Category Archives: rant

Getting ready to leave for a while, no Feed

Every so often I have to completely disconnect from modern life and spend some time closer to nature than our modern hyper-connected world. I know that reads like a cliché, but clichés start as truths that get repeated so often they lose their meaning. So I’m going to spend the next 5 days at a clothing-optional campout with about 700 like-minded people, celebrating the change of the season and the Celtic New Year. We traditionally have a consecrated camp fire that we bless at the start of the camp and do not extinguish until the last thing before we leave. Our fire pit at that point is so heat-soaked that the water we put on the fire boils for up to 10 minutes after the fire is out. I put a picture of the fire pit full of boiling water from the spring edition of the campout with the report I made from that camp.

fire pit full of boiling water and no fire

I will not be taking Francis/es this trip, although I had planned to. Unfortunately the growth on the back of my neck makes riding Francis/es impossible at the moment. I find this deeply annoying, to say the least, and the hoops my insurance is making me jump through to get this thing removed are even more annoying. I have to make an appointment with my PCP to get a referral to a surgeon in my network, then get an appointment with the surgeon, then get the surgery signed off as “necessary”, then schedule a day for the surgery… Of those steps more than half are just for the insurance company, the PCP has to agree with the Lab Rat Keeper, the surgeon has to be “in network”, and then some bureaucrat has to agree with the LRK, the PCP, and the surgeon, that I need to get this thing off my neck so I can finish a cup of coffee and see where I’m riding my bike. Stuff like this is why the US needs single-payer health care like the rest of the civilized world. If we had single-payer then this thing would have been removed from my neck shortly after starting to interfere with my everyday life.

One thing I like about this particular camping trip is we pay for someone to shop and cook for the group, and she does a fantastic job of preparing gourmet-quality food in primitive conditions. I’m not sure of the menu this trip but I have heard rumors about crab legs, boudin sausage, and all kinds of snacky goodies. Our cook has Carnivore, Omnivore, and Vegan options for every meal, and they are always delicious. Being a cyclist with the definition of a cyclist being “eating machine on two wheels” I take a little from column A and a little from column C and a bunch from column B.

I bought a new tent for the fall this year but I’m also taking the old tent in case there’s something wrong with the new one that can’t be fixed at the campout. I’m also taking the air mattress that is the main reason for buying the new tent and fervently hoping the old tent stays packed in the car. I have been accused of packing “Party Central” this year as the new tent has space to put two queen-size beds and still leave room to stand between them. This is so Mrs. the Poet can camp with us next spring, although I’m still trying to figure out how to pack the bed frame to go with the queen-size air mattress I’m buying…

Packing for this event is… interesting. While the entire event is clothing-optional there are certain gatherings that are not, in that some types of clothing are NOT allowed. One that I plan on attending does not allow bifurcated lower garments, i.e. no pants allowed. Males are allowed to attend only when they wear a skirt. I have a long skirt (mid-calf) to wear specifically at this meeting, red with blue mimosa blossoms on it. The skirt really accentuates my farmer tan from wearing shorts all summer with usually ankle-high socks so I have “socks” showing whether I wear any or not. Also there is such a temperature swing at this time of the year, some times you need long pants and sleeves with heavy socks and gloves, other times you need sunscreen… and maybe some wicking garments if you are wearing anything at all. I have attended gatherings this time of year that had temperature swings from high 50s F to low 90s all in the same gathering, sometimes in the same day. Needless to say packing for that involves a lot of clothes that never get worn but forget to pack them and… The forecast is 50s in the morning/late at night with low 80s during the day which means layers or lots of wicking clothing. And spandex shorts for moving around in.

And I have to stop typing and get packed so I guess this means I’m ending the post now.

PSA, Opus the unkillable badass Poet

I got dropped ot the Ride of Silence, and no Feed

I have been all over the eastern end of the Metromess today, with multiple trips to court and a trip to the northern parts of Richardson so Mrs. the Poet and I could attend her 25 work anniversary award dinner. The dinner was lovely with a hearty salad and rolls to start out, and some kind of chicken in a cream sauce and capers over linguine with yellow squash and zucchini on the side, with a choice of chocolate cake or raspberry cheesecake for dessert with water and unsweetened ice tea as beverages. As a person that experiments with breads from time to time I strongly approve of the rolls, they were superb. The squashes were a little bland, I think because they were pan-fried without breading, or quite enough salt. It’s possible that I needed more salt because of all the walking I did in the heat of the day.

Getting to the walking in the heat of the day I had to go to court this morning, then back to court this afternoon. I went to court this morning because the codes guy never actually told us what was the problem with the “fix-it” warnings for branches, landscaping, and trash until he wrote the ticket for the broken branch and sent a picture of the branch that we could not see from inside the property. There was a broken branch in the ash tree that could only be seen if you stood on the sidewalk across the street (or in the street close to the curb). Even the prosecutor thought we had trash in the yard from looking at the ticket until I showed the pictures that were sent to the house with the ticket. We spent months chasing trash off the fence line only to get a ticket for a broken branch we could not see from the property. Getting that taken care of was why I went to court in the morning. The reason I went again in the afternoon was Mrs. the Poet signed a check for me to fill out for whatever fines or costs we had to pay, and the clerk would not take the check because I was not the person that signed it, because even though the ticket was dismissed we still had to pay court costs (even if you win you lose). So I had to go back with Mrs. the Poet to show her ID and get everything paid for.

Now we get back to the headline of the day, I got dropped from the Mother Ride of the Ride of Silence. Francis/es it has already been established is somewhat less aerodynamic than a brick with its largest side facing the wind. I mean seriously it’s a truck, it’s not a racer. Combine that with strong headwinds for the backside of the loop around White Rock Lake and a balky IGH that did not want to stay in gear and not hydrating before the ride and having to wear a helmet I could not raise my head enough to see around and I was cosplaying Powdered Toast Man by the time we went past the Stone Tables area. Shortly before I got to the bridge before Garland Road the cramps set in but by that time even the cops doing sweep had dropped me. I walked a bit and rode a bit and walked a bit more then finally rode into the finish at least 15 minutes after the ride was over and everybody was socializing. I managed to get some water and started to feel more like a higher life form, but not quite human yet. I managed to get home about 2230 after leaving before 1800, and grabbed my dinner from the microwave, then checked to see what the 2000th post had done for clicks, and fell into bed exhausted with a throbbing neck. Now it’s over 24 hours later and my neck is still going between throbbing and twingeing a bit, so I think this is a good time to call it quits and end this post.

PSA, Opus

More S&M in the tax code on a Wreck-Free Sunday

So, back to the tax code, how to make it fair(er). I already talked about classifying people and corporations based on how far away they were from actually making stuff that people buy, with people and companies that people go to for the actual product like people in the performing arts, or professional athletes who are the product being S0, and banks and investment companies who just make money being classified as S5. The tricky parts were the S2 through S4 companies and people, because deciding where on the separation spectrum a company belongs has a major impact on their tax schedule.

But today I’m going to talk about the Ms, the multiples of the minimum wage that form the basis of the tax brackets. As a review, M1 is minimum wage times 40 hours a week times 52 weeks a year, M250 is M1 times 250 or basically someone making as much in a day as a person on minimum wage makes in a year. Today a person in the M1 bracket pays 15.2% (IIRC , that’s close) in SS and Medicare taxes but no income tax, and the person in the M250 bracket pays about 1% in SS and Medicare taxes and roughly 22% in income taxes, depending on how good their tax accountants are. In the middle you get the M5 and 6 people who pay the biggest part of their income in taxes, with 15.2% SS and Medicare taxes and 15% or so in income taxes. And the people who actually make things get taxed the most…

I think this is bass-ackwards. The people that make things should not be the ones that pay the most taxes, because making things drives the economy. So I have different tax brackets depending on how far removed you are from actual products.

S0 people and companies are the ones that are the product, and as such have the most volatile incomes. their first tax bracket starts at M0 and runs to M50 at the 15.2% that is SS and Medicare combined, with no income tax. The next bracket starts at M51 and runs to M100 and has the 15.2% SS tax and a 20% income tax on the income over M50, so it becomes extremely progressive as only the marginal taxes are charged not taxes on the whole income, like tax brackets currently. The next bracket would be M101 through M250 which has a 25% marginal rate on income tax with the SS and Medicare taxes holding steady, with the final bracket at M251 to infinity and a 30% income tax and the SS and Medicare tax still holding at 15.2%

S1 would be similar to S0 with more brackets and a lower upper threshold from the zero income tax bracket to the second bracket. M0 to M25 is zero income tax but the 15.2% SS and Medicare tax, with the next bracket being M26 though M50 with the SS and Medicare tax and 10% income tax. Above that is the same as the S0 tax brackets.

S2 the first and second tax brackets would be the same as S1, but the third tax bracket would be M76 through M100 with SS and Medicare at 15.2% and 22.5% income tax and above M100 being the same as S1 and S0.

S3 is like S2 until M151 to M250 with a 27.5% income on top of the 15.2% SS and Medicare tax, and M251 and above being the same.

S4 shifts the first tax bracket down to M1 with only the income from M0 to M1 being free of income tax and every other bracket being shifted down one, and the M251 and above having 35% tax on top of the SS and Medicare taxes so the brackets would be M0 to M1 SS and Medicare only, M1 to M25 being 10% income tax on top of SS and Medicare, M26 to M50 at 20% income on top of the SS and Medicare. M51 through M75 would be 22.5% on top of SS and Medicare, and M76 through M100 having 25% income tax on top of SS and Medicare. M101 through M150 is 27.5% income tax on top of SS and Medicare, and M151 through M250 is 30% income tax on top of the SS and Medicare tax, then M251 through infinity being 35% on top of SS and Medicare.

S5 is where the tax brackets get nasty, because S5 people are mostly parasites economically. The brackets start at M0 and go up every multiple of M through M251 with the combined income and SS and Medicare taxes being 99% (83.8% income tax and 15.2% SS and Medicare) at M251 to infinity, and M1 being SS and Medicare and 10% income tax on top of that and increasing by 0.3132 every M step to M251. Yes, there are literally 251 separate tax brackets for the S5 “worker”, but their taxes are truly “progressive” as their income increases and most of the time paying about the same as their less-parasitic counterparts up to M25. For the mathematically challenged that is $377000 at the minimum wage that prevails today and doesn’t actually start to bite until you get really up there in the wage pyramid.

And that’s my idea to make the tax structure more fair. I’m sure I need to tweak the lower tax brackets to keep the collected taxes the same as they are now if not a smidge more, as the M multiple seems to be a bit on the coarse side.

PSA, Opus

Getting parochially political on a Wreck-Free Sunday

I try not to descend into politics outside transportation issues here at WoaB, but things have come to a head here in the Big PX over how we should deliver medical care to our citizens. On one side you have people who believe everyone deserves access to health care as a matter of right regardless of ability to pay, and the other side who believe that if you ain’t rich you don’t deserve anything. The rich side has medical insurance that costs more per year than half of American households make in income before taxes, so let’s just say their perspective is somewhat skewed by their circumstance.

The person I was referring to in the previous paragraph was my US Senator, Ted (I’m not a Canadian) Cruz. He’s covered by his wife’s insurance from Goldman Sachs (which is a whole ‘nother rant) which costs in the neighborhood of $40k-45k per year, which is a neighborhood that is about 3 times the annual income here at WoaB. So while he was reading Dr. Seuss and getting it wrong, he was covered by two Cadillac health plans, his Congressional plan and the gold-plated coverage from his wife’s plan.

And now that they have found they can’t stop the Affordable Care Act, so they want to shut the government down unless they can delay it for a year. Oh yeah and they want to strip abortion and contraceptives out of the act as well. So that’s a big extended middle finger to everyone who lacks a Y chromosome. Last time I checked testicle-owning Americans did not need either of those two services.

What really gets me about this is the Affordable Care Act is a Republican plan from the end of the 20th Century that was passed in MA as Romneycare (you remember, that goofus that lost the last presidential election?). So what was good 15 years ago is terrible now? I guess because poor people are more evil now than they were 15 years ago, or most probably because the people leading the GOP now have little contact with and no empathy for the vast majority of Americans who don’t pump hundreds of millions of dollars into their campaign war chests. They have made the conscious choice to place all their resources at the behest of the rich and to the detriment of the vast majority. I’m purposely trying to avoid that 1%-99% rhetoric here.

OK, enough of that, things have gotten strange again here at Casa de El Poeta. Yesterday afternoon our neighbor’s fence became part of our yard after the soil was saturated by an extended thunderstorm. Unlike when that section of the fence was ours there was no high winds or mini-tornado this time to bring the fence down just lots of rain. So now we have about 12-14 feet of fence sitting on the ground in the back yard.

Then last night while I was on the road to the Sumer celebration one of the cabinets holding our dishes fell off the wall. I was looking at the remains this morning and it was amazing it held together this long as it was constructed from particle board and glorified cardboard. That has been hanging on the wall since 1985. The sides and bottom separated from the back which remained attached to the wall and had to be removed by taking out the 3 screws that held it to the wall. This is on top of replacing the water heater and AC and having to remove the fence. So we will have to replace the cabinets as well. Whoopie! So far my 56th year is not getting off to a good start.

PSA, Opus

After going grocery shopping I no longer have a bicycle

Right after I posted today’s post I went to the grocery store to pick up the week’s supplies and when I got back out to load Blue he was missing from where I parked him. I should mention that I have been shopping by bike at that store and in spite of repeated requests they have never installed any place where a person could secure a bicycle. I was allowed to park by the propane tank exchange rack which was where I was parked today, even though there is nothing there to lock up to.

Fortunately I memorized my serial number so if they find Blue I can at least hope for a return of my bike. Too often when a bike is recovered LEO don’t have a serial number to match it to. And unfortunately even when they do have a number it seldom gets checked to see if it was reported stolen.

One thing I’m going to do is demand a secure place to park my next bike in the future at that store that I have been shopping at for as long as it has been there. When we moved to the Beautiful Suburbs of Hell back in 1994 that was an empty lot except for some cows grazing. Now there is a gas station with lots of other development besides the grocery store. My son used to work there before he got promoted and sent to another store. They know me by name there. I WILL get a secure and monitored place to park my bike before I bring my next bike there.

PSA, Opus

I’m blogging from a bus, and other things

OK first up the “broadband” connection is about as fast as dialup, but #1 for this blog post that’s plenty (at least until it comes time to use the proofreader) and #2 I have internet from a moving vehicle. Just the reality of #2 from a perspective of 10 years ago is mind-blowing.

I’m creating this post from the second row of seats on a northbound Greyhound bus somewhere in Northern VA, I think on I95. I can’t see out the front of the bus and reflections off the inside of the windows keep me from reading the road signs, so I’m basing that assumption on what I can read of the signs on the roads we cross, with one thing consistent being signs directing people to I95. It’s kind of hard reading signs when the first time you can see them they’re almost edge-on to you at 60 MPH.

This is an unsecure access point, so I’m not getting into my e-mail to get the Feed. But I figure live-blogging a trip on a bus should be adequate compensation for no bike wrecks.

Speaking of wrecks, I’m just about physically and emotionally recovered from the one I had trying to get away from the Beautiful Suburbs of Hell. I can’t feel the scuff on my elbow when I run my hand over the impact site and the PTSD attack is long over. The anger is almost sort of contained about how I was treated during the post-wreck process, let’s just say that there are a number of GPD that need “re-education” about bicycles on the road.

Ok, it’s a bit hard to type this because of the traffic making the bus driver constant,y tap on the brakes, but we just crossed over into Maryland (MD) now.

More to come…

No links today, I got hit

I’m just a bit shaky today so you’ll excuse me if I leave in some typos.

I was running errands on Blue, getting things ready to go before I leave for vacation. I went to the bank to make a mortgage payment (directly so I know it went through). As I was turning left into the bank parking lot I was passed on the right in the same lane by two pickup trucks. The first one was scrubbing the curb so I was startled more than anything else by that one. The second one was a bit further over and I started waving it to the right or to stay behind me and my right elbow came in contact with the driver’s side mirror hard enough to break the mirror.

I’m OK, my elbow does not even hurt and you can barely see the scuff from the contact. The big problems I’m having is the PTSD attack from my third skin-to-vehicle contact with a vehicle in motion since the turn of the Century, and the adrenaline crash. When I got out of the bank (task fixation, part of the PTSD) I called 911 and the cops were already on their way from another person (not the driver of the weapon vehicle) calling in the contact. I discussed the incident with the cop, who said I shouldn’t have been on the street making a left turn. I quoted TX VC 551.103a and b by number and paragraph which stated what a person on a bike is supposed to do when making a left turn.

The driver of the truck got a ticket for an unsafe pass to go with his broken mirror. I got a massive case of the shakes.

PSA, Opus