- We live in a wonderous time. We have the entirety of human knowledge instantly available with one mouse click. This is a blessing and a curse. The kids of today have no idea what it was like to “comparison shop” back in the old days. Pre-internet if you wanted to do some research your choices were 1) Read magazine articles (yes, printed on actual paper that you had to purchase) 2) Talk to your neighbor Bob who used something similar twenty years ago 3) Go to the store and talk to a salesperson. Of course we also didn’t have 37 different choices for the same product either, so it was a little simpler. Today is different. I’m currently researching a reasonably high dollar purchase and the information is overwhelming. Step one is the casual search to figure out who the possible manufacturers and models are in the space. Step two is going to the manufacture web sites to get a sense of price and features. At this point I’ve narrowed things down to a handful of possibilities. Now comes the fun part. The user reviews. Using a combination of review sites and activity specific forums, I’ll spend countless hours reading user reviews. What you typically find is; 5 reviews saying it’s the best product ever invented; 7 reviews stating the product disintegrated thirty seconds after opening the box; 2 reviews of a completely different product; 3 reviews of the first version of the product from seven years ago; and 18 posts asking to click this link for free pre-paid phone cards. The next step is the dark hole of YouTube videos about the product. Those also fall into several distinct categories; Slick, professionally produced, manufacturer videos; Generic reseller companies that talk about the products but never offer opinions for fear of offending suppliers; Internet influencers paid to promote a product; And Joe-Bob from Nebraska who recorded a “review” video with his cell phone in the garage, with audio so bad you can’t hear anything but dogs barking and lawnmowers in the background. My final research step is to stumble upon a product I hadn’t heard of yet that looks absolutely perfect and has great reviews. I get all excited and then realize that it’s a European product not available in the US. Sigh… back to step one. It can literally take me weeks (months on occasion) of paralysis to make a decision for fear of choosing the wrong thing. While I appreciate all the new choices we have today, in hindsight I might have been better off in the old days with a salesperson just telling me what I need.
- Speaking of purchase decisions, for those of you keeping track at home, I did get a new phone. I made a last second audible (audible. phones. see what I did there? gosh I’m clever) and went with the Samsung S21. I ended up liking the camera better and it was in stock. I’m all about instant gratification. So far so good. And the best part… it looks like my navigation issues with the phone and ginormous motorcycle may be mostly solved. My first test ride and it worked great. Mostly. Now the headset on the helmet is having trouble with a Bluetooth connection to the phone. How come things just aren’t easy?
- I got an email today from United Airlines updating me on their role in the “global fight against climate change”. I guess they’ve made some commitment to becoming 100% green and reducing carbon emissions by 100% by 2050. I’m not sure that’s even possible unless they’re using battery operated planes using electricity only from wind farms… but whatever. This email was announcing their groundbreaking “Eco-Skies Alliance” and the commitment to SAF – Sustainable Aviation Fuel. What is SAF you might ask? Evil oil companies use things like used cooking oil in a chemical process to make it similar to standard jet fuel. They blend it with regular Jet-A and supposedly achieve lower carbon emissions. Sounds great, right? The problem is that it’s massively more expensive than regular Jet-A. So they’ve formed this group soliciting corporations to voluntarily contribute money to a fund to help airlines purchase the stuff. Oh, and to lobby congress to provide massive funding and subsidies to lower the price. So, as you end up paying the additional “SAF tax” on your airline ticket do you honestly think you’re preventing global climate disaster? I guess it doesn’t matter. At least United is woke and cares about the environment and the poor polar bears who are running out of ice and tasty seals to snack on.
- Oh, by the way all that sorting of your recyclables you’ve been doing… China’s not buying our garbage any more, so in most cities all that stuff just ends up in the same landfill. So does that mean I still have to wash out my mayonnaise jars before throwing them away or not?
- I’m not entirely sure why, but some scientists had a debate about who would win in a fight between King Kong and Godzilla. It astounds me that paleontologists actually had enough time to seriously think about this. I’m even more amazed that I read the entire article.
Song of the day: The Clash – Train in Vain (Live at the Lewisham Odeon)