Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as the best Zoos in the US, NFTs explained, Omicron and full hospitals, some big travel rewards card offers are ending, amazing round the world Rosie, countries that drink a lot, countries with most islands, analysis of post Soviet economies, the mastermind behind Xi, lots of great quotes, moderation in finance and life, rural population in each US state, a rare disease and lots more!
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My kids used to love zoos, ever since they left the home nest…I have not been back. 9 of the Best Zoos in the US.
Have you heard of Round the World Rosie? I sure haven’t, amazing! What she did below is only the beginning…
She sailed around the world in the early 1970s in a 30 foot catamaran, with her husband and young child (and had another child along the way)…Later she crossed the Atlantic in a 17 foot sailboat by herself…once completed 26 marathons in 26 days. Another time she rode the length of Chile on horseback (3,000 miles) which took 409 days…In 1997 she completed the Sahara Ultra Marathon (151 miles). She did this twice and this race is completely unsupported along the way…
You would not have guessed the countries on this list, talk about having a national drinking problem! Mapped: Countries by Alcohol Consumption Per Capita. Top three: Cook Islands, Latvia, Czech Republic.
I thought Greece was much higher on this list: The Countries With The Most Islands. Sweden with 221,800 is shocking!
I think there is some really good advice in this article: A Modest Proposal. Going all out on anything risks too much imho. As none of us has a crystal ball, why not, you know, spread your eggs and diversify? A few excerpts:
The overall stock market is volatile enough, so why seek out even more risk? Instead, seek moderation.
Don’t let your distaste for one party or another impact near-term financial choices.
Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems.
In the world of personal finance, lots of people have opinions on how things should be done. But this debate illustrated a key truism: There are no one-size-fits-all answers. You shouldn’t worry if someone else does things differently.
Another is to acknowledge that the market always has ups and downs and may indeed drop from today’s level. But unless you know when it will drop, when it will hit bottom and when it will recover, there isn’t a lot you can do about it.
Good article: NFTs explained: Why people are spending millions on JPEGs. Regardless of how weird it seems, people are spending that money for a reason. I understand this a little better now. Still, every time I read about these things I scream inside smh…
Take. It’s a collection of 10,000 ape NFTs, all with different traits that make some rarer than others. Rare ones have sold over for over a million bucks, but common variants go for around $200,000. (At the time of launch back in April, BAYC developers sold the NFTs for $190 each.) BAYC, owned by the likes of Steph Curry and Jimmy Fallon, is what you’d call a “profile pic collection.” The main purpose of the images is to be used as your display photo on Discord, where most NFT business goes down, or on Twitter, Instagram or wherever else…To recap: $200,000 minimum for a profile picture…In isolation, that’s insane. But place it on a spectrum of how wealthy people spend money, and it becomes less staggering.
Excellent analysis of the post-Soviet economies. Author breaks them down in four buckets:
1. Western-oriented industrializing success stories: These include most of the former Warsaw Pact countries and the three Baltics. They suffered from the fall of the USSR, but they got their industrialization back on track, joined the EU, largely maintained political stability and peace, and are now catching up with the developed countries (as basic economic theory would predict).
2. Central Asian resource economies: These have muddled along much as resource-based economies tend to do.
3. Russia and Belarus: Russia is its own strange hybrid of still-dysfunctional but often high-tech manufacturing economy and Central Asian resource economy, while Belarus is basically a satellite state of Russia whose fortunes rise and fall with Russia’s.
4. Frozen-conflict countries: Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova all suffer from breakaway regions and/or military conflicts, either with each other or with Russia. This has prevented them from joining the EU (which is often Putin’s reason for supporting the breakaway regions and prosecuting the wars), which in turn has prevented them from getting on the fast track to industrialization like their luckier Baltic and Warsaw Pact counterparts. It also tends to cause political instability, as the people of these countries fight over how to best prosecute their conflicts.
You can find out How Full Are Hospital ICUs Near You. As of posting time, the two main health systems here in Ann Arbor, Michigan show the following, yikes! I also wish it showed how many of the patients are not vaccinated:
St. Joseph Mercy Hospital: 108 Covid patients, ICU 100% full, no ICU beds available
University of Michigan Health System: 117 Covid patients, ICU is 87% full, 17 ICU beds available
I have been listening to Andy Slavitt’s In The Bubble podcast for a while. The last two episodes about Omicron are great.
The other regular read on the pandemic I do is Your Local Epidemiologist who has Good News about Omicron. Personally, I am now feeling hopeful that Omicron is helping us get to the end of the pandemic faster. But after two years, you know, getting surprised by developments with this virus is…expected?
Amazing resource: Covic Visualizer. Check it out!
ODDZ & ENDZ
These are great, enjoy! My year in 101 quotes.
To this day I am amazed I still learn of diseases I had never heard of! A doctor struggled with a rare, incurable syndrome. Now she helps others overcome it. It is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. And talk about finding your life’s purpose!
Another deep geopolitical read for you. We leave the former Soviet states and go to China: The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning. You should know about this guy who is arguably the single most influential “public intellectual” alive today.
A member of the CCP’s seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, he is China’s top ideological theorist, quietly credited as being the “ideas man” behind each of Xi’s signature political concepts, including the “China Dream,” the anti-corruption campaign, the Belt and Road Initiative, a more assertive foreign policy, and even “Xi Jinping Thought.” Scrutinize any photograph of Xi on an important trip or at a key meeting and one is likely to spot Wang there in the background, never far from the leader’s side.
Either way, our world is witnessing a grand experiment that’s now underway: China and the West, facing very similar societal problems, have now, thanks to Wang Huning, embarked on radically different approaches to addressing them. And with China increasingly challenging the United States for a position of global geopolitical and ideological leadership, the conclusion of this experiment could very well shape the global future of governance for the century ahead.
Very interesting graph: Rural population in the United States. California at just 4.9% is shockingly low! Michigan at 25.4% was less than I thought.
MILES & POINTS
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This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! Feel free to skip this section and parts of the next one if this is not for you.
Newbies: If you are totally new to this
hobby addiction, this is a great post to learn the basics about Credit Card Rewards Strategies: How To Maximize Benefits And Add Client Value.
Or maybe think of it this way. If a bank offers you tens of thousands or 100,000 or even more miles/points if you sign up for its travel rewards credit card and you only have to meet the minimum spend required in at least three months and sometimes pay the annual fee….and you have the financial capacity and discipline to do this AND of course pay off the credit card bills always on time…well, why not? The bank is paying YOU to get a travel rewards credit card hoping you screw up and carry balances so you end up paying punitive interest rates and fees for many years screwing up your life permanently. So, beat them at this, get the free money and win baby!
The mega sign up offers are drying up one by one. The excellent Citi Premier card offering 80,000 Thank You points is about to end today or tomorrow. So, hear me out here. You apply for the card and get approved. You charge $4,000 on the card in the first three months. Of course, you pay off the monthly credit card bill on time ALWAYS, this is NOT negotiable, ok? The annual fee is $95. The card earns 3 points per dollar in restaurants and supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. You will soon have over 84,000 Thank You points available to you. For $95. You could even get the annual fee back in the form of $100 statement credit if you book travel in the Citi travel portal with the card charging a hotel stay that costs at least $500. Let’s assume you do not do that and you pay $95. Some of you get really mentally blocked about not paying anything to the banks. I understand this but you are missing the forest for the trees! You could transfer out the 84,000+ Thank you points to different airline partners and book yourself some great airline awards in the airlines’ websites. Or, please sit down, you can cash out your 84,000 Thank You points to gift cards from many merchants at one cent each. So, do the math, $840 in gift cards less $95 annual fee is, in a way, marketing expense to the banks. And you win! The Citi Premier card is still available (not for long!) with my Credit Card links, I appreciate the blog support if you use them, thank you. Learn more about the Citi Thank You program HERE and the Citi Premier card HERE.
It looks like Chase is also going to cut down the sign up bonus offers on its two no annual fee Chase Freedom cards: the Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited. The sign up bonus is really not a big deal at just 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points. But the BEST part of the sign up bonus offer is allowing us to earn 5 points per dollar on up to $12,000 of groceries purchases in the first year we hold the card. This 5x groceries bonus offer is ENDING JANUARY 12. I have been earning 5x for almost the past two years as I have cycled through a Flex card with son’s and now my wife’s Flex cards. And since the current 5% quarterly bonus category in the Flex cards is groceries, I am earning 9x per dollar on all grocery spend until March 31, winning! Again, if you use my Credit Card links to apply you help support this blog continuing to bring you posts like this, thank you.
Everything you wanted to learn about the 2022 Southwest Companion Pass Complete Guide. No reason to apply for the Chase Southwest cards now offering a lowly 40,000 points sign up bonus, zzzzzz.
American Airlines took a lead here to completely redo its frequent flyer program. We will see how successful it is and if the other airlines follow it. It follows a long road towards rewarding the best customers of airlines, its bank partners and not the people flying the airplanes. I think it is crazy putting all your spend on AA credit cards when you can earn 2% cash back on no annual fee cards. Unless you have a business with lots of spend and you value being an Elite AA flyer….ok, do whatever you want. I have been a free agent since 2012 and not playing along the airline elite game, screw them! 🙂 Good post to understand the new program: Understanding American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Points.
In case you forgot, please activate them if you have these 5% category cards for this quarter: Q1 2022 5% Quarterly Categories: Activate, Offers & Suggestions (Freedom/Flex, Discover, Dividend, Cash+ & more).
Register for Hilton’s latest promotion to earn 2.500 Hilton Honors points on every stay until May 1, 2022.
We are now entering BLOG BUZZ, a section for advanced hobbyists and veterans of this fast imploding hobby and also a section where I go on and on about some stuff that happens in my life because it helps me feel better about myself.
If you are into Las Vegas and gambling, this may apply to you: MGM ‘Reimagines’ Loyalty Program, New Name & No Resort Fees.
This made me lol: Travel Hacking in 2021 as Told by GIFs.
Frequent Miler hires another one staffer! Welcome to the team Tim!
My flights to/from Kauai in less than two weeks are still showing intact, we shall see. Very nice welcoming email from the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which is certainly appreciated. I have been looking forward to stay here for a very long time and I hope Omicron does not mess it up!
After a weird injury issue and taking a few days off to rest, I am back running aiming for the full marathon in Toledo, Ohio in late April 2022. And checking my email inbox every other hour to see if my lottery entry for the 2022 Berlin Marathon was successful. I have a reservation at the Grand Hyatt Berlin already. With a confirmed Suite upgrade. Because, this is how I roll lol.
Wishing you a Healthy, Prosperous and Healthy 2022!
Let me leave you with this…
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Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.