About Dave Taft

Traveler, optimist, dreamer, fiscally conservative, socially moderate, amateur photographer, social media junkie, doer of stuff. Day job: Corporate Compliance.

Murals and Street Art of Amman Jordan

On my trip to Jordan in May 2022 I arrived a few days before my tour was scheduled to begin. This was partly to recover from jet lag, but I also wanted to take a couple of street art tours in Amman.

I joined a local company called Underground Amman and took their downtown tour my first afternoon and a tour in the working-class neighborhood of Hashmi Il-Shamalia neighborhood away from the city center the next morning. These tours certainly didn’t disappoint. The guide we had provided background about several of the murals. An interesting thing I learned was that in Jordan the majority of the artists creating the large murals were women.

The downtown tour started fairly close to my Amman hotel though ended a bit away. To get back to the hotel I used Uber which worked great.

For the Hashmi Il-Shamalia I took an Uber there. While on our tour we actually met one of the local artists who happened to be there to do an adjustment to a mural he had just completed. It was very interesting to speak with him. At the end of the tour he gave me, a couple other people on the tour and the guide a ride in his car back to downtown Amman. From there it was a shorter Uber back to the hotel.

I’m looking forward to my next mural tour…wherever that may be.

My Amazon Shopping Adventure

When I retired this month a wonderful colleague gave me an Amazon gift card. I’ve been trying to spend it, but Amazon hasn’t been cooperating. I’m pretty sure the gift card is haunted…but in a good way.  This is my Amazon tale.

June 16, 2021. I placed an order for a few things. One was for a light weight blanket, some garment bags (for my “now gathering dust” work clothes) and some kitchen sponges. Just basic stuff. Since I apparently ordered from an Amazon small business they sent me an email saying that I had a $10 credit for an order during prime days. Nice.

June 18. Like usual I got an email that my order was being shipped. The tracking number indicated the shipment(s) would be delivered by a local Amazon truck.

June 19. Amazon senses a problem with my order.

June 20. An email from Amazon indicates my order was “undeliverable”, the items would be returned and that I would receive a refund. My original order was placed against a gift card I received so I waited for the credit to show before doing anything.

June 22. With the gift card credit applied to my account I ordered these items again. Since my re-order was on the final day of Prime Days it was $10 less because the Amazon small business credit was applied even though the original order was undeliverable.

June 23. Early in the morning I got an email saying the blanket had been shipped via USPS and I received a tracking number for that. The other two items were supposed to be shipped in a few days.

Later that morning I headed out my front door to take a walk and on my doorstep there was an Amazon box. Hmmm. It was my original “undeliverable” order that had been shipped UPS overnight from an Amazon warehouse in Charlotte. The shopping label even included the original Amazon local truck tracking number in a reference field. Okay, I guess this stuff is free now.

The original Amazon tracking indicated my “undeliverable” shipment ended up going from Atlanta to Charlotte rather than from Atlanta to my house.

With the re-ordered blanket already on the way I quickly logged into my Amazon account and cancelled the sponges and garment bags. I’d eventually have used the kitchen sponges but didn’t need more garment bags. No problem…cancelled and credited back to my gift card.

June 25. My daily USPS Informed Delivery email indicated the blanket and some other mail would arrive, but no mail showed up. No blanket, no letters. Nothing.

June 26. I opened my garage door to run some errands and in the middle of my driveway was an Amazon box. Why USPS threw it in the middle of my driveway rather than putting it by my front door is beyond me. This seemed to be a “special” USPS delivery of that package because yesterdays mail wasn’t in the mailbox. That mail did end up being delivered later that day.

My Amazon ordering adventure was finally over.

But wait…another plot twist… (* queue eerie organ music here)

Amazon hadn’t sent me their customary “your package has been delivered” notification. I went back and checked the USPS tracking for the blanket and it showed it was still “out for delivery” and awaiting a “Delivery Scan”. Amazon also showed it was still “out for delivery”. Apparently the USPS letter carrier who threw the box on my driveway never scanned it indicating it was delivered, albeit poorly.

June 27. The saga continues. Since USPS tracking indicated that blanket #2 had never been delivered Amazon was again concerned. They said to check back in 2 days and if there was still a problem I could request a refund or replacement (a third blanket).

June 30. With all of this craziness I decided to take Amazon up on the refund offer. I certainly didn’t want them to ship me yet another blanket.

My original gift card balance is back on my account to spend another day. Yay me!!!

At the end of the day Amazon is still making money and Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the WORLD so I have no remorse somewhat taking advantage of this comedy of errors. Thank you Amazon and USPS, it’s been a lot of fun.

The End.

P.S. Should I ever experience an “undeliverable” order from Amazon again I’ll definitely wait at least a week before ordering again.

P.P.S. Someone is definitely getting a lightweight teal blanket for Christmas this year.

Vaccinations Matter

I’m so thrilled to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and hope everyone will get theirs as soon as humanly possible. We can beat this pandemic but all have to work together to make it happen. Please do your part. Vaccinations save lives…not just yours, but those around you.

Brixen Water Light Festival

I was fortunate to be in Brixen Italy during their Water Light Festival. The festival ran from May 9 – 25, 2019 and each night from 9 – 12 PM there were various displays throughout the city center. While they had a map, they also strung green fiber cable above the streets that you could follow from display to display. The highlight were the colorful flying fish that moved to music in front of the Brixen Cathedral.

Target Date Funds

For the average investor target date funds have become a popular auto-invest, set-it and forget-it option for retirement saving in their 401(k) plans or IRA’s. That’s actually a good thing in my mind if the investor sticks to the program. The funds include a mix of stocks and bonds that are automatically re-balanced and become more conservative as they move toward the target retirement date. Some argue they might become too conservative for retirees, but that’s a separate discussion.

What many don’t realize is there’s no “industry standard” for the asset allocation in these funds; that’s left to the fund companies. Below is a list of widely held target date 2030 funds. As you can see, they have a huge range of asset allocations ranging from 75/25 Stocks to Bonds/Cash/Short-Term down to 55/45.

Wow! To me 55/45 is awfully conservative for someone 12 years from a planned retirement.

This “risk tolerance” spread is something individual investors should be aware of, and comfortable with, particularly as they approach retirement.

Just remember, target date funds are not created equally.

  • Fidelity Freedom® 2030 Fund (FFFEX) – 75.41% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 23% Bonds; 1.59% Sort-term reserves
  • Fidelity Freedom® Index 2030 Fund (FXIFX) – 73.1% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 24.8% Bonds (domestic and int’l); 2.1% Cash/Other
  • Vanguard Target Retirement 2030 Fund (VTHRX) – 70.28% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 29.7% Bonds(domestic and int’l); 0.02% Short-term reserves
  • BlackRock LifePath Index 2030 Fund (LINKX) – 69.22% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 30.29% Bonds (domestic and int’l); 0.48 Cash/Short-term
  • Schwab Target 2030 Index Fund (SWYEX) 68.35% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 27.4% Bonds (domestic and int’l); 4.25% Cash/Other
  • PIMCO RealPath Blend 2030 Fund (PBPAX) – 61.69% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 36.34% Bonds (domestic and int’l); Commodities 1.95%; 0.01 Short-term
  • American Century One Choice 2030 (ARCVX) 55.5% Stocks (domestic and int’l); 39.5% Bonds (domestic and int’l); 5% Cash/Money Market

Note: Fund data as of 9/19/2018

Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail

On my recent trip to Glasgow I spent some time wandering the city to look at the wonderful murals they have. Here is a selection covering many of them.

The Mural Trail website with map is found at: https://www.citycentremuraltrail.co.uk/