Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Minivan Milestone

So I'm driving a minivan now. I gotta tell ya, it feels pretty good.

I am well aware of the stereo-types. I know that for many, the move from a cooler ride to a functional family mover, is a transition that marks the end of their hip self-image. But here's the thing; I embraced a crotchety old guy self-image a long time ago. For me, the minivan brought me back on par with all the 30-somethings who run in mainstream, suburban, family-centric circles.

I know most of you thought, based on my personality, that I was moving toward a 4-door sedan with rear-wheel drive, vinyl seats, and an AM radio. Well, that was my second choice. I could slip into some checkered pants, get behind the wheel of an Oldsmobile, and feel right at home.

But for at least a few years more, I'll be tooling around in a boxy 8-seater, telling teens to pull up their pants, and basically feeling hip.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Good Guy, Bad Guy, Grateful Guy

A poignant tale of a senseless tragedy and a guy who did the right thing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Best 30 Seconds of the Year

Let's just start this off by getting our minds out of the gutter and agreeing not to post any snarky comments about Ryer; the title of this post has nothing to do with his brief and infrequent exploits in the bedroom. This is a G-rated blog, fit for the whole imaginary family.

As boring as it might seem, this post is about taxes. Actually, it's about completing the federal and state tax forms each year.

Preparing tax forms is not fun. It is a tedious and mind-numbing march toward a moment when you probably have to write a big check to a scary branch of the government. It is a task drenched in the maddening logic that your hard earned dollars will pay people to ensure that you send them more of your money next year. It is especially agonizing because much detailed information must be tracked from year to year, run through the filter of an evolving tax code, and correctly reported across a series of complex and detailed forms.

But now, with the magic of electronic programs such as Turbo Tax and Tax Cut, you must grapple with much of the minutia for only one year. In subsequent years, when you start the program, it will detect the presence of last year's data and prompt you to import essential information from your earlier work.

With the click of a mouse, all personal information, housing information, spousal information, dependents, charities you support, bank accounts you own, brokerage firms you use, tax credit carry-forwards, cost bases of assets, prior earnings and taxes paid, for both federal and state filings, just fly across space and time and land in the current year's forms. With another couple of clicks, you can download W-2 and 1099 information from your employers, banks, and mortgage holders. These electronic transfers bring sheer joy and unbridled delight.

I've said it every January for the past decade, and this time I am blogging it. Tax preparation software is like a dry, sturdy bridge across the great rushing river of tedium. Watching your data automatically transfer to populate the new forms is the best 30 seconds of the year.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cool Things with No Purpose - Part XI

Not sure why I have always loved this photo, but I have.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What's With the Feet?

Is it really OK to take off your shoes on an airplane and prop your rotten toes up in the faces of the surrounding passengers? If not, please send a tweet to the dork who sat next to me en route to Washington DC today. And one to the guy who sat next to me on the way to Chicago recently.

I hope my recent experiences in this department can be categorized as a confluence of highly unlikely chance events, and not some emerging trend of barefoot flying. If it is the latter, then I have found the threshold of irritation that might keep me on the ground.

Full-body scan or grope; fine. Snot-nosed brat kicking my seat; I can deal. Cardboard chicken with plastic broccoli; bring it on. Uncle Oscar’s lower extremities; no can do.

Are shoes really that uncomfortable? How about the old trick of trying them on before you buy them? Is that too much to ask…that fellow passengers buy shoes that fit well enough to wear while flying?

These people are probably the same ones grousing in the security line about the great inconvenience of walking barefoot through the scanner. Do they want their shoes on or off?

I know some people like feet (Rex Ryan has made news recently for this) while others find them gross. I am not particularly fond nor particularly put off by feet in general. However, if your feet have twisted, hairy toes and jagged, yellow nails covered in fungus, I would prefer not to encounter them in the close confines of airline seating.