Sep. 7th, 2008 | 09:26 pm
I needed some groceries today, and decided to do some comparison shopping. Just down the road, there is the Latham Farms shopping center. It has a dozen or more stores in this center, with Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Sam's Club being the anchor stores. First I went to Hannaford, a Vermont based grocery, and bought a few items, that I knew Sam's Club didn't have. I do work at Sam's Club, and I happen to know a few things that they don't carry. On other items I knew I needed, I recorded the price down on a piece of paper. Here's my results.
I spent $6.93 on generic honey nut and cheerios and a half gallon of soy milk. At Sam's Club I spent $49.73. I bought most of my items at Sam's because I knew I could get a better price for most things. I made a list of some of the items at Sam's and Hannaford, and found that I would spend $49 at Hannaford for the same amount of things, ounce for ounce, I would buy at Sam's Club for $38.08. (See the list below).
Now at Hannaford they offer the items in smaller packages, so if you just bought those packages you would have only spent a smaller amount. To compare apples to apples, however, you need to compare how much it would cost you to buy the same amount of each item.
P.S. (You might have to click on the "Leave a comment" link to see the table properly).
|Item||Price||Qty||Unit Price||Price||Qty||Unit Price|
|Peanut Butter||5.79||4||1.4475||Peter Pan||7.22||6||1.203333333|
|Soy Milk||3.59||64||0.05609375||3 H Gal||7.12||192||0.037083333|
|Honey Nut Cheerios||3.33||32||0.1040625||Name Brand||6.34||49||0.129387755|
|Honey Nut Cheerios||5.0990625|
|Cost if bought the||=||49.68453869|
|same amount of|
|goods as bought|
|at Sam's Club|
If you compare the Unit Price for each item, you'll notice that for many, the price is quite lower, than Hannaford. That's because most grocers operate at a higher margin than the 5%-10% margin that wholesale clubs work at. Which is great, especially for businesses, who could use the lower cost to boost their profit margins.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks. Because Sam's Club stocks large boxes of the items it sells, it has less room, even with the big boxy stores, to store all the varieties of products that you might find in a grocery store. Often times, this forces out the "generic" products that grocery stores carry. This is where Sam's Club has a weakness in the cereal aisle. My local Sam's, only carries two pack name-brand cereals, from General Mills etc. If you compare the name brand cereals to name brand cereals at the grocery store, you'll find Sam's to be the better value. However, the generic brands that the grocery stores carry, which the clubs don't have, is an even better value, per ounce of cereal.
You can see it in the above table where Hannaford beat out Sam's Club with the Honey Nut Cheerios. This happened because the Honey Nut Cheerios, I actually bought was a big bag of generic Cheerios. On the other hand, because Hannaford doesn't carry a generic version of Life cereal, Sam's Club beat Hannaford's price.
The key to buying wholesale, is to compare apples to apples. You need to compare the same class of products, ie. Name-brand vs. generic-brand, to get the right analysis.
There is a caveat to wholesale shopping. You need to be careful in not buying too much. If the item can perish, if you buy too much for your daily usage, some of it might perish before you can consume it, thereby throwing money down the drain. This is especially true with food. If you only eat one kiwi fruit per month. Don't buy a box of 20 kiwis to save money. By the time you eat three or four kiwis, the rest of the box would have rotten. It would be better off just to buy one kiwi at a few cents more, instead of throwing out dollars of kiwi in the trash.
To finish, Sam's Club can be a great deal. On most days, it pays to shop, and you save a lot more than the yearly membership fee. However, special sales in other stores can sometimes beat the per-unit price of Sam's Club same-class items. It's just that you have to work to find these sales, and they aren't always around for long.
Nov. 3rd, 2006 | 10:14 am
It's been awhile since I've been writing on here. I figure what's a better way to get back to it than writing about a recent podcast I listened to.
I just listened to "I'm Scared" from the Quick Hitts Podcast. It was quite interesting, and I was shouting "yeah!" the entire time.
Hitt opened with an audiobook idea he was toying with. The plot goes along the lines of two characters tarring and feathering high ranking public officials. Then stapling to their chest a copy of the "New London Decision," and alert the media.
However, he will never publish this audiobook, because he's scared of the government. In the days where the government are arresting teenagers for posts on their MySpace pages, that kind of audiobook would land anyone in deep trouble.
Now since the government is taking liberties away, in the name of "security," how can anyone feel safe.
The President recently signed into law the Military Commissions Act, which strips basic rights of habeas corpus, the right to a speedy trial, and the right to a trial from all persons who are deemed to be a terrorist sympathizer, or anything similar. That includes American Citizens. Now all Bush has to do is to declare you're an enemy of the state, and you'll disappear.
The Attorney General is also pushing ISPs to keep track of all your internet surfing for years, so that it can supposedly hunt down kiddie-porn. However, if you like regular legal porn, do you want the government knowing about that? It's just a matter of time before the government would use such a database for other reasons.
Been to a site that you shouldn't have gone to? With such a law in place, the government would know about it. Do you like watching 18+ porn videos? The government could know about that, and could raise rumors or charges for what seemingly looks like "younger" porn.
Even if you don't have anything to "hide," I'm sure there's something you don't want everyone to know about. With such a database in place, the government could at any time declare something as immoral and pin it on you.
That's pretty much the point of this podcast. I think it was pretty good. This blog has gotten to be more of a opinion piece than a review, but I think Dave Hitt did a much better job at summing it up.
Jun. 26th, 2006 | 08:14 pm
Hello All! I'm writing another blog to keep up with all of you, and let you know about an exciting event I just participated in this weekend. In the last blog, I described how I got my ham license. This past weekend was the first time I got to use it at the American Radio Relay League's Annual Field Day. On Saturday and Sunday I got the chance to operate some ham radios and talk to different people across the local region and across the nation.
You wouldn't believe some of the contacts I made. With the help of my friends N2YQW, NY2U, and a few others, I started off on 6 meters (50 - 54Mhz), which was very quiet, and made my first contact ever in my ham career, with K2AE. Come to find out from my other fellow hams, K2AE is the Schenectady Amateur Radio Association, who was also looking for contacts. My group, the Troy Amateur Radio Association (N2TY - n2ty.org), had already worked with that station before, but it was still nice to make my first contact.
I worked then on the 20 meter band (~14Mhz), which was so packed with hams, a lot of them were talking over each other. In ham speak, we call that a "pileup", when more than one ham is trying to work a single station. It was very difficult to work that band, but I made quite a few contacts with the help of WA2TQK and another ham. I worked stations in South Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, and other states. Some other hams had even worked Washington State and Canada!
Field Day is an event sponsored by the national amateur radio association, to promote and practice emergency communication skills and systems. From 2:00 p.m. (1800 UTC) Saturday until Sunday 2:00 p.m. we operated radios on different bands to make as many contacts as possible.
In a way, Field Day is a contest in which groups and individual hams all work on the radio to make as many contacts as possible. However, Field Day is also used as an event for local hams to get the word out to the general public about amateur radio and how it can help the community both as a hobby and as a communications means during emergencies.
I had helped put up the antennas, and some other equipment. I also helped to clean up afterwards. In between we had a great time talking, working stations, and eating good food.
If you came by us in Frear Park, in Troy, you would've seen our towers. But, if you didn't, here's some photos of what the site looked like. 73!
P.S. I wish I had more pictures to show you, especially of some people, but I mostly concentrated on having fun. Taking photos hasn't been as much fun for me as it has been in the past, and I didn't want photo taking to be a burden while I was taking in the radio sights. I might get some more though from some other friends, and I'll let you know if I do.
Click on a photo below, to see a caption on flickr.
May. 26th, 2006 | 06:06 pm
Hey what's up! I know it's been a long time since I wrote a blog. I've been keeping b usy with different activities and jobs. Let me fill you in on what I've been up to.
The biggest thing is that I've graduated from HVCC on May 20th. After all the final e xams, papers, and anxiety, it's all over. I get to enjoy my Summer. :)
Like many other colleges, I only received the diploma holder, not the actual diploma. HVCC and many others don't have the time to evaluate final grades and print the diplomas in tim e for commencement. So, we got a lovely letter inside the holder saying, congratulations, but so rry no diploma yet.
I've been keeping busy with other things nowadays too. I've picked up on a few projec ts that I didn't have time to do during the past months, such as practicing morse code, and read ing several months of magazines. I'm also typing, into the computer, a book I have about motivat ion, that's a very good read.
Another thing is that I've just started a job working at the Control Tower complex on Route 7, on this past Monday. I hand out golf clubs and maintain some of the miniture golf course there. They also have batting cages, which I hand out tokens to patrons. It has been great, and other than being rained out today, it has been a pleasure. It's so cool to see people go by and to hand out golf equipment while they enjoy a good round.
What's nice too is that it is right next to the airport. Every 15 minutes or so, a plane comes in or departs. After a flying experience of my own to Kansas City, I can tell the S80s out of the other planes.
On a final note, I've reached one of my dreams that I've had for quite a few years no w. I recently went to an Amateur Radio exam session, and passed my Technician class exam. After the paperwork, I got my callsign on the 19th, and just received my paper license yesterday. Now I'm known as KC2PSA. :) It has been a dream of mine to get into amateur radio, and now I've atta ined it. Now I just gotta buy a radio. :) With that new job, that should be happening soon.
Well, that's pretty much it going on right now. I hope to hear from you and maybe see you sometime during the Summer. Until then, keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. 73 ! (best regards).
For more info about amateur radio, visit helloradio.org
Mar. 22nd, 2006 | 11:06 am
Wow, I've been so busy, I haven't written an entry for a month. Although I don't consider this an entry. I need to do something to keep it alive. Sorry to all you readers who have loved reading my blog. Wait... I think I have an idea.
This type of situation always happens to me. I start a project and then get busy doing other things. The other things then consume me, and I get too occupied to take care of a project that I like. A program library (of C++ programs I've made), watching anime, learning more xml, reading leisure books (I read too many instructional books), various small websites, just to name a few.
I feel bad all the time about it, but I've noticed though that this is very common. A lot of my friends start their own projects, bands, etc. Some keep it together, some don't. I wonder... is it normal?
Searching around on the net, I've come across 43Folders which seems to be more community based, which I don't want to get into. I've found that I might sign up for a community type of website, but I tend to neglect it afterwards. Wikipedia - Getting Things Done has some good tips from the Getting Things Done book on time management, written by David Allen.
So what about you? Are you a chronic creator and abandoner? Let me know what you think.
Feb. 16th, 2006 | 07:16 pm
"Life becomes complicated when you make it so. Yet you never have to make it so."
"When you try to avoid life and insulate yourself from reality, you can make it unbearably complicated. When you fight against what is, and obsess over what has been, the complications you create can become a virtual prison."
"You can walk out of that prison at any time. Simply choose to accept the reality of the moment and to deal with life it as it comes."
"Stop worrying about what is not yet real and may never be. Instead, live with discipline and value, with purpose and commitment, making the very most of this moment right now."
"Let go of the anger, regret, resentment and pain of what has already happened. Instead, find something real about this moment right now for which you can be truly thankful, and give the best of yourself to it."
"Allow life to happen, and the complications of your own making melt away. Allow life to happen, and you are free to fully experience its true richness."
Food for thought. Bookmark the site if you enjoy it. It's quite good.
Feb. 15th, 2006 | 11:34 am
We are living through one of those examples right now as the Middle East is up in arms over Danish cartoons. Small protests have become mammoth stampedes. Peaceful demonstrations have become riots.
Yet, as all this expressing is going around and being magnified by the media, people forget that we are the ones that control our emotions. It's not the instigator that hurts our feelings. We are the ones who allow our feelings to get hurt.
A blog entry by Aaron Swartz comes to mind about this subject, especially on embarrassment:
"I've decided to stop being embarrassed. I'm saying goodbye to the whole thing: that growing suspicion as the moment approaches, that sense of realization when it comes, that rush of blood reddening your cheeks, that brief but powerful desire to jump out of your own skin, and then finally that attempt big fake smile trying to cover it all. Sure, it was fun for a while, but I think it's outlived its usefulness. It's time for embarrassment to go."
Why are the Islamic countries all up in arms? It's not because of the cartoons, but because they won't let go of their emotions.
"Turning off an emotion is always a tough decision. I remember how a couple years ago I decided to say goodbye to anger. Sure, anger has its bright moments -- you haven't really lived until you've known that special joy of hurling a chair across the room -- but it's also quite time-consuming. Every time someone comes up and hits you, you have to run around chasing after them. And once you start getting angry it's hard to stop -- an angry person doesn't really want to calm down, it sort of enjoys being angry. So I finally decided to get rid of the whole thing. And you know what? I haven't regretted the decision one bit."
The West needs to remember that not the entire Islamic world is up in arms. Karim Raslan wrote a well thought opinion in The Islam Gap in today's New York Times Opinion section:
"SOUTHEAST Asian Muslims have not been roiled by a clash of civilizations. Rather, people like me — Western-trained, English-speaking and constantly traveling — have begun to see the subtle differences that fracture our civilizations from within."
"Whether we are conservative or liberal, many of us are appalled and angered by the stupidity and insensitivity of the Danish newspaper cartoons. But that doesn't mean we've taken leave of our senses. I, for one, won't be throwing out my Lego set or my Bang & Olufsen sound system, let alone plotting to unveil a Zionist conspiracy. I may be a Muslim, but I can tell the difference between a newspaper and a people, a country and a principle."
Unfortunately, it's easy to slip and make generalizations of countries based on our emotions, like Raslan did at the end of his opinion.
"Since Sept. 11, I've accepted certain verities that now I have come to question. Europe was supposed to be the neutral bastion of moderation in the face of a belligerent America. But in fact that Europe is godless and alone."
I wonder how he comes to such conclusions when he doesn't even live in or near Europe.
We need to be careful of our emotions and what we say in this highly networked world. This idea is not new. Buddha was the great pioneer of controlling emotions. Even the Bible spoke of controlling one's tongue, but we need to practice it.
We can't forget that we are the ones who control our emotions. When we do forget, we learn the false belief that stimuli control our emotions. This falsehood is forever more dangerous than a cartoon. When we allow external stimuli, for which we have no control over, to control our emotions, we lose one of the very few rights that we have as basic human beings. The right to control ourselves.
Feb. 10th, 2006 | 03:41 pm
"THE PUBLICATION of 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has triggered a multinational crisis. Danish embassies have been burned in Damascus and Beirut, and five Afghans and one Somali have been killed by police in their home countries while protesting the cartoons. In Denmark, the cartoonists who drew the caricatures have gone into hiding. And it's not just Denmark that is feeling the pressure; all of Europe is on high alert."
The whole muslim world has been up in arms about this cartoon. To their beliefs, painting the face of the prophet or creating it in any form is blasphemy and is forbidden. However, when I read about all these protests, I thought to myself, do these people have anything better to do? Do they all march in the streets everyday? It seems like all they do is protest and march. Although, I know this is a micro-set of the muslim population, but the media microscope blows them out of proportion.
Even worse, these muslims have gone to lengths of burning embassies. Then I wonder, what IQ do these people have? All they seem to do is bitch and burn property when someone doesn't bow down to their code.
Immigration of muslims to many other European countries have sharply risen, but this new flow causes problems for those countries. Many of these immigrants don't want to merge with the new society, but want to change it to suit their needs. In effect, they want to move their country with them. Then they wonder why those countries shun them.
On this issue, I agree with LAT:
"The real issue is not that some of the cartoons portrayed Islam unflatteringly but that the prophet's image was drawn at all. While Muslims are prohibited from depicting Muhammad, and doing so is considered blasphemy, this prohibition should not apply to non-Muslims. Demanding that non-Muslims abide by such a religious edict is tantamount to ordering them to follow an Islamic halal diet or cover their women's hair. In a world with more than a dozen major religions, no faith can prescribe such behaviors to others."
"Ironically, it was a Jordanian newspaper that got it right last week when it published three of the cartoons under the headline: "What hurts Islam more: these cartoons or pictures of a hostage-taker slitting the throat of his victim before cameras, or a suicide bomber blowing up an Amman wedding party?"
Feb. 8th, 2006 | 12:03 am
music: Bury Your Dead
Whenever I read stories like this, I'm at a loss for words. These types of stories pisses me off. The thought that such people have such bad lives that they go hurt people not even remotely involved with them, disgusts me. If you feel like killing something, go kill your bed pillow.
Even worse, his killing spree didn't stop there.
"Jacob Robida was on the run over the weekend and police were desperately trying to find the teen before he repeated the attacks. From Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, Mass., Jacob drove to Norfolk, Arkansas where he was pulled over for what seems to be a traffic stop. Jacob then led police on a chase. Finally drove over spike strips and lost control of his vehicle. He had a female passenger in the car with him. Jacob raised his gun to her head and shot her - killing her. He then aimed his gun at police and killed one officer. Officers returned fire and Jacob was shot in the head twice."
I guess beating some homos wasn't enough for him. I'm even at a worse loss for words here. His angry personality was well documented on his MySpace account.
I'm sorry to say that my long absence from my blog writing has been caused by this story, as I've sat on it trying to think of what my response is to such insanity. Unfortunately, these past five days haven't yielded anything.
Jan. 24th, 2006 | 11:46 am
"Enough is never enough, not when the government believes that it can invade your privacy without repercussions," the New York Times, in a January 21st Fishing in Cyberspace article, said. "The Justice Department wants a federal judge to force Google to turn over millions of private Internet searches. Google is rightly fighting the demand, but the government says America Online, Yahoo and MSN, Microsoft's online service, have already complied with similar requests."
Recently, efforts by the government have been revealed more and more over the past few months. Police officials are using Facebook to hunt down criminals, by grabbing personal information of the popular college student social networking site. New year's operations, operated by the FBI, that collected data on festivities gatherers have also been outed, as well as others.
"This is not about national security," The New York Times said. The Justice Department is making this baldfaced grab to try to prop up an online pornography law that has been blocked once by the Supreme Court. And it's not the first time we've seen this sort of behavior. The government has zealously protected the Patriot Act's power to examine library records. It sought the private medical histories of a selected group of women, saying it needed the information to defend the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in the federal courts."
"The furor is still raging over President Bush's decision to permit spying on Americans without warrants. And the government now wants what could be billions of search terms entered into Google's Web pages and possibly a million Web-site addresses to go along with them."
"Protecting minors from the nastier material on the Internet is a valid goal; the courts have asked the government to test whether technologies for filtering out the bad stuff are effective. And the government hasn't asked for users' personal data this time around. What's frightening is that the Justice Department is trying once again to dredge up information first and answer questions later, if at all. Had Google not resisted the government's attempt to seize records, would the public have ever found about the request?"
"The battle raises the question of how much of our personal information companies should be allowed to hold onto in the first place. Without much thought, Internet users have handed over vast quantities of private information to corporations. Many people don't realize that some innocuously named "cookies" in personal computers allow companies to track visits to various Web sites."
More and more the government is taking our rights away in the name of national security. They appear into what books you take out of the library. They look through your bank records. They look at what you get paid.
What's worse, corporations are also on the data mining bandwagon. Even without the internet, companies collected information on what you buy, on what magazines you subscribe to, and other activities you do. All in the name of a better sell.
Now the internet allows both the government and corporations to appear into our personal information. Although, we do control to what extent we place our personal information online. More and more information is being willingly offered to the net's jaws. Even mail messages are not even private anymore.
"Internet users permit their e-mail to be read by people and machines in ways they would never tolerate for their old-fashioned mail," The New York Times said. "And much of that information is now collected and stored by companies like Google. When pressed on privacy issues, Google - whose informal motto is 'Don't be evil' - says it can be trusted with this information. But profiling consumers' behavior is potentially profitable for companies. And once catalogued, information can be abused by the government as well. Either way, the individual citizen loses."
Of course it is profitable. Why do you think they would do it? Google makes money by profiling users' email and targeting ads to their browser. Many other companies make money off of profiling information. For example, for local companies, there are research companies that, for a specific town, pull information off of deeds, DMV records, census data, and tax records. Then they take that data and compile it into percentages of who is what race, who gains how much salary, and what religion they are. The statistics varies from different reports and companies, but the deal is the same.
When is this going to stop?
It's too good of a deal for the government and corporations to have a huge database of volunteered information and not take advantage of it.
Blogs, the biggest method of volunteered information nowadays, are even being viewed by employers to determine whether to hire someone or not.
Unfortunately, there's not that much we can do about it. The government, corporations, and employers have the same right to view, compile, and parse all the data on the net as we do. There's no use in using scare tactics to get people away from the net. However, we need to stand up and force companies to not hand over their data so easily when "asked" for it. Google is now in court over refusing to give the government data on pornography searches, especially child pornography. I'm not sure how that one will work out.
Whenever you place information on the net, make sure to think before you do. Make sure to think about the repercussions of placing that personal information out there for most or all to see. "And once catalogued, information can be abused by the government as well. Either way, the individual citizen loses."