Monthly Archiv: January, 2019

Our Screwed Up Taxes

Like most everyone, I hate paying taxes. It’s not that I don’t believe in paying to a government to provide the services and protections our country needs; really I do. What I don’t believe is that our taxes are being used wisely and that I feel like we are being way overtaxed because of such misuse.

Of course, it is easy for me to make such sweeping statements without any detail; but that is still how I feel.

We all have read the stories of government excess and misappropriation of funds. We have all heard the news of government contractors charging hundreds of dollars for a hammer or screw either as outright criminals or the just as criminal good old boys network. All these things leave a bad taste in our collective mouths when we pay our required money to our state and the federal government.

All those regular taxes aside, the ones that really get me are the less than ordinary taxes we get hit with. I have written before about my feelings about prize and inheritance taxes, but within a recent article, I see another mention of taxes that cause me to grind my teeth.

If you hadn’t read or heard, the college student that was fortunate enough to emerge from the mele for the Barry Bonds record-breaking* (asterisk included) home run ball decided to auction it off. You can read about the ensuing news and interesting choice to open to the public the fate of the ball by the new owner. In the subtext of the article, though, is the part that stood out to me.

He decided to sell it, he said, because he couldn’t afford the tax bill that would result from holding onto the ball.

Some tax experts said Murphy would have owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes based on a reasonable estimate of the ball’s value even if he had never sold it. He may also have faced capital gains taxes as the ball gained value.

How wrong is it for a person to end up with a valuable ball at a baseball game to end up having taxes levied against him at the purported value of the ball> Hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes?! Our government has no business labeling this transaction one deemed required to be taxed. Now when he sells it, that makes some more sense, but if he simply has it in his possession without having purchased it in the first place it is ludicrous to have the government involved at all.

I feel the same way about person to person vehicle sales, inheritance, prize winnings, etc. The government needs to get their hands out of so many pockets and make better use of the funds already being collected. Quit looking for more ways to take a larger portion of our money and do a better job being efficient with what you have. Quit deficit spending and set an example for our nation and start the hard road of working your way out of debt and living within your “means.” How can we expect the American public to do it if our nation as a whole cannot do it either?

Utahns Receiving Anti-Mormon DVDs

I just don’t get it. Really, why do people feel such a compulsion to try and beat down good things?

On this site, I generally steer clear of very personal topics such as religion, race, etc. I prefer to talk about things that are either common sense or just plain fun to talk about without being offensive. There are plenty of hot-headed sites out there that love to rile people up in the interest of generating traffic or voicing their opinion. Me, I’m just happy to write a few things that I either find funny or feel strongly about. I just can’t leave this one alone though.

Honestly, I don’t care what religion you are. Perhaps care is the wrong word. I care that people have something to believe in, to give meaning and provide a foundation for values and morals. I am happy to share how I derive my beliefs, but I am also happy to leave people to their own. I have my strong beliefs and I am happy if you have your own or none at all. You can have a sense of ethics, values, and morals without religion. That is a basic premise of our modern society, to each their own. I don’t mind anyone that feels strongly enough about their beliefs to actively try and share them with others, as long as they are sharing this with people that are interested in hearing it and the message is a positive one.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, i.e. a Mormon. I grew up as one and have made my own adult decision to remain as one and raise my family as such. I served a two-year mission for my church and shared the message of love and Christianity to anyone who was interested in mine. I shared a message of love, hope, peace, and values. I did not share a message of what is wrong with everyone else and try to beat down the “competition.”

I simply cannot figure out why people feel so strongly about bringing down the beliefs of others to the point they have to actively campaign against them. I have often laughed at these types that show up for church gatherings and not only protest the meeting of well-intentioned, value-driven people, but even do it in such a belligerent and insulting fashion to try and pick a fight with anyone taking their bait. I really can’t laugh at it anymore.

These groups and individuals don’t just proclaim their beliefs and invite others to see what truths they have to offer. They are not even borderline bigots, they are bigots. They will resort to childish name calling, slander and all they have to offer are the same messages of half-truths and lies in an attempt to deceive. I have looked at some of these messages in the past and they are well written, placing truthful statements alongside lies and shaded comments strategically designed to trick those that don’t know better. I am sure some of these types really believe they are doing “good” in what they are attempting, but truly believe most are doing it for some other agenda, likely a personal vendetta for who knows why.


No wonder so many people have such a misunderstanding about Mormons and what the believe. Not only do people not get the opportunity what we actually believe, but they are also bombarded by ill-intentioned falsities produced by people with an agenda. The problem is we are a loving, long-suffering, turn your other cheek Christian group of people, so we typically take our beating and move on. Every time I see something like this new campaign I shake my head in disgust and wish we could do even more. I am the hothead of the bunch, so I make sure and not cross paths with people like this. I don’t need the stress and I would likely take the bait and join the fight.

All we ask is that we are allowed to live and let live. Share uplifting messages and share in our family values. Is that too much to ask? Why work so hard to bring others down. It simply doesn’t make sense.

What Camera Should I Buy?

I have to hedge this one a bit actually because I really do enjoy talking about photography and I am never one known to not share what knowledge I have. For those of you that don’t read between the lines, you get me started talking on this subject and you have to walk away and maybe even walk fast to get me to stop. Funny how a normally fairly quiet guy can open up when the subject matter fits. Anyway, back on subject. I get asked, often, for camera advice.

In the interest of saving time with some online buddies, here are some valuable links:

DPReview.com – www.dpreview.com
If you want the most in-depth reviews of cameras, photo examples, expert opinions along with feedback from actual users, this is the place. Before I make any camera purchase or give advice for that matter, I start here.

Nextag.com – www.nextag.com
There are tons of price comparison sites, so one is pretty much as good as another. I have typically found the best price at NextTag though. One thing to watch out for, though, is don’t just jump to the lowest price. Often the first 5 or so at the top are shady outfits that will call you to “confirm” your order for a chance to upsell you overpriced accessories. What’s worse, is if you say now to their upsells many of those outfits will “lose” your order. Do a little research on the site before purchasing online. If you are scared online, stick to B&H Photo, who all pro photogs will readily recommend; great service and they don’t jerk you around. If that doesn’t work, try Costco is always a good option for a decent price.

NY Times – link to an article

Looking for more direct advice? The NY Times has been running a “best under $300″ article each of the last several years that is a good comparison for a reasonably priced camera. There are tons of other options above that price, but this pretty much covers the price range most are looking for to get a camera for family shots.

So again, though I don’t mind offering my advice, in the interest of my sanity leading up to Christmas, this should push a good number of you in the right direction!

Global Warming? Not This Year

It’s cold. And when I say cold, I don’t mean kinda cold. I mean COLD!

Depending on where you live, you might be laughing at the schmucks like me that live in a cold weather country. I have a friend that lives in Florida, actually a few friends in Florida, but one in particular that loves to bring up her wonderful weather everything we speak on the phone. It’s fun banter, but of course, I never hear from her when hurricanes visit their fine, warm state.

Global Warming

The west is getting hit with a cold patch that is breaking records, and I don’t mean the old vinyl type either. From what I read, the Northeast is feeling it as well. It’s even cold in California, which is where my in-laws are from, and they always consider below 50 to be frigid. Sadly they lost their lemon and orange trees this year. I actually enjoy winter and love to play in the snow. My kids love it typically too, but when it is this cold, fun outside is all of 20 minutes these days. “Dad, I’m done playing outside now…I can’t feel my hands or ears.”
Driving to work these last couple of days has reminded me of just how bitter cold it is. I get out and dutifully scrape the windows on my truck like the good sharer of the road I am. I travel all of one block and the windshield has completely frozen over again. I hate wasting the gas to idle a vehicle long enough that it can defrost the windows from the inside, but these last couple of days it is either that or joins the hunched-over-looking-through-the-bottom-of-the-windshield characters risking their lives for a few minutes delay.

I kid about the global warming thing, so no nasty comments about that, ok? I actually studied biology in college and have pretty good earth-friendly habits and opinions. Though there is plenty of debate on whether global warming is a reality or not, there is no doubt that our throwaway society is wreaking havoc on the planet – but that is another topic for another day.

Global Warming 1

This cold would be more pleasant to withstand if it came with more snow. More snow? Some think I am crazy, but we could use the snow to store up against droughts, which we have experienced in recent years. I live in Utah, with the greatest snow on earth, so our state slogan claims. Well, I have it on very good authority that the claim is nothing but the truth. I have a friend that owns a ski school in Finland, often skiis with the Olympic team and has hit the slopes in all of Europe and much of the US. On her recent trip to Utah she hit numerous resorts here and told me emphatically that yes, it is the greatest snow on earth. So there.

This too shall pass, and I have gained some patience in my advancing years. But, did I mention, IT’S REALLY COLD!

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

Rach, the “teen”

I’ve been watching High School Confidential, a show that follows 12 girls through their four years in a typical Mid-western high school. If the girls didn’t talk so much about Kansas, I would have never known where the school is located.

Northwest, the school portrayed in the show, seemed almost exactly like my high school. Our student bodies are very similar; our communities seemed equally diverse, even our school television stations looked alike. The girls out there seem to wear more makeup than the girls at my school, but to be honest, that’s the biggest difference I saw.

That’s why I liked the show so much. Not only do I feel connected (because of our school comparisons), but because I felt connected to the students. They weren’t Orange County celebrities in the making, and they weren’t actors posing as teens. They were real teens, with real issues, making real choices. That rocks. It really felt like an accurate portrayal of what it’s like being a teenage girl.

Of course, it might just be me. Did the high school and the kids seem real to you too?

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

Mary, the “mom”

It’s fascinating to me that Rachel does feel so connected to these girls and it’s really quite instructive. As I listen to them, they often sound quite dramatic. I think I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl, and of course, I do remember some of it. But at this point in my life, I’ve managed to put all those high school dramas into perspective. It’s easy as an adult to look at some of the issues these girls are dealing with and realize they are just small ‘bumps in the road’.

The girls in High School Confidential are a wake-up call. They are real. Their issues are real and, most importantly, their perspectives on those issues are real. As a parent, it’s really useful to be reminded that, to the girls, at that moment in time, these issues are all consuming.

Real Teens, Real Issues…Now That’s Reality TV!

On the other hand, some of the girls in this show are dealing with huge, life-altering issues – parents dying, unplanned pregnancies, and so on – issues that any adult would recognize as no small ‘bump in the road’. Yet, in some cases, they don’t get the support they so obviously need.

So, what did I get out of this as a mom? A reminder to not minimize the ‘crisis’ that are the milk of the teenager years and a little positive reinforcement that providing a stable and supportive environment – to whatever extent you can control it – has its benefits.

Brad, the “dad”

Actually, High School Confidential scared the bejeebies out of me. Pregnancy, marriage, death, abortion – ah, good times, good times. Then I reminded myself that even though these are real kids, we’re watching the highlights (or lowlights) of four tumultuous years shrunk down into about 18 minutes.

My 17-year-old watched the show with me, and even she commented on how incredibly dramatic each story was. “We have 100 seniors at my [tiny] high school,” she said, “and there’s been exactly one pregnancy, two other girls who came back to school with babies, one traffic death, no suicides, and as far as I know no dead parents. Yet.” (At which point she gave me a disturbingly speculative squint.) There’s a point there: High School Confidential – being a TV show, after all — is intrinsically attracted to the Big Stories, good or bad; Judging by the experiences of my own kids and their friends, the day-to-day life of the high schooler isn’t nearly as high-anxiety as what we saw here.

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