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The miles/points action over the past two days has been fairly quiet. So I will use this opportunity to catch up on some material. As usual, I like to share with you whatever I find entertaining, educational or even inspiring.

Review of the Amex Centurion Lounge. By Online Travel Review. Drop everything. Click the link. Read it. Prepare to laugh. Like a lot. How about non stop. Gems like this: “But the best part, perhaps, was the bathrooms. First of all, they had showers, which is incredible because I typically use a bucket and a rag on a stick at home to bathe myself, so this was luxury redefined. Also, I do like to make sure the rooms where I shower are only populated by people who have an Amex Platinum card.” and lots more…

United Devaluation – Award Chart Changes Q&A by Travel is Free. Short and to the point!

How to Take your Game to the Next Level. By Mile Nerd. Fantastic!

My Local CBS Instituted AntiMoney Laundering Guidelines. By Points Summary. Hmm…It doesn’t feel like the beginning of the end…just yet.

anti money laundering policy drugstore


Found this very interesting graph online:

US Non-Cash Transactions


When I told you what Greece is going through, maybe you did not believe me. This graph will:

Financial crises severity index


Does anyone know what happened to Lenticular Travel?


Photographer Creates Stunning Images Of New York By Sitting In A Crane All Day Long. Stephen Wilkes, as described in TIME magazine, “wakes before dawn and often uses a crane to get at least 50 ft. (15 m) above his subjects. He takes the first pictures by daybreak. He’ll have shot 1,200 to 1,500 more by the time he wraps up 12 to 15 hours later. About 50 make it into the final photograph, an editing process that can take months. While he’s shooting, there are no bathroom breaks. Meals, if he decides to eat at all, are brought up in a bucket.”

Stephen Wilkes New York City Cityscape


Drug Use on Wall Street – The History. Very educational. I am sure some of the crazy mileage earning credit card offers over the years were instituted under the influence of these substances. I have actually never heard of Molly. When Harry Met Molly sure sounds like it will be a different film than when Harry Met Sally :-)

wall street drugs history


Dear “Daddy” in 16C. At Huffington Post. Wow, what a great story, almost brought tears in my eyes. Thank you TBB reader TWA44 for alerting me to it. If you find anything you think fellow readers will enjoy please let me know. I do not promise it will make it here but I will certainly consider it, thank you.

Raffles at Head for Points alerted me to this trip review at the Londoner. Great looking pictures but what did it for me was the ending: “Before we left we all took a moment by ourselves to breath it all in.I stood in the ocean, wriggled my toes into the sand, looked up & thanked whoever’s up there looking out for us.They say “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” and I couldn’t agree more.I have never felt more alive in my entire life“. Wow, this captures it or what?

15 Unusual Animal Friendships That Will Melt Your Heart. Totally adorable, I had the hardest time picking a picture!

Torque the Dog and Shrek the Owl

Torque the Dog and Shrek the Owl. Image credits: Solent News and Photos


Random Shots – Candide Thovex and Aziz Benkrich. Skiing. Downhill. And a Go Pro. Fast. Trees. Too many trees. Insanity. I get tired watching these guys!

Ancients. An incredible Vimeo video shot over 12 days in the San Pedro de Atacama region of Northern Chile. It’s a region known for the cleanest, darkest skies on Earth. I am overcome by emotion watching this with lights turned off and some wine….it inspires me to do a blog post about the incredible Amex Platinum card :-)

And I leave you to ponder about this…courtesy of another loyal TBB reader. This is downright amazingly hilarious. If you don’t laugh, you must be full of anger, please seek help!

Predictive power of likes

Predictive power of likes


Okay, one more. This is what happens when you buy the last Vanilla Reload card at that convenient drugstore :-)

Vanilla Reload cops running

Okay, I am on a roll. This is what happens when that convenient drugstore selling ice cream says No Mas:

End is near



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60 comments on “Amex Centurion lounge review, UA Devaluation Q&A, Next Level, NYC Cityscapes, Wall Street drugs, Greece, Crazy skiing, Like powers

  1. Thanks for the hat tip. Glad you the links I sent you. It almost makes up for not being first. Guess it serves me right for actually reading the post.

    OK, I’ll fess up. I only read it because Helixcardinal got here first. But given the time of his (her?) comment and of your twitter post, I am totally sure he (she?) didn’t.

    Spent a little time this afternoon scrolling down memory lane. I recognized the name of the A2 local mall (Briarwood) but that was about all. So I googled a bit (including our old sttreet address on a small street between Liberty and Huron) and began to remember the lay of the land. Thanks again for the hotel tip yesterday.

  2. You mean to tell me there were words on the Londoner‘s post?

    Verrrry intrigued by the comment by KennyB tonight at the last post. Verrrry. However, short of endless “recycling” and playing chicken with the bank, I wonder if liquid cash would be better spent in a bond ETF or CD for the time being. I’m risk adverse at the moment, not because I fear losing cash; I just fear wasting time and potentially adding stress.

    • It’s not really endless (120K/year cap) and there’s certainly nothing new about it, but if you add it to your existing circle you get a few thousand AA miles added each month with no work or running around, and not at the expense of anything else you are doing. I’d say it’s right up there with first Fridays ;)

  3. I just read the paragraph about the Predictive Power of Likes out loud to my academic husband and my young adult daughter. Their responses are most indicative of their life experiences:

    He: I hope no one got tenure from that study!
    Me: Oh, I just goggled a phrase and the study was based on Facebook likes!
    She: Of course, you didn’t realize that?

    No, I didn’t. Here’s some more info:

    “Using likes, researchers at the Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge were able to determine whether someone was black or white with 95 percent accuracy, Democrat or Republican with 85 percent accuracy, and whether someone smokes, uses drugs, or drinks alcohol in more than two thirds of cases. They were even able to predict, in some cases, whether a user’s parents had gotten divorced.

    More than 58,000 American Facebook users were involved in the study conducted last year. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday.”

    Maybe the researchers deserve tenure after all!

  4. That “money laundering” memo hits a nerve because everyone who buys the VRs “for the miles” has thought at some point that his or her actions could be misinterpreted for something illegal. If you’ve ever dealt with the IRS — even when you were 100% sure your activities were kosher — it’s not fun to be scrutinized.

    I do wonder if there’s safety in numbers. Has anyone ever estimated how many folks are bluebirding the VRs? It’s got to be well into the thousands by now, I would think. Like how many unique viewers does flyertalk get in a month? I would think at least 10% of those folks have bluebird accounts by now (let’s face it, you’d be silly not to).

    So either the gov’t will eventually think that money laundering has gone rampant, or they’ll realize there’s this huge frequent flyer mileage game going on. Perhaps they’ll first conclude there’s laundering, and then they’ll realize the game. I sure hope nobody ever knocks on my door. :)

  5. “An incredible Vimeo video shot over 12 days in the San Pedro de Atacama region of Northern Chile. It’s a region known for the cleanest, darkest skies on Earth. I am overcome by emotion watching this with lights turned off and some wine….it inspires me to do a blog post about the incredible Amex Platinum card.” LOL!!!

    But, seriously one of my regrets is not seeing more of Chile, including that part. My daughter lived in Santiago for three years and I visited a lot but didn’t spend enough time traveling around after my visits. At least she did, and said the Atacama is amazing. I did finally do Easter Island this past spring. Chile is a very special place.

  6. From TPG: “I spend a lot of time talking about the top travel credit cards including the Sapphire Preferred and Platinum Amex”

    No correction TPG – you spend a lot of time talking about the credit cards that pay you the highest commission

    Just because you constantly pimp it and do fuzzy math to inflate it’s value doesn’t make it a top card

    Hilton Gold!!!! $100!!!!

    • TPG doesn’t believe in corrections. I commented on his blog and tweeted at him that he made a factually incorrect statement about American Eagle and Envoy. He has yet to respond.

    • Did you see Georges Arrow to the Amazon Banner link where he robs his readers of 3% Ebates referral fee? I think Georges motto last year was “Do no harm” Must be new year and new motto.

      “Pimp’um if you’ve got’um”

      BTW, I didn’t see a full disclosure that you, George the Magnificent, were getting a referral along with a statement indicating that there is a better offer through Ebates. And if I recall last year you also called on other bloggers to provide BOLD Lettering and Bigger Font size??? I don’t see that either?

    • @ Real Slim Shady (love Eminem by the way): Let me know if you saw any disclosures on the top or bottom of the FTG posts.

      To everyone else, as I replied yesterday in the TBB comments and updated the Disclosures page:

      As everyone knows, the ebates 3% rebates is only available to “baby, clothing and local” categories which pretty much renders it useless.

      I thank all readers for taking the time to read TBB.

      Please avoid feeding the trolls. Each post they make here contributes to the Entertainment factor.


        • Did you see my arrow leading to the pic of the Amazon link I can not get it to fit into the page properly? MMS would be proud. I think I should patent it.

          Are you still looking for those disclosures in the FTG site? Let me help you! First, don’t bother looking for them anywhere in the body of the post, not even at the bottom of the post! Hint:reduces conversions—>dinero. So, get yourself a magnifying glass and look at the bottom of the homepage. What Slim? You can’t see the text? Well, get a Bigger magnifying glass dude. It’s there! Read it, hilarious material indeed. Maybe I should do a post to compare all the disclosure practices of bloggers…that would be fun. But who has the time? Or maybe I should get me an intern.
          Oh buddy Slim, we all told ya dude Kim was no good :-)

      • Baby is “useless”? On the contrary. Baby is a big category for most of the whiners here :)

        So where is the bold type and larger font right by the disclaimer you suggested for bloggers last year??? Guess when it is Georgieboy concerned, those suggestions only apply to others.

        Love the arrow. Very well constructed —–> Daraius will get you the web program for a proper arrow. It will increase clicks and conversions I’m sure. But didn’t you call arrows spoonfeeding? And weren’t you against “that” as well last year?

        My, how a little income can change a man’s credibility.

        George, do you have any idea how much fun this is to give you back so freely what you dished out so freely in your first year?? Every time you or one of your readers takes a shot at a blogger, expect a reminder of your first year and all the advice you had to offer then, and how little of it you are following now :)

  7. @ TWA44: Thanks for the suggestions. Ann Arbor has changed quite a lot over the years but still retains its small city charm. I love the diversity here. Liked the “I hope no one got tenure from that study!”

    @harvson3: I read every word on the Londoner post…seriously :-) I hear you about playing along with this stuff vs wasting time/adding stress. I am consolidating my spend these days on the Amex Blue Cash (5% in drugstores) and 2.2% on Barclays Arrival while filling up the 5% categories in Ink Plus/Freedom/Discover. I should get the PC Visa for 80k today & do the 1k spend & get to Platinum before booking mattress run for 4 nights I have in Orland at the end of the month…

    @helixcardinal: I confused everyone by publishing my post MUCH earlier than usual!

    @konorth: Ok slacker, we ‘ll let you slide one more time ;-)

    @iahphx: You do have a point. I know people who do VERY high amounts so hopefully if there is ever a crackdown they bear the wrath of the Feds. No idea how many are BB/Vanilla-ing. I still think our hobby is a tiny fringe part of the overall market. I am doing a better job of keeping track of my activity just in case. In tax audits, you are usually expected to justify what deposits hit your account. Will agent asks about BB account? Nobody knows… #developing

    @ smittytab: I liked Santiago for the most part but only stayed two nights (at the W and Lucky OMAAT was there too!). So I never got a good feel about the city/country. I need to go back and get out of Santiago. I have pics in my mega trip report. I loved that Cathedral in Santiago main square, I had one of those travel moments there, I still get emotional about it what I felt being there in the moment! Felt like what the Londoner bloggers expressed!

    @ Steve: Out of all the blogs in my Ignore list this one at least has some content marginally better than the rest. What landed it there was the mega cc push and lack of disclosures (and extreme bias towards cards). Expect much less Chase cards to appear at the DP blog. Looks like Chase is consolidating to just a few mega traffic blogs.

    @ Real Slim Shady: I will get to it later today, thanks for the warning! In the meantime, I need to do a post to pimp my Amazon link. I am such a gutless coward. And Bozo :-)

    • I usually stay at the Aubrey which is a very small boutique hotel in Santiago, but the last time there I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton on Marriott points right before the devaluation and got a good value out of those. I would recommend either of those hotels. Santiago is one of those cities that grows on you. I have been so many times now, I really have grown to love it. Nothing flashy, but just a nice city to visit. I’ve explored outside the city also to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, and a series of beach towns where locals go on the weekend: Puchancavi, Maitencillo, Cachagua, Zapallar, Papudo which is a good day trip. Now I need to go north to Atacama and south to Patagonia! Hope you make it back some day. Sounds like you had a moment there on the square…

  8. Frequent Miler gave you in the comments section of OTR’s blog. Looks like he’s still a regular daily reader of yours

    In unrelated news, his calendar just freed up the weekend of the Chicago Seminars….

    • I had lunch with FM and Loyalty Traveler last week. We strategized on how to pimp more credit cards :-)

      Not following the calendar & CS connection…I am behind today as I am working on getting the 2013 tax software up and running. Along with changing email hosting and getting a new website (for my real job) in the next few days. So getting another TBB post out tomorrow is a tall order. Maybe I will do the every other day posting thing…

      I value my National Car status through my Amex Platinum to at least $90, what do you think?

      I can’t wait for OTR’s review of the Amex Centurion Lounge in Duluth lol

  9. MileValue has to make you think that Delta has great award availability, because he has American Express card links. You can apply for a Delta American Express, transfer points earned from a Starwood American Expess, or get a new Membership Rewards-earning American Express. Of all his ways to get Delta points, he never mentions the Suntrust debit card. Or, as Gary points out, that the award availability is only for one person (which MileValue doesn’t bother telling us, because we might not be so excited to load up on Delta miles by transferring all of our Starpoints over).

  10. @ABC, regarding which Hawaiian island for a family, I have a strong preference here: the Big Island (and I have been to all the main ones). The main reason is that it has everything you could possibly want, with the possible exception of good surfing. Your family will not be bored–and, for me and my family, this is key!

    Of course, there is some truth to the adage that “you’ll always love your first (island) the most”.

    • I LOVED the Big Island! Of course staying at the Waikoloa Village for 100k Hilton Points for six nights (or was it five?) was a contributing factor. The diversity in the island is unreal. Beaches in the west, go up to the Park way up, live volcano, rainy Hilo, tropical jungles driving back in the north of the island and then drive through the huge ranches with too many cows and going through cowboy country. Get me to the Big Island any day before touristy Oahu!

      • Loved the Big Island as well, but found the other side of the island (without any chain properties alas) to be much more interesting than Waikoloa area. Hiking the Waipio Valley was one of the most memorable experiences of my life (more memorable than the ex I went with!)

        • The scenery in the National park I found totally incredible. LIke a a huge wasteland…felt like a nuclear bomb was set off. Still blown away by it. I should dig up some of those pictures.
          Hilo gets the most rain out of everywhere else in the US. Restaurants have umbrella places by the door which I found so oddly remarkable!

  11. I have friends on some trading desks in Midtown and I assure you they still use coke; the new designer drugs are for the younger foolish things.

  12. just a small typo here: My Local CBS Instituted AntiMoney Laundering Guidelines. I think you mean CVS instead of CBS, but that would certainly be news to me. Just read the AMEX LAS review on OTR and loved it. Makes me wish I went to the lounge last weekend when I was flying home from CES.

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