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Archive for February 2007

Tax Season Blows (Again)

Posted on February 24, 2007 by under Life.    

It used to be that I loved tax time. Tax time to me was synonymous with two words: tax refund. That’s actually how Brian came to get his big screen TV years ago. It was a good refund year for me. Then again, we used to file separately. Now we are filing jointly and man, how that changes things.

Last year we had to pay $1600 plus in taxes. Brian and I cashed out our 401Ks from our previous employers and we got dinged big time. Cashing out your 401K is never a good idea. Any smart person will tell you that.

In Brian’s case he didn’t have a choice (if I am recalling this correctly). I think his balance was below the threshold that the firm was willing to keep without penalty. Of course, if you continue to make contributions, they don’t penalize you but Brian didn’t have another job at the time so we couldn’t make any additional contributions. The only thing to do was take it out.

I my case, I cashed out my 401K out of anger. I was mad at a credit card company for making me feel smaller than a mealworm so I decided to pay them off and never do business with them ever again. Of course, I really didn’t have the money to pay them off. The money had to come from somewhere and the only place I could get money from was my old 401K. So that’s the story there.

Last year was really crummy for us tax-wise. This year is still pretty crummy but at least we don’t have to pay $1600. We only have to pay about $800 ($150 to Federal and $650 to the state of Kansas) so it is half what we paid last year.. But we still have to pay. Man, I really miss the days of tax refunds!

Anyway, Brian is pretty happy with his current employer so there won’t be any job-hopping. I’m hopeful that the stability will help when it’s time to do taxes for 2007 next year. I could really use some refunds, specially since I’ll have to start paying on $50K in student loans. Yuck!

Of course, Brian had to point out that if we had a child we’d have an automatic $3500 tax deduction. All things remaining the same, we’d actually end up with a $2700 refund if this were the case.

The refund may seem tempting but that’s not a good reason to have children. And to be honest, raising a child takes a lot of time, love, and responsibility (among other things) so it’s not just about money. However, if you want to talk in dollar terms. The $3500 tax deduction really doesn’t cut it. The government is getting off cheap. Bump that deduction up to $10K and maybe I’ll think about it.

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Where to Find Wi-Fi

Posted on February 18, 2007 by under Flickr, Web.    

Beef Bul Go Gee (Sp?)

This just goes to show that you can find wi-fi at the most unexpected places. I had to check email before poker a couple of weeks ago but I wasn’t anywhere close to home. I had only a brief period to eat and check email before poker and I wasn’t anywhere near a good internet connection. I was at Ah-So II, this hole in the wall resto on the South side of town.

I was desperate so I took a chance. Lo and behold, there was unsecure wireless broadcasting from somewhere. It worked perfect. I got a bite to eat and was able to catch up on email. So now I’m on mission to find other places with free internet access.

Here’s what I have so far:
Ah-So II
The Bean Scene
Fox and Hound
Holiday Inn locations (Express, Select, and Wichita Airport)
Java Villa Cafe
Orient Espresso
The Vagabond
IHOP
Watermark Books and Cafe
La Quinta at the Wichita airport
Wichita State University*

*NOTE: The wireless connection at the WSU campus is free but it requires that your MAC address be registered. Instructions are available here. Please feel free to add your own list of free wireless internet locations. Let’s grow this list together! 🙂

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I Cant Sleep!

Posted on February 9, 2007 by under Family, Life, Poker.    

Well here it is at 7:30 in the morning and I cant sleep. Usually when my wife goes off to work i have no problem getting back to sleep and having happy happy dreams of us together, but today i cant get back to sleep. I went to bed around 1:00 in the morning (playing WOW to wind down from a long day at work) and woke up to my wife getting upset because the alarm didn’t go off and the dog was barking for some reason. It was important that she get up early because she had a training class that she is teaching and she had to be there early because it starts at like 7:30. This isn’t the first time our alarm has let us down, it has conveniently not gone off several times in the past (usually i get blamed for it). Thank god the dog barked! We don’t know what she was barking at, maybe the cats were fighting outside the door, maybe the dog had a bad dream or maybe Molly is just smart enough to know that Ching had to be up early and the alarm didn’t go off so she was looking out for her. Either way, thank god for the dog.

I’m excited about tonight, actually i am excited about this weekend. Tonight we have poker! Last week i went to the 10:00pm game, something that we normally don’t do because lately neither of us have made it far enough to be in the invite for the final session. Last week though Ching made it to the final 16 and earned a seat so we stayed for the final session. I showed up late because i am still working second shift (thank god only more week of that crap) and got short chipped and sat at a table. It was going well, i was playing smart and the cards were falling pretty good. Ching got knocked out and thought that i would be right behind her shortly. She went and got her home work and did that for a while and when she noticed that i was not going to go out right away she decided that she was going to leave. I told her that i probably wasn’t far behind (i only had a few chips left) and she told me to keep trying and she would see me when i came home. Several min later i was sure i was going to leave when I went all in with a medium hand, but I survived. I did it again and again till i had built up a substantial Chip stack. I text messaged Ching and told her that i was down to 4 people, several min later i told her it was 3. About 15 min later i told her i was heads up. The guy i was heads up with was someone i had only played a few times. We did the whole all in and fold thing a couple of hands. Then i just wanted to go home and he decided to go all in pre-flop with a King 4 off-suite. I had 6 7 suited. I was like “Sure, why not” call his all in and laid my cards down. He went on the usual poker person rant about how dominated i was and everything. He rolls out the cards and it was 5 4 queen. I had 4 to the straight. He said nothing and dealt the turn, it was trash. the final card was a three, i could see the disappointment on his face before i ever saw what the card was and knew i had won. He went on about how i sucked out and how i shouldn’t have won that blah, blah, blah! What it really comes down to is odds! I had more outs than he did heads up. I could have hit a 6, 7 or any number of spades for the winning hand, not to mention the straight. He had the king and the 4 and that was it. I was ecstatic to win, i immediately called the wife and started yelling “I WON, I WON”. the 2nd place finisher was still standing next to me but i didn’t care. I had won my first APL evening in several years. I tried to repeat that performance at the Blue Collar game on Sunday, but the poker gods weren’t having it. Hopefully with any luck i will place again tonight, if not i at least have the satisfaction of knowing that i won one finally, even if it is the only one i win for the next three years.

Tomorrow is going to be great. First Ching and i have a date at a local massage place for a couples session. I look forward to the relaxation and at the same time I am leary because its a new place and i am unsure of the quality. We are taking a break from Healing waters after they pissed me off so much at Christmas. I really hope this place is good cause its much cheaper and its right next to our house. Later in the evening we are meeting my parents for dinner at a place called Strouds to celebrate my promotion to CSA at work. Ching and I haven’t been there since our wedding reception, almost 5 years ago. All in all it should be a fun and hopefully very relaxing day.

Well i am running out of ideas to blog about so i am going to either play some WOW or try to go back to sleep (I still have to work later), i haven’t decided which. I was hoping that blogging would work like reading and make me sleepy, it works for my wife so i figured it should work for me.

So far I’m still wide awake and wishing my wife was here with me to cuddle with.

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Bad Karma

Posted on February 6, 2007 by under Flickr, Life, School.    

Parking Ticket -- ARRGH!

Good people experience bad karma, too — especially when they make bad choices. Yes, friends. I got busted.

For a couple of semesters now I’ve been parking illegally on campus. At first I’d only do it only once in a while. Most of the time on game nights. With the advent of Wichita State men’s basketball’s recent winning streak the popularity of basketball has increased. More people attend the basketball games than ever before. Usually game nights are plagued with chaos and anarchy in the parking lot so parking illegally is often excusable. Well, it’s the least of the campus police’s worries. Besides, usually there’s no where else to park. Actually, during the last home game even the faculty lot that I got accustomed to parking in was full so I had to scavenge for a different parking spot.

Anyway, getting away with it only encouraged the bad behavior. It came to a point when I would park in my favorite lot even on regular nights just because it was so covenient. A utilitarian at heart, I rationalized the behavior by telling myself that the ends justified the means. Okay, so maybe in this situation I may have let the hedonist side of me win but hey, we can’t all be good one hundred per cent of the time. To me a shorter trek to class was worth the risk of getting busted (particularly with the temperatures as cold as they have been). Or so it seemed, when I was getting away with it.

I am not really an unethical person. On the contrary, I’m probably one of the most straight-laced people you will ever meet. I have a great respect for rules — except of course when they cause me to walk through a frozen tundra for ten minutes at ten o’clock in the evening.

Kidding aside, one of the guys in Accounting class actually made a really astute observation a couple of weeks ago. He said that unethical behavior has more to do with opportunity rather than one’s character. He said, given a situation in which it is relatively easy (or convenient, in my case) to behave unethically and there is a slim likelihood of getting caught, ethical and unethical individuals have about the same predisposition to behaving unethically. He further stated that research has shown that in these situations, ethical people are just as likely as the unethical people to commit an unethical act. So you see, even good people fall prey to compromising situations.

As for me, I’ve learned my lesson. No more parking in faculty lots no matter how cold it is. The ends may justify the means but, at $60 a pop, this poor girl doesn’t have the means to continue to pay for any more parking fines.

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