Tag Archives: budget

I Am Buying A Nikon D500.

by Anura Guruge


I have to confess with a modicum of embarrassment and, of course, some amusement, that deciding to buy a Nikon D500 was probably the HARDEST decision I have ever made in my life!

I appreciate that I have entered into marriage, filed for divorce and even refused to have kids because I felt I was ‘too young’ with considerably less thought and deliberation. Yes, two keywords that clearly defined much of my life have been ‘impulsive’ and ‘impetuous’. I am sure that getting older, and I will be 63 soon, had to have played a role — but I don’t think that that was all of it.

And, fortunately, it hasn’t to do with the cost either. Despite what some of you may think I am very careful and conservative when it comes to matters fiscal. I live within my means and budget. Way back, nine months ago, I had budgeted for the Fuji X-T1 successor (i.e., the X-T2) and had been forced to be somewhat generous as I had no idea as to whether Fuji planned to mark it up well above that of the X-T1. So budget wise I am OK. SMILE. So the agonizing, over the last 2 weeks, was not about the costs either.

As some of you know I rented a Nikon D500, with a Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens, from LensRental, for 8 days (one week rental + one day complimentary). I would like to say that I fell in love with the D500 during that week. Not so.

I did not, at any stage, come anywhere close to loving the Nikon D500.

And hence the real horns of the dilemma.

I do NOT even LIKE the Nikon D500!

Yep, you read that right. So, I am going to buy an expensive camera that I do not like. Yes, that is it. And hence the soul-searching. Like an arranged marriage.

Why would I, even given my propensity for ‘craziness’, do something as crazy, if NOT outright stupid, as that.

Because during the last 3 days with the Nikon D500 I came to RESPECT it.

Over the decades I have come to realize that respecting someone or something is more important than liking that someone or something.

Let me show you.

I was lucky enough to be able to take pictures of Mystic Aquarium (in Connecticut), on consecutive days, first with the D500 (on August 17, 2016) and the next day with my now erstwhile Fuji X-E2s. I made sure I took the same subjects from the same vantage points. So have a look.

Nikon D500 on the left, Fuji X-E2s with the kit 18-55 lens on the right.

Yes, a more proficient photographer than I probably could have got better pictures from the X-E2s. I probably could have too, if I took more time. That is not my style. I like to shoot quick.

Yes, many will complain that the D500/Tamron is over 2.5x times the cost of the Fuji X-E2s. That is true. But my D500 is NOT a replacement for the X-E2s. I am getting a Nikon P900 to replace the X-E2s. The D500 is instead of the new Fuji X-T2.

And then there were these three pictures — all taken in and around Mystic.

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Click to ENLARGE.

The first picture, taken at “Foxwoods“, when Teischan and I went there for dinner was the clincher.

I, as you know, take a LOT of concert pictures. I took this one, point-and-shoot using 300mm. I already had ISO at 8,000. So didn’t touch that. Cranked up exposure compensation ‘plus tow notches’ and shot — handheld. And I had so much more ISO left. I then realized that this was a camera to contend with.

Very personal. My camera. A LOT has to do with lenses and my shooting style. The 18-55mm was the ONLY Fuji lens that I liked — and 55mm, top end, was way too short for me. 300mm, like above, suits me. And then there is my style. I am basically a ‘point-and-shoot’ photographer who likes sophisticated cameras that give me lots of bells and whistles. Yes, I play around with ISO, exposure and White Balance. But once set for a ‘location’ I will shoot away without stopping to fiddle too much — bar checking exposure. Hence why the D500, in the end, came through.

All this said, I am not getting the D500 right now. Probably not in September. First need to get my “Brain Meditation” book published. I then want to spend at least two weeks reading up the D500 documentation and boning up on it. So, most likely order it in early October. Till then I will have the Nikon P900 to keep me amused and to provide you, with a a minimum, the “6 Images of the Day”.

OK? Yes, of course, I will keep you posted.


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by Anura Guruge

MMG Insurance — One Heck Of A Company, The Best Of The Best.

by Anura Guruge


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MMG Insurance homepage. Click image to access.


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In business 118 years — and MMG stood for MAINE Mutual Group, and they are indeed located in Maine. On the history page of their Website (above) under “About Us”.


It is so uplifting, reassuring and pleasant to come across an insurance company that, from the minute you make a claim, is nothing but 100% responsive, cordial, helpful and PROMPT. WOW.

I have only been with MMG since last September, but I plan to be with them for a long time to come (breaking my habit of shopping for the best rates every year, if not two). That is a given. As some of you know by now I tend to be very loyal to companies that treat me even halfway decent. And MMG has treated us right royally of late. Thank you. Bravo and kudos.

As I have mentioned in passing in a couple of my posts we had a mishap on our April vacation trip to Yosemite. On the last night, a few hours ahead of our early-morning flight, our rental car, a AWD Nissan Pathfinder from Budget, got broken into at “Fisherman’s Wharf” — right opposite the Sheraton. They broke both passenger side windows and grabbed three backpacks — those belonging to Deanna, Devanee and Teischan. But they left a whole bunch of stuff behind like all of our other luggage. Deanna and the kids were devastated. This was something new. Not something we think about in New Hampshire. Teischan lost nearly all her electronics and Devanee a zoom lens to her Canon T3i. Teischan and Deanna both lost their glasses and Devanee a gift card and a small amount of money. But it could have been much worse. They never touched my bag that had my pad and all the travel documents.

Teischan (10), within minutes, still sobbing asked me “is our house going to be OK?” That confused me. We were in San Francisco and our house was 3,300 miles East. Took me a minute or so to work out WHAT she was thinking. She had an APP on her stolen pad that allowed her to access our security cameras. It was not password protected. She was worried that they would start accessing the cameras! She is 10. Anyway I assured them that everything that could be replaced with money would be replaced. Teischan lost some birthday presents she had received a month earlier. Those could not be replaced. Neither some of the mementos she had picked up — including her 4th grade National Park Pass.

I didn’t even think about insurance. Never occurred to me that my homeowners policy covered stuff stolen from a rental car. I had assumed that the broken windows would be covered by my Citi AAdvantage card (that I had used for the rental) — since rental car insurance was one of their many claims. I WAS WRONG ON THAT.

We got home Saturday and by Monday afternoon I had ordered — from Amazon, of course — nearly 90% of the stolen items. The prescription glasses would require a trip to Walmart. It was AFTER I had ordered all this that it occurred to me that I should put a call through to my local insurance agent (not MMG, but an independent agency). 36 hours later I got a call. They said that they THOUGHT that I would be covered. They filed a claim, on my behalf, and said I would hear from an MMG Claims Adjuster.

And I sure did. Wow. It was magical. So helpful from the start. No messing around. No evasion. No prevaricating. Told me the list of documents she needed — and they all made sense. I could even e-mail them to her. It took me some time to complete the claim. We didn’t make it to Walmart for nearly 10 days to order the glasses, the opticians having been closed the first time we visited on a Sunday. Deanna and the kids kept on discovering small things that were in the backpacks. I had to amend the SF police report to include the latest items. Finally two weeks after I first spoke with the MMG claims adjuster I sent her the final batch of paperwork and said “that is it”. I am done. Within a week I had a check. I was amazed. It was for a goodly amount too. I never added up the amount of everything we lost and I claimed. But the check seemed very fair. I was happy. I made the decision then that I liked MMG and was sticking with them.

[P.S., Found a few more things I had not claimed. Teischan had lost a $13 library book from school. The librarian told Teischan that she did NOT have to replace it given the circumstances. But I insisted and replaced it. I changed the password on the security camera DVR as soon as we got home. Teischan also wanted all her passwords changed. The thought of a stranger accessing her stuff really spooked her. I did some checking via Google Play Store on the Android pad and with Chrome. As far as I could tell Teischan’s pad was never used after it was stolen! Maybe they reinstall the software right away. This was not a random breakin. This was organized crime. I have since discovered that there is an ongoing epidemic of car breakins in SF.]


On May 14 just as I was wrapping up with MMG I got a bill from Budget for $403 for the two broken windows. My credit card, the Citi AAdvantage, was going to be charged that within the week. I immediately called up Citi AAdvantage. They transferred me to a claims department. They asked me to e-mail them a bunch of documents. I did. They confirmed receipt of those and then asked for a copy of the original Budget rental agreement. I didn’t have that. Requested a copy, electronically, from Budget. Got that the next day and submitted that via e-mail (again). Got a confirmation that they received that too. A week later with the $403 now on my credit card I called the claims department to ask how my claim was going. They said it would take 14 business days. I waited. I called. They said it was still being processed. I waited another week. Called. Nothing. Then I called again on June 14. They said that they had sent me a letter requesting further documents. I never got a letter. It transpired that it was NEVER sent. The Citi claim was being handled by ‘Virginia Surety’ — a company that seems to have difficulty understanding what dealing in good faith is all about. That is why I reported Citi AAdvantage to the ‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ (CFPB) yesterday. 

While my phone calls with Virginia Surety was going on last week, somebody told me I should try my car insurance policy. Never thought of that. Assumed that my credit card, as promised, would take care of it. But I called my local agency. Yet again they said they will file a claim with MMG. Last Friday I got a call from a different MMG adjustor. She already had a bunch of documents forwarded to her by my agency. She just needed the credit card statement showing the $403 charge. I e-mailed that to her. That was Friday. On Wednesday I had a check for the whole $403! That is brilliant. I am so happy. This is great. This what insurance is meant to be.

Nothing but good words. Such a stark contrast with Citi and Virginia Surety. I, being who I am, kind of feel bad! As far as I am concerned Citi should have paid for this. Never mind. I will sort out Citi in my own way.

For now REJOICE that there still are companies like MMG.


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by Anura Guruge


‘Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’ (CFPB) Definitely Has Teeth — Made Citi AAdvantage Take Notice.

by Anura Guruge


cfbpawesome

Click to access the Government “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” (CFPB) Website at ‘consumerfinance.gov’.


June 14, 2016, I filed this cfpb complaint against Citi AAdvantage credit card
about them NOT honoring their promised ‘Car Rental Insurance Benefit’.

citiaacomplaint

Click to ENLARGE and read.


This is what Citi AAdvantage credit card promises.
But from what I can see they deliver NOTHING. A scam.
citifraud111

Click to ENLARGE and read here. I will not direct you to their Website since that will be a DISSERVICE to YOU.


If you enlarge and read my cfpb complaint above it should be pretty clear.

I did NOT get supplemental rental insurance from Budget Car Rental because Citi AAdvantage credit card was very specific that I did not need to. Then, in San Francisco, we had the rental car broken into. Budget billed the credit card, Citi AAdvantage, $403 for the windows. Nearly a month later NOTHING from Citi AAdvantage.

Kind of scary. I have been exceptionally lucky over the decades. I worked out that I must have, since 1976 (when I rented my first car), rented at least 700 cars — during 1985 – 1986 & 1992 – 2000, when I was travelling (on work) three to four days/week, typically renting at least one car a week, but most likely two (in two different cities). During all those rental I never had to make a single claim! That amazes me. Yes, I had one flat tire, in Arizona. That was the sum total — until this last rental, in April, when we went to Yosemite (during school vacation).

I had made 6 calls about this claim nothing. Filed a complaint at Citi. Nothing.

Then I filed this cfpb complaint. 4 hours later I get a call from Citi! That is impressive.

Huge kudos to cfpb. A Government agency that can get things done fast. Bravo.


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by Anura Guruge


We Bought A ‘Nissan Quest’ From ‘Somersworth Nissan’ On Sunday, May 29, 2016.

by Anura Guruge


Click pictures to ENLARGE.

Taken with my Fuji X-E2s.

Fuji X-E2s image Anura Guruge


Fuji X-E2s image Anura Guruge
Fuji X-E2s image Anura Guruge


This to be fair has to be classed as a somewhat impetuous, impulsive purchase (something that I have been known to do when it comes to large-ticket purchases). We sure did not set out on Sunday to buy a Nissan Quest, a minivan or for that matter any vehicle. I would also have to confess I had never (really) heard of the ‘Quest’. I actually had to ask the salesman as to what minivans Nissan had!

We had been looking for a Nissan Pathfinder. In April, when we were in California, we had rented a Pathfinder, from Budget. We drove close to 1,700 miles and I loved the performance and handling of that SUV. For a year we had talked about getting another 7-seater vehicle to replace our 2002 Chrysler van in June 2016 — when it was next due for its inspection. I was getting fed up paying the increasingly expensive repair bills. I thought we were going to get a Pathfinder. On Sunday morning I confirmed that with Deanna. Yes, we were going to lease a Pathfinder.

On Sunday we were once again headed towards Portsmouth. We were passing ‘Somersworth Nissan‘ and stopped to feel out the lease prices. We looked at a Pathfinder and got lease prices. They were not as attractive as I had wished. Then Deanna and Tesichan started talking about getting a minivan. The salesman volunteered that they had a very tempting ‘dealership rental’ Quest with 4,000 miles. Deanna wanted to look. That one with 4,000 miles had been sold. Then they had this one with 2,400 miles! 2015 with 2,400 miles.

 Deanna took it for a test drive. She and Teischan loved it. Devanee and I would still have preferred a Pathfinder. We spent 90 minutes thrashing out a price. In my old age I no longer try to beat salesman down as much as I can. I prefer to go for a win-win deal, even if I leave some money on the table. We finally agreed on a price with the Finance VP. The they offered us 100,000 miles, 7 year bumper-to-bumper coverage. That jacked up the price a bit — Nissan’s typically only having 100,000/7 year power-train warranties. Anywho … we ended up driving it home without parting with a cent. No money changed hands. I insisted that it be strictly ‘zero-down’ in every way. Second ‘zero-down’ purchase in the last 4 years. I like them. First payment on June 28.

It is nice enough. Devanee thinks it has 16 cupholders. That might be right. It is not ultra-fancy but it is nice enough.

Impressed with the folks at Somersworth Nissan. They were very decent and if they screwed us they did it very discreetly without flaunting it. I hope it was win-win. The salesman told me he made $60 on the sale. Well that is more than I got.

I will keep you posted.


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by Anura Guruge

“Road Hard” — Depiction Of Lovely New Hampshire & Vermont Shameful!

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by Anura Guruge


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roadhard1

Click here to ENLARGE and read. Here is the link to the IMdb.com listing: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3110770/?ref_=nv_sr_6


Note that it was all filmed in California.
And that is a PROBLEM.

roadhardlocations

Click to ENLARGE and read.


We watched this on Amazon Prime the last couple of nights. I liked it. It was funnier and more poignant than the reviews give it credit.

Having spent a LOT of my life, on the road, doing seminars (which, in my case in particular, were basically long, very long, comedy routines (without nay bad language)), I could relate to this. I was even familiar with some of the situations portrayed.

I liked that New Hampshire and then Vermont were introduced as out-of-the-way places. Essentially as far as you can get from California without actually mentioning Maine. That they even had a couple of gags about New Hampshire not having any comedy clubs was cute.

countrystorech

What a REAL New Hampshire country store looks like. The iconic, yellow one in Center Harbor.

What I did not like — actually what I object to — is that they FILMED the New Hampshire, and for that matter the Vermont segment, in California. They tried to throw in some trees, greenery and lakes BUT it looked so, so fake. The purported house in New Hampshire didn’t look like anything you would find in New Hampshire and the town name was fake. The FUNNIEST was the country store they showed. Wow. Talk about being UP SCALE. You wouldn’t find anything that fancy — not even in Bar Harbor (and that is in Maine). I resent that.

And the College in Vermont. New England Colleges, by and large, do not have Spanish architectural overtones.

Yes, I realize that they were making this low-budget movie on the cheap, using crowd funding, but this was poor.


Laconia, N.H., Pumpkin Festival, 2015 — Answers To Questions With Less Than A Month To Go.

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by Anura Guruge


2015 PICTURES.
click image.


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Déjà vu?


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>> Keene Pumpkin Festival 2013.

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Click to ENLARGE and study here.
Click to download FULL PDF version.

To access their official Website — click here.

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Philadelphia Amtrak 188: Was Brandon Bostian Trying To Make A Powerful Political Statement (Rather Than Suicidal)?

amtrackday2.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


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≡≡ Was Germanwings Lubitz on antidepressants?
≡≡ 
Lufthansa to file Bankruptcy to avoid Germanwings liability?

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Click to access MSNBC original.

amtrackacccomb

Click to ENLARGE and read. Acceleration in the last 49 seconds. Yes, 49 seconds. I did a graph to show that it was straight line acceleration. 40% in 49 seconds!


Now transpires that Brandon Bostian was some kind of zealous ‘travel safety’ advocate plus a confirmed loner.

So was he, most likely extremely aware that Congress, in D.C., was in the process of debating Amtrak funding set out to make an indelible statement?

Think about it.

Scary.

Was this the ULTIMATE in a graphic Political Statement!

Interesting that nobody is coming forward about his girlfriend, wife or even any other partner. Seems to have been a loner.

Obviously had to have had some mental issues, even if he was not getting treatment.

I have concluded that today’s incessant social media is aggravating mental unease. All this non-stop ‘relationship’ chatter on Facebook, Twitter etc. makes those susceptible to such anxious, rattled and depressed. I see it all around me.

Definitely some destructive element at work. The brake were working.

The sudden braking may have been in his plan ALL along. Sudden, straight line acceleration followed by applying the emergency brakes, on a sharp corner, was GUARANTEED to jackknife and derail the train. So the braking could have been the ‘belt-and-braces’ — making doubly sure that the train would derail.

But I am beginning to think that there could have been a political statement aspect to this tragic crash.

Food for thought. Maybe we might be getting to the point that we might be better off with driverless trains and even planes.