The Pay Grade Problem

Sharon and I went to Sam’s Club yesterday. On the way into the store we stopped  to look at their parking lot-based plant display. Sharon squeaked out a long and feeble “hheeellllpp, waaaatteerrr” as we approached the area. Several of the larger plants had blown over and all of them were dry as bones. Leaves were shriveling and the potting soil had shrunk away from the pot walls.

Help Plants

As we entered the store, I told the greeter of the situation outside. He said he would tell the manager. As we walked on by, I noted that the greeter was more interested in staring into space than in the crumbling plant inventory, so I walked over to the service desk to speak to a young lady who was engaged in some vitally important texting exchange on a smartphone (or store device?). She never looked up at me. After a minute or two, I gave up there and we went on to get our items, checked out, and went to the exit door to have out receipt highlighted by the receipt highlighter person. There, I tried once more. He said, “I know . . . mumble mumble . . . but that’s above my pay grade.” Seriously. Wow.

I went by Sam’s this morning on another errand to see if the manager had gotten the word and done his/her job. The prone trees had been put back on their feet, but sadly, no water had been spared. Someone was there unwrapping new hostas (sorry hostas). I took a picture, the one above, and went about my business thinking that one way to assure that one does not push that pay grade up too far is to exhibit the level of concern we saw yesterday.

Anyway, it’s supposed to rain day after tomorrow. Maybe that will help the plants that do not spontaneously combust before then.

-George-

Battle Of The Laundry Clones

Sharon and I went to Lowe’s to buy a top-loading washing machine and dryer yesterday afternoon. We’d had it with the mold jungle growing just inside the door of our front-loader, and it tended to wander out of its assigned space into the lane of traffic in our small washroom.  Our sales person was busy with another customer when we arrived, so we killed time by  comparing the marques on the floor.

The Samsungs and LGs were very different from familiar American names and from each other. Their engineering folks had clearly been at work trying to innovate (over-innovate?). One LG washer had its controls on the front, but the tub was so deep that a smaller person would not be able to retrieve that loose sock at the bottom without entering a set of random commands on those very convenient buttons as they slid over them on the way down into the machine’s maw. I’m guessing the commands would be ignored with the lid up and the operator standing on their head in the tub. Hope so. LG also had a machine with a second mini washing machine underneath the main machine at toy poodle level. That should enable one to start training the kids to do their own laundry at a very early age. Samsung had a washing machine with a pre-wash sink in the lid. Very cool. I wonder if I could clean my paint brushes there? Probably once. But, kudos for trying Samsung and LG, really.

There was a surprise with the American brands. The ones we looked at were not different. Very much not different. In fact, except for tweaks in their rather simple skins and, sometimes, control panels, they appeared to be built from the same parts bins and by the same robots. We noted striking similarities (clone-arities) in visible components from door hinges and latches, detergent and softener trays, filters, and tubs in Maytag, Roper, and Whirlpool washing machines and dryers. Was there anything different deeper inside? Didn’t know. Were they all built in the same factory? One thing is for sure, the American marques did not have controls on the front or mini washing machines underneath. Innovation must take a back seat to cost control in a very long bus where these machines were designed.

Little boxes in the Lowe’s store,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes in the Lowe’s store,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a white one and a gray one
And a blue one and a black one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Sorry, couldn’t help it. (1)

So, I started trying to find out what the scoop was on this apparent washing machine and dryer clone thing. The first thing I noted was that Whirlpool has a link on the Maytag website. A clue? Yep. Maytag and Roper are Whirlpool brands. (2) So is Kenmore, but we did not go to Sears on our machine quest. Sears is another story. All three brands are built in Ohio out of mostly American-made parts. Don’t know about the same robots.

As strange as the washing machine story seems, Whirlpool may have done its marketing homework fairly well. Suspecting all this, although we had not done research yet, we still bought a Maytag. Ticky tacky or good enough was OK in this case. We did not really need a mini washer and we lose enough socks as it is.

-George-

  1. https://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/MALVINA/mr094.htm
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whirlpool_Corporation

Internet Privacy In America Made Great Again

I’m guessing that this week Mr. Trump will sign (1) the resolution repealing a proposed FCC rule barring ISPs from collecting and selling information related to their customers’ browsing habits. This means that just about every service provider on the other side of the terminal block upon which your internet connection appears can proceed with projects to spy on your activities (just like the NSA) and sell the information they gather to the highest bidder.

The fact is that not much will change from the state of affairs that exists today except expression of the government’s intent to move away from the people’s interests and toward corporate interests when it comes to internet privacy policy. After the last election we should not be surprised by this. And, the privacy rule being repealed has not actually taken effect yet.

So, what’s a body to do in this new government of, by, and for the corporations? Lots of safe browsing advice is to be found on the web, but one piece of that advice now becomes a requirement for those who want to maintain even a modicum of control over what their ISP can see and sell. The prudent internet user simply must be using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt not only the content of traffic, but the identity of the service or destination to which one is connected.

I have been using a VPN whenever I take my laptop or tablet out of my home. I’ll be using it all the time now. When I selected my VPN, I looked for one operated by a European provider (government of the people, good privacy law) and which provided its own Domain Name Services (DNS). It does no good to employ a VPN that uses DNS servers that are owned by the ISP or some other privacy invading web service entity. That might take some research. There are many good options. (2)

Sadly, good VPN options all cost money, about $60 per year, a new tax on privacy in America made great again.

-George-

  1. Updated April 4, he did, on April 3.
  2. https://thatoneprivacysite.net/simple-vpn-comparison-chart/