Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as eight awesome Michigan parks, bull markets, the Afghanistan debacle, an interesting Red Ventures expose, the new Hyatt card offer, we visit Inner Mongolia, vaccine mandates are starting to appear all over the place, latest on the child tax credit, retirement plan contribution limits for 2021, learn about all the Covid variants, the unvaccinated endanger us all, Arnold the Terminator implores us not to be a schmuck, we go deeper into the end of the Afghanistan war and how it will stain Biden’s legacy and we leave the last two sections to catch up on only the important developments you need to know in the miles and points world keeping true to my motto not to bother you with so much crap out there being blogged about. Oh, I also have started running again very…slowly, yes!
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It is starting to happen and it is spreading: Canada announces vaccine mandate for air travel. The more people get vaccinated the sooner this ordeal ends, come on! Also, get used to masks while traveling on airplanes and trains well into 2022 and likely much longer…You know, ever since masks came into our lives I have not had a cold once!
Last year we finally made it to the Porcupine Mountains park in the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It takes an insane amount of time to drive there from Ann Arbor, Michigan, almost 8 hours and so worth it! 8 great Michigan state parks for hiking trails. Here are another eight Michigan parks for your hiking enjoyment.
Let’s jump from Michigan to Inner Mongolia next: On the Road With the Nomads of Inner Mongolia.
This new child tax credit is continuing the post Covid push to get money into people’s hands. And experts are saying it is making a huge dent towards reducing child poverty. But, as with all new laws involving the IRS, there is an “adjustment” period. And good luck to us all not to get tangled in it! But if you find yourself in this unfortunate position, maybe this article can help: Where is my child tax credit? Here’s how to track a missing payment.
It is always good to have these numbers handy: Retirement Plan Contribution Limits 2021. One thing I have done personally and I make my clients practice is…we try to take advantage of the tax-deferral opportunities. Maximizing 401k contributions is not negotiable. Health Savings Accounts too. IRA/Roth IRAs too if you can still contribute…etc.
This is a good article about bull markets. All or Nothing Markets. This year alone we have hit 48 new market highs…and we still have 4.5 months left! I tell my clients not to fall in love with the highest number they see of their portfolio….and it is only getting higher every time I say it. Maybe if I keep saying it…never mind. Oh, and nobody knows where we go from here!
This article will educate you on all you need to know about them variants: How Many Covid-19 Variants Are There? All the attention is on the Delta one but Delta Plus, Epsilon, Eta and Iota are coming…That is why is so imperative to get vaccinated NOW, come on, let’s not screw this up too! You know, New Zealand got one case and the country went on complete lockdown…something we never seriously did here…while we have lost over 600,000 souls. What is wrong with some humans sometimes I wonder…
Oh wait, Unvaccinated America, in 5 Charts. This line depressed the hell out of me! “Most unvaccinated Americans think vaccine poses bigger risk than COVID-19”. Which drives me completely bonkers. I say refuse treatment to these morons, who is with me? Oh, no one. Okay but, I mean, these people are holding us all hostage and trying to kills us it appears!
Maybe they won’t listen to Biden or to Dr. Fauci. Maybe they listen to the Terminator? As in Arnold Schwarzenegger. Don’t Be a Schmuck. Put on a Mask. Gotta love the straight talk from a former California Republican governor!
Generations of Americans made incredible sacrifices, and we’re going to throw fits about putting a mask over our mouth and nose?
Some people are complaining, “Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.” Well, I told them, “Screw your freedom.” You have the freedom to wear no mask. But if you exercise that freedom, you’re a schmuck—because you’re supposed to protect your fellow Americans.
We need to protect ourselves and win this war. We don’t need to close our economies again. We just need to come together like the generations of Americans who came before us, and to give just a tiny fraction of what they gave. We need to prove to ourselves and to the world that we can unite to defeat a common enemy, because, trust me, the coronavirus is not the biggest challenge we will face this century. What will you do for your country?
I am adding this section because, well, of recent developments. Don’t get me wrong, it was (is) heartbreaking to see the chaos unfold in Kabul. Biden made the difficult decision to honor Trump’s deal with the Taliban (thank God these phuckers did not make it to Camp David!) and end America’s longest war. The final act though was disastrous and embarrassing. And that will stick to his legacy sadly. Here are a few articles I found were worthy to appear in my blog. And pray for the Afghan people…Best they could do were the beyond corrupt Karzai followed by douche bag Ghani stringing us along for so many years, enough!
Kabul was not lost yesterday; the United States and our Afghan partners never truly had control of the country, nor of its capital. Once the Taliban had secured an agreement that the United States would be pulling out and that forces would be reduced to minimal numbers before Joe Biden’s presidency began, they merely had to wait.
You know, when you get both sides mad at you it means you likely made the right decision in politics!
Everyone is talking about the Taliban’s swift reconquest of Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal. As usual, most Americans understand this event only through the lens of their domestic political viewpoints. Conservatives who just a few years ago were praising Trump’s new “America first” attitude and his withdrawal from Iraq are now wailing that Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is the sign of a dying, decaying empire (that can of course only be restored by a conservative return to cultural and electoral dominance). Some on the left are decrying the U.S. “defeat”, raising the question of whether they think we should have continued occupying Afghanistan forever in order to secure “victory”. Others on the left are bewildered, bereft of talking points except to call for accepting a bunch of Afghan refugees (which of course is something we really ought to do).
This article will explain why the Afghan army did not fight. Basically, it came down to this:
Opposing Afghan factions have long negotiated arrangements to stop fighting — something the U.S. either failed to understand or chose to ignore.
Let’s get us all out and get the locals who were loyal to us, as many as we can, out. Afghanistan was always like this, sad!
Before you call me a Biden apologist, the horrific ending of this operation is all on him by the way!
ODDZ & ENDZ
The TBB Executive Board decided to not include anything in this section so I can save the links for another post because I am sure you are all in awe with the new Afghanistan section. 🙂
MILES & POINTS
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If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you? Contact me!
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: BEST TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD! The 100k Chase Sapphire Preferred card is now available with my links. If you are totally new and looking for a keeper card I think THIS is the card. Apply for it, get approved, do the required minimum $4k spend, get the 100k points signup bonus, transfer the points to United or Southwest or Hyatt or just cash out for $1,250 spend for groceries using the “Pay Yourself Back” feature assuming you do eat, right? For the annual fee of only $95, COME ON, do the math! Ok, here is the math: $1,250 – $95 = $1,155. So, if a bank offers you all this money what is your problem? Just ALWAYS make sure you NEVER EVER carry a balance ok? If you currently have the card, you can refer your spouse or significant other or third cousin or travel starved friend and you the referrer can earn 20k Chase points for the referral and the referred still get the full 100k bonus.
So, both my kids went for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card last week. We now all four of us in my family have the card. Of course, to make this hobby work, we are all forbidden to carry a monthly balance without paying it off!
Wait, it gets even better: The Chase Sapphire Preferred is About to Get Even Better – Plus, the 100,000 Point Bonus! Earn 3 points per dollar on dining, yes! If you have a decent/safe job, you have an emergency cash fund, you owe nothing on credit cards, you are fairly organized, can swing the minimum $4k spend in three months, you like to save money on travel or groceries, you are eligible for the card, I mean, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR HUH?
If you are interested in the World of Hyatt credit card, we have yet another variation on the bonus adding 2 night credits for every night (including awards) you stay until the end of the year. Of course, the same 60,000 bonus points remain (with the second 30,000 requiring a crazy high $15k spend but in six months!). Anyway, if anyone aiming to hit Globalist Elite (the requirement is cut in half, only 30 nights instead of 60) who has not done so yet (the opportunity to get it like I did was in the first two months of this year), maybe this is it? The card comes with five elite night credits each year, 2 night credits for every $5k spend, a free night after $15k spend and of course another free night every anniversary year. They can add up! Available here as well, thank you.
But, are you really sure about going for Hyatt Globalist now? Hyatt Acquires Apple Leisure Group For $2.7B In Cash. This is a crazy price to pay and someway somehow Hyatt will need to lower costs to pay for this acquisition. Another 100 properties to be added to the portfolio eventually. They are making a run on all inclusives properties. But some of what they are buying just seems a bit off the Hyatt brand appeal…cheapcaribbean.com, seriously? And, please sit down, even more brands! Loyalty Lobby was more direct:
It seems that Hyatt is buying a pile of crap from two Private Equity Shops at an inflated price.
We in this hobby have all struggled to get our spouses/partners more involved. Most normal people do not think like us lol. This is a good post about the unique challenges and tips on Managing Rewards in Multi-Player Mode.
If you recently got a card from this company, this is a very relevant question to answer! Question: Am I Eligible For This American Express Upgrade Offer?
Donate to fight cancer and earn 25 American Airlines miles per dollar.
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.
The big buzz in the miles and points world was a profile of Red Ventures, the company that owns The Points Guy, Inc among many other web sites: You’ve Never Heard of the Biggest Digital Media Company in America. The company is in the digital marketing business. In other words, it SELLS LOTS OF S#@*! If you are looking for fiduciary type advice…good luck! Some juicy excerpts:
The company found itself in the publishing business almost by accident, and is now leading a shift in that industry toward what is sometimes called “intent-based media” — a term for specialist sites that attract people who are already looking to spend money in a particular area (travel, tech, health) and guide them to their purchases, while taking a cut. [Translation: They are really smooth selling you while you think they are actually writing to educate you!]
The Points Guy had built a profitable business earning commissions whenever people signed up for credit cards they had read about on the site — often in rave reviews of high-end cards. [Rave reviews LOL…I mean, did the site ever do a review recommending “do NOT get this card” without of course recommending a few dozen alternatives lol. When a card sucks I tell you. Maybe this is why my conversion metrics suck woohoo!]
The marketing of financial products promises far higher profit margins than the online “affiliate” businesses that underlie websites like The New York Times’s Wirecutter. [Yeah, no shit! I wrote my masterpiece many years ago and the same thing still goes on, a giant marketing blitz of selling plastic for the sales commissions! Yes I do this here…my last two credit card sales were to my kids and they know better to use them responsibly, believe me! Bottom line is…this blog still does not make minimum wage per hour and it is the only aspect about that just blows when so many marketing pumpers sell indiscriminately to people who do not know any better…and, rant over, I need to stay positive, I am working on it!]
More troublingly, some reporters at The Points Guy, which also covers the travel industry in general (it has been a comprehensive source for information on where vaccinated Americans can travel), have complained that the new owners have eroded the already rickety wall between the site’s service journalism and the credit card sales that fund it. [Excuse me while I LOLOLOL]
Red Ventures is “all about profit maximization,” said JT Genter, who left the site more than a year ago. He and other Points Guy writers said they hadn’t been pushed to publish stories they found dubious — indeed, the site has occasionally offered carefully critical coverage of Chase and American Express, its dominant business partners. But Points Guy journalists are required to attend regular business meetings detailing how much money the site makes from credit card sales, which some take as a tacit suggestion to put their thumbs on the scale. [There has been high turnover at this company and someway somehow I doubt that would have been the case if the ones let go were contributing to, please sit down, sale of more credit cards!]
Mr. Elias said Red Ventures has a “nonnegotiable line” concerning the editorial independence of its sites… [I have a negotiable line here sticking to my blog mission, who do you believe? Maybe it is because I can count my sales in the fingers of one of my hands woohoo!]
“Brand and trust are at the core of everything that we do,” said Courtney Jeffus, the president of the company’s financial services division, which includes Bankrate. “If you lose brand trust, then you don’t have a business.” [You know what they say about working for a paycheck…you don’t do anything that will stop that paycheck…you even BELIEVE you are doing the right thing smh]
There’s quite a bit of good news in the rescue of old media brands by Red Ventures and similar companies — CNET plans to hire 150 new employees this year, for instance. A deeper concern may be what it will mean to transform the internet’s independent arbiters into nothing more than the gaping maw of the sales funnel. [The only good thing is the paychecks, sad! Readers are getting conflicted advice and certainly NOT fiduciary type advice! I find the whole development very sad actually. This is why I pound every chance I can to get readers to support independent entities to counter balance these behemoths with their armies collecting paychecks dishing out “objective” advice…Then again I look at what this blog brings and I want to cry…]
Ariana, the Miles and Points editor at TPG, is also no longer there. That would never happen if she had hit her “metrics”, as in selling enough credit cards. Everything in this section is based on my own humble opinion (this was added after the TBB Legal Department intervened lol).
No other blogger knows ANA better than the Lazy Traveler: Update August 2021: ANA Fuel Surcharges Have Crept Up on Its Own Flights and Partners. If ANA offered affiliate credit cards Andy would have been hired by The Points Guy years ago! 🙂
I recently had to pay for travel. Of course this shocked me because I travel for free. My wife took a trip to NYC to see her family. On the way there I emptied her expiring Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles and on the way back I bought her a ticket to fly partner United. Yes I know. But, you know this was coming, it was not that much out of pocket since I bought it with my United Airlines Quest card (hey, it still offers 100,000 signup bonus!) which offers an automatic $125 statement credit on United purchases. And guess what? United bumped her. I was so proud of her for volunteering fast and she got a $500 United voucher (expiring in 2 years!), $20 dinner voucher and First Class flight home (via Chicago, not direct)…for less than a three hour delay in landing. Winning! In addition, Southwest sent my daughter a $100 voucher and an apology for the delays in her flight back home from Miami last month, nice touch Southwest.
I have been very slowly getting back to running. Emphasis on the world “slowly”. My main goal now is to avoid re injuring myself, followed by finishing and followed by not finishing last! This past Sunday I accomplished all three running the excellent Dexter Ann Arbor Run 10k race. My wife is not a runner but she has started running with some of her friends and she ran a 10k for the first time. I ran very slowly all of it other than 1 mile. Which is double the distance I have run in my comeback and felt fine afterwards so maybe this time I am indeed recovering. Been a very slow healing process and I must admit it feels great to be sweating out there again. Developing…
Hmm, maybe I take this show on Substack, everything except the pure Travel and Miles/Points and Blog Buzz stuff so this online “business” can make minimum wage to justify keeping on because, sometimes, I am really tired pounding here…Thoughts? If it bombs, well, I spend less time here keeping true to the “Travel” part of my blog name…I have lots of thoughts and just not enough time executing because more important things have priority. And on it goes…approaching year nine WTF!
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.