How to Keep Your Highlander Looking Like New


26
Feb
2017

My Toyota Highlander is no longer new – we’ve been through 9 years and 160,000 miles. That’s a long time and a lot of miles in one seat.

In some respects the “Truckster” as I call it is showing it’s age. Aren’t we all? But it’s also looking surprisingly good for all the wear and tear. Here are some ideas for keeping your ride happy.

- Keep it clean. Yes, this can be a challenge. Especially when hay and other horse supplies are being transported by those with muddy boots. Instead of letting the dirt build up take just a couple minutes with a vacuum and a cleaner. I’ve found windex works fine on the inside dash and not just for windows.

- Get some touch up paint. You never know when you’ll need it.

- Use the best vinyl cleaner possible on the seats. This is one area where I definitely should have used a higher quality product more often. When the seats get dirty they can be hard to get looking like new again.

- Get in the nooks and crannies. The Highlander is reasonably good at not having too many small places where dirt can accumulate that is difficult to reach. You may need to get into the backseat to reach some of the areas around the front seating area.

- A little squirt of ‘new car smell’ spray every once in a while can also help your senses feel like they are back in a brand new car.

Free Business Checking Options in Sacramento


20
Sep
2016

A review of business checking options in the Sacramento area:

Free

Banner Bank – $100 to open, no minimum balance, no monthly service charge, debit card, first 125 transactions free per month then .30 each, online bill pay $4 month plus .45 per transaction after first 10 free, deposits of more than $10,000 per month are .15 per $100. Sole proprietors can apply online. Locations in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, Folsom, Rocklin and Elk Grove – but only Folsom and Elk Grove have ATMs.

First Bank – No monthly fee, no minimum balance, first 150 transactions fee, free online banking, bill pay and debit card. Locations and ATMs in Rancho Cordova and Roseville. Also some locations in San Francisco and outer Bay Area. Need to apply in branch.

WestAmerica Bank (for sole proprietors and when have at least five card transactions per month, otherwise $4). $200 to open, no minimum balance, no monthly fee, first 10 deposits free per month then $1.50 each, 25 free checks paid per month then .40 each. Locations in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova. Need to apply in branch.

Good Shot at Being Free

BOFA – $16 /month (highest of any bank for minimal business checking) but fee waived if spend $250 per month with a debit card. If necessary, have a fake product for $250 using your PayPal account you buy with your BOFA card. Then download the money from PayPal to your BOFA account. Easy free checking.

Fee Banks and Ridiculously High Minimums to Avoid Charges

Chase – $10 / month
Wells Fargo – $14 / month
Union Bank – $5 / month
River City Bank – $15 / month
Umpqua Bank – $7 / month
American River Bank – $10 / month
Five Star Bank – $15 / month
Bank of the West – $10 / month
El Dorado Savings Bank – $8 / month

Fees and offers continually change, but overall you can definitely save money by researching smaller banks. No sense paying a bank to hold your money and make even more money off that.

$15 Minimum Wage


18
Apr
2016

popeyesJust saw a video where the CEO of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen chicken, Cheryl Bachelder, was talking about the ramifications of a $15 minimum wage. She said there are three parties involved in the issue:

- Employees deserving a fair wage
- Customers deserving a fair price
- Local owners deserving a fair profit

Interestingly, she left out the franchise owner – her employer – and how much profit corporate takes.

She then said if wages increase there are “only two levers” left, either:

- Higher prices or,
- Lower hours for employees.

Huh?

Notice how the profit of local owners and the franchise corporation is untouchable.

There it is, in a nutshell. Not to pick on Popeye’s chicken, but this is a common theme. Workers are angry about wage disparity and not making it with the current minimum wage.

So the employer, when faced with increasing wage costs does everything EXCEPT take a lower profit to decrease the wage disparity.

Nothing touches profit. The disparity is not going to be fixed.

If you were wondering, Cheryl Bachelder’s 2014 compensation was $3,200,000 (3.2 million) according to Salary.com.

Cheryl Bachelder went on to say top store revenue was up from $1,000,000 (one million) to $1,400,000 (1.4 million). Obviously, all of the profit is going to the local owners and corporate. None is going to increase the minimum wage of employees unless there is a forced increase.

Bachelder also said a store hires 30 employees. $400,000 increased profit the last few years over 30 employee is $13,333 per employee.

Over a 2000 hour work year, $13,333 is $6.67 extra profit per employee per hour.

I don’t know about you, but I see room for paying employees more than a minimum wage. A lot of room.

But now you also see the local owner and corporate being upset about minimum wage increases. Popeye’s is a national chain. If the minimum wage in California goes up from $10 an hour to $15 an hour, that $5 an hour increase (over 7 years) takes up most of the $6.67 bonus profit the company has made the past few years. In Louisiana, where Popeye’s Chicken is headquartered, there is no state minimum wage. Instead, the federal $7.25 minimum wage applies. (Again, why isn’t Popeye’s paying its employees more than $7.25 an hour given all the extra profit from its stores?) If $7.25 doubled to $15, and assuming prices to customers cannot increase to cover it all, then yep, local owners and corporate have to make less.

To address this Cheryl Bachelder then mentioned how in response to the minimum wage increase there would be more automation facing customers, and on the backend, to make stores “more efficient”. That is, few employee work hours.

So, the end of the day result:

- Corporate and local owners keep their profits. Maybe even make more profit!!!!!
- Customers pay more
- Fewer employees working fewer hours will make more money

Looking further at Cheryl Bachelder’s $3.2 million compensation, and if we assume a 2000 hour full-time employee making the minimum wage in Louisiana of $7.25, Popeye’s begrudgingly pays (would probably be less without a federal minimum wage), $14,500 per year to a full-time employee.

Ouch.

Work full-time at Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and you are officially impoverished and probably getting federal tax subsidies.

This also means Cheryl Bachelder earns as much as 220 employees each year, or 7 stores. How about that! Every employee working a full year at seven Popeye’s stores makes enough to pay Ms. Bachelder her salary so she can go on television complaining about how much they make and how the company will not do anything to dampen the corporate profits paying her salary.

(Let me know if any of these numbers are wrong. Took me forever to get this post done, rewriting, fixing errors, doing math over and over. Thank goodness for calculators.)

No wonder so many workers are pissed.

Does a Law Exist if it Isn’t Enforced? – Why Bill Cosby Shows the Sister Wives Case is Wrong


11
Apr
2016

Many are familiar with Kody Brown and his four wives from the TV show Sister Wives. If not, this is a polygamous family (which is why they got their own TV show) from Utah which then moved to Nevada to avoid potential criminal prosecution for polygamy. Technically, I believe Kody Brown has one legal wife filed with the state and contracts or “religious” marriages with three other women.

sisterwives

In Utah, polygamy is illegal – used to be legal when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was populating the state – but as a condition for state hood Utah how to explicitly outlaw the practice. Tens of thousands of Utah residents still secretly engage in the practice of having multiple wives.

After gay marriage rulings swept the country and eviscerated the basis for a “traditional” marriage between one man and one woman, the Brown family sued to have the Utah law declared invalid. In Utah, not only are having multiple marriage licenses outlawed, but so can simple co-habitation that is effectively a plural relationship.

So, you can live with one person and have sex with then, but not two other people. (What is the government doing in people’s bedrooms anyway?)

The Utah federal district court agreed with the Browns, ruling the multiple marriage license and co-habitation provisions invaded the Brown’s rights of privacy and religious freedom. In effect, it legalized polygamy in Utah.

A court of appeal just tossed that ruling.

Did the court rule polygamy was illegal? No.

Did the court rule privacy was not invaded? No.

Did the court rule there was no invasion of religious freedom? No.

Instead, the court ruled that since a Utah prosecutor said he would not criminally prosecute the family for polygamy (unless they also did something else wrong) the Brown’s could not sue because they did not face actual criminal prosecution.

Say what?

A law is on the books that makes people afraid to do something for fear of going to prison, even moving out of state, and they cannot sue to invalidate the law unless they are actually subject to criminal prosecution?

So now polygamy is illegal again in Utah, and in order to challenge the law you have to risk going to prison for many years.

That’s called intimidation. It creates a chilling effect. In the age of 5-4 Supreme Court rulings who can know what is ultimately constitutional anyway? You’re going to risk the rest of your life in prison based on a possible 5-4 vote? No one would do that.

Now, maybe I am not thinking this through correctly (which apparently is a problem, and bigger issue than I realized – and thank goodness for spell check to help get me through this post), and my head hurts just thinking about the ramifications (and it just hurts in general these days), but I guess it’s open season for the government to issue draconian and abusive laws. The laws can then be selectively enforced. If someone might overturn a law the government can just say it wasn’t going to enforce the law against them anyway and that shuts down their lawsuit. Meanwhile, everyone else cowers in fear from the law.

Is a law legal or not?

Every citizen should have the right to challenge whether a law is constitutional or not.

But who are we kidding – this country ceased being a free country long ago. You can only do what the government allows, and continual road-blocks are placed in front of anyone challenging government authority. Like the Browns.

billcosby

Is there a promise or court order saying the Browns will never be prosecuted for polygamy? No. Even if there were just think of Bill Cosby. He was given a promise of no criminal prosecution years ago by a district attorney. A new one comes into office and decides to prosecute – conveniently after Cosby gave damaging deposition testimony only because he believed he was no longer subject to potential criminal prosecution. (Story here)

You cannot trust the government and those in power over your life. Just because one prosecutor said he would not try and send the Browns to prison does not mean another one, or the next one, will do the same. Just ask Bill Cosby, now forced to spend a fortune to try and avoid spending his last years in a prison cell.

The government should not be able to condition your ability to challenge a law by imprisoning you if you lose.

Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton


5
Apr
2016

There is an ebook I wrote, well, maybe I should put “wrote” in quotes last year called The Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton. I just decided to update it for 2016. Whew! Those updates took a long time, but it is finally finished.

Yeah!

120 pages of awesomeness.

Wit and Wisdom Hillary Clinton

120 blank pages because, unfortunately (or may that should be fortunately) Hillary Clinton has never said anything witty or smart.

Other than that, it’s a real tear jerker. You’ll laugh and cry about the Bernie Sanders reference. Somewhere in the 120 blank pages is a final page with an “easter egg” picture hidden somewhere on it. Any idea who would have lent their picture to a book about Hillary Clinton?

Well, do you?

I know the suspense is killing you …

How much is this incredible book going to set you back?

99 pennies. Cheaper than 99 red balloons. Cheaper than one second of a Hillary speech to Goldman Sachs.

Here is how to order your gag gift for immediately download as a PDF file:

Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton

Sacramento Court Monitors Users and Charges for Online Records Searches


12
Apr
2014

Following in the footsteps of southern California courts like Orange and Los Angeles County, the Sacramento Superior Court has started to implement a profit center by charging for name searches online. The online court records have always been free to search, but no more. Now, fees will run up to $2500 just to do name searches per year.

Additionally, like Orange County, Sacramento will require that you register with the court before doing any searches online. In other words, the government will be tracking who you are and what you are searching for. The government monitoring system is already in place even before fees begin to be collected.

Now, if you are a landlord wanting to know if your potential tenant has sued the last four apartments they lived at, you need to pay the court to find out. Want to know if someone has a criminal record? Pay the court.

This new profit center is on top of massive fee increases for the courts the past few years. For example, here is a prior post about is costing $27,625 to file some lawsuits.

Also, if you want a court reporter to transcribe what is said during a hearing, so you can preserve grounds for a possible appeal, you need to pay a fee to the court in advance of the hearing. No pay = no record of what was said. For over 150 years this had been a service provided by the court for hearings without cost, but no more.

Is it Worth Passing Laws with No Penalties?


31
Oct
2013

California lawmakers in their infinite and majestic wisdom and have a new requirement to commercial websites collecting personal information from consumers: to disclose whether ‘Do Not Track’ suggestions in web browser settings are followed by the website.

Details about the law here:

http://internetmarketinglawcenter.com/blog/californias-do-not-track-law/

One of the problems with California’s law is there are no penalties for noncompliance. Except for large companies who may be publicly shamed into compliance there is not much reason to pay attention to California’s new attempt to regulate the world wide Internet.

Then there is the law itself, which does not prohibit tracking, does not prohibit collecting private information, does not prohibit the selling of private information, and does not prohibit a site from ignoring a web browser’s settings.

All it does is require a new disclosure buried within a legal privacy policy that no one reads anyway.

That is a great use of legislative time. A law with no penalty, accomplishing nothing of substance except adding words to a legal document no one reads. Oh well, more work for attorneys.

Law Firm Sued for Fake Yelp Reviews


24
Sep
2013

As reported on Twitter the McMillan Law Group in San Diego has been sued by Yelp for posting fake reviews about itself. There is plenty of intrigue to this story.

According to Julian McMillan, the owner of the McMillan Law Group, the firm successfully sued Yelp in small claims court last year. McMillan says he is the only business to sue Yelp and win. The veracity of his statement has not been confirmed, but obviously there is some bad blood between the McMillan bankruptcy firm and Yelp. A small claims case means the McMillan Law Group sued Yelp directly and that it was not acting as legal counsel suing on behalf of a client. Attorney McMillan claims the Yelp lawsuit is a revenge claim.

Possibly. How many lawsuits has Yelp filed for false reviews? Even more limiting, how many lawsuits has Yelp filed for false reviews for which it seeks damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and more?

Yelp submits numerous exhibits in support of its lawsuit in which it claims McMillan attorneys and a network of attorney friends were creating accounts on Yelp and immediately posting glowing reviews about the McMillan firm. There is no indication in the lawsuit of whether Yelp attempted to match the names of reviewers with persons filing for bankruptcy. This should be a simple task and it is a little surprising it was not done to confirm whether or not fake reviews were being submitted.

If we assume Yelp is correct, that fake reviews were submitted to its site, what are its remedies? It could ban the McMillan firm from accessing its site. Again, interestingly, there is no indication it has done so.

It could seek an injunction prohibiting further false reviews, and that is one legitimate claim in the Yelp lawsuit.

Beyond that the validity of claims starts to get murky and sympathy for Yelp starts to diminish. Yelp claims breach of contract, but is unable to specify an amount of damages – probably because there are none.

Then Yelp starts claiming interference with its business contracts and seeking punitive damages. Again, proving damages is likely to be difficult for Yelp and punitive damages most unlikely. Yelp, of course, is unable to allege a single contract that was interfered with and claims like that are headed for a quick dismissal.

Now the “over charging” starts to appear as if this is a revenge lawsuit. On top of that not only did Yelp sue the McMillan law firm, but it also singled out Julian McMillan to sue individually. A closer read of the lawsuit also indicates the “fake” reviews by the McMillan attorneys supposedly occurred more than three years ago. Three years! The alleged favorable reviews from friends were in 2012, but going after three year old posts makes one wonder, what happened to now invoke a lawsuit instead of simply deleting the reviews? My suspicion is McMillan’s small claims lawsuit against Yelp.

No word on whether Yelp filed a claim with the California State Bar, that given the tenor of claims that seems likely. There will probably be counter accusations to the Bar based on frivolous legal claims in the lawsuit. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Bottom line: a public pissing match where one would have expected better from both a law firm and a major online site.

Does Asiana Airlines Have a Reputation to Damage?


14
Jul
2013

Asiana airlines was recently in the news because its plane crashed in San Francisco. Thus far, three people have died and scores where injured.

From news reports it appears the most likely cause of the crash, or least one contributing factor, was pilot error. The plane was flying too slow, and too low, and hit a sea barrier leading to the runway. Apparently, right before impact the pilots tried to gun the engine to gain more speed and abort the landing, but it was too late.

Other statements in the media include this was the end of a long, 10 plus hour flight, the pilot only had about 40 hours of experience with this type of plane and it was his first landing with the type of Boeing aircraft at SFO, and this was the first or one of the first flights by the training pilot.

It is a tragic and deadly event. There is nothing more damaging to the reputation of airline then crashing a plane and killing people.

Then, a local San Francisco station, perhaps in a rush to obtain a scoop, published the names of the four pilots. The names released, though, were the subject of a hilarious prank. Here is what the station released:

Sum Ting Wong

Sum Ting Wong
Wi Tu Lo
Ho Lee Fuk
Bang Ding Ow

Not only are the names funny, but the order of the names is a narrative for the crash.

Now, Asiana airlines claims it may seek legal action against the station for harming its reputation.

Seriously.

Maybe it is a poor public relations attempt to divert attention from the fact the airline may be held responsible for killing people.

It certainly does not have a reputation to be damaged. Certainly not be a joke.

Lighted up Asiana. There are worse things that can happen to an airline besides a TV station falling for a prank. Like destroying an airline, killing people, and then getting up in arms over a joke.

Attorney Hourly Pay Plunges to $10 Per Hour


25
May
2013

It has been reported for some time there is a lawyer glut in California. There are way too many lawyers, or at least a misallocation of lawyers as attorneys try to service businesses in the metro areas while basic rural needs go wanting.

In part, blame falls on the incredible debt lawyers incur in law school. The state has taken the position lawyers will make a lot of money so they can afford to pay astronomical fees for an education. The higher tuition fees for graduate level work are used to support the college system and undergraduates. At least one public law school, the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco comes to mind, I believe receives no state funding at all.

It is a public school privately funded by students.

The result has been a steady dropping of California law school reputations compared to national peers.

It also means attorneys need to find high paying jobs to pay off their high debt, which means legal services for the poor or in rural areas is dropping. Frankly, most middle class people cannot afford a lawyer. Legal disputes are often for the rich and corporations.

There have also been media reports of the glut of graduates unable to get a job, suing law schools for fraudulently representing how many graduates get jobs in the legal field.

This recent ad was posted by a Sacramento law firm, willing to pay someone with a law degree and 2 years legal experience, a whopping $10 per hour, but for no more than 30 hours per week in an obvious ploy to avoid paying health benefits:

“Litigation firm looking to hire a recent law graduate or first/second year associate interested in immediate case responsibility and litigation experience.

Initial position is part-time, 20-30 hours, with potential for full-time/associate position. Specifics to be discussed during interview.

Responsibilities to include:
Case Management;
Document Preparation and Review; and,
Legal Research and Writing;

For consideration, submit a detailed, yet concise resume (1 page) highlighting relevant experience. Include a cover letter or short writing sample.

Interviews to commence week of June 3rd.

Location: Roseville / Rocklin
Compensation: $10 / hour”

I would say this is a firm to avoid.

Can you imagine going through 4 years of college (or more), plus 3 years of law school, racking up debt of over a hundred thousand dollars, to compete against those who already have legal experience for a job paying $10 per hour with no benefits.

Let’s see … $10 per hour times 30 hours per week is $300 per week max, or $15,000 per year. If you only get 20 hours per week it is $10,000 per year.

Yikes.

The minimum wage in California is 8 dollars per hour. Assume you are a high school graduate working fast food or retail which is $8 per hour and a full-schedule of 40 hours. That is $320 per week.

Yes, high school graduates with no experience make more than attorneys.