Johnnie Does: Queso Taco Kit

With Covid now in the rearview mirror (except for some). the food/meal reviews are back. 

I came across this “Old El Paso” Stacked Queso crunch kit at my local grocer.  It was on the “closeout rack” marked down to $2.  I bought it for a couple reasons. First, I was going to cook tacos and secondly, I had no shells or taco dirt (aka the spices) so I decided what the heck.

The taco kit contains, 6 soft taco shells, 6 hard taco shells, a packet of taco dirt, and a packet of nacho cheese sauce.  The point of this kit is to essentially to make a hard shell taco (you must buy the meat, and fixings) and then put the nacho cheese on the soft shell and wrap it around the hard taco.  The hard shells are flavored with nacho cheese dust, quite similar to the Taco Bell Doritos Nacho Cheese Loco Taco.  I cooked the meat, seasoned it with the dirt, got my fixings ready, and made a few of these for myself. 

Honest assessment?  Not great, ok at very best.  The nacho cheese sauce was a garden variety high school basketball/football game melted plastic type cheese.  There were some pepper flakes in it, so it had a vest.  The soft shell was fine.  The taco dirt was your garden variety dirt, nothing special.  The hard shell was an odd choice.  The shells have a flat bottom so you can “stand and stuff them” a nice change from the old, you have to hold it and stuff it, but the flavoring was odd.  I would describe this meal as eating nachos but with nacho cheese Doritos instead of tortilla chips.  2.5/5

Price point:  $2 is a steal, I went back to the scene of the sale and found the item on the shelf a week later (likely this had to do with expiration dates) retailing for $6.99.  Yikes.  Based on $2 4.7/5.  Full retail? Even a Biden voter would say this economy is causing these shells to be a rip off.  Seriously?  12 taco shells, a package of taco dirt and nacho cheese for $7?  That’s whack.  Hell, a pound of ground beef cost me just $3.

Aftermath: This was not great.  I ate the entirety of the shells.  They were not large, think basically fast-food sized tacos.  The meat, fixings, and shredded cheese were not an issue.  The nacho cheese and hard taco chemical shell caused some issues.  Let’s just say I haven’t seen a blow out that bad since Tampa Bay played the Raiders in a Super Bowl about 20 years ago.  The processed cheese product and the hard shells I would definitely pass on in the future.

Johnnie Does

PS I was able to report back to my doctor that I am able to delay my colonoscopy another year because this taco kit cleaned everything out down there. If you’ve ever considered a cleansing routine and like mildly spicey food this may just be your ticket to better health.

My Foreign Policy Takes

Chief and I were at the same Thanksgiving table and broke bread with a group of other readers of this blog.  Two leaned left, two leaned right, all of them had issues with the foreign policy takes on this blog.  Specifically, Israel and Ukraine.  Simply put they feel the blog staff here are nationalist, isolationist whackos.  This could not be further from the truth!

I believe we had a lot we could have learned from the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, but we did not.  Other countries do not like to be occupied.  Outside of Afghanistan, we have NEVER left a country we have invaded.  While keeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan like we did, we lost numerous additional troops.  For zero reason.

We normally go to war/invasion over false pretenses … weapons of mass destruction anyone?  How many missiles/bombs/drone strikes have we lobbed at another country in the Middle East simply over “we think they are responsible for such and such attack on one of our bases there”.  It makes no sense, in most of these regions we have no reason to be there.

We even enter wars via proxy when we have no real connection to the invaded country.  Take for instance Ukraine. They are not a member of NATO or the EU (European Union). They never wanted to join either!  So now that they are attacked, we need to step in?  Why exactly?  Think about this, we are sending our munitions to a country who is not an ally in any way!

(Editor’s Note: Obama, Biden, and Soros did finance and coordinate the overthrow of the government in Ukraine in 2014. In a sense, we started this mess, but Johnnie Does is correct; what business did we have getting involved in the first place?)

Despite my best efforts, I didn’t land any punches with this group.

In the case of Israel, they are technically an ally, but they are surrounded by countries who have been/are hostile towards our foreign policy.  Egypt kinda blows hot and cold with us, Jordan as well.  Lebanon doesn’t like us.  Iran wants our country wiped off the earth and Syria, Yemen, and Oman like our money but could care less about us.  Israel, simply put, will not be helping us much in any war we engage in because they know they are on an island geo-politically.

When asked my opinion I gave the following regarding both “conflicts.”

On Israel:  We get our navy/ships out of their ASAP and back to their normal positions.  We do not need those strike groups in that region, we have NATO allies and troops stationed not far away.  To be fair, Israel has stated they don’t want, nor need our help. Regarding the numerous, (yeah check it out) numerous bases in Syria and Iraq, it’s time to pull up stakes and leave.  We have a massive airbase in Qatar, another country that in my opinion tolerates us, not really likes us.  That should be enough.  It’s time to bring our young people back home.  Just remember we believe Iran is funding the groups attacking Israel via proxy….

This brings me to my next point.

On Russia/Ukraine:  How come it’s ok for US/NATO to provide Ukraine with money, weapons, planes, vehicles, etc. but not ok when Iran does it?  On that topic, how much has NATO really given to Ukraine?  I read an article stating that the weapons we promised (NATO) will fall short of the goal.  Why must we arm them?  It seems like NATO really isn’t giving much; Germany gave some helmets, France has sent a few tanks and guns.  Seems like the countries sending the most are Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland. Each of these countries are small (the 3 Baltic states) or share a border with Russia and I would argue should be stockpiling not donating.  Why aren’t the other member nations stepping up?  If they don’t want to donate from their stock, they could purchase from US and give.  If the member nations who are not directly neighboring Russia are giving very little what does that tell you about this alliance?  Hate to say it but they are counting on us to bail them all out.  I would be ok with donating outdated weaponry such as missiles, bombs, and guns.  Tanks, planes, and other toys?  No chance.  By the way check out how much money the US and other countries have donated that is flat out unaccounted for… think we could be using that to solve the homeless issue a little?  Ukraine is corrupt, and has a very weak military, we are simply propping them up.  Sucks they got attacked but at some point, we may wish we had those weapons.

Let us address the real reason we are involving ourselves … the military industrial complex.  Raytheon, Boeing (yeah, they make war ships too), Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and others spend millions to lobby congress each year. In return they get billions in defense contracts.  Over time we accumulate a stockpile of military products.  As such we feel we must use/sell them to other countries.  As a result of this stockpiling, some of our leaders–think Bush’s, Clinton’s, Obama, Lindsay Graham, John McCain types feel we must invade or bomb anyone we do not like.  As you can see it’s a bi-partisan issue here, or I guess one issue both parties can agree on.  Buy me an expensive steak and lobster meal each time I want one, and you will get a blank check for defense spending.  Just look at how hard it is to get a slot on the defense committee in either branch of congress. These folks are smart and know where the lobby money hits hardest.  As such we have decades of pointless involvement in the Middle East and now Ukraine.  While the conflict in Israel has an end or goal, the Ukraine conflict shows no signs of stopping which is exactly what the military industrial complex wants.  They want continued war to get extra contracts. Notice how some are sounding the alarm about us running out of vehicles and weapons?  Again, why are we in these wars?

How would I fix these?  Let’s say I am king for a day.  I am calling Israel and saying what is your end game here?  How about kill the folks leading Hamas who ordered this brutal attack and demand all hostages released?  What they are doing now amounts to borderline genocide.  I am sorry but Hamas is a terror group, they don’t wear uniforms, they have no real military.  Israel looks like it’s going door to door and blowing up whomever appears to be a terrorist, so I guess all males aged 17-60.  This is not a strategy.  Kills those responsible, anyone in the direct way/tunnel etc. is collateral damage. 

After this I am calling the president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan and telling him here is the plan from Israel, and the US is pulling its warships out of the Middle East.  I am telling him stop dialoguing with Russia and Iran…. Yeah, he recently started trying to thaw relations with both adversaries of ours.  He has always had the ear of Putin, but Turkey has been one of the countries supplying Ukraine fairly heavily with drones and equipment. Turkey has the second largest army in NATO.  Speaking of NATO, we cannot lose Turkey, as they control the Black Sea, and are a bridge to the Middle East.  By the way check out the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict; Turkey picked Azerbaijan, apparently, we are picking Armenia.  Doh!

As far as Ukraine… they aren’t in NATO or the EU, as noted earlier.  I would call the president and tell him the stockpile is thinning out and he will need to fill the holes elsewhere.  We can send the old things, but the flow is slowing, and he gets no more money!  I do not trust this country or any of their “leadership.” They are very corrupt and frankly I don’t think they really care about their people.  Ukraine is out gunned and outmanned. It’s time to re-trench.  Our goal in NATO is to defend those in the alliance, not those who feel they want to be after being attacked.  It’s time to fortify Finland, the Baltic Countries, and Poland, as they directly neighbor Russia.  Actions have consequence and Ukraine never wanted to join either group.  Russia is being made fun of right now militarily, but those making fun do not understand, Russia can lose 10 million people in this war, Ukraine cannot.  Look to history, even when fighting on our side in WW2 Russia has always been a meat grinder militarily. 

Final thought:  An isolationist policy isn’t what I am advocating.  I am saying our days as being the world’s police force are over.  If we are being honest and looking at this rationally, Russia will take Ukraine, and maybe Moldova, they won’t go farther that way.  Perhaps they also have designs on Georgia and maybe Armenia since Armenia was a former ally of Russia.  Outside of that they do not have many options.  If they attack a NATO country, it’s on.  Then we get involved.  Israel, they have proven they can defend themselves; the show of force was dumb.  Also, we need to think about our military’s sustainability, not in a “green” way but in a numbers way.  No one wants to sign up for the military now. We have been in pointless conflicts for my entire life, I am 37.  We continue to send our young people to die and for what exactly?  Move our troops back, and bring them home, if things get even more dicey, we can always re-deploy.

Johnnie Does

Credit Cards and Dave Ramsey Way

Credit cards, they are a polarizing thing.  Some will tell you never to obtain one, others will declare you need one, or you won’t be able to rent a car/house/apartment, buy a house or car, or what if some emergency comes up.  I will examine both ways in this blog. 

Personally I have 3 credit cards.  I use all 3 for different things, one is all my auto-payment bills (utilities, internet) one for work expenses (reimbursement), and another for literally emergency/pleasure use (think going out etc.)  I track all purchases when statements come in monthly.  I receive a paper bill each month… never auto pay with a credit card.  I do not open or use a card simply for earning “points” or “miles” as I think and believe both are a scam.  I cash in my “earnings” each year and do something with them, usually buying items off Amazon as that tends to be the best use.  I tried to use it for airfare, and quickly found out the price of a ticket in points was unreal compared to just booking as usual.  With my method I am able to track my expenses by category and find out exactly where I spend too much, and adjust as necessary.  I always pay the bill in full, and have never paid a fee or interest.  Don’t feel good for me as the credit card company still makes money off me, as the swipe and usage fees charged to the merchant on each swipe are not avoidable. 

I bought my house in large part due to my 820 credit score and got a lower interest rate to boot.  I was also able to lease a brand new Toyota Tacoma after my old vehicle finally kicked out again due to said credit score.  (I have since paid it in full, and owe nothing on it.)

This isn’t to say you should go get a credit card, many get by without, quite a few by choice, and you can still buy houses/cars and rent houses/cars without a credit card.  It’s just a longer, tougher, nerve wracking process.  The point of this blog isn’t to whack anyone without a card, it’s a choice, I live my way, you are free to live yours.

Now for the folks who need/needed or understand Dave Ramsey’s advice. 

Some do not need a credit card, nor should they own one.  Credit cards create a false euphoria when used, you simply swipe it, and are worry and carefree until the bill is due.  Even then they offer a convenient “minimum payment option” of a nominal amount say $40.  In addition each time you log into the website to view/pay bill you get a prompt saying sign up for paperless billing, quite literally every time, there is no way to opt out.  Mess up and click on the link, well good luck getting taken off paperless billing.  They bill it as a “green initiative….you are doing right by the environment.”  Give me a break; a paper statement of roughly 3 pages, and a mailed envelope?  That isn’t causing the ice caps to melt Al Gore.  These are corporations and while they make money each time you swipe the plastic they make even more when you opt out of a monthly paper statement.  But wait there is more…

You forgot to pay the bill this month…. just by a day darn it!  Well, you get hit with a late fee, your interest rate goes from probably 17% or so to about 38% which, oh by the way, they can do since that is the agreement you agreed to when you applied.  Of course, you didn’t read the fine print, you needed the card to earn miles or points.  Oh, they also report that missed payment to the 3 credit bureaus, watch what happens to the interest rate on your other cards, suddenly that 17% turns into about 30%  But that’s ok, you only missed one payment and you will make it up next month.

It not just fees and extra interest, it’s your entire buying pattern that changes.  Suddenly you find yourself going down each aisle at the grocery store, you only went there for 8 things, but your basket turned into a cart full, which turned a $25 total into about $175.  But you had to get 3 more bags of chips because they are on sale, and you earned “points.”  Ditto for those spices in the spice aisle that will migrate to the back of the pantry, but hey you earned a few points, and they were on sale… the cool red tag said so.  Now you are swiping so freely you lose track and forget how much you spent… hello, surprise bill.  You make the minimum payment but keep spending, you do so because, well you always get a bonus in December, so you will pay it off then.  You don’t get the bonus, or even if you do the interest compounds daily, and is on your bill monthly.  All of a sudden that 1-3% cash back doesn’t look so great on 19% interest charges now does it?

The last and most worrisome is deferred interest charges.  And yours truly almost got caught in this.  I had just bought a house, and my down payment took every dollar that was not in my retirement account.  I know cry me a river!  At my house I had no washer, dryer or fridge.  The dishwasher was quite literally on its last leg, and the oven/stove and microwave had been through a lot.  In fairness the family I bought it from had moved out 3 years prior and let their grandson live there rent free.  Everything else was fine, but I needed appliances, using my parent’s wasn’t going to cut it.  Enter Pacific Sales, conveniently located inside the local Best Buy.  They had a big sale going as it was a three day weekend, and to be fair I shopped around and for all seven appliances I needed it was the best deal by far.  The total came to about $3,500 I reckon, then after the installation and “other” parts required for said appliances we were at about $4,000.  Obviously I didn’t have the kind of coin, and right on cue they had a financing offer.  No interest for 1 year!  Just get the store branded credit card.  Even better I was told 3 months of no payments applies as well…. how great 1 year and 3 months of zero interest!  There’s a catch, I will get to it later.  2 months later, the tires needed to be replaced on my Explorer, about $1,100 worth.  Of course, they have you by the proverbial balls, since they can pull the “your car isn’t road worthy so we cannot let it leave card.”  Again, they pulled a great offer, 1 year no interest, and $200 off.  I didn’t want to do it, but hey… why not right? If you are keeping score at home, I now have 2 store cards, and about $4,800 in monies owed.  I was making minimum payments on the balances each month, $100 on the appliances, $50 in the tires… because…. Well, time value of money, right?  I was going to pay them off later, but had other things to worry about. 

Well at the bottom corner of the statement, there is/was a box, it stated deferred interest.  This box was the way the store makes money.  You see the store likely is losing on the deal offered up front, but they stand to gain a large amount from these deferred charges.  Luckily for me, in both cases I caught this before it became a problem at all.  To give you an idea, had I been a month late on the tires, the interest would have been $350, on top of the $900 I would have paid.  Had I had just paid in full that day, $1,100 would have been the damage, instead I would have paid about $1,250.  The appliances would have been far worse, deferred interest would have been about $1,500.  Again, look at the deal upfront, and the deal had I not paid in full in the “promo-time.”

Don’t believe me?  Check out these quotes from the earnings reports of Macy’s and Nordstrom

Macy’s executives disclosed on Tuesday that rising delinquencies cut credit card revenues to $120 million in the second quarter, down $84 million from the previous quarter. While Nordstrom’s credit card revenues rose 10% in the first half of this year, company executives said Tuesday that delinquencies are now above pre-pandemic levels and could “result in higher credit losses in the second half and into 2024.”

US department stores see higher credit delinquencies amid strained spending

Credit cards are big $$$ for these corporations, and a large part of the earnings numbers.  Keep in mind interest earned is basically “free money” to these groups.  They only have to mail out a statement each month.

The last item I wish to address is when you pay with plastic it truly is “buy now, pay later.”  Items purchased may or may not show up on the next bill.  Take this for example, I paid for a tank of gas Tuesday this week, in the amount of $80, I used my trusted cash back card.  Well, my statement closed Monday night, so the gas I bought will not be on Septembers bill, it will be on Octobers.  Let’s just say in September I owe my house insurance, in addition to my other utility/recurring expenses, well my October bill will be higher thea I likely budgeted.  This is another trick the credit card companies do not want you to know.

In closing I do not hate credit card companies, nor do I completely agree with Dave Ramsey that you should not have one.  I will agree with him on the fact it creates bad buying habits, and unsafe financial practices. 

Use my example, if you are not careful, those appliances, or tires quickly become very expensive.  Dave doesn’t need me shilling for him, he offers and does good things, especially for folks who find themselves not realizing the pitfalls of “2% cash back.”  If you don’t carry a card… more power to you. I don’t judge, if you messed up previously… I don’t care, just don’t do it again.

As far as renting a car goes, yes, if you have no credit card it may be tougher, may even need to check a couple of companies to rent you one, but you will find one.  As for buying a house/car, sure there will be more hoops to jump through and you may need to shop around for a bank who will “manually underwrite you” but if you qualify for the loan, you get it.  Federal law. 

Johnnie Does

PS check out the value of those “points” I think is a good site, it will show you the best/worst uses for them, and you can see firsthand how some banks…cough…Citi… cough, devalue points if you use them certain ways.

Two Reactions to the Same Type Disaster

The purpose of this blog is to show the affect television and internet have on people’s lives in regard to natural disasters.  These are the reactions of one man I work with.

First, we start with the Oroville Dam spillway several years ago in 2017.  The CA Dept of Water Resources, when there was first reported to be trouble, downplayed it, or put out very odd press releases to re-assure the public there were no issues.  DWR had to shut down the spillways due to damage, but continued to put out press releases that all was well.  I do not know about you guys, but I have never heard of any government organization putting out a press release essentially saying “all is ok” when something bad isn’t brewing.  When it comes to a dam, common sense says, if the spillways are closed, water is building up behind it.  Put into English, the water will need to go somewhere, and the object standing in its way is causing it to build higher.

Oroville Dam emergency spillway on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, the day officials warned that the spillway was in danger of failing. More than 180,000 people downstream were told to evacuate. (Gonzalo “PeeWee” Curiel/For the Chico Enterprise-Record)

I casually mentioned this to a colleague, he shouted me down saying he saw on the news all was well.  I Googled and found the clip on YouTube that he referenced.  It was a man who claimed to be in charge of emergency services, not DWR, also the interview was taking place in Sacramento, not Oroville where the dam is located.  But hey, “Honey we are fine, the man on TV says so.”  “He is from the government, and he is here to help!”

Over the next 7 days, stories would appear on my feed.  The biggest was one saying “DWR was evacuating the fish from the hatchery located at the dam’s base.  But again, nothing for us to worry about, this is normal…I guess?  On February 10th crews began removing trees from around the emergency spillway.  Seems really fishy because in CA I believe cutting down a tree may make you eligible for the death penalty.  Also, the environmentalists were dead silent on this tree removal operation, telling me something was really not good.    Not to worry, Alfred E Newman at my office said he hasn’t seen anything bad reported yet.

Two days later, evacuation orders were made for the counties surrounding the area near the dam.  This happened on a workday around 10 am.  The colleague of mine took a call from his spouse, in the breakroom, said “oh my God, we need to head for safety.”  He walked out, and declared everything was ok, and he was going to work from home.  On his way out, I said “hope you survive this Armageddon predicted by me earlier.”

Keep in mind readers, Oroville is 1.4 hours away from our headquarters by car.  Moreover, the land between here and Oroville is literally flat, spread-out farmland.  I dated a girl in college who was from that area, and when I visited it was yeah, flat farmland, it could easily flood and barely anyone would notice.  Another pro tip, her father like many others in the area grew rice, a crop that quite literally can sit in flooded fields for months.  My point being by the time the water reached Sacramento, let alone my office or house, the stream would be moving at a glacial trickle pace.

He freaked out, got into a car and decided to drive.  Yup, Mr. I ain’t never scared, booked it out of town.  Nothing ever came of this situation by the way.

The second scenario involves the “atmospheric rivers” our area has experienced since New Year’s Eve.  There have been 3 in total.  Prior to the first storm, my colleague made it clear he was very scared of the storms.  As I tried to explain, the storm they are describing is mostly wind, the rain happens in large amounts very quickly, but it’s nothing our systems cannot handle.  Of course, I’m not on TV so my words were not taken at all.  Instead, he relied on meteorologists and articles written online, aka news.  The news is supposed to do 1 thing, mostly like a shock jock of yesteryear, its job is to stir people up and create panic/ratings.  If it bleeds it leads is still true today.

On all three occasions he freaked out, spouting cable news BS of the levees could fail etc. etc. etc.  Keep in mind he is about 32 years older than me, yet he reacts like a toddler who dropped his ice cream cone.  He packed his belongings, and headed to Patterson, yes as in an area that usually floods each time there is heavy rain and runoff.  But its ok, the news people on TV told him to flee.

On all three occasions, we did get rain, but not too much.  Yes, the normal areas flooded, Wilton, Discovery Park, and some other creeks in the area.  The bypass area flooded, but all these scenarios happen each time we experience significant rains.  The areas ordered to evacuate are very very rural and surprise, they have to evacuate every time this happens.  Wind damage occurred, and yes trees were toppled, fences were downed, but no massive loss of life or damage.

My point here is the same one I have made quite a few times.  Ditch cable.  Look at the two scenarios again, in the first, TV said all was well, it was not.  The second?  Made it seem like we were in Biblical times and an ark was needed to survive this.  Nothing happened.  The freak out that occurred was unfounded and unnecessary.

Keep watching TV and the next thing to freak out about will get you scared.  Anyone remember the “murder hornets” during the pandemic?  I’m still waiting for them to show up.

Johnny Does

How to Stay in Debt

A friend of mine does very well for herself, she makes $125k a year.  Keep in mind that is double the MEDIAN US income per person.  So, she makes more than double the average worker.  She informed me Sunday that her spending on her credit card is unsustainable.  One would think this is a good thing, a wake-up call of sorts.  Negative ghost rider.

Her biggest issue is she tries way too hard to fit in, for someone in their mid-20s to mid-30s this is understandable.  You are likely in an apartment, a small one and hanging out with colleagues after work, and the like.  You may also be going on dates/parties etc.  However, this behavior needs to be grown out of, it’s a sign of a maturity process.  It hasn’t stopped in fact it got worse.

I do not care what part of the country you live in, a 6-figure income should be more than enough to sustain the life of a couple/family, let alone a single person.  This is where budgeting, and expense management comes into play.  In addition, knowing needs vs wants as well.  This person has shown repeatedly they are not capable of doing this.

Interest rate on car loan?  Yeah, it’s over 30%, that’s not a good rate, that’s a good loan shark rate.  The credit card rate is likely about the same mind you.  You wreck your credit in this country you will pay at every turn.

Student loan debt?  Sure, just make a minimum payment like your other loans.  This person is checking all the boxes.

Her biggest problem?  It’s not her debts believe it or not, it’s her lifestyle.  She refuses to be an adult, instead opting to a college fueled party life.  For someone closer to 40 than 37 mind you.

As hard as this may be to fathom, it is not hard to correct this, but it’s not a diet she needs, it’s a lifestyle change.

First?  Knock off the happy hour and late-night partying.  You are an adult not a college kid anymore.  Happy hour is famous for the “I’ll have a couple drinks, well better get an app, well another drink please….aw shucks I better order food…. maybe dessert too?”  Next thing you know that cheap mixed drink turned into a bill of around $100.  Instead of this being a one-time thing, you have made it into a daily thing with your friends.

Second?  Learn to cook at home, you have cable shows, YouTube, and cookbooks.  Cooking at home costs a fraction of going out.  You can even grab a bottle of booze/liquor/wine for a fraction of going out.  Don’t believe me, look it up for yourself.

Third?  Pay your bills first.  Every paycheck.  After paying rent, pay your bills.  Your credit score will thank you later.  Do not save money, extinguish all debt as humanly possible.

Til next time

Johnny Does

Naiveté like you read about

Had a client of mine come in this week; specifically, to chat about his 22-year-old son.  This son has had 5 moving violation/accidents in 3 years of driving.  The average is about 1 incident per decade by the way.  So as you can imagine his insurance is very expensive and the parents have been paying it.  Usually when you encounter this, it’s the parents saying “get Jr. off my policy, he is too expensive” or they grin and bear it while paying.  In this case they wanted to keep the cost the same, make excuses for Jr. and try to get us to find a solution.

It was insane. The father (the one who came into my office) complained how his son has not worked for over 4 years.  He then circled back with “He has a job with Vector but I do not know what he does.”  He says the company is so secretive his son never talks about it, but he works from home.  Obviously, my BS sensors went off quickly, so I Googled them.  Vector marketing…LOL its CUTCO knives.  AKA an MLM Pyramid scheme.  So much so a link provided on their website explains how Vector is not a scam. 

El Oh El!

So, Jr. got a sales job with a pyramid scheme company.  His son, according to his dad when he confronted him, could not produce a pay stub (what are those?) so he doesn’t believe him.  Well Vector makes all of its money off new recruits, not so much actual sales.  The new recruits like his son pay a fee, and then get told, “Here’s your knives. Go get it.”  MLM pyramid schemes are famous for marketing to young people and single mothers.

Enough about scams.

Don’t let your son be a “meathead”.

He went on that his son is a good kid, but smokes weed with his buddies every night after he and his wife go to sleep.  They sneak off to a local park and basically eat all the snack food, and smoke weed.  This seems to be normal behavior for these types.  He spends a late night out and sleeps till around noon.  The parents can’t figure out what gives, and he is unmotivated.  They speak of how he plays video games all hours of the day, but again he is a hard worker and a good kid. 

They kept saying how can we help motivate him.

My thoughts were simple, lay out all of his “costs” i.e., insurance, car payment, phone plan, gym, etc. and make it known if you want this lifestyle, he needs to contribute.  He shot that down saying he tells his kid he we’ll pay till age 26.  So, I guess Jr. has 4 more years of freeloading?

Fatal Error

Archie and the “Meathead”

My business partner said he has a son just like this other fellow’s son, problem is the correct word would be “had” not “has.”  Make no mistake the son is still alive but he has been making a great living for the last 23 years, he was also 22 when he experienced this growth.  The error is now the client felt he was “on a journey” with my business partner.

The client continued to filibuster, and as far as I am concerned, hope is lost.  He wants to be a “cool parent” not a father.  He just doesn’t want to admit it.  Allowing your adult child to sneak out of the house, engage in drug type behavior (I don’t care that CA legalized it) while living in your house is dumb.  It’s your house not theirs.  As far as work goes; if they don’t want to work, they pay rent or move out.  Sorry, this is not a vacation resort, restaurant, nor a hotel.  At a certain point, you must be a parent again, even if the kid is 22.  He lacks motivation and is gaming you.  Sorry, not to be mean, but every move you make, he is 3 steps ahead.

Get a job……Got one at a MLM deal that doesn’t pay

Get your own bills paid for yourself…..sorry I’m good till 26, your words pops.

If you don’t put your foot down, the kids don’t grow.

I can guarantee this kid aint doin nuthin until 26, and calls his father’s bluff, his father won’t budge.  Book it!

Johnnie Does

Johnnie Does Sky River Casino

Avoid.  That’s the one and only word.  Your humble correspondent has not and will not visit after hearing and seeing several trusted sources review our new shiny casino. 

Sky River is a brand-new casino that opened in the same town as this blog’s world headquarters.  We have always been skeptical as this is a small town, and do we really need another casino here?  In a short driving distance, we have, Jackson Rancheria, Cache Creek, Thunder Valley, Red Hawk and a couple of card rooms downtown.  All of them are far more exciting than our new casino.  Sky River Casino is very small, and no frills at all.  For now, it’s just a gambling floor and food.  I guess long term they have plans for a hotel, we shall see.

As for the casino part, I have had 4 customers/friends attend the casino multiple times since it opened, of course they aren’t degenerate gamblers, they just like to play a bit.  None enjoyed it at all.  Some even won money and still would not go back.  They said it was smoky as heck, so bad they had to go outside to get fresh air multiple times over the course of 30 minutes.  This is a bad look for a casino who said they have state of the art filtering systems in place. 

Photo from Yelp

The slot and table play got decent marks, but it was very crowded, this is a good thing for the casino.  But again, the smoke…. yikes.

The food was a major let down.  Full disclosure they do have a standalone steak house coming soon, which would be a good addition to this town in my opinion, but the food otherwise consists of just a food court.  Pretty lame. You order from your phone and sit and the workers bring it out to you.  Prices were just ok.  Food was high school cafeteria quality.  Avoid.

In summary, this place is average, but it fits this town perfectly.  If you think about it, we have lots of chain restaurants here, nothing special.  Our casino fits that.  We have people who are always hunting for a deal, this place fits that.  We are a no-frills town… this place fits that. 

Yelp Review Summary of Sky River Casino

Recently, I went out to eat and happened to be seated near an elected official from this area.  I overheard her telling a colleague we have a Walmart quality casino, for our Walmart quality town.  (We have 4 Wally Worlds in and around Elk Grove.)  If you are looking to blow some cash, this place will allow you to do that, but bear in mind, it has no sports book, no quality food options, and no hotel.  Also, no golf course or amphitheater.  Suit yourself, but I am not going to partake.  Like usual, this town would rather be adequate or average than have anything nice.

Johnnie Does

Editor’s Note: I checked Yelp just to see if Johnnie was being too hard on the place. Here’s what I found.

After trying to go here and eat more than Ice Cream, it was disappointing. Most of the Marketplace Food Court is surpassed by your local Shopping Mall Food Court in Selection, Quality and Service.

Yelp Reviewer Wanugee N. 09/17/22

Beautiful inside except the cleanliness. A casino of this size should have at least 5 people on the floor all the time just picking up and cleaning everything. It’s dirty.

Yelp Reviewer Marianna B. 08/21/22

There was no non-smoking area. I brought a mask but it didn’t help. There were also no hand sanitizer stations around. There are germs on every machine!

There was a long line to get into the food court area. It took awhile to get in and once I saw the prices I immediately went out… Too bad there is no buffet, whenever I go to a casino I expect a buffet.

Main question, did I have fun? My answer is not really.  I did get some exercise though from getting lost in this casino and then getting lost again in the parking lot. I guess I at least got to experience this but I don’t think I’ll come back.

Yelp Reviewer Scott F. 09/03/22

Newsom:  Don’t Charge Your Electric Car…..Please!

If you live in California you are used to hearing stupid, moronic, dumb, depressing things.  It reached a new low this past week.  The same week Governor Newsom and his merry band of idiots announced new gas powered car sales will cease in a decade, he also reminded us due to a heat wave not to plug your current electric car in.  Yeah folks, we are banning new gas powered cars, in favor of more enviro-friendly electric ones, but please do not charge it while we grapple with an energy crisis. 

Newsom’s Utopian Future

It gets even better last evening around 6pm. I got an SOS text message from the State of California telling me to essentially cease and desist all electrical usage between 4-10pm due to the grid being overloaded.  So yeah, I come home to a hot house and cannot use appliances due to conservation.  It was 86 degrees in my house when I arrived home but that’s ok. I am sure the Hollywood types did their share to conserve as well.  NOT!

You see, here in the People’s Republic of California, we have gone so green even Cheech and Chong are starting to worry!  By conservative estimates, CA can only produce enough electricity to power about 2/3s of its needs, so we “buy” the excess power from Arizona or another neighboring utility.  Who cares how that utility procures its electricity, all that matters is we don’t pollute here in CA.

We have mandated the closure of Diablo Canyon Nuclear plant…..then we reversed it!  I guess Gavin must have farted himself awake and realized retiring more power plants isn’t smart when you cannot produce enough to keep up with demand.  We have a law that all new houses must have solar panels on them, yet every summer we have threats of rolling blackouts.  We have all kinds of solar farms and windmills, but we are reliant on our neighbors for electricity?

In CA we have a saying, at least those of us with an IQ slightly north of room temperature, it’s not how you think, it’s how you feel.  That phrase is an embodiment of what is left here in this place.  We have gone so damn insane on environmental issues that we have become our own worst enemy.  We are now quite literally telling people not to charge their car (aka what you use to get to your job in CA) in favor of sitting in a hot house, because global warming.  We have closed down nuclear plants, gas fired plants, in favor of far less reliable solar and wind farms.  Word to the wise, solar doesn’t do a whole lot of good once the sun goes down, also you need a very un-environmentally friendly battery, and solar components as well.  Don’t believe us?  Do a simple Google search for disposal of lithium-ion batteries and solar panels!

It’s pretty pathetic that in the technology capital of the world, we have to rely on Arizona for our electricity.  Even more sad is when Arizona doesn’t have any excess to sell us, they turn the lights off for us.

But this is all part of the plan here in California.  The goal is to remove all gas powered everything from here.  They are starting with gas generators and lawn equipment.  Don’t believe me?  The lawn equipment goes in 2024, the generators 2028.  Do not hold your breath that the CA GOP will do anything about it, they likely have no clue this is happening.  I haven’t looked into it much but how will the landscapers cut Elk Grove Park if they need to use electric mowers?  Me thinks there will be exceptions doled out for all cities/municipalities.  The point is a carbon free CA. The issue is that no one is using their brains to think about those who will be left out.  A Tesla is not cheap. A cursory search of for used Tesla’s within 200 miles showed the cheapest 2019 Tesla at roughly 46k.  That is double what I paid for my 2019 4 door Tacoma by the way.  Some localities have started banning new gas station construction, in this blog’s town I have seen numerous gas stations either starting construction or pulling permits as if to “beat the clock” on a ban being forthcoming.  So they will make it even harder to find gas for your gas powered car.  The price doesn’t get cheaper when supply is harder to find folks.

Make no bones about it, they are discussing banning natural gas as well.  New home construction currently does not feature a fire place, not even wood burning ones.  Some cities like Berkeley have either already banned or are considering banning all natural gas inside your house/business.  Think no stove/oven/heater.  You would be using electricity, yeah as in that thing we cannot keep on right now.  Imagine going out to dinner in the wintertime, its colder than hell and your favorite steak house is using an electric cook top.  You get no sear, and the heater won’t be able to keep up because it’s electric and takes a while to get going, then it stays hot for a while to shut off.  My parent’s most recent house had an electric stove, they converted it to gas.  Now instead of being able to throttle up and down the natural gas burners in the kitchen, they must stay on all day regardless of foot traffic since it takes a while to heat up and cool down.  Even better, in the summer it may not work at all, we have these rolling blackouts we are famous for.

Can’t afford a Tesla?  You can take one of our natural gas burning busses, at least until they ban those as well, they cannot be far behind.  Try using mass transit in this town, actually don’t you’ll save the bruises on your brain.

All is well here in California, just remember since the 100-degree days last until Friday please do not plug in your electric car!  We need to conserve energy. I’m sure your manager at work will understand!

Johnnie Does

How to Ruin Your Life in 15 Minutes

Bloggers note:  This was a late-night conversation that bled early into the morning hours; I may need to have an update later when the brain fog clears.

Readers you may know that on this blog we stress not watching heavy amounts of TV or cable. Its far better to seek out advice from real people not paid actors.  A former close friend of mine from college nuked his life last night.  While some may say this was a long time coming, he overreacted drastically and his marriage is over, and his life has begun a spiral.  I have a feeling, copious amounts of drugs/alcohol or worse could be in his near future.

This friend of mine has been married for 15 years, he works for the State of California and lives in the Bay Area.  He seemed to have a lot of great things going for him, including a 13-year-old daughter.  He has always kind of hopscotched in and out of my life, kind of a “when I need something you are my phone call, when the opposite is true, he plays the kid/marriage card in my face.”  Anyway, he called about 2 weeks ago in a full-blown panic.  He was barely making sense over the phone, so I told him email/text what he wanted to say…. he kept insisting I had to believe him. 

If you know me, I’m pretty fiercely loyal to friends of mine…until you screw me over/double cross me.  I think I’m a pretty sound giver of advice should you choose to take it. I also normally can ask friends of mine “off the record” to advise friends in crisis.  He started the text chain to me with “when I was in Texas for business…” I cut him off right there.  California’s state workers are forbidden from traveling to certain states due to a perceived “human rights violation in certain state’s constitution” aka they are hostile toward gay/lesbian/trans people.  So that was a lie and I knew it.  He went on to say he was seeing someone there, ok that makes more sense.  Apparently his “side piece” told him her child was likely “theirs”, this child is 10.  The freak out ensued.

I apparently wasn’t texting back quickly enough, so he called.  He kept saying I had to believe him, while not telling a story that made a lick of sense.  When he finally calmed down, I asked how she knows it’s “theirs” and what his thoughts were.  He told me he is convinced it’s his because he has been seeing her for about 11 years.  When I asked if he used protection, his response was a no… preceded and succeeded by a sheepish chuckle.  When I asked what this girl was like, he made her out to be a promiscuous, flirt.  A red flag, but at the same time, it offered an out route.  He asked what I thought and immediately offered an opinion of “do not freak out, wait and I’ll get in touch with an attorney whose new firm does a little bit of everything.” It was almost 2am so I offered a call back in a day or two.  This wasn’t good enough for him, as he apparently was checking every site on the internet for advice.

I got in touch with my friend. She of course was appalled but said, the best thing to do is always operate under the guise, of “you do not know that yet.”  Until you have a positive paternity test showing a definitive match, you are in a gray, but not dark area.  She recommended 2 tests, to insure against a false reading on way or the other. Also said do not share any of this with your spouse.  Blogger Note:  I do not condone cheating in any form period, full stop, but in cases like these I prefer a wait, watch, and see as opposed to admitting your sin immediately.  She also recommended getting tested for STD’s since he was “hitting it raw” there’s a likelihood, especially with both of their lifestyles.  Additionally, if he popped positive… well you better tell both your side piece and your “spouse” asap.

Well, my friend, after I relayed the info, rejected in outright saying since I am not married and have no kids, I have no credibility on the issue.  Fair enough, I guess. He also flatly rejected my lawyer friend’s advice, not only did he refuse the paternity test, but he also declined getting tested for STD’s.  Apparently, he saw on TV a show that glorified cheating on your partner, and that they would come around.  To be honest my lawyer friend was aware of this; and apparently there are many of these shows.  He went on to tell me on shows like the Bachelor etc., contestants have sex with many women during a short period.  I am not sure who told him this was smart, but he took it as sage advice.  Note to readers, TV is not the real world, not even close, it’s a perverse fantasyland masquerading as reality for an hour each week.

So, in his infinite wisdom, last night (Wednesday) at the dinner table, after 2 glasses of wine with daughter finishing her meal, he decides it’s time to “come clean.”  Again, I’m not sure who gave him this advice, but yikes.  He tells his spouse he needs to talk to her in front of child.  He says he needs to come clean about his “business trips.” They were in fact not business He was seeing someone else.  He then tells her she needs to stand by him, it “was only a phase.”  YIKES.  He then said she is accusing him of fathering her 10-year-old child; again, accused but no proof, but I digress.  Predictably, the spouse stormed off bawling her eyes out, grabbed an overnight bag, threw her wedding ring at him, and off she went.  Saying I don’t even know you anymore.  I guess the master plan failed.

Like any fantasyland residing loser, he then went to work on his daughter who was crying and locked herself in bedroom.  He kept telling her “We need to be strong as a family” and “this will all work itself out.”  Yeah, seriously.

So, he called me after this episode last night/this morning, as our chat lasted ‘til about 2 am.  He blamed his wife for walking out; his child for being “obtuse” and could not understand how his plan failed.  He could not get through his head he was at fault.  He kept quoting “Scripture” from their wedding about staying together in good times and bad, sickness and health.  Oh, the kicker, he literally said to me “what kind of idiot throws a 10k wedding ring at someone?”  This Einstein couldn’t figure out he is the problem.  TV overload like you read about.

When I could finally get a word in edgewise after being shouted down about not having a wife or kids, I tried to level with him.  He took a bad situation and escalated it to a point he lost all control, then like a typical TV enthusiast he tried to blame everyone but himself.  How is this possibly the wife or his daughters’ fault?

AM Update: Well, he called me again. I guess to seek out more advice he won’t take under advisement.  He filled me in that “His dumb spouse filed for divorce this AM.”  A truly shocking development to everyone who lives in fantasyland.  Daughter has not left her room, and he has fielded a call from the sheriff’s office stating his spouse will be returning to get personal belongings later today.  She also passed through the grapevine to him that she has gotten an STD test already.  He took a personal day off work today, probably the only good decision he has made lately.

Final Thoughts & Commentary

I need a disclaimer here, as stated above I do not condone cheating in any form, its morally wrong; however, after texting the lawyer friend of mine, we both agreed on how to handle this in the best way possible.  First the trips to TX stop immediately, and a paternity test needs to be done ASAP.  If negative, I would end the “Texas Two-Step” for good, you have a family bro, and I would argue no one needs to know.  If positive, well the situation is still bleak but there are options.  You can try to explain away an affair, the child is not something that you can casually dismiss.  It’s going to cost you monthly in $$$ and likely your marriage.  This is when you break the news, while also providing a negative STD test. It won’t make the pain hurt less, but to put it bluntly, it may show you aren’t an immature child.  I would have moved my things out and tried to come to an amicable split in an attempt to save face.  He will not have much of any relationship with his spouse anymore, he could still have been in his daughter’s life…. that chance looks remote now.

As for as his soon to be former spouse, good on you for acting quickly. Society is so backward for this “stand by your man” trash.  Your “man” penetrated another woman, raw, and showed no remorse until he inexplicably decided to come clean, then blamed you.  You will have a tough road transitioning to a divorced single mother of an adult daughter but with the coming settlement, things will look up. 

As for my acquaintance, you chose to nuke your marriage and demolish your life.  I am not totally sure why.  You had sound advice, yet instead you followed the advice of TV shows you binge watch?  Your story of an affair going on for roughly a decade plus makes very little sense, but I mean, I guess TV has show’s that glamorize it.  I find it hard to believe you knew nothing about that child until recently. Frankly you just didn’t care. Like most indoctrinated TV viewers, you can no longer sense real vs fake, all you know is the ending is usually a good outcome.  You were puffing on vibes from your cable TV, feeling like superman, and didn’t realize your spouse had the kryptonite.  You cheated on her and lived a double life, blaming your “job” for travel.  Then you tried to use a narrative that you were the victim, unreal.  That’s rich, you got what you wanted with the exception of a storybook ending, and you seem to think you have done nothing wrong.  Rest assured the law firm retained by your soon to be ex-spouse is going to take you for everything they can…I verified them through the lawyer friend of mine whose advice you shoved off.  Fear not I am sure your “side piece” is lawyering up as well and if the kid is yours, have fun working that state job until you croak.  You may think your pension is sacred, but not in CA it ain’t!  Try to pull your martyr act in family law court, it won’t go very far.

In closing, understand this, what you watch on television is made to hold your eyeballs and keep you from wanting to change the channel.  You sit mesmerized for hours, through turns and plot twists. They eventually catch the bad guy, try him, convict him, or the belle of the ball gets with prince charming or vice versa.  Even if the bad guy gets away, on the next episode he is caught.  The mere idea of thinking breaking this news over dinner and walking away without a blemish, speaks to your lack of living in the real world.  Honestly from the stories you told me, the chick in Texas sounds like a pay-for-play cheap hooker, the kid is likely not even yours, sounds like she was saber rattling and you got spooked.  You may have cut off your family to spite yourself.  GET THE PATERNITY TEST!

Lastly turn off the TV. You have been desensitized to what the real world is all about.  Anyone who thinks cheating with someone and not using a condom is normal, is major league messed up in the head.  BTW the bag over your pepperoni would have likely saved your marriage but I digress.  You had sex with a bimbo and had no regard for your own body (who cares) or for your wife.  This is how STDs are spread.  You got pretty good advice from both a male and female, one who you were friends with in college, the other a licensed lawyer, and you threw it away.  Rather you decided taking advice from a TV show was better?  I guess the only happy ending you will be getting now is from the chick in Texas, sadly you nuked your own life.

Johnnie Does

Britney Griner is a Hero? I guess???

I came across this tweet from an ESPN twitter account quoting WNBA basketball star Nneka Ogwumike (you win scrabble if you get that word) the other day after Griner pled guilty to a crime in Russia.  It calls Griner a hero, and says we need to bring her back to the USA.

First some backstory here.  Griner was arrested in Russia after landing at the airport and trying to bring hashish oil (aka cannabis) through security.  This was around 17 February.  Cannabis, unlike in the USA, is illegal in Russia.  She was detained, and from there held under arrest until her trial was supposed to begin July 7th, but she pled guilty instead.  Her trial now is in the “penalty phase” think death penalty vs life in prison as far as the USA system is concerned.  Very likely she will garner a 10-year prison sentence in Russia. 

When a young Johnnie Does was growing up, he learned right from wrong, he also learned to be accountable for his actions.  When I made a mistake, I too pled guilty in a court of law.  My point?  I was not a hero that day, nor am I a hero now.  I took responsibility, and won’t go down that road again, and my crime was far more political than Griner’s. 

So, what makes her a hero?

Well just her celebrity status.  She is a WBA star who plays in Russia to earn extra money.  The WNBA doesn’t pay much because… well no one cares.  As Troll joked to me “the July 4th hot dog eating contest got more rating on TV than the WNBA all-star game.”  So, the joke from Troll was “people would rather watch men shove a hotdog in their throat, versus women who refuse to shove a hot dog down their throat.”  Ironic!  Just think about it.

(Oh, Johnnie Does was Really Right even while being sarcastic, see note on TV ratings at conclusion of this post.)

I want to come off somewhat empathetic here as I have no idea what Griner is facing in what is likely deplorable conditions.  Her “wife” has spoken out about how she is terrified and thinks she may spend the rest of her life in jail.  However, Griner should have known better.

She has spent enough time in Russia to know hashish oil is illegal in Russia, she is also very lucky she wasn’t charged as a trafficker (aka drug dealer) as the penalty would be far harsher.  Griner also needs to get with the real world. A war was going down between Russia and Ukraine, with the US essentially playing as Ukraine’s proxy.  This likely didn’t make Russia happy, and likely made any US citizen or US/Russia dual citizen a bigger target.  The world essentially cutting off Russia’s economy likely didn’t help with any leniency either.  She is now a pawn in a nasty geo-political war.  It also doesn’t help that her supporters are building her into a large celebrity.  Russia is using her as a trade chip, but we are now going to have to pay a premium in order to get her back.  To make my point, Russia seems to want convicted arms dealer Vicktor Bout in return, think of this as trading our queen (Bout) for their pawn (Griner).  One plays basketball, the other is an arms dealer and likely terrorist financier. 

Griner’s supporters have made her out to be something she is not, so the chances of securing her early return are likely moot.  The US State Department calling her “wrongfully detained” also isn’t smart.  This is akin to annoying the prosecutor’s office.  This type of saber-rattling works in US politics, not foreign relations.  Also why are we paying so much attention to Griner when there are likely hundreds of other Americans detained abroad?  Fake celebrity status.

Griner knew Russian law, she knew she shouldn’t have had the oil.  She has tried to say she didn’t know it was against the law, but this ain’t the USA we are talking about; no politician to pay your bail, no soft on crime DA to let you leave without charges.  Griner and her supporters also need to have some self-awareness.  Griner and her group may think the USA has a horrific human rights record, be racist, transphobic, and homophobic, but she is witnessing first-hand what it’s like to be in a country that is quite literally against that lifestyle.  Griner is black, a woman, and in a same sex marriage.  Like it or not, that’s 3 strikes in that part of the world. 

Maybe the US isn’t all that bad?

I hope Griner gets out and learns a valuable lesson.  I hope all the detained Americans are released, but like or system or not, we are more than fair criminally to anyone detained here.

Johnnie Does

Oh, may I offer a suggestion?  Since Trump was so “connected to Russia” maybe Biden should send the Donald to negotiate with Putin?  Just a thought but maybe rather than spit fire at Trump, put him to use as a past president?

Editor’s Note: On July 4, 2022, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest had 1.03 million viewers on ESPN and the WNBA All-Star Game broadcast July 10, 2022 on ABC had 734,000 viewers. The hotdog contest was tape delayed due to Covid rules and the basketball game–amid Brittany mania–was live and experienced a 53 percent increase in viewership over 2021.