Why is it that Amazon is Doing So Well?

After 11 days on the road we needed groceries. More and more we buy from Amazon’s Prime Panty. While we were on the road we neglected to place an order from Prime Pantry. Their fulfillment center’s are fast, but in this case it wouldn’t be fast enough.

Much of the fresh produce and meat we purchase comes from local vendors. Then, there are those times where we need a lot in a hurry. This was one of those times and meant a trip into town. We did stop at Bright’s Delights, a local produce stand, on the way into town where we loaded up on tomatoes, okra, squash, and green beans.

A lot in a hurry means staples. Our choices are Farm Fresh, Food Lion, or Wal-Mart. On this particular day we really needed to stock up and wanting to save cash we found ourselves at Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City.

Wal-Mart does have lower prices. We go shopping with a list, which we separate, grab two carts, pull the lower priced items off the shelf and queue to check out in about 15 minutes. We’ve got speed shopping down to an art. Although the sights throughout the mega-store can be similar to a side show we stay focused and get out. Well, we hurry along and then we stand in line.

Today I timed the wait in the queue. From the moment we entered the checkout line, ours backed-up past the vats of out-dated discounted DVDs, mouthwashes, and candy tubs to the “Fine Jewelry” counter, to the moment the cashier scanned our first item – 20 minutes.

During our wait the customer parked ahead of us said, “I know what their plan is – it’s to make us use the self-check out.” We mentioned we had considered the self-check out. The problem with self-check out, “We done it and it never works.”

You can make out the 3 open check out lines

The customer ahead sighed, “I know, it’s never worked for me either, and this time I have a gift card.” We figured the gift card would lock things down for a bit.

When self-check out operates properly it’s okay. We used self-check out exclusively at the Giant in Easton, Maryland before we sold that house relocated to North Carolina. We used self-check out at Home Depot in Athens, Georgia last Friday it was flawless. The ones here at Wal-Mart in Elizabeth City offer challenges that push patience.

Waiting in the line next to us was a mother with her 5-year old daughter. The poor child had all she could stand. Mama sent her over to a candy tub to search for a delicacy. This calmed the child as well as Mama’s Prozac.

The last time we shopped at Wal-Mart their computer system failed and no one could check out. We waited way too long. I suggested leaving the cart and heading over to Farm Fresh since we had to drive past on our way home. Brenda, my wife, not one to be defeated fought on and we waited.

On today’s wait our shopping cart included one bottle of wine. That would never pass muster at self-check out. Every bottle we’ve tried to slip past the customer operated payment system ended up needing a store representative to verify and confirm our ages. The wine purchaser age check delay combined with classification locks and system reboots conducted by a store expert increases time spent experiencing the Wal-Mart during self-check out.

Back in line our friend, Mike, the customer waiting ahead of us (we were now on a first name basis) continued to explore his idea that Wal-Mart’s plan is to redirect shoppers to check themselves out. I doubted the plan suggesting, “Mike, to have a plan someone has to think.” At this point he stopped arguing at just the right moment – it was his turn with the cashier.

Mike had 7 items. We were getting close! I could almost feel the parking lot outside.

Mike’s gift card failed. He’d made it to the cashier, his seven items scanned, his card failed. Mike, Brenda, and I just laughed! We knew it would fail. The card was good. Mike was innocent of creating the failure. Three attempts by the cashier and his line supervisor was all it took for Mike to hit pay dirt. Mike was free and clear. We were up to bat.

During the wait for Mike’s gift card to clear we’d unloaded our potential purchases. Unlike Mike’s seven items, no the 20 item or less check out line was not open; Brenda and I piled our goods on the biofilm saturated conveyer belt. The cashier went about his business of sliding, scanning, and stuffing items into urban tumbleweed bags hooked to a small merry-go-round. Seven minutes later he was done. Brenda inserted her debit card to pay – it failed. The cashier and his supervisor worked out a few keystrokes and within a several more minutes we were free to leave with our purchases.

We departed with only three items on our list not accounted for. We’ve never experienced a trip to Wal-Mart when they’ve had everything on our list. This trip we missed: fresh basil, shelled edamame and coconut milk. We can get the coconut milk (for a recipe) from Amazon’s Prime Panty. The fresh basil we’ll get out of our neighbor Jimmy’s garden. They have the shelled edamame at Farm Fresh.

We’d be passing the Farm Fresh on our way home, anyway.

Switching Bows to Find Which Scores Best

Before this morning’s archery practice River and I headed out for a run. Lately, we’ve been cutting though woods before heading out onto the road. Once on the road we run a short loop then head back off road.

There’s been so much rain here we’ve cut the trails short. Many of the paths I’ve made for running are for the moment under water. Being under water is fine for River. It means, of course, I have to clean her off once we finish.

The run out of the way I continued on with my evaluation of bows and releases. In order to continue with that exercise I needed to remove the stabilizers and sight off of the Mathews Apex 7 and put then onto the Elite Energy 35. So, there is once again the sight tape chore.

I know which tape I used the last time I shot the Elite – the two bows require different tapes. But, it seems every time I switch bows there is a very slight variance on the calibration. It’s not a big deal when I set things up for a fixed know distance. For 3D, since I practice both, I try to keep things moving to adjust for those slight variances.

Trying to find the 40-yard calibration.

Changing the tape didn’t take too long. I knew approximately where to set the calibrations. Still, all the shots and confirmations ate up the morning. After lunch, I’ll begin the Elite tests to compare with the results from the Apex 7.

Example of a Quarterly Report to Sponsors

I have sponsors and take my job of supporting Rudy Project, BRL Sports Nutrition, 60X Custom Strings, Flying Arrow Archery, and Swiftwick seriously.  They all receive quarterly reports.  I thought some of you might be interested in reading what I share with my sponsors.  Here is my Q4 report:

Q4 2016 Report – David Lain

It’s not quite the end of Q4. But, the final weeks will be busy. So, here’s my Q4 report a little early. It will not have the results of the final three December tournaments. Two of those will be in North Carolina and one in Georgia. October, November and December mean most 3D archery shoots are over for the season as archers turn to hunting.

On the competitive side focus has been on preparation for the USA Indoor Nationals scheduled for February 2017. Hours of daily practice at 18-meters has been the rigor of the day. In two recent indoor events I ended up with a 1st Place and a 2nd place, both tournaments in North Carolina. In addition there are indoor league events where I am currently competing.

Over the course of 2016 I competed in 21 archery contests. I took two 1st place, six 2nd place, and 4 third place finishes. The other results ranged from 4th to 43rd (a particularly frustrating event in Augusta.) In addition to archery I finished 2nd place in two cycling races and 4th in one road race (5K run). I had one archery ‘DNF’ because of equipment problems (IBO World Championships.) I took 2nd in the Maryland IBO State Championship and 4th in the ASA North Carolina Championship (Both 3D). At the USA Indoor Nationals I won 2nd place in the South Division.

2016 was a year of changes. Many of the events where I competed where “B” level where while winning was a goal; a major goal was to learn a new method of shooting. This was a significant factor in 3D where I switched from pins, used in the IBO Pro Hunter Class, to a sight and scope. The change was to prepare for 2017 where the Professional 3D Class in which I’ll compete uses sights, scopes and longer stabilizers. Judging yardage with a pin feel is much different than the exactness required using a sight. At least in my opinion and my 2016 results support.

In 2016 I traveled over 12,000 miles to various archery tournaments. To cut costs I bought a Winnebago that has been really nice and I should reach 100% return on of investment in 2018. Camping has saved a lot of money on hotels, food, and kennel costs.

My website, Puttingitontheline.com (where sponsors are represented and linked) remains extremely active with over 10,000 visitors per month.

Some of you may be aware of my medical/science background. Archery is not only a sport for me it is part of an experiment in talent transfer. I collect a great deal of data on my performance. I have been studying and testing “talent transfer,” a notion in sports science. I am making time curves of the progressive myelination of my nervous system. I mention it here because there is enough data collected to write an abstract for scientific presentation. (My peer review publications can be found at PubMed/National Library of Medicine.) I am planning on publishing.

In 2017 I expect to win at a minimum two State level competitions. I intend to regain my 1st in the USA Indoors 18-meter in the Southern region. I will not have a feel on 3D for the ASA Pro/Am series or IBO Worlds for another month or more when my full time concentration returns to that venue.

I am looking for to 2017 and anticipate a great year. I appreciate all your support.

David Lain, PhD, JD, FCCP, FAARC (retired)

Archer – not retired

Fellow Emeritus, American College of Chest Physicians

Former Member –Team USA World Long Course Duathlon Championship Team (2007)

3X Ironman Finisher – Including the Ironman World Championship Kona, Hawaii (2008)

2013 USA Track & Field Phidippides Award recipient.

Trying to Coordinate 2017 Archery and Racing

My 2017 event calendar is partially complete. Well, a little complete. I have the USA Indoor Nationals in Snellville and the ASA Pro/Am events inked. The Indoor Nationals, and ‘A’ event, is where I hope to take back my 2015 win in the South and out perform my 2016 second place finish.

There are a lot of archery tournaments. There are also a lot of other races. In 2016 I missed a number of the other races because archery took priority. Nevertheless, I get some nice finishes racing bicycles and running.

There is one race I’ve have been wanted to run for a few years. That is the Xterra ½ Marathon Trail Run World Championship. Trail running is a blast. Seriously, running through the woods is fun. I’ve even cut a trail run circuit in the woods across from my house to practice.

Trail running is a bit tougher than running on the road. Footing is a major factor. The ground tends to be uneven compared to a nicely paved road. I wouldn’t attempt another long race off road without off road several test races in my legs.

I looked at the 2017 Xterra Off Road calendar for 2017. So many races and so little time – much of that time being already locked in with archery. One of the really great ones is in Georgia a few miles from my oldest daughter’s home. Her place is a perfect location to spend the night before the race, get up, drive over, run, then come back and shower. I’d done just that a couple of years ago. It’s the: XTERRA GEORGIA “THRILL IN THE HILLS” – HALF MARATHON TRAIL RUN.

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The race started uphill.
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Race map

It is a very tough race and hilly. The race, just north of Athens, in February is cold. On race day when I ran it was cold and rainy. River, my dog, came along on the race and warmed up with me. She waited in the truck while I ran the race.

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Cold, wet, covered in mud. Sweet.

I say ‘ran’ with reservation. The rain mixed with the Georgia red clay made the ½ marathon more like a 13.1-mile slide. I didn’t win and ended up 6th. If I’d spent more time running rather than falling down I might have come up a place or two. It seemed the faster I tried to run the harder I slid down. I finished wet, red (from the clay) and bruised. It was a blast.

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Rain and Georgia Red Clay guarantee somebody is slipping down

Sadly, that race and the ASA Hoyt Pro/AM are the same weekend. I’ll have to keep looking and see what other races might help prepare me for the bigger race in December of 2017. That is, if I can get fit enough to run an off road half marathon with some of the fastest trail runners in the world. If not, there are plenty of races to satisfy.

Getting back home after Matthew

We’d just about gotten back to normal following Hurricane Hermine and Julia when Hurricane Matthew drove up the east coast. Living near the Outer Banks of North Carolina is not the best place to be during hurricane season. Actually, since we purchased this property six years ago we’d had tropical cyclones visit us on an annual basis.

Hurricane Matthew looked like a serious storm, to me anyway, from its onset off the coast of Africa. I’d been watching it from the very beginning. Eventually it formed into a Category 4 storm and was a big one. If you’d placed the cyclone in the center of the Caribbean it would cover that entire sea.

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The weather forecasters were suggesting this massive hurricane was going to poise little problems for those of us near the Outer Banks of North Carolina with the exception of a brush past Cape Hatteras. Many of my friends felt otherwise. Brenda and I decided we’d secure our property, load up the Winnebago and head northwest.

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Our camp at Chippoke State Park

If you’ve followed the news you know the forecasters got this storm wrong. Even though we’d selected a campground 102 miles away from the coast we still got the storm. In fact, we’d discussed driving further west before it hit. However, the forecasters seemed confident our maximum impact might be 1 to 2 inches of rain. Man, by the time Matthew had passed I was thankful we didn’t have a tree on top of our Micro Minnie.

The flooding and damage to North Carolina isn’t 100% the blame of Matthew. Within weeks of Matthew Hermine and Julia had hit us. A lot of folks had forgotten about the water those two storms dropped on the State. When Matthew hit, and Matthew did pack a punch, the already saturated low country couldn’t handle any more water. The result was one of the worst sets of conditions for a hurricane imaginable.

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Rain blowing sideways, a water spout, and waves crashing our bulkhead during Mathew (I’d set a trail camera up facing Little River before we left)

After the storm we added a few more days to our campsite stay. The reports of flooded roads were enough to keep us off them. When we did drive back to our home near Hertford, NC was passed areas that were severely wrecked.

There were houses with water up to their first floor windows. Cars in water leaving only the roof of the vehicle exposed. Two of the roads leading to our house remained underwater and cars could only pass driving single file, slowly, in the middle of the road.

A week later we drove into Elizabeth City. Their flooded streets and homes remained blocked and barricaded. Friends in Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach told us that in their area ditches are now creeks and creeks are rivers.

Hurricane season 2016 is nearly past. Currently, Hurricane Nicole is moving away, never a danger to the US, and a yet unnamed (but numbered) storm in the Caribbean may develop as it moves toward the Bahamas. Like many others, I hope this is it for 2016 and that we get a break in the future.

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This River Otter seemed happy to see us returned home.

Getting through the nightly news

We watch very little television. The evening news and football are what we view on commercially driven TV. But, the commercials during the news are nearly too much to endure. Last night, I put a stopwatch on the abundance of commercials.

The bulk of the commercial time was spent on drugs. The pharmaceutical companies, with plenty of our money to spend, took first prize with 6 commercials lasting 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Second place went to banks and financial management companies. If you’d invested your money with any of these money managers they’d have spent your dollars on 4 commercials lasting 2 minutes and 8 seconds. The third place winner was the news. Yes, the station itself gave a self-promotional plug with 3 commercials during the news lasting 1 minute and 38 seconds, all to encourage us to stay tuned or come back and watch more news later – just in case there were other important developments to put us at risk. Or, we were already at risk and had better tune in again before going to bed to learn more details about why. Fourth place winner, losing to the news by a mere 8 seconds was pet ads, selling to the viewer both dog food products and pet drugs.

There were two pure consumer commercials, one for Ford, 28 seconds, and one for Ace Hardware, 16 seconds. I categorized them as pure consumer since the viewer does not need a medical condition to be considered fair game, (such as a sleep disorder, diabetes, opioid constipation, or erectile dysfunction) or need an investment bank (though a loan would likely be needed for the Ford), or have a pet to feed or care for.

The commercial to news ratio was nearly 1:2; for every minute of commercial viewing we were treated to roughly two minutes of news (9 minutes of commercial/ 19 minutes of news – seconds rounded down.)

Some of the money spent on ads by the pharmaceutical companies was aimed at men over 50, or perhaps their partners, with the hope that the company could aid men with erectile dysfunction. The spokesperson in this commercial was always an attractive younger woman in her late twenties or early thirties shown as a possible incentive to encourage the 50 plus-year-old fellows to come hither and get on with business. I am relieved there are no children in my home that might require an explanation of what the sultry women is inviting while languishing on a bed.

We’ve never been big watchers of TV. For a time we didn’t even own one. We do enjoy watching a good movie on our large flat screen TV mounted on the wall. We do love to watch football. The news is sometimes interesting. The price we now pay for those moments of newsworthy reports, the commercials, is about to reach a point where no news will be good news.

Oh, yeah, that’s real

I’m soon to be 61 years old. Not young, not really old. My family’s genetics suggests I’ll croak between 90 and 98 years old. Honestly, I don’t really worry about it beyond making as certain as I can that I have a budget that will last my wife and I until we’re 98. Should we out last 98 years, well my plan is to be a burden on society. I’ve been married for 36 years and not by any stretch someone on the “prowl.”

That said it often amazes me the “Friend” requests I get on Facebook. I’d would have to be pretty stupid to believe an unknown beautiful woman in her twenties wants to be my “Friend.” I’ve got no idea what these people want; I expect it is a front for some nefarious enterprise.

Typically, I just delete the request. Sometimes, I’ll double check their Facebook page to see if they are legitimate. Most often it’s obviously a front –  no cover page, a few posts for some product, and one or two somewhat risqué photos. Delete, delete, delete. But, I recently got one that was too funny.

The “Friend” from Texas. Wait a minute, what is that over her left shoulder?

This ‘Friend” request pops up on my Facebook account. A young woman in a revealing bathing suit from Texas. What caught my eye is that the background showed a fellow that I felt certain was not a Texan. Talk abut a photo bomb!

Nope, not in Texas.

I’ve lived in Texas and so has my wife, Livingston and El Paso, respectively.  I love the west and if my wife didn’t have so much seawater in her blood we might be living there. But, there’s no way she’s leaving the Atlantic Ocean.

I learned a bit about Texas and Texans when I lived there.  I honestly believe that no righteous male Texan would have been prancing around in public looking like the guy in the background of this faux-cowgirl’s photo sent to me via a Facebook ‘Friend” request.

However, I did get a good laugh before deleting the request.

Shooting from the Shed

Living out in the country has advantages. It is quiet, scenic, and I can play outside all day without disturbing neighbors. When it is too cold and windy to practice archery outdoors I’ve got a alternative, I shoot from a shed on my property.IMG_4505

It was cold and windy here today. I didn’t feel like driving into Elizabeth City to practice on an indoor range. It’s about a 40-minute trip one way to the range. Granted, it is nice that there is an indoor range so close, but there are days when driving anywhere isn’t fun.

At home I can stand in a shed and shoot. Because nobody lives near me I’m not worried about someone walking across my property and into the path of an arrow. Out here in the sticks we are very isolated.

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First 5 shots of the day.

A plus is that I now have heat in this shed. I had this storage building renovated and now have heat, AC, carpeting, paneling, and it is insulated. It is a great workout room and not a bad place to stand inside against the cold. There are some unique advantages to living off the grid.

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Warming up my bow and release.

The Golden Rule

We made home from 17 days in Georgia. Coming back with us were two coolers of venison and pork. A few deer were left behind; we’ll pick those up on our next trip. On the drive home, one of the topics of discussion between Brenda and I was how inconsiderate people have become.

This lack of consideration we’ve noticed has become rather prevalent. For example, the other night at 12:46 AM people near us put their dogs out into their fenced yard. These dogs barked non-stop. I turned on the outside spotlight hoping they’d pick up the hint and call the animals back in the house. No way, those dogs just kept running around the yard and barking.

Earlier that day, we’d stopped in Savannah, before driving back to North Carolina, to visit my mother who lives on Isle of Hope. It was a nice day, so we sat and talked in her back yard. The entire time we sat there, her neighbor’s two dogs barked at us from behind their white picket fence.

In Tignall, week-enders showed up at the lake and commenced having all night parties that weren’t subdued in any sense of the imagination. There was total disregard for the permanent residents and other part-time neighbors.

At an archery tournament, spectators had covered the bleachers with gear, clothing, backpacks, food and other debris so that the competitors were left with few if any places to sit. Standing for 3 to 3.5 hours isn’t fun. (Heck, I’d rather run or ride a bike that long rather than just stand). When I’d asked people would always move their piles off the bleachers, but I shouldn’t have had to ask.

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I left a trail cam on my porch to see what might come out of the woods while we were gone – I didn’t expect this.

Then, when we got home I noticed my yard was covered with holes. The holes clearly caused my horses’ hooves. The owners of the horses, noticing we were out of town sent three horses to graze on my lawn. I will be speaking with them tomorrow.

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That black horse ran across my lawn (captured his blur on the trail cam) and ripped it up.

Perhaps I am old school or old South, but I’d never do or allow my animals to do any of those infringements on another person. I still believe in good manners, being polite, and (at least trying) to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. That “Golden Rule” is an excellent one to practice. We don’t seem to have enough people today trying to get it right.

Another Patent – Cool

Some of you may be aware that I was once in the medical field. I’m still involved a bit with a couple of medical groups, but for the most part 40 years was enough. While in that profession I sometimes invented things.  Here’s the abstract listed on another patent I was just awarded (along with two other scientists). This is the abstract from patent number 9,055,888:

“A system for sampling exhaled breath and for supply of a gas, the system comprising: a gas delivery cannula comprising at least one nasal prong for insertion into a nostril, the nasal prong comprising a distal end; an exhaled breath sampling cannula for insertion into the nostril, the exhaled breath sampling cannula comprising a distal end; and a connector for coupling the gas delivery cannula to the exhaled breath sampling cannula, such that the distal end of the exhaled breath sampling cannula is disposed deeper in the nostril than the distal end of the nasal prong, to reduce dilution of sampled exhaled breath by delivered gas. The connected is configured to facilitate adjustability of an insertion depth of the exhaled breath sampling cannula into said nostril.”

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This is for exhaled breath sampling with the delivery of a medical gas.