Category: business

Business and money-related issues

An April Fools’ Game

It’s said that a fool and his money are soon parted. Well, this is April Fools’ Day, so how about if we play a game involving money? Don’t worry, if you’re wise you won’t lose anything.

In this game, I’ll assert four sets of two premises each, related to money. Then you’ll try to guess which premise in each set is true, and which is an April Fools’ joke. But be forewarned, there’s a joker in the deck—in some sets, both premises may be true, or both may be a joke.


If you get every set right, you’re a financial genius. If you guess three out of four correctly, you have sharp business acumen. If you only guess two correctly, you need financial help. Send me a thousand simoleans, and I’ll send you some financial advice. If you guess only one correctly, you’re a fool with your money. Please send it to me, today. If you guess none correctly, you probably have no money. So never mind.

Answers found at bottom of post.


1) Banks in California are no longer stockpiling vials of H20. This is due to a sudden surplus in this erstwhile rare element. Lately, H20 has seemingly appeared from nowhere, literally falling from the California sky. This has caused its price to crash on the commodities market, leading to several bank failures.

2) Many areas of California have truly been inundated with H20 this season. This includes Donner Pass, which has already received 714 inches of precipitation. Their full-season average is 360 inches, and their record is 812 inches (set in 1952).


1) The City of San Francisco, California has formed a reparations committee, tasked with exploring the payment of reparations to its black residents, for damage caused by slavery and systemic racism. After holding hearings, and listening to a long line of black San Franciscans expostulate wholeheartedly for reparations, the committee has made more than 100 recommendations. And the recommendations have received enthusiastic support from the city’s board of supervisors. These proposed reparations, for every eligible black adult, include: 1) A payment of $5 million, 2) the elimination of all personal debt, including credit card debt, 3) guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and 4) homes in San Francisco for just $1.00 per black family. It is estimated that such reparations will cost every non-black family in the city a mere $600,000.

2) Also present at the reparations committee hearings was a line of thousands of white San Franciscans, who expressed their unbridled eagerness to pay reparations to their fellow black citizens, to assuage guilt over slavery.


1) Recently, the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), located in Santa Clara, California, collapsed under the weight of foolish management decisions. 85% of the deposits in this bank were uninsured, and many of these uninsured deposits were owned by large tech companies. The federal government has decided to waive its $250,000 FDIC insurance limit, and is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to make every depositor whole. This will cost the average American taxpayer at least $1,200 each.

2) Silicon Valley Bank managers in California received bonuses of up to $140,000, just hours before it collapsed. Meanwhile, it’s United Kingdom division paid out over $18 million in bonuses, just days after it was rescued by HSBC bank.


1) The average American is 39-years old, and is in debt $96 thousand dollars. That’s $2,462 of debt for every year the average American has been in existence.

2) The universe is 13.8 billion years old, and the U.S. national debt is $31 trillion dollars. That’s $2,246 of debt for every year the universe has been in existence.


First Set: Premise #1 is an April Fools’ joke. But Premise #2 is true. While the precipitation amounts may seem implausible, the precipitation is in the form of snow.

Second Set: Premise #1 is true. Premise #2 is an April Fools’ joke.

Third Set: Premise #1 is an April Fools’ joke, because taxpayers will not be paying for the bailout of SVB bank. Rather, the cost will be passed down to every bank account holder in the USA, in the form of increased bank fees. Premise #2, concerning the bonuses, is true.

Fourth Set: Both premises are true. And I hope it helps to put the national debt into perspective, so that its astronomically large number becomes universally relatable to the average American.

The Solar Burn, Part 8: A Cruel Snow Job

This is Part 8 of a multi-part series about my attempt to install solar panels on my house. For the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next installation (when available), CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

A Cruel Snow Job

I put a thousand dollars down on a solar array back in early December. This was on the promise that the company I signed the contract with, would do its best to install our panels before NEM 3.0 kicked in. California’s NEM 3.0 (Net Energy Metering 3.0) policy, which begins in mid-April, will drastically reduce the amount solar owners are compensated for electricity they backfeed onto the grid.

I kept my fingers crossed, hoping beyond hope we’d beat the deadline and qualify for the very generous NEM 2.0 policy, that compensates at nearly the full retail rate. I marked off each passing day with a hashmark on the electric meter. I bitterly swore, each time I had to pay our astronomical monthly electric bill of $200 to $300. And I researched the internet, looking to buy a very large hamster that could power our house with a hamster wheel.

In early-January our solar company sent me an email stating that our building permit had been approved, and we’d be hearing from them again soon. But as I measured my fingernails, with nothing better to do in our dark house, nearly two millimeters had grown before I received my next email from the company.

They wanted $15,000, so they could order the panels, inverter, and other equipment necessary for installation. Hands atremble, I immediately wrote the check, then quickly drove the envelope to the post office, killing three pedestrians and five stray dogs, so I could mail it in person. I took no chances on it being stolen from our mailbox, or lost by our letter carrier.

And I waited and waited and waited. Three weeks elapsed, with no word from the solar company. Finally my wife knocked me over the head with a candlestick holder. She was tired of reading by candlelight, and ordered me to call them.

So I hopped on our stationary bicycle, which we use for powering the phone, and rang them up. I was fully, mentally hyped for a confrontation. But there was no argument. Apparently, they’d been waiting for my call, so that they could schedule an installation date.

We scheduled the installation for 10 days later, on Saturday, February 25th. Then my wife and I waited with eager anticipation, while wringing our hands at a weather forecast that looked more and more ominous with each passing day.

The storm invaded our desert on Wednesday, February 22nd, with gale force winds that rattled our house and hounded our hopes. By the next morning, two inches of snow covered our roof. It all melted by the end of the day, but the forecast looked dismal for Saturday. We held our breath and hoped for a break in the weather.

That break came on Friday. No rain or snow fell, and we saw some blue skies between the clouds. But then on Saturday, Zeus went to war with Helios and threw all He had at Him. A miserable, freezing rain began drenching our roof during the early morning hours. By late-morning it transmogrified into a blizzard. And the solar installation crew had not arrived as promised. What was keeping them? I wondered

The phone rang. It was the solar company. Apparently, they don’t install solar panels during blizzards. What?! You lazy mutherfuckers! I impatiently seethed inwardly as I politely spoke through gritted teeth to the kind man. He rescheduled the installation for Monday.

On Sunday, Helios finally recovered from Zeus’s onslaught, and broke out in all His splendor. An inch-and-a-half of snow lounged in the Sun, upon our roof. But this is Southern California, so it was gone by that evening. Helios, who is a native Southern Californian, made sure of that.

Helios rolled up over the horizon on Monday morning. It was 8:00 am. The skies were blue, the wind was relatively calm, and the temperature was pushing toward 40 degrees when the solar company parked their trucks in our driveway. A crew of eight shivering hombres in hoodies, who spoke a lot of Spanish, labored for the next eight hours, hoisting solar panels upon our roof and bolting them into place. It seemed eight was our lucky number, that day. Ocho, that is.

¡Ay, caramba! It’s a hazardous job, and apparently this unlucky technician was crushed by a solar panel.

They completed the job by 4:00 pm. The next afternoon, February 28th, the building inspector came by and approved the solar installation. And to my surprise, that was all that was needed to activate the array and start generating electricity from the Sun.

This is because we used a licensed contractor. Had we self-installed the panels, we would have had to wait several weeks to activate the solar array, for approval from our electric company. And speaking of the electric company, we won’t receive final approval from them until they review all the paperwork our solar company submitted for the Interconnection Agreement. Hopefully by late-March we’ll have that approval, qualifying us just in time for NEM 2.0.

After the array was activated, my wife and I became fascinated with the smartmeter that our electric company installed on our house about five years ago. It’s so smart, it can track not only the amount of electricity we’re using, but also the amount we’re backfeeding to the grid. And on the very first day of activation, we were delighted to discover we were backfeeding for the first time! Take that, you bastards at the electric company!

March 1st would be our first full day of activated panels, and we were very curious and anxious to find out just how much our solar array would backfeed. But wouldn’t you know it? Another goddamned storm rolled in and dumped freezing rain and snow most of the day, upon our brand new solar panels.

Want to know how much electricity solar panels produce when covered with snow? Zero, like a snowball, that’s how much.

The next morning we woke up to a beautiful, clear day, with an inch of snow blanketing our solar panels. It took until 10:00 AM for this niveous solution to melt off. Until then, every time we examined our smartmeter, we turned away feeling disappointed and depressed. It seemed we’d been victims of a cruel snow job.

One inch of snow was all it took to completely destroy our hopes and dreams.

But after Helios vanquished the snow, our panels burst forth into the glory of their purpose. The smartmeter showed kilowatt after kilowatt backfeeding onto the grid. It was supplying our neighbors at 30-cents per kWh, most of which will go toward offsetting our future electric bills. Bwahahaha!

That is, as long as we get approved by our electric company for NEM 2.0, by April 14th. That’s what we’re waiting for. And so that’s what my next update will be about. I’ll let you know whether or not we get the Solar Burn, or are able to beat the clock and burn our high electric bills.


5 Star Bribe ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Beware of the reviews on Amazon! Bribery is afoot! I addressed this issue about seven years ago, with a blog post, and also with a review I left on Amazon. That concerned people who had received a free product in return for leaving an Amazon review about it.

Seems these days the bribery on Amazon is becoming even more blatant. So today I’m doing the same thing I did seven years ago, with this post about a review I recently tried to leave on Amazon for a surveillance camera.

Amazon rejected my review, warning: “It appears your review had inappropriate content.”

Well, fuck you, Amazon. I think warning people about bribery is very appropriate, if you want them to buy good quality products. But maybe Amazon isn’t so concerned about that.

Amazon won’t stop me from posting this review. But it will just have to appear on WP. So here it is, below. You can decide for yourself whether or not it is “appropriate.”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5 Star Bribe ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Two months after I bought this surveillance camera, I got a postcard in the mail offering me a $20 gift certificate to post a 5-Star review on Amazon. A note at the bottom of the card warns, “Do NOT mention this card in the review.” Ah, very sneaky! So I guess I’m no longer eligible for this bribe.

Back side of the bribe offer, er, postcard, I recently received in the mail.

I couldn’t find any way to report this bribery to Amazon, so what does that say about Amazon?

I feel incensed that customers are being bribed to leave 5 Star reviews. I need to trust the products I buy. Due to my distrust, I’m leaving a 1 Star review. Otherwise, I would have given it 3 stars.

Ironically, this surveillance camera is made in China, which is a nation suspected of spying on the USA (remember the spy balloon?). But if you’re not a high-ranking government official, I’m guessing they won’t use it to learn about you or your habits, so don’t worry.

It cost nearly $30, with tax. The video quality is okay. You can set it to detect and automatically track motion, but I found the tracking to be wildly inaccurate. Often, when the motion goes one way, the camera goes the other, or just points straight up at the ceiling.

I’m unaware of any desktop app, but a phone app can be downloaded from Google Play, that can be used for controlling the camera. The app shows alerts whenever the camera detects motion. A tiny photo is displayed with the alert, that is hardly recognizable. Unfortunately, I can find no way to expand the size of the photo. And there seems to be no way to make my phone sound an alarm when motion is detected.

You can program the app to record video when motion is detected, if you buy and install a mini-SD card. But the learning curve for figuring out how to do this was rather steep for me. I could find no user manual for the app, and the user manual for the camera was not very helpful.

More features are available if you subscribe to YI loT’s cloud service, which they push a lot while you’re trying to use the app.

When I’m ready to buy more surveillance cameras, I will not choose this brand. Even though it’s okay, I’m willing to spend a little more for something better. Plus, I resent bribery, and feel distrustful of the product after receiving this bribe offer.



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