Why.

Influencing Truth.

Dave over at Blogography recently featured a YouTube video by an astute observer who points out the fibs, deceptions, and lies found in many YouTube Influencer videos. If you have 38 minutes and feel invested in the topic, here’s the video:

The video highlights all sorts of things, like illogical positions of the sun in the sky relative to the supposed time the video is being recorded, inflated rankings in marathons, and inattention to details like digital clocks showing the real time, etc. This woman has the receipts. You’ll see those too.

Influencer culture is rather gross. It’s an extension of the Reality TV generation conflated with rampant consumerism where you should buy what these influencers are saying you should buy. Their lifestyles are amazing because their videos show just amazing they are. But they’re not.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get more people to notice my little videos about hiking, storm chasing, and aviation. Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest. Maybe I should just admit that I’m a boring middle aged man. I’m going to keep making my videos because I enjoy the creative outlet, but I’m realizing I’m doing one thing very wrong.

I’m being truthful. The truth does not begat engagement.

During the storm chasing trip I featured a segment in one of my videos where I show myself in the shower, getting ready for the day, checking out weather websites, etc. Being the “Bewitched” nut that I am, there are a couple of little “witchcraft” segments where I pop on my shoes and magically change my shirt. I’m here to admit right now: those two little scenes were staged. But me getting out of the shower? I put the camera up before I got in the shower, took my whole shower, and then the camera captured me getting out of the shower. Same with the shaving, and the brushing of the teeth, and the packing up my belongings to vacate the hotel room.

Note that at no time did I show a shot of me getting out of bed. Because I was traveling solo, there was no one there to film me getting out of bed and I wasn’t about to set up the camera, set the alarm clock back, get back in bed, wait for the alarm, then get out of bed, and fake waking up. I’ve told many tall tales in my life, but that poor habit was solidly in my youth and something I quickly grew out of. I can’t bring myself to “Survivor” or “Big Brother” my way through the day, taking multiple cuts of the same shot to pick the perfect shot. Maybe it comes from my days of radio, but I tend to grab things live.

Yes, there are times when I’ll say the same phrase multiple times because I stumbled over my words while talking to the camera. Yes, I will hike up a trail, put up the camera, go back down the hill, hike up the hill again, and then grab the camera after I passed by, so I have a shot of me hiking up the hill. I’m actually doing twice the hike for those shots. But I’m not going to be claiming it’s before dawn with the sun beating down on me, or bound out of bed with a sure shot of energy when I’ve already gotten out of bed, set up everything, gone back to bed, and done it for real.

I do my best to represent who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing. And apparently that does not please the YouTube algorithms. OK, fine. Then it’s no engagement numbers for me.

We all know Influencer Culture, and those embroiled in that scene, are tacky. I like to think that some of them are doing it for the creative outlet, much like I do with my videos, but for the most part, they’re there to make money off residuals from you buying what they’re selling.

I guess there’s not enough money in selling the truth.

Self Checkout.

“Self Checkouts are awesome!”

We’ve been hearing this from retailers for well over a decade. The epitome of customer convenience, by making the customer do the work of a dedicated store employee, customers can fly through the checkout experience and exit the store faster than OJ can fly through an airport to a car rental company counter. I know, he’s dead now.

In reality, eliminating store employees and having all the customer do the checkout work, retailers thought they’d save tons and tons of money. Somewhere at this moment there’s a big box corporation CEO rolling in their millions of parachute money before Jeff Bezos takes it all away.

Except, here’s the thing. No one wagered on the amount of theft that would occur in the self checkout process. Intentional or not, retailers are losing more money than they anticipated and they are subsequently starting to see the hit to their soaring profits.

This does not amuse the stockholders.

Personally, I never had a problem with self checkouts until they started completely removing the manned checkout lanes altogether. Our local Walmart store did this, for the most part. The customer service counter has been relocated to a legacy-style checkout, and four of the original 30 checkout lanes remain; the rest have all been converted into a corral of self checkouts, where folks can mingle in very close quarters with very large carts and do things like exchange body gases and other COVID-19 transport mechanisms.

We live in such wonderful times.

The Walmart in question robbed their store greeter position to install a receipt checking sentry at the door, but I have always bypassed that person at this particular store. “Sir, I need to see your receipt!”

On the few occasions I have actually heard this I have countered with, “I’m not an employee, no need to check my work”! I then wave my receipt in the air. It might be a car wash receipt or a Starbucks receipt or even something from a Kmart back in 1998. As long it’s printed on chemically dangerous thermal printer that’s going to fade in the Arizona sun within the next couple of months, I don’t think they really care. I’ve been on camera the whole time. They saw me give them a one star rating at the end of the transaction. They shouldn’t ask for my opinion.

Target has been removing self-checkout lanes in their more theft-prone areas because they’re losing too much money and that makes the folks in Minneapolis nervous. Our store hasn’t removed their self checkout corral, but now we’re limited to the number of items we can bring into the corral. Their self checkouts have been converted to “10 items or fewer”.

Luckily, Target still has a dozen or so traditional lanes and usually two or three of them are actually manned.

Here’s a fun tangent. In the very early 1990s I worked for Hills Department Store. I have come to realize that apparently I was one of the few cashiers not stoned at any given time, and that’s probably why they always put me on the express lane. This was before the chain had adopted scanning and we were still keying in the Dept/SKU/Price on every item. The IBM 4683 cash registers felt kind of cheap when compared to the original system from the late 1970s (NCR 255s) but they worked and I could move quickly, even on register 16, which was at the very end of the network loop.

During the Christmas rush, this Hills store would open 15 out of the 16 checkouts and even process regular sales at the nearby jewelry counter. Why 15 out of 16 and not all 16? Because register five was reserved for “administrative duties” by a usually sassy woman named Trish who was dubbed “head cashier”. I really liked Trish, she was a lot of fun. And she could watch everything we were doing, keystroke by keystroke, from register five. The monitoring software has been there for well over 30 years; even the old NCR 255s from the 1970s could monitor the keystrokes of any cash register at any given time.

So I don’t know why I’m suppose to show my receipt to the less than friendly “exiter” at Walmart.

I’m wondering how long it will be before the local Target removes the self checkouts completely. They’re already locking things up like toilet paper and band aids. It’s only a matter of time.

Eye-yeye-yeye.

Every year we pay a little extra in health insurance for vision care. The vision care company is quite well known and it’s not a huge expense, but in these weird financial days every penny counts, so I’m aware of what we’re paying per month for eye care.

The other day I received a flyer in the mail urging me to get my yearly checkup. Last year I went to our local Target Optical department, and while the eye exam was free, the glasses were not. My glasses with progressive lenses were well over $300 AFTER insurance coverage. I ordered a second pair from Zenni Optical for just shy of $120 WITHOUT insurance coverage.

This makes absolutely no sense to me.

When we lived in Chicago I had an eye exam and picked up a pair of glasses from Warby Parker for a forgotten sum of money, but I remember that my insurance coverage plan wasn’t particularly fond of Warby Parker so they only contributed $50 to the whole experience.

Like many of my fellow Americans, I’m really getting tired of the health insurance shenanigans constantly in progress, and as I get older I just know it’s going to become more and more of a factor. One of the reasons my husband and I keep pushing out my retirement date is due to health coverage and the associated costs around health insurance. There’s a part of me that figures I’ll be dead and buried before I’m able to retire.

In the meanwhile, I’m sticking to cheaper, online sources of eyeglasses. Our current vision insurance coverage plan feels too much like a scam.

At Least Try.

I get spam email all the time. Once in a very great while one of them will be convincing, but decades of being online has taught me a thing or two and I usually don’t fall for these things.

But, if you’re going to send me spam, at least put some effort into it. I particularly enjoy the section I have highlighted in bold print below.

Hey,

I hope this email finds you well! It’s been a while since we last caught up, and I thought I’d drop you a quick note to see how you’ve been doing.

Life has been keeping me busy lately, but I’ve been thinking about our last conversation and wanted to check in on you. How have things been on your end? Any exciting updates or news you’d like to share?

On my end, I’ve been [briefly mention what you’ve been up to, such as work, hobbies, or personal projects]. It’s been keeping me on my toes, but I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.

Let’s definitely schedule a time to catch up soon, whether it’s over a cup of coffee or a video call. I miss our chats and would love to hear about what’s been going on in your life.

Take care and talk soon!

Warm regards,

Lucky.

We often hear how the American airline industry is a mess and traveling by air is a chore. I agree with much of this. I cringe whenever I hear I’m on a “very full flight”, as described by the gate agent. First of all, a very full flight isn’t a thing, it’s either full or it’s not. If it’s a very full flight I can only surmise the bulkheads are bulging with people, folks are sitting in the aisle, and the pilot has to maneuver around a pink carry-on that was thrown in the cockpit because there’s no room anywhere else on the airplane. The other thing that bothers me about a “very full flight” is the amount of people shoving way too much stuff up in the overhead bins.

Yesterday we lucked out on our flight from Orlando to Houston. The empty seat next to us remained empty. It was enjoyable.

This flight also sealed my Silver Premier status for 2024. I’m looking forward to complimentary upgrades for our upcoming flights.

Voted.

Today is Election Day in the United States. It’s an off year, so the focus is on an assortment of local elections. Here in Tucson we were given the opportunity to vote for a mayor (the incumbent is a Democrat) and there was a couple of propositions including determining the salary for the mayor and the city council.

I voted by mail last week.

Pundits, pollsters, and the screaming media are watching elections across the country to try to get a read on the pulse of the nation. Will the local elections swing blue? The media has been pushing polls for the 2024 presidential election, trying to narrow the gap between Biden and Trump as much as possible so they can ramp up the drama and get more ad revenue. In my honest opinion, both choices are bad but there’s one choice that’s much worse than the other so there’s that. I’d vote for a third party if it made a difference but the machine in Washington makes sure there isn’t really a choice for the average American. Just screaming and empty promises and power hungry idiots and profit seeking grifters and people that have been in office for too many decades. I’m discouraged with this whole democracy thing, but I’ll still vote and I’ll always try to cast a vote that will actually accomplish something.

So little choices. I hope the local elections go well, though, with plenty of pleasant surprises.

It’ll give the media something to scream about.

What?

I just read a tirade (that I won’t link to) of a person upset that Daylight Saving Time starts and we use this time to SAVE UP DAYLIGHT FOR SPRING.

I have no words.

  1. Daylight Saving Time has ended for the year. We don’t do DST in Arizona; we are on Mountain Standard Time year ’round. Right now we are two hours behind Eastern Standard Time. During Daylight Saving Time we are three hours behind Eastern Daylight Time.
  2. We do NOT “save up daylight” during standard time to use during daylight time. To even think that someone believes that is mind boggling to me. The tomfoolery is Daylight Saving Time is pushing the clocks forward an hour to make you THINK you have more daylight in the evening, but you don’t. It’s just the government messing with the clocks and you thinking you have more daylight because the clock shows a later sunset than it really is. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

But in no way is anyone saving up daylight in a bank or something.

Ridiculous.

OK, this is beyond ridiculous.

Disney+ is increasing from an annual fee of $79.99 to $109.99 on our next renewal in November. That is a very large hike and we’re deciding if we still want to pay for the streaming service.

The streaming companies are getting out of control with their fees. It’s like every one of them said, “we know no one liked cable, so let’s see what we can do to make it worse.”

Like so many things Disney as of late, this is very disappointing.

Recess.

Apparently Congress is taking a recess because they can’t agree on anything. The government is going to shut down again in a week because no one can agree on anything.

I’m really, really tired of stupid people voting for stupid people. Maybe they can just stay away and let someone competent come in and do the job they can’t do.

Our government was not designed to be run by stupid people, and that’s what we’re stuck with.

Flipped.

My husband occasionally tells me I get too worked up with road rage as we’re navigating the roads, streets, and stravenues of Tucson, Arizona. For those not familiar with Tucson, as the city has grown the citizens have struck down any and every suggestion of building a crosstown freeway, eschewing the fast roadway experience for a consistent, “it’s a big city but still feels like a small town” experience. Instead of freeways we have arterials with plenty of traffic lights, lowered speed limits to make six- to eight-lane roadways “pedestrian friendly”, and folks driving quickly on surface streets because we don’t have freeways.

Now, I’m not an overly aggressive driver, but because I’ve done a considerable amount of college-grade studying in the whole civil engineering/traffic engineering arena, I know what the books say about highway design versus what the city of Tucson and Pima County have opted to do instead, and there’s a lot of weirdness out there. Add to this the fact that a sizable number of motorists don’t even know how to work their headlights, let alone pay attention to driving instead of using their cell phone like they’re talking into a pop tart, and the plummeting average IQ of the American citizen and I’m pretty sure we can figure out why I occasionally exhibit road rage behavior. It’s not that my husband finds I’m too aggressive, it’s that he has to hear my screaming when no one else on the road is aware of my screaming.

I’ve been doing my best to keep it inside lately. We are too far along our life paths to die in our sleep after listening to the rantings of a bald man.

The thing is, people are stupid, and driving forces everyone down to the least common denominator, especially without freeways. If someone is doing something stupid in front of you, you have to slow down and let them make their dull-normal decision to turn right from the very left hand lane. There’s never a turn signal involved with this, it’s just “oh the GPS just told me to turn right and even though I’ve been in the left lane for the past 65 miles, I’m going to dart across and turn right so I can get into the Walmart parking lot”.

I’ve recently discovered that if drivers can manage to turn their headlights on, they can’t figure out how to use their high beam switch, so in addition to these needlessly bright headlights on trucks that are too tall to begin with, drivers are navigating the stravenues of Tucson with their high beams on because no one knows what that stick on the left side of the steering wheel is suppose to do. Left, right, high, low: just ignore the switch and hope for the best.

Luckily, I’m one of the few remaining Americans that knows what this is.

For those unaware, the little switch hanging down from your rear view mirror switches the mirror from “day” to “night” mode or vice-versa. Night mode dims the entire scene displayed in the mirror so the $100K Ford F350 with a nuclear fusion powered headlight system of eight, ten, or twelve lights barreling down the ass end of your Jeep Cherokee isn’t burning your retinas completely out of your head.

Unfortunately, I live with a few people that don’t know what that switch does and they leave the switch in the night position in the day time and opt to just swing the mirror around instead.

And now you know why I might yell a lot in the car.