A Credit Card For the 21st Century

So, the financial idea for the 21st century:

As of 2008, Americans carry an average of 3.5 credit cards. The average debt per household is about $16,000. That was in 2008, it’s safe to assume that these numbers have grown in the past 4 years.

Also, it’s safe to assume that most of these cards are rewards cards. Either cashback bonuses for use, airline miles, double airline miles, etc.

The problem with the number of cards people carry is a function of quantity (they don’t fit into your wallet) and how do you maximize rewards points and other variables, such as balance and interest rate.

A solution is a single system (online, of course), where you enter in each of your credit cards (a la PayPal). This system talks to your credit card companies to get the balance on your account, the interest rates, your maximum balance (including cash advance) and any rewards programs that they offer.

You’d buy something using this single credit card for every purchase. (Maybe a POS card would be a more appropriate name.) The backend system would authorize the transaction to each of your cards on file, and upon approval of one (or more), the merchant would get an approval notice and for them, the sale is  complete. However, the backend system wouldn’t bill your card just yet. It’d attempt to analyze the purchase you just made.

Was it gas? If so, charge the card that offers gas rewards point or cashback. (Assuming it was approved and you have available balance, of course).

Was it food? Charge a different card that offers restaurant rewards points, instead. (Assuming the above, as well).

Were reward points available for use on one of the cards and could they be used for this purchase?

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Did you want a cash advance? Choose the card that offers the lowest cash APR of the ones you have available. Possibly splitting the charge up amongst the cards for either ease of paying off next month or for balance purposes.

A user could also set a priority for what cards get used. Such as, use the card that gives airline miles over ones that give rewards points. It wouldn’t even be terribly difficult to show the cash value of each – and which one is actually the “best” reward. The system could also make sure that no card goes “unused” for periods of time, which can negatively affect a personal credit score.

The end user benefits, especially if the system could talk to the credit card companies and enroll the customer in rewards programs. Discover, for example, changes its cash back offers every quarter. So you have to call to re-enroll in the program to get maximum benefit on certain purchases. This would automatically enroll you, and if Discover changed their 5% rewards to restaurants one quarter, instead of gas, you’d start using your Discover when you went out to eat. And a different card for gas, instead of Discover.

A nominal fee could be assessed to users. Or, the card could simply have a higher than normal discount rate at the merchant processing it. Passing the fees along to them. Rewards cards do this already; so that is not even an entirely new concept.

In addition to credit cards, gift cards could be added to this card – and since most gift cards are thrown away and not used (or not fully used!) it’d allow customers to both use these more efficiently and more completely. Other swipe cards could easily be added, as well.

This sort of system would make credit/debit card use more efficient and the customer gets more rewards in the process. Credit card companies are ensured their cards are used more often (people often forget to use given card for months at a time) and incentivizes them to offer more rewards to attract more customers. It’s a win-win for both sides of the spectrum.

Dark Souls Capra Demon Strategy

The key to this fight is all in the beginning. Press A to enter the glowing door and immediately put up your shield.

Tack to the left; and focus target on the dog there. Kill it – ignore the other dog and the demon for now (just worry about getting your focus on that second dog). Kite back to the stairs at the back left of the room. Kill it. Stand at the top of the stairs to heal yourself (if necessary). When the demon walks up the stairs, you jump down. After a few moments, he’ll drop down too. He’ll be stunned for a second (just like you, if you drop that sort of distance) – hit him a few times while he’s like that.

Now kite him around to the stairs again. Rinse/repeat till he is dead.

This isn’t a hard boss (The Bell Gargoyles take this honor by far, thus far into the game). The key is getting the dogs down as quickly as possible, while staying alive. If you have the drake sword or something similar, the dogs should each die in a hit or two. They have no more health than the dogs you encountered on the way to the boss. In fact, after he’s dead; they will respawn if you die or rest at your flame. So be aware of this as you start on the Depths.

Part of the reason I like Dark Souls is that the monsters seem to play by the same rules as you. This boss accentuates that fact. Part of the reason I don’t like Dark Souls is the constant back tracking you are forced to do. I find that very frustrating. But I’m proud that I made good progress today. Bell Gargoyles down and the Chapra Demon as well. Plus I finally took the time to get the Drake Sword (with the crossbow, manually aiming. 20 bolts. TYVM). Not sure I could give a strategy for the two gargoyles as I believe I finally downed that with some dumb luck. Those fuckers were so random. Sometimes I’d get the second gargoyle spawning right on top of us. Both in melee was bad news.

After killing them and ringing the bell, I was like. Okay what do I do now? I went to the forest or whatever for a while (some pussy ass mini boss at the entrance, geesh, easiest mini boss yet). But then I read that the Depths is the easier way to go – so I went there. I’ll go back to the forest another time. To be honest, I got pretty far there then I encountered this knight that was laying there. When I approached he woke up. I killed him fine. Then I ran over to the loot and got attacked by 1 more of them and 2 plants. I died. When I went back down there, the first giant was back and I was like “fuck that” and went back to the Undead Berg. Got me a nice set of armor though, so that was worth it. :)

Need Extra Christmas Cash?

If you have a website, and need some extra Christmas cash, consider adding an affiliate program to your site. Shareasale lets site owners – like bloggers – add a link to various merchants to earn a few bucks for Christmas.  Advanced users can create a datafeed to actually feature products on their site. And just in time for Christmas, Shareasale has featured some merchants whose programs you might be interested in.

One of my sites is featured this year; so I’m pretty proud about that!

CSI Thinks I’m Stupid

I admit it. I watch CSI constantly. In reruns usually on Spike or A&E or where-ever it’s on, but I’ve noticed lately that CSI thinks I’m retarded.

I first noticed it with CSI: Miami; but now I’ve noticed with CSI: NY as well. The main CSI show, not so much – yet.

How do they think me stupid?

One of the characters will say something like, “The hair fell in the shoe while he was leaning over it.”

And then we flashback to a guy leaning over a shoe with a piece of hair falling into the shoe.

Wow! Before they showed me that; I couldn’t have grasped the concept of how that was possible. Thanks, CSI!

Or they’ll say, “she fell on the bike and hit her head.”

Cue the flashback of the chick falling on the bike and hitting her head.

Wow! Again! Without the flashback, I might not have figured out what they were trying to tell me there.

I used to think CSI was good cuz it made you think; but lately it seems like they’ve given up on that and are now just catering to morons.

While I like CSI: Miami quite a bit (the schtick of Horatio is a hoot – the glasses, the one liners – I love it all), but the totally unrealistic technology they have in the lab is dumb. If any taxpayer funded agency has touch screen hologram computers for basic “Search” functions, I demand a tax refund. It’s superfluous and silly.

This is me, ending a blog post.

Cue the flashback of me clicking “save and publish”

Automobile Bailouts Explained

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are seeking $50 billion dollars in loans from the government to keep operations going. This is on top of a $25 billion dollar loan that was already snuck through during the bailout fiasco.

Bush, I believe turned down $10 billion more in loans earlier this week. I would not expect Obama, once in augurated, to be so frugal with tax dollars.

So I’ll explain the bailout quickly for you.

Since you would not willingly purchase a $40,000 car that you did not like, government will force you to give ~$200 to each of these companies.

Why? Because they can. Did you really need a good reason for it?

Bailouts encourage poor management practices. Chrysler was bailed out years ago and here they are begging for money again. If Chrysler had been allowed to fail last time and bought up by another company maybe it wouldn’t be begging for money again.

As with the financial bailout, I’m totally against tax dollars going to prop up failing private businesses. Once you start; its impossible to say no. We are already facing a $550 billion deficit next year – some estimates have it upwards of $1 trillion.

Given that Obama will never cut spending and only – as he said – “looks at the revenue side of things” taxes will, inevitably go up. CA is talking about a $4.4 billion tax hike. NY is canceling rebate checks and thinking about taxing incomes at a higher rate. The trend is already here. In a down economy, raising taxes is the worst thing to do. But here we are. Why?

  • Because Ford can’t make a car that people want to buy – and it’s your fault.
  • Because mortgage giants can’t make good loans – and it’s your fault.
  • Government writes policies that make these bad loans possible – and it’s your fault.

And you wonder why fiscal conservatives remind you that the government is the devil. Because it is.

Write-in Zombie Reagan in the Primaries; not Fred

Glenn Reynolds links to a post suggesting we should write-in Fred Thompson in the primaries to show that Republican voters wanted to vote for a true conservative. But now, they can’t since he dropped out in the last week or so.

I think the idea is good; but why do it for Fred? Fred, apparently, could have won all 47 of LA’s delegates had he stayed in the race a few days longer. Momentum was, I believe, on Fred’s side. But he bowed out, and I still believe that he was in the race to be the VP, for McCain. He, in the end, killed off Huckabee (hopefully); so his candidacy did serve a useful purpose.

But still, I have not found any real evidence that Fred ever had the fire in his belly to be President. So why write him in? Instead, show complete disdain for the process and vote Zombie Reagan. Now that is a clear message. If we can’t vote for a conservative, we’d rather vote for a dead person. And what dead person is better able to win than Reagan?

Zombie Reagan. ’08. For eternity.

Zombie Reagan

Online Uno Strategy

I’ve been playing Uno on XBox Live Arcade recently and I’ve begun to pick up some good strategy tips that maybe you havne’t thought of. Uno is very much based upon luck, so I wouldn’t go assuming any strategy will let you win a lot more often, so the best you can do is put yourself in the best possible position to win. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned:

  • Save your wild cards: Unless you absolutely have to; do not use them. Save them as, hopefully, your last card to make sure you can go out on anything.
  • Try to keep all the colors in your hand: There are four card colors, so if you have 4 cards left you want to try and have one of each in your hand (if at all possible).
  • Do not keep duplicate numbers: As you know, using the same number that is already on the discard pile will let you change the color from blue to green or whatever. If your hand has 2 8′s and an 8 is on top, even if you have that color, drop the off color 8, especially if the colored card is the last one you have. For instance if you have: Red123, Blue45, Green 4 and the card on top is a green 4. Drop the blue 4, not the green 4. Keep your colors in tact, but get rid of  the duplicate numbers instead. Give yourself options, both colors and numbers for later in the game.
  • Challenge Uno: It’s not nice; but if someone forgets to call Uno, call them on it. Make them draw two cards as a punishment. On Xbox Live Arcade, when I see someone going down to 1; I’m hitting the Y challenge button immediately so even if the next player acts quickly, you got the non-caller.
  • Drawing Cards: If you do not have a card to play and are forced to draw from the deck; do not play the card you draw, even if its eligible. It tells the other players that you are still lacking that color and inspires them to either reverse play to make you draw again or keep the color the same for another go around. Especially do not play any wild card you draw. Always keep that card.

There may be other tricks as well, but these seem to work well for me and let me win a decent (meaning 30% – HA!) of games. Dumb luck still rules in Uno, which is why it’s fun; but put yourself in the best possible situation to keep your average (in a 4 player game) above 25%.

 Good luck!

USB Rechargeable AA Batteries

Finally. I found this online today.

USB Rechargeable Batteries

It’s a pair of AA batteries that can be recharged using the USB port on your computer. I can imagine these would be great for travel, especially for your cordless mice or a ton of other things. I know I’m buying some (the box of 10 perhaps) so I can recharge one set of batteries while using another in my new Xbox 360.

The box of 10 is a bit pricey at 89.95 pounds (about 160 dollars or so?) so I have concerns about battery life. But other than that, in the long run, it might even be a good investment.

Fake ATM Receipts Fool the Ladies!

Want to impress the ladies, but don’t have money? Don’t earn your cash, fake it. With these brand new fake ATM receipts. With a few clicks, you, too can have a bank balance of nearly a million dollars. Drop them on the table during a date, leave one on your kitchen table when you bring that hot date home, leave one in the car. Anywhere you want the ladies to notice. Cuz, guys, afterall, we all know what wins the ladies’ heart right? Cash! Or at least the perception of cash.

Fake Receipts

Here’s mine. I only have $987,000 in the bank (Its not much different than reality, ladies, I swear!). How much fake wealth do you have? The site offers a year supply and a monthly supply of fake ATM receipts.

Eating (nearly) Extinct Animals for Fun and Profit

I’m a long time advocate of eating rare and nearly extinct creatures. If they are heading the way of the do-do, why not enjoy them while they are still around? And what better way to enjoy creatures than to BBQ them?

Some villagers in New Guinea agree with me; and further bolster my beliefs that the most delicious animals are the nearly extinct ones. Sad.

One of the villagers said that he had trapped one in a snare and eaten it in the jungle, being unaware of how rare and sought-after the echidna was. “It was delicious,” he said.

Imagine if you were eating the last of a species. I bet that’d be a sweet, sweet meal, wouldn’t it? Somehow knowing that you would be the last person to ever nibble on it would make it taste better. Maybe to the point of not even needing Ketchup!

One of the Zoologists looking for the creature said, “This is good news. Of course, I’m delighted. I would like to meet it.”

Or eat it. Which ever. You know.

So I’ll pass it to my reader(s). Which nearly extinct animal sounds delicious to you? I’m up for Panda Bear. It sits around all day and does nothing but eat and sleep. That’s gotta be some mighty tender meat there. I bet Knut is pretty yummy, too.