Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Witness A Miracle..

I don't know where this took place, but it obviously went way over their heads. Sadly at the end not many applause. I would have gave a standing ovation. You go girl!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Truth In Advertising...

You know what burns me up? How fast food is advertised to look like a work of art, and the actual product is a bit less spectacular. For example, the Burger King Whopper. The photo to the right was taken straight from the Burger King website. It looks like the most appetizing burger ever made! Don't get me wrong. I love the whopper. I just don't understand how a company can advertise a product, and when you get to the location, you receive (technically) a completely different product. What if General Motors advertised the 2010 Camaro with a photo of the car in immaculate condition, made you pay for it before you saw it, then delivered to you a slightly less desirable looking car? And what gets me is this practice by fast food restaurants is accepted by almost everyone. When I bring it up, people say "well you just can't expect it to look like the picture." I don't accept that. The photo to the left is of an actual Whopper received by a customer. I would still eat it and enjoy it. I just resent the fact that the company can insult my intellect, and do it with a smile.

The same is true at McDonald's. And yes, I love McDonald's, but the Big Mac has the same attributes that can not be delivered as promised. The photo to the right is straight from the McDonald's website. I think years ago, when I was a kid, the Big Mac actually looked like the photo. Or maybe it is just a glitch in my memory. Most kids at that time held McDonald's in high regard. Get an "A" on your report card, and you got a free cheeseburger! I think my brother Jerry and I walked nearly 3 miles to redeem our report cards for 1 cheeseburger each. Once again, the actual product received by a McDonald's customer is shown below. I still eat them, but I am disappointed.

Not to be outdone, Long John Silver's seafood restaurants piss me off too. Not because of the quality of the end product, but the deceptive practice of making look like the meals will feed (and satisfy) a hungry adult. I ordered some type of combo meal a while ago, I received my food and stood there waiting for the employee to serve up the rest of the meal. When the server pointed out that that was the entire meal, I pointed out that I was a grown man and $5 should at least put a dent in my appetite. He didn't get it, he just looked at me like I was minutes from being on CNN.
Oh well, I am sure nothing can be done and I will continue to eat at all of the above fine food establishments. I just wanted to air my beef...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sungha Jung Plays Jason Mraz I'm Yours Acoustic

Sungha Jung Plays Jason Mraz I'm Yours Acoustic Cover

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bank Door Etiquette...

Like many banks, my bank has adopted a new security protocol. You can go in the first set of doors but you have to wait at the inside doors to be buzzed in. That is not all bad, but now you have to remove your hat and sunglasses (and keep them off) before you are allowed in. Like a good boy, I play along even though I have been banking there for 6 years and everyone knows me by first name basis. I know they are only "following the rules", but I always wear a baseball cap and sometimes I have on my prescription sunglasses and I can't see worth a crap without them.

What gets my goat here is the logic of the overall picture as viewed by the layman (me). The whole theory is I assume to prevent robbery. If that is the case, who cares who comes in? The problem is who is getting out! So how can they tell whether they are letting in a prospective robber? Only by the politically incorrect stereotyping could they prevent a robbery by keeping a robber out. I will give them the benefit of the doubt here and hope that they are really just trying to get a good photo of the alleged perpetrator by slowing patrons down at the door.

And what do you do if there is someone right behind you waiting to get in too? Are you polite and hold the door for them or are you supposed to slam it behind you so they can get the third degree too? What if in your opinion they look really suspicious, or what if THEY rob the bank, are you an accessory? Or worse yet, I really am the one that looks suspicious that you are letting in behind you. I would never rob the bank, but my humorous disposition put in this uncomfortable position does not help.

Ok, here is my solution. Let anyone and everyone come in the way they used to. After all we are all innocent until we actually rob the bank. Where the security needs to be, is on the way out. Most banks have double sets of doors to exit the building, put the locks on both sets and trap the robber between the doors on the way out. Yes, you would have to use bullet proof glass on the exits, or better yet, use ricochet glass (my invention). So if the robber fired his gun to break the glass, the bullet would keep bouncing around until it hit him. You could even use photosensitive glass so once trapped, flip the switch and he couldn't see anything. (and the law abiding citizens wouldn't have to watch him suffer after he shot himself from the ricochet glass). Or once he is trapped between the doors, a really strong vacuum comes from the ceiling and sucks all the money back from him.

Ok, I don't have all the answers, I just think it is stupid and inconvenient to keep people from getting INTO a bank, when what we are trying to do is keep a robber from LEAVING. There has got to be a better way.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Seven Signs Of Spring...

I really hate the northern Indiana winters. I have to admit this one is going by pretty fast though. I think it is because I have developed a new strategy; sleep. That's right, every opportunity I get, I just sleep. My theory is, that I will wake up and it will be spring. At least I am really not missing anything to speak of. I am getting fatter, but by golly when spring is really truly officially here, I will get on my bicycle and work it all off.

And the whole Punksatonny (intentionally misspelled) Phil thing is retarded. Who thought that whole thing up? We have the latest meteorological technology, and we rely on a rodent to give us the scoop? I don't get it anyway, if he sees his shadow, then we have 6 more weeks of winter? That would have meant the sun was out, right? Anyhow, I need to think of some stupid tradition like that, never mind, it wouldn't stick.

Being the eternal optimistic (can you tell?), I have seen the signs, and spring IS here regardless what the rat says. Here are the 7 signs spring is here already.

1. I saw a flock of high altitude geese. Yeah, they were flying kind of southeast, but I assume they must have just arrived at their destination. They surely couldn't be leaving, right?

2. Jimmie-Mac at work claims he saw a Robin. That is good enough for me.

3. A lady my wife knows saw a cutworm crawling across the road. I would not be able to recognize a cutworm, but I assume that if this lady can identify a cutworm, she must be an authority and I trust her completely.

4. It got up to like 62 degrees several days ago with an inch of hard rain. The Pineapple Express blew the warm weather here from the south. It melted all the snow.

5. 4311 heating degree days so far this year. That is some complicated formula that has to do with the temperature. I don't have a clue how it works, but according to THIS, the average for now is 4169, so we are 152 ahead. That has to mean something.

6. I saw a Mallard. One of those ring-necked green-headed full fledged duck! I looked it up on the internet to get their migratory patterns and all I got was this sob story about how SOME of them migrate and if you see one in February in Indiana, it is probably on it's way somewhere else. All I know is I haven't seen this guy around, and that is good enough for me.

7. Our daffodils poked their head out of the ground already. The ones nearest the house are over an inch tall. They have been around for thousands of years. Who am I to argue with them?

There you go, you heard it here first from Punksatownie Jim!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Mascot..

For the last 2 years, I have had a special friend. Rescued from the trash, my friend Joe has been my sounding board. He sits next to me on my computer speaker holding a rolled up dollar bill and 2 pennies. The money represents the millions of dollars I desire to make online. The determined look in Joe's eyes makes me feel confident that he is in deep concentration putting my latest plan into action. Joe is the general of my internet army.

I know it is childish and superstitious to have a mascot to help me run my business, but I am afraid to tell Joe he is not pulling his weight. I have been reasonably successful, so who's to say that Joe hasn't helped? I am afraid that if I was to get rid of him and act like a responsible adult, that my business would fold up and disappear. So for now Joe lives and thrives sitting on a speaker on my computer desk gazing intently at the monitor. Go Joe!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tax Laws...

I just want to express my discontent of the tax laws in the United States. I have a day job which puts me in the 25 to 28% tax bracket. I am not complaining so much about that. As a matter of fact, I was able to figure file my wife's and my taxes until... I started an online website and advertising hobby that actually turned out to start earning a little money.

At first it seemed great. All the programs that I was running would pay me tax free! I was very aware that since the transactions were all online and electronic, they were easily traceable. So I wanted to keep it honest and I knew I would eventually owe some tax on the money. I put like 80% of it in the bank since it was all gravy money anyway. At the end of the year, I decided to have an accountant (who was a friend of my dad's) figure out how much I actually owed. I was informed right off the bat that all the money I made on the side was subject to a "self proprietor" tax, which was 14% over and above my normal tax bracket. This made a total of 42% of the money I made on line went straight to federal tax. With State and local taxes, it came to almost 50% out the door. I wrote checks totaling $13,000. It really can make one second guess whether taking the time to build up a business online is really worth it.

Mr accountant guy said that I could save the 14% self proprietor tax if only I would incorporate. At that time it would amount to about $1500 a year. He said it would only cost about $300 and he hooked me up with an attorney to do the deed. That seemed easy enough, so I reported back to the accountant that I was now incorporated. He said that he would now have to file quarterly forms and I would have to prepay federal and state taxes and turn in my paperwork to him every 3 months. I met with him after the first quarter and sat down with him to discuss my progress. All seemed well, but the guy billed me $500 dollars! I called and asked him if that was going to be the case every quarter, and he said yes. I reminded him that it was his idea that I incorporate to save $1500, but now he was going to charge me $2000 a year? I think he got kind of pissed and put one of his cronies I'll call Walurus-Boy on my case.

I figured that was about how it was going to be, welcome to the real world. I worked on building the online business up so maybe it would be worth my while to pay Walrus-Boy $2000. To add fuel to the fire, the following year I opened an Ameritrade account on a stock tip from a guy I worked with to buy Sirius Satellite Radio stock. (this was 2004)I bought and sold the stock like 30 times during the year starting at $2.70 and finally selling out completely at around $7.00. I made close to $20,000 profit, but realized what a worry-wart I was becoming, sometimes buying and selling the stock a couple times a day. A couple times I called my wife from work to maybe pull the trigger on a trade. It was just too consuming and taking away from my new online business, so I closed the account and didn't even check the SIRI stock price for a couple months. I was happy to just be $20,000 in the black. Or so I thought...

For the next year's tax preparation, I turned in all the paperwork for 2004. I had kept track of how much money I had made from stock trading, but I guess I did not keep track of the exact date of every trade. I did keep track of the amounts but I guess that was not good enough. I was also informed when you don't hold a stock for a year before you sell it, you are subject to capital gains tax. Which when added to my regular tax bracket, amounted to around 50% again. Is this a great country or what? For 2004, I ended up writing a check for $10,000. Only this time I received 2 bills from Walrus-Boy for $500 each. When I called to talk to them about it, they wouldn't return my calls. Finally some woman from the firm called. I had no idea who she was and she was not familiar with my case. Both the owner and now Walrus-Boy were too busy to take my call. I called my attorney (yes the one recommended by the accountant) and explained to him what was going on. He agreed with me, that the accounting firm was trying to fire me like the chicken shits they are. He said to pay the 1 (one) bill for $500 and write "paid in full" on the check. If they cash it then we are even, but my days with them are done. They did cash the check and I never heard from them again. Now I had to find a new accountant that charges a reasonable fee.

I have been with my current accountant (great guy) and he charges me $200 a quarter, and $200 at the end of the year for our personal taxes. My online internet business has stayed the same income level. It grosses around $30,000 and yes, no matter how you work the numbers, about half goes to taxes. For me to take money out of the corporation, I can pay myself a payroll check of $2000 every quarter and take a dividend of $1000. With the payroll check of $2000, my company has to pay $56 to the IRS, another $563 to the IRS and another $109 to my state. The $2000 I pay myself now becomes personal taxable income, and my accountant generates a w-2. There is also the state department of workforce development (unemployment tax), and even my township taxes me on my office equipment inventory.

The bottom line is that the whole damn thing is just way too complicated to run a business. I can see why people say to hell with it, the system is set up for businesses to fail. I run the business out of my house, and half of everything I earn I do not get to keep. I wonder how businesses that rent retail space even make it, especially in today's economy. They may make enough to come out even, not the business owner's dream we grew up with.

If someone was to ask me now, would I recommend they start their own business, I would have to say no, to hell with it....