Archive for January, 2013

Mustachianism

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I’ve posted a few links to individual articles on Facebook, but I’ve really been enjoying the Mr. Money Mustache blog. The author is a young man who, along with his wife, was able to achieve financial independence and quit full-time work in his early 30s. It’s not strictly a personal finance blog; rather, it’s more a series of articles about leading a less expensive, more fulfilling life.

He also endorses bicycle riding as often as possible. What’s not to like?

New Phone, Lost Numbers

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Owing to the fact that my last cellular telephone was manufactured prior to the time when we had a Democrat from Chicago as president, Verizon was unable to transfer over my contact information to the new Smart device I had purchased. And owing to the fact that my old phone is not functional, I have no way to manually retrieve said information. So, if you’re reading this, and you have my old phone number, please shoot me a text to that old number (which I kept) with whatever contact information you want me to have.  Thanks.

Mining the Basement

Monday, January 28th, 2013

I’m sure I’m not alone in this – there’s a tremendous amount of “stuff” in my home. Things that I don’t need, often things that I acquired as gifts or on a lark and then put in the basement or attic and forgot about.

This weekend, I decided to go mining through the basement and put some of it to use. I dug out a homebrewing kit that my brother-in-law gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago and set up my first batch of beer — I’ll tell you how that worked out in another 26 days. And I fired up a bread machine that my sister-in-law gave us and made a delicious loaf of hot, fresh bread to go with last night’s chili dinner.

OKC

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Today in “things I never thought I’d say”: Wow, this article really makes me want to visit Oklahoma City. What I wouldn’t give for a mayor with this kind of vision here in the B-lo.

Fiscal Cliffdiving

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

So, I got my first paycheck of 2013 and right away noticed that something was…different. Different is never good. Different as in _smaller_.

How much smaller?

Comparing my witholdings from the last pay period of 2012 to the first one in 2013, I see the Social Security monster decided to take an additional $75 bite out of my ass. Every pay period. But that’s fine, because I’m sure when I get ready to retire, that money is going to be _there_ for me. And, clearly, I’m one of the “rich” this country needs so badly to tax more.

/sarcasm off.

SAFE

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

As I’m sure you’ve read, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE, isn’t that adorable?) was passed by both houses of the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo this week. From the Buffalo News article, here are the highlights:

Assault weapons: Expands current ban on semiautomatic rifles.

Grandfather clause: Current owners may keep assault weapons but must register them for state database.

Private sales: Current owners cannot sell or give assault weapons in New York but may sell them out of state.

Background checks: Private gun buyers must undergo federal background check.

Ammunition: Magazines restricted to seven bullets, down from the present maximum of 10.

Mental health: Care professionals are required to report to authorities any of their patients who may pose a danger to themselves or to others; weapons may be seized from such people.

Tracking of sales: Real-time tracking for large purchases of ammunition.

Crimes: Stronger penalties for offenses committed with firearms.

Schools: Additional money for school safety.

The parts that are getting the most publicity, of course, are the restricted magazine sizes and the ban on semiautomatic rifles that have one or more “assault weapon” features (such as a collapsing stock or a flash suppressor).

I like some of this. The mental health reporting and expanded background checks make sense. But outlawing magazines or weapons seems silly to me; these types of weapons are used in a very small percentage of crimes, and this seems more likely to inconvenience legitimate users than anything else. It’s a silly, knee-jerk law that was pushed into service so Governor Cuomo could point at it when he starts his Presidential run in a couple of years and claim that he’s tough on crime.

Gracious Living Through Beer

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

This video, a documentary about beer from 1952, is fantastic. It needs Troy McClure.

Trillion Dollar Coin

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

So, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, the trillion dollar coin idea is an absolute masterpiece of political oiliness matched with economic fiat currency legerdemain.

The idea, in a nutshell (from the above link):

Thanks to an odd loophole in current law, the U.S. Treasury is technically allowed to mint as many coins made of platinum as it wants and can assign them whatever value it pleases.

Under this scenario, the U.S. Mint would produce (say) a pair of trillion-dollar platinum coins. The president orders the coins to be deposited at the Federal Reserve. The Fed then moves this money into Treasury’s accounts. And just like that, Treasury suddenly has an extra $2 trillion to pay off its obligations for the next two years — without needing to issue new debt. The ceiling is no longer an issue.

So, we just magic up a couple trillion dollars from nowhere and start paying our bills with them.

Intellectually, I know that our economy rests on a foundation of sand and blind faith. But do I really need to be reminded of that by idiocy like this? Using a law designed to strike commemorative coins sold on QVC to circumvent an obstreperous Congress is one of the few things that could make people even more disenchanted with our dysfunctional government.

Verizon Technical Support: Ignorant or Incompetent?

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

On Jan 6th I got a Blackberry 9930, and after activating the phone the internet/ data functionality did not work.  When I attempt to access the web, I get the following error: “Browsing over the cellular network is not included as part of your current service plan.  To browse the web, you must use Wi-Fi or contact your service provider to change your service plan.” My service plan does include web browsing- my wife uses it on her smartphone.  Called tech support on Jan 7 and was told it would be working within 8 hours.  Called back later that day and was told up to 72 hours.  Called next day (Jan 8th) and was told up to 5 days.  No one can tell me what’s wrong or give any updates, and the time to repair keeps getting longer and longer.  Phone tech support does not seem to know anything other than form troubleshooting, which has not worked (if they tell me to remove the battery one more time, I think I’ll lose it).  Their ignorance is very frustrating.

Casino Hangover

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

So, it’s been ten years since the city of Niagara Falls agreed to let the Senecas turn their convention center into a casino. How’s that working out for them?

Poorly.

Apparently, building a giant, untaxed money vacuum in the middle of a post-industrial and economically depressed city doesn’t help matters. I’m certainly glad that construction is continuing apace in downtown Buffalo, especially since it’s right across the street from an enormous public housing complex. That should help.