What kind of driver should I use when golfing, especially for long drives?

Everybody has a different swing in golf. Go to your pro shop or golf shop at the driving range, and try several different drivers. Ask the pro to help you select a club, and get lessons on increasing your drives.

The technology in golf clubs keeps changing. Shaft flex, club head design, grip patterns, and more are giving golfers more forgiving swings and greater range.

Some stores (Dicks sporting goods, Golf galaxy, etc.) have indoor golf simulators, so you can try out a new driver at the shop.  Or you can buy a driver on Amazon or Ebay, where you can save a bit of money.

But you still need to find the club that works best for you. (regardless of your brand preference).

How to drive the golf ball as far as you possibly can, by Ian Hardie, On Amazon

And, as the Bridgestone people showed me, the golf balls you use will make a difference too. If your main goal is a long drive, find the ball that gives you more distance. I mention Bridgestone here because they set up at courses and driving ranges, using technology to demonstrate how their different balls affect your play. I prefer a softer ball now.

Bridgestone e6 Soft Golf Balls – 2 Dozen, from Amazon

Golf Balls on Ebay

It’s also a good idea to have an exercise routine for your golf game,  to condition your body for those long hard swings, and reduce fatigue.  Spending 3-4 hours golfing is hard on the body, and you need to be in-shape.  Pro golfers tend to make it look easy – but they are working hard.

Hand Strengtheners, available on Amazon

Golf Swing Trainers, available on Ebay

Use your regular driver and balls as the baseline for your search, and take notes (use a notebook) to record each clubs drive distance, accuracy, and feel.

Best of luck – hit ’em straight and LONG!

(And let me know how you did, and if my advice helped you)!

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.

Home Depot can’t copy a car key with a chip – WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Home Depot copies most common household keys (Kwikset, Schlage, etc.), but not programmable chip car keys.

All is not lost!  Car keys with a chip have to be programmed by a machine.  The car dealers do it, and some locksmiths do as well.  Some Sears stores have a key kiosk in their parking lots that do it while you wait.

When you go to a dealer, they usually refuse to guarantee any key they did not sell you (usually at full retail, plus the “programming fee”).  While this is a necessary theft deterrent, it is wretchedly expensive.   There are deals on craigslist and from locksmiths if you shop around – the savings can be significant, so it can be worthwhile!

This blog explains why car keys cost so much to program – from the locksmith point of view.

You can buy the blank, unprogrammed keys on Ebay or Amazon.  Make sure you get the right one for your make and model of car.  Also check your keychain remote, if it is worn or has issues, you can replace and reprogram it at the same time.  (personal note;  mine had the ink worn off the buttons, and the case was worn – so I got a new fob, and moved the battery and circuit board from the old one into the new one.  no reprogramming, and it works like new)!

If you want to reprogram the key  yourself:

You can buy a car key programmer like this one from Amazon for about $100

The programming tool may cost as much as programming the key at the dealer; if this is the case – and you have a few cars in the family fleet – It may pay to get the tool and keep it around.  You will have to learn how it works, and successfully program the key, but the savings on the second key (and every one after that) will make up the cost in a short order.

Most cars today come with two keys and a valet key.  The Valet key does not open the trunk or the glove box, to keep items safe when you have your car parked by an attendant.  If you have only one key, keep this article handy!

Thank you for reading!

Where do I find info about slot machines?

Slot machines, to me, are lots of fun!  Here are some tips about getting the most info from your slot machines – play as you learn.

I get a lot of good information from Casino City Times – Gaming Gurus  – Frank Scoblette is a good source of information on Slots.  I also Like Casino Gambling Strategy – Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Three Card Poker, Slots, Video Poker – from VegasTripping.com.

One of the hardest disciplines to learn is managing your bankroll, or gambling money.  I would recommend that you learn to be a session gambler. Divide your bankroll into smaller piles.  For example, take a one hundred dollar bill and divide it into 5 $20 dollar sessions.  When you play a machine, only put in one $20 bill, (or one session).  when the $20 is consumed, your session has ended, and you make the decision to switch machines or start a new session.  If you jackpot, cash-out and end that session – put that money in your back pocket, for later.  If you blow all 5 sessions, hang it up – take a break, and see what else you can do at the casino!

Smart Slot Strategies: A mathematical approach to winning slot machine strategies

Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes and review the paytables on the machines;  paytables have a significant impact on your potential winnings.  Progressive slot machines (where a bank of slots contribute to the pool of prize money) usually require a Maximum Bet to get the big prize.  You can bet less, but that means if you roll the winning combination – you may get a small payout or NOTHING.  Other machines may have graduated payouts regardless of your bet; so if you are playing small wagers to extend your play time at the machine, seek out these machines so you don’t miss any winning opportunities!

Keep an eye on the slot machines maximum bet – usually expressed in credits;  wagering 500 credits on a penny machine is $5.00 for that spin of the reels! If your session is $20, that is only 4 spins – if your session is $100, then you have 20 spins.  More spins mean more opportunity to win (or lose).  Many hard core slot machine players feel you have to wager $200 – $300 on a machine, in order to get any significant winnings.  Decide in advance what your gambling budget is, and space it over your time in the casino – then you have an idea what you are willing to spend on gaming, and can strategize the most practical way to meter your wagering.

If you bump into a slot attendant, they may have a “hot sheet” of machines that have the larger payouts on the floor.  Not all casinos distribute or publish this information, and it usually just tells you which machines are played the most, which is why they have the bigger payouts.

 

The Mathematics of Slots: Configurations, Combinations, Probabilities

These books can be very helpful.  Read all you can.  Now that slots are mostly electronic, the math and “gambler psychology” play into how the machines work.  Pay attention to paytables, progressives, and the type of machine you are playing!

 

Best of luck in and out of the casino’s,  -Alan

What is the worst coffee shop in Hawaii?

This is a very subjective question, worthy of reflection and ACTION.

Hawaii is the source of legendary Kona Coffee, grown in the rich volcanic soil in Hawaii.  Since I have not, to my detriment, been to many coffee shops in the great state of Hawaii, I believe a field expedition is needed.

My goal would be to define “Coffee Shop”, and review as many as possible (being my usual honest and reflective self).

11 Days In Kona: Coffee Travel, from Amazon Books

The first series of reviews to be published would be Coffee shops where that is their primary business, not diners or restaurants that serve coffee.
In addition, we would seek out the “Best of the Worst”, serving the most wretched brew that can be served without the health department condemning the business.

I propose we get a kick-starter campaign, or Go fund me, and have a dedicated field expedition to each island and review coffee shops, perhaps 10 a day, focusing on the candidate for the “worst” shop. Part of the money raised can go to the shop for improvements, a website to promote our on-going research, a donation to charity, and supporting the research team.

I would be honored to lead the team in such an endeavor, and if interested readers contact me with their desire to fund and participate, I will build the initial website, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, etc., Start the funding effort, and promote the quest!

Fear not, my Hawaiian brethren, we shall (when funded) find the best of the worst!

“A pau e pono ai ka ke aloha a me ke kope”
(Translation from the Hawaiian: “All you need is love and coffee”)
Mahalo.

Wonderful Kona Coffee, from Amazon

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.

Can you trust car companies? which ones?

Car companies are hard to trust.
I have had bad experiences with planned obsolescence, failures due to poor design, dealer behaviors, and paying for repairs covered under “secret warranties”. While I have never owned a Volkswagen, the top-down conspiracy to cheat at the emissions controls demonstrated that the company has had an ingrained culture of deceit that is, to me, unconscionable. And VW is not the only emissions-scamming car company. Fiat, Renault, VW scams will hasten rise of electric car
I currently own a Nissan quest Minivan, and scrupulously avoid the dealer for repairs because of upsells and ludicrously expensive parts. (I just replaced a solenoid, it cost me $15 and 20 minutes of my labor. I was quoted $340). I put in powerstop high-performance brakes because the vehicle is seriously under-braked, most noticeably with a few passengers aboard.
I used to have a Ford van, “Betsy”, which was killed by a Ford Dealer. After a recall repair, I let the dealer change the oil. The highly trained mechanic stripped the oil plug bolt, and put in the wrong size rubber stopper. Most of the oil leaked out in a few hours, and I had to get the right stopper, ruined a blanket with oil so I could get under the truck, add more oil, and pray it was not beyond repair. The dealer was apologetic and told me it was an “old truck”, and tried to sell me a new one. I had to sell Betsy a week later, with an engine rattling on 30 weight oil. I still own Ford Stock, but am not happy with the recalls that just bring you back to the dealer, and the dealers who feel the only way to fix a car is with a new one. This is not unique to Ford, and is a reason why Tesla is not sold through a dealer network. Not all dealers are unscrupulous, look at this example: Calif. dealer won’t sell some Priuses, citing safety concerns – CBS News – I would bring my car to that dealer.
There are big picture issues here too – Look at Automakers Turn to Climate Deniers in Quest to Lower Fuel Economy Regulations ! The Alliance of Automobile manufacturers is working to roll back mileage and emissions standards. Collectively. I find this as reprehensible as when the CEO’s of the auto industry took their corporate jets to Washington when they were begging congress for financial bailouts. Big Three auto CEOs flew private jets to ask for taxpayer money – CNN.
I have been a despairing consumer of automobiles all my life, and find it hard to trust car manufacturers who appear to have corrupt and unethical practices “hard-wired”into their business model, just to milk more profit off of us consumers, while trying to build “brand loyalty”.
The most promising car manufacturer, in my opinion, is Tesla – a newcomer on the market with a well made product and transparency into the company that we normally do not see in large manufacturers. I am hoping my Nissan can be kept going until I can get a model 3! (Disclaimer: I own Tesla stock). Time will tell with Tesla. But the rest of the Auto Manufacturers? Let’s wait and see.
General Motors ignition switch recalls – Wikipedia (10 year story on how not to run your company)
Edit: Take a look at these two pieces on Tesla, highlighting the difficulty in disrupting the current practices in the automobile industry:
How “corrupt” is Tesla? – Quora answers, (I especially enjoyed the one by Kathiravan Jayachandiran)
Being a “car guy” most of my life, I have a lot of optimism that these problems can be replaced with good management and customer focused production.  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and feel free to share your thoughts.
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors  Link is to her Wikipedia page.
In my opinion, she is working hard for responsible and positive change at GM.

What is Car polish – and do I need it?

When you wash and wax your car, you sometimes can wax dirt onto the finish, especially if your car spends a lot of time outside.  Polishing smooths out the contaminants and residues that are stuck to the paint finish on your car.  Polishing is a step for car’s paint BEFORE you wax. Not all finishes need polishing (or fine compounding, which should be done before polishing).  if you run your hand over the freshly washed car, and you feel imperfections and particulates (or if the finish is not smooth at all),  your car is a candidate for a polishing.  You don’t always have to polish your finish, and you can just spot polish areas like the front of the hood, which get the brunt of road grime and crud.
When your car finish gets older, and suffers from dried bird droppings, tree sap, light oxidation, brake dust, etc., a polishing will help restore the smooth finish and look to your car. Make sure you don’t “overdo” it, especially if you use a rotary or random orbital buffer. You don’t have to polish your car very often, it depends on the finish – is it becoming rough? Not smooth when you wax? No more than once a year, if it needs it. If your car is garaged or covered or waxed regularly, you may never need to polish your car, unless you are doing a super-duper detailing job on the finish.
Available corded or cordless.
Once you have polished your car, all the wax is pretty much gone, and I would recommend a good hand-applied paste wax and buffing out with an random orbital polisher. (Put on a good base coat, and put another coat on in 2–3 weeks, your car will look sharp).
Here are some popular car waxes.  You will love the way your car will shine!
You can also get liquid waxes too.
In between waxes you can use a spray on “show car” finish detailer, that will re-activate the wax.
If you are saving water, these “waterless car wash” products get your car clean without using gallons of water and suds.
I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative. 

Would Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks, make a good presidential candidate in 2020?

If you are asking me if a well respected CEO with integrity, who pays his contractors, doesn’t tweet a never-ending stream of falsehoods, takes steps to denounce and speak out against inequality and racism, would make a good presidential candidate? –Absolutely.
 
It is too early to bet on any contenders, but I see Howard Schultz as a viable candidate who already has expressed his concerns and views. If he treats his constituents the way he treats his employees, and runs the budget responsibly, there is tremendous hope for the future of the United states.
Disclaimer: I own Starbucks stock and drink their coffee.  I admire Mr. Schultz, but have made no contributions to him or any potential candidate.

In light of recent events, does it matter that Starbucks has views on how to treat customers?

Starbucks is a big company. They Lead their industry. I care that they care about their employees, their stores, their customers, and suppliers (Fair trade coffee). I buy their products, and I invest in their company 

We see the egregious behavior of many “successful” companies and the way they treat their employees, and promote views based on their religion or feelings on women’s rights, sexual orientation, labor costs, unionization, the environment, etc.
As examples:
This is why you should care too. I want my friends and their families to work in environments where companies value their employees, their customers, and the communities where they earn their money. Enron ended with bankruptcies, divorces, suicides, and financial losses for investors.  (To see books from Amazon on the Enron scandal, click here.  There is a movie too, “The Smartest Guys in the Room).
I think it is time for all of us to “grow a pair”, and educate ourselves on the real cost of these corporate behaviors that hurt individuals, promote unhealthy living, and denigrate segments of society without cause or compassion, and pollute with impunity. I am an American and believe in what the founders sought – Freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. SO – I care! And I believe you should too.
It’s not all bad – Here are a few companies worth noting:

5 Big Brands Making the World a Better Place – Wise Bread

To see books on Corporate Ethics from Amazon, click here.

You may not care, and that is your choice, but I do. Putting my money where my mouth is, and hoping the world will be a better place for it.

Disclaimer: I own starbucks stock and usually have a tall Pikes with 2%milk.

Click here for Books on Starbucks corporation and Howard Schultz, the CEO, from Amazon.

I hope you found my point of view enlightening and informative.  

How to keep your car’s finish clean between waxings

Keeping a car clean between waxings is a battle I personally wage with Mother nature, birds, certain trees (they know who they are), acid rain, and the relentless sun that burns through the shrinking ozone layer.

Waxing your car keeps a protective coating on the surface that smooths it out and helps it repel all the nasty things (see my first paragraph) that can harm your paint. A second coat of wax, about 2 weeks to a month after your “base” coat, will give your car extra help in keeping clean and build up some extra protection. All decent auto supply shops (Pep Boys, Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts, Walmart, Sears, etc.) carry a good choice of waxes, and detailing products for your black or chrome trim, tires, and rims. They also have car wash products with wax in them, although they may not be a substitute for a good hand wax on your car. An orbital buffer makes quick work of rubbing the wax off of the hood, roof, and body panels,  leaving a nice shine.

In between waxes, you really should keep the car clean. Use only car wash solution, in a bucket with water. I use a long handled dip brush (for my 14 year old minivan), and the action of the brush combined with the car wash loosen and lift dirt and grime off the finish. I sometimes go over the hard spots where bird droppings and tree sap have hardened on the surface – these chemically react with your paint if left on, so the extra work is worth while. This method is also FAST. you cover more ground with a soapy brush than with a rag or sponge. you also have a longer reach. Ask anyone that cleans their boat, it is quick. The mineral content in your water makes it spot, so be prepared to wipe it dry with a soft chamois or super-absorbent cloth. We can’t just drive fast as hell and let the water slide off the car, like in the old days. There is also no shame in going to a local car wash, especially if you have a discount coupon.

If you want extra protection, or put a nice show car shine on the car, there are products for this that are “spray and wipe”. They need a good wax base to work – they are not a substitute for waxing. My Cousin Steve, a “dyed in the wool car guy”, used lemon pledge on his Corvette(s). They always smelled great, and they shine was outstanding! Keep in mind that these show-car top coats do not last a long time, but the do look really good. In my opinion, waxing can be just as quick, and most times more wax does not hurt. Also consider that Pledge is an indoor polish (a form of light oil) that puts a lemon-fresh shine on almost anything. Your results may vary, especially if you don’t pledge your ride like my cousin.

If you can garage your car, the shine will last long because it is protected from the sun and rain. Car covers are useful – but they can become a chore, need to be folded up (not good if you are wearing a suit), and need to be stored (which takes up trunk space. Not to mention they rip and get dirty over time. They work well if you keep your car outside, and are worth the effort if it keeps your car protected.

To recap:Wash the car!
Pay attention to nasty bits from birds or treesWaxWax again in a few weeksUse showtime polish or Lemon PledgeCover, garage, or carport your car (if possible)

 

And remember to Enjoy your ride!

Shameless self promotion: I have a pinterest section on cars. Feel free to take a look if you like my point of view.

Has Starbucks Pike Place Roast gone Downhill?

To my knowledge, Pikes Place has not changed. Here is the story of Pikes Place roast, which is celebrating it’s tenth year in production! Celebrating 10 years of Starbucks Pike Place Roast – Starbucks website  Pikes Roast was Introduced in 2008.
Not everybody liked it, note this scathing article in the NY Post: NO PLACE FOR PIKE AT STARBUCKS
While I found Pikes Place Roast to be an acquired taste, it is now one of my preferred brews. I believe this is because I started drinking it regularly, and became accustomed to it’s flavor.
They good news is that if you don’t like the Starbucks experience, most servers will gladly substitute another coffee rather than see you suffer through a bad coffee experience.
May your life be bolder than your brew.

 

Shameless self promotion: I have a Pinterest section on coffee and food, if you like my point of view.
Got Coffee? Starbucks Pikes Place Roast on Amazon