Short Bits

Short Bits 2021

Updated on 2022-11-09

Short Bits is my method of sharing information that would be too short for a separate blog post.


Image courtesy of Peter Ziegler at Pixabay
1 – Burned Three Times on Amazon Purchases (2021-02-08)

I’ve been burned three times within a four month period on purchases I’ve made on Amazon. The first incident occurred in September 2020. I purchased a 3-pack of Champion boxer style underwear. I didn’t notice that they were size medium and I usually wear a size large. The underwear were sold by a third party vendor in New York city.

When I received the underwear and noticed they were a size medium, I logged into my Amazon account and requested a return. I never heard from the seller. Amazon sent an automated followup weeks after my initial refund request asking if I received a response from the seller and I indicated that I had not. I never received any further information.

After the underwear package sat for awhile, my initial inclination was to just donate them. However, I decided to try them on and although they’re a bit tighter than a size large, I’ve decided to keep the underwear and wear them. I would have preferred just to return them for a refund though.

In January 2021, I ordered one battery powered combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector and a 6-pack of wired, connected combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I did quite a bit of research on the difference between smoke detectors using ionization and photoelectric technology to detect fires and based on two posts I read (source 1, source 2), I wanted photoelectric smoke detectors. I could have sworn that I read photoelectric technology in the product description when I purchased the combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

When the combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors arrived and I unboxed them, I noted on the product packaging that the detectors used ionization technology to detect smoke; not what I wanted.

Wired Detector
Wireless Detector

When I attempted to return them, I received notices that the detectors were not returnable.

The non-returnable notice for the battery powered combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector gave no specific reason for it being non-returnable. Instead a link was provided for Amazon’s return policy. Clicking the link takes you to a page full of possible reasons why an item may not be returnable. Evidently, I’m supposed to guess the reason why my battery powered combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector is not returnable.

The non-returnable notice for the 6-pack of wired, interconnected combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors stated that they contained a flammable liquid or gas.

What?! If they can’t be returned because they contain a flammable liquid or gas, then why can they be shipped to the customer?! Exactly what is flammable in a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector?! The shipping box contained no hazardous or flammable materials warning on the outside of the box.

Using the contact us links was a struggle in futility. I ended up back on the non-returnable notice pages.

I’m furious about the combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors not being returnable. I paid $190 and some change for the 6-pack and I really don’t want them. I’ve now decided that for all future Amazon purchases, I will take a screenshot of the product description and make sure they are returnable. I will also not purchase any items that may be deemed hazardous unless the product description specifically states that they are returnable. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

Image courtesy of rhysperry111 in the Arch Linux forums
2 – Nice Arch Linux Base Install Guides (2021-02-16)

I’ve been wanting to attempt to install and run Arch Linux in a virtual machine environment for a few months now with the intention of running Arch Linux as one of my daily drivers in the future. I currently multi-boot Debian Stable, Debian Unstable, and Solus. Health issues and other more demanding needs prevented me from doing so. At the end of last week, I finally made time to attempt to perform the base install.

During my first attempt at performing a base install of Arch Linux, I followed the Installation Guide on the Arch Wiki. I advanced to the point of choosing and installing a boot loader, but was unable to figure out how to install GRUB, my preferred boot loader for Linux.

My next thought was to search the Internet to see if there was a more user-friendly guide to performing a base install of Arch Linux. I found a couple of guides that were fairly similar, took copious notes from one of them, and then proceeded to again attempt an Arch Linux base install, which again resulted in failure.

I usually don’t give up easily, especially when it comes to figuring out something related to technology. Once again, I searched the Internet for a user-friendly guide on performing an Arch Linux base install and came across a guide to installing in a BIOS environment on the ArcoLinuxD site. The guide was similar to the previous guide I used for my second installation attempt, but the ArcoLinuxD guide contained some key points that were missing in the other guide.

Would three times be the charm? On my third attempt, I finally succeeded at performing a base install of Arch Linux. My next step is to install the necessary components to create a usable system; e.g. desktop environment, productivity related apps, tools, and utilities.

If you are interested in performing an Arch Linux base install under a UEFI environment, checkout this guide on the ArcoLinuxD site.

3 – Discovered a Really Nice Collection of Recipes Using Dates (2021-04-11)

Last month I purchased a 10.5 ounce container of organic Medjool dates from a local Wegmans. The display didn’t have a price, so I experienced sticker shock when I got home and recorded my purchase in GnuCash. The container cost $7.99, more money than I can afford to spend for a 10.5 ounce container of dates with my current limited food budget.

I’ve been desiring to find something healthy I can snack on throughout the day. I used to snack on trail mix that I made with separate ingredients purchased from Whole Foods Market. I discovered about two and a half years ago that nuts no longer agree with my digestive system, so I stopped eating the trail mix.

In 2019, I began purchasing prunes and dates from Trader Joe’s for snacking purposes, but I stopped shopping there last year when the store I shopped at began limiting the number of customers in the store due to draconian government COVID-19 restrictions. The last time I attempted to shop there about a year ago, the line outside to get into the store was at least 50 feet long or longer.

Recently, I went shopping at a local Wegmans and discovered a 12 ounce container of Medjool dates for $6.99, which was a reasonable price based on pricing I’ve seen on online sources. I decided to purchase two containers of Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool pitted dates.

The Medjool date containers had a web link on the back, so I checked it out to verify the actual name of the company. While perusing the site, I discovered a wonderful variety of recipes utilizing dates. I’ve already added 3 recipes to my recipe database created with Emacs Org Mode.

Image courtesy of Benjah-bmm27, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
4 – Glutathione…What Is That? (2021-05-21)

I take acetaminophen on a regular basis to help manage spine pain. I have concerns about taking acetaminophen on a long term regular basis, so I’ve researched the subject a number of times. During my research activity last year, I discovered that acetaminophen can deplete glutathione in the body. For whatever reason, the discovery didn’t spur additional research on my part.

I discovered DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) last year while researching natural remedies for GTPS (greater trochanteric pain syndrome). Earlier this year, my interest in DMSO was renewed and through additional research and the reading of two books, I learned about MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). I decided to purchase a book about MSM a few weeks ago and in that book I learned that MSM helps to increase glutathione in the body. Reading about glutathione in the book about MSM finally raised a question in my mind: what exactly is glutathione?

So, I did some Internet research on glutathione and discovered a wonderful site that has quite a bit of information about glutathione as well as other interesting information about immune health. The site is called Immune Health Science.

5 – Repurpose Plastic Detergent Containers for Urine Collection – 2021 Update (2021-08-04)

In Short Bits 2019, I wrote about repurposing plastic detergent containers for urine collection. Initially, I repurposed Tide laundry detergent and Downy fabric softener containers for urine collection, which required using a box cutter to remove the spouts. I’ve since discovered that Seventh Generation laundry detergent containerss have a spout that is easily removed by hand; no cutting required. The resulting opening in Seventh Generation laundry detergent containers after removing the spout is also much larger than the cut openings in Tide and Downy containers. An additional benefit is that there are no sharp or jagged edges to…well, you know, snag things.

I’ve also learned that uric acid crystals build up on the inside of the containers and there is also an orange colored film that develops on the bottom. To dissolve the uric acid crystals, remove the orange film, and sanitize the containers, I perform the following on a monthly basis:

  1. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the container, fill about 1/3 of the container with hot water, and allow to soak overnight.
  2. Empty the vinegar and water solution the following day.
  3. Add a little bit of bleach (1-2 Tbsp should work if you prefer precise measurements) and a drop or two of dish soap; fill the container about 3/4 full with hot water and allow to soak overnight.
  4. Drain the container the following day and allow to air dry.

Warning: DO NOT mix bleach and vinegar together in an attempt to save a step. Bleach and vinegar combined forms chlorine gas, which can be lethal.

I use two sets of two containerss (one for the upper level of our home and one for the lower level of our home) and rotate them on a monthly basis.

6 – Summer Kiss Melon (2021-10-07)

A few weeks ago, I stopped at a local Wegmans store to purchase a few items. Upon approaching the entrance to the store, I saw a sign about the availability of Summer Kiss melons, stating that they were deliciously sweet. I’d never heard of a Summer Kiss melon, so I decided to purchase one to see what it was like.

Wow, the Summer Kiss melon was deliciously sweet, even warm. I normally only like to eat melons after cutting them and leaving them in the refrigerator for a few hours to get nice and cold, but the Summer Kiss melon was good even warm. I ate several pieces while cutting it up to place in the refrigerator.

According to the label that came with the melon, Summer Kiss melons are native to Israel. The Summer Kiss melon is kind of a cross between a honeydew melon and a cantelope. The outer flesh of the Summer Kiss melon is green like a honeydew melon, and the center of the Summer Kiss melon is kind of a peach color, somewhat similar to the color of a cantelope. The Summer Kiss also tastes a little bit like a cantelope, only a bit sweeter.

Following is what an uncut Summer Kiss melon looks like.

I still like cantelope and watermelon, but the Summer Kiss melon will be another favorite that I plan to purchase again in the future.

Image courtesy of Kamalkanna PM at Pixabay
7 – Limit Fraudulent Debit Card Charges (2021-10-08)

My current credit card provider began not sending me monthly statement availability notifications in July. I discovered the issue in time to make payment before the due date. I notified my provider about not receiving statement availability notifications and I was told that the issue would be forwarded to the IT department. Well, August came around and once again I didn’t receive a statement availability notification. I didn’t remember this time and when it dawned on me that I hadn’t received a notification, it was too late to make payment by the due date, resulting in interest being charged to my account.

I sent another message to my credit card provider stating that I still wasn’t receiving statement availability notifications and that because of not receiving statement availability notification in August, my payment was late. I also stated that I would not be paying interest or late payment fees because of the statement availablity notification issue.

In the mean time, to prevent additional interest from accruing on new charges, I decided to temporarly stop using my credit card and I began using a debit card. While I don’t like using a debit card due to the fact that charges are deducted directly from your checking account, I didn’t have other desirable choices. So far, using my debit card has been just like using my credit card. I’ve even used my debit card to make an online purchase recently.

I began thinking about how I could prevent fraudulent charges to my debit card. I have two checking accounts with one of my financial institutions. I established the second checking account for the purpose of receiving PayPal donations, receiving Amazon Mechanical Turk payments, and making PayPal purchases. I could use the debit card tied to my second checking account for purchases, which would be safer than using the debit card tied to my primary checking account since I keep very little money in my second checking account.

One of the benefits of the aforementioned financial provider is that there are no overdraft fees. They just don’t make payment if sufficient funds aren’t available. Therefore, when I do decide to use a debit card for a purchase, I’ll use the debit card tied to my second checking account. That way, if someone is somehow able to make a fraudulent charge, it will at worse be limited to the amount of funds in my second checking account. I’ll just have to remember to transfer sufficient funds from my primary checking account to my second checking account when I plan to make a purchase.

Image courtesy of TheOtherKev at Pixabay
8 – Can Long-Term Mask Use Be Detrimental to Your Health? (2021-12-18)

I received an email recently from a friend from my time in the military. He said he had just gotten out of the hospital due to COVID. He works as a contractor on a military installation, so I’m assuming he was required to wear a face mask while working, at least 40 hours a week. I don’t know whether or not he has taken the Frankenjab, also known as the inappropriately termed COVID vaccine.

I have read headlines on the Internet about the use of face masks possibly causing bacterial pneumonia, so I decided to do some research on the subject. While I didn’t find anything definitive, and there were plenty of posts stating that face masks do not lead to bacterial pneumonia, I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing one for 40 or more hours a week based on some posts I came across. I also came across an interesting post on the National Institutes of Health site stating that most of the deaths during the 1918 flu pandemic were caused by bacterial pneumonia, not the flu itself. As I told my friend: read, do additional research, and come to your own conclusion.

Post header image courtesy of Couleur, at Pixabay.


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