Raves! These people Did Good!

Above here ^ ^ ^ ^ : Things beyond my control, which pay for my use of the wikidot service!
Below here: My stuff!!! v v v v (Mostly… there may be a few more ad panels mixed in.)

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A page of links to stuff I thought was fun or useful. In most cases, having your computer's sound on adds a lot to the impact of the item. RIGHT-click on a link, and select "Open in new window" (or tab), and you can check out the link without losing the page you are reading at the moment. Close the new window, and this will re-appear from underneath the page you visited. With a little digital dexterity, you can achieve the same thing by clicking on a link with the wheel of many mice…. you must not rotate the wheel as you click it, though. For other tips on brilliant browsing, there are some ideas at….

http://www.arunet.co.uk/tkboyd/hh3d.htm

(When you use the "new tab" trick, your browser may do that… open the page in a new tab… but not automatically take you to the tab you just opened. You can make it take you to the tab automatically with the browser's settings. At least in Firefox you can, and the others usually eventually copy things Firefox introduces.)


Fix the Planet

If you believe that global warming is an issue, then "stop wrecking" it may not be enough. We also need to consider taking steps (other than abstinence) to FIX the climate. (Not that our efforts have ever actually helped. Remember "Smokey The Bear"?) See Wikipedia Climate Engineering page for an overview… follow the links to sub-pages. One idea that is at least fun to play with: Arizona State University page (Ice is a blanket. Pump water from UNDER sea ice, to the top, and it thickens faster, thus lasting longer in summer.) Flawed idea, I think… but, as I say… a fun one. You MAY be interested in the page of the Healthy Climate Alliance. (At 29 Jul 18, even Google is somewhat thwarted when it comes to finding content there. But there is SOME, and maybe it will grow, not just be a bunch of suits collecting consultation fees, or tree huggers sighing.


Big Data… for all of us!

It's not just the mega corps that get to use Big Data. Have a little play with two things Google offer…

1) Trends- Go to https://trends.google.com
It least you "search on searches", as it were… you put in a term, and get back a graph showing how often people searched for that, and when. You can change the range of dates the graph is drawn for. Try "Hay fever" for the past 5 years. Surprise, surprise: there's a strong annual cycle, with interest peaking each year around June. And you can compare two searches. Put "Santa Claus" in, in the "compare" box, and now you get two graphs, laid on top of one another. Santa is annual, too, of course… and there are so many searches on Santa the the "peaks" in the hay fever line are now barely visible.

2) NGram- A similar service is available from Google, to look at what's in a different set of data. Go to https://books.google.com/ngrams

This time, Google will tell you how often a word or phrase or words have appeared in books. Again, you can set various filters, e.g. "Books in Spanish", and again you can specify a date range. (For date book published.) (I suspect copyright laws make this most useful for books at least 50 years old.

Try running the NGram generator on the word "evolution". If you add "darwin", with a comma between the words (and the "case insensitive" box ticked), I don't think you'll find the result surprising.

Have a look at a search for the phrases horse shoe and gas tank by putting them into the search box thus (the material BETWEEN, not including, the "s)…

"horse shoe, gas tank"

Hurrah for Kansas Tax Authorities!!!——

THANK YOU, Kansas Department of Revenue! Instead of taking the incompetent and arrogant line of many such taxpayer funded operations, they have actually done a bit of work, and made filling in one of the wretched forms easy. Go along to….

http://www.ksrevenue.org/pdf/k-40es14.pdf

… and fetch the form that many people have to fill in. There are four copies of the same information. On the Kansas form, once you fill in, and leave, a box on the first form, the necessary information is duplicated across the other three copies. Not an easy thing to provide, but if Kansas can do it, why not many others? Hundreds of hours could be saved for the poor sods filling in the wretched forms. Insult added to financial injury…. elsewhere.

Thank you Kansas, for Taking the Trouble! Maybe the peasants in Nebraska and New Mexico could use your advice… their forms can't even be filled in on screen, at all. And New Mexico routinely addresses things to me so badly that it is a miracle they arrive at all, and no reply to several letters to them has ever reached me. How can we comply with our obligations, if the authorities won't correspond?

Thorny questions…

This is more of a "ramble" than a "rave". Sorry. Maybe I should start a new page.

Anyway: Someone recently sent me a "thing" via Facebook, showing a picture from the 1980s showing a branch of the world's biggest purveyor of burgers and other junk food. The caption was, "Who remembers McD's in the 80's".

Well… first off, the apostrophe in "the 80's" is Just Wrong. Although you can have some fun REALLY twisting things to illustrate the ambiguity of English. For intstance, although we would usually say "… in THEIR 80s", it wouldn't be "wrong" to say "the", even if meaning "what person, aged 80 to 89, remembers…" (although the "their" would need a tweek, of course.) But let's stick with the apostrophe in the "McD's".

Two questions: If the "McD" conveys "McDonald'ses"… or whatever THAT should be, you might say "no". If the "McD" was for "McDonald", and the writer would have said "Who remembers 80s' McDonald's", using the singlular to imply the collective entity, then maybe "McD's". And there are a few other permutations, if, like me, you worry about things. Speaking of which…

The branch in the photo was unremarkable. Seemed a fairly good representative to accompany the question. And that, I think, was the whole Facebook post… so how has it obtained 708,000 "Likes"??? Another case of Facebook messing with us, and mis-representing things? Or an indication of the sort of people who spend time on Facebook? Sigh. ITOFTS.


Another Ramble: From Nov 13:"Seems we don't hear much about ebola anymore…."

In the November 2013 issue of National Geographic (pg.128) there was a double page mini-article about Vivki Jensen, a then 38 year old researcher at Fort Detrick. She read Preston's excellent book (good read, not just good information) "Hot Zone" as a college freshman, and decided that cutting edge, very high risk virology was what she wanted to do.

The quote is the interviewer's leading question. Jensen replies that the number of outbreaks was on the rise, then puts the incidence in perspective. And goes on to say that when her child was an infant, she gave him a stuffed ebola doll (where do you get one of those?!) on the premise that with it in the boy's crib, all the other nasties would be scared away. And it was still a favorite of the child (then 5) at the time of the interview.

Scary line: "… we looked at whether it could be make aerosol transmissible." Hmm… you have to consider what the Bad Guys might do. Of course. But what happens when you start with "see if we can?" And who controls the product, if you succeed? At one point, a video of the interview was available. Start at ngm.com. Then maybe the issue (Nov 13), It was in article "New Age of Exploration". Subject: Vicki Jensen. Journalist: Marco Grob.)

(Should that be "ebola", or "Ebola". I'm going with "ebola", because it is just the name of a genus. We don't say "Leopards" are medium sized cats, do we? "Ebola" (clever that, putting it at the start of the sentence, don't you think!) isn't a proper noun, like Simon Smith, or a tradename like Coke (or Kleenex (facial tissue) or Zipper (hookless fastener). But please, please PLEASE don't put a capital on "internet"!! I'd rather you mis-used, or failed to use an apostrophe. That's at least hard to get right!)


Excellent TV programme…. and ironic juxtaposition

British TV's Channel 5 (http://www.channel5.com) broadcast an execptional program in Nov 14, "Ten years old, and living in poverty". Sadly, their website had few details, but here are a few (edited) bits from there…

"… documentary looking at a social issue affecting millions of British families – poverty.

"Told from {child's perspective}, it follows three families coping with day-to-day life under very challenging circumstances.

"… it features honest and moving video diaries shot by {a specific child from each family}, aged between eight and thirteen"

As with the excellent programmes about large families, the programme has not sought out "freak shows" to titillate viewers. Indeed, it even refrains from over dramatic material to tug our heart-strings, and emerges all the more powerful, because it is easy to identify with the families and their circumstances.

Take, for instance, the child who was reluctant to have friends from school home, because her home wasn't up to the standards of her classmates.

But there was a harsh irony. I don't know how Channel 5 convinced anyone to buy advertizing time for the ad slots betwen the show's segments. I am always a little skeptical about our "need" to have the latest "must have" luxury, or even a "superior" brand of loo paper… but when you've just been watching a sweet 11 year old thinking seriously about skipping her end- of- primary- school leaving party because she thinks her friends will notice she doesn't have new shoes, ALL of the ads between the segments of the show left bad tastes in my mouth.


Dolly Parton

I've been watching Dolly Parton on TV, a recording of her 2014 appearance at the one and only Glastonbury Festival… which is a little ways down the road from Glastonbury, but not far. I pass
it on the way when visiting family. They were THERE!

What an amazing woman.

I can remember about four quotes, one of them being "Doing pleasure
with you is always such a business, Miss Dolly" (Burt Reynolds, as the
sherriff, in movie, "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas")

How can anyone make so clean the wonderful "dirty" jokes she tells…
often against herself? (Not forgeting the wonderful bit with Sandra
Bullock in one of the Miss Congeniality films!)

So POSITIVE!

And I liked one of the things she said enough to type it up…

"I guess I'm just little too bad to be really good, and a little too
bad to be really good."

- - -
Her Wikipedia page makes interesting reading: Born 1946. Married in 1966… and still married to the same man. He runs a road paving business in Nashville. (May 30, 2011 was 45th
wedding anniversary.)

- - -
Now I KNOW she is in show business, but when SHE thanked the fans for
coming to the show, for buying her records over the years, seeing her
films, it felt like she really meant it. And she said, and again
convinced me, that she loved doing what she did.

Ah, please can we have more like her!

"What to Give Me"/ Wedding Lists, etc…

Christmas? Birthdays?

At WhatToGive.com you can set up a "I want" list online, and your
family and friends can "tick off" things that they, individually,
have decided will be your present from them. Of course, the site can also cater for
wedding lists, "to do" lists for cooperative efforts, etc.

Not a new idea… but I think this one is well implemented… in
particular in achieving security for you and your friends, without
demanding too much informtion. You can have, for instance, an Amazon
"wish list"… if you choose to… and if you don't mind being plagued
with "special offers", etc.

I think WhatToGive RESPECTS its participants.
(I didn't say "customers", because it costs nothing for anyone
concerned, giver or givee)

I loved the site's user-friendliness, which did not come at the price of a limited set of options or possible configurations.

http://www.whattogive.com/

Alternatively, never hesitate to make a contribution to one of MY charities. I don't need to know the amount, and I certainly don't want it given "in my name". Those of you who know who I am are free to ask for my "current" list, but helping any of: International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org), Save the Children (go to http://www.savethechildren.net/ to find how to give to them from your country), Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (www.msf.org) or Smile Train (www.smiletrain.org or www.smiletrain.org.uk) would be just fine.


Google thinks OUT OF the box…

In October 2014, I was reading the excellent British http://ComputerShopper.co.uk magazine. It was a great issue! Not only this Google item, but also the thing for pilots, discussed below!

Want a virtual-reality headset, to strap to your face, "see" the world, play games, etc?

Got $500? Or more? Or $20 and an Andriod (4.1 or higher) tablet or smartphone??

Dear Google. There are still some good things coming out of them, in spite of their power leading the the inevitable corruption in other ways… and their "Google Cardboard" is certainly an example. FULL of neat ideas!

To give it a modest try, you really ought to get a pair of "the right" lenses. And while you are off at Amazon getting them, the magnet is a good thing to get, too. They come in kits.

But before you order that, check that your Android has a magentometer. If it can tell where north is, it probably does.

Just to try it, all you need is a piece of card or cardboard. Cut holes in it as far apart as your eyes. Tape the lenses to the holes. Download the Google Cardboard app from the Play Store. Launch it the usual way.

At this point, you could be excused any confusion. You should see a neat (if storage wasting) video of the folding of the Google Cardboard phone-and-lens holder…. cycling.

To move on, "swipe" a magnet along the short edge of your tablet. No change? Try swiping elsewhere. No change? Maybe your phone doesn't have a magnetometer… in which case, you are sunk.

The screen should go dark, you should see it divided into two halves.

Tip the phone, and the selected icon SHOULD change. (You may have to turn on "screen rotate" if it isn't on.) If you don't have a gyro and an accellerometer in your Android, it may be a little fiddley to get the icons to change, and SOME of the apps will be disappointing… the Street View works quite well in a feature limited Android.

To get out of one of the demos, you tip the device to the right. Start and stop with the magnet swipe.

Don't worry about the NFC thing. Find out if you like Google Cardboard first. If you do, the NFC thing may be useful.

I was trying to be "funny" with my title… if you try the product, you make your headset "out of" a cardborad box.

The spirit of Blue Peter lives on!!! (If you don't get THAT, don't worry!)


Protect Yourself…

Have a look at http://Cyperstreetwise.com

They've pulled together some pretty sensible ideas and useful information. I was drawn to the site by an amusing poster in London along the lines of "Weak password: Fido / Strong password: HaveP0stm@mForD1nn5r". There was a suggestion at the site ("Your email password is the most important, because with that, many others can be reset") which I hadn't considered. (Hummm excuse me a moment while I go and change my email password….)

Stand by to be amazed! I was "nice" about the site, yes? Well, I have to admit: it is brought to you by the UK government (in partnership with private enterprise.)


For serious pilots

Mainly for people who really fly planes… but serious non-pilots might enjoy, too.

In October 2014, I was reading the excellent British http://ComputerShopper.co.uk magazine.

They made mention of VatSim… and I "lost" two days getting started in this wonderful community. All of the following, by the way, is free. I was using a Windows 7 PC with MSFS 2004 (not free… but the current version is, and I'm told it works with VatSim.)

There are two elements. If you "fly" X-Plane or Microsoft's Flight Sim, you can, with VatSim, connect with other real people. Some are also flying planes, in "your world", but… THE COOL PART IS that other people are taking the role of air traffic controllers!!

Practice all you need to know about landing at controlled airfields! Practice your IFR technique.

Now: THIS IS NOT AN ARCADE GAME: People who don't know what they are doing really need to go and learn how to fly, and what the correct real world procedures are. A good place for them is LiveATC.com, where you can monitor real-world ATC traffic.

And getting started isn't for the faint hearted. I found the software robust, and sensible… but there are a lot of elements to get to terms with. Don't expect to be making your first approach 15 minutes from now.

BUT! For a quick glimpse of aspects of what it is all about, try VATSpy.

http://www1.metacraft.com/VATSpy something about Virtual Airline (Airplane?) Traffic, by the way… nothing to do with the 20% "sales", etc, tax we suffer in the UK.

By the way… is it by keyboard, or do you "Skype" the other players? Both!

And that's not all! Want to learn a bit about the controller's point of view? Or even learn to BE a controller? There's software for emulating ATC, too, and it also ties into the network I've told you about.

As a mark of how serious this project is, let me tell you that most of the fliers are "flying" commercial jets, and flying the whole journey from takeoff to landing, in real time, with real routes, e.g. NY to London. This is not recreational flying by 14 year olds! I suspect it is "homework" for people training to be commercial pilots… but, as a mere "weekend" pilot who flys a Cessna 152, I felt very welcome. And there were no landing fees to make sure I knew the right procedures to land at Boston.

http://vatsim.net


Now THAT's COOL!

Start with an ordinary small home in a small town in the Netherlands.

In 1774, the owner, noting how anxious his neighbors were getting about a conjunction of planets, decided to build an orrery. (Machine to show the motion of the various planets around the sun.) He made a false ceiling in his living room. Put a clockwork mechanism (many, MANY nails being the principal ingredient) above the ceiling, and dangled spheres below it, representing the then known planets.

Since 1781, the model planets have been marching around his ceiling, in step with the real planets in their courses. And not a microchip… or even any electricity… anywhere in sight.

===
Following "stolen" from http://deskarati.com/2011/12/03/eisinga-planetarium/ Go to http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/eisinga-planetarium for a picture. Notice the door in the far wall, to give you a sense of scale. I suppose the room is about 20' on a side… not large. This marvel is very poorly reported on the internet. Perhaps the best is http://entoen.nu/eiseeisinga/en Be sure to click on the thumbnails of the photos. The clockwork in the picture is beside the part of the orrery in the false ceiling, that part being less high.

The Eisinga Planetarium is an orrery, a working model of the solar system. It was built from 1774 to 1781 by Eise Eisinger in his own home in Franeker. The “face” of the model looks down from the ceiling of what used to be his living room, with most of the mechanical works in the space above the ceiling. It is driven by a pendulum clock, which has 9 weights or ponds. The planets move around the model in real time, automatically. (A slight “re-setting” must be done by hand every four years to compensate for the February 29th of a leap year. The orrery includes a display for the current time and date. The plank that has the year numbers written on it has to be replaced every decade. To create the gears for the model, 10,000 nails were used. In addition to the basic orrery, there are displays of the phase of the moon and other astronomical phenomena.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisinga_Planetarium

Now: If you agree that the orrery is way cool, carry on reading. If you've had enough, skip down to "Raves for two banks" (!)

What would the wife say?…

So, Eise has his dream: A display of the planets' relative position. Where to put it? Ah! I know: On the ceiling of the main public room in the house. (And it isn't a big house, there aren't many other rooms!)

Think about the mechanical side. It CAN be done, but I still have trouble visualizing it.

Imagine having a piece of plywood, which he didn't have of course. Cut a 6' diameter hole in it. Now cut again, 5 inches out from where you made your first cut. That gives you what I will call a six foot "ring". It is flattened in the plane of the ring, rather than being round, or flattened along the axis a ring to wear on a finger is flattened, but it is what I will call "a ring" in this essay.

He made numerous rings, all different sizes… one for each planet. I would guess, from memory, that the largest is perhaps 18 feet in diameter.

Now here's the tricky bit….

He then fixed up a system of hangers an rollers so that the rings were hanging down under his original ceiling, but free to rotate on their supports. AND, from each ring, he hung just one small ball, to represent that ring's planet. And the supports didn't interfere with the ring (and thus the planet) going 'round and 'round.

Sadly, the people who administer the house don't allow photos!! This would all be so much easier, and enjoyable for you, if photos could be added!!!

So… what makes the rings go around?

All I've described to date is just the start of the story! (Some "start"!)

The rings are in place in a horizontal orientation, right?

Now imagine Eise going "tap, tap" for many weeks: Into the top of each ring, he drives literally thousands of nails, leaving about 4cm of the nail sticking up, vertically. The nails are in a circle, around the ring, and about 2cm apart. Eise has created a huge "gear". Now, by means of a second gear, made slightly differently (nails stuck into edge of wooden disc, in plane of disc, radial), you can turn the first gear.

Easy. Well… sort of. Oh, by the way. This is 1784. The nails are hand made. All 10,000 of them.

Nearly done.

The last bit is relatively simple. Eise then hung a second ceiling beneath the first, with circular "slits" in it, so that the hanging planets can be seen from below the second ceiling, but leaving all of the rest of the mechanism above the second ceiling, out of sight. So in the center he has a big disc, and outside that several rings. All held in place. But not by anything that will interfere with the rings- with- planets- hanging- from- them turning 'round and 'round.

It isn't as hard to do as it sounds… but it tickles my mind to try to get my mind around it!

And all of the above, of course, pointless unless you have the numbers for how far out the planets are, and how often they complete a circuit around the sun.

The one flaw in the orrery is that the planets all proceed at their annual average speed. They don't, as the real planets do, speed up and slow down… very slightly.

For years I've wanted to "build" an orrery in my computer. Just that has defeated me.

Happily you don't have to wait for me to get my act together… there'sa vey nice one, and screensaver versions, too, for Windows or Mac, at http://www.dynamicdiagrams.com/work/orrery/ You can control the speed of the animation (upper left), set a date… year at upper right, and date within year by dragging pointer around "calendar" surrounding the orrery. Gorgeous. But remember the scale has been astromically altered to suit the needs of the graphic. Work out what the display would look like drawn to scale sometime for, I will bet, an enlightning shock. (See http://www.arunet.co.uk/tkboyd/ss1.htm for help with that.)

How Eise completed his wondrous device, I will never know. Of course, they didn't have television in those days… or electric light. Or factory made nails…

And why, or why, do the people at the orrery not let someone put some decent photos of the fantastic rings- with- nails on the web????

P.S.: Wow! My "punishment" for not getting to this sooner: I went through April 10 (about) 2013 not realizing that on that date, the earth, (our) moon, 3 out of the 4 big planets, 3 out of the 4 little planets were all lined up on a single line! (Some on one side of the sun, some on the other. And the remaining little planet was at 90 degrees to that line. The people who believe in astrology must have been all excited! And I missed it. Sigh.) (Saturn's biggest moon was also on the line.)


Believe it or not: Raves for two banks!

I am not, in general, a fan of banks. And that from someone who doesn't use credit cards to borrow money, etc.

But I have to give HSBC, in the UK, a big thumbs up, a big "thank you":

I am virtually never overdrawn on my checking ("current") account. A little while ago, I made a large direct debit charge to my checking account… and failed to note the charge in my records. Of course, this happened at a "bad" time, and I wasn't even aware that I had done it for several weeks.

Now the last time this happened, the bank charged me, on the 28th or so of one month, £25 (about $35) for being overdrawn… by a small amount on an account that routinely carries a large balance, and hadn't been overdrawn more that two or three times (if that! I'm being generous/ cautious) in the previous 10 years.

AND they charged another £25 pounds for the letter telling me I was over-drawn.

Then, "the following month" (4 days later), they repeated the £50 charge! I'm not sure the first letter had even reached me when the second one (and its charges) was generated. BAH!!!

So… when I found that I had messed up (let's not pretend otherwise!) again, (quite a few years after the previous episode), I shuddered at the prospects.

Furthermore, I was dreading the headaches which I worried might arise from checks/ cheques being refused by the bank due to insufficient funds.

Folks, I have to wonder if maybe the banks have started to learn a few lessons? Not only were all the people I'd written checks to given the money without hassle, the only charges levied by the bank were quite reasonable interest charges. Hurrah and thank you, HSBC.

Speaking of banks learning lessons: How many people moved their accounts after RBS and others had systems failures which gave people no access to their funds, etc, for days and days? It's like the politicians: If we let them get away with these things, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Coming back to the interest charges from HSBC in respect of my "borrowing": Here's the thing, folks: The banks aren't in business to make friends. They are in business to pay the salaries of their staff and fees for subcontracted services. And, true, some dividends to shareholders. (And how to you think business would work, if selling shares, and giving people a reason to buy them, wasn't allowed? Mr. Lenin's ideas didn't work very well in practice, did they?)

I don't hate banks for making charges. I hate the instances of banks making outrageous charges, or not delivering services competently.

—-
Now… having said that I rarely overdraw my account, I have to admit that it happened twice in roughly the same period. Not through lack of cash, hard times, etc… though I don't see that as a good reason to spend money that isn't mine… but, hand's up, through simple carelessness. The second time it was at a different bank: Bank of America, in the US… another firm which, in the past, has annoyed me with customer- insulting arrogance and "attitudes".

However, in this intance, at this time, I have to say that they too accomodated my mistake very helpfully.

So! Thank you, banks!

(I think the nice people at PayPal also deserve a "thank you" here. Well, the nice computers, and the people who set them up to run as they do. The attempt to overspend the Bank of America account was via a PayPal transaction. The bank took the money back, initially, but PayPal notified me very quickly, I got money to the bank quickly. Then, a few days later, PayPal automatically (I think) tried again, got it's money. In the meantime, the person I'd paid via PayPal got their money instantly, so "no harm, no foul"… thanks to the bank and PayPal and how they handled my mistake.)

Oh dear… too many details of my bank accounts in this… but I risked the identity theft… a risk you should never take lightly… in order to give the credit where it is due.


Clever Dolphins, clever scientists…

Some scientists have successfully persuaded a pod of dolphins NOT to beach themselves, the age old drama which so often ends tragically. I heard this on BBC Radio 3, and may not have heard it exactly right. They either used a captuve young dolphin, or recordings of same. Discress calls from the youngster were put into the water, off shore from where the pod was in danger, and it left the beach. Hurrah!

One theory on the beachings is that very load sonar pulses from subs are in the area, and the dolphins are frantic to escape the pain it gives them.


Doing more than the decent thing.

Wow! There are still people out there to whom the honorable thing has to be done… even if it costs them something.

I recently ordered a collector's book from Ontario Canada, to be shipped to me in the UK. I ordered it from a dealer who's been selling via Abebooks.com (an excellent place to buy old books, by the way) since 2001… He's no novice, learning something the usual… the hard… way.

Somehow, the postage came to CAN$80. I'm not sure how that happened. The P&P on the order was £6.24… about CAN$10. Instead of contacting me, saying, "Sorry, there's a problem over the postage…", he just took a CAN$70 "hit". No… the book wasn't cheap. There was something left for him at the end of the day… but he still gets my "Above and Beyond" award for the month!

(And you must also factor in that because even slight bumps and bruises matter with such books, the "packing" element is not trivial. You don't just sling the book in a Jiffy bag!)


Thank you American Airlines frequent flier program / AA Advantage

Most rewards programs, my experience/ opinion: Waste of time… but I can't resist participating, just in case, for once, something "pays off".

So when I received an email from my American Airlines frequent flier program, telling me that my miles would expire if I didn't use them, I sighed.

But! There was a good offer of a year's subscription to a wide range of magazines which would be sufficient "account activity" to keep my remaining miles "alive".

AND, wonder of wonders, it ONLY took "miles" to "pay" for the subscription, and the usual wretched "auto renew" feature wasn't even required to start the subscription!!! Hurrah and thank you to the AA Advantage marketing team's work in finding this for their customers, and insisting on sensible terms!

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