2/28/22 (16:26)
  • Running a business has been really grating on me lately. 5 employees, numerous little jobs, too many suppliers, too many supply chain issues, too many bills. We had a great year last year, but we'll see how much we have to pay for that success as the tax bills start coming in. LLC fees already came in and that's over $10k. When we started it was only $800. One of the difficult things is how separated everything is. CPA knows a lot about taxes and can help with that, but not much about the law. So you can hire a lawyer, but he may not know as much about contracting law or tax benefits of one structure over another because he's concerned about liability. Insurance agent knows about insurance, but not legal structure or tax ramifications. Title company and real estate agent knows about purchasing property (warehouse for example), but don't know anything about legal structure of entity that should buy the building or tax ramifications of that. There all these dumb ways to trying to legally avoid taxes and minimize liability. You do them because you'd be dumb not to, but I don't really want to do any of it. I want to run the business and pound nails. I don't want to be an HR director or a tax person or a lawyer. You ask 10 people and you get 10 opinions. It's fucking awful.
  • Here's a list I came up with the other day when thinking about the different hats I need to wear, or headaches I need to deal with, on any given day:

  • WC insurance
    LLC Bond
    GL insurance
    Insurance audits
    Material pickup and handling and returns
    Dump runs and waste management
    Site visits for new clients
    Sub coordination
    Supplier coordination
    Scheduling employees
    Warehouse upkeep
    Covid protocols
    Lender audits
    Vehicle maintenance
    Tool maintenance
    Security, lockboxes, cameras
    Office supplies
    Webpage maintenance
    Inventory management and maintenance
    Employee issues
    Legal fees
  • Some days it's not worth it. Spinning my wheels a lot lately and not getting much done. Hate it.

  • 2/25/22 (15:29)

  • This short February crap needs to go. I'm in favor of 13 months of 4 weeks each. Haven't thought it out completely, but seems like a good idea.
  • As predicted, Jackson got the nomination for Breyer's seat. She worked with him, has the pedigree, and is a black woman. Seems like a fine pick from what I know, but that's not much. Breyer is my favorite of the current justices.
  • Kind of depressed about Ukraine. Some of my mom's family is from there so there's that, but it's mostly just another dagger in the idea of civility and a world that can keep its shit together.
  • It's no surprise that Putin went into Ukraine when he did. Olympics are over, US is out of Afghanistan, and Biden is president  instead of Trump. Biden is supposed to be a foreign policy wiz, but I'm not seeing it so far. Sanctions don't mean much to Russia and they will fade in a while, but annexing Ukraine will last a long time if Russia is successful. Say what you will about Trump, but his erratic behavior actually has a benefit that when he says shit about nukes with North Korea, some part of basically everyone believes him. Biden or Obama wouldn't ever mention nukes and, even if they did, no one would believe them. Those guys are too rational to use nukes. The same can't be said about Putin or Trump. They're crazy enough to do shit like that.
  • The question about this Russia/Ukraine invasion is whether it's more analogous to WWI or WWII (the third option is that it's not like either). If it's WWI then the lesson is that we need to make sure we don't get dragged into things. During WWI there were a lot of issues, but possibly the biggest is that all those nations had treaties that effectively committed them to war in order to help their allies. This is a cautionary tale about helping Ukraine and being dragged into a war with Russia over it.
  • If it's WWII then it means Putin won't stop until he's forced to. Chamberlain believed that Hitler only wanted Poland, but was proven wrong. Best case scenario, Putin only wants Ukraine and he either stops there or is forced to withdraw (by whom? how? I think this is highly unlikely). Worst case scenario is that Ukraine becomes Georgia becomes Belarus and he goes as far as the world will let him...He already started with Crimea in 2014 with the annexation of that territory; so Ukraine isn't the first.
  • My thought is that this is more WWII than WWI and he will likely need to be stopped by force. I believe Bin Laden when he said he hated America for its presence in the Middle East (as opposed to hating America for its freedoms, as Bush said). I believe Putin when he says he wants to restore the Soviet state. As a result I fall in the WWII camp because we saw what he did with Crimea and what he's doing now with Ukraine. Obama was impotent on Crimea. Biden will be impotent on Ukraine. No one in the region has any military power to do anything about this other than China. China doesn't care because they want to do the same thing with Taiwan. The UN is impotent because Russia and China are on the security counsel and have veto powers.
  • In other words, this only ends well if Putin decides it. Best case scenario is that Ukrainians are the only victims here.
  • Russia has an economy smaller than Italy's so they really have an outsized presence when you consider their economic development.
  • It's been on my list for a while to talk about this, so I may as well do it now. I probably have less of a problem with our military spending levels than most around me or than my former self. Partly because I measure it as a percent of federal outlays (15% doesn't seem that bad) and partly because I recognize the value it brings to the job force, scientific advancement, and overall strength in the foreign arena. That said, I've drunk a bit of the Richard Clarke kool-aid since he started talking about our cybersecurity issues 20 years ago. Clarke has long been pointing out our deficiencies in this regard and I've only grown more concerned with time. So, 15% of our outlays on a military/national security sounds fine to me, but I do have a problem with how we spend it. Not just cupcake deals for crony capitalists, but also the lack of cybersecurity robustness. I think we're behind Russia and China in this regard and that could be a major issue for us now or in the future. We need fewer bombers and more computer security experts. We have the potential, but the government (as is typical the last 50 years) is behind the times and ill-equipped to make the right decisions.
  • It's very possible that if we do anything to upset Russia because of Ukraine, they will retaliate against our computer infrastructure. Wipe out medical records, hack the electrical grid, hack banks, hack military targets, etc. I think we basically have had our pants down on this for 20+ years. If it comes to a traditional war then we'll do fine, but wars are hardly ever fought with the last war's weapons. WWI started out with regiments on horseback until they were wiped out. WWII didn't follow the trench warfare of WWI. Vietnam was guerilla warfare. Afghanistan was as well, but even worse. Some say the it was a good thing that Pearl Harbor got wiped out because all those ships were ancient and we needed to rethink our fleet anyway. I don't know enough to say.
  • What should we do?
  • My thought has been for a while that I don't want any part of any more wars. My criteria for wars now are that they be: 1) necessary either to our life and limb (not just the nebulous "national security") and/or 2) be a genocide level humanitarian disaster. Not only that, but if we're talking about the latter criterion (stopping genocide) we need to have the explicit and material support of UN nations and those in the region. So, if Uganda is having a genocide then other African nations need to ask for our help, provide their own troops/treasure, and I want the majority of UN nations to do the same. Germany needs to provide troops and treasure, same for France and Canada and Japan and Romania. If it's important enough then they can get some skin in the game and help us out. Yes, we're uniquely qualified and prepared for military action, we'll accept that responsibility, but only if you have skin in the game as well. I'm tired of countries calling us colonialists. I'm tired of being even close to colonialist. I want to have moral clarity on what war is about.
  • Further, when we set a red line (as Obama did with Syria) then it better mean something. Unfortunately with Obama it didn't mean anything. We lost credibility there in a major way. Liberals often talk about credibility when Trump and Bush act like maniacs and that's fair enough. But Obama didn't help with the empty rhetoric either. We need to be credible with whatever we say. This is elementary stuff, but, somehow, it needs to be said: say what you'll do and do what you say.
  • Lastly, a point about strength. We have very little at this point. Our economy is a joke. Our society and political situation is in shambles. Our military is strong, but tired and wary of any further engagements after the fiasco of Afghanistan. In short, we don't have it in us to bail the world out of WW3. We did it twice before and, as an American, that's about as much pride as I'm capable of having - thinking about what those who came before us did in those two wars. To be clear, I didn't have anything to do with it and neither did my family so my pride must be limited, but it is there nonetheless. But we're not able to do it again. We've destroyed that best part of our country and I'm not sure it's coming back. I don't know how long a country lasts when a significant portion of its citizens, and those who are supposedly its leaders (intellectually, if not politically and otherwise) don't really like the country or its past. To be clear - I think there are a lot of people who are the smartest people in our country, they run educational institutions and political institutions and the media and they don't really like America. I don't know how long a country lasts when it's hated internally.
  • I don't think it's a mistake that Crimea was annexed under Obama and Ukraine under Biden. I still would rather have Biden than Trump. I point this out not to score cheap political points, but to point out, as I try very hard here to do because it may be the most important thing we need to remember as political individuals, that no one side has a monopoly on the Truth or the best way of governing or all the answers. It's not that we need to learn to live with conservatives or liberals - it's that we NEED both in order to be the best we can be. Everyone reading this is probably a liberal (maybe with the exception of my Canadian friend) and so they (rightly) take pride in the strides we're making on the issues of gender and racial equality and (generally) have the idea that conservatives aren't of much use/good. Much of that pride liberals have for liberal progress is for the good. While it's great to consider feelings and try to talk things out (as liberals generally want to do), there might also be a time where we need to crack some skulls and reckon with a Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot or Putin. We need each type of thinker in the room when we're making these decisions and forming a political structure. We need liberals to push boundaries and be renegades and make new companies and discover new ideas. We need conservatives to run those companies without going bankrupt and keep social order and keep us from changing too quickly and remind us of the past lest we throw the baby out with the bath water.
  • I don't think this specific case is being made by very many people. I don't think the liberals hear a decent defense of conservative ideas. I think this because I didn't hear one for a very long time and I was a liberal political science major. Hopefully I do a bit of that here. I attack liberals not because I hate them, but because I want you to see that they're not perfect either. As a liberal I used to think other liberals were always smarter and more virtuous. I'd laugh at dumb conservatives because Michael Moore and Jon Stewart made it so easy (and fun) to do just that.
  • CA has finally allowed all but Santa Clara and LA county to be indoors without a mask. Those counties might be open now, haven't kept up with the news, but I think that was the case as of 2/15. At any rate, that's the policy now. In Oakland, Berkeley, and SF essentially everyone still wears a mask - probably 95%. I'm part of the 5%. In Richmond and outer East Bay that number gets inverted. It's amazing how much of a difference there is. I was in a hardware store today in Richmond and one guy was wearing a mask out of a dozen employees and customers. At Home Depot, etc. in Oakland and Emeryville today there are only a few people not wearing masks out of a hundred customers/staff. I think that people continue to wear the mask to help others. This is nice and all, and maybe it's somewhat based on science, but I think it's more important to get back to some level of normalcy. We need to kill the idea that COVID should have anymore control over our lives. We need to kill the idea that schools are an outbreak away from closing again.
  • Remember when people seemed to care about Flint and the lead in the water? Well, those same people are making those same kids learn remotely for the rest of the year. How do you think that will work out? And don't come back in 6 months and show me some fake stats about how everyone got A's and B's and graduated and how remote learning was a big success. All that will prove is that teachers aren't being thorough with remote learning. My newest employee was in high school last year and his reporting to me is that remote learning was a joke - 75% of the kids weren't even present, teachers didn't check homework or tests (he actually submitted homework without any answers and still got full credit), etc. Essentially, remote learning is worthless. But, hey, I really care about black kids in Flint so let's keep them away from school. Let's keep them in their abusive home. Let's keep them away from friends. Let's not have any accountability. Let's put more strain on their parents. Let's make them login remotely with a computer they may not have or on a cell phone that isn't meant for video streaming and remote learning applications. Sounds like a good idea. After all 851 people aged 0-17 have died since January 2020 due to COVID (CDC numbers), so we know it must be a HUGE DEAL. lol, these people are fucking nuts. "Follow the science" you fucking nut jobs.
  • Increasingly depressed about the state of affairs.

  • 2/18/22 (15:19)

  • There are times I definitely feel all the world's suffering. There are so many people and so many unhappy people. So many people living in total poverty economically, spiritually, and otherwise. People with no love in their lives and no opportunities. It's probably the saddest thing there is. I truly don't understand why people are so awful to each other. I understand that hurt people hurt people. I've seen hundreds of videos of people hurting each other or killing each other and read stories and heard podcasts about true crime that runs the gamut from random crimes to crimes against those they should love. I know (probably more than most) the extent of human depravity and cruelty and malevolence on an individual and societal level. But no matter how much I immerse myself in these worlds I never understand how people do these things. Maybe that's my greatest genetic gift - the basic human empathy that we take for granted. The vast majority of people seem to have it, but some do not. I actually feel very bad for these people because without that simple trait the road to being a psychopath is quite easy.
  • One time I was watching a movie in the theater and some popcorn kernel made an old filling pop out. Kinda sucked. The entire time I was watching the movie I was thinking about what it would take to acquire a food grade epoxy that would be suitable for creating a filling. I could put in some clove oil to prevent infection, Mix the epoxy and put it in the hole left from my old cavity. Then I'd use some files or sandpaper to shape it before it hardened too much. I was planning the whole thing. By the end of the movie I came around to thinking this probably wasn't a great idea and I should just go to the dentist. But for a solid hour I was considering it. I'm not sure what this says about me.
  • I remembered this story while I was at the dentist yesterday and they have this ultrasonic teeth cleaner they use. I seems like a basic enough tool and I was wondering how much it would cost to get a used one and then I could do my own dental cleanings for me and the family. I already have dental picks and check the girls' teeth once in a while. Probably would be worth the investment. Then I started thinking about being able to let others use it or maybe I'd do it for other people if they didn't want to do it themselves. Basically I was thinking my way into becoming the neighborhood dentist. This is how my brain works.
  • Speaking of DIY, the Prius was spitting out a timing issue after we did the head gasket replacement. This was my #1 concern because the timing looked kinda difficult to do. The other #1 concern (they were tied for #1, gimme a break) was that there would be a new problem and we'd be chasing codes and replacing the car one piece at a time. Tried the camshaft timing sensor first but that wasn't it. After that I thought the most likely thing was the timing chain tensioner so we replaced that (Jesus found a way of moving the chain without taking everything back apart) and all is good. Definitely saved some money and there's some satisfaction in figuring it out.

  • 2/14/22 (16:47)

  • Work has been slow the last couple weeks so we've finally been able to get our bathroom started. Finished rough plumbing today. We also worked on Meryl's head gasket replacement and got that finished today. Took it all apart last week and took the head to a machine shop. He adjusted some valves and cleaned the head up so we were good for reassembly. Jesus did most of the work and it was good to see how it all went together and help with the process.
  • We have probably 15 jobs that are either approved and waiting on supplies or permits, or recently sent out for bid and waiting to get an answer on. I have a feeling that March is going to be nuts with people saying we're ready to go all at the same time. Lately I've been doing a lot of waiting for materials. There's no rhyme or reason to it - just a bunch of random things that take forever and slow everything down.
  • One funny thing about my job is that I get to see how people live and see some of their secrets. It's not something I talk about to others specifically, but speaking generally it's interesting to see who has lube by the bed or rogaine by the sink, etc. Netflix has a mini series (Maid)  based upon a book and we watched it not too long ago. Pretty good overall. She had a similar experience where you how people live and it's just interesting. She would go through things and eat their food and stuff and I never do that, but if people leave stuff on the sink and I'm working in the bathroom then it's hard to unsee it.
  • A perk of my job is that sometimes we'll turnover a unit or prep it for sale and it's always interesting to see what people leave behind. Usually it's just random trash or cleaning supplies (which I collect and use for the next job), but sometimes they'll leave pictures or jewelry or the keys to their car. It's crazy how unthinking people are with some of their possessions. Overall, people have way too much shit and I witness this reality on a regular basis. Of course I also have too much shit and I hate it. Over the last few months we've worked it into our weekend routine to purge things. Mostly it's kid stuff that accumulates in their rooms. They have so many people who love them and so many projects and extracurriculars and all that means that they tend to collect things. As far as adult stuff, we have a ton of artwork and electronics related cables, etc. Too many files and work-related stuff. Building materials are tough because we sometimes are left with extra after a job, or I might salvage a faucet or light from a job and I don't want to dump it, but I don't have an infinite supply of space either. The warehouse has been great for this because I have space for stuff there, but of course I have to walk the line between salvaging things that will actually be used and hoarding.
  • In general my industry is very wasteful. If we're doing a kitchen remodel, for example, one might throw away perfectly useable items like a sink, faucet, garbage disposal, cabinets, etc. Sometimes I'll save a disposal or something, but usually I just send it all to the dump. The dumps I go to will divert different things to different places. So, they take wood and use that for compost. They take concrete and reuse it as aggregate for new concrete. They recycle the metal. Still don't like it.
  • How has music production been affected by how we listen to it? I assume the vast minority of people listen to music using CD or vinyl, with the majority going to headphones or bluetooth speaker or phone speaker. Phone speaker in particular seems to be an awful way to listen to music, but I see people doing it all the time. I have to assume that music producers take this into mind when considering how their music sounds. Maybe bass guitars and heavy bass show up less today than 30 years ago because phone speakers and headphones have shitty bass response, for example.
  • I wrote the other day about being able to make a compilation of Joe Rogan that showed him as either Left or Right depending upon your narrative. Well here's one that makes him look pretty progressive.
  • One of Meryl's friends is an elementary teacher and she had a student (let's call her Mary) who has a birthday during Summer. Well, the parent of this student wrote an email asking to celebrate Mary's birthday at the half way point of her birthday year so she could celebrate it during the school year. Meryl's friend explained that she already had a solution to this issue - they do all the Summer birthdays the last week of the school year (as a Summer baby I can say I don't remember this ever being offered to me, or being an issue, but whatever). Apparently this wasn't adequate for the parent, who insisted that they celebrate Mary's birthday 6 months before her actual birthday so that she felt special. This is what it's come to. The teacher already had a solution for this so-called problem. It wasn't adequate and the parent pushed the issue to the point that the teacher felt compelled to capitulate. All of this makes zero sense to me.
  • This same teacher, by the way, has a master's in education and is considering a career change. A few fixes with regards to teaching: pay them well, give them autonomy on how they want to teach a curriculum based on local values, hold them accountable (pay them better when they do better, fire them when they underperform).
  • Lately I've been thinking more and more about how much the 10-20% of us are shaping the debate and shaping the perceptions of each other. There's a growing literature on this concept that basically our perception on Republicans or Democrats is way off base and shaped by the most vocal of those (and other) groups. So, Republicans think that 38% of Democrats are gay when it's more like 6%. Democrats think 44% of Republicans earn more than $250k/year and it's more like 2%. There are a lot of these out there and it basically comes down to the media fucking us once again by amplifying the most vocal minority of a particular group. There are incentives to do this of course...things like TOS (time on site as a metric for FB, etc.) and more clicks going to more outrageous and rage-inducing content. The bottom line is that not only are we more polarized than we have been in a long time, but there might not even be very good reasons for this polarization. This is a big way in which the media is fucking us.
  • Along these lines, I think we need to develop some rules for engaging in this new world. So, one possible rule is to not be offended by something you see online. Maybe an improvement on that rule is to not be offended, or take seriously, the writings of people you see online unless you know who they are. If I didn't know this person yesterday then maybe I shouldn't be outraged by the things they think/say online today. Further, much of what you see in online comment sections is created by bots so the rule should be even more strict for this section of the internet. If you're upset by a controversy and you've only heard about it online, then maybe it's not worth being upset about. When the pronouns stuff was gaining speed I thought maybe it was just online nonsense, but that leaked into the real world. But generally, maybe we should only be concerned with the things that actually exist in our actual lives. Maybe an extension of these thoughts is to not be outraged by a thing that was said or happened many years ago when the rules were different. There's a lot of digging up people's old tweets that happens these days and I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense.
  • Can you imagine if all your controversial ramblings and thoughts were put online for everyone to see and dig through and find snippets to place out of context, or even in context? I mean that would probably be pretty rough for a lot of people and it's a good thing it doesn't exist for most people. Oh wait, uh oh. For the record, I only edit the main page archive and movie reviews for spelling and grammar, so it is what it is.

  • 2/12/22 (16:10)

  • We're getting into some weird territory these days.
  • Awkwafina got in trouble recently for something she's been doing for a long time. I don't know if the mob just gets bored or what, but they're upset with her for appropriating black culture with her "blaccent." I'll point out once again it has nothing to do with color and everything to do with culture. A Nigerian doesn't have a "blaccent" and doesn't understand the African-American experience much better than I do. Denzel has pointed this out as well, so hopefully that doesn't come off as wrong-headed. At any rate, she's in trouble for being a total piece of shit for apologizing the wrong way. I'm not sure what the right way is. I think it's purposely a moving goal post so that the mob can always be upset. In the story above, for example, someone is upset with Thandie Newton for apologizing for her light-skinned blackness in the wrong way. “I [...] know what it feels like when somebody is lowkey playing in my face with an “apology” that comes across as more patronizing than it does uplifting,” Genai writes. “I’m sure Newton really felt like what she was saying was coming from the right place, but the delivery of this was, frankly, all wrong.”
  • I've said before that we have to have room in culture for forgiveness. It's impossible to do the right thing all the time and if we don't allow sincere apologies to heal then what signal are we sending? Which brings us to Joe Rogan.
  • I've been listening to Rogan for probably 5 years now. I listen mostly to his political guests. I sometimes listen to the extreme sports athletes or comedians, but never the MMA stuff because it doesn't really appeal to me. Since he went to Spotify I've listened less frequently because I don't like the Spotify app, but he's the only reason I have it. I'm also similar to Rogan in that I consider myself an information omnivore. I'm interested in all sorts of points of view and information. I've always been this way, but it's especially important today when the media is at a nadir and our society is as split as it has been in over 100 years.
  • With all that context, I think what the legacy media and mob are trying to do with Rogan is really predictable and pathetic. First they made it about COVID misinformation. Then they made it about the n word. Next it will be him saying the (other) f word. Whether or not the attacks will work is beyond me. It may squeeze Spotify enough to kick him off the platform, or maybe it'll blow over and people will move on to the next faux outrage. What it reveals (although this was already known by many) is that race isn't a great principle upon which these people base their lives. It's become a bludgeon to attack and control. I've pointed this out in other ways before. I think the majority of people aren't racist and don't want to tolerate racism. However, the vocal 10% are the ones who run media and shift the winds of Twitter and those people use race and sex and whatever else they can to get what they want.
  • Let's assume it's not just a take down, but an earnest attempt to hold Rogan accountable. On the n word angle, I just don't believe the guy is racist. I don't know an argument that would prove this, especially these days. The n word compilation implies that he's racist, right? Once a person has been smeared with that label I'm not sure how you prove the negative. Anything he does now will be considered pandering. Any black friends he has or had or who stick up for him doesn't seem to matter. I've never fully understood why "some of my best friends are black" isn't a good sign that you're not racist. How, exactly, does one prove that they don't harbor racist feelings in their heart? I think it's impossible.
  • On the accusation that he put out COVID misinformation I'd say that's not only possible, but probable. He's has Weinstein and Heying on and, more recently, Robert Malone (he worked on the early development of mRNA vaccines). Malone is the one people seem to have their panties in a bunch over the most. I haven't listened to that podcast yet, but, from what I can tell based upon his resume, Malone knows more about vaccines than most experts on most news programs. So, I think there's definitely merit to this argument that there will be misinformation when two people are speaking informally for 2-4 hours. Rogan does have an assistant ("young Jamie") and he does research on the fly, but obviously this isn't ironclad.
  • So, I don't think Rogan is racist and I think that's pretty obvious if you know anything about him. I do think that the informal nature of his show allows for wild speculation and misinformation and all the other things that happen when two people are just talking. His isn't a new program. It's not a well-researched and edited and fact checked dissertation. It's him talking with experts in their field. As he said, I think he should make an effort to get people with contradictory viewpoints on these subjects on more closely together. No one mentions that he had Sanjay Gupta (defending the vaccines) on his program in October and then Malone in December. I think people should use their brain when getting information and they should consider the source and do their own fact checking as appropriate.
  • Another point about Rogan is that he's one of those guys who could easily be hated by both the Left and Right. If I had the time I could easily put together a compilation of him that would make him look like a hippie dippy liberal; he endorsed Bernie Sanders, after all. But I could also put together a compilation that would make him look like a conservative; he's pro gun rights, for example. He speaks with possibly the widest variety of guests of any host on any media platform. Not only does he have most people/programs beat on breadth, but he also speaks with them for 2-4 hours so he has almost everyone beat on depth as well. The fact that he doesn't fact-check along the way or plan things out is just a byproduct of the format and I'm fine with it. If you want something thoroughly researched and ironclad then read google scholars. If you want information in 30 second clips then watch cable TV. If you want a deep dive on a single subject that is fact-checked then read a book. Podcasts are podcasts and JRE is a particular type of podcast.
  • Perhaps ideas have people and not vice versa. That idea has had me recently.
  • Prof G points out that we're living through a great dispersion. This is part of the anarchy and populism and crypto and erosion of institutions we've been living with recently. The great dispersion is as good a way of describing it as I've heard. Of course it's not one thing or another - there are always competing interests, but dispersion seems to be winning out.

  • 2/10/22 (15:32)

  • Dunbar's number is interesting because it basically implies that we should be living in smaller groups than we currently do (or maybe it exists because that's how we evolved to live). I was thinking about my prior post about the evils of bureaucracies and it occurred to me that maybe they only exist because we exist in societies larger than we can handle. Maybe there's more to Dunbar's number than just an interesting fact about our brain/how society was once organized.

  • 2/7/22 (17:05)

  • Life is beyond frustrating these days. Trying to refinance the warehouse loan since right now it's an interest only loan so it's not paying down the principal at all. It's taken 5+ months, but we're finally almost done. Every step of the way is frustrating. The latest snags have been: meeting with the notary and they didn't have all the documents printed. We printed one of them while we were meeting with her at our house, but then I hear back from her that night that more were missing and we need to meet again tomorrow. I live a very busy life so just taking time off in the middle of the day to meet her for something that should have already been done is annoying. Then I have to run and wire some money to the title company (didn't know about this until it was sprung on me that day and they said "today would be great."). Then I try to fund the new business account I needed to open with the lender. Unfortunately getting the online account setup requires a hundred steps and none of them is easy and they ask for info that hasn't been provided, etc. Then I find out that I need to get it funded in the next day in order to make the payment in time. Then I try to transfer $ from my current account to the new one and come to find out that the online account I've been using for 8+ years is Meryl's online account for our joint bank accounts. Evidently I would need to open my own online access account (or have Meryl present) for the guy to help me send money from my business account. So, I get Meryl to be by the phone while she's working and call them back that way she can conference in on the call and answer whatever questions they need. Get through to someone to help, but instead of asking her info they inform me that they have a policy to not allow transfers from business accounts. I ask why and they don't have an answer. Would have been nice if the first guy had told me that instead of giving me the run around.
  • Part of getting the warehouse is that we're applying for an SBA loan at the same time we're refinancing the original loan. It's been a very long process and the SBA part will take another 4 months most likely. G tells you we have all these great programs, but the reality is that they make it so onerous that only the most committed or resourced individuals/companies actually will jump through the hoops they require. It's a joke. At any rate, we're doing that and they require an environmental report and a ton of paperwork and a lease agreement and they make sure all your operating agreement is consistent with the articles of organization that is required to be filed with the state, etc. It's all a bunch of bullshit that doesn't actually mean anything to anyone except lawyers. This kind of shit bothers the hell out of me. In order to create the business 10 years ago, we had to make an operating agreement. So, I found something online that was a template and made it fit our company. Now it turns out that when Meryl submitted that to the state she didn't check the right box so we need to resubmit this paperwork. So I did that and it wasn't the right paperwork. So I did it again using a different form and as soon as I hit upload on the webpage I realized I had forgotten to sign it. There's no option for amending your paperwork so you have to wait 2 weeks for them to contact you. I immediately gave him the corrected paperwork and he said okay you'll go to the back of the line and we'll get to it in 2 weeks. This is how G works (or doesn't). Bureaucracies are evil. This stuff never ends.
  • Then I'm trying to run some wire from an existing light to another location for a new light in my stairway. I tell Edwin what to do and he does whatever he wants and makes more work for us - per the usual. We removed the handrails in the stairway and I was going to move them into an adjacent room, but apparently they're so long I can't get them out of the stairway. This is amazing. It means they brought the handrails into the stairway before putting up all the drywall. Very surprising and very annoying because it means I have to temporarily have them sitting in the stairway while we do all the patches.
  • A couple years ago we were working on a job for Meryl's brother. It's a building in SF with 3 floors and 4 residential units. The garbage is left inside in the common area hallway because there's no exterior space that would work. The city issued a NOV (notice of violation) for the garbage in the upstairs hallway (this was about 3 years ago) because it blocks the hallway. We had inspectors out and they admitted it was a very difficult situation, but couldn't help us. They want it enclosed in a closet. The closet needs to have 2 layers of 5/8 drywall, plus a layer of steel on top of the drywall, plus a sprinkler head inside. In the upstairs location the only way to make room for the garbage was to take away the closet from one of the occupied units. So we got an architect to draw something up ($) and proposed it to the tenant. She's losing some of her space so we had to pay her $10k for her to lose her closet (3x8). We take all this to the city and they sit on it for months. They look at it and wonder why we're doing any of this work. "We don't see an NOV for this property so you don't need to do the garbage closet." We tell them they're wrong and they figure out that we're right after all. Then they tell us that the fire department needs to look at it. After a while longer they finally look at it and say we can't do it unless we change the main water meter to accommodate the new water load (which will probably never be needed, but whatever). We need to get calculations done ($) and then pay for a new meter ($). Finally get all that lined up and today we get word from the property manager that the city was out there for some reason and we have more NOVs. Usually this is stuff like having to fix peeling paint or a bad bulb in the hallway or whatever. Turns out that this time it's the exact same situation, but for downstairs this time. Why didn't they tell us we needed a closet for the trash downstairs when they told us they needed a closet for the trash upstairs!? The trash upstairs was an egress issue. This trash doesn't have the same issue so I guess it didn't occur to them. Or maybe they see that we're going to work on the one upstairs so they figure they'll hit us up for the one downstairs as well. At any rate, we have to go through the whole shit show again to get a new permit (or update the existing)...new calculations, new drawings, etc. This is the kind of shit that tenants have no clue about. You think that landlords are just sitting back making pure profit, but the city fucks you sideways like this constantly. Glad I'm just the contractor and not the owner. Theoretically I win no matter what since I'm working hourly on this. In reality, we all lose when they have these unreasonable requirements.
  • Prius has been rock solid for us since we got it several years ago. We've put 150k miles on it and nothing more than brake pads and oil changes. The other day it ran rough and the check engine light came on. I looked up the code with my scanner and it said engine misfire. So, it's like 90% chance either spark plugs, wires, or ignition coils. So, the wires are a pain to replace so Jesus and I just replaced the plugs and the coils. Needed to get it done anyway so I figured it was worth a shot no matter what. Probably saved about $400 doing it ourselves and it took about an hour. Took it out for a test drive and it ran fine for a while. But then it happened again and I sunk in my seat. Take it to the local oil change place and they have one mechanic who can do a bit of troubleshooting. He can't figure it out. Take it to the dealer. $400 later and they say it's a leaking head gasket. They want $4733 to do it. We'll see what it costs to have other places do it, but it'll likely be $1.5k+ even at the cheapest places. Jesus has built high performance cars so I know he can help and we can probably figure it out, but not exactly what I wanted to be doing. Probably a full day job and out of my depth.
  • Why are bureaucracies evil? Because they are one example of a system, structure, or mechanism that eliminates accountability and dehumanizes life. Unions are another example. I know that G and unions can be good...they have been in the past in this country and continue to be elsewhere. However, here and now, the unions that exist are those that have survived because they are very powerful. Like all very powerful organizations they abuse their power and they've become a force for evil in the form of a lack of accountability. Teachers unions and police unions are good examples. They start with a good premise and good intentions. I like the idea of cops and most teachers, but the unions that represent them are so powerful that they end up protecting even the worst among the group. Anything that reduces accountability as much as these unions do is working towards destroying our society.
  • Large corporations are evil as well and are bureaucratic, but it manifests differently and they have a host of other issues. Concentrated power is bound to be bad in the long run. In isolated instances, for short periods of time, it may be okay, but in the long run it's a recipe for disaster. Concentrated power must have an expiration date. So, in the recent example of COVID we saw that G allowed for remote voting or took power to restrict movements of people or mandated certain behaviors, etc. This emergency power needs to be explicitly granted and given a sunset clause which means it has an expiration date. Another solution to concentrated power is competition. So, G power must be limited and when it is virtually unlimited in it's strength then it must be limited in its time. Since corporations don't have a monopoly on force or the aura of legality, their power must have competition in order to be checked. Anything that reduces competition becomes a problem.
  • The long and short of it is that G has a monopoly so we need to be very diligent in keeping it in check. Powers granted can't be forever (even though the bureaucrats will want to make them that way). Corporations can't get too large and we can't use G to allow them to entrench themselves (for example) with regulations that make the barrier to entry too great. This is all straightforward, common sense stuff, but it seems like it's lost in today's society.



    2/1/22 (20:59)

  • Hit a bit of a slow patch with work. This time of year tends to be slower than usual, but with 5 guys to keep busy I feel it more now than ever. Really is feast or famine. Intellectually I know that this is the way things are and that in 6 months I'll be drowning in work, but it's nerve-wracking nonetheless.
  • Now that we have so much more capacity I need to plan ahead better and get some winter work lined up beforehand so we're not running around doing little jobs to fill in. The other thing that happens every year is we do our taxes around this time and then get the bill in March/April. When you're self-employed you pay the G quarterly estimated amounts. So, if you have 24% tax rate and you made $100k in the prior year (2020) then you pay $24k in 4 installments in 2021 (you generally assume you're going to make the same amount as the prior year). Plus whatever you have to pay to the state (though CA takes it in 3 payments instead of 4 for some reason). So, every two weeks I pay us out of the business account and a certain amount of that pay goes straight to savings. That money is for taxes. Every 3 months I write a check to the state and federal G and that's our tax payment. At the beginning of the next year we do our taxes and, if we made more than the projected $100k (in this example) then we need to make up that difference. So, if we made $200k in 2021 then we would need to write an additional check for the missed tax payment last year $24k (we're assuming no progressive tax rates just to keep it simple). So, in April of 2022 in this example we would pay $24k to cover the underpayment as a result of 2021 being better than 2020. Plus we would need to pay $12k for the first quarter's earnings of 2022 (we are now assuming we're making $200k/year so the quarterly payment has now doubled).
  • All this is to say that the first quarter of a new year is a major bend over and grab your ankles time for us and it's made all the better by it being a generally slower time for business. The good news is that we've been down the road before and so I always put away extra money to prepare for this. The bad news is that you get used to seeing your savings look a certain way and then half of it disappears to pay for (?) and you start all over again.
  • We could assume that we're going to make more money than the previous year and the end of the year big check writing wouldn't happen, but I don't see that as a better way of going. If you guess wrong then you're paying more than you should and essentially loaning the G your $. If you guess right then you're giving them your $ earlier so you don't have as big a check to write later and you save yourself some heartache, but it doesn't seem worth it.
  • Look into the Cantillon effect. Basically it states that the first people to get money have the most buying power and each person who gets the money afterwards is facing decreasing buying power with that same dollar because of its injection into the economy. Interesting.
  • Jimmy G ended the run in predictable style. I say that having actually predicted it before the final drive started. I said to Meryl and Vince that there's a 50/50 chance that this ends in an interception (should have added fumble to that) or a field goal. I really didn't see much chance of a TD or anything else. I knew he'd either hit Samuel for a big gain and we'd extend the game or he'd crash and burn. The truth is that he doesn't make great decisions. If it's a 2 minute drill then he's not your guy. He's a worse version of peoples' vision of Alex Smith. They called him a "game manager" which is code for a not very good QB whose good games are 200 yards 1TD/0INT. That's basically Jimmy G. He's fine at playing ahead when the run game and defense can control the game. If you need him for anything else then good luck with that.
  • Kyle Shanahan meanwhile looks like one of the biggest choke artists in coaching history. I think he gets a bit of a bad rap in that way. The ATL v. NE game (losing after being up 28-3 in 3rd quarter) is rough, but he's the coordinator in that game, not the HC so it's not all on him. The SB loss to the Chiefs being up by 10 in the 4th Q is bad, but if you watch post mortem videos on the playcalling in the 4th Q of the game, he called good plays, but Jimmy G missed throws and the players didn't execute. Definitely to blame a bit, but not completely. Same goes for this loss. Up by 10 in the 4th Q and they lost. Jimmy G made bad decisions on the final drive. The defense didn't hold like you would have liked. I don't think it's all on Shanahan.
  • All that said, I'm close to putting Shanahan in the same category as Lane Kiffin. Both are great OC...they know offense very well and are great at being offensive coordinators...I'm just not sure either is meant to be the HC. People think that if you're a good OC that you should be the HC. They're different jobs. I don't think it needs to go that way. If you're a good carpenter it doesn't mean that you should run your own business. The Peter Principle dictates that you generally get promoted to your level of incompetence. This is how the world works, though. People always want more. Other people always want more for the people who are doing a good job. So, assuming the positions are available, people get promoted until they reach the top, or wherever they are no longer good at what they do. Nick Saban is the best college HC of all-time. He went 15-17 in the NFL. Since 2009 (13 seasons) he's lost 17 games in college. It took him 2 seasons to lose that many in the NFL. He learned the Peter Principle the hard way like most do. The other part of this is that people assume that HC is better than OC. You get more money and prestige, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily better. Nothing wrong with being a great coordinator instead of a mediocre HC.

  • For the first week of each of the first four months of the year I need to do this skin treatment. Twice a day for a week I put these creams on my face and then I don't use it for the rest of the month. The result is supposed to be less pre-cancer shit on your face after the 56 treatments are complete. I did it in January and had skin peeling all over the place. Red face, skin flaking off, etc. It was real pleasant and attractive. The good news is that it's basically giving me all new skin so hopefully that will help in the long run. Not looking forward to aging. I don't think I'm going to be very good at it, but it's better than the alternative.