to use financial formula named, Future Value of Money. It looks seriously complex, but you can do the calculation on your phone, and find out what a purchase on credit will really cost you.

From Investopedia:

FV = I x (1 + (R x T).

where:

I = Investment Amount

R = Interest Rate

T = Number of years

This is the handiest formula for anyone who is on a tight budget and is considering making payments on a purchase or credit card.

I won’t go into detail, as you are either not interested, or intimidated. Instead, I have collected web links for you to look at, that make the process simple. What is really good about future value of money is it can also show you which savings or investment plan is better for you. It takes the slick wording out of any purchase on credit or savings offer. Enjoy!

There are no Good “Buy on Credit” deals, you can pick the best though

Web Pages:

Understanding the Time Value of Money

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/03/082703.asp

Time Value of Money (TVM)

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/timevalueofmoney.asp

Introduction: What is time value of money?

https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1806581/pages/introduction-what-is-time-value-of-money

The above webpage is comprehensive, but a little tedious. I found you can ignore the warnings.

Videos:

The Time Value of Money (Explained)

 

Present and Future Value: Calculating the Time Value of Money

https://study.com/academy/lesson/present-and-future-value-calculating-the-time-value-of-money.html

For the daring among you. A little more serious, but worth knowing.

Present Value – PV

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/presentvalue.asp

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Home Based Selling Trap

In these Covid, shut-in times, the economy has shifted. Work people used to do is either gone, or severely reduced from a labor standpoint. Automobiles and restaurants are prime examples. We hardly drive our cars, and we learned how to feed ourselves. The automobile and restaurant business still going are operating in a limited fashion. Life has evolved into something different than it was a few months ago.

These changes drive many people in to what are essentially door to door salespeople. Most of them will fail. They will fail for many different reasons. Generally, it from trying to sell a product no one really wants. Imagine trying to sell a $2,000.00 vacuum cleaner, when a reasonable vacuum cleaner can be picked up at a retail store for less than $100.00.

Imagine being a blanket salesman in the hottest part of the summer. Your perspective clientele are trying to find ways they can afford to stay cool, and you want them to buy something to keep them warm. Good luck with that.

Hard way to an easy living

A well thought home business is a pleasure, a hasty decision is painful

The list of items that can be sold from home is practically unlimited. The list of items that one can make a living at are woefully few. Think of the blanket salesman in the summer. Or someone trying to sell canned vegetables in a farming community.

There is a formula for selling most people miss completely. What generally happens with home product sales is, the potential new salesperson falls in love with a product. Whether it is makeup or pots and pans. The host or seller has an easy sell. They regurgitate the sales pitch that has been proven most effective over the years, and from there the product sells itself.

The customer, come newest salesperson does not see other people can not get as excited about the product as they are. Most sales of this type are made on personality of the sales agent. This extends in houses, cars, and smaller ticket items. People buy a product because they ‘could’ use it, but more often because they like the seller.

Economics is also a major player in successful sales. A seller needs to sell a product that is inline with their income or less than their income. When people buy a product from someone, more often than not, the seller is perceived to be a person like themselves. Rarely do sales cross income levels.

Which brings itself to the product being sold. Selling chocolate bars door to door for $1.00 each lends itself to a much larger marketable audience than selling a hand made automobile. The key is finding a product that fits the disposable income in the sellers income range. If the seller is in the lower middle class, not poor, but not a lot of disposable income, the customers they will relate to best will also be in the same economic range.

With that being said, it is a poor business and personal decision to attempt to sell a product out of that economic price range. If the disposable income is $25.00 a week, the best product to be selling to that group is no more than that level.

Selling chocolate bars for a dollar each is easier and potentially more profitable than selling a line of jewelry that averages $50.00 an item. It’s all a matter of disposable income combined with want. More people want sweets than want jewelry. Sellers of items within the categories above, have a chance at making a profit. Violate one of the above rules, and go broke painfully, and usually quickly.

The potential new home salesperson, unfortunately doesn’t see these factors as they are sitting in a, ” ” party, being offered items to buy they really do not need. They see what looks like a successful Host or Hostess, painlessly making sales. They think they can too.

What happens next is a short road of expense and frustration. They want to sell the product too. They find they need a sales kit. The kit usually costs around the upper limit of what their disposable income, plus a little more. But they are enamored with the idea of easy money, and buy what is essentially the bare minimum amount of product.

When their kit arrives, they call their family and friends and start setting up, ‘parties’. Depending on their family and social circle, this will usually be one to three sales sessions. Of course without much effort, they make enough in sales to make it look promising.

Next, is the purchase of more product so they can offer more at the ‘parties’. This is usually the profit they have made plus more of their own money which is getting to be a little less disposable, and a little more painful to part with.

About the third round of this two things happen. First, they have a large amount of money tied up in product. Second, their source of people who are willing to host ‘parties’ is about dried up. Finding new customers turns out to be more of a challenge than they expected.

The downward spiral solidifies its appearance. Sales are beyond slumping, they have dried up. What looked like a real opportunity now looks like a dead end. The only compensation is the seller can use most of the product themselves, if that is compensation.

Meanwhile, if they had invested in selling chocolate bars, and were creative they may well have a successful business in the making. Chocolate is cheap. Once a chocolate bar is eaten, the chocolate bar has met a need. Chocolate is cheap to replace, over and over and over. Nothing like repeat customers.

Here are the six important Home Seller take-away bullets from above, though there are many more factors to consider:

1. Be aware of the the changed social structure and changed economy effect what people want.

2. The first sell-able product you are offered, may not be the best choice.

3. Find a product people want, and will buy again. One time sales stink.

4. Keep emotion out of your decision making process.

5. Sell within your economic and social group.

6. Be cautious of how much you personally have to invest in your sales kit. Will you personally use it all if the business doesn’t thrive and survive?

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DYI – No More Ants in the Hummingbird Feeder

Unless you are very lucky, you, like everyone else has had an ant problem. Ants are interesting creatures. They live almost everywhere, and they eat almost anything. This makes Ant’s very successful. Every summer I have an ant problem, and this summer is no exception.

A few ants have moved into the house. Because it is so dry here, the ants come in looking for food and water. For the most part after about a week of trying to be home invaders, they either die off or they move back outside.

There are two main types of Ant’s here classified by what they prefer to eat. Grease Ants, which smell when you kill them, and sugar ants. This month, I am visited by Sugar Ants as there is not enough oil or grease in the house to entice Grease Ants.

Outside, the Sugar Ants were especially effective this year. They made the climb, en masse, up a five foot steel rod down a brass rod, and into the Hummingbird feeder, which naturally is full of sugar water. More than hundred dies in the sugar water.

Suicide Ants who gave their life for sugar water

Dead Ants in the Hummingbird feeder does not warm the heart

I might mention the manufacturer of my Hummingbird Feeder already thought about the Ant and sugar water problem. In the center where the hanging rod is, there is a small cup like area. This could be filled with oil. Ants coming down the hanging rod, get caught up in the oil and perish there, leaving the sugar water clean and ant free. The downside to this, is it is messy to clean. Oily dead Ants, and an oily feeder.

Hoping this hummingbird feeder invasion this was a fluke, I took down the Hummingbird Feeder, put in fresh sugar water, sprayed the feeder stand base with ant killer, and thought I was done. The next day another Ant army drowned in the hummingbird feeder. It was time to take action.

I took an empty water bottle, cut the bottom off, slit it open up the side, and used a heavy pair of nippers to cut the top threads. The plan was to slide the bottle onto the pole, tape it to the pole at the threaded area, and tape the side. Hanging on the feeder stand as an upside down bell, it will outsmart the ants. Or that is the plan.

When you hold an empty water bottle, it is amazing the full bottle made it from the bottling plant, across country, into the store and home without bursting. The plastic is so flimsy, a toddler could crush and empty water bottle.

The empty water bottle threaded area, I found is another story. There was no way, the threaded area was going to open wide enough to slide on the pole. It wasn’t going to happen unless I heated and then held a very hot surface until the bottle cooled. It was time for a “Plan B”. I took a second empty bottle out of the recycling bin, cut the bottom off and called it good.

I removed the feeder from the pole, and then the pole from the ground. I slid the bottle on the pole, and slid the pole back into its hole in the ground. I then took some heavy duty two inch tape and taped it in place on the pole. Plan “B” is a much simpler and easier method. It has been three days now and no Ant has figured out how to climb the bottle and up to the sugar water. I will call that, Ants 1, and myself 1, for a tie. I’ll take a tie anytime with Ants.

DYI Hummingbird Feeder Ant Blocker

DYI Hummingbird Ant Problem solution

Most problems are simple enough to solve, if only one can step back and objectively look at the problem. Being too close or invested in a problem clouds or hides the solution. If you have a problem, and almost everyone does, stepping back and thinking about new ways to solve the problem is a lot more helpful and meaningful, than trying the same solution over and over, hoping for a different outcome.

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Place a Thunderbird and Chrome Icon on Plank Dock

This is a “How-To” for placing a persistent Thunderbird icon on your Plank Dock. I use XFCE, but the process should be the same no matter your DE. I have broken the process down into small steps so everyone should be able to have a Thunderbird icon on the Plank Dock.

Have a persistent Thunderbird icon on Plank Dock

If you are comfortable with Thunar or are using the command line, you will end up here:

/home/user/.config/plank/dock1/launchers/

This is assuming you are running one instance of Plank which most people are.

For those not so comfortable charging forward here are the steps in sequence you need to take.

1. Open Thunar. You will be in your home directory. Thunar will show the path: /home/user/

2. Under the option ‘View’ click in the box: “Show Hidden Files”. A check mark will appear in the box. You will now see new folders with a “.” in front of the name. These are hidden folders in your home directory.

3. Click and open the Folder named: .config. This is a Hidden Folder containing more Folders for your user account in your Home directory.

4. Click on and open the Folder named: ‘plank’. This is where Plank stores the folders and information it needs for the way you have it set up for your user.

5. Click and open the Folder named: dock1. This is your Plank Dock folder.

6. Click and open the Folder named: launchers. This is where instructions for the icons Plank has placed on your Dock reside. Without these files, your Dock would be empty.

Thunar should have this as its path:

/home/user/.config/plank/dock1/launchers/

7. Right Click on the file: mousepad.dockitem or if you are using Featherpad, Right Click on featherpad.dockitem.

8. Click on, “Open with Mousepad” or “Open with Featherpad”. You must use mousepad or featherpad, and not Libre Office or other editor.

9. In your editor you will see the actual launcher instructions that Plank uses. The instructions will look like this:

[PlankDockItemPreferences]
Launcher=file:///usr/share/applications/mousepad.desktop

10. Delete the word, mousepad in mousepad.desktop

11. Type in the word, thunderbird. When you are done it will look like this:

[PlankDockItemPreferences]
Launcher=file:///usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop

12. Click on File -> Save As

13. After “Name:” on the top line, change the file name. “mousepad.dockitem” to thunderbird.dockitem

14. Look at the directory path. It still should be:

“/home/user/.config/plank/dock1/launchers/”

If it is not change to this directory before saving.

15. Click “Save” on the bottom right of the screen. Close mousepad or featherpad.

Double Icons when Thunderbird is open.

You are all done! You should logout, and log back in to see the changes you have created. If you have more than one user, either repeat the steps for each user.

An icon for Thunderbird will now be on your Plank Dock. The only annoyance is when you launch Thunderbird, a second Thunderbird icon will appear on the Plank Dock. It will disappear when you close Thunderbird.

Go back and un-check, “Show Hidden Files”. You want to see them every time you open Thunar.

07/29/2020  Have a Chrome icon on your Plank Dock

Here is how you may have google-chrome on your dock. Follow the steps in the post above changing as needed.

Add the text below:

[PlankDockItemPreferences]

Launcher=file:///usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop

Save your file with the name: google-chrome.dockitem in your plank/dock1 directory.

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