Ed Cook: Cleaning out the Gripe Drawer

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving!

I try to be a generally agreeable person. I have been told by a number of people over the years that I am this way.  I’m happy that I come across like that.  There are a number of things that really push my buttons.  I’m sure you reading this can think of plenty of life’s annoyances.  Some are large, some are frequent, some happen only once a year.  Think of yours as you read.

Out-of-sync Traffic Lights. — Boston and its surrounds are famous for out-of-sync traffic lights.It would be interesting to see how much time and fuel are wasted by stopping at light after light at a large intersection or a road that has a number of traffic lights.  You would think that someone high in City or Town government would get annoyed by this phenomenon and tell the police to set the lights so that if you stop at the first in the series, the rest of them turn green in sequence so you don’t have to stop at four different lights.  Or like the other day when I was stopped at the first light at this local interchange and I could see the other three were all green at once.  Yes, I had to stop at all 4.

Gas prices and Wall Street – Huh? What do they have to do with each other?  Quite a lot actually.  In 2008, after we saw $4.25 gas prices in the summer, do you remember that gas prices dove to the $1.60 range as soon as 100 year old financial institutions like Lehman Brothers and Merrill-Lynch went down and the depth and breadth of the Financial Crisis was realized?  The reason for this was not that oil became more plentiful, there were two primary reasons.  First, it was the realization that we were in a world-wide financial panic and that demand was going to go down…a lot.  The other was that the financial speculators on Wall Street were not betting that the price of gas would continue to go up.  In other words it was mostly demand driving the price.

As the recession started to wane, prices went up to $2.00 a gallon then to $2.50 and $2.75. Then in the fall of 2010 the U.S. Government and other countries announced that their economies were expanding. Financial speculators took this as a sign that they could start betting (Selling Futures Contracts) that had gas prices soaring past $3.00 a gallon to $3.50 and up to $4.00. This makes financial headlines.   The Oil Companies said, hey the public thinks oil prices are going to go up, we are not going to disappoint them.  We will raise prices at the pump.  Thus the incredible profits made by oil companies during the last 3 quarters were based on speculation on Wall Street that gas prices are going up, not the increased sales or more efficient operation of the oil companies.

(On the other side of the coin, I am not opposed to oil companies getting incentives from the government to explore new sources and new technologies to extract oil from previously untapped sources.  They are the only ones with the expertise to do it in the scale this country needs.  As long ago as the 1970s Ted Kennedy, no ones idea of a friend of Big Oil, suggested that same thing.  Too bad he’s not around now to bring it up again.)

Product Package Sizes — Have you noticed how many products on store shelves are in smaller sized containers?  After decades of consumer advocates saying check the prices, manufactures have caught up and kept prices the same but changed the size.  Tuna is down from 6 oz. to 5.  Mayo, (Tuna’s friend so you notice the change in both) is down to 30 oz. from 32. A “Pound” of bacon is now 12 oz. And for years a “pound” of coffee in stores has been less than a pound.   More of this will come…check the size and unit cost.

Don’t like the Cable company…just don’t.  Started at $99/month for Phone, Cable and Internet in 2002 or so and have been paying $189 or so for the last couple of years.  I switched carriers to FIOS the other day. We will be saving $60 per month when it gets hooked up and getting more features.  I think he said we will get 300 TV channels.  I’m not a big TV watcher so it was not the thing that I was paying attention to.  It was the money.   I had called the cable company a year or so ago to see if they would match a lower price by their competitor. “No, we don’t match pricing,” was my answer.  We did not change then because of my wife’s fear of changing our e-mail address as she was changing jobs.  This time there was no such fear.  Bye cable…at least for two years.

Rude People…Nah, this is a whole blog on its own.

My final gripe…this time…is Christmas Lights, yes Christmas Lights

How is it that Christmas lights, that were working perfectly well when I put them away in January, not work now when I put them up now??   Can anybody answer that?




One thought on “Ed Cook: Cleaning out the Gripe Drawer

  1. Comcast sucks: got rid of ’em. DirecTv rocks but for weather-related signal disruptions, which aren’t terribly frequent but somehow synchronize with my level of viewing interests. Unfortunately, with my dish’s line-of-sight unfettered and pointed directly into that wild blue yonder, the sun most often created the interference. We spent sixteen years with them until Verizon came along with the Fios service. “Yippee Fios!” has become a common expression in our household–I even applied it to the TV’s input label. (Note, it is incorrectly pronounced without sarcastic emphasis.) Oh, and the joy of their customer service rivals only that of Comcast’s. Watch your back and keep a close eye on your billings. They are a devious and/or idiotic bunch.

    I fixed my holiday lights dilemma by refusing to hang them up. They work every time now.

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