Friday, September 25, 2020

An Open Letter To My Middle Child

To my 2nd born,

I see a lot of myself in you. The way you act, and react to the world around you, reminds me a lot of myself. So I'm writing you this letter young one, despite the fact that you will most likely never read it, in the hopes that you will be more prepared for life than I was. And if you're more prepared, you can avoid the pitfalls that I have struggled with.

The first thing that is apparent is that like me, you love what you love regardless of what anybody else thinks. Thankfully you are growing up in the age were geeks and nerds rule pop culture as much as they do the "adult business world". Comic book movies, video games, computers, all of these things once caused their fans to instantly be labeled as social pariahs. Outcasts, doomed to never know what was "cool", get invited to parties, or anything else that Hollywood thinks typical teenagers do. Now you don't have to hide your passion for these things. You won't get made fun of, called names, or laughed at simply because you'd rather make up your own superhero story rather than watch pro sports. I hope these trends continue, and you can learn to embrace your inner-geekdom much sooner than I did. Just remember what Simon Pegg said...


Secondly, you wear your heart on your sleeve. Taking the first point another step further, you aren't ashamed to let people know what you are interested in and what you aren't. And you have no patience to suffer through those things that fall outside of those points. Unfortunately, this is something you'll have to learn to cope with. There are just some things you're going to be forced to suffer through, and it's best to just to get them out of the way as quickly and as painlessly as possible, so you can get back to what you do want to do. This is why I have to sit in front of a computer all day instead of watching tv or playing games with you, your brothers, and your mother. So if you have the option, find the one you hate the least. And if there is no option, crying isn't going to make it go away. Just power through it, and make that time left even more enjoyable.

Now son, here's where things take a bit of a turn. Those first two points were ones that you can live with, with minimal compromise. I'm sorry to say, though, that the stubbornness you have inherited from me is what's going to get you into trouble. The fact that you don't suffer fools at all may sound good on paper until you realize just how many truly dumb people exist with what seems to be a combined sole mission to irritate, aggravate, and annoy you while ripping any shred of decency they have for you to complete shreds. To make matters worse, if you treat them with the same rudeness and disdain they throw at you, you'll be the one outcast as a terrible person, and they'll use this an excuse to be even ruder and more abrasive to you in order to "teach you a lesson". I'm sorry. I really am. There's no remedy for this. Believe me, even though this world will at times seem designed solely to beat you down, letting that mental anguish out in physical ways on yourself is the last thing you should do. I'm still suffering from my choices, and I don't wish this pain on you at all. Just hold on to the things that do bring you joy, and know that someone is always here to support you, no matter what.

Finally, and most disturbingly, you seem to have my anti-social tendencies as well. This is something I have struggled with. Learning to not feel loneliness, because you'd rather be alone than surrounded by people. Getting mad because no one wants to include you in things, but also getting mad when they invite you to do something you really don't want to do; and feeling too shy or awkward to invite yourself or suggest something else. This is the catch-22 that you'll have to learn to overcome. You'll also have to learn how to ignore those who tell you to "just go talk", and that it's "easy". They don't understand how truly difficult, and nearly impossible, it sometimes feels. So start now while you're young. Put yourself out there. Learn those social ques, so that when you are put in a situation of being uncomfortably surrounded by people, you can at least fake your way through it. Don't wait, because the rest of the world won't wait for you. And since this isn't something that is readily noticed or understood by the common populace, most people won't simply brush this off and forget it happened. No matter how much you wish they would. Force yourself to ask those uncomfortable questions, to start a conversation, and to end one appropriately. Learn to hold on to your wisdom and logic, so when someone pressures you into trying, doing, or buying something, you don't resort to either falling for it head over heels or blowing up in anger and walking away in disgust. I hope you learn these lessons, and that you find someone that still accepts you for who you are with enough patience to put up with you when you do slip. I may be an old dog that can't learn any new tricks, but you, your brothers, and your mother make me want to be a better person just by being here. And that's why I'll always be here for all of you.

I love you, son.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

My Top 10 Obscure, But Rather Helpful, Smart Apps

If you've ever seen me in real life, you've probably seen me with my attention fully placed on my cell phone screen. Yeah, I'm a tech guy who loves his gadgets, but that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the same things I do. What follows are some of my favorite apps, outside of the usual social media and internet ones used by everyone already. While most of these are simple and easy to use, there may be a few that lean toward the more nerdy users. There's even one that does require you to buy a small accessory, so be aware of this before looking to get the full use of all these apps. You can still use these to leverage your phone to ease your everyday life, to gain a deeper insight into the things you do anyway, or to kill time while you... um... "take care of business", since you're on your phone in there anyway.

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

It Was Just A Dream, But The Fear Was Real

Ever have a dream that was way too real? To the point where you had trouble discerning reality from the dream? Happened to me years ago, but this particular one still sticks with.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What Exactly Is Wrong With Me

So recently I have embarked on a kind of quest of self-discovery. For years I never sought medical help of any kind, and was "content", for lack of a better word, with making my own self-diagnosis and treating myself accordingly. But now things have changed. Maybe it's being mature enough to ask for help. Maybe it's seeking confirmation that what I thought all along is actually true. Maybe it's fear of being a hypocrite since I started working in the healthcare industry. Maybe it's the support I get from my beautiful wife, and instead of resigning to the fact that she'd leave me for something better I actually want to be better for her. Maybe it's realizing that now that I'm a father, I actually have a reason to spend more time on this Earth. Most likely, it's a mix of all of those. But now the question is, exactly what all is wrong with me?

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Monday, August 27, 2018

How Did Best Buy's Epic Fail Became The Worst Sale?

So we recently moved, and nearly tripled our living space in the new house. One of the downsides of buying a big expensive house, you need more big expensive stuff to help fill it up. So we went off to Best Buy to purchase 2 new TVs, and schedule the Geek Squad to come and mount them on the walls since me and power tools have a shaky relationship at best. In other words, I am not handy at all. The initial purchase was painless (price excluded),and leading up to the day everything seemed fine, but then it all quickly went awry...

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Surviving The Strength Of The Winds Of Change

Lots of changes over the past few months, and lots of stuff to talk about. Time slows for no man, and apparently, I am no exception to that rule; as time continues to march on right over me, and I'm just trying to keep from getting lapped. But what is it that has happened? What's got me running around like a chicken without a head? What could possibly motivate this former fat (but still lovably chubby) guy to get up and go? Let's find out together, shall we?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Lesson In What "Fair Share" Actually Means

Guaranteed it happens at least once a year. When I start complaining about the amount my wife and I pay in taxes someone tells me to just shut up and "pay my fair share"; and nothing is more infuriating. When people say this it shows at least one, if not more, of the following. Either they can't do math, which given the current state of our government-run education system is completely believable; they keep themselves blissfully ignorant and just believe what some politicians tell them, a major problem in and of itself; or they have no concept of what the word "fair" actually means and are just interested in supporting their own misguided perceptions rather than find the truth

Simple math

Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. We live in a country that, for some reason, uses a tiered tax system, meaning that the more money you make the more you have to pay out. On its face, that system sounds correct and is hard to argue, but that's not actually what's happening. When someone makes twice as much as you, and they pay double the tax rate you do, that's not them paying twice as much in taxes as you... that's them paying FOUR TIMES the amount you are. Let's do an example with simple numbers. Say you make $50k with a tax rate of 10%, and someone else makes $100k with a tax rate of 20%.

$50,000 x 10% = $5,000

$100,000 x 20% = $20,000

20,000 / 5,000 = 4

Now let's try that using the same 10% tax rate for both incomes.

$50,000 x 10% = $5,000

$100,000 x 10% = $10,000

10,000 / 5,000 = 2

So there it is, plain and simple; doubling the tax rate does not double the taxes someone pays, it quadruples it. And to my last point above, that is not "fair". This is my biggest problem with the current United States tax system, it unjustly punishes those that work hard and make more money. But what about the millionaires who, even adjusting for a fair tax rate, still get out of paying their fair share. Well, that brings me to my second point...

Identifying the Problem

The reason most business owners, millionaires, and "evil corporations" don't pay their fair share isn't that their tax rates are too low; it's because they take advantage of all the special deductions and legal loopholes created by the politicians they donate money towards to get elected. And that's how they get you. Politicians love to point out that the top earners in this country don't pay the full amount owed according to the unfair tiers, then tell you that those people don't pay their "fair share" in order to get you angry so you'll vote for them to fix it, or vote against any of their rivals that say otherwise. Yes, you're being manipulated for political gain. Get over it, learn from your mistakes, and move on.

Not only are these politicians giving you a distorted view of the facts to push their own agenda, they are conveniently leaving out the other side of their voting record. Because even if they do go and raise taxes on "only the wealthy", they then vote in other deductions and loopholes for their campaign sponsors because they know that not only do they need the donations, but once their political career is over they are hired by these big corporations as guest speakers, or as a glorified spokesmen that collect a paycheck just for having their face and their name used in conjunction with that company. And that's why they will continue to hide behind these tricks and tactics that will maintain since most of this country will unfortunately not read these, and many of those who do will either not understand it, or write it off based purely on those political delusions they are desperately clinging on to; rather than truly address the issue.

Solving the Problem

Unlike most political problems, if you're willing to place personal feelings and vendettas aside, there is a single answer. It's not to raise tax rates on anyone, in fact, it's much more simple than that and solves a couple problems. While brilliant in its simplicity, there are multiple steps involved. And here they are -

  1. Set a single tax rate - no more tiered taxes. No more different rates for different incomes. A single percentage rate for everyone living in the United States. Again, in it's purest definition, this is "fair".
  2. Eliminate all deductions - Let's get rid of all those deductions and loopholes that the powerful leverage to avoid paying. But don't stop there, get rid of ALL deductions. It's not the government's business if you're married or have kids, and those things shouldn't make a difference. You're still an American that is of voting age, and as such you need to pay.
  3. Change how taxes are collected - This step has a few options. 
    1. If everyone is paying the same tax rate, and it's based on your income, then once those taxes are automatically deducted from your paycheck you're done. There is no more need to file a return, no need for the April 15th deadline, no overly complicated tax code, and no need for the IRS. Tax dodgers would simply be anyone that is paid "under the table", so the local or federal police could claim jurisdiction and arrest those accepting that undocumented pay and arrest or fine the ones paying them that way as well.
    2. To make it even easier and avoid the problem of tax dodgers all together, move to a consumption-based tax. When you make more money, you spend more money. You buy huge mansions, vacation homes, multiple cars, custom built furniture and decorations, you eat out at fine restaurants more often, and come off with other more exotic ways to show off your wealth to your rich friends. Conversely, and this makes total sense, if you make less money you spend less money. So instead of taxing people based on income, tax the outgoing. Sure that means an immediate price hike on literally everything you buy now, but without having any deductions in your paycheck your income raises to match. This eliminates the issue of tax dodgers, because regardless of you being a documented worker, or if your company officially recognizes you as an employee "on the books", as long as you spend money here you pay your taxes. Even illegal aliens that pay rent and buy food here would pay taxes. This solution eliminates the IRS and everything else that the first option does, as well as solving illegal immigrants "stealing" things like healthcare, welfare, or any other government programs they may take advantage of. If they live here, they're paying taxes here, whether they're illegals, documented visitors, or natural citizens.

Now stop falling for these smokescreens that only hurt you or your friends and family, and actually solve the problem at hand.

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