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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thoughts on a living wage


We've been hearing a lot lately about raising the minimum wage from the $7.25 per hour it currently is to a higher number - I read quite a bit about a new number of $15 per hour. I don't know what the minimum wage should be, but I do have some thoughts.

I'm not talking about the nuts and bolts of how much, and how to implement.  I'm just talking about the issue conceptually.

I believe that employers should be required to pay a "living wage". A living wage is defined (here, by me) as the amount of money that a person requires to feed, house and clothe him/her self.

The minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has not been changed since July 24, 2009. The minimum wage is not currently indexed for inflation.  This means that the $7.25 per hour earned in 2009 will not buy as much as the $7.25 earned in 2013. Using an inflation calculator found here , we find that it would cost $21.73 to purchase an item that it cost $20.00 to buy in 2009 - an increase of 8.6% - but the minimum wage has not increased at all during that time, meaning a minimum wage earner can buy 8.6% less than he/she could have in 2009.

Recently, Walmart has come under fire for not paying a sizable chunk of its employees a living wage.  Here is one perspective (shared by me):  By paying its employees less than a living wage, Walmart increases its bottom line profit (measured at $3.7 billion during the third QUARTER of 2013

  (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/11/14/walmart-third-quarter-2013-earnings/3524329/)

- that's not an annual profit, just the profit in the third quarter.

According to an opinion piece in Bloomberg.com  

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-18/always-low-wages-wal-mart-s-other-choices.html)


"Wal-Mart's low wages have led to full-time employees seeking public assistance. These are not the 47 percent, lazy, unmotivated bums. Rather, these are people working physical, often difficult jobs. They receive $2.66 billion in government help each year (including $1 billion in healthcare assistance). That works out to about $5,815 per worker. And about $420,000 per store."

Do you know who pays for this assistance? Taxpaying citizens do.  This leads me to the inescapable conclusion that I, by virtue of paying taxes, am helping to increase the bottom line profit of Walmart. I don't want to do that.

I hear the argument that raising the minimum wage will cause mass layoffs.  I reject that argument, and ask anyone who cares, to provide me with a reputable source to back that claim up - show me where this has occurred in our history. I remember in 2009, 2007 and 2006 hearing the same claims, but don't remember any layoffs. Heck, I remember back in 1997, when the minimum wage increased from $4.75 to $5.15, the dire layoff predictions that were made.  We seem to have come out alright.

Another argument made is that people should be paid according to the value they bring to the company - I would argue that employees earning less than a living wage bring more value to Walmart (I'm going to pick on them again) than the amount of money they are paid.

There is another argument that it takes low wages to compete against low cost foreign goods made in countries with no minimum wage, and that Americans will look for the lowest price available - I'd say there is a good bit of truth to that statement (I wonder if people would be willing to pay a bit more if they made enough money to provide for the basics?).

And I absolutely reject the notion that low paid workers need to just work hard, take advantage of education and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  Sure, that would be great, and that is what folks with that ability should do - that's what I did (as an average looking white male of acceptable cultural and religious preferences).  But, you know what?  Not everyone has those capabilities (to rise above a less than living wage).  These are the people I'm talking about.  Not the "Welfare Queens".  Not the drug abusers. Not the cheats.  Not the lazy people.  I'm talking about the segment of our society that is doomed to be poor.  They will always be with us, as Jesus pointed out (while making a totally different point from mine).  These folks should be paid enough to live on.

That's all I'm saying.




Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to be successful...

....well, in the long term, you must be capable.

But how do you become capable?  Through hard work, right? Hard work at what, though? Hard work at the opportunity given you, I think.

So, I guess that you have to have the opportunity to become capable, then.

How do you get opportunity?  It can be beneficial to have a family with connections, to get you in the door at the right schools, the right jobs.

What if your family doesn't have connections, though?  What if your Mom or Dad didn't go to the right schools, or don't have an occupation that allows them to know decision makers?

What if you happen to be the wrong race or creed? WHAT IF you are a first generation American whose family emigrated to a small town in the US from Pakistan to make its life better.  What if you quietly practice the religion of your ancestors, and that religion is not the dominant one in your town?

What if you are gay?

What if you are a woman trying to break into a male dominated field?

I didn't come from a wealthy family, full of connections, but I did have an ace in the hole:

I'm an average looking, straight white male of fairly standard height, weight and intelligence.

That advantage opened several doors for me, and gave me the opportunity to show those in power what I was, and would be, capable of. I've taken those opportunities when given, and have tried to make the best of them.

I think it is pretty easy for those of us who've had certain opportunities handed to us, to sit back and criticize those who aren't successful as lazy (and sure there are those folks out there), but  I think that is a little simplistic.

I'm pretty thankful to have my particular advantage.  I wonder what would have happened if I didn't have it.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My first solo flight

Here's a little story:

Many years ago,  I learned to fly an airplane. I learned in a Cessna 150 (N-11959 was its tail number - guess what? I just looked it up and it is still in service: My training plane).

This little story is about my first solo flight.  By the way, I never got my license, but did use my student pilot license to get into more than one nightclub (although, both me not getting my license and the use of my student license are different stories).

My instructors name was Brad, and we flew out of tiny little Hardwick Field (KHDI). Brad was a pretty big fellow - over two hundred pounds, and I was a scrawny kid of about 145 - yeah, I know, things change. His weight becomes significant a little later. Brad was pretty funny. He would sometimes pretend to be asleep while I was flying, I guess trying to see how I would react? Or maybe he was asleep, I dunno.

Moving along to the day that I was to solo. My parents were there - my sister and brother were there, and I believe that a couple of my buddies were there also. The plan was pretty simple.  I would take off, hang a left, hang another left (these are technical pilot terms, by the way), fly parallel to the runway (at 1,700 feet above sea level, or about 900 feet in the air) until past it, hang a third left, then a fourth, which would line me up on my final approach, and land.

Here is where Brad's weight comes into play:  The Cessna 150 is a very small, light airplane:

Brad and my plane

So, I took off, made my first left, and as I made my second turn - the one that turns me parallel to the runway - I noticed that my altitude was a little bit high. By the time I was about halfway past the runway, I was 400 feet too high. The plane wasn't responding the way I was used to! I made my third turn, but wasn't having much luck getting the plane any lower. It finally dawned on me that the lack of Brad's weight was having a significant effect on the plane's altitude.

I made my fourth turn and was on final approach, still a couple of hundred feet too high, I was systematically cutting the throttle, lowering flaps, 10 degrees, 20, then 30, descending more rapidly, and at a steeper angle than I should have, I guess.  I say that because as I passed over the beginning of the very short runway, struggling to get the plane down before I ran out of room, I noticed my family and friends standing (with horrified looks on their faces) behind Brad who was frantically waving his arms, trying to tell me to abort the landing and go around again.

Well, heck, I didn't.  I did manage to land fairly smoothly, did a couple of touch and go's (where you touch down, then immediately take off again), and then finally parked the plane to the awaiting glory that was my first successful solo flight.  What I got, however, was a stern lecture from Brad.

I imagine the landing probably looked like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY1DugyplSk

The tradition after a person has his or her first solo, is to have their shirt tail cut off - at KHDI, the shirt tail would be displayed on the airport's bulletin board for a time. Mine was so completely soaked with sweat, that I think it was a pretty gross job.  I still have the rest of my shirt though.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts on bullying - Baylor students please read

Two cases of bullying:

@Baylor_Confess

A couple of nights ago, I noticed a new Twitter account called @Baylor_Confess, where people associated with The Baylor School would...confess things.  It started out pretty funny - a lot of it was totally inappropriate (although in the funny, inappropriate way that many parents and administrators don't like - but, whatever). Then it turned into a forum where students started making personal attacks on other students - all while hiding under the anonymous cloak of invisibility.

A better type of cloak of invisibility, IMO

Some pretty mean, nasty things were said said about individually named students. Those comments were hurtful. Again, this was all done anonymously.  There wasn't anything funny about those comments. I hope the posters feel badly about making the comments, and I'm glad that all of the tweets were deleted. Baylor is too good of a school, and the kids at Baylor are better humans than that (BTW, It also gives ammunition to people eager to judge Baylor according to their preconceived, false notions of the school).

There's really no need to have an East Tennessee version of Mean Girls.


Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin

Richie Incognito, of the Miami Dolphins, seems to be a monumental asshole. He is trying to defend his bullying actions against Jonathan Martin, saying that it is all part of the football culture, and that he and Jonathan were tight bro's (apparently, Mr. Martin doesn't agree).  I can understand that a football locker room is a testosterone driven place, full of a lot of big, aggressive men.  I also understand that young players are hazed until they pay their dues.  But hazing is a lot different from leaving a voice-mail for a teammate, calling him a "half nigger" and texting: "I'm going to shit down your throat".

What really gets me about all of this, though, is the number of football players coming out in support of Incognito.  I mean, I'm not surprised that some dumbass fans are:

Dumbass picture #1

Dumbass picture #2

But to me, all the talk of the "brotherhood of football players", and then the willingness to approve of the things that Mr. Incognito did and said (he admits to them, so I don't have to add a stupid "allegedly"), don't go together. I don't understand why the teammates would side with Incognito.


Way too much meanness in the world.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Here's a scam:

(this should go on my business page: IanHarpercpa.com, but I'm having an issue with it, and wanted to get this out today)

This morning, I walked into my office to find a message from a client.  She had been contacted by a Michael Johnson (purportedly) of the IRS.  He had left a callback number: 951-223-6693.

So, I called (already suspecting it was a scam - I'll tell you why in a second).  Mr. Johnson answered immediately (hahahaha; no hold! No "your call is very important to us, please wait an hour" hahahaha).  Mr. Johnson started telling me that my client is under investigation, and asked "do you have an attorney, does your client have an attorney?"

I asked Mr. Johnson what his ID# was, and he immediately rattled off a string of numbers, not in the correct format or correct amount of numbers that I'm used to hearing when I speak with IRS representatives.  I asked Mr. Johnson about the format of his ID#, and of course, he immediately hung up.

What I didn't have time to ask Mr. Johnson was:

Why am I dialing a toll line in Riverside, California?  (The IRS always uses toll-free callback numbers.) - this is how I knew immediately that this deal was not on the up and up.

Why has my client not received any official correspondence?  (I've never seen a case that didn't start with either reams of official mail correspondence, or an ID flashing IRS agent showing up, in person, to a taxpayers office or home.)

Why did you not immediately verify my CAF number?  (CAF stands for Centralized Authorization File, a database that holds practitioner's information and authorizations to discuss tax matters about the taxpayer in question.)

The guy did some other things wrong that I won't get into right now.

The point of this post:  People are always trying to scam you. Be careful!!

If you are not absolutely sure that you are talking with a legitimate IRS representative, either give me a call ((423-479-3007), thank you very much), or hang up and call the IRS yourself. (800-829-1040 is the general number, but they can send you to the right department or at least tell you if there is an issue with your account.)

Also, the IRS does not correspond with you via email.  They just don't.  If you get an email from them, delete it. (it probably has a zip file attached to it that will corrupt your data or steal your personal info.)


Again, give me a call if I can help.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Washington, D.C. Clown Circus

(This is mainly venting.  I'm not sure you will be able to find an overall point.  Grammatical errors, yes.  Point, doubtful)

One effect of the government shutdown (that affects me), is the closure of most of the IRS offices.  A client of mine currently under audit is going to have to wait, as the IRS has said that all audits are suspended during the shutdown.  My solution to that issue, of course, would be that the IRS agree to what my client asserts, and close the case (When You Wish Upon A Star...).  I won't hold my breath.

I see Speaker Boehner turning orange with indignation that the President won't negotiate over the Affordable Care Act.  

I see Harry Reid sounding like he is close to tears over the Republican tactics.  

(This morning, over on Twitter, I read what I thought was a pretty good description of this embarrassing mess: 


Meanwhile, I read comments from people who are almost hysterical in their vilification of The Affordable Care Act. Do those people know what is in it? I've yet to hear a rational argument against it - I'm open to hearing one, I just haven't heard one yet. 

I also haven't heard a single alternative plan that would keep me from having to spend almost $19,000 per year before I would see a penny back off of my crappy insurance plan (12 monthly premiums of $891.73 plus $8,000 for my deductible - and my family and I are healthy).  My particular issue is that I'm in a 4 person risk pool.  If I were in a risk pool of, say, 280 million people, I believe that my premiums would be reduced.  As it is, it is a real struggle to provide this horrible insurance policy for me and my employees.

Again, I'm all for a right side of the aisle solution to what ails us, healthcare cost-wise, but I HAVEN'T HEARD ONE. Like most of us, I'm not keen on our government being involved in my healthcare, Obama-led or otherwise, but you guys on the right haven't done anything but whine and call people names - this is not productive.

The Representatives in my area (Southeast Tennessee), come across as obstructionist pissants, offering nothing positive, just automatic disagreements with whatever the President says - reminds me of this Monty Python skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y. Actually this skit reminds me of Congress as a whole these days. 

Sen. Bob Corker, who disagrees with the Affordable Care Act, seems to be different in that he is realistic, and is not going to hold his breath until his face turns blue, in order to get his way.  He's also being portrayed as some sort of traitor to the right. Ridiculous!

I keep reading comments along the likes of "throw the bums out", but I see a couple of problems with that approach - first, you have to have some overlap in people leaving and people staying, else who would know how turn on the lights.  Secondly, who would replace those who are thrown out - don't get me wrong, I believe that the majority of these knuckleheads are doing a poor job in Washington. It seems to me though, that what needs to happen is that the whole process of who is picked to run in the primaries needs to be changed.  The only say I have in a state or national election is on the primary level, and then again in the general election. By that time, it is too late to have a real say. The problem is that we really don't get to pick who is going to run in the primaries in the first place.  This is where we (We The People) need to become involved, and is where, I believe, that we fail in our civic duty.  We don't educate ourselves as to the issues. Instead, after the candidate has been picked through backroom deals, we are encouraged, through large dollar advertising campaigns, to choose the lesser of two evils, and to insult and name call his/her opponent.

Like I said, this was a vent session for me.  Thanks for reading, Mom and Dad. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Please. Everyone. Chill

Reading today about the hysterical (and typical) name calling reaction to (what I see as) a perfectly polite letter from the Starbucks CEO requesting that patrons not bring guns into Starbucks stores. See below:

http://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-ceo-howard-schultz-writes-letter-asking-customers-to-no-longer-bring-firearms-into-the-stores-2013-9

It reminds me of the hysterical (and typical) name calling reaction to Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathey's statements about his beliefs regarding same sex marriage. Again, see below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a-president-anti-gay_n_1680984.html

I'm happy to live in the USA, where we do have the right to bear arms.

I'm happy to live in the USA, where more and more states are getting out of peoples bedrooms, and are getting out of the business of regulating that aspect of peoples personal lives.

I'm not a "Libtard" and I'm not a "Tea-Bagger".  I'm not any of those vile names that folks on either fringe call people who disagree with them.  I'm actually in the majority.  We're kind of the silent majority - maybe you've heard the term (talking to, and pointing at people on the fringes right now).

If you don't like what the Starbucks guy said, don't go there.

If you don't like what the Chick-Fil-A guy said, don't go there.

I get it - you hate President Obama, leading you to call him the worst names imaginable, mostly spouting irrational untruths.

I also get that the other fringe hated President Bush, leading them to mercilessly poke fun at him, calling him the worst names possible, and yes, spouting a bunch of untruths.

Seems to me that it is getting worse, I can only imagine the kind of crap that will be said about the next President, regardless of his or her true character.

Stop it, you bunch of silly children.  You are embarrassing the rest of us, and you are embarrassing yourselves.

Friday, August 30, 2013

No, I'm not rude - you are......

...a respectful response to John Skylar's article:

 (http://www.johnskylar.com/post/59499652245/new-yorkers-arent-rude-you-are)

I read this article yesterday, and was initially taken aback by what I perceived as its smug arrogance. Then I though I'd put it aside for a little while, in case I was jumping to an incorrect conclusion.

But you know what?  Its tone smacks of the arrogance that those of us living in less massive cities (where apparently our time is somehow less precious than that of those who live in New York) often associate with New Yorkers - particularly Manhattanites. As if, by dint of living there, New Yorkers achieve some sort of superior status over those of us who choose not to.

[Now, I know several people who live in New York, and this is not aimed at any one person, but is rather a perception that New York has given the rest of the Country - at least to those of us who live out here in District 13]

Don't misunderstand me, I believe that New York is an amazing city, with every "thing" imaginable there.  This why tourists want to come to New York (at least to the Times Square area!).  To see the stuff, and to do the things. Many of us hayseeds do look up at the tall buildings, and maybe stop inappropriately in the middle of the street while you are scurrying to your oh so important work-sites.

Would you rather we not come to your city? Sorry, we're coming whether you like it or not - and you know what?  There are a lot of us who do what we can to not get in your way.  At the same time, I have no problem bringing my hard earned (yet slightly less cosmopolitan) dollars and inserting them into your economy. I would think that you might enjoy those dollars being there.  We certainly appreciate it when you visit us and spend your money on our second rate offerings - we accept them a lot more politely as well.

This isn't a case of  "tourists and social malefactors stopping in the middle of sidewalks", as you so kindly put it.  This is your Important City. Build an infrastructure that can handle your citizens as well as the bumpkins that visit. Your City is one that that we wide-eyed tourists want to see - deal with it.

But don't worry - this over-inflated sense of importance is not unique to New York.  I remember being in San Francisco (around Union Square) with my wife and daughters.  My wife was taking a picture of the girls at one of the City provided photo ops, and inadvertently got in the way of a Very Busy Person.  My wife moved out of the way, of course - she is polite, after all - but we still heard the lady mutter "Tourists" with scorn and derision. Had I been a less polite person, I might have muttered back something along the lines of  "Bitch! Who is on vacation, and who is on her lunch break?".  Of course I didn't, because I'm not rude.

Mr. Skylar - I did get your point.  It can become annoying when you're rushing around, doing your daily thing, and constantly find yourself impeded by clueless tourists - and yes it behooves travelers to do their best to not disrupt, but sometimes we get in the way. Perhaps you shouldn't live in such a great city.

Tell you what, come to Chattanooga.  I'll show you around. It's a pretty neat city - doesn't have all that New York has, but still it's a pretty nice place - I promise that I won't judge you if you talk faster or walk faster than I do.  You see, I understand that that doesn't make you inferior to me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Traffic Court, part 2

If you remember, back in June (on my birthday, to be exact), I went to traffic court. Read all the thrilling details here: http://somestufffromian.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-comedy-of-errors.html.

Executive Summary:  It didn't go well

Anyhow, yesterday was my do-over day.  I had to be in Courtroom One at 8:30 am (Chattanooga).  I got up early, then proceeded to fiddle around for so long that I left myself zero breathing room.  I sat through the Entrance Ramp From Hell - I-75 South. Exit 25.  It's been designated the worst designed interstate entrance ramp in America by the B.I.S.S. (Because Ian Says So), for three years running.

I drove down the interstate behind the little old lady who was on her way to, I don't know, NOWHERE FAST!!!  

View from the perspective of the person she just ran over


I sped down I-75 so that I wouldn't be late to contest my speeding ticket (Don't even say a word.  Don't), and got to a parking space at 8:27. I had no change for the meter!! Drat!! Luckily, I was at one that would take my debit card.  I tied my tie in the car window ("winder" as we call 'em down here in real America), and went running into the courthouse, where I stood in line with my belt off and my pockets emptied.  I kept beeping.  I.dunno.why.  Finally, they decided that I wasn't a threat and let me through.  Kinda hurt my feelings.  I mean, I'm an imposing accountant...never mind.

OK - I got into the courtroom at 8:40, and they were already calling peoples names - I didn't know if they'd called mine. I didn't know if I should ask.  I decided to wait it out, and in a few minutes, the judge called me. Armed with a well practiced argument, I walked to the bench.  Three minutes later, with very little discussion, the ticket was dismissed.  I felt cheated out of my William Jennings Bryan moment (Scopes Monkey Trial, Dayton, TN - look it up), but left quickly before he could read my mind and look into my black, black soul.

I went to my car, where I DIDN'T have a parking ticket, then drove to a clients office, where I WASN'T impeded by red lights and bad drivers. Creepy, right?

Speaking of feeling cheated, do you feel cheated now that you've read this far only to realize that I had no real point when I started this, and am now out of things to say?



Monday, July 15, 2013

I am a Heelist

There.  I said it.  I am a Heelist. This morning I went to the cabinet to get a slice of white bread for my breakfast.  It was a new loaf, and like all new loaves, it had a damned brown heel piece right there in my way.  I became irrationally angry at the sight of the heel. Never mind that I was going to toast my bread, and the taste would be the same.  Never mind that a heel is still part of the loaf - just looks a little different than the majority of the loaf.


Whitebread


Instead of eating the heel and getting on with my life, I huffed and pushed it aside so I could get to the more desirable next piece. I know that I will be irritated all the way through the loaf, every time I go to get more bread.  Just the sight of a heel irritates me.

Oh, and what happens at the end of the loaf?  That's right - there's another heel right there, just waiting.  And then what?  Two heels together.  Where does it end? An entire loaf of bread consisting of only heels????


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Devil is in the details

Admit it.  This morning you woke up and said to yourself "Gee, I wonder what Ian would put into a playlist if he were going to reference the Devil?"




Well, I heard you.  And this is it:

Me and the Devil - Gil Scott-Heron
Sympathy for the Devil - Rolling Stones
Devil went down to Georgia - CDB (I don't really like this one, but it has to be included)
Christmas with the Devil - Spinal Tap
Friend of the Devil - Grateful Dead
Devil Song - Beth Orton
Run Devil Run - Jenny Lewis
Some Devil - Dave Matthews
Angels and Devils - Echo and the Bunnymen (that other Liverpool band)
Devils Food - Alice Cooper

I don't know why you were thinking about this.  Kind of weird, really.




Friday, June 21, 2013

A comedy of errors

INTRO:

On April 12, I was coming back from Chattanooga - I'd been at the IRS, after successfully getting a wage levy lifted from a client's account (I'm a CPA and it was three days before the end of tax season btw, so I was feeling pretty harried).  About halfway back to Cleveland, I was pulled over and given a speeding ticket.

FAST FORWARD TO YESTERDAY:

I realized yesterday, that I had missed my court date for the speeding ticket.  Ordinarily, I would have just paid the ticket, but this time I wanted to talk to the judge, and explain the circumstances, in the hope that he or she would give me a break and keep the ticket off my record (and therefore off of my insurance record).

"Why did you miss your court date?", you ask.  I'll tell you:  I have an employee, Terry, who was taken into hospital a week so so ago, leaving us both worried about him, and also short staffed.  He is going to be fine, but is leaving his appendix and part of his colon with the hospital. We are a small office, and it was pretty chaotic - to the point that I JUST PLAIN FORGOT. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l00GGEy_72c)

AND NOW THIS MORNING ROLLS AROUND:

Ok, so I made arrangements to go to court this morning, where I would presumably be able to charm the judge.  I was supposed to be there at 8:30 sharp. However, this morning a semi crashed on the interstate, closing I-75 south, and re-routing everyone.  I finally made it to court at 9 am, and was able to sit in the courtroom with thugs, scalawags, Mother rapers, Father stabbers, Father rapers! (homage to Arlo Guthrie right there).  The guy before me was wearing handcuffs, an orange jumpsuit and orange Crocs. He and the judge were arguing about his next court appearance, since the guy was due to go to prison in Georgia until 2015, and wouldn't be available in 60 days.


Thankfully, not my judge


Finally, it was my turn.  I went up to the bench with my coat, tie, and accountants face on.  The judge asked me why I missed the original court date, and had no sympathy when I told him about Terry. He chewed me out and rescheduled the court date for my heinous crime to August 26, with a stern warning that excuses would not work a second time.

This is in no way reminiscent of my morning in court:




I left court, chagrined, and went to get into my car.  Guess what was on my windshield?  Yep:



Happy birthday, Ian.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eating and exercising

If you know me, you've watched me blossom from about 195 lbs at the beginning of 2012 to 217 (!!!) at the end of tax season this year. I went from bumbling through my 8th marathon, to not being capable of running a mile without stopping. I went from eating like I was going to run a marathon to, well, eating like I was going to run a marathon (minus the exercise).

Anyhow, nowadays I go to work in my only pair of sweatpants that still fit.


Me, the day after tax season ended:




OK, not really, but I have started looking at my eating and exercise routines. Each day, I do at least an hour of something and usually alternate running one day and biking the next. My goal is to run the 4 Bridges 1/2 marathon in the fall, followed by a credible Chickamauga 1/2 Marathon in November.

BUTIGOTTALOSEMESOMEWEIGHTFIRST

I've been using an app called "My Fitness Pal" (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/), which tracks calories taken in, records sodium, protein, cholesterol, sugar, various vitamins and other stuff.  It also takes away calories burned through exercise, based on the type of exercise, and my weight.  I can plug in my goal weight, and how quickly I want to reach it and the app (I mainly use it on my phone) will adjust the desired caloric intake to what it would take to get me there.  I've been using it for a little while now, and it is working. An interesting byproduct of using it is that I'm paying attention to what I eat now, and don't want to put entries in that go against my goal.

So, I'm down 8 lbs so far.  Looks like I'm dropping about 2 per week, AND I'm getting back into shape. AND I feel much better about myself.  Pretty soon, I'm going to have to buy some smaller sweatpants.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Self awareness, AKA The emperor has no clothes...

...AKA, it's good to have good people close to you.

Michael Jackson died of an overdose of propofol, because his doctor didn't have the stones to tell him no. At the time of his death, he had become a freak of nature, surrounded by sycophants who sucked the money and common sense right out of him.

Likewise, Elvis Presley. In my opinion, he was ruined because he was surrounded by people who had no motivation to tell him when he was being ridiculous. They were making too much money off of him to ever stop him short and tell him a few truths (I'd have told him not to put on that white jumpsuit, for one thing!)


Nooooooooo!!!!!



I was talking to a friend on Thursday about self awareness. My point being that all of us of believe that we are self aware, but are we really? If you don't have someone who cares about you enough to jerk a knot in your tail, you may start to believe your own press and forget that not all of your decisions are good ones, and that you may not actually appear to the world the same way you appear in your mind.

A sibling can really help to keep you grounded. A typical brother or sister isn't going to listen to self aggrandizement without snorting at your silliness and telling you to get over yourself. Also, I think that one of the hallmarks of a good marriage is when a spouse is not afraid to (nicely and lovingly) point out that the other is wrong, or on the wrong track - ultimately, the correction will make the person being corrected a better, more stable person.

Now in my opinion, and referring back up to the top to the Michael Jackson paragraph, Michael's family don't appear to have served him very well at all.  Somewhere down the line, people - his family included from what I've seen - stopped saying "You're an idiot".  Idunno, maybe because they were all making a ton of money off of his very large amount of talent?


This really could have been nipped in the bud, couldn't it?

I own a teeny-tiny accounting firm right here in beautiful downtown Cleveland, Tennessee.  I am the only CPA in the firm - Luckily, I have a good network of other CPAs of whom I can ask questions.  I also depend on, and ask the opinions of, my staff.  I may have more technical knowledge of accounting (doesn't that phrase just send a sexy shiver down your spine?  No?  Huh.), but I hope that I have enough of their respect to where they will give me their honest opinions about a business decision I might make.  I may not take their advice, but I do listen.

I believe that it is the process of listening to others advice and gentle (hopefully) corrections that they make, that enable a person to have a glimmer of self awareness. I have no illusions that I am self-aware, but I hope that the knowledge that I'm not, makes me be...just a little.  Know what I mean?

By the way, do these jeans make my butt look big?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In defense of the eradication of squirrels

Squirrels are nasty, disgusting, disease infested critters. They are rats with tails. They are the rodent version of a pigeon. They chew everything.  That being said, I could have ignored them. BUT THEY MESSED WITH THE PEAR TREE.

We have a pear tree that some friends gave us after Lisa's Mom died. We planted it in the back yard, and it grows delicious juicy pears. I would have let the squirrels eat a few. I mean, it produces hundreds every year. But, no! The damned squirrels eat the buds before the pears grow. Stupid rat things. Two years ago, we got exactly zero pears. That is when I declared war on them. Last year, we captured 17 of them, and released all of them into the woods, many miles away. This year, we've gotten 4, including our nemesis, "Red". We lured him into the trap with a partial ear of corn. The biggest coup though, was last year when two of them came into the trap at the same time, one right after the other. The lead squirrel tripped the latch before the second could turn around. I guess they are living together in the country now. Just stay out of my yard! (Picture an old man, shaking his cane at the neighborhood kids, and you've got me.)

Proof of The Coup (also, my Facebook cover photo):






It is getting harder and harder to entice the little devils into the Cages any more. They are canny creatures, I'll give them that much. I do have an old BB gun that belonged to my brother in law. It is probably 40 years old and has very little power. I take it into the back yard when the little bastards run along the fence and shoot at them. I nail them about every fifth shot. Problem is, when I nail them, they just look annoyed at me and jump into the nearest tree.

Artists rendition of me hunting squirrels:




We've got three or four that still have the mistaken impression that our yard is their yard. One in particular likes to run along the fence from the enormous hackberry tree in the back, all the way to the front of the house, and then onto the maple tree in the front. From there, it walks the power line like a furry Karl Wallenda, and then on to Starnuts Starbucks, I guess.


This is Karl Wallenda, btw:




Yesterday, I received distressing news from a friend who lives a mile or so away, that his bird feeder is under attack by - you guessed it - a squirrel.

THIS WILL NOT STAND, I TELL YOU!!!

So, pull together pear tree owners.  Bird feeder owners.  Attic owners. Break out the Daisy Air Rifles.  Arm your traps with ears of corn or tiny yet delicious peanut butter crackers (plain or crunchy, doesn't matter).

Let's get em.  And then ship them off somewhere else. I'm not mean enough to kill them. Yet.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Labels

(Standard Disclaimers:  I often throw in commas where they are not needed, and leave them out when I should have put them in.  Also, sorry:  No refunds on time wasted reading this.)


In 1974 President Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. You know, Watergate.  At that time in my life, I parroted the family line "He didn't do anything that everyone else wasn't doing, he just got caught".


(Not Dan Aykroyd)


 I realize now, that that was not a proper response.  Nonetheless, I wasn't really old enough to have formed my own opinions.  I am now old enough, and not surprisingly, no longer share the exact opinions of my parents.

On the national level, I voted for the Republican presidential candidates through the first George W. Bush election, then voted for the Libertarian candidates in the next two elections, because I liked their ideas about personal freedom without a "Nanny State" watching over us all.  Since then, I've come to believe that the Libertarian ideal would not work in practice, mainly because we DO need government, some of us more than others, and that it seems mean to me that a country as great as ours would not help the less fortunate.

In the last election, I voted for Barack Obama, not because I think he is the greatest man out there, but because I found him to be better than his opponent. Frankly, I was also well sick and tired of the outright lies being spread against the man, instead of actual logical discourse about policy disagreements with him.

But that's not the point of this post.

A week or so ago, I self identified as a Liberal (ooh, the horrible "L" word.  Doesn't hearing it just send shivers down your spine?  No?  Me neither).  I started thinking about it though.  I'm really not liberal.  Probably slightly left of center, but certainly not liberal.  In my opinion, what has changed is the definition of Liberal, and the definition of Conservative - maybe not the definition, maybe more like the connotation.

It seems to me that the Republican Party, or at least many of those who speak for the Republican Party, have shifted and distorted its message so much as to make it unrecognizable.  I despise the meanness that comes out of the mouths of people like Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity,  Glen Beck, and (throwing up in my mouth a little) Rush Limbaugh.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't care at all for the smug, self satisfied, puffed up folks in the media who feel that everything the President does is wonderful, and that anyone who disagrees is an idiot. I will say that the level of outright meanness and bald faced lies that come out of the Fox Network eclipse that of its mirror image, MSNBC.

Anyhow - I take back my label of being a "Liberal", and replace it with my new label of "Old School Moderate."




Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Good times

When I was about 5 or so, my family moved from Liverpool, England, to Duluth, Minnesota - 743d Selfridge Drive (I may have misspelled the name of the street. It was a long time ago).  My Dad was in the Air Force and we moved fairly regularly.

Having an English Mother, I was saddled with the name Ian (there's a good story about the mechanics of how I got my name - remind me to tell you later).  Now, the name Ian was not a common name in Minnesota in the mid 1960's and I suffered mightily for it. I used to run with some older kids - I think I was a first grader (at the Julius P. Barnes Elementary School, no less) and the older kids were second or even third graders.  We used to run around the court playing war.  At one point, we all had plastic GI Joe bazookas with red plastic rockets. We would pump air into the chamber and then shoot the rockets.

This is probably me and my gun:



Anyhow, being younger than the other kids, having an English accent and an English name, I would get picked on sometimes.  I remember one time after school a whole pack of us were running around the court playing war - yeah, back then you would go home from school and then run around - unsupervised - until supper time, when the Moms would yell from the kitchen. In my case, since we had been in Japan a couple of years prior to Duluth, my Mom would bang a gong that they had picked up over there.  Point being, we played until summoned for dinner.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah - so we were running around the court playing war, when one of the meaner third graders, (a budding poet, I guess), came up with the brilliant idea to start chasing me. The other kids joined in and they chased me around the neighborhood, shooting red plastic rockets at me, all the while chanting "Let's PEE-on Eee-on".  This amused them to no end and really had no detrimental effect on me (except that I still remember it 47 years later. Hmm).

Ahh, good times.

Another time, I'll tell you about how we would run behind the DDT trucks every Friday and play in the pesticide fog. Minnesota mosquitoes are honkin' big!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Potpourri



Regarding the news:

I don't care about Jodi Arias.  I'm sorry that her ex was murdered, but I don't know why we are so captivated by all of the details of her trial.

CNN, how far you have fallen since I used to run to you to find out what was going on in the world.

Oh, and this disgusting woman, Nancy Grace...well, that was my whole comment about her.
--------
 Let's move on to the next sensational thing. Speaking of which....I'm glad I live in Cleveland, TN, not Cleveland, Ohio..

But you have to love Charles Ramsey.  The guy who saved Amanda Berry (one of the three kidnapped women who had been held captive for 10 years!  How can a person do that to another human?  The kidnapper, not Mr. Ramsey).  Charles Ramsey appears to be a funny, caring person - I think he was very aware that he was on the national stage, and knew he was funny.  Watch this autotuned clip of his interview,  (also, watch the reaction of the bald guy to Mr. Ramsey's right):

 Dead Giveaway   
--------
What do you guys think about the controversy over where to bury Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev? As you might imagine, the people of Boston didn't want his remains to be buried in their city. I bet his grave would have been quickly defaced if he had been buried there.  Looks like he has been buried though, in an undisclosed location.

--------

Oh, did you notice that while the entire country was keyed in on the Boston Marathon bombing, something happened in West, Texas?  The news networks barely mentioned it, instead camping out in Massachusetts  hoping to catch a shootout on live TV.

I guess this is what happens when you've got several 24 hour news organizations trying to hold on to our short attentions.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gore Vidal, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Henry VIII

I learned more about 19th Century US history by reading Gore Vidal novels than I ever did in any history class.  Granted, I spent 5 years in the English school system, so I can probably tell you a few things about the Monarchy that I learned while at Cangle County Primary School, in Haverhill, England. During that time, I didn't learn any American history, nor did I learn how to play basketball (much to the chagrin of Coach Lou Underdown, later while at Arnold Junior High School), baseball, or American football.

Anyhow, several years ago, I picked up Gore Vidal's book "1876" - which is an historical novel set in, you guessed it, 1876.  The backdrop to it all is the presidential election of 1876, between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes (my favorite, useless, President). Tilden won the popular vote, but Hayes wound up winning the Electoral College, and thus the Presidency, after Florida's (and Louisiana's and South Carolina's and Oregon's) leaders initially declared Tilden the winner of the State, only later to change it to Hayes.

WHOA, that sounds familiar!!!

So, this led to the "Compromise of 1877" , effectively the end of Reconstruction, and four years of a useless Presidency (WHOA, that soun..... - never mind).

Not trying to bore you with useless facts, instead I'm just saying that I love learning history when it is set out in an interesting way, the way Gore Vidal did when he wrote those types of novels.  Sure there was a fictional story in the forefront, but the historical facts he wrote about were accurate.

BUT THAT'S NOT REALLY WHAT THIS POST IS ABOUT

My wife and I have been watching "The Tudors" lately - we are almost finished with season one.  Looks like it is going to end with Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn (apparent harlot). Also, he was craaaazzzyy, and a horndog.

It's pretty interesting, but some of the historical facts didn't ring any bells with me. So, I did some reading, and am finding that a bunch of the facts relating to ACTUAL HISTORICAL FIGURES are pure, made up crap.  I guess they are just used to make the series more exciting?  I don't mind them playing loose with a little obscure history, but they are making up relatives of Henry who didn't exist, historical marriages that never happened, and events that never took place - relatively important events.

I think Gore Vidal would be shaking his head. "smh" is what he would tweet, probably followed by "lol".

Sorry, no refunds on the time spent reading this.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Me, Robert Earl Keen and a Marathon

Click on this link to hear one of my favorite songs of all time:

Feelin' Good Again

by Robert Earl Keen


It's such an evocative, positive song. Have you ever had one of those times when, for just a brief moment, all is right in the world?  That is how this song makes me feel.

I'm not a very good runner.  As a matter of fact, I'm a pretty poor runner. I find the marathon distance to be quite a challenge, but I persevere.  I was running a marathon in 2008, and, as usual, at about mile 21 or so I started to fade pretty rapidly. At that point in a marathon, the race becomes more of a gut check than anything else.  At least for me it does - It's been said that the marathon consists of two halves, the first 20 miles, followed by the last 6.2 miles.

ANYHOW...

...there I am, Mile 21, supremely aware of my aching feet and my profound lack of natural talent.  I whipped out my handy iPod, reserved for just this situation.  Well, Feelin' Good Again was on, and somehow I had my iPod set on repeat, so I listened to this song continuously from mile 21 through mile 24.  At my pace, that had to have been between 3,000 and 4,000 times.  But it took me away.  Took my mind off of my soreness and I kind of floated through those toughest of all marathon miles.  And that's what needs to happen, beyond all the training. For a runner like myself, the last half of a marathon is as much mind over matter as anything else.

So, thanks, Robert Earl Keen for helping me finish my 7th marathon.

You guys, listen to this song.  It is great.  Here's the link again, so you can listen to it again

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Parking Wars - Chattanooga style

NOTE:  I WILL BE GRIPING IN THIS POST.

Interesting, I looked up the definition of gripe, and found that one definition is "To have sharp pains in the bowels."  Huh, that's not the kind of griping I meant.

I haven't even started this post, and already I'VE DIGRESSED!

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I got a parking ticket?  Of course you do, because you hang on my every word, don't you?  Just in case you don't, here is a shameless link to get you to read that post (oh, and one before that) - you know, to boost my readership up to 7 or 8 people.

Last Ticket:  Repeat Offender

The one before that:  The Worst Day Ever - (should that be, "The Worst Day, Ever"? Damn those tricky commas.)

In the meantime, My youngest daughter got one, again just running into a store for a minute.

OK, cool, we didn't feed the meter for the three minute coffee dash, and I overstayed my meter at lunch.  Whatever.  Here's the deal, though:  The City of Chattanooga, a city that depends HEAVILY on tourism, has farmed out its parking enforcement to Republic Parking - a for profit company that has a vested interest in making as much money as possible - presumably, their contract rewards them for writing lots of tickets.

The result of this contract is that Republic now has millions (yes, actually millions) of parking attendants with portable ticket writing machines on their backs.  Some of the attendants have on uniforms, some are in plain clothes. I'm not sure, but I'd bet that some of them are hiding in trash cans, dressed as trees, covered by Cloaks of Invisibility - all to make sure that they pounce as soon as that meter expires.

Look, Mom all my readers.  I'm not suggesting that they neglect their jobs.  What I am suggesting is that they maybe give the people who are parking, spending money, buying stuff, contributing to the coffers of the City, a teeny-tiny break.  Or else, you know what?  People might think twice about coming to downtown - ask yourself what the reasons are for people not going to Redbank?  Could it be that the city government there made going into Redbank an unpleasant adventure, liable to cost you money, as you unwittingly broke laws while simply driving down the road (redlightcamerasredlightcamerasredlightcameras)?

Point is, oh government, what are you trying to achieve?  Do you want to penalize the crap out of someone who has overstayed the meter by a couple of minutes, or are you trying to keep people from leaving their cars on side-of-the-road parking places for hour after hour (which is where the parking issue lies)?

If the former - then keep doing as you are doing - if the latter, I suggest you maybe ease up. Just a little.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013 - Reset Day

I think that people pick January 1 of each year to start on their resolutions, because January 1 is such an obvious beginning point.  There is no real reason, other than psychological, to pick that day over another to start a personal makeover.  I mean, it could be any other day and if the "resolutions" are continued, the effect will be the same in the long run..


(It is always amusing to go to the gym during the first couple of weeks of the year and see people furiously working out, only to watch them drop off as the month goes by - I'm not criticizing these folks at all - I'm pulling for them, in fact.)

When I was young, I would always look forward to the first day of school, in part because everything was fresh.  New clothes, clean slate, teachers who didn't have opinions of me based on the previous year's antics.  That sort of thing.

Which brings me to my point:  Every year, after tax season (I'm a CPA, if you didn't know), I take a week off to clear my head - you'd  be amazed at how incapable of holding a conversation I become after working seven days a week - up to fifteen hours a day - for almost three months. The goal is to come back after a week off with a clear mind and cheerful disposition.

I went all the way to Chattanooga last week (30 miles), and holed up at the Marriott Courtyard downtown (why don't you have coffee in the lobby anymore?).  Guess what?  I also took my business email off of my phone, so that I wouldn't be tempted to respond to client emails on April 16 - I love you, Oh Clients, I really, really do, but I'm not able to talk to you on that day.

So, here we are. April 22.  Earth Day.  For me though, it is Reset Day.  It is my first day of school.  The slate is clean, and my mind is right, to paraphrase The Captain in Cool Hand Luke (one of the best movies ever, beeteedubs).  I came in to the office this morning, ready to dive in.  Personally, I'm also ready to dive in.  Time to get back into shape.  Tax season, and the desk sitting that follows, coupled with the lack of time, energy and motivation to exercise, take their toll on my body.



(Artists depiction of me on April 14)

Thanks for reading.  Carry on.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

It's that time of year...

...when all around me are playing.



The sun is shining, the birds are chirping...



...and I'm inside working on your tax return


Not actually me.

But in 9 days, I'll be joining you.


This is actually me


Please don't forget me.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Some people I love dearly

There are three people I wanted to mention today (not my immediate family, although I love those three dearly).  These are three people I go to church with (or used to).

The first is an older gentleman - I won't name him, but he is just a great guy.  He is widowed and walks down the aisle a little slower than he used to.  He's not a flashy man.  When I consider the "movers and shakers" in the big city of Cleveland, Tennessee, he won't necessarily come to mind. However, I've admired this man for years now.  He is solid as a rock, kind, and I'm sure has no idea how much respect I (and probably others) have for him.

The second is Buddy Patten, who passed away in January of 2001.  Buddy was a fixture of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and leader in the community. I'd like to tell you my favorite memory of him:  In the late '90's, Buddy came to my office - I was just a year or two into my practice, trying to earn a reputation.  Anyhow, Buddy comes in and tells me that he has decided to pull his accounting from a very respected local CPA firm and let me do the work for him. His rationale was that since I did volunteer things for the church, he wanted me to do his work - I think he was just being kind and wanted to help me get going in my practice!  I'll always be grateful to him for this.

Buddy was so meticulous about his income taxes, he would work through them via a Lotus 1.2.3 spreadsheet (remember that program?), and already have a VERY close estimate as to his final tax liability.  I worked harder on that return than almost any other, terrified that I would make a mistake and disappoint him!!

Jane Patten passed away on March 18 of this year. Jane, as you might know, was Buddy's wife.  When my family moved from Haverhill, England to Cleveland, Tennessee, Jane was the first person to take the time to make us feel welcome - She showed my Mother great kindness as Mom transitioned from an English Air Force wife to a transplanted Tennessean.

After Buddy passed away, and as it became more difficult for Jane to get around, I would deliver her tax returns to her.  Jane would always have a pot of flavored coffee and some cookies waiting for me. We'd talk for a while and then I'd go back to the tax season rat race, having enjoyed a little time with a gracious woman.

I'm glad the first gentleman is still around, and I'm glad to have known both Jane and Buddy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Here is a list of some things I'm pretty sure about:


If I eat more calories than I burn, I will gain weight.

I will die if I don't exercise; I will also die if I do exercise. However, I've probably got a better shot of being healthy while I'm alive if I exercise.

President Obama is not Kenyan, is not Muslim, does not want to kill your grandparents and is not Coming For Your Guns.

The entrance ramp to I-75 south at Exit 25 in Cleveland, Tennessee, has the most poorly thought out traffic light placement in the Country - Nay, the World!

The war in Afghanistan is defensible.

The war in Iraq was a huge mistake.

Buffalo Wild Wings mild sauce is too mild, and their medium sauce is too hot.

If a girl tells a boy no, or is passed out drunk, it is NEVER ok to have sex with her. When the boy goes ahead and has sex with the girl, he is NOT the victim.

The world is against us left handers.

I will never break 4 hours in a marathon.

It's not as bad as the Republicans say, and it's not as good as the Democrats say.

Reverse the previous statement when a Republican gets back into the White House.

People shouldn't drink > 16oz soft drinks.

Government shouldn't legislate the size of soft drinks.


That's all for now. I've got more, just ask me.



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Repeat Offender (¡Basta Ya!)

One more strike against me and I'll go to The Big House, I'm convinced.  Yes, I'm a repeat offender.



I was in downtown Chattanooga today, having lunch with a friend at Community Pie (check it out, It's pretty good), and overstayed my parking meter.  "What?!?" You say, "again?" Yes! Doubtless you all remember  THE WORST DAY EVER - because, you know, you live vicariously through me, right?

So, I come out to get in my car, and what do I see?  Another parking violation!!!


I stood in front of my car, looked up at the sky, balled my fist and yelled ¡Basta Ya!, which means Enough Is Enough in Spanish (OK, I didn't really, but think of how dramatic it would have been if I had!)

Here is a video of the song "¡Basta Ya!", performed by the late Jenni Rivera (my Spanish isn't very good, but I'm almost positive that the singer is bemoaning the fact that she just received a parking ticket):



I know how you feel, Jenni, I know how you feel.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Meanness - a mini rant

I was watching "Downton Abbey" the other day - well, my wife and I have been watching it almost solidly for the last week or so - we are halfway through the current season.

Aren't you amazed at how plain old mean Thomas is? Mrs. O'Brian is sneaky, conniving and disagreeable, but she at least seems to have a heart.  Thomas, on the other hand, takes delight in his meanness.

(Unrelated, I don't think I would be comfortable with someone dressing me, although it would be nice to have someone put my shoes and socks on for me. What would that title be?  A Footman? hahahahaha. I crack me up)

BUT I DIGRESS

Thinking about Mean Thomas somehow lead me to think about the meanness of today's online culture.  I've been noticing how verbally ugly and snarky people are on the internet - I don't mean the good snark either - the kind of snark where people are good naturedly sarcastic (you know, how I think I am), but the kind of snark where people are negatively and maliciously mean - using their words to hurt people. I see some of it on Twitter, in 140 character bursts (and do you not understand that when you make pointed comments about someone, they can see them, or is that what you are going for?) I think that Facebook lends itself more to out and out nastiness, though. Maybe it is because there isn't such a small limit on the number of words in a post.  I guess you have to be both clever and mean to do your damage on Twitter, while you can just bloviate on FB.

And have you ever read the comments after seemingly EVERY story posted!  I mean, some nasty stuff said!

I guess it is the relative anonymity of the internet, don't you think?  You can get on your computer, in your parents basement, in your boxers, with yesterdays spaghetti stains on your T-shirt and spew out whatever venom you want.




I've been really, really amazed at the nasty stuff that is posted about our politicians. There seems to be no repercussion to what people say, either.  I believe that a lot of what is said wouldn't be, if it had to be said face to face.  Of course, who hasn't hit the send button a half a second before your brain says "STOP, THINK"? I know I have.

So, what's my point?  Idunno.  As much as I (obviously) enjoy social networks, I really hate the way some folks use it.  As a weapon. To hurt people.

Oh, if I drank as much as the Downton Abbey folks do, I think I'd be in a stupor most of the time. I'd probably come to dinner in black tie instead of white!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My favorite albums

These are my favorite albums, in case you were wondering (in no particular order, except for the first one, Duh!):

Also, when I say, "In case you were wondering", understand that I realize that A. "you" weren't wondering, and B. "you" are a readership of about one - two if my Mom would ever get on the internet.

BUT I DIGRESS

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, the unveiling, what you were wondering about:


Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen



Tapestry - Carol King



Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson



Blond on Blond - Bob Dylan



I and Love and You - Avett Brothers



Sigh No More - Mumford and Sons


(Babel by Mumford is fast catching up with Sigh No More)



Mariachi El Bronx II - Mariachi El Bronx


Fashion Nugget - Cake



Sublime - Sublime




There are more that hang around the periphery of my top album list, and come and go, but these seem to be here to stay.

So, "you", go out and buy these, if you don't already own them.  Record labels, you can send my checks to "Ian, The Internet"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequestration - silly word


All we've heard lately (well, except for the Harlem Shake), is talk of "Sequestration".  Do you know what it's all about?  Pull up a chair and get a Red Bull, kids, and I'll tell you.  First, a couple of definitions:


SEQUESTRATION


Noun
  1. The action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met.
  2. The action of taking forcible possession of something; confiscation.


The term came into being many, many years ago (back in the 15th Century, according to Mirriam-Webster.com). Before our clown-like Congress (did I just write that out loud!?!) started using the term in conjunction with our budget deficit woes, I always thought of Juries being sequestered during a big Charles Manson-like trial (lasted from July 24, 1970 to April 19,1971, (An account of the Charles Manson Trial)).


BUT I DIGRESS


Now, well, since 1985's Gram-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act, Sequestration is the term used to describe automatic spending cuts that are (supposed to be) "across the board" cuts.  The reasoning was that instead of  the deficit being just a number left over after the budgeting process was complete, it became an amount agreed upon by Congress and the President.  If the total budget deficit exceeds that authorized by the Budget Resolution, then funds are to be held by the Treasury. In this budget cycle, cuts of 2.4% have to be made.

The funds withheld are from discretionary, not mandatory spending, meaning "Entitlements" such as Social Security, are not touched (interestingly, since Congressional salaries come from the mandated spending side of the ledger, I presume they won't be affected)




BUT

The same 2.4% of the total budget has to be withheld under the Sequestration rules (the word is stupid, IMO). This comes to about $85 billion. 

SO

Where does the $85 Billion come from then, you ask?  Here is a handy dandy discussion of where the cuts will come from (summary: Education, Defense, Public Health and Social Programs) : http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57571199/where-will-the-sequester-cuts-hit-your-community/

It is a true statement that the biggest spending programs (Social Security and Medicare) are not included in these cuts - this is where a lot of the arguing is coming from.

Note:  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP equal about 41% of our total budget (in 2011) - again, this is not part of the Sequestration.  Defense, at 20% of the budget, is part of the Sequestration.


OK.  'Nuff said.  If you've hung with me this long, you are probably bored, so here is a link to some hilarious accounting jokes:  Just for Fun