Spam Phone Call from Jefferson Capital Systems Debt Collectors 833-226-7972

I have been relentlessly harassed by the assholes who work for Jefferson Capital Systems.

I found a way to block their phone number – 1 8332267972, but not before they called over a dozen times with sometimes there being a call a day.

Sometimes you can’t really trust the Google reviews, but sometimes it is hard to disagree with them.

They would never say what their business interest was, but some guy using a thick Indian accent kept calling demanding if he knew he was talking to Aaron Wall and the most he would say was that he was from Jefferson Capital Systems & had to discuss a personal business matter.

While visiting the address they have on file I noticed a letter from the dirtbags and was curious what it had to say. So I opened it up and it is a debt collection letter for Verizon Wireless not for Aaron Wall, but for Aaron Pared.

So it seems as they are planning on harassing me FOREVER for a(n alleged?) debt some other person owed that they paid perhaps pennies on the dollar to buy collection rights for.  If they can’t sue for collections because a debt is so old then they must not have paid much for it.

Because the age of your debt, we (Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC) will not sue you for it. If you do not pay the debt, we may report or continue to report it to the credit reporting agencies as unpaid for as long as the law permits this reporting.

They won’t be getting a cent out of me for whoever the hell Aaron Pared is.

They keep calling a Ting cell phone number for a Verizon bill. And before I had Ting (for many years) I previously had Sprint for many years.

And they are absolute dirtbags for converting Aaron Pared into Aaron Wall and then filing the debt on my credit reports.

If Jefferson Capital Systems filed a fraudulent debt on your credit report you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute the charge with the 3 major credit rating agencies: TransUnion, Equifax & Experian. The process will involve some credit monitoring upsells that you can decline, but the ability to challenge the bogus debt claim is free.

 

Local Substitution, Flat Earth & Winner Take All Platforms

In RBI Baseball on Nintendo there was about a dozen different cheeseball moves a person could do to win the game. If you had runners on first and second you could run the guy from first toward second to get the second baseman to chase him down & then have the guy on second run to third and go back to second and the third baseman would throw the ball into the outfield. That would enable the man on second to score and the man on first to run to second or third. If you had a man on third you could then bunt other batters onto the bases until the bases were full.

In Techmo Bowl winning the season was easy. If you picked the New York Giants you could usually block the competing team’s point after attempts on almost every try. That single algorithmic arbitrage was usually enough to win every game.

In Madden 2003 you could usually win by choosing the Dallas Cowboys, repeatedly running a sweep play to the wide side of the field. There were also other cheesy moves you would never do in real life like pull the slot runner in motion and then have him cut through the line between the offensive linemen before throwing him the ball.

Games used to be easy.

Now the level of competition is intense because you are competing against thousands of other people who often spend many hours per day competing against thousands of other top players.

As you get better (on a relative basis) there keeps being another group of people at or above your level.

Being the best is virtually impossible. Truly a one in a million thing.

Someone in Jacksonville lost at a Madden 19 competition & then apparently went on a rampage killing others.

 

If you work hard at something and make it your identity, when you find out someone is better & you lose hope as your identity is torn down, what do you have left?

When an avatar becomes your identity you are already dead.

Mix in widespread use of antidepressants which increase suicidal + homicidal tendencies & there are regular rage monster stories where people die for seemingly no cause or reason.

 

It is no longer easy to be the best at anything unless your anything crosses disciplines or is something most people hate or do not believe in.

Being a musician who juggles, or maybe some other ridiculous combination of talents in a talent stack.

Outcomes can be quite arbitrary, all you can control is your effort and attention.

 

SEO was easy to be great in because most people thought it was bullshit & not real.

Then after the Panda update the barrier to entry became overwhelming for most. Mix in the Penguin update, manual link penalties, ad-heavy search results, less screen real estate & very quickly it was easy for even the devout SEO to no longer believe in SEO.

Companies which survived the first web bubble & the great recession suddenly find themselves no longer able to compete.

That is part of the story of how a billion dollar retailer which is 20 years old suddenly becomes almost a pure play on the blockchain.

Times change, networks change, life changes.

Only the blockchain endures.

 

It is what we do with good luck or fortune that determines how well we can handle bad luck & unforeseen circumstances.

 

Back when I was young I remember beating my sister’s ex-boyfriend at MarioKart & being able to dominate just about anyone I ever played. An old roommate of mine was really good when he had some of his green friend, but at his peak performance in that alternate state I still typically won. My sister’s ex-boyfriend was a few years older than me and he not only wanted to play but he also wanted to gamble. So we played for $1 and I won. Then double or nothing = $2.

After getting up to $32 (suddenly I had a career at the ripe old age of 13) he decided to do one last double or nothing. He was incredibly serious & played his absolute best. I made some major errors and he was about to beat me and owe me nothing, but in a trite & meaningless (though world-changing at the time) strike of luck I hit a turbo, jumped at an angle over a ramp & literally landed on the front of his car across the finish line to win the series on the last race.

And he actually paid the $64 he lost.

I never thought he would, but that took a lot of character for a 20s guy to pay off a 13 year old for video game gambling debts.

Now obtaining those video game gambling debts might reveal some other character issues, but he was a great guy. Anytime my mom’s car broke (usually from my brother trying to be a show off) my sister’s ex-boyfriend was an ace mechanic who could fix it.

A few years back I bought him a Wii so he could play MarioKart against me again. He took a long time to practice because he wanted to be great before he played me again. Though sadly we never connected to play online. By the time he was ready I was burned out or in flux or something. Whatever it was, I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

 

A few years ago (about a year before buying him a Wii) I tried playing MarioKart online on the Wii & holy crap did my  talent fall precipitously.

Winning became the exception rather than the rule.

People would cheat & find cheeseball short cuts to fall off the map & get placed ahead a half lap.

And, worse yet, some were just legitimately better than me by a country mile.

HOW IN THE HELL DID HE…

DAMN, I JUST SUCK…

Anything short of total devotion meant accepting being happy with being at best average.

And even if I spent hours playing & my rank improved, it only meant that each race was spent facing people who were that much more intense.

I understand working that hard for work. Or playing that hard in a physical sport to keep up your health. But playing that hard & that long at a game would soon start to feel like work, shifting it from a fun escape to something one needed escape from.

 

Even playing at the YMCA I once got to play against a ex-NBA lottery pick who didn’t really take off in the NBA, but man could he dunk in my face. Though even when I lose badly there my longterm health is a winner. The economy as a whole is shifting away from a broad-base of Al “4 touchdowns in a single game” Bundy stories to a bunch of people who tried really hard, did their absolute best, and ultimately fell flat on their faces, with the platform monopolies or ecosystem owners ultimately taking most of the prize.

And when something really goes astray that is more news & content for the central networks.

The pervasive & persistent online monitoring allow the attention networks to learn & optimize personal manipulation on a 1:1 scale.

Whatever is most extreme is more viral. The algos give it a boost, people respond, and the algos give it another boost.

But there is a limit to how extreme you can be before you become Alex Jones.

Who wants to be paranoid like a tweaker most of their lives?

 

And when you get to a certain level of extremeness it becomes a form of comedy. What do you have left when you no longer believe?

Almost nobody lives the life they show on Instagram or Facebook.  And those who believe that stuff are increasingly depressed.

I still remember about a decade ago when a friend of a friend came to town and wanted to go to Las Vegas. The person who wanted to go to Vegas ended up chastising the person who took them, telling them gambling was a sin, and yet they wanted to get  a selfie in front of all the famous casinos to season their Facebook feed and show how awesome their life is. Simulacra.

Even for those who try to put on a bright face without going crazy, they still realize the fakeness to their simulacra. They’ll never be able to compete with the Facebook or Instagram version of themselves, let alone the actual “stars” working the platforms.

We will all eventually die, hopefully most of us will leave behind far more than our social media feeds & whatever ads we clicked.

 

I’ve screwed up a lot more than I would care to admit, but I’ve also worked hard and tried to help a lot of people along the way, even if it was often me who needed the help. Hopefully my good contributions have more than offset my stupidity, errors, bad decisions & selfish behaviors. My wife expects a lot of me, and I have done more than my fair share of cringe-inducing belly flops.

 

In some ways it feels like society is accelerating in an authoritarian direction where there is little incentive for alternative outcomes.

I read an interesting article about life in China:

“Living in China is not without quirks both maddening and amusing.  For instance, something as simple as standing in line in many places can devolve into a knife fight given the utter lack of restraint in cutting that is so common … There is a complete and utter lack of respect for the individual or person in China.  People do not have innate value as people simply because they exist. This leads most directly to a lack of respect for the law/rules/norms. … He was asked to speak on what is the meaning of life, perfect for a part time missionary. He said he knew what people would say having lived in China for sometime but even so was stunned at how deeply and rigidly held the belief that making money was the entire meaning of life. There was no value system.  There was no exogenously held right or wrong, only whether you made money.  With apologies to a bastardized Dostoevsky, with money as God, all is permissible. … beliefs and convictions are only manifested in adversity or when tested. … I have little idea what people in China believe but I know that if the Party ever falls, there will be more than a billion more people claiming they were closet democracy advocates. … China is a rising power but probably more importantly is a deeply illiberal, expansionist, authoritarian, police state opposed to human rights, democracy, free trade, and rule of law. … It is profoundly misguided and short sighted to view the rise of China as tension arising either purely from rising economic development in a major state or as a bilateral conflict with the United States.  China represents a clear and present threat to liberal democracies, open markets, and international system nor do they even now attempt to hide this policy. These tensions for the foreseeable future will only increase. I do not like the way Trump has handled his approach to China and the very valid concerns he raises about their practices, but I find it even more troubling the near total lack of any attempt to deal with these issue previous administrations and the surrogates have displayed for many years and continue to display.  China presents a fundamental threat to the liberal democratic order and the ignorance on display by so many is simply mind boggling.”

In some ways it feels we have some of the same sort of authoritarian & illiberal trends elsewhere.

Central bankers are discussing how their ability to bend the economy may be heavily curtailed by dominant online platforms: “competition from Amazon has led to a greater frequency of price changes at more traditional retailers like Walmart Inc., and also to more uniformity in pricing of the same items across different locations.”

Many online platforms have issues with counterfeit items & then the bigger platforms can take the aggregated audience intention to create an ad layer which further shifts the economics in their favor.

Pieces of the supply chain commoditize the compliment on their old offline partners in a way that further increases sameness of online channels & allows the central platforms to have a low cost or no cost way of further shifting attention away from an open ecosystem to a bid per click attention model.

 “Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of self-sign up for Manufacturer Center, which will allow even more brands to manage their product information across Google. Now, brands can set up their accounts in a matter of minutes and start submitting authoritative, detailed, and rich product information (including images, titles, descriptions, videos, and more) to help their products stand out in a crowded marketplace — whether shoppers are looking for inspiration, to compare products, or to make a purchase.”

The official cookie cutter version is pitched as a neutral view so the layer is homogenized & all other players are welcome to bid for a slice of the attention.

Attention spans shrink: “smartphone apps and web comprised roughly two-thirds (66%) of digital media time in April. Adding in tablets’ 8% share of time, and mobile devices are now up to three-quarters (74%) of total digital media time in the US as of April.”

Ad revenues shoot the moon: “With a strong 7.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2017 through 2022, online advertising will be a $127 billion market by end of the forecast period, per the report. That would make it about 70% larger than the TV advertising market at that point.”

 

When there is no official version, a mix of the ecosystem smooshed together in a confusing collage is sufficient to drive attention back up onto the ads.

When that is combined with enough marketshare, such rehashed simulacra becomes reality.

Entropy will eventually kill us all, but until then it is the ads you click on which define who you are as a person. 😀

 

The above perhaps sounds a wee bit doomerish. But maybe cracks in the central attention platforms coupled with new media formats will create lots of new opportunities for those who are great at reinventing themselves regularly. A few years ago I was surprised Twitch went for close to a billion. I still remember how Facebook paying a billion for Instagram sounded crazy and wow Google was nuts for paying almost $2 billion for YouTube.

Some of the biggest channels are already rebelling against the Google & Apple app tax.

The key is to not get buried in the sunk cost fallacy & keep sampling new things until you find one that is a good fit to run with, at least for a while.

Sites like Yahoo & AOL have been fading for over a decade & the present can seem like stasis, but things will keep on changing.

“Destruction leads to a very rough world but it also breeds creation.”

Graded PSA 10 Gem Mint

Ever wonder how big the gap is between something being in perfect condition & being graded as perfect condition?

To appreciate the subjective nature of grading, check out the following front and back images of a PSA 10 Barry Bonds 1986 Topps Traded rookie card.

On the front left edge, notice the white marks on the black just below the P in Pirates.
barry-bonds-psa10-front

On the back the left edge of the red card stock has at least a couple fairly large white marks. And then the lower left corner looks quite trashed too. This stuff is easily visible to the naked eye.
barry-bonds-psa10-back

For many cards the difference in price between a grade 9 or 10 can be a factor of 5x, 10x, or even 20x. And yet there are likely many 10s graded as 9s and 9s graded as 10s.

The PSA price guide lists the above card as $38 in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition, but only $9 for PSA 9 Mint.

To further appreciate the difference in the price gap, as of typing this COMC has a version of the ungraded card for $3.50…

1986 Topps Traded #11T - Barry Bonds - Courtesy of COMC.com

…and if you submit 100 cards at a time to PSA for grading the bulk price is $7 per card & a 45 business day turn around time. So if the above card grades at anything other than a 10 you lost money getting it graded, and if it grades at a 10 you maybe make a couple hundred percent profit on selling it (presuming you were able to buy an ungraded version in gem mint condition for say $5 or $6).

Here’s the thing though … getting a couple hundred percent profit on a 10 rating only works if you can get more than 1 in 3 to be rated as a 10.

As of writing this, 43,766 copies of the above card have been graded by PSA. Of those cards, only 3,523 (8%) were rated a 10. That means that at current prices 92% of people who would send in a version of that card for grading would lose money.

And you have to join PSA to get your cards graded, which is another $110 to $189 annually. That only further skews the economics.

Sometimes PSA runs specials where they might grade cards for $5.75 each, but even still you are paying for the cards + shipping + there is a roughly 50 business day turn around.

You really have to be selective with what you send in for grading and do it in bulk for it to back out.

 

Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun Special 3DS Walkthrough

kunio-kun-special

Here’s a playlist video walkthrough of this game.

If I were more clever I would have realized the need to buy a Japanese Nintendo 3DS to play this game (熱血硬派くにおくん すぺしゃる) was a hint that I could have put it off buying it until later, hoping for a translation.

The joy of beat em up games is not in Final Fantasy styled text heavy quests, but in just the repetitive battles & finding ways to cheese the opponents.

It is somewhat masochistic to play foreign language games in languages you don’t know how to read, where you need to talk to random characters in order to unlock events elsewhere in the game. My River City Ransom nostalgia was strong, so I couldn’t help myself. 😉

Most of the missions in mission mode was fairly easy, the battle royal mode was fun & simple, and the arcade mode wasn’t too bad other than having to get used to knowing if you attack the direction you are facing it will punch & if you hit the other button it will kick in the opposite direction (so the direction you are facing controls what is a kick vs punch rather than one button always being for punch & the other for kick). The one hard part with the arcade mode was where there were one-hit knife guys who would stab you to death in a single blow. Sometimes when you are moving closer to a character it will engage in a grapple, leaving you immobile for the back stab instant death. My solution to that was to rely heavily on the jump kick & try not to press over when doing the jump kicks. I think I tried beating those guys dozens of times to no avail, but when I adopted the strategy of minimizing walking while attacking I was able to beat the arcade game without dying & beat it 3 times on the continue.

Where I ran into a bit of a trouble (leading me to incorrectly spend/waste a few hours grinding) was after exiting to the right of the Shinjuku Station in the story mode.

In the story mode where I got stuck was to the right of Shinjuku Station. When you exit Shinjuku Station and head right, the first screen should have the girl’s missing dog in it. When I played it didn’t. And not only was the dog missing, but that area to the right there is tricky in terms of loops. For instance, you can get different screens depending the order of your directions. Like if you go down then right then down then right you come out at another town (and in the middle of that process there is a guy with a sign offering for you to play mini baseball where you try to hit homeruns). Or if you go up twice then right twice you can see the guy with the white outfit on in that same screen instead.

How I got hosed there is by seeing the different variations in those screens I thought it was sort of like the original Zelda (left, down, left, up, left in the secret woods), but nope my problem was the dog wasn’t on the initial screen. I had already talked to the girl who told me her dog was missing, but apparently my character also needed to speak to someone on the ground floor inside the school (a boy who is just left of the rows of lockers). Then after I spoke to him as well, when I went to the right of Shinjuku Station the dog was there & the game was pretty close to over given how over powered my character was. After you fight the guy who was kicking the dog, you then go back to tell the girl about her dog & the dog runs up to greet her. You then have to head back over to the same area the dog was at, but then you go right twice, up, left, right (this screen has the guy with white on who you talk to), then after talking to him you go down & it is to an arcade.

A couple of the “secret shop” locations…

  • roof top of school, to the far left in the front
  • where there are two rows of screens for you to go back and fourth between on the overview screen (the high school is at the left end of the top row), the right side of the bottom row has an area you can walk up into to have a redish clay ground & a couple pipes to the upper left corner of the screen. you can walk into the right edge of those pipes.
  • when you are at the Shinjuku Station, go to the far left of the screen and then go up

And for lovers of dragon feet or stone hands, perhaps more important than the secret shops is where you find those rapid attack moves. In the overview screen where there is the school in the top row, the town in the bottom row has a bookstore in it. the top 2 books cost 3000 yen each. the first one is stone hands & the second is dragon feet. Many of the books require you to go into your inventory list to activate them.

The vending machines located in the school and around the town can be walked up to like you are awlking into store. Those vending machines have a food item in them which give you 16 health for 300 yen.

The English language search results for walkthroughs on this game are absolutely atrocious, because they are either walkthroughs for other games from the series, or they are empty holder pages on authority websites.

The one site which had a decent walkthrough was YouTube, but there was a sea of noise there. Here’s a playlist of the videos from that solid walkthrough. The end of video 8 & beginning of video 9 show the dog at the beginning of the screen to the right of the train station. If you are stuck at any other point in the game those videos are a great starting point.

And the Kunio Kun hits keep coming as the River City Ransom Underground KickStarter project from Conatus Creative was funded & there are a number of other Kunio-Kun games on 3DS to check out. I already have Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-Kun SP: Rantou Kyousoukyoku. If I can figure out how to buy from the Japan Nintendo DS eShop I might also give Nekketsu Mahou Monogatari & Riki Densetsu a try.

FIX: Windows Store App Tile Won’t Work to Download Free Windows 8.1 Update

Now that the free upgrade to Windows 8.1 came out, I decided to test it to see how it integrates Bing search more into the core of the operating system.

One problem though, to install the free upgrade you need to be able to launch the Windows Store App. Lots of advice here & elsewhere on how to fix that problem (verify time settings, disable firewalls & proxies, update antispyware / web security software, etc), but none of that worked for me.

What finally worked was when I created another local Windows user account (tip here), elevated that account’s permissions to administrator, then I was able to use that account to open the Windows Store & download the new operating system. I downloaded the Windows 8.1 OS & installed it, restarted the computer & the OS was upgraded across all users. I was able to open up the live panels that previously didn’t open.

Highways and Byways

The glass is half ___.

The stories we tell about ourselves, they’re almost like our infrastructure – like railroads or highways. We can build them almost any way we want to, but once they are in place this whole inner landscape grows up around them. So maybe the point here is to be careful about how you tell your story, or at least conscience of it, because once you’ve told it, once you’ve built the highway, it’s just  very hard to move it. Even if your story is about an angel who came out of nowhere and saved your life. Even then, not even the angel herself can change it.

– Michael Lewis on Emir Kamenica’s Story from This American Life

The railroads & highways bit in the above reminds me a bit of…

  • The Eraser by Thom Yorke “the more you try to erase me, the more that I appear”
  • Lucky by Radiohead “I’m on a roll this time. I feel my luck could change”
  • There, There by Radiohead “just cause you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there”
  • Runaway by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs “highways flew by”
  • Runaway Train by Soul Asylum
  • Fade Into You by Mazzy Star

Open Porsche Hood With a Dead Battery

With cars parked one in front of the other, the sports car is on the inside because it isn’t used too much. After resting unused for a month and a half, the battery in it died to the point that even the hood release wouldn’t work & the hood release is electronic.

Reading online, some folks mentioned about taking out a headlight or reaching up near a wheel well and trying to find the cable to yank on. Another popular solution was to buy a smaller 12 volt jumper battery and apply the charge on the C3 fuse.

Some of the locations described were slightly different depending on if it was a Boxter, or 996 911 Turbo, or so on…so I didn’t want to hose it up with my “mechanical know how of a gnat.” 😉

Yesterday we went to the local O’Reilly Auto Parts (they were open until 8PM on a Sunday) to look for a small battery & there was an even easier solution for getting enough charge to get the hood open. There are chargers you can use that connect from car battery outlet to car battery outlet & slowly charge the battery from that. It took about 10 or 15 minutes, but eventually the Porsche battery was charged enough to open the hood. Once the hood is open one could do a normal jump start or replace the battery if it wouldn’t take charge.

The smaller 12 volt charging packs ranged around $60 to $100 locally, but the battery plug charger via cigarette lighter was only $29.99 plus tax. Here are front & back pictures of the product box

box-front
box-back

If one has an Amazon Prime membership & is willing to wait a day or two, there are some other versions that are around $20, $15 or only $10 even.

Sony Vaio Laptop Windows 8 Screen Brightness Dim

In Windows 8 there is a featured called “adaptive brightness” which is often blamed for screen brightness settings going astray.

However, with Sony Vaio laptops the disaster that causes the automated screen dimming is a setting withing the Vaio control panel.

Put your finger to the right side of the laptop’s display & swipe it across the screen to the left slightly. Click on the “search” option & put “Vaio control center” in there. Then from that result list click on the Vaio Control Center listing.

Once it opens, you should see “image quality” in the left menu. Click on that.

There is an on – off slider for Display Brightness that controls this evil feature. It says “Set whether to sense the brightness and automatically adjust the display brightness accordingly.” … set that feature to off & your monitor darkness problems should be solved.

Once that is off, if the screen is still dark, you can hold down the function key & hit F7 a half dozen times or so to brighten it up.

At that point you should be all set with that brightening your screen. If it for some reason dims again, then you  might have to go into your “power options” (by clicking on the battery icon in the lower right) to adjust the brightness of your screen under it’s current settings. There are multiple plan options for “balanced” vs “high performance” vs “power saver” … set your plan to high performance & verify it’s screen sliders are set to full bright when plugged in.

The unusably dark screen problem should be conquered at this point.

How To Set Up a Replacement Fitbit Tracker With Your Current Account

If you search around the web for information on how to replace a lost Fitbit pedometer it seems information is pretty scarce. There are complaints about getting one that is cracked & then some other random ecommerce websites that sell Fitbits that want to sell you another, but no real advice on how to set up your new fit bit while keeping it tied to your old account. My mom ended up calling me & we used TeamViewer to help her set it up remotely.

The trick for setting up a replacement Fitbit & connecting it to your old account is to start up the process just like you are registering a brand new Fitbit & account.

So visit http://www.fitbit.com/start  then click the start button

then download the install file

then Run it

go through the start up wizard like it is a brand new bit

click finish go to “Proceed to account setup…”

here is where you highlight that you are setting up a replacement device

and then you just login to your old account & set up the fitbit like normal

go through the last few steps of the set up process.

and if you want to verify everything works, you can then walk a few dozen steps (so that some register on the bit) then come back to the computer and wait a couple minutes & the data should then sync to your online account.

one last tip here in terms of losing fit bits … it is very easy to wash them or have them fall off clothing or some such. I had a pedometer that went in my pocket & even if I remembered to pull it out 98% of the time, the 1 in 50 chance of forgetting means you are washing a pedometer every other month. likewise it is easy to have them fall off.

the way I solved that problem with my old pedometer was tying a shoelace around it & then tying that through to my wallet (or even keys). the only issue with that strategy is that it means you have to have the keys with you, which isn’t always ideal when working out.

given the shape of fitbit, a great solution to this sort of problem is ordering a simply & low-cost necklace like this one, which currently costs $20. (I just sent my mom one too :D)

you want something with a nice solid clasp so it won’t fall apart, but you also need to be the chain part to be at most maybe 5 or 6mm around so that the loop part of the bit easily fits over it…the above is 4 & works quite well.

the benefit of a necklace is you can leave it on all the time & only take the bit off when you are bathing. the only real opportunity to screw things up is when going to the shower, but since one is naked it is pretty easy to remember to take it off. 🙂 so long as you set it somewhere elevated off the ground (beyond the reach of a pet) and not near a trash can then generally speaking the worst that can happen is you forget to put it on right away & maybe you don’t count a hundred steps while walking around drying off. but at least you are not buying another pedometer 😉

One last issue some people might have is forgetting to charge their Fitbit and/or dealing with rusting contacts. The solution to rusting contacts if you are a serious sweater is to use a Fitbit Zip instead of a Fitbit Ultra. It requires you to change the battery every few months or such, but there are no exposed metal contacts to rust out. I believe the Fitbit One (which replaces the Ultra) also comes with a silicon jacket, so you don’t have exposed metal contacts which get corroded by your sweat.

 

The Hidden Life of Dogs

Reading a book on dog psychology might qualify one as a genuine escentric. However writing a book on it is taking things to the next level. 🙂

In writing this great book Elisabeth Marshall Thomas logged over 100,000 hours of research watching dogs. She even went so far as going up north to observe a wolf family during days with 24 hours of sunlight.

Here were some of the notes I took based on the book.

Emotions, decisions & customs

  • dogs have emotions just like humans do. they also frequently decide between choices & make trade offs.
  • dogs have imaginations & lonely dogs may make up fantasy and pretend to have friends or foes they are playing with or chasing around
  • the need for belonging is important with dogs. if a dog is far away from a group and wet it will usually wait until catching up before shaking off
  • dogs develop unique customs that continue to spread downward from the alpha dog, however a custom learned from an alpha dog can become unlearned if environment changes & the dog is around other dogs with other customs
  • dogs can also adopt mannerisms from humans, like sharing food back and forth. or they can try to make their smiles look more like a human smile
  • when a dog growls at you while eating a bone it assumes you want it. dogs cast their values onto others too & evaluate other species through empathetic observations.
  • I don’t believe it was mentioned in this book, but some online sources mentioned that when reading human faces dogs have a left-gaze bias. this book does mention that dogs are great at readubg human emotions & can read them from afar.
  • when dogs show their bellies they are saying “do as you will with us, since we are helpless puppies in your presence.”
  • a husky from a native american tribe in alaska was afraid of things that sounded like whips or the sound of alchohol in a person’s voice
  • dogs may dream & just before giving birth one dog appeared to have dreamed of her own childhood (based on a unique tongue pattern)

Navigation

  • some dogs are bad at navigation while others are good at it, having a range of hundreds of square miles without getting lost very often. some homeless dogs that are much more weak might only have a range of a small portion of a square mile.
  • if a dog really loves another dog sometimes it will follow it even if it is heading astray. eventually it might try to catch up and push to turn the dog. if a dog gets too lost it might go sit on someone’s porch and wait to have you come pick it up.
  • a dog that is dropped off in the country somewhere will be less likely to be able to find their way than a dog that traveled to and fro on paw.
  • dogs learn to avoid areas with heavy traffic congestion in both directions, instead opting to go around them. if a dog must go on a highway it may use diplomacy and tact & does not try to challenge their authority.when cars become fewer the dog becomes more confident.
  • where there are sidewalks dogs will use them like humans, except for when they cross over streets they will move like 20 feet in from the intersection, so that they only have cars coming from 2 directions.
  • on more residential roads a dog is more likely to run down the middle of the road with eyes front & use its ears to hear if there are cars coming from side streets, without having to adjust pace or use its eyes for that task.
  • dogs who chase cars see them as unruly animals in need of sheparding.
  • after moving away for many years they moved back to a town they lived at prior (in a different part of the town) and their dog quickly headed out to scout the old neighborhood.

Hierarchy & it’s a dog eat dog world out there…

  • part of the purpose of travel is to meet other dogs & circle them to show the superiority & another part was completely marking territory that has been overmarked by other dogs. dogs may aim upward & mark their pee spots like 3 feet or more off the ground, so as to appear larger to other dogs. when sizing up dogs in person, some dogs will ignore dogs much larger than them & only compare themselves against dogs of a similar or smaller size, such that they can “win” the status comparison
  • males of high rank are more desirable to females for mating purposes, as it can mean life & death for her pups
  • dogs inside a house establish rank almost immediately, but then they tend to try to avoid conflict beyond playing (an exception would be when a female dog is in heat & the boy dogs fight)

Wolves

  • some wolf dens might be 1,000 or more years old, with the wolves living there long enough that they cut grooves into rocks with their walk, located near rivers for drinking water & to fence in pups & be near migratory paths for caribou, passed down from generation to generation. artic winter is a big killer & thus wolves have to dig out a den before winter, mate in feb & birth in march so that their pups are large enough to survive the first winter.
  • to feed the babies, wolves would eat the kill, return & regurgitate it.
  • wolves would travel singularly or in pairs with one staying to guard the den & pups.
  • the hierarchy of the pack was established based on family role, thus they didn’t spend much time/effort focusing on it.
  • the hunting process for wolves is so challenging that it may help to explain why they want an orderly simplicity elsewhere
  • after spotting humans where they are rare wolves may call together an assembly and howl in unison

Dogs & Wolves

  • wolves are the ancestors of dogs
  • domesticated wolves might sing duets to emphasize their togetherness. dogs generally won’t, but when a lover dog was took away for surgery for a few days one did. when another dog passed away at a vet the dogs also howled throughout the night
  •  when dogs sleep at night they might turn away from you, like look outs looking in another direction.

Family life

  • while male dogs in love tend to let a female dog get away with things, if it goes too far such a dog may block the dog it is smitten for from doing an act it does not like.
  • some dogs wait until finding the perfect mate and then have exclusive romance with that dog
  • when a dog has pups it holds them tightly with its thighs. when the father dog sees the mother it may puke, in a suggestion offering food for the mother and pups
  • father dogs might like to be elevated above younger dogs (eg: furniture vs floor)
  • when a father dog starts to take a pup voyaging it won’t go as fast, as far, or to some of the more dangerous areas. the pup who went on the young trips retained his navigation skills 18 years later when he had Alzheimer’s disease.
  • when dog lovers are separated they can tell something is wrong on the final visit. after separation a dog may become unhappy & depressed.
  • dogs tend to synchronize going into heat
  • when a dog comes back other dogs investigate the scent of its legs, reproductive organs & mouth to learn about the trip. when people come back they are often investigated as well for scent from the knee down.
  • a female coyote mated with one of her male dogs. not many coydogs live on though because it is hard for a single coyote to raise pups.

Anti-family life

  • male dogs can “rape” an unsuspecting female dog
  • father-daughter incest among dogs is not uncommon, but mother-sun is also not common. an alpha female can also coerce the other females with a “just say no” stare
  • when 2 dogs give birth around the same time, a higher status dog may kill the liter of a lower status dog. if neither of those dogs is the lead alpha dog & a pup survives then the lead alpha dog might adopt the remaining pup. a dog that kills one litter (when both had fresh pups) may opt to adopt the next liter. If a dog is adopted it is more likely to take after its adopted parent than its biological one
  • while dogs rarely bite adults they more commonly bite children, who in some cases they believe are stepping out of bounds in terms of status. many such bites are disciplinary reminders of status, rather than attempts to harm.
  • dogs that might like infant animals (like possums) may later view them as prey as they grow a bit larger
  • some owners who cloak a dog in clothes & perfume may trick other dogs into not realizing their pet is a dog, and try to attack it. but a lower status dog that identifies itself by yelping and shows its lower status by rolling on its back generally won’t get bit.

Status

  • when dogs permanently move they might set up some sort of a den so they know where to meet up if they separate at all. in this case the dogs tried to keep the den a secret & built out a large one that was fairly well camouflaged. as the dogs took more to nature they became less concerned with people.
  • “Primates feel pure, flat immobility as boredom, but dogs feel it as peace.”
  • sometimes dogs will go bathroom with the lowest status dog first, then on up the chain, with the highest status dog leaving the last mark.

Death & protection

  • flat faced dogs have trouble breathing when excited due to how many organs are smooshed into a small space. some of them hurt themselves by getting too excited.
  • dogs want to belong & a loss of a member of their firm social system is significant.
  • some dogs want to go where it is quiet & dark & lonely to die. others desire to be near the pack when they pass.
  • a dog that had diabetes learned to nudge its owners for an insulin shot, even though it took about an hour to kick in