Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

As Usual, All About Me

I have regrets delving into potentially politically topics, but then again, I have had posts about libertarianism and extreme ideologies before, so I’ll give it another attempt.  My regret is that it’s so easy to bitch about hot-button topics.

I follow a “news” site that sort of straddles the line between hard-right and anarchistic.  I think it’s a good idea to at least read opposing viewpoints, despite how much it might piss you off or baffle you.  This site could be considered a news aggregator, although they do have some original authors on there.  A lot of times, what you get is an opinion piece with quotes from news articles.  And this one was no different.

Typically, the postings on this site are using news articles and other sources to promote their ideology, which is free-market capitalism and very anti-government – essentially extreme libertarianism.  This particular article I found was on health care costs and how it is cheaper to go to Mexico for surgery, on the order of ten times cheaper.

Naturally, the article invokes the trigger word, “socialism” as in “socialized healthcare” and their applied synonym, “ObamaCare”.  The belief is that if we stop the subsidies, the prices will come down to reasonable levels.  And to bolster that argument, the article compares a $30k procedure in the US to the same procedure in Mexico, which cost $3k.

Let’s pause for a moment here and realize there are quite a few Americans who do not have $3,000 readily available for an emergency.

Now, let’s also consider that the exchange rate.  Today, $1 is nearly 19 pesos.  Another potential cost of living metric is that bread in the US costs $1.40, which in Mexico it costs 15 pesos.  So then, sure, things in Mexico are typically ten times less expensive and our American dollars get us much more in Mexico.  So, you could just as easily have a Mexican version of this article wondering why a medical procedure costs 57,000 pesos.

So, let’s play along and embrace the libertarian dream.  Now, there is no insurance and health care is a cash-only option.  Because the health industry can’t exploit insurance, prices drop to $3,000 for a particular procedure.  So, who’s going to have trouble paying for this?  Hint: It’s the same ones that couldn’t pay $3,000 before.

As usual, this just reinforces the standard position of not caring about anyone but yourself.

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My Cat Is Suffering Because Of Your Shitty Design

My poor cat, Rump, has been struggling for a while ever since I bought her a new feeder.  Her last feeder was pretty much wrecked and a new one was needed.  She’s a pretty big girl, so I always get the largest feeders available.

The previous feeder that I had was a Le Bistro model.  This seems to be made by both PetMate and Aspen Pet.  Over the years, it was redesigned and it was redesigned in a very shitty way.  See the difference between the old design on the left and the new one on the right.

Old  New

Do you see the major difference?  The bowl on the new model on the right is a goddamn waterer bowl.  The only difference between this and their waterer is the hopper.  The waterer hopper is sealed, but the feeder has a removable lid.

Obviously this was the company saying, “Why do we have two bases for these two products?  We can save a shitton of money here.  It’s the same thing.”  You assholes, it’s not the same thing, and I’ll tell you why.

The first problem is that the food doesn’t come out.  You see the slide on the old model?  You see how the opening of the chute is higher than the lip of the bowl?  That lets the food come out.  Food doesn’t act like water, in case you didn’t know.  On the new model, there is no appreciable slide and you will also notice the new model’s chute opening is half the width of the bowl and the hopper’s neck is more narrow.  That would all be sufficient for water, not so with food.

My poor cat gets noticeably anxious when she sees the hopper empty.  There can be food in the bowl, but she understands what the reserve supply looks like and when it is not there, she starts crying.  Now, she has to deal with the fact that the bowl is empty, because the food doesn’t fall, but there is a visible reserve.  That’s damn cruel.

The second problem with this design is that stupid lip.  Again, for water, yes, you need a lip that is uniformly high all around the bowl.  For food, my cat has to to jam her head down into (I want to stress, into) the bowl to get food.  And when the hopper doesn’t flow the food, she has to stick her head even further in back to get food.  I said, she’s a big girl and she has a big head.  It’s not a good situation.  The bowl needs to be lower in front, especially because the hopper supplies so little food.  One other shitty design aspect is that the old lip rolled to the outside and smoothly transitioned into the bowl wall on the inside.  The new design has a lip that overhangs the interior of the bowl wall.  Why would you ever have that on a pet bowl anyway?  Animals push food against the wall to get to it, they don’t want their face bumping into a protruding lip.

So I’m off in search of a new feeder, but everywhere I look, it’s the same crap as this.  Great job on cornering the market with your shitty new design.

Tip Fraud

Again.  Fucking AGAIN.

A restaurant altered my credit card charge post-sale.  This time, it wasn’t the usual $1 tip added on.  This time, they took a $2 tip.  Just for the record, this bullshit happened to me only 3 months ago.

Ok, ok.  Calm down.  After talking to the restaurant manager, it turns out that it wasn’t a case of theft, just incompetence.  Another person’s tip was put on my card.  But it still remains that tip fraud is a very real and a very easy-to-do form of credit card fraud.

I have an issue calling out these restaurants for this fraud.  The places certainly have a small hand in the problem in that they’ve hired a piece-of-shit thief, but it’s not their policy to hire thieves and I’m sure they would be fired once exposed.  So, you know, I can dispute the charge with my CC company, but that just hurts the restaurant.  The thief gets away with their scam.  I could write a yelp review calling the place out, but again, that just hurts the restaurant.  I need a name.  I want to expose this person and make it difficult for them to just move on to another restaurant and continue their scamming operation.

As I’ve said multiple times in the past, I log my receipts then reconcile them with downloaded transactions from the bank.  If you aren’t doing this, you will be unaware that you are being stolen from.

There is a way to retroactively check and see if you have been ripped off.  But it will require that you remember how much you tipped, if you tipped at all.  First, you need to enable alerts on your credit card so you get an email or a text message for every charge on your card.  I originally had mine set to alert me for charges over $20, but now I’ve set it to $2.  When you have this alert set up, you will then have a record of the pre-tip amount.  You can then compare the amount in this notification to your CC statement to see if it differs from your finalized amount.

I have an idea to assist in exposing cases like this for people who do not log their receipts.  With many people relying on online-only solutions like Mint or their bank’s website, there needs to be a way to capture the tip amount prior to finalization.

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My Capital One card shows me pending transactions.  What if I could view the details of the transaction and enter the tip amount I charged, then that new total could be used when the transactions settles to see if there was a discrepancy?  Sounds pretty wonderful right?

But I know that many people aren’t going to log in to their CC website and enter their tips any more than they would use MS Money to track their transactions.  So here’s another idea.  Bots are the new hotness in the programming world.  People are also very responsive to talking with computers now.  What if Capital One texted me with new transaction notifications?

CapOne

Doesn’t that sound amazing?  So if the transaction settles for anything other than $14.48, you would get an alert of the discrepancy.

The Haves And The Have-Nots

There’s something I want to bitch about.  It’s nothing new or profound or even really interesting.  It’s the issue with income inequality in America.

The people in charge of America recently made a change to the taxes applied to corporations.  They lowered the top tier from 35% to 21%.  This was promised intended to save a lot of money for businesses and help save jobs and keep business strong and profitable.  Then, recent news says that the corporation Kimberly-Clark is going to eliminate 5k jobs.  And even more recent news say that they are using the money saved from taxes to pay for the costs of downsizing their business, including the layoffs.  That doesn’t sound like the expected result that was sold to us.

For all the bitching that could be done on that specific case, what I want to focus on is the fact that when KC announced they were cutting jobs, their stock price went up.  This is a double-insult to the working class.  I am fortunate to have a 401k plan, but I am acutely aware that many do not.  And those people are not reaping any – ANY – of the growth that has been going on in the last decade.  And that really pisses me off.

Some people, who are oblivious to the pains of the working class, would ignorantly say, “All you have to do is put some money in the stock market and you’ll get the benefits.”  Sure, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 401k, Roth IRA, or simple mutual fund.  They are correct.  But the part they ignore is “What money?!”

Wages aren’t going up for the working class.  Expenses are going up, though.  Think about that for a minute.  If there was some available money, that money could be growing.  But because there is none, there is no growth.  It has to be the most painful thing ever to see someone making only slightly more than you pull away in net worth because they have that small bit of extra income.  You either have money to invest or you do not.  And there is a world of difference between the two.

That’s my biggest sticking point is that corporations are holding back prosperity from their employees.  They are making changes that only enrich the already-established instead of considering how to enrich everyone. 

Somehow, we need to increase access for everyone to be able to take advantage of growth opportunities.  Increasing pay is the easiest, most direct way for that.  “But, the company will suffer because it’s an additional cost!  The stock price will drop!  My monies!”  But, with more people being able to put money into investments, the stock price will rise from the additional demand.  There is a common aphorism for this: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

It’s not difficult.  All it takes is is a little less greed.

A Happy Meal For These Days

Eating is generally a pleasurable experience.  Carrabbas says, “There is no love more sincere than the love of food.”  Dining out with friends (not as often with family) is a cheerful event, with conversation and company and also, food.  For McDonalds to try and bundle this whole thing up into a box and call it a Happy Meal is sort of pointless.  It’s a meal, it’s happy as it is.

But there are times, sometimes often, where your thoughts are not together, or you’re not feeling particularly social.  Maybe you have no one to be with.  A word comes to mind: melancholy.  When you look up the definition, “melancholy” sounds much more severe than I mean it to be.  So, although Melancholy Meal would be a pretty awesome name, I prefer to just keep it simple and call it SadMeal.

I have two SadMeal restaurants, one for work and one for home.  At work, I go to Long John Silvers.  Part of the reason this is my SadMeal location is that no one would ever go there with me, so I can be assured I’ll be there alone.  The whole “misery loves company” thing is completely bogus.  No one wants to be around a miserable person.

I want to take the opportunity to explain this LJS place I go to.  They are religious.  I mean, they are in-your-face, repent-now, religious.  Some part of me wonders if they chose LJS as a franchise because of the fishing metaphors from the bible.  Another part of me wonders if they are going way too far and that YUM! Brands should maybe have a talk with them.  We’re talking constant preaching radio on the sound system, tracts on the tables, a TV playing cartoon stories from the bible, and more.

So, some might think that if I’m sad and I go to a place that’s highly religious, I should feel comforted.  Isn’t that the point of religion?  To provide comfort?  But that’s not the point of SadMeal.  The point is to eat – alone, with my thoughts.  The religion is just an annoyance.

When I am home, SadMeal is my nearest Subway.  It’s not so much chosen as a place to get away from everyone, like it is at work.  I mean, I can stay at home and feel however I want.  Subway is chosen more of a default when I can’t decide on what I want to eat and nothing sounds like it would cheer me up.  If Subway marketed like Carrabbas, their tagline might be, “Sincerity is for idiots.  Eat this cheap, stale bread and indulge your misery.”  And that is what makes Subway my SadMeal.  It’s self-pity for not being able to choose a better meal.

Back in 15th-century England, you could be hospitalized for melancholy.  Not really hospitalized, but committed to an asylum.  Now, in 21st-century America, you can commit yourself to a meal.  Embrace your emotions and have a SadMeal tonight.

Alternate Music Timelines

This is an idea I’ve had for quite some time but it was not really big enough to really write about.  You know, some things are more Twitter-length, but if you don’t want to get sucked into multiple social broadcasting/publishing platforms, what can you do?  So, I just held on to the idea.

Then I had another of the same idea.  Now I’m up to two and it’s almost enough to make a post about.  All I need is a few paragraphs of intro/filler material (right here!) to describe the origins of the ideas so I can pad my word count.  But then, I had a third idea.  Now I was really set to go.  All I had to do was make sure I had enough words for each idea.  So, here’s the post proper.

You know sometimes when you hear a song, you think, “That sounds like this other band.”  Well, like everyone else, I get those thoughts too, but I think it happens less frequently, but more intensely with me.  Giving it some consideration, it’s not so much that one song sounds like another band did it, it’s more that the song would sound better by the alternative band because the song in question contains elements that that this other band does naturally.  I’ll try to explain how this applies for each song. 

So, for the 1000+ albums I’ve listened to, it might be strange to only come up with three cases where I would love to hear a one band’s song done by another band.  And if some of my reasons seem somewhat tenuous, you do have to consider that there’s a lot of music that sounds like other music and I don’t have a list of 100’s here.  To only have three instances must account for something.

Circle In The Sand, by Belinda Carlisle, performed by Fleetwood Mac.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/58972489

This is actually part of a bigger “fantasy” of mine.  Fleetwood Mac was a little lost after Stevie Nicks moved on to her solo stuff and eventually separated.  This led to their album, Time, with Bekka Bramlett instead of Stevie Nicks, which was not well received.

I thought Belinda Carlisle would be an excellent replacement for Stevie Nicks because they both had a trademark vibrato in their voices and they both loved the fuck out of cocaine.  Not to mention, Fleetwood Mac was part English and part Californian, while Carlisle was Californian but grew some European sensibilities by moving to France.

In this Van Hagar-ish mashup, I would imagine Fleetwood Mac throwing a couple of Belinda Carlisle songs into their live set to give her something to sing comfortably, and one of those songs should be Circle In The Sand.  Fleetwood Mac has a real gift at creating moody atmospheres, like in Rhiannon and The Chain.  If they could apply that sort of mood to Carlisle’s song, that would sound incredible.  In my opinion, of course.

Sensurround, by They Might Be Giants, performed by Rush.

I’m sure that’s about at WTF as you can get.  Where would I even get that idea from?  Quite simply, the guitar.  Sensurround is a guitar-heavy song, a style featured on many TMBG tracks, but the playing on this track is unlike others that I’ve heard.  There are a few style elements that stand out to me in the song.  First is the use of very dense chords.  Another is the staccato chords used in the verses, reminiscent of Rush’s Natural Science.  The other is the arpeggiated chords in the chorus similar to those in the chorus of Tom Sawyer.

Maybe that sounds like a stretch to only have elements from two Rush songs validate an idea that Rush could have done the song, but that’s only the genesis of the idea.  To imagine how the song would sound with the drumming and bass work of Neal and Geddy would be awesome.  And Rush are no strangers to quirkiness.  Although they don’t have any silly songs to their credit, they do show a sense of humor in their live shows.  So maybe make the lyrics a bit darker and more serious, Peart-style, and it’d be complete.

Give A Little Bit, by Supertramp, performed by Yes (circa 1970).

I recently purchased a Supertramp compilation CD and although I’ve heard this song before, I didn’t know who had done it.  As I listened to the song, it reminded me of some jangly Yes songs, particularly, And You And I.  The vocal line seemed to be well within Jon Anderson’s range and even the lyrical subject was similar to something he might write, maybe from the Anderson-Bruford-Wakeman-Howe era.

I’ll Take Spam For $400, Alex

Those of you WordPressers who have been around for a while probably know that spam comments are inevitable.  WordPress has a pretty good spam catcher built into it, so you may never see any comments come in that are flat-out fake.  But, spammers are a persistent bunch.  Well, I wouldn’t actually call them persistent, but they do have cheap and easy scripts that will blast any blog with stupidity.  And yesterday, I was hit by a gentleman named Alex.

Obviously, Alex is not a real person.  But Alex’s profile is run by a real person.  A real shitty person.  What’s the purpose of these spam comments?  Alex doesn’t have an associated website, so it’s not trying to create linkbacks to improve a spam website’s search ranking.  Maybe they’re trying to build a profile with some posting reputation to increase the status of a future blog on some nefarious subject?

Anyway, the gold is in the comments, right?  So let’s see how Alex felt about my posts.

Alex liked this post so much, he commented twice.

I am now not positive the place you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I used to be looking for this information for my mission.

and

You actually make it seem so easy together with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually one thing that I think I would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very large for me. I am looking ahead to your next submit, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

Then he moved on to another post and left me this comment:

Excellent blog here! Also your site so much up very fast! What host are you the use of? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink in your host? I desire my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

Then Alex handed the reins to his friend, Madeline Whitehead.  She commented on the same post:

you’re really a excellent webmaster. The web site loading velocity is incredible. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you have done a great activity in this matter!

Alex and Madeline went off and had sex and in a virtual universe where events happen at breathtaking speed, they had a baby, who grew up and married a dirtbag at the age of 8 (the age of consent in Spamtopia).  And within 6 hours I got her first work of art.  Behold the handiwork of Kristin Harding:

You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually one thing which I feel I might by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking ahead in your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the dangle of it!

Clearly, she is Alex’s spawn as she plagiarizes his work quite well.  But being the spam slut she is, she couldn’t help herself by mentioning she wanted my dangle.

It’s All Great. Everyone’s Awesome. More, Please.

So, how’s things?  Pretty good?  I understand it’s just so pompous to make the assumption that everyone’s killing it and is successful and is raking in the cash and rocking the job market.  I understand that truly not everyone is doing all that well.  But for all you people who are…  ALL.  YOU.  PEOPLE.

Begone!  Vamoose!  Fuck off!

I remember a time, a seemingly forgotten time, a whole ten years ago (they call that a decade).  In that golden era, there was a reaping.  I felt a great disturbance, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.  In fact, they had all lost their jobs because of the housing crisis.

And you know what happened?  Things got better (for me).  Traffic was much lighter, restaurants were emptier, everything ran smoother.  I even blogged about the employment situation at the time in an insensitive way.  And in other ways, things got better for everyone else, too. (Well, everyone that escaped the wrath of Moros.)

But now, at the frenzied peak of exuberance, we stand.  Have you seen the stock market?  Everyone thinks it’s incredible and wonderful.  I think it’s terrifying.  How about that Bitcoin?  Millions to be made there!  Millions of what?  The only thing that Bitcoin has to justify its value is scarcity.  There’s plenty of scarce things in the world today.  But you know what’s not scarce?

People.  There’s so many, they have lost their value.

The rally cry for 2018 must be, “There is much to be done.  And much of that much involves much less.”

But my point is, there’s a lot of people out there right now being productive.  They’re driving to jobs and clogging up my highway.  They’re eating out a hell of a lot and making me wait for a table.  And they’re buying stuff and causing stock shortages and shipping delays.  In order to fix everything, everything must be broken.  This day is coming.

And even though there are so many people now, it is also a time of extreme self-centeredness, of greed, of narcissism, of pure Americanism.  Indeed, my post is embracing it, too.  We’ve been here before, maybe ten years ago, maybe a decade.

I’ll see you on the highway someday soon.  Or not.

How To Close

It’s in the news that Walmart has closed a bunch of Sam’s Club locations.  Just for the record, I despise Walmart for many reasons, so don’t be surprised at the stance I’m taking with this most recent news.

A while ago, a regional Walmart closed down unexpectedly for “plumbing maintenance”.  It was part of a series of closures as well.  At the time, there was a massive conspiracy swirling around that the store was shut down to quell a union organizing.  And, on schedule, the store reopened, with an all-new crew and no union considerations among them.  Who’s to say what the real reason was?  Maybe it was plumbing?

In both that case and this new case with Sam’s Club, the closures were done with no warning for either employees or customers.  This is the part that really bothers me.  It reminds me of a time when I was working for a pizza chain and there was a coordinated closing of a bunch of neighboring stores.  The manager would show up in the morning and the district manager was already there to inform him the store was closing immediately.  The other employees would find out eventually, whenever or however.  It’s a shitty way to do business.

That Walmart is operating this way says a lot.  However, I’m not sure if they are making a commentary on their customers, their employees, or both.  In all cases, including my own near-closing experience, it’s all about a lack of trust.  It’s a disdain for people and an assumption of the worst in people.  The owners believe that if a closing date was scheduled, their assets would be at risk for theft or damage.  So, to mitigate that possibility, they surprise everyone with the closure.

I say that this really bothers me, but I really do understand it.  I can easily see an employee pocketing some merchandise, because, “Why not?  I’m only here another week anyway.  What will they do, fire me?”  I can see an employee turning a blind eye to shoplifters, because “Why should I care?”  Hell, I can see this happening at Walmarts that aren’t even closing.  And that’s what makes me think differently.

Walmart has built an entire culture on worthlessness.  All their products are cheap and disposable.  They’ve created a culture of customers that think this same way.  The customers have no pride for shopping there.  The employees clearly aren’t trained to actually care about their store and take pride in their jobs.  How can they when the chain has the reputation it does and the customers reinforce that belief every day?

Is it possible to create a culture where employees will be loyal to the end?  Maybe if given a fair severance?  Maybe if treated well during their entire career?  Maybe if the corporation was respected?  Maybe if the employees and customers took a little pride in their store.

Here’s a little factoid about me.  Sometimes when I’m shopping somewhere, I’ll clean the place up.  I’ll rehang a shirt from the floor or straighten a display.  I’ll organize things (especially CDs) as best I can.  I leave the place better than I found it.  But, sometimes, I don’t.  And in the cases I don’t, it’s a gut feeling that it’s of no use, that it would never be appreciated.  And, in the extremely rare instance I’m in a Walmart, my only desire is to leave, not to try and make things better.

Because, when I’m in a store I enjoy, I want to be comfortable there.  I want it to look nice.  I want other customers to enjoy it as much as I do.  Yes, that’s a role for the employees to fulfill, but there’s no reason there can’t be a family-type feeling in the place.  And if I remove one source of disarray and the result makes another customer more cheerful at how non-disheveled the place is, then the store will succeed and I’ll get to keep coming there.

And I would hope, that on the day my favorite stores have to close, there is a nice structured ending.  Kind of a farewell parade – a little bit sad, but dignified.  And nothing like the shotgun finalities of any of Walmart’s closures.

My GPS History

It was back in 2008 that Woot sold me my first GPS unit, a Mio 720T.

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Being new to the GPS world, I was pretty enthralled.  This particular unit I ended up giving to my now ex-wife, and I bought a lower-end model, the Mio 320.

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This one didn’t have a lot of the nicer features of the 720, but it was very hackable, and I was able to add voice navigation and spoken road names, which wasn’t a feature that came natively.  In fact, the device was rootable, and I had installed a lot of different software on the device.  You could actually get to the desktop of the base Windows CE system.  It was a cool experience.

One of the other things I remember about that unit was its pickiness about the power cable.  It always wanted to jump into USB storage mode, like it was plugged into a computer.  I don’t remember exactly what I did to fix it, but I suspect the rooting of the device assisted in that.

The problem with the Mio is that it was inaccurate.  The UI was really awesome, though, so I put up with it for a very long time.  It wasn’t until 2014 that Woot offered a decent replacement, a Garmin Nuvi.  A totally no-frills GPS device.

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This was a great little GPS.  It did everything I needed, which wasn’t much.  After I learned to make the UI a bit more data-happy, it became the ideal device for me.  This device lasted a little while, but failed due to the USB connector breaking in the back.  One day, I was simply unable to get it to charge anymore and as the battery wore down, I felt a little sad.  Like this was the last time it was ever going to operate.  There was no way to recharge it.  The long walk down the green mile.

In 2016, Woot sold me a new GPS, this one with a dash cam built in.  Prior to that, I had experimented with using a cell phone as a dash cam and the results were sort of mixed.  I was driving without a GPS and I missed that convenience, but I couldn’t see mounting both GPS and dash cam devices on the windshield; that was ridiculous.  That meant my next GPS unit was a Magellan.

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This unit was kind of a shock to me, because I had gotten so familiar with the Garmin UI.  Everything that was different about the Magellan, I hated.  Over time, I learned to live with it, but I never really liked it.  It wasn’t worth the effort to become emotionally invested anyway, because the device quickly developed a problem where the touchscreen would not register your touches in the right place.  Your clicks would activate buttons a quarter-inch to the right of your finger.  This made it impossible to click buttons on the left side of the screen.  And that gap grew over time, eventually making the device unusable.  It had other issues too, like never really muting.  It would screech whenever the speaker would normally make sound, even though it was muted.  It was unpleasant.

A little over a year later, Woot offered a Garmin DriveAssist 50LMT dashcam/GPS and I jumped on the chance to get it.  Looking at the specs, I was pretty awed.  It was a technological marvel.  But the reality of this device is what I am writing about today.

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To say that this device is overkill is an understatement.  There are so many features packed into this thing that I’ve disabled, and there’s more I want to disable if I can find out where to do it.  But let’s start right at the beginning.  Garmin is kind like the Apple of the GPS world.  They’re the biggest and the most popular, so they feel they can write the rules.  And like Apple, they lock you in.  The GPS won’t charge unless you’re using an actual Garmin power cable.  That is bullshit.  Fortunately, the Internet can show you how to modify a USB cable to work with these devices.  However, the unit complains every time I start it up that the power cord doesn’t have a Traffic Antenna in it, so traffic reporting is disabled.  That’s fine, but the dialog doesn’t time out; you have to click OK every time.  Ugh.

So I have it powered up and running, now I have to deal with the map.  They have icons for everything – food, gas, bank, attractions, whatever.  There’s no room to see the roads!  Then there’s the notifications – school zone, speed limit changes, sharp turn ahead, railroad tracks.  Then there’s the alerts.  This thing will tell you when traffic starts moving in front of you, when you drift out of your lane, or when you’re going to collide with someone.  The end result is that something is happening on that fucking screen all the time.  All the time.  That is not what I want from a GPS.  And it’s not something anyone should want.  Seriously, like I hear an alert and look over to see “Forward Collision Warning” when I should a) already know this is a possibility and b) be looking ahead to take defensive action.

It has really opened my eyes as to the practicality of these warning systems.  I’ve recently seen a commercial for a car with accident avoidance that alerts, “Brake!”  It’s probably too late to do anything about braking at that point, despite whatever distraction the alert causes.  I got a lot of false alarms last night that I was going to collide with a truck that was passing me on the right and others saying I was drifting out of my lane.  How accurate is this technology?

I’m unconvinced that alert systems are beneficial. I think we need less alerts and more information.  I think 360 degree cameras would be a great benefit.  Of course, I say this while I’m surrounded by idiots who don’t think going 20 MPH over the flow of traffic and weaving between cars is any sort of danger.  But for now, I’m turning off every alert I can and just returning this state-of-the-art device to the same functionality level I had from my 2014 Garmin.