Add Wells Fargo to the list of companies I will never again do business with

Most of you are probably aware of the controversy surrounding Wells Fargo, where unrealistic sales quotas “forced” employees to fraudulently set up multiple unauthorized accounts for existing account holders.  The accounts then were hit with service charges that the customers were unaware of – mainly because they didn’t even know these extra accounts even existed.  And according to the latest information, this practice had existed for over 10 years.  Customers were on record as having complained about fake accounts as far back as 2005.

This has prompted me to add WF to the list of companies that I will never patronize in any way.

They were already on the outs with me when they refused to allow a home owner to sell me her house via a short sale.  She had apparently defaulted on her mortgage AND a personal equity loan that she took out against the property.  Instead of taking a $75,000 write-off on the loss, the bank said that I had to pay that extra amount (which when added to our offer price was $75K OVER the appraised value of the property).  Needless to say, I walked away from the deal.  Five years later the house still sits empty and decaying due to neglect, it’s owner long-since moved away.  So instead of writing off $75K as a loss, the bank foolishly now sits on a property worth considerably less.

That was 6 months of my life I definitely could have done without.

Here, then, is a list of companies that I will never again patronize:

  • Wells Fargo Bank(see above)
  • General Motors – The way they mishandled the deadly recall issues of the past decade was nothing short of irreprehensible.  Their cars have a long history of defects, cheaply manufactured parts, and poor overall reliability.  I should know – I owned a used 1977 Camaro, a new 1995 GMC Jimmy 4×4, and a straight-from-the-factory custom-ordered 2002 Olds Alero that had a litany of inexcusable issues.
  • Musi Racing Engines – Years ago I paid them to build me a streetable racing engine for my weekend warrior.  It was a sizeable cost for me at the time.  Pat Musi, the owner, was doing well in the pro mod ranks with his “Popeye” car and his brother Ralph was a successful racer at my track.  The head work on my engine was good but the rest of the motor was garbage.  Right from the get-go there were issues, with the engine finally spinning the bearings and becoming nothing more than an oversized paperweight.  With the first signs of trouble (I hadn’t even raced it yet, it was still in commuter car mode) I contacted the shop only to be rebuffed by the douche who answered the phone.  They refused to be bothered and wouldn’t even look at it.  Later I found out that that experience and (lack of) quality level was not unique to me.  Others had gone through the same thing with them.

There are other companies – large and small – that have either since gone out of business or I’m just conveniently forgetting.  But as time goes on I will likely be adding to this list (unfortunately).

What companies have turned you off?

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Deep Search Metal Detecting Club – 25th Anniversary Open Hunt

I enjoy metal detecting.  I’m not very successful at it – especially when compared to the retirees at Deep Search that bring in tons of old coins and artifacts to the meetings every month – but I enjoy it when I can.  Last year I helped out with my first open hunt, where hunters pay a nominal fees to hunt a seeded field (in our case the beach at Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch, NJ) for coins, jewelry, and special tokens which are exchanged for special prizes (expensive new metal detectors, gold and silver coins, and more).

On September 17, DSMDC will be holding their 25th Annual Club Hunt at Seven Presidents Park.  Rain or shine, it promises to be our biggest event yet.


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Play All Day, Party All Night on National Bowling Day (Aug. 13)

When I was in high school I was a pretty good bowler.  I was in a league and tied a teammate for the 3rd highest score in the league (202).  Fast forward (mumble-mumble) years and I just don’t play as often anymore. But that might change on Saturday, August 13 – National Bowling Day.

Always held on the 2nd Saturday of August, NBD is a daylong celebration that includes a Charity Challenge, Free Bowling, Giveaways, and Food and Drink Specials at all Bowlmor AMF Centers Nationwide.

Get your bowl on!

Get your bowl on!

For more information and to find a participating alley near you, click here.

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Win a Free 1 Oz. Silver Coin from CoinWeek (CoinWeek Connections Giveaway #134)

Numismatic publication CoinWeek is at it again with another free weekly contest.  Last time I posted up about the awesome Terminator Silver Reverse Proof coin.  This time they are giving away another 1 oz. beauty in the form of a graded (MS-69) 2016 American Silver Eagle NGC MS69 ER (Black Core)

To enter, just click here.

This week’s giveaway runs until the end of the day on Sunday, August 7.  CoinWeek will post the winner’s name on their website ( and on their Facebook page.

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Free Root Beer Floats, Compliments of A&W Restaurants!

Aug. 6 is National Root Beer Float Day and A&W Restaurants is celebrating by handing out free root beer floats at all of their locations from 2pm until closing.

You and a friend can also win free floats for a year by entering their contest#rootbeerfloatday

Click here to find the location nearest you.

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Why I love paying bills

I love paying bills and look forward to each new one that comes in the mail.  Seriously.

When I tell people this, it’s usually greeted by eye rolls or an I-don’t-think-this-boy’s-right-in-the-head look.

But really, I DO like paying my bills.  And the reason is simple… the quicker I pay off that month’s bills, the sooner I’ll know how much money I will have left over for myself.

In Rhonda Byrne’s book and video, The Secret, one of the speakers mentions how he loves getting bills because with each bill he also envisions getting checks in the mail, too, and now he gets checks in the mail.  (I don’t know if I’ve successfully nailed that last part but I did try)

Click on the image to purchase The Magic - the latest in the Secret book series

Click on the image to purchase The Magic – the latest in the Secret book series

Maybe for me it’s more Zen than Secret.  I work hard to budget for known expenses and I never go crazy with spending.  And at the end of the day, knowing how much is left over to use for the rest of the month makes me feel good.  Maybe I can then buy that extra bottle of wine, or take Ms. GMMW out for a nice dinner, or just stick it away for the future.

And that’s better than dreading the mailbox, isn’t it?

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From T-Mobile’s Free Pokémon Go Data Isn’t Worth the Trouble

I’m not into phone-based games and was born a little too early to be part of the original Pokémon craze, so when Pokémon Go made big headlines last week I was curious enough to find out what it is but not enough to play it.  Other companies are now trying to jump on the PG bandwagon, including mobile carrier T-Mobile.  I found this tidbit from quite interesting – and a reminder to all that you need to break down these so-called great deals to find out if they’re really so great after all (and this one certainly isn’t):

T-Mobile’s Free Pokémon Go Data Isn’t Worth the Trouble – (e)

T-Mobile has been exempting some music and video data from its caps for a while now, so the Pokémon tie-in shouldn’t be surprising. Besides, any company that’s willing to give away stock to new customers is probably willing to hand out data-candy. But while the potential music and, especially, video savings are legitimate, it turns out that racking up Pidgeys doesn’t chew through much of your plan at all. As the WSJ reported, P3 Communications pegged the Pokémon Go data gulpage at a measly five to 10 megabytes per hour. To fill up a 2GB plan, you’d have to spend more time playing Pokémon Go than you would working a full-time job. As it turns out, after you run the numbers, it’s not much of an offering at all.

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DxO Lens Correction Software – The best photographic investment I ever made

A few weeks ago I gave my friend Bob from The Dragtime News the link to the Nikon Image Space folder where I house my NHRA Summernationals photographs.  His (awesome!) website is dedicated to drag racing, especially Sportsman and Bracket events, and was there at the Nats taking pictures, too.

Bob is a fellow Nikon enthusiast and drag racer like myself.  When we spoke recently, he was still learning how to use his brand new D750.  I gave him a few pointers to try based on my own experiences shooting races after jumping up to a more advanced model myself.  And when he mentioned that his .raw files were not as sharp as he was expecting I knew what the problem was.  He uses good glass and the D750 is a great camera.  His issue was not with one or the other but with both together.

SIDE NOTE ON IMAGE FILES:  Unlike a .jpg (or JPEG) file which are images that are processed and then compressed within the camera based on algorithms that the manufacturer sets, .raw files are not.  For you pre-Millennials, think of it as undeveloped film.  The .raw file has all the original unadulterated digital information that the camera sensor recorded.  With more information on hand, experienced users can produce a better final image.  But that’s a tedious method better left for the fine art and commercial photographers who aren’t shooting 400 images in a session.  For me, if I’m shooting more than just a handful of important shots I will skip ahead to JPEG (usually the largest and finest JPEG files my camera will allow) and then make whatever post production adjustments are necessary at that point.

Even the best cameras and lenses out there have some inherent weakness depending shooting conditions – some far less noticeable than others. Sure you can buy cameras and lenses that are near-perfect, but you’ll need a hefty bank account or business that can write off the expense to get there.  I’ve seen some lenses alone sell for over $5,000!  The Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM lens, for instance, retails for $5,699 and that’s still far from being the most expensive lens out there.  For the rest of us, we routinely give up a little bit of perfection in order to afford a camera that fits our needs and budget.  And with that, we get a variety of imperfections in our images based on the camera/lens combination.  Sometimes the artifact is so slight that you aren’t even aware of it until it’s corrected.

I was never more aware of the limitations of my own equipment than when I purchased DxO OpticsPro.  Like Bob, I was not getting the sharpness I expected from my images no matter how I shot.  I came across the DxO vendor booth at the PDN PhotoPlus Expo – an awesome FREE exposition held annually every October at New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center for both professional photographers and the public.  DxO showed me how their software analyzes and improves any image based on unique algorithms developed for your specific lens-camera combination.

From the moment I started using the software I noticed a marked improvement in all of my images. Distortion (which I wasn’t even aware of before)?  Gone.  Vignetting?  Gone.  Chromatic aberrations?  Gone.  All of my images were sharper.  Slight exposure setting and lighting issues were corrected as well, resulting in me spending far less time post-processing and more time enjoying my images.  I now batch process all of my images in DxO as soon as their upload to my pc from my camera.

The settings and workflow are easy to understand and completely customizable.

The settings and workflow are easy to understand and completely customizable.

You can preview adjustments before the files are formally processed. And you can do before-and-after comparisons, too.

DxO Image Preview

With each new version comes more camera/lens combos, improved processing, and more features. Bob just downloaded OpticsPro 11 this week.  I can’t wait to see his results.  I’m still on OpticsPro 8 and will probably wait another year until 12 comes out since I’m already very satisfied with the improvements I saw upgrading from OP 4.

OpticsPro 11 is currently only available via download directly from the DxO website, but you can still get hard copies of version 10 from Amazon by clicking here: DxO Labs OpticsPro 10 Essential Edition Photo Enhancing Software for Macintosh & Windows

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Win a Free 1 Oz. Silver Coin from CoinWeek (CoinWeek Connections Giveaway #131)

One of my favorite online numismatic publications, CoinWeek, is holding another free contest.  This time it’s for a Terminator Silver Reverse Proof coin.  Made from 1 oz. of .999 silver with a limited mintage of only 5000 pieces.

Win this cool Terminator Silver Reverse Proof consisting of 1 oz. of .999 silver

Win this cool Terminator Silver Reverse Proof coin made with 1 oz. of .999 silver

To enter, just click here.

The giveaway runs until the end of the day on Sunday, July 17.  CoinWeek will post the winner’s name on their website ( and on their Facebook page.

Good luck!


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Scratchers (or “How I stopped the Commodities Exchange in 6 easy steps”)

Enough time has gone by that I think it’s safe to put this story in writing…

The summer after I graduated high school I got a summer job as a runner on the floor of NYCOMEX (the New York Commodities Exchange) in the World Trade Center (WTC).  A runner is someone who takes written orders from the traders and hands them off to their company’s trading desk elsewhere on the floor to process and then brings other orders from the desk to the traders to execute.

It was a very stressful, high-paced job.  I got only 15 minutes for lunch and then couldn’t leave at the end of the day until all of the contested trades were reconciled with the other brokers’ clerks.

But it was also a very interesting learning experience.  I worked the Silver and Gold rings and got to see first-hand what goes on there and how world events affected the Futures markets for those and other commodities.

It was also less than a year after the Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd movie “Trading Places“.

The trading sequences were shot right there on the very same floor and they used a lot of the traders as extras so I recognized a lot of faces from the movie.  And, no, they don’t actually trade Frozen OJ futures.

I tended to work the Silver Ring (where silver futures are traded) more than the Gold Ring, and one day the trader I was assigned to turns to me and says, “I don’t like this. There’s too much trading going on here relative to what the market is dictating right now.”

He then hands me $200 and instructs me to go down into the underground plaza in WTC and buy 200 $1 lotto scratcher tickets.  I had to covertly purchase only 20-30 at a time from quite a few retailers, zigzagging my way around down there so as to not draw too much attention to myself by buying a ton of tickets all at once.

When I got back upstairs the trader takes the tickets from me and passes them around to all the other traders in the ring.  Sure enough, that stopped all of trading dead for a few minutes.  He had me collect the winners and cash them in downstairs and then buy more tickets with the receipts.

Again, I went back upstairs and he handed out the next batch.  And again trading was at a standstill.

This went on for 6 rounds until we depleted all of the winnings.

Trading eventually resumed but at a much more relaxed pace and more in line with what my guy said the level of activity should be.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was for the 2 of us to literally halt one of the world’s most powerful commodities markets with nothing more than $200 in lotto scratchers.

Like I said, it was a very interesting learning experience.


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