Tag Archives: family

Teenagers Are Cheap?

As a newly acclaimed Philosopher-without-portfolio, I have taken my responsibilities seriously, to think about whatever needs to be thought about–without restrictions. I recently completed and submitted my income taxes. Naturally, that involves a great deal of thought, usually such things as, “I need something for my headache,” or “I don’t usually drink hard liquor, but it’s beginning to sound better and better.”

I use TurboTax, which is causes mixed feelings. Yes, it is helpful and yes, it’s about 1/10 the cost of having someone prepare it for me; however, it’s parent company, and all the companies that have anything to do with tax preparation, were the ones who lobbied (a polite term for hiring and unleashing high paid but unscrupulous experts) to prevent the simplification of the tax code. After all, if taxes were simple enough to submit on a post card, these people might have to get honest jobs.

But I digress (it’s a philosophical thing).

One of the many oddities in the tax code is the child tax credit. This is means you can reduce your federal tax by up to $1000 per child. The criteria include that the child lived with you, is your dependent, you paid for their support (food, clothing, etc.). It also requires that the child be younger than seventeen.

Now, I’ll reserve my opinion about politicians, the Internal Revenue Service, lobbyists, etc., but do they have any idea as to how costs change as a child gets older. I could clothe both my kids for a year for the same amount of money as I now spend on their shoes. Once they hit that magic age to get a driver’s license, auto insurance increases.

With two teenagers with drivers licenses I spend as much on car insurance in two years as what my first house cost. One of them is away at college, can’t have his car on campus, but since it’s less than 100 miles, the price stays the same. Add in the class photos, yearbooks, formal dances, etc., and those incidentals for college, like books, tuition, room and board, and you get the picture.

But someone has decided that kids must be cheaper after they turn 17 and included it in the tax code. They must be in one of those states where recreational marijuana is not only legal, but can be written off as a business expense.

I’ve Been Busy—Not Ignoring You

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing the materials for an emergency communications course. It’s amazing that when someone else has prepared over 600 PowerPoint slides (with notes) that it would take so much time to update. Why? Because what we know today about dealing with disasters is more than what we knew before Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Personally, I believe that being better prepared for the future is a good thing.

On the other hand, I’m working on my short story—which has become at least a novelette (a short version of a short book? Huh?)—continues to develop. The more I learn about the characters (and more characters keep popping up), the more complex—but interesting—the story becomes. However, if a new character appears, a whole lot of the backstory changes. As a writer, I have a certain duty to the characters. Without me, they are doomed to shrivel away to nothingness, through no fault of their own. They deserve better, so I try to tell their stories. So far, the characters include a not-quite-dead aged business multi-multi-billionaire, several lawyers, most of whom are self-serving, but one of whom has a national security background, a distant relative who can see how the pieces fit, and someone (thing?) who seems to have many of the answers, but who is known as Zaznoz (sounds like a new drug or a new exercise routine to me).

Then I do need to devote time to the day job.

Not to mention that we celebrated Christmas with close friends, followed by my daughter-in-law and the grandchildren, who drove ten hours (I think she was being nice and understated the journey length) to visit us and to make for a wonderful time.

Oh, and my older son used his 3D printer to make my Christmas gift—a full size, accurate replica of Han Solo’s blaster. (Is that cool or what?)

Han Solo’s Blaster (Let’s me shoot first).

 

So, as you see, it’s not lack of interest in blogging, just lack of time.

Beware of Sermon!

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Today’s Sunrise from Virginia Beach, VA, USA.

Sorry, we interrupt the sunrise over the Atlantic to deal with some totally expected, unsurprising idiocy from the media (as in not too bright….etc.).

Fox News had two stories today;

Is your number of sex partners normal?

AND

Is Christianity really at an end? (Although after the teasing, slightly provocative headline it does state that the demise is overstated.)

First, let’s talk about sex partners. Reasonable people may make mistakes while searching for someone with whom they can share a beautiful interdependence. Others take advantage of this. In a perfect world a shining arrow would appear over them perfect sex/love/sharing kitchen, children, soccer duties, etc. partner.  That partner may not be perfect, but would be a perfect fit for you.

Second, if Christianity were at an end, (and I weren’t a Christian), I’d head for the hills. I mean I’d head for the hills that would make the Mount Everest Sherpas pass out. If God invested his only Son in us and now Christianity is at an end, I think He’d have every reason to say, “That’s it! Let’s throw in the cards and I’m going to open a sealed deck and deal a new hand.

End of sermon.  Back to the sunrise.

It’s NOT Speed-dating!

The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali (and his mustache) Courtesy about.com

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali (and his mustache)
Courtesy about.com

Fortunately, I’m past those that deal with dating, on-and-off relationships, and other unsure bets. I am the embodiment of the line from When Harry Met Sally, “Promise me I’ll never be out there again.”

Especially given some of the strange rituals that accompany the process these days. Speed-dating? Really?

Apparently you sit with a person of whichever sex interests you for a very brief period of time—as in minutes—and try to learn enough about the other person to determine if he or she might be worth more time (apparently if that other person has the same opinion of you).

Imagine my horror when I realized that having two teenagers at home is just like speed-dating my wife. We have five minutes in the morning before we each head in different directions.

“When did you say Katie’s trip was?”

“Did I hear something about a soccer tournament for Adam?”

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Wait, did you pay the credit card bill?”

“Call me.”

“No you call me, maybe we can do lunch.”

I’m going to go down to the office supply store and get a couple of those “Hello, My name is:” stickers, and a letter of introduction from some high and lofty personage, and see if that….

Ooops, sorry, gotta run.

Weekend

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I guess I could claim that I didn’t get anything done this weekend.

Spent all day Saturday with other ham radio operators providing communications for the local “Tour de Cure” – a bicycle ride/fund raiser for diabetes research.

Sunday, after church, went and babysat my granddaughter so my daughter-in-law could catch up on some chores. Grabbed a nap then cooked dinner for my son’s 16th birthday.

On the other hand, I everything done that was important.

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving – the traditional start of the second phase of the Christmas shopping season; the first phase began after Halloween.

Once upon a time, in my life, Thanksgiving was a time for the family to gather. For a few years I was in the right place at the right time to host the family Thanksgiving. Alas, I was the one whose destiny moved me away from the rest of my family.

This Thanksgiving was more different than most.

My 15 year old son was off on his first solo trip. He’s headed to Baton Rouge, LA to see an LSU game up close and personal. He’s an LSU fan both by genetics and environment. We’ll just leave it at that.

I’ve mentioned my father’s current situation in the past. Physically he’s still challenged; however, when I speak with him on our daily calls, I can still make him laugh. How can we laugh in the face of death? We’ve connected on a level that neither of us ever expected. I’d rather we share it with laughter even if it’s amidst any tears.

But back to Thanksgiving.

As I’ve gotten older, I worry less about the Holidays in terms of their spiritual significance.

I am not in the proverbial, privileged 1%. However, I am blessed that my family does not lack for anything critical. When an unexpected challenge occurs, the answer – like manna in the desert – always appears.

We Catholics are taught to begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross. I told my dad that I rarely use the sign of the cross outside of Sunday Mass; on a daily basis, I never quite finish my prayer. In the morning, I wish God a good day (How stupid [but sincere] is that?) I walk down the hall at work and thank God that I have a job – and a good one at that. Sometimes I just say, “Hi. I’m thinking of you.” Oh, and by the way God, I love you and am happy that you love me.

My Thanksgiving is every day.

Of course, my begging for forgiveness and mercy is also every day.

So today, I give thanks for my family. I give thanks for the blessing of a God who is able to focus on me and every other one of His children so up close and personal. Tomorrow I expect to be thankful all over again.

There is so much to give thanks for.

Quickstart Guide for New Parents

baby

Congratulations on starting your family. As a new parent you may be concerned about properly raising your child. There’s no need to worry, all of the documentation required is included with your new baby.

This Quickstart Guide will give you key information on raising your family until you have time to read the entire manual.

Your oldest child will act as a practice model. It is expected that you will be more attentive, more restrictive and generally more paranoid about this child. It is normal to check on a first baby every few minutes when sleeping to make sure he/she’s breathing. You can expect to favor healthy, possibly organic-locally grown and home pureed foods. You may decide to restrict television to educational channels or prohibit it entirely. Every bump and minor bruise will cause you to rush to the emergency room.

However, subsequent children will require less attention. For your second or later child you will permit them to eat whatever they want, watch television 23 hours a day, and only missing limbs or arterial blood spurts will capture your attention. In addition, these younger children come equipped with the highly developed ability to irritate your oldest child and cause him/her to misbehave badly. This sibling interaction will keep the entire family involved for hours.

It’s normal that you and your spouse will each have very specific ideas as to how the child should be raised. Each of you will expect the other to adapt on issues from cultural mores, manners, education, and hobbies right down to details, such as the correct way to fold clothes. Don’t worry, because you’re both wrong.

You may have received the optional “advice” feature for your child. Ideally this is provided through a maiden aunt who will be happy to provide unsolicited advice on how children should be raised and direction on all manner of parenting issues.

Again, this is only a Quickstart Guide. Remember to read the entire Child Rearing Handbook, which will save you much time and anguish. The Child Rearing Handbook is contained in the same envelope as your child’s warranty card, and receipt in case you decide to return or exchange the child. These items can be found conveniently located fg hu6th heiemn ded.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact us 1-8hg-stf-xd#@ or at http://www.&^hsg463nbgm.com/hasythr

Once again, congratulations on starting your family.