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lhn_4th_offlineTrying to login to a portal I have used before, Ameriflex tells me my username and email do not exist. The online live chat, open until 8pm EST, is of course OFFLINE. And calling, strangely enough, will tell me my balances (so at least the IVR auto recognizes my number), but will not connect me to a human. There is not other way to contact them. Amazing…. Thank you Ameriflex. You suck. Not quite as bad as ADP/Paychex, but you suck. And nice feedback page too:
https://www.mywealthcareonline.com/ameriflex/feedback_page.php:

404 – File or directory not found.

The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

I did finally find a place to send for help via email. And the response is classic. I am now in an infinite loop of stupidity. American Idiot was written expressly for Ameriflex services.

Solution
[18 Nov 2014 08:38:33]
Thank you for contacting AmeriFlex.
Unfortunately, we are unable to efficiently diagnose Member login or site navigation issues via email. Please contact Member Services via phone at 888-868-FLEX (3539) or via Live Chat (during business hours) at http://member.flex125.com for live assistance with these types of issues.

Anyone want to start an FSA management company with me? I am 200% sure I can do a better job of creating a system to manage FSA for companies better than the last three systems I have been forced to work with…

Here is a quick review and summary of use of the Cardo S-800 Bluetooth Headset.

Image of Cardo S-800 Bluetooth Earpiece

Cardo S-800 Bluetooth Earpiece

I bought this on January 1, 2009 for about $15 with shipping form 1SaleADay.com. So I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I had a Blackberry Pearl and it paired and worked wonderfully. It has 3 extra programmable buttons and saves up to 3 last numbers. I was actually very pleased with it. It was lightweight, fit well, good sound both ways, loved the options. Coupled with RIM’s Pearl’s voice dial interface, it was awesome.

Then when I switched to a G1 Google phone, I was immediately less pleased. It became pretty useless. The G1 also had a very hard time pairing with my car’s Magellan GPS and the quality was equivalent to trying to talk to someone in a pool where you are both underwater. Pretty useless. Donut 1.6 did NOT help. I quickly became accustomed to pretending BlueTooth did not exist because as far as I could use it, it did not…. BOO ON GOOGLE! (The voice dialer on the Google phones is still pretty crappy, not hands free at all! Yet another issue)

So, other than that, great little piece of hardware. However by the time I got an excellent HTC G2 phone (preceded by a MyTouch Slide 3G, not a bad phone, not incredible, also had hard time with Bluetooth/voice dialer / genius button), the Cardo S-800 battery life had died and it would not charge after being in my electronics cabinet for the better part of a year or so.

Cardo no longer makes these little guys. They seem to specialize in cycling Bluetooth gear now.

http://www.cardosystems.com/us/homepage.

No replacement parts, out of warranty, yada yada yada. I tried taking it apart to see if I could possibly replace the battery. It was hard-wire soldered to several wires and components… hum.. Guess not.

I guess for $15 I got my couple of months of use with the Blackberry out of it and that was it.

Trash binned.

So I recently bought a Motorola HK-100 for about $14.00… A simpler device than the Cardo S-800. I’ll let you know how that works out.

 

Yesterday evening after getting home from work, after what seems like three months, because it has been three months of working long days of overtime and weekends on most occasions, I decided to take a quick nap in our ‘Beach Room’ before doing some more work for another client. I lay down on the day bed and remember trying to wake up several times and remember vividly fighting with the sleep of arrays within arrays within arrays. And I had to map the nested arrays to another set of arrays before I could get up. I guess I finally did it by 7am or so as that is when I was able to push through the foggy cloud of arrays and structures in my head and get up. This happens occasionally. When I am working a lot on a problem or a project, it bleeds into my dreams as code. In this case, we have been working on some XML xPath parsing and mappings and it has been a ‘critical’ issue. Happy to report that the real life issue was resolved Tuesday morning by about 5:30am. The issue? A certain size of record processing was taking between 45m to 1.5hrs to process, if and when it finished at all. Most of the time it would fail and kill the server. After effectively rewriting it, the same XML record set now takes 41 seconds to process. Amazing what proper design and proper use of functions will do for you… And the server concurrency issue is negligible (you can put a load on the server while the record set processes and it runs fine).

I watched  a film the other night with my wife. We are both kind of into historical films. This one had many compelling theses.

This film, with Rachel Weisz as Hypatia and Oscar Isaac as Oresetes gives food for thought. I won’t bore you with all the issues, details, and narrative of the film and characters, Hollywood story-line liberties, etc.  Aside from being an engrossing piece of historical [fiction], the thing that really struck me was how much things have not changed.

Alexandria: full of pagan gods, taken over by Romans, who introduced more pagan gods, inhabited by large numbers of Jews, and then Christians over run the city politically, intellectually, and aggressively. The Christians under Cyril systematically eliminate the Pagans, then the Jews, then anyone who is left in a bloody bid for power and control of the city…

In today’s backdrop, I couldn’t help but compare it to our last decade or two of religious and political intolerance, ignorant rants and demagogues. How in the name of a belief, a religion, a whim, humans justify slaughter, murder, and deceit.

And perhaps most interestingly is the way ignorance and blind faith is promulgated to manipulate the masses. Today’s world seems little changed in so many ways.

An interesting thought: We often consider that the Roman empire crumbled for all kind of various reasons. Right-wing [American] zealots like to suggest it was homosexuality that “caused” this crumbling. Watching this film, and thinking about all the following wars of religion, the Inquisition, the annihilation of the American natives, et al, it seems much more plausible it was the adoption of Christianity that brought down the ability of Roman order. Tolerance and reason were thrown out the window followed soon by the dark ages….

When will we learn tolerance, love, and compassion for our fellow man?

We have some friends from work that both mentioned a band called “Fry Sauce” this past week. They were playing at the Sand Trap in Ogden, UT. I think the Sand Trap has been there for a very long time. I remember seeing it as a kid on the ‘vard.

Anyway, we went and it was a lot of fun! Ben Malan on guitar, My “sozie” on drums, etc, etc. It was a fun jammin’ groovy funk band. Not quite sure what to call them in terms of genre. But a lot of fun. As the name suggests, definitely another Utah original.

I got a couple good picks. If you get the chance to check out Fry Sauce, do! I believe they are playing again on April 22, 2011 at the Sand Trap.

For a date night, Jenivee & I went to Rooster’s in Layton.

There are two Rooster’s now: the original on 24th in Ogden, and this one in Layton  just off restaurant-row next to Corbin’s.

I am posting this because it is just always so good. I just love the fries, the burgers, the salads, the desserts. This time, Jenivee got a brew-house burger with Gorgonzola, and I decided to get the rack of lamb after a bit of hesitation. The two dishes together was just over $30.00. Not too bad for a nice meal. And since I am on my famous ELF diet, I took home half the rack for the next day as well.

Delicious as always. If you ever want a good gourmet like meal in a more casual atmosphere and without the gourmet price, give’em a go. You won’t be dissatisfied.

V - Anna Screams in agony because of the V plot-line

Anna Screams in agony because of the V plot-line

V vs. Flashfoward

I would like to boycott ABC because they signed up for another season of V but canceled Flashforward. V was getting so corny and inconsistent I could barely stand it. Even though it had a bunch o’ my fave actors from Firefly and 4400, it was just getting TOO silly.

Flashfoward on the other had was a great little idea of a show. I really wanted to see what they came up with next. Quantum Entanglement Device, QED, right on! I think it posed great possibilities as we tackle that age old question of fate vs choice, free will vs deterministic outcome, and how that all mingles into ethics and morality. I mean, really, if you are a fatalist, do you really have any capacity to be ethical or moral? Because you ‘have no free agency’? Hum…

Pascal’s wager always comes to mind in these types of conundra.

But back to the show. It was very interesting to watch the characters sort this all out, process it, deal with it, face it and stare it down. It was also a great show because things were never truly black and white and often not what you first thought. It evolved, grew, deepened.

I don’t get it, ABC. Are you trying to market ONLY to people who don’t have any depth? People who can only follow a simple story line with black and white, true or false? Who ignore gaping storyline holes that you could drive an army of tanks through?

I think I threw in the towel completely when ship security failed: These sophisticated aliens have optical feeds sewn into acolytes uniforms and have massive security rooms with massive systems in place to monitor all of earth’s activities. However, once a human is on the ship and gets past the front gate area, you can walk all over anywhere you want. The queen’s quarters, the egg rooms, where ever you want. No one notices you setting bombs, acting suspiciously, running around in these ultra sensitive areas. That makes perfect sense. And adds to the believability.

Yep. Right there, I thought to myself, ABC must think I am a total idiot. Or they are idiots. I prefer to think it’s them, not me. Since I noticed the unlikely scenario, after all. This show officially sucks.

Grrrrrr…..

We had dinner tonight with my honey at Star of India after enjoying “L’arnacoeur” at the Broadway. A nice evening.

Vanessa Paradis

Movie was very well done. Had Vanessa Paradis in it. Last film I saw her in I was in France and it was a strange magical fantasy style movie. “Un amour de sorcière” si je me souviens bien. Il y avait Jean Reno aussi dans ce film. I’ve always liked him since “Le grand bleu“. And “La femme Nikita“. And “Les visiteurs” bien sûr. “Un amour” was not great a great film though. Pretty bad actually. So wasn’t sure what to expect in this film with her as the leading lady. Vanessa Paradis in it who did reasonably well. But she has been busy with Johnny Depp since then.

Romain Duris

I’ll tell you who had a great performance was Romain Duris. I vaguely recall him in “L’auberge espagnole“, anyone, anyone, anyone remember this one? I thought this was also decent. This had Audrey Tatou of “Amélie” fame in it as well. So Romain did a great job. I was a little worried about him being convincing as a bodyguard but they pulled it off and made it all come together.

L’arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

So it was good! I recommend it. I like how they used a play on words (jeu de mots) with Arnaqueur. Ha ha. It made me laugh. And YES, they offset coeur in a different colour just in case you missed it (it is a homonym sound in French). Funny thing is “Les arnaqueurs” was the very first film I saw in France (The Grifters with John Cusack). I can’t remember if I saw it in VO or dubbed anymore. Funny that. I still have only seen “Soylent Green” in German… [… “Soylent Grün ist manfleisch!!!!…. as they drag away Heston]

Star of India

Food was great! Took me back to college days when we would all go to Sarita’s and have Paneer, Kheer, Indian cheesecake, Saagaloo, lamb, sishkabobs, rice, chutneys and curries. Yum.

We know a few people who have some pretty paper they call Iraqi Dinar. They think it is an investment. Is it?

Prima facie, I could not figure how holding paper money would ever make you any money if even a little bit over time. Money rarely becomes *stronger* against the dollar. You *might* be able to do this with the British Pound, the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, and maybe some other major currencies that do occasionally move up and down against the US Dollar.

But if you factor in the time you might have to hold to get any kind of gain of 5% to 10%, factor in the fees to exchange the physical money at a bank or whatever, and you MIGHT break even if you are lucky.

Now you can obviously make some money in an ETF or FOREX account. People do this all the time trading currencies. But they are usually moving pretty large amounts of money for very small percentages to make their money. And that is quite different from the costs of holding physical currency. And still, you have to be pretty savvy and patient and disciplined to do well in in those markets as well.

The Iraqi Dinar is not currently traded in international exchanges AT ALL. So the only option is to get “hard” money and hold it. Can this work? Why would it or could it be a good investment?

The thing I keep hearing was, “It is going to be revalued!”. Okay… and who is going to pay for the revaluation? And why?

The two possibilities of money changing value that I could fathom were:

Revalue the demonination

So here is the story

http://www.cbi.iq/index.php?pid=Home
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_dinar
http://www.imf.org/external/country/irq/index.htm

Fox News MAY Be Biased…

I have been thinking that the word NEWS has an interesting connotation. We expect it to mean UNBIASED news. Fox news is NOT unbiased by a long shot. I just don’t know how they can even pretend otherwise it is so blatant.

Now granted, every news source has a bent. We all know the Wall Street Journal has a slightly built in capitalistic, but not too politically so, bent. The New York Times is more *liberal* than the Deseret News (okay, the Deseret News doesn’t really do much real investigative journalism, but if they did…). Le Monde is more liberal (said socialist — liberal can mean a lot of things really, more on that mis-use later) than Le Figaro and both are to the right of Le Petit Canard.

Fox “News” Channel, however, always gives me the willies by the way they pundit pound and snipe. This isn’t news with carefully obscured leanings put aside for the sake of good journalism. It is outright call to arms with extreme viewpoints with an aim to incite the hoi poloi into fighting (and viewing) mode. Other than it makes Fox News look like illegitimate inbred cousins short of the 70 IQ points needed to be released on their own cognizance, it reveals the channels disrespect for the concept of ‘NEWS’ and any responsibility to the community it is no longer SERVING but RAPING. Yes, I said RAPING. They are RAPING the remaining intelligence and dollars from the milling masses who are ready to do anything to forget about the sad position the last 8 years of Republican pillaging of its own people has left.

Why are people so mad and willing to believe this completely bigoted and biased garbage heap? Because we spent a CRAP load of money on wars and government and special interest, redirected greater profits to the top 3% of the richest Americans in hopes of ‘trickle down theory’ and reduced real wages and earnings for 75% of Americans. The average Joe is in a bad spot right now with little to NO HOPE. At least the average Joe doesn’t feel much like they can do anything about the current predicament in any large scale meaningful way.  Corporate deregulation and special interest groups have taken over our political system and Cheney-Haliburton legacy will take a LOT of undoing. I am not saying it was created by Cheney, but he perfected it, entrenched, and RAPED America at the expense of the common man. It is actually a bit unfortunate Obama has been given this stink-heap to ‘fix’ because most people, especially the GOP (by design), have convenient short memories. They hope Obama cannot fix this mess (who could, really) in 4 years or even 8. Then they can swoop in with the tea-baggers (corporate America has already started funding the tea-baggers for purely economic reasons) and RAPE some more. Great. No matter what happens, it does not appear that America, the People, will be better off for it. Even if Obama ‘fixes’ things, the fixing is just as painful as sitting in the stinking heap. But maybe we will feel better about it? Hum….

The US Government Is Broken?

What this ultimately boils down to is in fact that the teabaggers are partially correct. But it is something we have always known. If we haven’t, we have been extremely naive. If you think our government was ever perfect and purport such, you are being naive. Our government and political system is NOT and has never been perfect. And as our population grows, it is inevitable our government will grow. As technology and the ability of humans expand in nefarious  ways as well as in good, it will cause us to want more regulation in some areas, less in others, more protection for some things, less for others.  But it is the same problem as sticky wages (at least in nominal terms), once something is established, it is pretty hard to undo. Easy to ratchet up, but hard to ratchet down. You could make a pretty good claim in this economy we are ratcheting down the wage level a bit though. It can be done, but you need a pretty good impetus.

So could our government use fixing? Absolutely. Are the democrats going to do it? Not terribly likely? Are the republicans going to fix it? Just as unlikely. I don’t think the entrenched lobbying/corporate/special interest system, with the two parties both kow towing to the de facto true American voice (because it has enough money, cohesion, and will power) of corporate america, can do much to really change things unless it is a change that large corporations (including the health care industry) are willing to undergo or want.

Don’t ge me wrong. I believe in the power of capitalism. Enlightened capitalism. Corporate America can be a beautiful thing. Capitalism that is constructed to only look at 3 month windows on a consistent basis? Not so much. No one functions best in that scenario.

Can We Fix It?

But it is clear throughout history that by and large, what is good for corporate America is NOT always what is good for America.  And moreover, corporate America should not be ‘voting’ or controlling the political system. Individuals, with single corporal bodies (not corporate boards) should be voting and controlling America. Until we figure out how to do that, we will always have this artificial Dem vs Rep facade behind which big lobbies and corporate funding really pull the strings.