Archive for October, 2002

October 31, 2002

Racism ainít all itís cracked up to be

I was at a gas station in a predominately black neighborhood today. Upon entering the store I notice that outside was a black lady asking everyone who walks by if they had a coat hanger because she had locked her keys in her car. That is, she asked every black person. She neglected to ask me and I coincidentally did have a coat hanger in my vehicle. As I am leaving the store (having paid for my stuff), sheís still outside asking black people passing by if the had a coat hanger (again, she neglected to ask me). At first, I was offended that she would not ask me. I would, after all, be more than happy to help the lady. Then the irony bug hit me and I decided that I would not offer her my coat hanger but that I would wait and see if she caved and asked me. I stood there at the entrance and fumbled for my keys, stalled, and made a good effort to make eye contact with the lady. It never happened as she would immediately look away. Finally, I left with the satisfaction that her refusal to ask me (a white guy in business casual clothing) would cause her to wait longer than necessary.

I just canít figure it out. I mean, Iím not like hideously ugly or anything. I also think I appear to be a fairly approachable guy. So, the only factor (I concluded) was that I wasnít black.

It was very disappointing in a very surreal sort of way. Bah!

Happy Halloween!

Now, go scare some kiddies. Since I am the only one living in my subdivision currently, I will be amazed if we get any trick-or-treaters. If we do, I hope they’ll settle for like a can of tuna or something because the wife and I did not stock up on candy for obvious reason.

The pig is led to the slaughter

Well, did my early voting today. It went pretty quickly and the voting machines in Blount County are definitely the easiest to use that I have ever seen. Run down:

Governor: I finally decided to stick to my guns and voted for Bredesen. I was torn due to the illegal campaign contributions he made at some point. Further research indicated the law was declared unconstitutional and that the authoritative bodies have decided not to enforce the law. I picked Bredesen because Hilleary is a wanker. And that Bredesen said on his first day he would fire TDOT management. I hope so.

Lottery: Yes.

#2: Nope. They should have proposed just adjusting the $50 for inflation. I donít like this whole government imposed fine nonsense. Which would be about $500 per this inflation calculator (which only goes back to 1800 but I figure itís close)

Senate: Alexander.

I voted for Duncan.

I wrote in SKB as Mayor of Louisville. But we know that wonít count. Just kidding, folks!

October 30, 2002

You canít polish a turd

First, apologies for the lack of blogging. Work exploded in a volley of terminations, resignations, and yours-truly getting handed additional crap to clean up.

Democrats (not liberals per se) have some flaws. For example, my biggest criticism of them is that they donít like to let facts get in the way of their opinions. This illustrated by the typical stance they take on issues such as foreign aid, gun control, and taxes. Foreign aid is great, if it serves its purpose. But it doesnít. It lines the pockets of politicos from those countries in a lot of instances. I doubt our aid to Haiti gets to the people who need it. Yet, if you suggest that maybe we should cut the aid (since itís only making the rich in Haiti richer), then (to some Democrats) you obviously donít care about the little guy. Despite the facts that the money doesnít get to the little guy. Gun control and taxes, which the Democratic Party has historically wanted more of, havenít been proven to provide the desired effects.

Republicans (and again not conservatives per se) have flaws themselves. Most of us moderate conservatives take no issue with gay marriage, think abortion (though not a good idea generally) should remain legal, and arenít racists. Yet, several Republicans are these things and they, of course, get tons of press coverage and reflect poorly on us moderate conservative types.

Now, SKB (taking a queue from Instapundit) thinks the solution is possibly a third party. The thing that sparked my interest was this exchange:

From Instapundit: Stephen Green writes:

Iím a Falwell-tweaking, gay-marriage supporting, drug legalizing, pro-abortion, pro-immigration, anti-trade barrier, wary-of-organized-religion kind of conservative.

You know, one of those conservatives.

From South Knox Bubba: SKB writes:

That’s funny. I’m a pro-business, anti-tax, gun-toting, second amendment supporting, tough-on-crime, personal-responsibility-advocating liberal.

You know, one of those liberals.

I suppose, Iím both of these types myself. And I think maybe Bubbaís on to something with this whole third party thing. But I think that party exists and theyíre called Libertarians. Libertarians are more than Republicans who smoke weed. At their heart, theyíre constitutionalists and value personal freedom & responsibility. But some of them are nuts.

Is a third party the answer? Could be. But the third party will never be successful currently. Look at Perot, Nader, and the Blue Guy. All of them have largely failed at politicking. Our two-party system prohibits any other party from really standing a chance at accomplishing anything significant. Plus, to get federal funding for campaigns a party must win 5% of the popular vote. Nader came close but didnít quite make it. Even Perot has stated that his runs for office were taken seriously in the media because he had some bucks!

So, what does this nifty new party need?

It needs dollars. Something it likely wonít get since the Democrats get all the money from exploiting people and government programs. And the Republicans get all the big business money and cash from the wealthy. The third party has its work cut out for it here.

It needs good marketing. It needs a snazzy new name and a means of reaching its target audience. Maybe one of those old USFL team names or something. I donít know. But it needs to draw interest, be catchy, and a nifty little theme song would be cool too.

It needs morally superior candidates. Everyone knows Gore got funding from the Chinese and everyone knows Bush had a DUI. I realize that in this day and age a candidate has to essentially be superhuman in order to not have any skeletons in their closet that some witness, former associate, or member of the press can uncover and make public.

It (and its candidates) needs to stick to its guns. Gore lost a great deal of support when he changed his longstanding stances on gun control and abortion to be more popular in his bid for Veep. So did [insert any successful politicianís name here]. This gets back to morality. The party canít appear to be wishy-washy in its convictions.

Iíd say SKB and company have their work cut out for them. Iíd be happy to support any attempt at unfucking our two-party system but I think without resources and moral certainty the attempts will fail.

Adieu.

October 25, 2002

Hero

I can find no links to the story but last night on Foxnews there was a snippet about the truck driver who used his vehicle to block the snipersí Chevy at the rest stop and then called 911. This truck driver (whose name I donít even know) is an awe-inspiring figure. He approached the vehicle knowing the perpetrators were armed. Risked his life to block the snipers in. And, the real kicker, when a reporter asked about the $600K reward for aiding in capturing the sniper, this gentleman stated he would give the money to the families of the victims of the sniper attacks.

You, sir, are an American hero and I have nothing but the utmost respect for you. Not that youíre reading this or anything.

An inspiration to us all.

October 24, 2002

Bushmaster

I go to their site to see what .223 caliber rifles they make (I know they make an AR15 clone) but apparently the rest of the world was doing the same thing. The site was bogged down and I couldnít peruse their catalog.

Anyway, now that the sniperís weapon of choice is assumed to no longer be a deadly Ďsniper rifle,í the assault weapon hysteria will again pickup by our anti-gun contingent. Remember, the only difference between a deer rifle and a sniper rifle is the target. And largely the only difference between an assault rifle and a plain old semi-auto is usually a pistol grip. We just canít have guns that look mean, and all that.

The guyís arrested were black and Muslim. Yet, it seems the media is taking care not to overemphasize the latter fact. As Iíve speculated with SKB, I did my own profiling and thought itíd wind up being your typical right wing extremist type. I was wrong. Now, I donít think this guy has any ties to terror groups such as Al Qaeda. I think heís just a lone idiot. And I hope they fry his punk ass, and his sonís too.

Wonder if Johnny Cochran will take the case?

October 22, 2002

I told them we already got one

Well, apparently Mr. Moose wants the sniper to call back. The sniper guy (though arguably not a genius) is not a dumb ass. Seems this is a trick to get one more crack at tracking him. The sheer stupidity of this ploy is asinine.

As soon as the tape appeared, every possible expert was called in to identify nuances about it. Right now, I’m certain some combination of the FBI and the local police have dissected every piece of this tape and filtered background noise and all those other cool things they do in movies. I’ll be surprised if the sniper actually does call back any time soon.

Pups are fun

My bulldog pup has this affection for ice cubes (not the rapper). Whenever we go to the ice dispenser at the fridge and push it, the sound causes poochy to come running. I only mention it for the funny thing that happens. See, Rover loves the ice cube but his attention span is so short that he loses interest in the ice cube quickly. So, he leaves it where he is when he grows bored of it. Then, he’ll go back later and (much to his amazement) the ice cube is no longer there, just a puddle. He can’t quite figure out what’s going on. But this makes him visibly upset. He’ll then proceed to growl, bark, and jump on our other dog. Ah, it’s the small things in life that entertain me and make me happy.

October 21, 2002

The Great Waffling

I have a great tendency to waffle on issues. Some would, of course, view it as a weakness. I however view it as a strength. Essentially, itís my way of stating that when new facts or points of view come about that I am flexible enough to consider the new facts. I am currently (though still undecided) reconsidering two of my positions.

The first potential waffle: Gubernatorial candidates. I have stated that I will likely vote for Bredesen. Not necessarily because heís such a great guy but because Hilleary is a spineless politician with a career based on name recognition and endorsements; and very little actual substance. Hilleary merely Ďme toosí whatever Dubya says (or any other politician he perceives as popular). The real kicker for Hilleary that I am not getting over is that he would not participate in debates during the Republican primaries. Essentially, I thought Bredesen was the lesser of two wankers.

In 2000, I supported Dubya. Not because I thought he was a great guy, but because I felt Al Gore was a lying, moronic robot who kowtowed to the leftist political organizations. Al Gore changed is longstanding positions on certain things to gain the leftist vote, as opposed to maintaining his Southern Democrat popularity. Gun control being one of those issues. Now, I actually do like Dubya. He has impressed me. But I digress. Back to the Governor thing: now my opinions of Bredesen as being less of a wanker are becoming non-existent. Mostly thanks to HobbsOnline. In addition, this whole violating the law with respect to contributing to his own campaign speaks of his character. I mean the law is supposedly unconstitutional but we should expect our leaders to obey the law. And if they want to fight the law, the should do so through legal means.

This doesnít mean that I am gonna go vote for Hilleary. Iím really thinking about voting for Ledford. I do agree with many Libertarian positions but canít quite get over the feeling of throwing my vote away. Ledford seems to be more honest than the other two and he could probably steam a hell of a lobster. I donít know as yet whether I will vote for Bredesen or Ledford. But Hilleary is definitely out of the question.

The second potential waffle: Iíve ranted about gun control and registration before. And have stated that I support registration (well regulated, and all that) but Smootz over at the Metroblab said the following (which got me to thinking):

Really. Then you don’t mind getting a license to put up a flyer, post a bill, publish a broadsheet, run a blog page, etc. I suspect you would mind more than most

Never thought about it in those terms. Before, registration was fine with me so long as it didnít unreasonably Ďinfringeí the right to keep and bear arms. But some registration has gone too far, in my opinion. For example, in Tennessee you must get a carry permit to Ďbear arms.í Thatís an infringement in that it is usually a 90 day process. In addition, friends from New Jersey have told me that to purchase a gun in that state, you must wait up to two years! So, some registration does infringe. But now, do I stick to my former stance and support certain non-infringing registration or change my stance on the basis of Ďwe donít register other constitutionally protected rights.í Itís an interesting conundrum that I must further research.

Adieu!

Sad Times

Half-bakered has called it quits. Makes me sad, as I enjoyed the rantings. Props to our fallen brothas, yo.

October 18, 2002

The Calm After the Storm

Finally, everything is settled at the new pad. The only thing left is treating my fence with sealant, which will be done after the weather decides to be consistent for a period of three days. In addition, work is hell due to the audit.

Also, I apparently canít get DSL in Blount County. What the hell? So, I tentatively have no net access from the house. Hence, the lack of updates here lately.

So, apologies to my loyal readers (both of you) for my lack of yakking.

Have a good weekend and hope the Vols don’t blow ass. I hear the Bye college can be tough and given how UT did against ‘The Rutgers,’ well let’s not rule out the possibility of a loss.

October 14, 2002

What’s red & yellow & looks good on a hippie?

Fire. Apparently, a tree-sitting protester fell from a tree and died.

“We’re pretty much in shock and trying to decide what to do,” said Tim Ward, a member of the Santa Cruz contingent of Earth First.

You could start by not having people climb 100 feet into a tree to live.

I am all for environmental stewardship (hey, I recycle and minimize the energy I use) but people like this (or those ELF whackos who firebomb McDonald’s) just don’t speak highly of the environmentalist movement.

October 11, 2002

Blab Analysis

I spend too much time over at the Metroblab yakking about politics, society, the economy, the occasional joke, etc. This whole blabbing thing is interesting. I can pretty much tell what everyone is going to say before they say it as most blabbers are quite predictable. The interesting thing is that all the stuff thatís read on the blab is almost exactly what you hear our politicians say in debates. Plus you get the Libertarian and Green Party takes on things.

However, some things always hold true:

Several seemingly Republican blabbers blame everything on Clinton. Though some stuff is deserved, a bunch of itís out there in space cadet land.

Several seemingly Democrat blabbers beat the dead horse over the 2000 election (seems they find one small fact in the big picture and only stick to it).

Several seemingly Green Party blabbers think that weíre fixing to invade Iraq because Exxon/Mobil is going to follow our aircraft carriers in and immediately start pumping oil out. After all, they think Dubyaís starting a war to make some oil money. And these people wonder why we donít take them seriously.

The token Libertarian just likes to point out the flaws in the Democrats and Republicans. But then, when one of your candidates turned himself blue from drinking some sort of magic potion, how can you wonder why this party is not taken seriously. Mind you, I agree with several Libertarian positions on issues.

The fundamental thing wrong with the Blabbers is too much blind party affiliation. The other thing wrong with it is that discussions never seem to center around Ďwhat should be done.í The conversations are always about Ďwhat so-and-so did wrong,í Ďwhy such-and-such is an idiot,í or Ďwhat random-blabber disagrees with so-and-so.í And of course there are plenty of insults (Iíve given as good as Iíve gotten). And fluffy will tell you that Iím rather fond of informing people when theyíre not saying anything thatís not already been said.

As an added bonus, the writers for the Metropulse periodically post. Of course, the usually spew the liberal agenda verbatim but what else would you expect.

Some Blabbers of note:

Yours truly

SKB Ė Yup, he posts periodically. Not real active in a great deal of debate though.

Kevin Knack Jr. Ė (my second favorite to argue with) Sharp guy, too wordy (he really takes you around your ass to get to your elbow sometimes). But he always guarantees an entertaining and stimulating conversation.

Angie Ė Everyoneís girlfriend, apparently. At least most of the guys there flirt with her.

LibertariansIn2002 Ė the token libertarian and a pretty sharp guy.

Old Hickory Ė Absolutely in every way follows the Democratic Party line, with the occasional splattering of conspiracy theory lunacy.

Seether (allegedly several other names too) Ė People call him Pirkle. I donít know who the hell he is. Typically follows the Republican Party line, when heís not just trying to piss people off. Likes to blame stuff on Clinton.

Halesia Ė Seems to be a Green Party kinda guy. Very intelligent but prone to buying some of the liberal conspiracy stuff. Also, will insult you at the drop of a hat when he runs out of things to say.

OIL_IS_GOD Ė Man, this guy is out there. Seems pretty sharp but thinks every thing the Republican Party does is motivated by oil money. Apparently believes conservatives are just absolutely evil in every way. His conspiracy theory meanderings are always amusing though.

Fluffy Ė (my personal favorite to argue with) Very bright person. A bit overly cynical of everything. And has largely liberal tendencies. But he has a sense of humor and argues intelligently.

Michael Ė Another sharp guy. Definitely left leaning but always has something fairly insightful to say.

Sympathizer Ė Allegedly he could be Seether. Donít know though. But has definitely conservative tendencies.

So, given my conservative tendencies, I have a lot against me when I blab out there. Assuming Seether and Sympathizer are the same guy and both are more focused on pissing people off, Iím almost the only one out there arguing the conservative side. Makes me wish I had better debating skills.

I’m sure I’ve left some regulars off the list but man there’s a lot of them. Be assured it’s not personal.

A Tax on People Who Canít Do Math

Thatís what a lottery is. Mr. Hailey does a good job blasting an article in the Metropulse that tells us why we shouldnít support the lottery. Well, Iíve pondered the issue at length and (of course) have formulated my own opinions. Most of which coincide with Mr. Haileyís analysis. The issues surrounding the lottery tend to be these:

Some groups are just morally opposed to gambling. To which I say, then donít play the lottery or gamble.

The liberal contingent at the Metropulse thinks that the lottery Ďexploits poor people.í Well, no one forces poor people to play the lottery. It is again an example of the liberal tendency to take ownership of oneís actions and attribute it to other factors. This tendency essentially states that people arenít responsible for what they do and we (the government) should just not place people in positions where they can make poor decisions. What a bunch of shit. So much for personal accountability. To paraphrase a reasonably famous quote:

Itís the governmentís job to protect me from others. Iíll protect me from me, thank you.

So, I am for the lottery in theory, since it is a matter of personal responsibility and I have no moral qualm with gambling.

What I do take issue with is the lack of a specification in the law that the money goes to particular things only, like education. I think the law should absolutely specifically state that the money goes for:

Teacher salaries
Facilities
Teacher salaries
Scholarships
Teacher salaries
University funding
Teacher salaries

Teachers are underpaid. Itís a separate issue but worth stating that I feel teachers should never live below the poverty line. We should take care of our teachers, soldiers, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and social workers. No veteran of the armed forces who served his country should ever be on food stamps! These folks collectively need raises. But I digress.

Even if the money was specified to go to the right things, Iím sure it wouldnít take our politicians long to figure out how to exploit the law and funnel the dough to their special interests. But that happens anyway. Also, I think that if the lottery passes, then lower the fucking taxes! I pay entirely too much in taxes anyway. And the portion left over after that that I spend is taxed at 9.25%. But then our nation has been the victim of confiscatory taxes for years.

If there is any hope that the lottery will reduce my tax burden, then I am all for it. I just take issue with no controls that ensure the cash goes where itís intended to go.

October 10, 2002

Ah, the Audit

My company is getting audited. I run the accounting department. As such, my life is hectic currently. If anyone has ever survived this experience, they know it is quite tedious and (essentially) time and money that would be better spent doing other stuff. I used to be an auditor so I can sympathize with the pesky little auditor persons.

The auditors (as always) come in wearing fancy clothes, carrying fancy computers, and have this whole Ďhere we go againí expression on their faces. Typical audit crew boils down to this:

1 partner: who (as a client) you will likely only see once at the beginning of the engagement and once at the end. And occasionally he may show up at some point in the middle to stir his staff up. Heís responsible for ultimately signing off on the engagement (which is puzzling, as he does not do much of the work, but I digress). These guys go for about $250 – $500 per hour.

1 manager: This person coordinates the underlings, directs the work, and generally tells people what to do. They usually show up 2 Ė 3 times per week. They bill out for $150 – $200 per hour.

1 supervising auditor: There all the time. Usually, asks intelligent questions and provides insight. Theyíre usually the people that companies offer jobs to, since a career in public accounting tends to be short or for the rest of your life. Meaning, people stay long enough to be a supervisor and split, or hang out for manager jobs. In public accounting, this is the Ďmake or breakí you point (I broke. I grew tired of the 60 hour work weeks and the constant travel). $100 – $150 per hour.

3-4 staff accountants: Boy, these folks are annoying. They come in, dressed sharply and youíre paying $80 – $120 per hour for their time. Yet, they ask some of the dumbest fucking questions youíll ever hear. My answers invariable consist of: 1) as Iíve told you already, . . . , 2) Ya know, generally accepted accounting principles state that . . . . , did you cover that in school?, or 3) ask your supervisor, weíve discussed it at great length. Then, I give a glance as if to say ĎIím paying that much for this?í

They, of course, wonít find anything wrong that I donít already know about. In fact, I (being a very ethical individual) am up to no funny business in my books. If it happened before my tenure and I havenít gotten to it yet, Iím kind of glad when they find things as itís less for me to clean up later, but it costs more.

If you want to survive an audit, use these handy tips (they apply to financial statement audits and compliance audits):

Allow your auditors a comfortable work area. Iíve been on audits where the client put us behind a kitchen. It was like 400 degrees in that room. It may have affected our attitude during the engagement.

Be open and honest. Do not appear to hide anything. If you confide to your auditor that Ďyou donít know,í theyíre usually eager to help.

Indicate clearly your working hours. Public accounting firms are notorious for being sweatshops. In fact, firms often mandate 60 hour work weeks during certain times of the year. Unless you want to put in 12 hours per day yourself, instruct the auditor when you will be working.

Always get a flat fee engagement. Paying by the hour could cost you bucks should problems arise.

If youíre audited by the IRS, the only right you really have is that you can pick when the meeting will be. So, schedule it for about 4:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The good old IRS agent doesnít want to stay too late and will likely hurry you along to start his weekend.

Iíve also heard a story from some acquaintances that two individuals in a partnership were both audited by the IRS at the same time. Both individuals kept very good records. One went to his IRS auditor with his stuff neatly organized and wound up having to pay back taxes on some items. The other individual took his nice neat records, placed them in a plastic tub, and shook the hell out of the tub to scatter his papers and ensure there was no identifiable order. Then, when the auditor asked where something was, he replied Ďitís in the tub.í What do you know, the second partner got a clean bill of health. Sad, but true.

Nothing says Ďred flagí louder than Ďhome officeí and Ďmileage.í Document the hell out of your mileage and home office. In taxes, the burden of proof is on the taxpayer (kinda thwarts that whole Ďinnocent until proven guiltyí stuff).

October 08, 2002

More on Gun Control

William Burton has an excellent piece on gun control here. Very good take on the whole ‘why people oppose gun control’ thing.

Dog Diggity

I have absolutely nothing political or social to comment upon. Seems every day that everyone else beats me to it. Which is fine, this blogging stuff ain’t a competition. So the topic of the day is my new dog. I have a five month old pup who is an American Bulldog. Fair warning should be given that I love this breed and they are fabulous. They are not for everyone though. If you have difficulty disciplining animals or are inexperienced with any working dog breed (shepherds, rotties, pits, Dobermans, or any breed used for protection and police work) do not get one! If you’re unwilling to use negative as well as positive reinforcement, this is not the breed for you. However, if you know what you’re doing and are capable of working with this breed, you’ll find no better animal.

These animals are great watchdogs, they are excellent with children (in fact, here’s a story about a bulldog so patient with a small child that the dog sat still while the child put a full pin cushion of pins into the dogs snout & the dog waited for an adult to intervene), they catch wild hogs, catch bulls, can do bite work, tracking, and are eager to learn.

Also, please crate train any dog you ever get! It avoids problems later.

The problem with my pup is that he likes to dig. So, my new expensive sod that was place in my new lot has about seven or 10 craters in it. That’s not the real problem. The real problem is that he gets mud all over the carpet (it’s easy to clean, it’s Berber). So, I must quell the digging problem. I have a dog door that goes to the backyard to give my pup (and my other dog) access to the yard or house at their leisure. But after a round of digging, he trots in the house and muds the place. Good thing I have a carpet cleaner.

I ask some of my dog buddies what I should do. It’s easy if a catch him digging, I just tell him ‘no’ firmly and when he stops he gets praised. However, the bulk of it is done when I am at the office. My dog buddies’ suggestions are as follows:

Trim his nails daily almost to the quick so that it’s painful when he digs (which I did last night, but he still tried to dig this morning).

Put the dog’s own feces in the existing holes before filling them with dirt (who wants to dig up their own poo?)

Crate him all day and make him stay outside when I get home. The whole time I’m home, watch from the kitchen window. When I see him dig, zap him with a correction collar (Zzzzzt!).

Invest in a sandbox and enforce (praise) when he digs there. Essentially, tell him it’s okay to dig in certain spots.

And as a final tactic, when I come home look for any holes that he has dug. Fill said hole with water. Escort Rover to the hole and dunk his head in the muddy water.

Boy, that last one sounds extreme. Last night, I trimmed his nails. He was outside while I was in the shower this morning and I got done and found a new hole. So, today I crated him all day. I will begin trimming a small portion of his nails daily to shorten them to the quick. The wife and I are also gonna invest in a sandbox and encourage him to dig there. I haven’t caught him in the actual act yet, or I’d zap him with the old correction collar. I tend to doubt I’ll dunk him though.

October 07, 2002

It’s all been done

Apparently, I need to begin blogging earlier. All the other primo bloggers have addressed (the same way I would) topics such as: the kid in MD who got shot, Bin Laden’s tape, and profiling the killer in MD. So, what’s left? Racism! In Chicago, companies are now required to submit to the city records detailing if they profited from the slave trade. So, what a colossal waste of time this is! Instead of trying to move forward with the issue of racism, letís dwell on the past.

Dorothy Tillman (the proponent of the bill) says:

“It was because of the free labor of blacks. It was because of all of the suffering we took and we did that made America so powerful,” Tillman said.

Well, Mrs. Tillman, Iíd bet that you never were a slave. Iíd also be willing to bet that no citizen alive this day and age was an American slave. In addition, do you think that every innovation, every idea, every business, and every thing that made this country what it is came from slavery? Well, Mrs. Tillman, youíre absolutely full of shit. Iím sure no American slave labor was used to create our thriving computer industry, our oil industry, our telecommunications industry, the space exploration industry, etc.

To quote the great George Carlin:

I’ve never owned a slave, or was a slave, I didn’t wander forty years In the desert after getting chased out of Egypt. I haven’t burned any witches or been persecuted by the Turks and neither have you! So, shut-the-Hell-up already.

October 04, 2002

Per Bubba’s Request

Bubba asked if i could give more advice on houses. Figured I’d post them here too. Here goes:

Most important and worth restating is establish your budget and stick to it. If you go over $100 on fixtures, then cut $100 from lighting. It will quickly add up. Unless of course youíre made of money (which Iím not) then you can buy whatever you want.

Your builder should give you a Ďgood faithí estimate (assuming youíre doing a construction to perm loan at the bank. Even if youíre paying cash, Iíd suggest the loan route just to get the good faith estimate). Ask him what basis these numbers have (i.e., our builder told us that 1.5% of the cost was budgeted for lighting, 2.5% was budgeted for fixtures) when broken down into line items (like fixtures, carpet, lighting, shingles, brick, ad infinitum).

We used an existing plan and basically drew the plan up using Home Architect 6.0. We then modified it to suit our needs (added a larger pantry, moved some walls around). Before doing that, ask the builder which walls are load bearing.

If you build in a subdivision, pay attention. Other builders tend to sponge off each other. For example, the guys building houses near mine were using my dumpster (which my builder charges to me, of course) and were even using my electricity (which your builder bills to you, of course).

You can save major $ doing some sweat equity. Go by a couple nights a week and clean up after the work crew. Pick up stuff in the yard, pile trash in the dumpster, etc. Also, when the floor is done, go by several nights a week to sweep and shop-vac it. This stuff adds up if youíre builder is charging you $15-$20 per labor hour and itís stuff you can do on your own.

Most of the time, you can get stuff cheaper at (of all places) Loweís. For example, we went to the builderís supplier and priced ceiling fans and lights. Then we got the price. The price for the same items was considerably less at Loweís. However, if your builder is doing a flat fee contract, this wonít really affect you. Of course, when you buy at Loweís, you may have to transport it to the site yourself.

Buy vinyl windows. They cost about $50 more per window. But they donít sweat and are better insulated. Youíll recover the cost of these in utility bills.

Speaking of windows, by all standard sized windows. The custom windows are expensive. More importantly, with standard windows, you can buy standard blinds. These are far less expensive when you go to Loweís and buy them. If theyíre custom blinds, they double in price.

Unless you really like cathedral ceilings, go with standard 9ft ceilings. Cathedrals are more expensive. And they are almost impossible to insulate. They will cost more off the bat and over time. In addition, the lighting and fixtures cost more when you have to buy them for cathedral ceilings.

I also suggest you pick a single color of paint for your entire house. And then, later, paint each room on your own. The reason is that the painters can do one color in a decent sized house in one day. If they have to stop, clean their equipment and load new paint, it takes several days. And these guys are charging you $25 – $50 per hour.

Toward the end, there will be a punch list. When you and your builder walk through the house, you write on this list problems and things that need done. If you can do these things yourself, itíll save you the labor charges.

In case you havenít noticed, Iím cheap. Which is why my total house cost was about $8,000 less than the initial budget.

If you have pets (I got a couple of large dogs) that like to be outdoors, pay the extra to have sod placed in your lot. Itís cheaper than replacing carpet that gets muddy from pets that walk around in the dirt until your grass grows.

Have your electrician place two cable wires in each wall outlet. That way, you can get satellite, internet, cable, etc. in each room.

Speaking of electricians, when you walk through with him, write down where you want your switches and which lights they control. We didnít do this. Now, it seems that some of our switches donít do what we thought they did. But we could have told the guy wrong.

If you buy your own stuff, deliver it only when the builder is ready to install it or he can lock the house. A couple houses in our subdivision had their lights, air conditioner, and windows stolen. Your builder should have insurance, but heíll only report something major to keep his premiums down.

Buy a flat top stove, they really help resale value and are easy to clean.

Landscaping is expensive. If you have a green thumb and want to do it on your own (or more accurately, your wife wants you to do it), itíll save you some money.

Also, one neat thing we did was each trip to the lot we snapped a picture. Now we have a nice little picture book of the progression of the house.

October 03, 2002

SayUncle vs. South Knox Bubba

No, not jello wrestling or anything bizarro like that. Political affiliation. It defines some folks and divides others. It is interesting how many folks adhere strictly to a party line. I try to avoid that, personally. However, I do occasionally catch myself backing the Republican Party line. I am not a registered Republican. I do tend to vote Republican. Iíd vote Libertarian if I thought they stood a snowballís chance in Hell. Now, Mr. Bubba is a Democrat. Whereís the divide? Mr. Bubba and myself agree on a myriad of issues. Such as:

SKB and I agree on the Second Amendment.

SKB and I agree on voting for Bredesen. SKB likely because Bredesen is a Democrat and me because I think Hilleary is a wanker.

SKB and I agree on the fact that TennCare is a dying dinosaur needing reform.

It seems SKB and I agree on this whole Iraq thing.

SKB and I agree that SUVs will not be the death of us all.

SKB and I agree on the whole Tennessee tax SNAFU. Despite the rhetoric and the fact no income tax was passed, Tennesseans still got the highest tax increase in their history (AKA: a good fucking).

And there are many more.

What do we disagree on?

SKB and I share differing views on the Florida recount nightmare. Seems SKB thinks the evil shenanigans of the Republicans cost the nation a valid election. I think that both sides were up to shenanigans and the Republicans just played dirtier pool during the whole thing. Since then, evidence came to light stating that Dubya would have won anyway.

SKB thinks Ashcroft is the devil. I donít.

I think Janet Reno is the devil. SKB doesnít (or at least he sent her some contribution cash).

So far, it seems to me that these are the only issues I can find (and SKB can correct me later) that we inherently disagree on. Yet, I tend to vote Republican and he votes Democrat. What gives? It baffles me. See, the issues we fundamentally disagree on are largely party related. I think myself and Bubba are reasonably intelligent persons and we both have no problem telling the world what we think. But amazingly we draw different conclusions about who best supports the issues we agree on.

I have no idea what the hell my point is currently. But it seems to be the fact that two people who largely agree on issues disagree on which party handles these issues better. And I canít quite put my finger on why that is. Any ideas?

Note: There are several bloggers I could have chosen but I know SKB is a good sport. Note, I got tired of searching for all the links on his page and mine, so if you’d like links to where I drew my conclusions, leave it in comments.

October 02, 2002

It has come to pass

I finally got moved. The wife and I built a house and this past weekend began our move into the new house. The process of building the house and the process of moving stressed the ever-loviní hell out of the wife and I.

About home building:

Some say avoid it and buy an existing home. I disagree. Now that itís done, I love the place. However, the process was tedious, time consuming, and generally unpleasant. You have to devote considerable time to picking out things that you never thought about before, like door knobs, light switches, trim color, and other stuff that people (ahem, me) have never really thought about before nor paid attention to. As an example, a situation occurred in which the wife and I go to pick out a countertop style. Let me rephrase, I (being the loving supportive husband I am) go to watch my wife pick them out because this task requires a great deal of moral support, apparently. So, the conversation went exactly like this (I am not making this up):

Wife: Which (of these countertops) do you like?
Me: (perusing samples) I like these two.
Wife: Those donít match anything we have!
Me: Then why didnít you narrow my choice down to samples that do match our stuff?
Wife: Because you should know what matches our stuff.
Me: Honey, Iíve lived in our current home for three years and I canít tell you what color our countertops are.
Wife: Youíre unbelievable! Why did I bring you with me?
Me: Thatís what Iím talking about.

I felt my time would have been better spent on the sofa with a beer. See, this same (or similar) scenario continued with every decision we made, except the brick as it was something we both readily agreed upon. Now, itís not that I am oblivious to my surroundings. I just donít pay attention to some things (like countertops). It also isnít that I donít care. Itís just that I place importance on some things and the wife places importance on other things. For example, she probably doesnít know that our lawnmower has a 24Ē cut, that my grill has 750 square inches of cooking space, or that the bullets I buy are 155 grain jacketed hollow points. See, weíre different and thatís why weíre together.

My advice for building a home:

Pay the extra $ to insulate your garage. Youíll recover your investment in utility bills and the garage wonít get unbearably hot. And put a ceiling fan in it to disperse chemical odors. Hell, put a ceiling fan in every room.

Have either a two-door garage or buy the 18 ft single door. The 16 ft is too small and creates navigational difficulties when you try to put two cars and assorted equipment in your garage.

Berber carpet looks good, itís durable, and the best part is you can clean it with Tilex and a portable steamer. Plus, it doesnít have to be vacuumed to look like its been vacuumed. Well worth the extra bucks!

Establish a budget and stick to it. It is very easy to increase the price of the home drastically in $50 – $100 increments. If you budget $250 for your faucet and spend $350 on a better one, then you continue to do the same for other fixtures, youíll blow a several grand very quickly.

Now, the move:

Man, was it tedious. The wife and I hired movers and they were well worth it! The last time the wife and I moved, we did it ourselves. And we fought the entire time (Ďyouíre not lifting your end,í Ďquit pushing,í etc.). Hiring these movers kept fighting to a minimum. The movers (who damages our desk and broke a couple of knick-knacks) did far less damage than I did last time we moved. Plus, theyíre insured!

Weíre still sorting through boxes and there appears to be no end in sight. But I am now officially a resident of the city of Maryville. I have the tax bill to prove it!

Adieu!

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

Uncle Pays the Bills

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