April 29, 2007

Look, I’m Dancing

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:29 am by Ian

Air Steppers performing at the Carillo Ballroom two days ago Friday.



April 24, 2007

Yet Another Reason Daylight Saving Time is Bad for America

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:55 pm by Ian

I’ve pointed out where people seem to be unclear on the concept of what Daylight Saving time actually does, but this takes the cake.

Canute had nothing on the liberal global warming conspiracy.

Edited to fix the image link.

April 23, 2007

The Impressive Pace of Food Science

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:09 pm by Ian

To my loyal fans: fear not. There is a longerish entry about my hiking trip of a week ago, and the friendly domesticated beast who befriended us on our quest in progress.

I’m sitting at my desk at work and looking at the empty snack-sized bag of Doritos, which says, in the lower left corner “Flavored Tortilla Chips.” While the use of “flavored” without a modifier betrays the fact that this isn’t real food, it’s still better than the corresponding explanation on the snack-sized Cheetos bags: “Cheese Flavored Product”. But what actually caught my eye today is in another corner, where the freshness guarantee is stamped. It says

Guaranteed Fresh until

June 19

That’s right. They can predict when these chips will go stale to the minute. I am now tempted to squirrel away two of the other bags until mid-June to test this prediction.

April 17, 2007

Stamp of Approval

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:37 am by Ian

I’m amazed. Less than a year and a half after I make a sensible suggestion, it is put into action.

I just hope that this event helps everyone realize how much better things would be if everyone were as quick to adapt to my desires as the US Post Office is.

April 16, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:31 pm by Ian

Tomorrow, April 17, is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream shops.

April 10, 2007

I Wish I Had Thought of That

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:22 am by Ian

“Aww, see. It says ‘To our Son and Daughter-in-law.’ They really get a kick out of that ‘Daughter-in-law’ part.”
“Sure they do. I mean, who doesn’t like daughters-in-law?”
“Dick Cheney?”

April 9, 2007

Scenes from Santa Barbara, on an Early Morning Bike Ride

Posted in Recreational at 10:51 pm by Ian

In the parking lot next to the old bathhouse: A dozen men, ranging in age from twenty-something to forty-something, standing around in a circle while others arrive. They are all wearing blue jeans and grey sweatshirts, but it’s not a uniform. Some have hoods. Some have hats. Some are curled up around steaming cups.

Coming down Cabrillo, along the bird refuge: A person—I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman—buzzing past me on a Vespa clone, wearing a leather-lined helmet, a light grey suit, and flip-flops.

In the park near the edge of East Beach: A seagull standing defiantly and protectively atop an intact bag of garbage on a picnic table while seven other gulls pick through the strewn-about contents of several others. I think of him as Orderly Seagull, a compatriot of Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl. He’s taking a stand for park cleanliness against the baser instincts of his kind.

April 5, 2007

Towards A Quantum Theory of Taxation

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:39 am by Ian

I did my taxes this week.

I know: cutting it kind of close.

But, actually, I did them months ago, as soon as I got my W2, I dutifully went to my various banks’ websites and downloaded my 1099-INTs, figured my student loan deduction, and filled out all the paperwork. The thing is, I owed almost $500 to the Feds, so I decided to wait a little longer to pay it off. Free loan, right?

It turns out to be a good thing that I waited, since I got another 1099 in the mail a bit later. A 1099-DIV from an investment account that I had started near the beginning of the year at the same time I started a retirement account, and promptly sort of forgotten about. I hadn’t totally forgotten about it; I just didn’t do anything with it on a day to day basis. It turns out that ETFs pay dividends (presumably if the securities they hold pay them) So I had to fill all the paperwork out again, adding in the meager income from my market position. And this is when I discovered that it is possible to actually have less after taxes by earning more.

I always thought that this wasn’t possible. The Federal Income Tax rates are progressive, of course, so you pay more taxes per dollar of income when you earn more, but the increase is only at the margin. Earning the next dollar in a higher tax bracket only makes you pay the higher rate on the last dollar. And that’s true if you look at the general shape of the curve. But up close, it’s actually a step function, and the steps are $50 wide. There are big tables in the back of the instructions listing taxes for ranges of income (Which is absurd, when you think about it: Of all the nonsensical calculations required for paying taxes, this is the one they think people can’t do without a list of values? They even offer to calculate it for you.). Prior to the dividends, my taxable income ended in $99. It was right on the upper edge of one of the steps. The dividend pushed me over into the next.

So, my investment earned me $9 last year, and increased my taxes by $12.