7/31/11 (15:17)
  • i redid the tax chart below to make more sense. i just showed how much taxes are due, instead of assuming a certain withholding and then going from there. this way makes it easier to see who gets what. i'm not sure how the calculator works with regards to social security and medicare deductions.

  • 7/26/11 (17:20)

  • haven't been doing a good job of updating on here the last few months. i think part of that is that i do a lot of writing elsewhere so maybe i should just cut and paste some of that onto here, or vise versa.
  • a recent post from the contractor forum i frequent (where we also talk about politics/religion a lot):
  • "if i can just get this one mistruth out of the collective consciousness of the right wing i could die a happy man. about half you guys throw around the stat that is in the article: "We generally knew that 47 percent of our population pays no income taxes whatsoever." i've seen some people say "half the country pays no taxes" which is an even worse misrepresentation.
  • anyway, the actual stat is slightly different, but it's an important difference - 47% of the population pays no FEDERAL income tax. they still plays into ss, medicare, sales tax, and state taxes. while federal income taxes are a big chunk of what gets taken, the stat that gets thrown around is so misleading because it easily gives the impression that half the country is freeloading when that's not even close to the truth. "We have 50 percent of people who are getting something for nothing." i'll let you guess what organization spewed that lie.
  • it's also a figure that was taken just after the recession and was at 38% prior to the recession. also, when you consider the demographics (http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet..._2009_5YR_G00_) - 27.4% of the population is 0-19 years old. 12.6% is 65+ years old.
  • so, 40% of the country is marginally employable by age. yeah, i worked when i was 16 (during the summer) and my grandma is 75 and she still works (though maybe not like she used to). but when you look at the actual numbers and what the stat actually represents you see it's a gross misrepresentation of reality."
  • the debt ceiling stuff is getting to the tipping point. hopefully people will finally come to the realization that we need a third party to mix things up. to "cost al gore the election" as some say of nader or to "split the conservative vote" as some said of perot (twice). incidentally, perot got 18.9% of the vote after dropping out and then coming back in and he was talking primarily about the debt problem when it was under $5 trillion. we'll be at 14.3 trillion as of 8/2. obama comes off as real smart and balanced and reasonable in his speeches (like the one last night), the major problem being that he's still playing political games and i think he's lost a good deal of trust. he voted against the debt ceiling increase under bush and recently called it an immature mistake. does he really expect the tea party congressmen (who were elected primarily to shrink the footprint of govt.) to be more mature than he was on the same issue, and to go against their mandate?
  • a big part of the problem is the bipolar, childish nature of the polity - "we want less govt., but don't cut my programs." but a bigger problem is that the people who are supposed to know what they are doing have royally screwed the country at every turn. even best intentions are often the cause of problems. then there's the media that plays the soundbyte game and gives little to no context or analysis. so, yeah, the whole system is to blame and right now it's coming to a head on this issue. hopefully a viable third party can get into the debate and win some national seats to mix things up. right now it looks like that would come from the right because of where we are. i wish a real leftist party existed and had a shot. a party that could extol the virtues of streamlined, effective government programs. a party that stood for real, grassroots stimulus. a party that stood for a tax structure that makes sense and works; isn't overly complex, doesn't have a million deductions, doesn't
  • bottom line: the system continues to be broken and the status quo of voting for the lesser of two evils, growing idiotic government, and increasing corporate tyranny has progressively gotten us more and more screwed. now, if we could get a viable third option, grow useful government and prune wasteful government, and reign in corporate power, we'd be cooking with fire again.
  • now's the time to buy newscorp stock if you were ever interested in such a thing. if you followed my advice on bp and goldman sachs you would have made a healthy profit on those. apple continues to astound, i'm staying away even though they're looking into hulu now.
  • tomorrow we plan on building the rest of the pergola (we painted all the wood this weekend and got it started), picking up a couple seamless gutters (i gave them the specs and they extrude them on site) for the two garages in the yard, and hiring a day laborer to help finish off the digging that needs to be done for the patio project to progress. turns out that my mistake with the layout line along with bad eyes, means that we still have a few inches of dirt to take out in some big spots. ugh. i think we've been digging nonstop for a couple weeks and we still have more to do.
  • getting the gutters home could be an adventure. they're almost 21 feet long which is way longer than my truck and i don't have a roof rack or anything. good news is that they should be fairly rigid and it's only a couple miles away from home. i'll take side streets and hope it goes well.
  • was doing some tax research. it's always been quite a mystery to me. i went on turbo tax's tax estimator and ran some different scenarios. i looked at the different scenarios with and without kids and at different income levels. this is not at all scientific since there are a shitload of other deductions to take, but it was a fun experiment. based on this simplistic test it appears as though the govt. gives the biggest refunds to those the poor, especially those with kids. of course that makes sense since they need the money the most, but i never knew just how much one would get (not get back, but actually profit) as a result of being poor and having kids. (edit: redid this to make a little more sense)

    income federal taxes due kids (16 or under)
    20,000 398 (1.9%) 0
    -6,617 (-33%) 2
    45,000 3,949 (8.7%) 0
    -854 (-1.8%) 2
    75,000 10,191 (13.5%) 0
    6,366 (8.4%) 2
    125,000 23,085 (18.4%) 0
    21,260 (17.0%) 2
    300,000 80,339 (26.7%) 0
    80,339 (26.7%) 2

    7/20/11 (09:06)

  • google has the webpage spelled out with peas today. it's mendel's birthday so i guess that makes sense, but it could also be a sly commentary on the debt ceiling issue about which obama said "we need to eat our peas."
  • i have the day off, hope to get something done.

  • 7/18/11 (21:54)
  • yesterday sean and i worked on making a little walled in area for the garden shed. dug out a trench for some pt lumber, put gravel underneath, and next to it. then laid down to layers of brick. i'm definitely not a bricklayer, but it's fun and it was good practice.
  • we also watched the women's soccer final. meant to write about them earlier, but forgot. it was a fun run and i enjoyed watching their last few games. megan rapinoe is awesome and my favorite. alex morgan had a great run as did abby waumbach. this last game was a disappointment. they played like the better team, but just couldn't hold off japan - giving up the lead twice with less than 10 minutes left in the game. a depressing finish. i didn't think the substitution of heath for rapinoe was a good one. lloyd didn't have her shot going all day and rodriguez didn't get any playing time at all. coach is to blame for some of this stuff for sure.
  • still a lot to be done in the backyard before we bring in the pack. hope to get things graded on the side of the house today, we'll see. after double checking the initial grade on the side it turns out that my initial measurements were off as the north line got closer to the garage. so we're going to have to remove some more material from there. so, more digging.
  • our neighbor mowed our lawn for us yesterday. he's a nice guy. makes me feel bad that he offered to do that because it probably means we let it go too long.

  • 7/14/11 (17:02)

  • going to sf to see "wait, wait don't tell me" tonight. it's meryl's favorite npr show and i like it too, so we donated a few months back when they were giving the tickets away.
  • last wednesday claire ended up staying home, but luke came and we did a good job of getting a lot done. we broke up the entire patio (i jackhammered for a few hours, he used the mattock to pry up the broken pieces) and dumped most of the big pieces on the front lawn tarps.
  • last weekend we made even more headway on the patio project. sarah and eli came over on saturday and we got all the tiny bits of concrete moved to the front of the house and started filling up the pergola bed with dirt. they work really well.
  • sunday we continued moving dirt with all of meryl's parents. we got pretty much all of it down about 8" from the final grade height. the grading is going to take a while because there are so many different elevations and it wasn't really well pitched before. ideally all the elevations would be where we want them and there would be room for the whole patio to pitch toward the property line. instead we have a bunch of different elevations with no discernible method to the way it all pitches. for a first time patio project, this is a tough one. i didn't have it all planned out very well so we moved more slowly than i would have liked. if i ever do this again i'll try to have all the elevations figured beforehand. i also would probably just pay someone with a bobcat to do it for me because by the time i do this again i'll be rich and unable to dig, swing a sledge/mattock, move concrete, and run a jackhammer for 30 hours in a week.
  • yesterday we removed all the concrete, one dump truck load at a time. the dump truck and dump fees were more than anticipated. we probably ended up saving money over a dumpster, but we wasted a lot of labor time so, overall, it wasn't a very good plan and i blame myself for that because i was more of a penny pincher on this than meryl was. live and learn.
  • surprisingly, my back and foot held up very well during this process. only minor soreness came as a result of doing all that stuff so i'm happy about that.
  • next project is to build a cabinet for meryl's dad and stepmom. it'll be my first built-in and, while it's not ornate, it's not a simple box either.
  • oh, on my birthday meryl helped me at the alumni house to get the slate patio done. only had to jackhammer up one spot and used some old, salvaged slate on the rest of the spots. having her there really helped move the project along. now all i have to do is finish filling in the grout lines with topping compound. that'll take a couple hours and i can do it during the week since it doesn't make a lot of noise.
  • one cool thing about doing the dump truck yesterday was getting to drive a f750. pretty big truck, but fun once i got the hang of the different feel of the air brakes.
  • best friend john should be moving to sac in a couple weeks. that's good news.

  • 7/3/11 (13:09)

  • worked on breaking up the patio yesterday. first we cut into the concrete with the skilsaw and a diamond blade. i don't think that the scoring ended up helping much, but it certainly didn't hurt. then i went at it with an 8lb sledge hammer while meryl picked up the pieces and dumped them in the driveway. on occasion we would have to take a mattock to loosen up the edge of the work area and then get back to hammering and picking up. it went about as well as expected considering it was 82 and we were in the sun the entire time. we were both pretty sore afterwards and my hand hurts today from all the banging. "that's what she said."
  • today meryl has work so i've been cleaning up and getting little stuff done. tomorrow we're going to work on the slate at the alumni house, hopefully it's not too hot.
  • wednesday luke and claire are coming up to help us out. that'll be a big day. the plan is to rent a jackhammer and break up the entire patio into a grid so that using the sledgehammer will be a lot easier the following weekend. we'll also hopefully get the front gate put up.
  • next weekend we'll have sarah and eli on saturday (hope to get all the concrete broken up into smaller pieces and moved to the driveway, or thereabouts). then we'll have 3 of meryl's 4 parents on sunday and i hope to get all the dirt dug up (to a depth of 8-10" below the finished level) and put into the pergola bed on that day.
  • had some red vines a couple months ago and they were stale despite being recently purchased. wrote a letter to american licorice company in union city and got the letter below several weeks later. then a couple days after that i got a ups package with 3 pounds of licorice. yay.

  • 7/1/11 (18:02)

  • busy times as usual.
  • getting ready for the backyard project. set the remaining posts after work yesterday.
  • caught up on movie reviews today.
  • this weekend should be more outside work for the patio and then on monday i'll work on the patio at the alumni house. hope to finish with that damn slate once and for all. it'll be a good birthday present.

  • 4th of july in oakland is a two-three week event. before and after there are plenty of people testing out their fireworks. it's just insane, and mildly obnoxious.