29 March 2007

the IRS says I owe $10,390 in back taxes

I don't know if I ever mentioned that I bought a house. It took about 7 years to save the down payment, and I had to pay off my student loans and car along the way, but whatever. I had some help from my folks (no rent for a while). Some people have it easier, some tougher. That's life. Anyway, that ended up being a spetacularly bad financial decision with no end in sight. But the best part (so far) is how the bad news just keeps on coming. Things in the house break, roommates are douchebags, loan rates go up, property values go down, and you learn what "upside down" means. (It means the same thing as "negative equity", but sounds less snooty.) It's a relatively common thing in cars, not so much real estate. I'm unique!

Anyway, roommate douchebaggery wasn't even the most annoying thing about this week. not even close. the most annoying thing was yesterday when I got a letter from the IRS saying I owe them $10,390 in back taxes/penalties/interest. Payable by 25 April. Gotta love the IRS. I fedex'd the info to my accountant today, and I am sure that the IRS is full of shit.

how is this related to the house? when i was pinching pennies to save for a down payment, my "financial adviser" told me to "put the money to work". so I did and invested in mutual funds. For my down payment, I sold the funds, and used the money. here's a flow chart:

post-tax paycheck money saved > buy mutual funds > sell mutual funds > money returned by UBS

That last part UBS reported to the IRS as income. The IRS is claiming that should be taxed like I got it in a paycheck. After they already taxed it once. So they want to double up, which is retarded. You tax the GAIN on investments, not the total investment. (For the record, after fees and hassle, I lost money on the deal.)

It's like if you buy a car, drive it for a while, and then when you sell the car the IRS gets to tax all the money you make on the sale as income. umm, not so much.

So now I'm being audited. Yeah. is that awesome? because it feels awesome. Thanks, UBS, for f'ing me over. i'm really glad I "put my money to work" with you. It's working out really well. I'm going to invest with you again when I have money. At my current rate, that will happen in my next lifetime.

the icing on the cake: If I don't have $10,390 sitting around, I can get on a payment plan with the IRS, but it costs $152. Fill out form, send in check. yeah. I love the government, too.

27 March 2007

what if you live in a world of sh*t?

the reporters on the local tv called it a "sewage tsunami", but I think that's overstating it just a bit. A tsunami is big, and it tends to cause widespread damage, not just slurp around in your little neighborhood. This disaster was so localized that I can't even find the "region" it's in on a map. Nevertheless, when a wave of sewage washes through your village and kills 4 people, and 5k more have to evacuate, and people are floating in a lake of shit, then that's not good. at all.

My favorite quote from the Times article was from the man on the scene "Women and children were screaming at the top of their lungs for help." I'm sure the men didn't do any screaming at all. No doubt waves of poo are routine in their experience.

22 March 2007

joined a book club, but i'm not sure if I'll go

i joined a book club on meetup.com. I like to read, and presumably it would be interesting to meet other people with a similar interest. Or something. So I joined a book club. When you join, you can see other members of the club, learn more about them and the group, etc. An example description of one of the guys on the list of "new members":

"Am very good at Ms. Pac Man, know the difference between Monet and Manet, do yoga, enjoy social-poli-econ discussions, love adventure travel, like live stage, was caught reading a book in a cafe, eat healthy, love to do things, pass GO! Collect $200."

awesome. looking forward to meeting you. Because I like to go to the gym a lot, practice guitar, play video games, and read books. so we kind of have a lot in common. maybe you can do a dramatic reading of your poetry for me. with some interpretive dance.

next book club meeting is in April. RSVP now.

21 March 2007

bracket of superb-ellence

it took a couple games, but I got out of the cellar with my NCAA bracket. don't let the ranking fool you, though. I'm stuck in the middle ground with nowhere to go but down, since both my finals teams are done dishes. I guess that's why they call it gambling.

I had a funny story but then I lost it. more later.

15 March 2007

how's that bracket coming along?

Your NCAA tournament bracket is only slightly more interesting to me than your Fantasy Football league, and generally on par with that "crazy" dream you last night. That is to say, not interesting to me at all. But I thought you would like a little insight into how my tournament is going so far. You might have to click the img to get full value. Go on and do it. That's a screen capture of my ranking at the far right.


11 March 2007

Harder than college: beating Alien Hominid with just one life

not sure if you're into video games. if you're not, you're probably into cute drawings. either way, the Behemoth software company has got something for you.

AH is a super hard, brilliantly drawn video game. I recommend it. I wanted to know more about the company when i saw the logo, a grossly overweight chicken. weird, but superb. The game is funny but it's so damn hard that you can't even appreciate how good all the art and animations are. full credit to The Behemoth for the graphic. I tried to buy a logo t-shirt but they didn't have any. They did have skate decks, which was cool, but I'm old and if I fell down I would hurt myself (again).

daylight savings time started. sweet.

07 March 2007

rock and roll takes it on the chin

[Open Letter to Rolling Stone Magazine]

Dear Rolling Stone,
Please stop putting wannabe tough-guy douchebags on the cover of your magazine. I am begging you.

Your long decline into irrelevance hit a new low with the shameless, pointless, and irredeemably stupid "I'm from Rolling Stone" synergy suck-fest currently polluting your pages, your website, and the airwaves. But that doesn't mean that you have to demean the magazine even further by putting pussies on your cover every other g-damn week. First it was sucknuts at the cabaret, you gave it a bit of a break w/ some new "guitar gods" (bee-tee-doubleyou, that issue was crap but J. Frusciante rules), and now it's more boys that look like girls? I know you want to sell issues, but all you're selling with this crap is that you like pictures of guys that couldn't beat up their sister. Maybe that's why they all met in the first place: their own sisters kept kicking the shit out of them and it made them emotional.

This is what happens when you get a copy of a copy of a copy. Each successive iteration loses something in the duplication. So the Replacements and the Ramones inspires Green Day inspires Fall Out Boy. See how that works? Rather, doesn't work? Green Day's strong catalog highlights how far your sissy cover boys have yet to go. And they will still be poofters.

best regards,
a subscriber

06 March 2007

when is a uniform not a uniform?

I caught a recent "news" item on si.com today. Nike Basketball is showcasing it's new uniforms for four major programs this weekend. I'm sorry, it's not a uniform. It's actually a "system of dress", and it looks a lot like some guy in an under armour top with matching culottes. awesome. but not.

I don't mind the longer shorts, although these are a bit much. I think you can strike a nice balance between the John Stockton butt-huggers of yore and the skirts the kids are wearing these days. Nike disagreed; they made skirts. Actually, not to put too fine a point on it, they made culottes.

Apparently the "form-fitting" jerseys can be "customized" by wearing compression shirts underneath. You can wear something long sleeved, short sleeved, or sleeveless. My issue with this is that IT'S A UNIFORM. The purpose of a uniform is for everyone to BE UNIFORM, which is why you're all wearing the same thing. You don't customize a uniform, because then it is no longer uniform. I understand some guys already wear compression shirts underneath their jerseys. I'm fine with that, because it's at the coaches' discretion. This institutionalized mix-and-match makes me want to puke. If you want to be an individual you should have taken up tennis.

The U. of Florida look incorporates an alligator scale pattern? It sounds lame but actually might look kind of cool. And the Syracuse unis are a good color, too. It's the customization part that's killing me. And the culottes.

Finally, the jerseys incorporate some history, with old logos and "names of hall of famers". Or, in the case of Ohio State, the logo of Lebron James. That makes a lot of sense, because LeBron was awesome when he was at Ohio State. Except he wasn't. He went to the NBA straight from high school. He WOULD have gone to Ohio State for at least a year. If he went to college. Which he didn't. So Ohio State is pumped because they get to wear the logo of a current NBA player that is, uhh, from Ohio.

Fitted jerseys are $75, shorts are $60. See you on the court.

05 March 2007

how to throw a party in three easy steps!

had a good time out w/ one of my peeps on Friday night. as in, so bad it was good. here is how it went down, in a bulleted list.
  • we drove to west hollywood, which is not exactly around the corner from Chez Butterball (my crib in Costa Mesa).
  • we brought booze, because showing up empty handed is not cool. not that team weakness grasped that concept. (more on TW in a minute)
  • when we got west hollywod, we went to some girl's condo and we hung out until Team Weakness showed up. they didn't add anything to the conversation or the wet bar. not even a mixer.
  • after 40 seconds of banality from TW I lost interest and asked the hostess if she could put some music on. thought she might have something since she WORKS IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS AND LIVES WITH TWO GIRLS IN A BAND. she ignored me. we spent the entire time at her place in stuttering, reticent conversation. music would have helped. a lot.
  • Team Powerhouse showed up about half an hour after TW. thank goodness for TP. they brought some good vibes. all was not yet lost. They were invited by us, though. the girl having the little get together failed to provide booze, music, or company. She did have the good sense to invite people that knew cool people. so that's something.
  • did i mention no music? a stereo was in evidence. as were guitars and related accessories.
  • We try to figure out what to do. Hostess claimed to have this sorted earlier in the day. but when the rubber hits the road, she's not sure. after much confusion, they work it out. and we go to an 80's dance party, with snacks. turns out it's not fun after all (who saw that coming?), so plan B is go to a pub on sunset blvd. at 1 AM. i call it quits here; we hit my limit of lame and I threw in the towel.
[editorial aside: not sure if you have ever been to sunset blvd in LA at 1 AM on a friday night. it's a mess of street traffic, pretentiousness, pedestrians, cops, and drunk people. pretty much the last place in LA county i would go to get a beer. end of aside]

on the way home my buddy describes how easy it is to throw good party, since we were both disappointed at how inadequate the night had turned out to be. here you go:
  1. fill the ipod.
  2. fill the fridge.
  3. invite cool people.
thanks for reading.

02 March 2007

i meant to do this on my vacation but didn't get around to it.

when i made a short trip to England and France a couple years ago I tried to convince my traveling buddy that we should annex Lichtentstein. I thouht we could do it in a long weekend. That's a picture of the country (really, the whole country) in the photo. It's tough to find countries worth annexing these days. Either they're too big and won't fit in one long-focal, wide-angle shot, or they probably aren't worth the effort. But Lictenstein has a lot to offer. Apparently the famously neutral swiss agreed, because when some soldiers were out on manoevres they accidentally invaded Lichtenstein. Don't these guys have the swiss army knife with the compass in it?

[Brief editorial aside: went to find a link to a knife w/ a compass but I got lost on the victorinox swiss army knife page. I clicked "Cutlery" but that took me to kitchen knives. At a loss, I clicked "multi-tools" and there was a page full of the knives that made them famous. So it's not a knife any more. It's a multi-tool. Because when I see a knife, I automatically think "multi-tool". This was so lame I remembered that it's not victorinox that equips the swiss army with their knives. It is wenger. You can look it up. Thankfully Wenger has their knives listed under knives. End of aside.]

Thanks for reading.