I got a thing in the mail that AT&T Uverse is now available in my neighborhood. I’m reasonably happy with Dish Network’s TV lineup, though they went up recently and are now costing me $53 per month. My very slow high speed internet connection (1.5 Mbps) is through AT&T’s DSL line for $26 per month, but for a limited time. So I’m paying $79 per month for TV and internet. Uverse said they have a TV and Internet plan for $49 per month. But there are a few catches. One is that the price is only good for 12 months and then it goes way up. But there are even more catches. If you want internet, you will need a modem which you can rent from AT&T for $7 per month. And if you want HDTV, you need to pay $10 per month extra (which is ridiculous, this is like selling hamburgers without the bun and charging a bun surcharge). I also have a second TV near the elliptical machine that I watch when I exercise. This is connected to my Dish receiver and costs nothing, but for Uverse I will be charged an extra $8 per month for a second TV. Also the channel package included in the $49/month plan includes local broadcast networks, some garbage, and a few decent additional channels like Animal Planet, Discovery, Disney, HGTV, History, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, and the Weather Channel, but not CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Learning Channel, MTV, TBS, TNT, USA, or VH1. I would like CNN and TBS and need Comedy Central so I can watch The Daily Show. Upgrading the package from Ufamily to U200 is $15 per month. So now the plan is $49 per month + $7 + $10 + $8 + $15 and I’m up to $89 per month, and that’s just the introductory rate.
A few years ago, Breyers started downsizing their ice cream cartons from the traditional half gallon (2 quarts) to 1.75 quarts and then 1.5 quarts. A lot of ice cream now is in the 1.5 quart size (and orange juice went from 64 oz. to 59 oz.). They also started whipping it up with air so that the weight of ice cream was down too and they were selling you more air. I don’t buy Breyers ice cream that often, but it was half price recently so I bought some chocolate chip. I didn’t notice until I got home that it is isn’t even ice cream anymore. It is now “frozen dairy dessert” and while Breyers was famous for having simple all-natural ingredients like cream and sugar, now the second ingredient is corn syrup. I looked this up, and apparently they introduced this fake ice cream in 2012, but I hadn’t paid attention. Not all the flavors have been converted to ice cream substitute yet, so I will have to pay closer attention next time.
Recently I wrote about gold, so it seems to make sense I would also write about silver. Buying or investing in silver works a lot the same way as with gold, but silver is much, much cheaper. Right now gold costs about 66 times as much per ounce as silver, so you get a lot more silver for your money. There are exchange traded funds (ETFs) with billions of dollars invested in bars of silver, but the bars of silver are bigger (1000 ounces instead of the standard 400 ounces for gold bars) and there are a lot more of them to store. Plus silver is not as heavy, so the silver takes up more room per ounce. Because silver had gone down 40% last year, it seemed like a good contrarian investment and more likely to go up than the stock market, which went up 30% last year and seemed pricey. So I bought some shares of the ETF iShares Silver Trust (SLV) last month around the same time I bought the gold coins. Silver has continued to go down since that time and I am down about 8%. It could be a bumpy ride. While silver hit a high around $40 per ounce 3 years ago and is now trading at around $20 an ounce, back in 2004 it was only $5 an ounce. It will never be worthless, but there is probably more downside than likely upside. Sometimes when the stock market does poorly, metals go up in value as people look for a tangible investment that will still protect them from inflation. But a lot of the demand for the metal is based on strong economic activity so in 2008, the price of precious metals went down just like the stock market did.
Silver American Eagle
Usually when I am walking the dogs in the morning, it is about the same time as the kids are walking to school. I think that’s one of the reasons why Katie used to always lead me to the park was to see all the kids cutting through it to school. So Katie made a few friends with some of the kids including a girl, also named Katie, who lives just down the street. Her Mom had asked about Katie’s absence from our walks, so they knew she had died. This morning they gave me some flowers and Katie made the card below. She included Katie’s shoes in the drawing, which always made Katie stand out since no other dogs in the neighborhood wear shoes.
I thought I would use some points I have saved up at My Coke Rewards to get some kind of photo art at Shutterfly with pictures of Katie. I don’t have enough pictures for a book, so I made a 20×16 collage poster that I should get in a few days. There are pictures from when I first got Katie, all the way through to this year, including a couple of pictures with Clio, one from Stone Mountain. You should be able to click for a larger version.
I remember reading a number of years ago in a column about gifts for computer people that there was a really great keyboard that used old style switches under each key unlike almost every keyboard out there. I remembered that they were called cherry switches and mentioned that to Eric. He said that’s what his keyboard has in it (it figures; for a guy with no money, he has some of the nicest stuff). So this started me looking at possibly getting a new keyboard. The Cherry MX switches (it’s a brand name; they are actually made in Germany) are mechanical and come in a lot of different types. Geeky computer people and gamers are very particular about the specific type of Cherry switch in their keyboard. It seems like most prefer “red” switches (the plastic plunger is actually red plastic; different types of switches use different colors of plastic, but you wouldn’t know what color the switch was unless you pry off the key cap) which require a very light touch but has no tactical or sound feedback. That doesn’t mean they are quiet, just that they lack a distinct click. You still get a clack or thump as you press the key all the way down and bottom out, and this noise is louder than with most keyboards which have keys sitting on a rubber mat inside the keyboard. The brown switch has tactical feedback as you feel, but don’t hear, a click as you press. Then the blue switch has tactical feedback plus an audible click. This is what Eric has. The blue switch also requires a little heavier touch than the red or brown. The force required to press the key is usually measured in grams (or centinewtons, which are basically the same thing): red and brown take 45 grams, blue takes 50 grams. There are other colors as well. Black is stealthy like the red, but requires a heavier touch, while green is like the blue except it also requires an even heavier touch of 80 grams.