Posts Tagged Rants


This just in (clicky for more dots, but not clearer dots):

Spam image - xxx

Spam image – xxx

Yes, the attachment was named xxx.jpg, presumably so I wouldn’t suspect it of containing anything untoward.

The name-dropping definitely adds verisimilitude: not just Microsoft (or Micro Soft) Windows and Google, but Yahoo, too. Be still, my heart!

It’s unclear how I would contact their “fiduciary agent in LIMA PERU” by dialing a 909 area code in California or sending an email to, um,, but, hey, why not? Perhaps another version of me in a parallel universe used the Peruvian Internet?

This must be one of those scams where, if you’re bright enough to notice the problems, they won’t need to waste any time on you.

You’re welcome to my identification numbers. When you get the check, slip me maybe 100 large, preferably under the table, and we’ll call it square.




Amazon Unit Price Anomalies

Backstory: we get Kirkland almond butter from Amazon, because it has consistently good quality at a reasonable price. Kirkland being the Costco house brand, we’re obviously buying it from someone arbitraging the Costco price. The nearest Costco is over an hour away, so spending $60 for a membership (*) just to get almond butter doesn’t make sense.

However, I’ve discovered Amazon’s “buy it again” prompting generally doesn’t offer the best deal, so I start each purchase cycle with a general search. The current results proved interesting (clicky for more dots):

Amazon - unit pricing FAIL

Amazon – unit pricing FAIL

Let’s go through this slowly.

The first result shows the “unit pricing” isn’t done automatically, because it’s completely wrong:

Amazon - unit pricing puzzle

Amazon – unit pricing puzzle

I can figure half of $27.52 isn’t $9.17, but dividing $27.52 by three really is. Dividing by two, the actual size, says the correct “unit price” is $13.76 each. Oddly, searching a day later showed the price went up to $28.69, with the same incorrect divide-by-three unit pricing error.

The “Amazon’s Choice” result simply means a bunch of people bought from that listing, not that Amazon has an actual involvement apart from raking in their take. There’s no unit pricing, but each jar works out to $13.59.

The last result confirms Amazon’s unit pricing bogosity by (correctly!) dividing $26.23 by two, but then claiming the unit price is “per ounce”.

Weirdly, everybody selling the two-pack prices it that way:

Amazon - unit pricing consistent FAIL

Amazon – unit pricing consistent FAIL

We’re surely not looking at half a dozen heads of the same hydra, so this bogosity derives from the commingled UPC (ASIN, whatever) warehouse stock technique giving Amazon a way to avoid responsibility for counterfeits. Somebody (presumably at Amazon) selected the calculation to produce the unit price, but fat-fingered “per ounce” rather than “per each”, and now vendors just bid for that UPC without sweating the details.

You’d (well, I’d) think a bit of Amazon’s much-vaunted machine learning would go a long way toward sorting this out, but it doesn’t.

Word: any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

(*) Right now, it’s $8.79 direct from Costco online and their 5% non-member surcharge seems survivable.


Maximum Strength Homeopathic HGH: Not

Spotted at an exhibition for Olde Fartes:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH

Somaderm homeopathic HGH

I think they just blew up the bottle label to human size, with no attention to the resulting pixelation.

One can find Somaderm on the Interwebs, which leads to the “Active Ingredients” list:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH - Active Ingredients

Somaderm homeopathic HGH – Active Ingredients

Looking up their NDC number helps translate the bullshit Latinesque nomenclature:

  • Glandula Suprarenalis Suis = boar adrenal glands
  • Thyroidinum = cow thyroid glands
  • Somatropin = human growth hormone

They’re exceedingly proud of that NDC number, touting “SOMADERM Gel is the only transdermal, FDA registered product”. Indeed, it’s registered, about which the FDC has this to say:

Assigned NDC numbers are not in any way an indication of FDA approval of the product.



With that in mind, consider the dilutions:

  • Glandula Suprarenalis Suis = 1 part per million
  • Thyroidinum = 10 part per billion
  • Somatropin = 1×10-30 = there are no words

Homeopathic “drugs” never list the starting concentration or amounts in the product, but diluting something by a factor of ten-to-the-thirty ensures not one single molecule of the original compound will make it into the bottle. This, of course, means the HGH is at “maximum strength”, in the homeopathic way of magical thinking.

You’ll surely find some molecules of pig brain and maybe even a few molecules of cow glands, but I suspect they’re not buying the “active” ingredients in shipping container lots. In round numbers, one pig adrenal, one cow thyroid, and one drop of actual HGH would supply their needs well into the future.

I would like to see how they dilute those ingredients, because I doubt they have legions of trained homeopaths succussing bottles against elastic surfaces.

Of course, such dilution requires careful attention to detail, lest a stray molecule make its way into the final product, which surely justifies the punch line:

Somaderm homeopathic HGH - Price

Somaderm homeopathic HGH – Price

There is also a $150 “Membership Price”, suggesting a multi-level marketing scam running in parallel. Some rummaging on their website reveals cryptic phrases confirming the suspicion: “Be the change that will inspire others to follow” and “Information on how to become a distributor“.

Ya gotta admire ’em for not even blinking.

A note on commenting: there is zero evidence of efficacy¸ so don’t even try to advocate homeopathy. If it worked, it’d be medicine, not a MLM scam.


Dutchess Rail Trail: Maloney Rd Trailhead vs. SUV

The driver gave us plenty of room, which is always nice:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - DCWWA SUV on Maloney 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – DCWWA SUV on Maloney 2018-08-20

But then the SUV turned into the Maloney Rd entrance to the Dutchess Rail Trail:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - DCWWA SUV entering - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – DCWWA SUV entering – 2018-08-20

Which was specifically designed to exclude motor vehicles:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - DCWWA SUV tracks - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – DCWWA SUV tracks – 2018-08-20

Later, I was told it’s an “allowable access” for Water Authority vehicles and, in any event, because their SUV didn’t leave the biggest ruts and tracks, they think it’s all good:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – 2018-08-20

The ramp joins the trail at an acute angle, so the SUV required some backing & filling to get around:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - Tight Turn onto DCRT - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – Tight Turn onto DCRT – 2018-08-20

Then it’s an easy drive to the water meter about 2500 feet down the trail:

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead - Dutchess Water Authority SUV - 2018-08-20

Tire tracks at Maloney Trailhead – Dutchess Water Authority SUV – 2018-08-20

There’s an Official Vehicle Access gate one mile south of the Maloney ramp that’s about 3800 feet from the water meter. I’m told they use the Maloney ramp to reduce the distance they drive on the rail trail; evidently, destroying the entrance Just Doesn’t Matter.

I’m trying to develop an attitude between Zen and apathy, with just enough indifference to not care when somebody tells me how wonderful things will be in the future.



New York State Bike Route 9: Maintenance Thereof

One might expect the NYS Department of Transportation to maintain New York State Bike Route 9, a.k.a. NYS Rt 376 from Poughkeepsie to Red Oaks Mill, in a bicycle-aware manner.

One would be mistaken.

The most recent patch strip very carefully avoids the deteriorated shoulder, all the way around the curve:

Rt 376 SB patch - shoulder deterioration - marker 1111 - 2018-08-23

Rt 376 SB patch – shoulder deterioration – marker 1111 – 2018-08-23

The weeds growing in the serrated shoulder add a decorative counterpoint to the black asphalt patch in the travel lane:

Rt 376 SB patch - shoulder grass - marker 1110 - 2018-08-23

Rt 376 SB patch – shoulder grass – marker 1110 – 2018-08-23

It was a rather large repair crew:

Rt 376 Road Repair Crew - marker 1110 - 2018-08-23

Rt 376 Road Repair Crew – marker 1110 – 2018-08-23

The crew chief said they were there because “somebody wrote a letter” describing the conditions. I suppose that would be me, although after half a year it’s hard to establish causation, let alone correlation.

He also says no details of the letter reached him, which explains why they laid the patches in the travel lane, rather than repairing the conditions I described. He was adamant they were doing the best they could with the inadequate manpower, materials, and time available for the projects.

There are absolutely no requirements to consider bicyclist safety in their repairs, so laying asphalt over the shoulder never happens.

NYS DOT’s Bicycling FAQ says I should “take the lane” around that curve, due to the deteriorated shoulder, to ensure motorists pass only when it’s safe.

Whenever I offer to take a NYS DOT bureaucrat on an inspection ride along their roads, they never have the time. Of course, they don’t “work” on weekends, so they’re unwilling to join me on a pleasant ride around the area some Saturday or Sunday morning.

Just another day of bicycling along NYS DOT’s “complete streets” …




Mower Blade Standardization, Lack Thereof

The blade from our current Craftsman mower is on the right:

Sears Craftsman mower blades

Sears Craftsman mower blades

The other two came from our previous Craftsman mowers.

Stipulated: Sears sources their mowers from various suppliers, but it’d be great if everybody could agree on a single blade mount and be done with it.

Obligatory XKCD.

For the record, a 5/8 inch socket works fine. One could surely use a 16 mm socket in a pinch.

Wear leather gloves to prevent a nasty gash from the stamped-steel muffler shroud as you pull the sparkle plug cap to avoid an absolutely impossible engine startup while you’re wrenching under the deck.

Replace the air cleaner while you’re at it.



Monthly Image: Nice Doggie

“He’s very friendly!”

“She won’t bite!”

That’s what all dog owners say when their dog lunges at you:

Dog Lunge - DCRT 2017-05-13

Dog Lunge – DCRT 2017-05-13

We sounded our usual bike bell dings while approaching and moved as far to the left as we could. The group compressed to the right, which was unusually courteous, we said nothing, and they said nothing while their dog barked and lunged at both of us.

Perhaps we are easily startled, but we do not regard lunging and barking as friendly or sociable gestures. Even as pedestrians, we do not want our crotches explored, our hands licked, or our chests pawed.

AFAICT the only reason Mary didn’t get knocked over and gnawed was a good grip on a thin leash. Maybe the dog would just lick her to death, but it’s still unwanted aggression.

From what I’ve read, dog shoulders operate as front-to-back rotating pivots, rather than all-direction ball joints. Disabling an attacking dog thus requires grabbing its front legs and spreading them as far apart as possible, which is feasible because human arms are much stronger laterally than dog legs. While the process brings one’s head entirely too close to the dog’s jaws, it apparently breaks most of the dog’s ribs, collapses its lungs, and instantly puts it out of action.

I devoutly hope I need never test that maneuver under field conditions, as I can see serious repercussions. If it’s in Mary’s face, however, I will not err on the side of generosity.

Protip: if your dog isn’t well-trained enough to completely ignore strangers, don’t bring it near strangers who may not be dog people.