Unpopular opinion time

Over the last year I have slowly come to the realization that the phrase “if it saves just one life” might just be one of the most selfish sayings ever.

We’ll likely never know if the forced shutdowns and closures actually saved people’s lives (from dying of covid19) or not. They may well have.

The problem is that at the same time that the closures may have prevented deaths from covid19, they caused deaths from other things.

Suicide rates are up across the country, especially in the child populations. And the mental health of the remainder has taken a hell of a hit.

The elderly and people living in community housing are suddenly dying of loneliness and depression as their contact with family and the outside world was cut off.

Reports of drug overdoses and deaths have also continued to rise, reports of domestic abuse and rape as well.

And we’ll likely never know what the long term medical side effects of the forced lack of “non-essential” medical care for an extended period did to the world-wide population.

Unemployment continues to climb, small businesses continue to fail at astronomical rates. The tolls of high unemployment on a population are well known, all by itself it means an increase in suicide rates, drug overdose, and domestic abuse. How many small businesses that had been around for generations have to close due to the shut downs for it to count? What do you think that has done to the mental health of those people, to watch their businesses fail?

Every business that fails, every now unemployed person, is that many fewer to pay taxes. And all those stimulus checks and payments have to come from somewhere. What happens when there’s fewer people paying taxes? I can guarantee that the various politicians won’t be taking pay cuts to make up the difference.

The food supply chain still isn’t back to normal. We’re damn close to a year out from the original forced shutdown here in the USA, but the grocery store shelves STILL aren’t back to where they were prior. Never mind the supply chains for so many other things.

And that’s all without getting into the political climate. Something close to half the country now believes that the corrupt run the country and nothing they can say or do (legally) is going to make a difference. Something close to the other half of the country is happily calling for the blood, forced unemployment and re-education, and even death, of the first half. Oh sure, it’s more involved than that, but as someone who’s had a front row seat to how both sides think, I think that pretty well sums it up.

All those people who suicided due to the shutdown. All those people who died from lack of medical care, or who will die due to lack of medical care, during the shutdown. All those people who’s lives are now in a downward spiral because of the shutdown. They all had as much a right to live as the folks the shutdown was supposed to protect. “If it saves one life” is fucking useless if it kills 2. Its selfish as hell is what it is.

All of this has been running through my brain for a while. It’s part of why I’ve stuck to memes so much. I’m not prone to depression, but god it’s depressing to look at the bigger picture.


Really??

Look, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I firmly believe that human stupidity and greed is capable of making up for any such, and that the average human couldn’t keep a secret that long anyway.

But when they do stupid shit like this:

Its enough to make even me wonder.

I’d love to see the various politicians get their asses handed to them, but I’m starting to think that the ones we really need to go after is the media…..


Vaccine numbers, reality

If one more person tells me “omg, we have a vaccine, we can get back to normal!!!!”…..

Ok, numbers.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses. Pfizer says it plans to produce 1,300,000,000 doses by the end of 2021. That’s 650,000,000 vaccinated people if everything goes smoothly and there’s no unexpected problems.

According to the US Census bureau there’s over 330,000,000 people in the USA. So IN THEORY Pfizer can vaccinate everyone in the USA by the end of 2021 no problem.

Of course, Pfizer is also sending some of that vaccine outside of the USA, (which makes sense, because if we don’t vaccinate the entire god-dammed world the virus is just going to spread and mutate to the point where who knows if the vaccine will work,) but hey, there’s other vaccines about to be on the market. Let’s assume (and as of right now that’s a hell of an assumption, but hey, we’ll run with it) Moderna can also produce enough vaccines to vaccinate 650,000,000 people by the end of 2021.

The same Census bureau link above says estimated world population is over 7,730,000,000. Assuming vaccine production as stated above, thats approx 1/7 of the world’s population vaccinated. But hey, Australia is also working on a vaccine, so another 650,000,000 people vaccinated (maybe, if we’re lucky). And while I’ve not been following TO closely I’m sure other countries are also trying to develop vaccines.

But 7.7 billion people is ALOT of doses of vaccine, even if all the other vaccines are single shots not doubles like Pfizer’s.

Assuming that nothing goes wrong with production or distribution. Hint, things are already trying to go wrong.

That assumes that all vaccines are equally good at preventing people from getting sick, not all countries medical establishments are up to USA standards.

Or that they’ll actually stop the spread of the virus. Hint, last time I checked Pfizer’s vaccine stopped you from feeling the symptoms of Covid19, but they didn’t actually know if it stopped you from SPREADING the virus, which is a bit of a loophole since even if everyone in the world WANTED the vaccine there are people who CAN NOT get it.

And hell, they don’t actually know how many people, minimum, they have to vaccinate in order to ensure herd immunity. So while yes, they probably don’t actually have to vaccinate all 7.7 billion people in order to stop the spread, they have no way of knowing when they’ll hit that benchmark.

And that assumes everyone is willing and able to take the vaccine. As noted above there are people who are going to be medically advised NOT to take it. And polls are varying, by ALOT, of what percentage of people are going to be WILLING to take the vaccine, at least here in the USA. I’m seeing numbers saying between 30 to over 50% of people are either planning on refusing the vaccine, or are planning on waiting as long as possible because they worry about the side effects. Right or wrong it’s going to happen that people are going to refuse it, and it’s not going to be just the usual vaccine refusers either.

Covid19 isn’t going to go away any time soon. And if you think all the various businesses that keep being partially or fully shut down are going to last through another year of this mess you’re dreaming. Nor can our government afford to bail out the entire USA for another year, or years.

Nor are you going to get everyone to wear a mask, this is the USA, right or wrong our fight reflex is to strong. It’s not going to happen. Making people criminals for not wearing a mask, while releasing criminals because OMG they might get sick in prison, is counter productive.

Look, if you feel safer wearing a mask, wear it. If you feel safer keeping your kid out of school cause you’re worried about the school spread then do it (hint, more and more studies are showing remarkably little spread via in person schooling) then figure out a way to keep them properly educated and socialized from home. If you feel safer not getting your nails done, hair cut, or eating out, then do what you need to do to make you feel safe.

And I do think that the spread of hands free shopping, and deliveries, and curb-side pick-ups and the like is a good thing. As is the recognition that the general public is a filthy mass and maybe we should all be cleaning a bit more to stop the spread of things like the flu. And I’d definitely like to see a wider recognition that if you’re sick, even if it’s “just a cold”, then stay home.

But this screaming panic over this is doing SO MUCH MORE damage than the virus itself. Even if all the long term side effects of getting it turn out to be truly bad.

No, I don’t want your grandma to die of Covid so that the rest of us can have “normal” lives. But I don’t want your grandma dying of loneliness and despair in a nursing home because she hasn’t seen her family in person in months, or even touched another human being, either.

I don’t want women dying of breast cancer, or ovarian cancer, because they missed their annual checkup which would have found it and so it doesn’t get caught until to late. Or any one of another from a HUGE list of medical problems that preventive and voluntary medical procedures are meant to catch.

And I’m sick to hell already of watching small business after small business fail this year after their owners have struggled to keep them going.

And all that IS happening.

And maybe, just maybe, consider that the USA’s news cycle thrives on the negative, and that maybe, just maybe, you’re being fed deliberately bad news in order to hook you in. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s how they survive. I noticed it all the way back on 9/11/2001, so its not new.

So take a deep breath, step away from the news pages telling you how bad it is, and figure out how to live.

Edit:

shortly after posting the above I found THIS. *sarcasm* But hey, we’re protecting the children, so its all ok. */sarcasm*

And its not just the kids. Winter is a horrible time for depresion anyway, especially after the holidays. This year? Well, the holidays aren’t going to be very holiday-ish. I can guarantee that more and more adults are feeling depressed this year too. Between the fear of the virus, fear of job security, fear of loss of income, and how am I going to feed my family, on top of lack of socializing and interacting. I’ve certainly seen deteriorating interpersonal skills in my customers since this started. I’m sure the depression is right there with it. If you need additional help to get through this make sure you get it.

And yah, stay away from the news. Its not worth it.


No No No No!

Ran across this article yesterday.

Shutting down businesses and paying people for lost wages for four to six weeks could help keep the coronavirus pandemic in check and get the economy on track until a vaccine is approved and distributed, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden.

…….

“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers for losses to small companies to medium-sized companies or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” he said. “If we did that, then we could lockdown for four-to-six weeks.”

…….

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/11/biden-covid-advisor-says-us-lockdown-of-4-to-6-weeks-could-control-pandemic-and-revive-economy.html

Ok, first of all, where the hell do you plan to GET that much money?? Oh I know, you’ll borrow it. Nice, that’ll TOTALLY solve the economy problem…..And what about those of us who work for big sized companies? I mean, sure, my job is actually pretty secure, but not ALL big sized companies are. And if THEY start failing……that’s a hell of a trigger point there.

Then there’s the little fact that the economy is about more than just money. Money is only good for buying things. If you shut everything down again there won’t be anything to buy you moron! All the stimulus paychecks in the world won’t solve THAT.

You DO recall what happened in March when things shut down right? Despite frantic attempts to keep SOMETHING on the store shelves just about every store that was able to remain open ended up with empty shelves. Canned foods? Nope. Milk? Nope. Paper goods? Nope. Peanut butter? Nope. Disinfecting cleaning supplies? Nope. And while some of that was the result of people panicking and buying whatever they could get their hands on, not all of it was. Manufacturers are currently HOPING they’ll be able to be back to normal schedules at some point in 2021. HOPING! They are NOT caught up. Not even Kinda. Another 6 week shutdown, before they’re caught up? No, no, no, no…..

Oh, but the grocery shelves are back to normal! Right? No, no they aren’t. And neither are the cleaning supplies. Or, or, or…..the stores have just become really creative at how they stock the shelves. But if you know what you’re looking for? Yah, its really really obvious. Look, I’ve mentioned before that I have a wholesale foods account. The pricelist from the wholesaler back in March was 30 pages long, single column. Their current price list? 2 pages, double column. There’s SO MUCH stuff they can’t get right now. And what they can get, quantities still aren’t back to normal. And cleaning supplies? Look, I personally sell those at my work. There are entire brand lines of products that I haven’t seen even a single case of since this started.

And don’t get me started on Christmas. I hate to advocate buying your Christmas decor early. But this year? Buy it now. Or it won’t be there when you do go to the store. The ONLY thing we have plenty of stock of is pre-lit trees. We have NO backstock of ornaments. Barely any backstock of yard decor and blowups. No where NEAR enough backstock of lights. And the stock we do have? The selection isn’t near as wide as usual.

And then there’s the fact that the shutdown literally killed people. An awful lot of those “non-essential” medical treatments are only non-essential because the thing they treat was caught early enough to keep it from being an emergency. Or because they’re preventative, to keep things from becoming an emergency. Take away the availability of those treatments and suddenly there’s a lot more things that end up being emergencies, or that aren’t caught at all until it’s to late. And the lack of contact for seniors and the disabled stuck in assisted living and nursing homes? Yah, that killed some of them too, and set others back drastically.

Not to mention that all that assumes that we’ll HAVE a functional, GOOD, vaccine by the end of that 6 weeks. And yes, I know, it looks like we might. But might is not 100%. And no, I won’t be taking a vaccine that was rushed through trials that way. I WILL claim religious exemption if I need to. I’m not anti vaccine, they’re good things. But one that was rushed through like this? That we have NO CLUE what the long term outlook of it is? Fuck no. And I’m not the only one feeling twitchy at the way they’re rushing this vaccine through.

Look I get it. Nasty scary virus we don’t understand completely. But if the “cure” is doing more damage than the bug there’s a hell of a problem in how you’re doing it.


Tell me again

Tell me again, how lockdowns were the only option for handling this virus.

Tell me again, how lockdowns were the only way to keep the public safe.

Tell me again, how forcing those already confined into total solitude was the only way to save their lives.

Tell me again, how its all for the children.

There were and are absolutely intermediate steps that can and should be done to protect the vulnerable. The expansion of shopping services, and other hands off services. The expansion of sick days and the ability to work from home from businesses. The recognition that some people have fucked immune systems and need additional protection. I’d certainly like to see these things continued and expanded.

But the assumption that we, as a national and international community, needed to shut down everything in order to save lives?

No.

The long term health damage from these shutdowns is going to be astronomical, just in the first world countries involved. Physical health, mental health, and emotional health. And not just to the adults. Children NEED the social interactions we just forced them to miss, they NEED it in order to learn to be better adults. We just fucked the hell out of the next generation, and that sort of thing has the ability to snowball into additional generations as those kids grow up and have kids of their own.

The long term health damage done to non-first world countries due to the shutdown? Programs to alleviate starvation had to shut down. Programs to alleviate various major diseases had to shut down. Shutdowns that mean that their efforts could be set back years due to having to start over in some areas. Shutdowns that mean that they now have to start over at gaining local trust.

And the economic, world wide, damage done by the shut down and the following various health issues? Yah.

So tell me again…..


Food Intolerance

Last summer (2019, to be clear), I suddenly started experiencing some fairly significant stabbing intestinal pain.  It would come out of nowhere, leave me curled up in a ball wanting to die for a day or two, and then fade back out and disappear and I’d be fine for weeks before it would hit again.  It was accompanied by random diarrhea, extreme gas and bloating (also excruciatingly painful btw), and weird headaches and weird brief bouts of vertigo.  Though I didn’t actually put all those symptoms together as being caused by the same thing till at least several months in.  I’d previously had a diagnosis of diverticulitis, and worried that the intestinal pain was because of that, so I called the gastro specialist (several times), went into urgent care (twice), saw my regular doctor (once), and had a phone conversation with my rheumatologist.  CT and god only knows how much bloodwork and time later the diagnosis was: there’s nothing wrong with you that we can find.  Over the last several years I’ve come to highly dislike the phrase “well, your bloodwork is normal”, and this didn’t help with that.  We briefly thought that the intestinal pain might be caused by, or at least aggravated by, the methotrexate that the rheumatologist was trying for my  hand issues.  But nothing else seemed to be anything we could pinpoint.

It was November or so before I realized that clearly SOMETHING external was triggering the problem, food being the most likely, and easiest to track, culprit.  My brother had a severe lactose intolerance as a child, so I probably should have recognized the symptoms sooner, but who expects a new food intolerance at the age of 40??  I tend to eat a fairly boring diet, much the same thing over and over, but there is some variation.  I also tended to eat a lot of fast food for work lunches, supplemented by the vending machines in the break room.  The occasion where I wasn’t eating fast food for work lunches it tended to be pre-packaged meals from the grocery store rather than home made.  I attempted to start tracking what I was eating, but struggled to find a format that would work for tracking.  I carry my cell phone everywhere, so some sort of app seemed like the obvious solution, but none of the pre-done food tracking apps seemed to be what I wanted, and I hate typing out long lists of things or paragraphs on that tiny keyboard.  Late December I finally ordered a set of pocket notebooks, specifically I ordered a set of fancy ones that wouldn’t be ruined if they got wet.

January and February my hours at work always crash.  The downside to being part time in a department that basically requires good weather to get good sales.  But this year it was a good thing.  It made it ever so much easier to eat completely homemade, starting the week after Christmas.

Within two weeks of eating completely homemade my symptoms almost completely disappeared.

Then I decided to make myself popovers one day.  I love popovers, but they’re just fussy enough to make that I don’t actually  make them often.  Specifically using a mini muffin pan so that I could have popovers to eat all day.  Had 3 or 4 mini popovers for breakfast.  About half an hour after eating I had a mild vertigo moment, like I’d stood up to fast.  Then suddenly my head was pounding.  The headache faded back out quickly enough, I shrugged it off.  Had another 3 or 4 mini popovers for lunch.  Had another vertigo moment, and another brief headache.  WTF.  Then a couple hours later I suddenly developed severe gas bloating.  Ended up taking a double dose of GasX.  By supper time I was starting to notice some intestinal discomfort.  It wasn’t to the stabbing pain stage yet, but I could tell it was getting there.

The ingredients in my popover recipe: AP flour, milk, butter, eggs, salt.  I’d also grated cheese on the popovers before eating them.

The flour was the same flour I’d used to make the bread I’d been eating for the previous  couple weeks without any symptoms.  The butter was the same butter I’d been putting on my toast every morning.  Salt, well, if I was reacting to salt I was probably screwed, but since I’d been eating things with salt in them for the previous couple weeks without issue I was pretty sure I could ignore that too.  I don’t drink much milk, but I do put real cream in my coffee every morning, a fair bit of it too, I like my coffee light, I was pretty sure I could ignore the milk as a risk.  And I’d been eating the same cheese regularly for the previous couple weeks too.

Eggs.  I’d previously, several years ago, had a brief issue where eating eggs (of any kind) had given me some severe gas, but other wise no other problems with them, and that problem had faded back out in a couple months with no issues since.  But sure enough, the day after making popovers I had severe stabbing abdominal pain that took several days to fade back out.  My egg intake has always been variable.  I LIKE eggs, but sometimes I’ll eat them alot, and other times I’ll go weeks without eating any except as a possible ingredient in something.

The only good part of the problem being eggs is that eggs are one of the “major food allergens” that the FDA requires be explicitly listed on labels, including when the possibility of remnant traces could be present.  So while frustrating to avoid, due to eggs being a very common ingredient, it wouldn’t be impossible to avoid them at least.

I started adding back in the occasional processed food item to my diet once the reaction to the popovers had faded.  No gas, no bloating, no headaches.  Occasional, minor abdominal/intestinal discomfort, but it was really minor, I shrugged it off, it would probably take my system a while to completely return to normal.

Then I bought a package of Friendly’s Mint Chip Ice Cream.  Now there are some fancier ice creams that contain eggs as an ingredient, but Friendly’s isn’t one of them.  Friendly’s is pretty cheap ice cream infact, with alot of additives for texture and flavor and preservatives.  Half a bowl of ice cream later and I had a swing of vertigo and then a pounding headache, feeling flushed, as if my blood pressure had dropped and then spiked.  A check with my husband’s home blood pressure cuff confirmed that my blood pressure was higher than usual (though not in the range of needing immediate treatment).  I hadn’t thought to check my blood pressure with the previous headaches.  The next morning I woke up with stabbing abdominal pain that took a week to fade back out.

Fuck.

I put together a spreadsheet of the ingredients, and started working my way down the list of thing that were easy to test as individual items.  Its not dairy.  Its not soy.  Its none of the mint flavorings I’ve been able to try.  Its none of the chocolates I’ve been able to try.  Its none of the food colorings I can get ahold of.  None of the seasonings I’ve tried individually.  None of the cocoa’s or cocoa butters I’ve tried.  This leaves me with a fairly short list of texture, flavor, and preservative additives.

I bought a loaf of Italian bread with garlic spread from a local grocery as a treat to myself (I love the stuff, but have been known to eat half a loaf in a sitting, so I don’t buy it very often).  No eggs listed in the ingredients, possible traces of egg from things made in the same factory.  Either there was more than a trace of eggs, or I was reacting to some other ingredient in it, the reaction wasn’t as bad as the popovers or the ice cream, but it wasn’t minor either.  There was no overlap between the suspect ingredients in the ice cream and the garlic bread.

Bought a package of Pillsbury’s freezer biscuits (they’re just like the ones in the can, but you can pull out however many you want at a time to bake instead of having to bake the whole can, yes I can make biscuits, I was feeling lazy).  No eggs listed, not even traces.  I didn’t get any blood pressure swings or gas/ bloating from them, but I had stabbing abdominal pain from them for over a week.  Almost no overlap with previously suspect ingredients.  Or rather, the overlap is “natural flavor”, which isn’t helpful.

I have also confirmed that just egg whites will set me off, as will duck eggs.

I’m back to eating home made and whole foods (nuts, fruits, vegis, meats) as much as I possibly can.  While this is quite likely healthier than my previous diet it’s also frustrating as hell.  On top of dealing with the chaos that is 2020?  It has been hell.

The first allergist I saw was no help.  Blood work says you don’t have a food allergy, go back to your gastro specialist.  Gastro specialist says he can’t find anything wrong.  My regular doctor is sending me to a different allergist, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’ll note that figuring out a food intolerance is not “essential”, which in the year that has become 2020 means I get to deal with it almost entirely on my own, regardless of anything else.  Thank god I’m not especially prone to depression.

Everyone who thinks that we need to shut down all “non-essential” services and businesses in order to survive a pandemic that has a tiny death rate can go fuck themselves.


Look, I don’t care

I don’t care if you think everyone should be wearing masks.

I don’t care if you think masks are useless.

I don’t care if you think the pandemic is going to kill us all.

I don’t care if you think it’s all a hoax.

 

You know what I care about?

The lowly retail employee who went from being vilified as a minimum wage drone to applauded as an essential worker in the space of a week.  The cashier who got told they were putting their life on the line so that people could buy something.  The sales floor employee who got told they were probably going to get sick so that people could buy something.  The retail employee who spent 4 months getting a minimum “hazard bonus” for working double shifts to try to keep the store open while the rest of the world lost their collective brains.

The slightly simple greeter who gets assholes yelling at him because we dare to have signs up spelling out the states facial covering mandate.

The service desk worker who has assholes yelling at her because we don’t kick out someone who’s not wearing a mask.

The sales floor employee who’s getting yelled at multiple times a days because “why the fuck aren’t you carrying bird seed any more?!” (seriously, bird seed, I’ve had more pissed off people over the lack of bird seed than anything else this past week)

The specialty department supervisor who’s almost old enough to be MY mother who’s been doing this her whole life who walked off the sales floor in tears after dealing with that one last asshole on the sales floor last week.

It’s not the fault of anyone in the store that we’re out of what you want to buy.  We’re stocking out onto the shelves every single god damned thing we can find that even kinda sorta fits.  And the company is using every bit of their pretty massive buying power to try to get us stuff to put onto the shelves.

It’s not the fault of anyone in the store that the state not only wrote up a facial covering mandate but has started fining stores for each unmasked person they find in the store.

I suppose it might be our fault for not turning away people who aren’t wearing masks, but since we carry some pretty essential supplies the company has decided they’re not going to do that.  And frankly if you want to come stand at our door and try to stop that big ass angry dude from coming in without a mask then feel free.  Frankly I’m not paid enough, and neither is anyone else in the store.

If you want to bitch about something the company might actually be able to control feel free to take it up with the corporate office.

If you want to bitch about the politics of it feel free to take it up with your local politicians.

Don’t take it out on the people who’re way to massively overworked and underpaid and who don’t have any control over it anyway.

(and yes, all the described incidents of asshole customers have all happened, either to me personally, or where I could see them happen to a co-worker.  I seriously have no idea how in hell this country made it through the last few months without some kid working their first retail job losing it completely and going postal on customers, I really don’t.)


Pod 3 Pet Tracker, a review

So I’ve posted before about how my dogs have an iffy recall.  We also live in the middle of a large area of forest/farm land, so if the dogs did get loose without us right behind them they could disappear easily.  So a while back I started looking at various pet locator/tracker options.

A lot of the inexpensive ones just flat out wouldn’t work for us.  They’re designed to function over bluetooth (BLE) only.  They may work well in cities where there’s tons of folks and phones to bounce signals off of, but not so much here.

So I started looking at the ones that use cell signals.  Reviews were iffy, but one that kept coming back with positive reviews was Pod Tracker.  Concern: they (and all the rest) were running on 2G signals, which many areas are phasing out.  But it quickly developed that they were building a model that ran on both 2G and 3G, as well as wireless internet signals.  Not perfect, but much better than many of the options.  They were running it as a Kickstarter, but they’d run both of their previous models on Kickstarter too, so that wasn’t a huge issue.  We signed up, two units (with two batteries each) plus two “modules” with the choice of oversized batteries.

We got an email in the early spring last year (2017) asking if we’d like to join the Beta testers program, they were having some issues with the programming of the new units and were offering early arrival of the units to folks who were willing to put up with the problems and give feedback, by doing so they’d also give us an extra few months of cell service free.  We’re both fairly tech savvy and agreed that yah, we could do that.

It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that a large portion of the problem was that they’d gone to fancy.  A huge number of the folks who buy these trackers just want to know where their animal is at that point in time.  The activity tracker and adventure settings were cool, but not the real need of most folks.  But there were other issues too.

We were being told to expect THIS behavior, and then, a month or two later, when that behavior would stop, be told that “oh, it wasn’t supposed to do that”.

Folks who were running both Pod 2’s and Pod 3’s at the same time were reporting that their Pod 2 would be working fine in an area (2G signal only), while the Pod 3 (2G and 3G signal) wouldn’t be able to get signal at all.

Physically, several of us had the battery caps (that make them waterproof) pop off our batteries.  These batteries were replaced.

The modules, in our case the extra big batteries, kept getting pushed out further and further till they stopped answering when we asked when they were going to come out.

There has been an ongoing issue where folks using Android phones are unable to connect to the tech support chat in the app.  The app just crashing when you attempt to access it or while you’re accessing it.

And so on.

There were additional issues specific to us.  While we have great 4G signal here our 2/3G signals aren’t the greatest, in addition, with so few houses in close proximity wireless signals travel far further than expected.  This resulted in A LOT of frustration with false locations for us.

One of the “features” was the ability to set a “Home Wifi” where if the Pod3 could pick up that signal then it knew that the dog was at home.  However because of the above stated signal travel problem, and the fact that the Pod is apparently far more sensitive to WIFI signals than my cell phone, it was saying that the Pod3 was at home, when in reality I was standing with it in my hand over 400 meters down the road (a point well past where my cell phone stopped getting the same Wifi signal).  Attempting to turn down the signal power on our router didn’t make a difference.  And the Home Wifi over-rode every other location setting on the Pod, if the Pod saw the Home Wifi it just stopped otherwise trying to find the location.  So I turned off the “Home Wifi” feature.  And promptly got yelled at by tech support for “repeatedly turning off and on the Home Wifi” because the system was to fragile to handle it.  Note, the “repeated off and on” was one on and one off with at least two hours in between.  However without the Home Wifi set the battery life on the Pod3’s dropped considerably due to the constant struggle to get cell signal.  Instead of 2-3 days I was getting barely 1 day.  I eventually turned back on the Home Wifi feature, deciding that the fragile system be dammed, when the dogs took off I’d just turn off the feature then in order to find them.  Signal strength away from our home improves considerably, and since the point is to find the dogs when they’re away from home I figured that we could  make that work.

Folks who were assisting with the Beta were eventually given a free year of cell service, with renewal set 1yr after we’d all received our Pods.  But frustration arose when 2017 Black Friday sales hit.  The sale for the Pod 3, for new subscribers, was a “free lifetime subscription”.  Quite a few folks contacted Pod about how did those of us who’d been dealing with all these problems get a life time sub?  Responses  varied alot.  One person was told that we’d be receiving coupons to get it (as of this time not one person in the FB group has admitted to receiving said coupon), others weren’t responded to at all.  I was personally told that they were unable to give us the free lifetime sub due to physical restrictions on the accounts.  And so on.  Folks who had to receive a replacement Pod for various reasons DID get the free lifetime sub on the new Pods, but that seems to be the limit of it.

The first week of January 2018 the battery life of Apollo’s Pod3 suddenly took a nosedive.  Instead of getting 2-3 days of life it was getting barely 24hrs, and then barely 12hrs.  Tech support first tried to blame this on various things, but then finally admitted that several other pods were having the same problem.  Then Arty’s Pod3 started randomly doing the same.  As of the time I type this review (May 2018) this battery life problem has not been fixed.  It’s definitely not specific to the battery used, all of the batteries I have on hand, including the ones with damaged caps, do it (or not do it, the problem is random, Apollo’s pod hasn’t lasted more than 24hrs on a single battery since January, but Arty’s pod will randomly last two days).

Then over the last month I suddenly noticed that several of the batteries were cracking/breaking where they connected to the Pods.  A check with tech support, and then a closer look at the Pods themselves, showed that Apollo’s pod had somehow become damaged at the rim, putting stress on the battery connections.  They sent me a replacement Pod and batteries.

The replacement Pod arrived last Friday, and Sunday I took the time to try to set it up.  Note the “try”.  When we got the original two Pods they both setup with essentially no fuss or bother despite our poor 2/3G signal problems, nor have I had any issues getting them to connect to the Home Wifi, or getting a firmware update.  Not so this time around.

First the replacement Pod didn’t want to see the cell signal at all, then, after an hour of trying, I got it connect to the cell signal but it wouldn’t connect to the app.

Part of setting up the new Pod is setting up subscription information.  Imagine my surprise when “life time free subscription” was an option on the new replacement Pod.  Yet they “can’t do that” on the original ones…..

Several hours of frustrated trying later I got it to connect to the app, but then it needed a firmware update.

It was late Monday morning before I finally got it to do the firmware update.

Then it needed a new battery, and took several repeated tries (after the battery replacement) to get it to see the cell signal again.

Then it refused to connect to the Home Wifi.  Monday afternoon was spent with both Arty’s Pod (one of our original Pod3’s) and Apollo’s replacement Pod in hand as I argued with tech support and got increasingly frustrated.

Tech support repeatedly blamed the problem on our poor cell signal, yet everything I was trying to do with the new Pod I was also trying to do with Arty’s Pod, with them side by side in my hand.  And Arty’s Pod was connecting with zero problems, while Apollo’s replacement Pod repeatedly refused to connect.

While I was chatting with tech support via the app on my iPad (see above comment about how the app won’t allow Android phones to connect to tech support, yes, that’s still a problem almost a year later), I was also chatting with some folks in both the Official Pod FB group, and the unofficial Pod FB group.  Several folks were reporting sudden problems getting their Pods to connect to the local cell signal (indicated by a solid red light on the Pod), the ones who’d reported it to Pod tech support were told it was due to a problem with their local cell service provider, yet when the local cell service provider was contacted they had no knowledge of an outage.  In one case one person was using a Pod2 that was connecting just fine, while her Pod3 was refusing to connect.

I finally informed tech support that I wanted a refund on the modules that we still hadn’t received and hadn’t even been given a firm date of arrival on yet, and closed the chat.  I received a message an hour later that the refund had been processed (a whole $21, yay).

Repeated tries finally got the replacement Pod to connect as needed.

Monday evening Pod folks posted in the Official Pod FB group that they had become aware of an issue causing cell signal problems (showing as a solid red light on the Pod) for some Pods and they were looking into it.  (Imagine that, it wasn’t a problem with the local cell signal after all……..)

I put new batteries on both Pods Monday afternoon when Apollo’s Pod had indicated it needed a new battery.  Got up Tuesday (today) morning to both Pod’s having reported low battery at some point over night.  Essentially 12hrs of battery life.  But ok, I did spend a lot of time Monday afternoon refreshing and what not.

Replace the battery in Arty’s pod.  It connected to the system no problem.

Replace the battery in Apollo’s new replacement Pod.  Solid red light.  Half an hour of trying before it finally got a solid signal.  But there’s “nothing wrong with the new Pod and it’s clearly a problem with your cell signal coverage, and if you want us to send you yet another replacement pod you’ll have to pay to send the first replacement back to us first”.  Something tells me the battery life isn’t going to be any better this time around…….

Update: Tuesday evening tech support sent us a message that they’d noticed folks were getting “red light-no signal” when the pod was connecting correctly, and gee I wonder if its connected……I rolled my eyes.  Wednesday morning it took three reboots of the new Pod before it would connect.  Thursday morning it only two reboots!  Improvement!  But battery life is still horrid.  Today, Thursday, it gave me a low battery notification barely 6 hours after I put on the fresh battery.


Read the damn manual

When you buy a new piece of equipment, read the damn manual.  I don’t care if you’ve run virtually identical pieces of equipment for your entire life.  Read the damn manual.

And if you DON’T read the manual, and the piece of equipment won’t work, read the damn manual THEN.

And if you STILL haven’t read the damn manual, don’t call the store screaming about how we sold you defective merchandise, because I WILL wait you out and then walk you through the steps to start your new lawnmower properly and be delighted when you clearly feel stupid.

The fact that I sound about 14 over the phone helps with this, but still, you could avoid the whole thing by just reading your damn manual.