Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as the poorer tech workers, the home sellers are gone, the alcohol industry, Gary Numan is aging well, Seattle trip is now booked, the mega scammer Barry Minkow and how he was brought down, a really sad story about a kindergarten class in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a crazy promo in San Francisco back in the newspaper days, list of eleven most endangered historic places will shock you, an 81 year old ultra marathon runner is inspiring me, bloggers killing deals is part of their business plan, scathing Necker Island reviews and more!
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This blog publishes every Friday and Tuesday…for now.
Trying to make my posts shorter. By becoming more eclectic and going more anti mainstream on personal tangents…thanks for coming along for the ride.
Not sure why but this blog is not gaining new readers and lately it is hardly covering its costs. Maybe it is a sign of what the hell is going on in media? TV channels pretending to be about news (Fox and CNN among them) and self proclaimed thought leaders clickbaiting you to death with fake outrage & shocking crap maximizing $ clicks while outlets focusing on quality just slowly or suddenly die…Maybe we get what we deserve? Just be more aware where you give your attention and clicks to make this world a better place, thank you. Or maybe my blog sucks so please let me know how I can improve it, thank you.
This hits home as my son is employed in the industry and my daughter is starting an internship in one of these companies based in Seattle in a month: Tech Workers Aren’t as Rich as They Used to Be. Which is true! I kept warning them that the good times will not last and, I must admit, they ended fast and brutally. So far, no layoffs hit home but ya never know these days, it is obvious they all hired way too many with the pandemic. And as I have been saying for a while, the pandemic changed everything and threw us all off our equilibrium and we have all been trying to get back to…normal ever since. Best way to avoid desperation is to keep investing and increasing that cash emergency fund/home purchase fund and that requires measured spending!
The rout has wiped out a big chunk of the wealth employees had planned to tap for big-ticket expenses such as houses and college tuition. It has frozen the initial public offerings business, putting startup employees’ windfall hopes on hold indefinitely. And it has cost hundreds of thousands of tech workers their jobs.
This is a fantastic article laying out the current state of residential real estate: The Home Buyer’s Quandary: Nobody’s Selling. I have clients looking to buy (for several reasons) and…prices have not come down much and there is almost nothing out there other than mostly junk…and the best homes are snapped fast. Like everything post pandemic…it is strange. I am very worried about this generation of young home buyers. Strange or unique, it is what it is…
It’s a “unique market condition,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Sales are down and even prices are down in some areas, yet from a buyer’s perspective it’s hard to get that home, because they are competing with other buyers.”
Old timers remember mega scammer Barry Minkow. And he came down because a secretary ordered flowers and was overcharged and then never gave up fighting for justice. The secretary who helped uncover one of America’s strangest Ponzi schemes. It is an amazing story. Of course, like all scammers, when Barry came out of jail he went back to scamming smh.
When her boss’s spouse got surgery in January 1986, that began to change. Swanson ordered a standard bouquet from the closest florist she could find, a business called Floral Fantasies. The flowers plus delivery cost $23.95. Swanson used her Visa card. The boss’s wife was thankful for the gift. That was that. Or so Swanson thought. She realized a few weeks later she had been charged $601.11 for the order — the equivalent of ~$1.6k today. “The bottom line is I got pissed,” Swanson told The Hustle. “I turned into an investigator.”
UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR/GEOPOLITICS
The Russians were going to take over all of Ukraine in three days or two weeks. For months now they have been trying to take Bakhmut and they can’t, what a bunch of morons. I am starting to think there is going to be a rout…soon.
Also, there is a LOT of bluffing going on!
But the sad war stories will be with us for generations. Like this one: How the war in Ukraine has forever changed the children in one kindergarten class. Reading some of the group chat messages of the kids with her teacher may make you emotional, you have been warned.
ODDZ & ENDZ
I was never much of a drinker. I did enjoy drinking red wine occasionally. And maybe a mojito at an industry conference (usually free, lol). But I did notice in 2022 that I became much more lethargic and sleepy after even a glass or two. And it affected my running as well. In other words, I noticed that alcohol is making me age faster. So, I quit. I have not had a sip of alcohol since January 1. Yeah, I am surprised too…I just don’t crave it anymore. Going to a wedding tonight so maybe this changes, we shall see. And reading this article sure made me feel even better about this: Pour One Out. The boozy story of how we decided alcohol was a health boon in the ’90s—and how it all fell apart. There is always $$$$ and lobbyists behind so much “research” out there…
According to new guidelines released in recent months by the World Health Organization, the World Heart Federation, and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, the safest level of drinking is—brace yourself—not a single drop.
Wild story! A space station fell to Earth. An Australian boy brought it to San Francisco. This happened because of a newspaper rivalry. Yeah newspapers, remember them? I miss them…Used to take the Sunday paper to my local Panera and go through it all…
I like this list much better than most others: Discover America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2023. There are two Chinatowns, Philadelphia and Seattle. Well, visiting Seattle in August so you bet we are going to that Chinatown then!
Sticking with the primary blog mission to Educate: 30 Of The Weirdest And Most Interesting Geography Facts You Probably Didn’t Know. Most of these are pretty cool, like, I bet you did not know that the complete name of Bangkok actually contains 187 letters! And jailbreaking is not a criminal offense in Germany, say what!
A section where I go on and on about some stuff that happens in my life and anything else that just does not fit in another section above.
Sometimes I feel like this guy, trying to run to stay alive longer. Something like that. Very inspirational story, suited to runners primarily. The World’s Oldest Ultramarathon Runner Is Racing against Death. Dag Aabye is eighty-one, lives in an old school bus on a mountain, and is pushing his body to its absolute limits.
But there was something fleeting to it all. A general understanding that if he ever stopped running, he would stop existing altogether. As one of his fellow contestants noted, Dag seemed to have “an ephemeral, monk-like presence” on the trail. His slow yet relentless style appeared almost spiritual and evoked comparisons to the legendary Japanese monks of Mount Hiei who run-walk 1,000 marathons in 1,000 days in order to attain enlightenment. But he also evoked comparisons to a freak of nature: a veritable wolverine who, like the tortured mutant from the X-Men comic books, seemed to age slower than anyone else and had a capacity to withstand inhuman degrees of pain and keep pushing forward.
I was surprised to see the Philadelphia 76ers win game 5 in Boston. And not surprised when the Celtics won Game 6 in Philly…Because, for some reason, Doc Rivers and James Harden choke…I am going with the Celtics in Game 7. And seeing a Denver Nuggets vs Boston Celtics in this year’s NBA Finals. Warning: Do NOT bet any money on this ok?
Gary who? Hey, my blog is different, you should know that by now.
And going even more away from the mainstream. Which has always been the type of music I like. You can enjoy your Maroon 5, I am not judging, we are all different. So let me tell you the Gary Numan story. I saw him in concert last weekend in Cleveland, my first concert post Covid. Gary and his band was the opening act for Ministry and I came prepared, with good ear plugs due to my tinnitus in my right ear. Which of course happened at the last Ministry concert I attended before Covid. Anyway, back to Gary. So, he had a phucking amazing show and I became a fan among many others at the concert in Cleveland. I used to go to a lot of concerts, weird alternative bands, lots of industrial and techno and punkish. But hey, I also went to see Madonna and I liked it lol. Like I said, no judging please, thank you.
So, some stuff about this Gary guy. He grew up in London and his house was at the path of landing in Heathrow Airport. His dad worked for British Airways actually and Gary loved to fly too. He had issues fitting in in school so he joined a band that became the distinct looking and sounding Tubeway Army and quickly left them to go on his own. And then boom, a #1 hit, “In Cars“, back in 1979! It was those days of electronics and synthesizers, you know, Depeche Mode and Human League, etc. For the record, I did not like him that much because I always thought he was trying too hard to be yet another pop star. So, I never bothered with his music again until I saw him live last weekend in Cleveland 44 years later wow! It is never too late you guys lol.
So, what happened to him? He became a star too early, he filled Wembley Stadium in 1981, big tours, big mistakes in business dealings, retired for two years from touring, music suffered, kept selling less and less. He was in the dumps so to speak but this cute member of his fan club kept showing up in his concerts asking for his autograph. And he reached out to her, especially after her mother died. And they hit it off! And they have been married ever since with three beautiful teenage daughters! And she saved his career he has said. And then his music turned in the mid 90s and he said enough with the pop sound, I am going to reach deep within and bring out all the pain. Sound became harsher and darker, more industrial and I like it! He never stopped recording, prolific artist and I have been catching up with his music I missed all these years. And you know some artists really enjoy being on stage pleasing the fans in an intimate venue. Ok, there is more! 🙂
Gary has a distinct look full of makeup. Why? Because right before his first TV appearance he had too much acne lol. So the BBC crew just covered it all with make up and he stuck with a look involving lots of makeup ever since! Numan is his screen name and he picked it out of the phone book when he saw it…it belonged to a plumber lol. Also, he continued flying all these years. And he flew around the world twice with his small plane. And he was so good he was part of an acrobat flying team. And then he said he went to another flying event and realized he knew nobody because they had all been killed in accidents in prior years so he quit flying cold turkey. He lives in Santa Monica. CA now and still touring and making music. Respect! Like maybe I am respected for blogging here for over ten years doing my thing in obscurity…believing one day I will be discovered too lol.
So much for shorter posts, sorry! A few more links about Gary Numan:
Play set list from the Cleveland concert. Again, they are even better live, you can find them on Youtube of course.
And you know it is so special when you let your young shy daughter sing with you! I always wanted to do this with my daughter but I can never play anything and my voice sucks woohoo…
and this comment by a “Luis Simon”captured the essence of what took place above:
This performance is absolutely fascinating. We see a scared little girl come on stage and get a big hug from her Rock Legend dad. At :30 seconds, just before they start, Gary gives her a quick grab of encouragement (like a great dad should). Persia is nervous, but at about 2:00 minutes she starts to loosen up. At about the 4-minute mark, Gary looks over at her and you can see his pride. That’s the moment Persia’s inner rock star shows up. It’s like that look he shoots her gives her permission and suddenly she owns the stage. Her stance widens a bit, she’s swaying and looking directly at the camera. Then the song ends, Gary can’t wait to hug her, pride just beaming off him. And then she gives that little “thank you” squeak and she’s a little girl again.
This blog started with a focus on miles and points and travel. It has evolved since then. Everything below deals with the hobby of collecting frequent flyer miles and points. If you are not interested, you can stop here, thank you.
MILES & POINTS NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION
Going to separate the material here between Newbies and Advanced…
Apparently, the best travel rewards credit card deal for 80k points for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is ending “soon”. Available HERE, thank you. For details about the card please see below in the Top Travel Rewards Singup Bonus Cards, thank you!
I do not like booking trips on Travel Portals. For the reasons laid out here: 3 (Big!) Reasons I Don’t Use Travel Portals – With a Few Exceptions. Airline tickets are fine…if no changes happen for whatever reason, it is always best to deal directly with the airline. And booking hotels will most likely not get you any hotel elite benefits and points…unless it is for independent hotels. And of course do not forget about the $300 travel credit with the Capital One Venture X card that you get only if you book travel on its portal.
I use and recommend using Autoslash to save on car rentals. And the company, after talking about it for years, finally came out with HotelSlash. Here is a review of it: AutoSlash launches HotelSlash: Here’s the pros, cons and a free 6 month membership. Interesting…not sure about the annual fee though…
I still have many Chase Ultimate Rewards point but they are dwindling fast lately. I burned another 59,000 World of Hyatt points (after yet another transfer from Chase) on three nights in Seattle. And a Free Night cert for a total of four nights for our trip in August to celebrate with our daughter for her 21st birthday. One night at the Hyatt Olive 8 and the other three at the Hyatt Regency down the street. Hoping to get upgraded as a Globalist Elite too. Saved over $1k, this is what the hobby is all about, why pay full retail when you can burn points hey?
New Hilton credit card offers, all now coming with one Free Night and lower minimum spend. And a nice load of Hilton Honors points too.
If you have had these cards before (or within 7 years) you are most likely not going to get the Signup Bonus again. Going for the Business card is probably the best one (if you are eligible) because it gets you the most points AND saves you a slot in the Chase 5/24 restriction. Don’t forget you get an additional Free Night when you spend $15k. And the Hilton Free Night certs are the easiest to use…by far! And if you have another player in the household maybe you can get a referral if it works. If you decide to support my blog please use my CREDIT CARD Links, thank you!
Blogs in this space are in it to make money. And that happens when they spill out ways to use your miles for sweetspots continuously. It attracts eyeballs and $ clicks. And it leads to airlines plugging the holes until….the end. This is It: The Last Great Way to Redeem SkyMiles for Business Class. And when the deals die…more content for them bitching about how brutally unfair the airlines are LOL.
I really enjoyed these reviews about that Branson island Frequent Miler visited some time ago. After reading them hell no I am not going!
I booked my Seattle hotel stays above without using my Hyatt Globalist concierge. I contacted him to apply a Globalist Confirmed Suite Upgrade for our three nights at the Hyatt Regency. And I was told I can not do that because one of the nights was with a Free Night cert. It is these rules that just feel like a knife you know…and maybe the time has come to kick the hotel elite addiction too. I kicked the airline elite addiction more than ten years ago and became a free agent and everything has been fine…
My wife hates moving hotels. So why did I decide to book the first night at the Hyatt Olive 8 and then move on to the Hyatt Regency? Because the Olive 8 is one of those rare true “Hyatt” properties and I wanted to add it to the Brand Explorer tally to get me closer to yet another Free Night cert (which you get after every 5th visit to a different Hyatt brand).
MILES & POINTS
HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture X, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture Rewards, 75k CHASE Ink Business Cash, 75k CHASE Ink Business Unlimited, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60k CHASE Sapphire Preferred, 40k CAPITAL ONE VentureOne Rewards, 45k BARCLAY’S Wyndham Rewards Earner Plus, $1,000 Cash Back CHASE Ink Business Premier, 60k CHASE United Quest, 140K CHASE IHG Rewards Premier, 60k US BANK Business Altitude and many more, including many AmericanExpress cards such as Delta Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors cards! Please check out my Affiliate links. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you?
This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! SKIP if you are not into it!
As of today, I have burned 695,000 miles/points year to date in 2023 and have 4,276,229 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!
Thanks to US banks, very lucrative travel rewards credit card offers come and go all the time. This section will act as a reference point on the best CURRENT offers. I will designate new material preceded by NEW.
BASICS: This travel hacking hobby is mostly about getting the fat Signup Bonus of travel rewards credit cards while of course NEVER EVER carrying a balance. Banks have a marketing budget and are willing to give us many THOUSANDS of miles/points to travel mostly for free hoping to hook us to charge 20%+ interest rates on our balances. The poor souls who fall for their marketing paying these ludicrous interest rates end up subsidizing us responsible consumers who enjoy taking advantage of, cough, such bank marketing budgets! Some of us have been doing this for thirty years creating amazing travel memories…Feel free to ask me questions or post them in the comments.
BASICS: Prefer credit cards from the proprietary points programs of banks, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Network, Capital One Rewards Miles because they are a lot more flexible and are not devalued as frequently. Over pure airline and hotel travel rewards credit cards. Pure cash back credit cards may work for you best and they are getting more valuable as airline and hotel loyalty programs keep getting devalued. Sometimes, a pure no annual fee 2% cash back card works best for simplicity!
TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS
In my household, we prefer swimming in the Chase Ultimate Rewards points ecosystem. We all four have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. My kids got it six months after they turned 18 (when they both got the Discover for Students card) and they have been building up their credit score ever since, it is their go to card. The annual fee is $95. The main earning structure is 3 points on dining and 2x on travel (and others you are not likely to use but bloggers LOVE to tell you to entice you to get the card with their affiliate links). Most importantly, you must have a premium Chase card (Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred) in order to be able to transfer out to partners such as Hyatt and United where you can get more value out of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The card is also very valuable when you rent cars as it provides primary insurance benefit, meaning, in case of an accident you don’t have to involve your own car insurance company. There is a 10% anniversary bonus on all annual spending. So, Chase gives you basically $1,000 towards travel…for $95! Or just take $800 in cold hard cash, hello? So I guess I can say I recommend it. To me, this card and the Capital One Venture X card are keepers. And now the Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points as Signup Bonus after you spend $4,000 in the first three months hooray! You can read the posts below but if you prefer to support my blog please apply with my own Credit Card Links HERE, thank you!
The Capital One Venture X card offers a 75,000 point Signup Bonus after a minimum spend of $4k in the first three months. If you like simplicity and looking for one (premium) card, I highly recommend this card (and yes, I have it myself!). It has an annual fee of $395 but it comes with a VERY easy $300 statement credit for travel booked on its excellent travel portal, essentially turning it into a $95 annual fee card. But wait…there is more! On each card anniversary you earn 10,000 points essentially making it FREE! Every dollar of spend earns 2 points and flights booked on the travel portal earn 5 points per dollar. You get access to Capital One and Plaza Premium airport lounges and a Priority Pass Select lounge membership and, this is important, you can add FOUR authorized users FOR FREE who can also have their own Priority Pass Select airline lounge membership. You can transfer your Capital One points to up to 18 Transfer Partners. No foreign transaction fees. Free Hertz President’s Circle rental car top elite status. Cell phone protection and PRIMARY rental car coverage. Awesome seats at baseball stadiums for just 5k points each. And lots more. Available with my Credit Card Links, thank you for your support!
Sticking with Capital One Bank…it is offering 75,000 points for its Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Annual fee is $95, minimum spend required to earn the Signup Bonus is $4,000 over the first three months and the card basically earns 2 points for every dollar. And you can transfer the points out to airline and hotel partners just like the Capital One Venture X card above.
Capital One has a no annual fee card, the weirdly named Capital One VentureOne card that offers a 40,000 point Signup Bonus after just $1,000 minimum spend in the first three months. It earns 1.25 points per dollar and has no foreign transaction fees. If you want more Capital One points and/or you just hate annual fees. It appears the Capital One Bank credit card offers have the best offer with my Credit Card Links.
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
Let me leave you with this…
Some of the links are behind a paywall. You can try to read them using Archive.is.
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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.