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Fred Koschara

50 years later, Gene Cernan still has the dubious honor of being The Last Man on the Moon

Dec. 14, 2022, under call to action, events, history, opinions, space t/e/d

At 05:40:56 GMT on 14 December, 1972, Apollo 17 Mission Commander Gene Cernan returned to the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) Challenger, ending the last Extravehicular Activity (EVA) of what would prove to be the final expedition of the Apollo program. To date, no other humans have yet returned to set foot on the Lunar surface, foisting on Captain Cernan the dubious honor and title of being “The Last Man on the Moon.”

Gene Cernan, along with the rest of us who were space enthusiasts in that era, expected our off-planet explorations would continue, expanding our knowledge and reach across the cosmos at the same time.  Long before he passed away on  16 January 2017, Captain Cernan wrote “Too many years have passed for me to still be the last man to have left his footprints on the Moon. I believe with all my heart that somewhere out there is a young boy or girl with indomitable will and courage who will lift that dubious distinction from my shoulders and take us back where we belong. Let us give that dream a chance.”

It’s now fifty (50) years later, and still no one has set foot on soil beyond this globe we call Earth.  It’s time to go back, to the Moon and beyond, because there’s not enough room or resources here for the 8+ billion people living on our planet.  We need SPACE to grow, and a frontier where society can let off steam.  Government funded space programs are floundering in politics, and the only way commercial space will work is if investors can be shown a profit at the bottom line.  That’s a reasonable expectation on their part, and I believe I can make it happen.  Please see Race To Space, Space Power Now, L5 Condos, and some of the other projects I’ve got cooking to wake this up.

Given sufficient interest, I’ll reissue the Last Man on the Moon t-shirt.  Note that the shopping cart on L5Development.com isn’t working at this point (bit rot due to lack of time for attention), so you’ll have to email me or contact me on LinkedIn to let me know you’re interested.

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Happy 18th, PhotoByFred.com !!

Oct. 26, 2022, under art, bootstrap finance, goals, history, progress reports

As midnight passed and the date changed to October 26, 2004, I was taking pictures in my apartment in East Boston because my artistic eye was appreciating what I saw.  I thought that if I had a website, I could share some of the beauty I see around me.  After discovering PhotoByFred.com was available, I registered the domain and tossed together an initial presentation of the site.  The first picture I posted was one I’d taken at about 12:05 AM:

PhotoByFred.com's first picture, October 26, 2004

PhotoByFred.com’s first picture, October 26, 2004

At that time, I figured I’d post pictures for a while, and see where it went.  I had no clue I’d still be posting a picture a day eighteen years later, but here we are:  PhotoByFred.com turned 18 today, it’s old enough to vote (in some jurisdictions, I’m sure…) and there are now 6575 different instances of “Your Daily Dose of Art” to be seen on the site.

It originally started as an art project, a chance to share some of the pictures I’d taken that I thought were pretty nice.  Over time, I have come up with a few ideas about how to make some money from the effort:

  • LimitedEditionPhoto.com offers limited edition prints of the photographs on PhotoByFred.com for sale, either for private collection and display, or as an investment opportunity (but some work needs to be done before it’s operational)
  • PbFpaper™ is an application to I was writing to update a subscriber’s Windows desktop with the picture of the day
  • PuzzleByFred.com will offer some of the pictures from PhotoByFred.com as [1000 piece] jigsaw puzzles
  • PosterByFred.com will offer some of the pictures from PhotoByFred.com as [motivational] posters
  • PhotoByFred – The Movie is a project to create a “flip book” movie showing all of the PhotoByFred.com, in succession. With an average display of 1/3 second per image, the movie would be more than thirty-six minutes long. (Even showing frames at the NTSC standard 30 frames per second rate would yield a film over three and a half minutes long!)

So far, none of those projects have generated any income:  I’m still posting to Photo By Fred every day as a labor of love, so that I can share the beauty I see in the world around me.  If anybody would like to invest in helping me turn any (or all!) of the “side jobs” into profitable efforts, my Current Projects page has more information.  I’d be happy to pay a referral fee if you can introduce me to someone who does make an investment into the work.

Speaking of referral fees, I’m actively looking for visionary customers interested in reserving a condo in the colonies at L5 I’m working to build, with occupancy circa 2050.  The L5 Condos site has more information, and I will pay a 10% commission for a referral that directly leads to a completed sale.  Get out your address books, and let’s pass some $1000s around 😉

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I stumbled again, but I’m still up and running !!

Oct. 22, 2022, under bootstrap finance, bugfix, disturbing, goals, philosophy, puzzling

Last Friday, October 14, I discovered the Buy Bonds buttons on the Invest page on Space Power Now were no longer working:  Between PayPal (continuously) changing their payment system API, moving the site to a different server than it was originally built on, and a few other details, bit rot had set in, and yet another one of my robots was broken.  With everything else going on, it took until Monday evening, October 17, before I got the buttons working once more in the PayPal sandbox.  It was the next morning, October 18, before they were live once more, because I forgot to switch the operation from the sandbox to the live system when I went out to have a few moments’ relief from the stress of working night and day.   It’s things like this that lead me to make comments such as “things break, everything takes longer than it does” as I did in my Deja Vu post on the 11th.

As if that wasn’t enough, I then lost another whole day, 24 hours straddling Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was trying to get the Donate buttons on Use My Middle Name updated and something happened to the server.  I don’t know what I did to trigger it, but after I posted some changes to the site, it suddenly disappeared, and one of the other sites started showing up instead.  I thought perhaps I had done something to the configuration when I was trying to get HTTPS set up.  I went through so many iterations of trying to go back to previous configurations, tweaking the server’s files, re-establishing the certificates, etc., that I completely lost track of how many steps I had taken.  Literally nothing I did made the slightest bit of difference, I couldn’t get Use My Middle Name to be displayed when I went to its URL, in either Firefox or Chrome.  Then I discovered I could go to the site on my phone – it had a few bugs that needed to be worked out, but at least it was the right site!  Unfortunately, a phone may be useful for browsing the Web, but it’s not a useful tool for developing and debugging it, so I had to go back to my laptop – which was still not doing the right thing.  I cleared the DNS cache, restarted the browsers, rebooted the machine – nothing made a difference.  I fell over from exhaustion, and when I came back from getting some rest, the problem was still there, and I had run out of things to try.  I repeated some of the steps I’d tried before I went to sleep, and as before, nothing made a difference.

Then, all of a sudden, almost exactly 24 hours later, it suddenly started working again.  I didn’t consciously make any modifications I could associate with the change, “it” just decided to start doing the right thing once more.  The fact that I have no clue what caused the failure, or what made the failure go away, is at least as much of a concern to me as the 24 hours I lost fighting with the problem:  I can’t explain what happened, or why, so I don’t know if another similar problem is going to come along at some (random) time in the future and take another bite out of me.

Once I was able to see the site on my laptop, it was relatively easy to get the cosmetic issues resolved that I had seen on my phone.  I haven’t gotten the buttons working properly yet because I had to go work on another, more urgent fire.  I guess I’ll have to make that a priority, once I figure out how to keep the electricity on, my phone active, my Internet connection running and get the domain name registration renewed for the sites that have disappeared over the past couple of days.

Right now, things are far from working smoothly for me.  I’m seriously struggling to survive, and it makes me question my decision to not get another J.O.B.[i] in my effort to break the cycle of insanity that has defined my adult life (also mentioned in my Deja Vu post).  However, as my Focus on Your Goals / Obstacles Will Disappear T-shirt advises, I’m doing my best to keep my eyes on the prize, and not let all of the stumbling blocks trip me up.  (You can read more of the T-Shirt Philosophy behind that shirt on FredLines T-shirts – which is yet another one of the Current Projects I’m hoping to find an investor for.)

If you get a cross-site scripting warning when trying to visit the FredLines T-shirts links, allow the page load to proceed:  The issue is a consequence of the ancient and decrepit PerlShop code still running the site – I haven’t had time yet to finish recoding it in PHP with a (MySQL) database behind it – another thing on the list…

I tell people “dancing is the art of not falling down.”  So far, the artist has been successful.  I just have to focus on making it so that continues to happen!

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So what is space t/e/d, anyway?

Oct. 13, 2022, under goals, philosophy, space t/e/d

Space Travel/Exploration/Development – a shorthand way of expressing the way we move into a new frontier:

First we travel there, go somewhere we’ve never been before, and come back (usually with interesting stories about the trip).  Once we’ve found that we can travel somewhere, and get back successfully, we’re bound to want to explore this new destination, see what’s there, what it has to offer, and if there are any opportunities worth looking into.  After doing enough exploring so that we know what we’re working with, we set out to develop the frontier and its resources, expanding into the new sphere of influence as the development continues.

For most of history, human civilizations have had frontiers to grow into, so that travel, exploration and development was a feasible way of approaching the rest of the world.  While there are still a few places that can be considered frontiers left on the Earth (the ocean floor, much of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and some forbidding mountainous areas), they are actually hostile environments that really don’t offer a lot for those who might otherwise conquer them.  In effect, there are no usable frontiers left anywhere on the planet, a condition that has existed since the late eighteenth century.

Space is, admittedly, an extremely hostile environment – but we have developed ways to deal with that to the point where travel can almost be considered routine, and exploration is already under way.  There are a lot more resources out there than there are down here, all that needs to be done is find a way to capitalize on those resources.  When that happens, underwriting the development effort will become an obvious choice, and humanity will have a new frontier to expand into.  That expansion will drive a vast new array of innovations as new solutions are created for the unique challenges that can only be found in places we’ve never been before.

A frontier is necessary for the health of the human psyche:  It gives us room and resources to deal with an ever expanding population, and to make everyone more comfortable.  It also provides a relief valve for the discontent that’s always present in society, an opportunity for misfits to go carve out their own niche where no one will bother them, or be bothered by the different ways they want to do things.

Right now if someone or a group decides they don’t like the way things are being done, they can leave their country – but the only choice is to go to another country, and try to live with a new set of laws and lifestyle:  Everywhere on Earth that’s a habitable place to be is in the jurisdiction of one nation or another (or under dispute of which nation is in control):  There is nowhere “beyond national boundaries” left where someone can carve out a place and say “this is my home, leave me alone” and have that desire respected.  Expanding into space, and developing the planets, moons and rocks beyond will give us back the frontier our species needs to survive:  We need space to grow, to live, and to thrive.

That’s why Space t/e/d is so important…

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Condos for sale at L5

Oct. 13, 2022, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, space t/e/d

In case you missed it in my Deja vu post on the 11th (buried three quarters of the way down the page), I’ve decided that, absent any other proposals for working on one of my other current projects, I should spend my time working on selling reservations for condos in the colonies I’m proposing to build at L5.

For most of my working life, I’ve had a dream of being able to fund what I now estimate to be a $50 trillion dollar project because when we get to the bottom line in 30 years, there’s going to be a huge profit for everyone who invested into the effort.  The problem has always been – how do I get the first million? so that I can actually spend my time working on said project, and attract other people to work on it with me? i.e., how can I start hiring enough people to have a reasonable chance of getting it done?

The idea is actually quite simple:  I’m asking people to invest into reserving a condo in the colonies, secured by a deposit of $10,000 (for the first 100 units).  The final purchase price is obviously going to be much more than that, but if I can sell one reservation a week for two years, that’s the first million dollars that has been my stumbling block all this time.  I’m building L5Condo.com as the vehicle for making those sales, actively constructing the site while I look for visionary investing customers who can see the value of financial participation in the project at this early stage.

Part of my problem is that I don’t personally know many people who would be interested in signing up to join this project at that level.  Consequently, as mentioned in my Deja vu post, I’m willing to pay a 10% commission – $1,000 – to anyone who introduces me to a customer who does reserve a condo and puts down the $10,000 deposit I’m asking.  Even if, like me, you don’t necessarily know anybody who fits the bill, tell your friends they have an opportunity to earn a commission:  The more people spreading the word, the sooner I’ll be able to start hiring people – maybe even you – to get the whole system built.

Let’s work on this together – let’s all make money – lots of it!

Money is a tool, just as a hammer is, or a screwdriver. Like any other tool, money can be used to do good or to do evil: That choice is made by the person using the tool, not the tool itself. Don’t condemn money as evil, any more than you would another tool.

I want to make money, enough to support myself and let me build the dreams I have of a better future. In order to do that, I expect the people working with and for me will likewise make enough to support themselves, and build their dreams.

Change is always going to happen.  Even if you do nothing to move the world forward, change is still going to happen.  Please join me in working to make the world a better place, because if we don’t, it’s still going to change – and if it’s not getting better, …

 

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Blasts from the past

Oct. 13, 2022, under Uncategorized

So I’ve been reviewing some of the things I published on LinkedIn …

Condos at L5 – $10,000 down – apparently updating an article doesn’t bump it up as more recent – that’s got to be done by hand:  If I want to make what’s probably my best bet for getting to the first million of my $50 trillion project, I’ve got to make it a “Featured” article in my profile.

Race To Space, Introduction 2.0 – some details are obsolete, but I would like to spend time writing a more detailed business plan

NASA’s plans, Sept. 11, 1969, and what they mean today – more about why…

The most precious slice of the pie – TL;DR – “sports and leisure” – the one that doesn’t exist

Why am I looking for a job?? – a previous edition of Deja vu

To get a J.O.B. or to not get a J.O.B., … and To get a j.o.b. or to not get a j.o.b., part 2 – yet another previous edition of Deja vu

Death by Social Distancing – still relevant even after most of the COVID-19 restrictions have “gone away”

Stop calling videos “webinars”​ PLEASE! – the title says it all…

How NOT to run an employment service – I haven’t been back to Upwork Freelancer.com whatever name they’re now using since

This is not “best practices” – it was then Dice, GoDaddy and AppNexus, similar things abound today

Facebook support isn’t – as if there weren’t enough other reasons to not be part of the “Facebook nation”

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Happy 18th, SHN!

Oct. 13, 2022, under events, history, space t/e/d

When I was reviewing and updating the entries in today’s issue of the Space History Newsletter, I rediscovered something that I had forgotten in the intervening years:  The Space History Newsletter was first published online eighteen years ago today, 13 October 2004:  The site is now old enough to vote (in some jurisdictions, I’m sure…)

Please note that at the present time, you can’t sign up for the Space History Newsletter directly from the Web:  Spammers kept using bogus email addresses to create subscriptions, which resulted in negative action by some large providers.  Until I get to implement a two-step subscription request process for the newsletter, if you want to subscribe, you need to send me an email.  I hope to have the problem fixed within a couple of days – time and resources permitting (all it will take is back-porting some newer code into this ancient site…)

It’s been easy to remember that PhotoByFred.com is also turning eighteen this month, on the twenty-sixth.  The thing which makes that date easy to remember is I’ve been posting a picture a day since then, and after 6562 daily pictures, I’ve been reminded (and bragged) about it enough times to have that date firmly planted in my brain.

The Space History Newsletter hasn’t fared nearly as well:  It languished for years, going out automatically every morning (7AM EST) without me doing anything to add to or update the database.  Consequently, almost everything reported in the SHN happened before 2005, although there are a few exceptions.  A couple of years ago, I started going through the records a week at a time, mostly deleting things unrelated to space travel, and eliminating some dead links.  Since then, the time I’ve been putting into it has grown; now I often spend at least an hour a day on it – while trying to get everything else done.  What I need to do is hire a programmer to implement some of the changes that should be made, and at least one historian to add to the database …

All it takes is money.  So guess what I’m working on…?

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Deja vu

Oct. 11, 2022, under bootstrap finance, call to action, goals, philosophy

I’ve been through this cycle more times than I want to count, starting when I left college after the first semester of my sophomore year:  I run out of money, so I go get a job, building other people’s dreams while mine whither on the vine for lack of attention.  Working for some time, I get to where I’m frustrated or the project gets to a milestone and the job goes away.  With some resources set aside, I start working feverishly on one of my projects, trying to get an income that supports me.  Instead things break, everything takes longer than it does, so I run out of money, go get another job, and repeat the cycle.

Being hypercreative, I’m inventing things, coming up with new projects faster than I could possibly finish them – sometimes two, three, or even more in a single day.  I’m sure there are drugs that could curtail that “problem” – but would I want to be the person they turned me into?  I strongly suspect not.  Consequently, going to get a job to “solve” my money problems is going to lead to my being frustrated, even if the work is something that enjoy.  This is simply because I spend all of my productivity working on someone else’s dreams while mine get left behind when I think up another one in the mean time.  Throw in daily 45 minute to two hour “stand up” meetings that require everyone in the company’s attendance, or work that is mind-numbingly different from what I originally thought I was being hired for, and many jobs, especially “FTE” (full time employee) ones, end up causing me to have attendance issues.  Any job I take is going to end up being a “temporary” one because either the contract will run out, or my interest in participating will.

One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing, over and again, expecting different results.  From my perspective, going to get another J.O.B. (just over broke) simply because I’ve used up my immediate resources fits the definition of insanity:  I’d be starting the same cycle again, expecting it to lead to having the time and resources to work on my projects long enough to get (one of) them done.  After all these years, after all these repeats of the same cycle, I know it just ain’t gonna happen!

Clearly what I need to do is find a way to be able to work on at least one of my own projects long enough to get it to where it’s supporting me.  My Current Projects page describes many of things I’d like to be working on.  Any one of them could lead me to where I’ve got people working for me, to get more and more of them done, ultimately leading to building space colonies, solving the pending oil shortage crisis and opening doors that can only be found on a frontier, and saving humanity.

I’m looking for one or more investors who not only can see the value in what I’m trying to achieve, but also expect to make money on the deal, too:  Talk is cheap, and those who give me valid advice can expect the same in return.  When someone puts up cash to make things work, though, I expect to give them a handsome reward in return for their investment.  Terms are negotiable, depending on the project, the size of the investment, and other factors as appropriate.

I also recognize the need to pay commissions when someone brings me a lead that results in a sale.  For example, if someone introduces me to an investing customer who wants to reserve a condo in the colonies that we will be building at L5, and that customer puts down a $10,000 deposit toward the property, I will pay the referrer a 10% commission – $1,000 – for the introduction.

Money is a tool, just as a hammer is, or a screwdriver.  Like any other tool, money can be used to do good or to do evil:  That choice is made by the person using the tool, not the tool itself.  Don’t condemn money as evil, any more than you would another tool.

I want to make money, enough to support myself and let me build the dreams I have of a better future.  In order to do that, I expect the people working with and for me will likewise make enough to support themselves, and build their dreams.

Let’s work on this together – let’s all make money – lots of it!

 

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On “prototype” code development

Aug. 22, 2020, under philosophy, software dev

In many years of consulting, I’ve seen a lot of projects developed with the philosophy of “Don’t worry about [comments][readable code][proper variable names][documentation][error handling][optimization][(your favorite corner to cut here)] because this is just a prototype – we’ll fix those things when we write the production code.” In 100% of those cases, when the prototype was reasonably close to working, it got shipped: The “prototype” became the production code, errors, shortcomings and all. Maintenance, updates and improvements became nightmares, often leading to complete failure of what could have been a great product. Trying to avoid those problems feeds into my OCD tendencies, and when I see a comment like “we’ll write another [CR] to fix it” I tend to balk because I know the rewrite will never happen. Furthermore, when a future developer is called on to fix a bug or develop a new feature, they’re going to be “strongly” discouraged from making any changes beyond their immediate effort, even if renaming variables would make the code more readable when they discovered “flag” is “page_type” or “std” means “start_date” instead of “standard” etc. Having an understandable, well documented interface from the beginning is a LOT more important than making all of the internal variables recognizable. “Cosmetic changes” often look a lot less trivial when you realize that the lifetime cost of code maintenance is generally ten times what it cost for a program to be written initially.

I recognize that I have to reign in my OCD to let development proceed. However, when a developer asks someone to review their code, they need to recognize the reviewer is looking at it from a different perspective than they are. If a reviewer doesn’t understand something, it could either be an error or a misunderstanding. When a misunderstanding is encountered, commenting on a change request doesn’t help the next person reading the code, and adding a comment to the code at this point isn’t a lot of effort. It will, though, make the code more maintainable – it reduces the maintenance cost. Also, if a native English speaker hands a foreign born developer a well written docstring that clarifies a point of confusion, it’s not just courteous to use it: You’re not going to break anything by putting the brakes on for a moment and push one more patch set.

 

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Holy smokes that’s bogus! Do people really sign these things?

Jan. 30, 2019, under bad business, disturbing, opinions, really???

I just started a new job, and the employee benefits program is administered through an outfit called Employee Navigator from Bethesda, Maryland.  The first thing I noticed is their site is seriously broken if Javascript isn’t enabled, and they don’t bother to say anything about it.  When creating an account in their system, they’ve got a ludicrious requirement that usernames must be at least 8 characters long – so I can’t use “wfredk” as I do everywhere else – and they don’t bother to announce the limitation until after you’ve submitted the form with your username and password selection (which resets your password entry).  Oh, by the way, they don’t have a password confirmation field, either – they have a button to show what you’ve entered in the password field – which only works if Javascript is enabled.

Once you’ve logged in, the sheer incomptence of this bunch of amateurs starts to reveal itself:  Instead of having pages formatted using HTML, the documents a new employee are supposed to sign have the HTML code embedded into them – and much of the HTML is actually defective.  It looks to me as if someone pasted HTML into a text-only field of a CMS and didn’t bother to check if the result was correct.  (I’ve included the actual contents of the pages in question below.)  Since I’ve got extensive experience as a Web developer, I was able to sift through the HTML and figure out what I was supposed to be signing up for.

The first page, Electronic Signature and Consent, wasn’t too bad:


I agree that by using the e-signature feature on this website I am applying my electronic signature which is the legally binding equivalent to my handwritten signature. Whenever I execute an electronic signature, it has the same validity and meaning as my handwritten signature. [That seems fairly innocuous and standard.] I also agree that no certification authority or other third party verification is necessary to validate my e-signature.  This is starting to look pretty sketchy: Without a certification authority, where is the proof that I applied “my” signature to a document?
I understand that:
1. The following documents and/or notices may be provided to me electronically:

  • Summary Plan Descriptions;
  • Summaries of Material Modifications;
  • Summary Annual Reports and/or;
  • Summary of Benefit and Coverages;
  • All health and welfare benefits Notices and any Notice a similarly situated employee would consider to be related to employee benefits.

For the purpose of this agreement, a Notice is any document, disclosure, policy, procedure, form or other written material required to comply with federal, state, or a governmental safety or regulatory body and any disclosure provided by my company to comply with any of the aforementioned requirements or to communicate company or employment specific information to me.
2.  I may revoke my consent to receive notices electronically at any time without charge by sending an email or written request to Human Resources or the BKS Employee Care Center (mybenefits@bks-partners.com).  how do I contact “Human Resources”?

3.  I am entitled to request and obtain a paper copy of any electronically furnished document free of charge by sending an email or written request to Human Resources or the BKS Employee Care Center (mybenefits@bks-partners.com).  how do I contact “Human Resources”?

4.  In order to access information provided electronically, I must have:

  • A computer with internet access;
  • An email account that allows me to send and receive emails; and
  • Microsoft Word and/or Adobe Acrobat Reader Program.  not just any program that can read PDF documents? really?

I authorize my employer to send notices electronically and agree to accept the delivery of notices via email as well as the requirements to view notices on this portal. Contact Human Resources or the BKS Employee Care Center with any questions.


In spite of my reservations, I “signed” the Electronic Signature and Consent page, and continued on to the Premium Only Plan page – which, again, was obfuscated with inline HTML code.  Here is where I was really horrified, and decided I couldn’t continue the process:


Under the Section 125 Plan, my benefit deductions for Medical, Dental, Vision, and/or H.S.A. contributions during the plan year will be taken on a pre-tax basis. I elect to receive the following coverage under the Cafeteria Plan:

  • In lieu of specific dollar amounts, I hereby elect the specified insurance coverage’s and authorize salary redirection in the amounts of current premiums being charged.  i.e., I have no idea how much money I’m agreeing to let you take out of my paycheck.
  • If my required contributions to pay premiums for the elected benefits are increased or decreased while this agreement remains in effect, my compensation redirection will automatically be adjusted to reflect the increase or decrease.  i.e., I’m giving you permission to change the amount of money you take out of my pacheck whenever you want to, without my consent.
  • I cannot change or revoke any of my elections or this compensation redirection agreement at any time during the plan year [emphasis mine] unless I have a “change in status” and the election change is consistent with the “change in status”, (including marriage, divorce, death of a spouse or child, birth or adoption of a child, termination or commencement of employment of a spouse, change in my or my spouse’s employment status from full-time to part-time or from part-time to full-time, my spouse or I taking an unpaid leave of absence, a substantial change in my family’s health coverage due to a change in my spouse’s employer-sponsored health coverage, obtaining coverage on the Marketplace, reduction in hours where I voluntarily elect to seek coverage on the Marketplace, or such other events as the Plan Administrator determines will permit a change or revocation of an election).  i.e., I’m locked in to this commitment for a year unless there’s a major upset in my life or you decide to let me do something different.
  • The Plan Administrator may redirect or cancel my compensation redirection or otherwise modify this agreement in the event he/she believes it advisable in order to satisfy certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.  i.e., I’m giving you permission to change this agreement, at whim and without my consent, as long as you are working in collusion with the IRS.
  • The redirection in my cash compensation under this agreement shall be in addition to any reductions under other agreements or benefit programs maintained by my Employer.
  • Any amounts not used during a Plan Year to provide benefits will be forfeited and may not be paid to me in cash or used to provide benefits specifically for me in a later Plan Year.  i.e., if you take more from my paycheck than you use to pay for my insurance coverage, that’s “too bad” for me, you get to keep the money for your own benefit.
  • Prior to the first day of each Plan Year, I will be offered the opportunity to change my benefit elections for the following Plan Year. If I do not make a new election at that time, I will be treated as having not elected to continue my benefit elections for the new Plan Year.
  • If disability insurance is paid for on a pre-tax basis, any benefits I receive may be taxable. may” be taxable?
  • Upon retirement, my Social Security benefits may be slightly reduced.  i.e., “may” really means “will” because by taking the money from my paycheck before taxes, you are reducing my “taxable income” (which is what Social Security benefits are based on).

At the bottom of the page, I found this paragraph prompting me to “sign” the document.


Please click the “Sign Document” button to confirm that you have reviewed and completed this task.

The problem here is that this does NOT say that it’s NOT an agreement to the terms and conditions described on the page.  Because that clause is missing, a “signature” here (again, without any real proof of who signed the page because of the previous document) could be interpreted as acceptance of the terms and conditions as described.  That would be rather like signing a blank check and passing it to someone you really don’t know.  To me, it looks like they’re asking for a license to commit fraud.  There is no way I would voluntarily and consciously do such a thing.

Furthermore, because of second thoughts, and of observation of other business practices of this company, I am revoking the authority and consent I hesitantly made on the first page, by sending an email notification to mybenefits@bks-partners.com and several people at the agency I’m working through, with CC’s to a couple of my own email addresses as supporting documentation.

Take another look at the problems I marked in red on the Premium Only Plan page.  It’s precisely this sort of behaviour that got the credit industry slapped on the wrist with a sledge hammer.  If the “employee benefits” companies don’t clean up their act pretty quickly, perhaps it’s time for a Congressional inspection of their practices as well…



As promised, here are the “as presented” contents of the pages mentioned in this post:


I agree that&nbsp;by using the e-signature feature on this website I am applying my electronic signature which is the legally binding equivalent to my handwritten signature. Whenever I execute an electronic signature, it has the same validity and meaning as my handwritten signature. I also agree that no certification authority or other third party verification is necessary to validate my e-signature.< span><br> I understand that: </span>< span><br> 1. The following documents and/or notices may be provided to me electronically:</span>< ul> <li>Summary Plan Descriptions;</li> <li>Summaries of Material Modifications;</li> <li>Summary Annual Reports and/or;</li> <li>Summary of Benefit and Coverages;</li> <li>All health and welfare benefits Notices and any Notice a similarly situated employee would consider to be related to employee benefits.</li>< /ul> For the purpose of this agreement, a Notice is any document, disclosure, policy, procedure, form or other written material required to comply with federal, state, or a governmental safety or regulatory body and any disclosure provided by my company to comply with any of the aforementioned requirements or to communicate company or employment specific information to me.< span>&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> 2. &nbsp;I may revoke my consent to receive notices electronically at any time without charge by sending an email or written request to Human Resources or the BKS Employee Care Center (mybenefits@bks-partners.com). &nbsp; <br>< br> 3. &nbsp;I am entitled to request and obtain a paper copy of any electronically furnished document free of charge by sending an email or written request to Human Resources or the BKS Employee Care Center (mybenefits@bks-partners.com).<br>< br> 4. &nbsp;In order to access information provided electronically, I must have:</span>< ul> <li>A computer with internet access;</li> <li>An email account that allows me to send and receive emails; and</li> <li>Microsoft Word and/or Adobe Acrobat Reader Program. &nbsp; &nbsp;</li>< /ul> I authorize my employer to send notices electronically and agree&nbsp;to accept the delivery of notices via email as well as the requirements to view notices on this portal. < span>Contact Human Resources or the BKS Employee Care Center with any questions.</span>


Premium Only Plan

Under the Section 125 Plan, my benefit deductions for Medical, Dental, Vision, and/or H.S.A. contributions during the plan year will be taken on a pre-tax basis. I elect to receive the following coverage under the Cafeteria Plan:< ul> <li>In lieu of specific dollar amounts, I hereby elect the specified insurance coverage’s and authorize salary redirection in the amounts of current premiums being charged.&nbsp;</li> <li>If my required contributions to pay premiums for the elected benefits are increased or decreased while this agreement remains in effect, my compensation redirection will automatically be adjusted to reflect the increase or decrease.&nbsp;</li> <li>I cannot change or revoke any of my elections or this compensation redirection agreement at any time during the plan year unless I have a “change in status” and the election change is consistent with the “change in status”, (including marriage, divorce, death of a spouse or child, birth or adoption of a child, termination or commencement of employment of a spouse, change in my or my spouse’s employment status from full-time to part-time or from part-time to full-time, my spouse or I taking an unpaid leave of absence, a substantial change in my family’s health coverage due to a change in my spouse’s employer-sponsored health coverage, obtaining coverage on the Marketplace, reduction in hours where I voluntarily elect to seek coverage on the Marketplace,&nbsp;or such other events as the Plan Administrator determines will permit a change or revocation of an election).&nbsp;</li> <li>The Plan Administrator may redirect or cancel my compensation redirection or otherwise modify this agreement in the event he/she believes it advisable in order to satisfy certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.&nbsp;</li> <li>The redirection in my cash compensation under this agreement shall be in addition to any reductions under other agreements or benefit programs maintained by my Employer.&nbsp;</li> <li>Any amounts not used during a Plan Year to provide benefits will be forfeited and may not be paid to me in cash or used to provide benefits specifically for me in a later Plan Year.&nbsp;</li> <li>Prior to the first day of each Plan Year, I will be offered the opportunity to change my benefit elections for the following Plan Year. If I do not make a new election at that time, I will be treated as having not elected to continue my benefit elections for the new Plan Year.&nbsp;</li> <li>If disability insurance is paid for on a pre-tax basis, any benefits I receive may be taxable.&nbsp;</li> <li>Upon retirement, my Social Security benefits may be slightly reduced. &nbsp;&nbsp;</li>< /ul>< span>I will complete an Election NOT to Participate form that is under the Human Resources – Benefits section under the Documents tab and send it to Human Resources if I decline to have my Medical, Dental, Vision and/or H.S.A.&nbsp;plan taken out on a pre-tax basis. This agreement is subject to the terms of the Employer’s Premium Only Plan, as amended from time to time in effect, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with applicable laws, shall take effect as a sealed instrument under applicable laws, and revokes any prior election and compensation redirection agreement relating to such Plan.</span>

Please click the “Sign Document” button to confirm that you have reviewed and completed this task.


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