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Empty Shelves at Target

Have you ever seen empty store shelves in America before? I am still shocked that of all the products people are hoarding, toilet paper is one of them. Costco is well stocked and has implemented rationing, but Target can’t keep enough on their shelves. We are already in our third week of this coronavirus panic, and some stores still have not caught up to the demand.

Banned Plastic Trash Bags

A few years ago, I purchased a small trash can from Target. At the time, I thought that the design was quite ingenious since it was a perfect fit for the ubiquitous plastic bags that all stores provided. The trash can even had two loops on the side to secure the handles of the plastic bags. Of course, I did not anticipate that many cities in the San Francisco Bay Area would prohibit stores from distributing these bags at check-out.

As our supply has dwindled, I’ve looked elsewhere for similar plastic bags. But, even this box of 4 gallon bags seemed expensive at 11¢ per bag. On a recent trip to Costco, I saw a box of T-Shirt Bags, those verboten plastic shopping bags. At 1,000 count, the price per bag was 1.5¢. Now, buying plastic shopping bags just to use as trash bags seems profligate. But, the only difference between shopping bags and trash bags is the handles.

Regardless of whatever new restrictions city government may present, I have enough plastic trash bags to last until my retirement. If I use one bag per week, I can last almost 20 years. Now that’s a smart buy. If I want to be even more economical, I bring them inside the store to use for groceries first before converting them to use as trash bags.


AquaClear Foam, BioMax and Zeo-Carb

It all began in 2012 during the Obon Festival at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple. One thing led to another, and before long, we ended up walking out with a goldfish in hand. So cheap to win, so expensive to maintain.

Next up was finding a place to live for our new-found friend. Being non-committal, I started small with a Tetra 3-Gallon Cube Aquarium Kit. Almost a year later, I’m switching out the internal filter with a Hang on Back (HOB) filter. A reviewer on Amazon recommended the AZOO Mignon Filter 60, so I’m giving it a try.

While the AZOO Mignon comes with some basic filters, this YouTube video offers modifications to enhance the performance of the filter. Hence, my adventure to track down AquaClear Form, BioMax and Zeo-Carb filters.

PetSmart, the closest big box pet store, did not carry AquaClear 20 accessories. However, Pet Club did. AquaClear 20 Foam was $1.19, AquaClear 20 BioMax was $3.29, and AquaClear 20 Zeo-Carb was $2.19.

Now, Amazon has a 3-pack of Aquaclear 20-Gallon Foam Inserts, 3-Pack for $4.85 or $1.62 each. So much for buying in bulk. Aquaclear 20-Gallon Biomax goes for $4.82. AquaClear 20 Zeo-Carb goes for $3.86.

Update: The AZOO Mignon Filter 60 works really well, and fits right in the space vacated by the old filter. It cleared up the water in the aquarium right away, and I could see particles in the water head straight for the filter. Additionally, as an HOB filter, it opens up some space in the small tank. However, the AZOO did create a small current, even at the lowest setting, which really excited the White Cloud Mountain Minnows. Suddenly, these docile fish turned really active and even headed to the water surface to grab the flakes. Unfortunately, one of the minnows proceeded to jump out of the tank over night out of the gap created when the filter was replaced. If you do switch to the AZOO, keep that in mind. I closed the gap with a sheet of plastic wrap.

Novaform Memory Foam Comfort Curve Pillow

Just because journalists keep repeating the lie that bricks-and-mortar establishments cannot compete against Amazon, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.

Costco sells this memory foam pillow for $24.79.


Scanning the bar code with the Amazon iOS app brings up the same item selling for $39.99 + $3.99 shipping. Not even close.


Needless to say, I did not buy the pillow through Amazon.

Lifetime Composter at Costco

Spring has arrived. I know because Costco has been selling soil, compost tumblers, tomato plants and other gardening supplies lately. I’ve been thinking about the Lifetime Dual Composter Model #60072, which Costco sells for $149.99. Amazon sells the Lifetime 60072 Dual Compost Tumbler for $230.49. I guess the 81 pounds in shipping weight skews the economics of purchasing from Amazon.



iRobot Roomba 595 Vacuum Cleaning Robot

I already have a vacuum cleaner. I actually like my existing vacuum cleaner. I just don’t like to vacuum. So, a strong endorsement from a friend led me an iRobot Roomba.

I spotted the iRobot Roomba 595 at Costco.

A quick check on Amazon.com told me that it was selling for much more online. So, Costco it was.

The vacuum is not quite ready out of the box. So, charge it once it gets home since it takes a few hours to be fully charged.

The center button deploys the vacuum cleaner. I only followed it around the house the first day observing its cleaning pattern, which is not how a human would vacuum. On its maiden voyage, the vacuum cleaner cleaned a few rooms and returned to its home base. So, I scheduled it to vacuum every morning.

The manual said I had to empty the vacuum every day. Initially, I was concerned with that “burden.” However, when I return at the end of each day, I actually look forward to seeing how much the vacuum has picked up. Surprisingly, the vacuum picks up quite a bit of dust each day, which leads me to believe that vacuuming weekly (or even less) doesn’t quite do the trick.

Ranunculus in Bloom

This week, the ranunculus showed up in force. I had purchased two bags of ranunculus bulbs from Costco last fall, and finally managed to get them planted at the tail end of winter. Now, we have a nice row of red, yellow, white and pink ranunculus flowers in the garden.

Feels like Spring.

Le Creuset 4.25 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Soup Pot

Costco is selling the Le Creuset 4 1/4 Quart Cast Iron Soup Pot for $144.99. The same product from Amazon, though via a 3rd party, goes for around $200.00.

I had already picked up a cast iron pot a few months ago from Costco for much less. I really like the KitchenAid Cast Iron Dutch Oven, though I see that Costco is now selling its own cast iron dutch oven for much less.

GelPro Chef’s Mat

I’ve been considering GelPro Chef’s Mat as a replacement for the carpet runner I’ve been using in the kitchen. The carpet runner was relatively inexpensive at Costco, but it had been consistently getting dirty and may have made one too many trips into the washer such that the rubber back has started to break down. Not good.

>Anyways, Costco sells the 20″ x 48″ GelPro Chef’s Mat for $89.99. Bed Bath & Beyond was selling the slightly shorter 20″ x 36″ GelPro Chef’s Mat for $99.99 and the longer 20″ x 72″ GelPro Chef’s Mat for $199.99. Amazon sells the GelPro Mat in a variety of sizes and colors, but I just noticed that the reviews are a bit uneven.

Target Temporary Price Cut

Last summer, I found a San Francisco Bay Area Target selling a 6 lb tub of Oxi Clean for $8.49, which reflected a temporary price cut off the $9.99 regular price. So, is $9.99 the real regular price? During the winter break, I was able to shop at a Southern California Target. I wasn’t really focused on the temporary price cut v. regular price issue, though it is good to know that items marked as discounted are truly discounted even if they are not discounted to a Costco level. I really wanted to figure out whether Target and other large retail stores varied their prices by regions, much like the gas stations. Turns out, that is not the case, at least for this item.