Good results in Kentucky and Virginia yesterday – in both of which the DNC has invested as part of its 50-state strategy. Thanks for your support.


Borealis subsidiary Roche Bay’s joint venture partner, Toronto stock symbol AXI, made an announcement yesterday. Apparently, its offer of shares at $2.83 (Canadian, so about $3.07 American) was oversubscribed and they are raising 41% more money than planned. This is good news, because it means there will be that much more capital to continue developing the Roche Bay iron ore deposits. And because it suggests that some people think there is value there. (Also because, as part of its joint venture deal, Borealis will shortly get 2.7 million warrants to buy AXI at 35 cents a share; and its subsidiary will be sitting on a further 4 million warrants or so.)

All wildly speculative, as always, and frustratingly slow . . . but progress.

AXI closed up 23% at $3.20 (Canadian, $3.48 U.S.) on volume of 464,927 shares. Borealis traded up 4% cents at $7.30 (US) on volume of 1,262 shares.


With a well received earnings report, the stock is now triple what we paid for it – and why not, given that they’re in the oil business? I am holding on. To listen to their latest conference call, click here (good through the end of this month).


Paul Rightley: ‘You write, ‘(And yes, I know, I know: Macintosh.)’ Can it be that the man who taught me to buy cases of wine and store them under my bed or to buy ONE expensive bottle of vodka and then refill it with cheaper vodka could be recommending the expensive alternative to Windows XP? (What about the saving of bits of used soap bars, the cheap shirts at Walgreens?) I realize that people like me are usually regarded as slightly insane, but I would heartily recommend Ubuntu Linux. I manage MY vast fortune using gnucash running on Linux. The beauty of Linux is not just that it is free, it is also comes with a lot fewer ties to businesses (like the pesky need for anti-virus software) that can give the feeling that ‘they purposely make it difficult.’

Matt: ‘I just bought a ThinkPad x61s a couple months ago and I love it, good choice. Vista drove me crazy though, so I installed the Ubuntu OS on it instead and haven’t looked back.’


Kathi Derevan:My two stories: Real Networks – sign up for the SuperPass, very easy; try to cancel, and you have to call on the telephone! I hate the telephone, and I signed up online, so why can’t I cancel online? I suspect it is because they will harangue me in person (sort of) not to cancel. I haven’t called yet, so they still bill. The second story concerns something called Crystal Vision, for which I took a flyer on a free one-month trial (I must have been sleep-deprived mad to do that). I e-mailed my cancellation within the very first month after sampling and seeing nothing there I wanted or needed. My bad, I failed to notice that my credit card was being nicked month after month for $21.50. When I did notice, I e-mailed again, referencing my original cancellation. Apparently I have to telephone them too, because there is no response to the e-mails. What I always remember at times like this: ‘The roach motel, they check in and THEY CAN’T CHECK OUT!!!’ . . . and I am the roach.


Steven Rubin: ‘As far as recurring charges that are hard to cancel, you can beat them at their own game by using a ‘disposable’ credit card number. In Citi-speak, they’re called ‘Virtual Account Numbers’ which are of course linked to my own real credit card number, but these numbers are limited by amount and/or time. AMEX used to have a similar program but was suddenly discontinued for reasons unclear and not disclosed (at least to me). I use only these to pay for annual online charges such as Symantec anti-virus, EZ-Pass, etc, or for any online charge to avoid having the number ‘stolen’ (although I’m told that’s an infrequent method by thieves). If I no longer want the service, I just don’t renew the number, and the recurring charge can’t and won’t be honored. If I want to continue, I’ll log on to my account and give them a new, valid number.’

Ernst-Dieter Martin: ‘You can always cancel a subscription by reversing the credit card charges. The credit card companies should be very aware of the black sheep among the subscription services. For the blackest of all – AOL – check this link.’


Bob Fyfe: ‘I understand your frustration with trying to cancel service contracts that were so easy to enter into. It can be infuriating. I’d like to share a couple of examples of excellent customer service to counterbalance today’s column. They are not examples of ongoing contracts, but….. Williams-Sonoma/All-Clad Frying Pan: About ten years ago, my wife and I purchased a set of All-Clad pots and pans from Williams-Sonoma. After debating the pros and cons we decided on the set with the non-stick surface for the frying pans. Recently, the larger, more used frying pan lost all of its non-stickiness and became unusable. I took the pan to a local Williams-Sonoma store and explained the situation, hoping that maybe I would get a discount on a new pan. The woman asked if I had purchased the pan at a Williams-Sonoma store, to which I answered “Yes, about ten years ago, but not this store.” She said no problem, and then suggested that since it had been ten years, I probably didn’t have the receipt. I told her that I didn’t. She then said she would be right back with a new pan and explained that they had changed the chemical composition of the non-stick surface to something better than Teflon, and it should last much longer this time, but if I ever had a problem in the future, just bring it back again.

Lutron Light Dimmer: The switch on one of the dimmers in our house began to work only intermittently. I called Lutron’s customer service and explained the problem. I asked what the warranty was on the dimmer and the rep told me it was written on the box as 1-year “but around here we consider it to be a lifetime warranty.” He then asked for my address and a credit card, and told me they would send a new dimmer out that day along with a box to return the broken one. If the broken on was returned within a reasonable time (30, 60, 90 days, I don’t really remember) they wouldn’t bill my credit card for the new dimmer. If they didn’t get the old one back, they would charge for the new one. He also told me that they had changed the composition of the switch material and that I shouldn’t have a problem with the new one, but if I did, just call back and they would take care of it.

Sears/Craftsman tape measure: I stepped on the extended tape of my 30-foot Craftsman tape measure and crinkled the metal. I knew that Craftsman tools were warranted for life, but assumed that the blade of a tape measure wouldn’t be covered. So I went to my local Sears with the tape measure and explained that I had stepped on the tape as it was laid out across the floor. The salesman told me to go pick out a new tape measure. It didn’t matter that I had broken it with my carelessness, the warranty was unconditional.’


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