Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why We Don't Get The Newspaper

Yesterday while waiting at Pios for my pepperoni to be sliced I started reading the story on the cover our local newspaper, my attention having been caught by a headline of a local property tax cut for 2008: Tax cut likely as city levy frozen. Those in Indiana will understand as taxes for many rose sharply last month. Mine was only slated to go up a paltry 34% but I talked them down to 8%. Sheesh.

The story (see below) goes on to state that instead of increasing property taxes for 2008, as our beloved corrupt mayor wants, they will most likely use the same painfully high tax rate as 2007. I may only have a public school education but this is most certainly not a tax cut. The liberal paper is trying so hard to spin a positive Democrate message out of this that it's ridiculous. The 2008 tax rate was not even official, and yet by not raising our taxes for 2008 we have somehow gotten a tax cut.

That's like a bully saying that he gave you a sandwich as he takes your twinkie because originally he was going to take your entire lunch.

They want me to pay money for news like this??!?!

< stolen article >
Fort Wayne residents should see a drop in city property taxes next year after the City Council unanimously approved a flat tax levy for 2008.

The council Tuesday approved a proposal from Councilmen John Crawford, R-at-large, and Tim Pape, D-5th, to cut Mayor Graham Richard’s proposed property tax levy by $3.7 million. The levy is the total amount of property taxes collected by a government.
With the cut, the city would collect the same amount of property taxes next year that it will this year: $99.4 million.

Controller Pat Roller estimated the cut would mean the owner of a $100,000 house in the city will save $15.50 in city property taxes next year. Richard’s proposed budget would have meant a $3.38 increase in city taxes for the same home owner.

Taxes will drop even though the amount collected remains the same because the overall amount of property taxed is expected to increase through appreciation and new construction. The more people who pay the same bill, the less each one pays.

The cut, however, was challenged by Roller. She said it would lead to the emptying of the city’s cash reserves by 2012. If the council approves a proposal to begin saving money to pay off $226 million in unfunded police and fire pension liabilities, she said the cash reserves will run out in 2010. Roller also said several financial factors remain unknown for next year’s budget, including how much income tax revenue the city will receive.

The council also unanimously approved about $1.3 million in spending cuts, including removing the money for 10 police officers and five firefighters. Crawford, who authored the cuts, said they reflect the two departments’ history of having open positions and spending less money than budgeted. He said the council would likely approve more money if staffing levels were higher than normal.

The cuts in spending, however, don’t match the cut in revenue for the city, meaning the city will have to make further cuts or dip into its cash balance to pay for the difference. Pape said the easiest way to make government work more efficiently is to give it less money to operate.
“Do you really think there isn’t any more excess, fat or performance to be improved upon?” he asked. “This is not risky. This is not irresponsible.”

Crawford said the city also has an estimated $40 million in a trust that will come due in 2009 that can be used to pay off obligations if necessary.

Pape said he hoped cutting the amount of money available for city government would again spur discussions on how to combine like departments with county government.

Councilman Tom Hayhurst, D-4th, said the cut was a good way to show taxpayers the council is responsive to their concerns about rising tax bills. Many on the council said they have heard from residents how rising property tax bills are hurting them.
< /stolen article >

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And the results are in...

The Jet 708315LSB. It's got the belt drive for greater accuracy, a big'n'wide table, doesn't weigh 287 pounds like the other finalist and is $300 less than the other finalist. Sure, it may have the crappy motor that may only last 5-7 years (hopefully more as Jet is a fine maker of tools) but even if it does I can buy one very nice replacement motor with the money I've saved. It's a gamble but I'm just crazy enough to try it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Decisions AHOY!

Like most guys in their mid-thirties with a mortgage and family, 98.2% of my income is allocated for things that have the purchased: mortgage, food, utilities, home repair supplies, payments to the mob, and caulk. I'm not complaining, just stating a well documented fact.

But a few times a year I get the luxury of making a NON-REQUIRED PURCHASE! Now is one of those times. Normally my selection is a non-required piece of music gear. Earlier this year I bought two drum machines from a co-worker: an Alesis SR-16 and a Roland R8. Sure, I still had my trusty Casio RZ-1 and the ten drum banks on my jammin' Yamaha consumer keyboard, but he only wanted $100 for the both of 'em and I could sell one on eBay make nearly $100 so it's like it was free, right? Well, all three drum machines are now enshrined in my music area, chomping at the bit to be the one used for the two or three songs I record each year. Despite that I have yet to fully learn how to program the incredible sounding R8 (used by seven out of ten 80s new wave bands) I have no regrets on this transaction.

When I'm not buying superfluous drum machines I usually have a piece of gear that I pin my hopes and dreams upon. For the last year it's been the Behringer DSP2024P effects processor. Sure, I already have reverb and echo and chorus and flange and LFO oscillators and... Well, this thing also has spring reverb and aural exciters and expanders and a few other tricks up it's sleeve... and again at the magic price of $100! I even went so far as the buy the bolts and nuts to install it in my effects rack. But it's difficult to justify such an extravagant, frivolous purchase when the car needs brakes or the co-pay of a monthly medicine is $35 or the property taxes/car insurance are going up again.

However I am currently at an important junction... I have the necessity to purchase an item that also falls into the "fun loud guy toy" category: the table saw. I've been using a Sears bench top version for about fourteen years. Seven years ago the motor burned out and the replacement motor was almost as much as buying a whole new saw. Seven years seems to be the magic number because when I turn my table saw on these I smell ozone. I did a bit of work yesterday and two hours later I walked into the garage and the ozone was still thick and palpable. The writing is on the wall that the motor is not long for this world.

The conundrum is that I could buy another $100 motor. Or another $120 saw. Or I could even upgrade to a $200 saw with a larger table and more accuracy. But there would still be the seven-year time bomb ticking away under the hood. No, the question is do I spend a little now and get the same mediocre quality along with the knowledge that I'm only renting the tool or do I invest my money instead of just spending it, taking the plunge to finally buy a beefier saw that comes with a beefier price tag but will last until my beefcake body is speckled with liver spots.

This decision, along with which saw will eventually entice my bank account, will require much rumination, consideration, and self-discovering therapy. The effects processor will have to wait...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Or maybe it's just a new video from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. This creepy, changing instrumental is a favorite of mine from their latest album and much more indicative of their sound than their earlier video.

The Widening Eye

Friday, September 14, 2007

Looks Just Like Me

My daughter Lyndi drew this a bit ago... it's what I would look like if I had my neck stretched out with those brass rings.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So Many T-Shirts, So Little Time

While putting away laundry the other day I realized that out of the five drawers in my dresser, four of them are given over mostly to T-Shirts. That’s a lotta T-shirts, especially when I realized that I haven’t purchased a T-shirt in years*. So where do they all come from?

Well, the few that I had purchased about five years ago were solid colors and probably a size too large. No words or pictures or designs. A tabula rasa that refuses to divulge personal details to strangers.

I have a number of shirts purchased for me by my wife and kids for father’s day or just for fun: The Beatles circa 1964, Underdog, Napoleon Dynamite, an aardvark. From my sister is a very cool Mickey Mouse shirt in black and red, given to me back in college and she couldn’t understand why if I liked it so much I didn’t wear it more often… now in worn thin tatters.

There’s a one of a kind hunter green with a white woodcut of Abraham Lincoln, still in great condition, a “proof” shirt from my days at The Lincoln Museum over ten years ago. There’s also a grey one that has fared less well.

Let us not forget the Mr. Peabody T-shirt from my grandfather for Christmas. This was the year that he ordered everyone’s gifts from catalogs, in retrospect a sign that his aging lifestyle was slowing down even further.

Various other shirts now used for painting and working on the car… one with a train on it, one for a long-defunct band Frog Hollow- a gift from a high school teacher who was also a friend when I went to see his sons band (the aforementioned Frog Hollow) and he was indirectly asking my opinion if his son was wasting his life away pursuing music instead of a college degree- various shirts that I forgot or was too lazy to change out of before painting or working on a project, now doomed to a decaying life of paint streaks and oil circles.

The few concert T-Shirts are packed away for archeological studies in the year 2105, most notably an Alice Cooper shirt from his 1987 tour. Possibly saved is a gorier one from his 1988 tour (both of which narrowly missed being eBayed with I needed some cash a few years ago). Most likely gone is a Welcome To My Nightmare shirt that I had custom made in 1985 at the Woodburn County Fair, tagging along with Brad Owens, the best guitar player I knew. Also MIA is a custom made Fluid Imbiber shirt with artwork penned up in that plastic fabric pen gunk, a nearly sheer (it came that way) yellow beauty from the Baa Baa do Sheep Manure company, and the shirt for Adam Again’s album Dig.

Speaking of “not in the drawer” is a T-shirt of my dad’s business, Hoffman Nursery, framed and hanging proudly in the basement alongside a shirt from my father-in-laws business, Davis Construction.

Perhaps I should mention the asterisk above… the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum T-Shirt purchased just this past summer as part of a “package” with their latest album for just a few dollars more. It’s a very dark green and the smallish design is in black so you can barely see it. But sometimes I wear it, a vain hope in my head that some other SGM freak will be hanging out at Lowe’s and befriend me. So far nothing but there’s always Home Depot.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Tax Dollars At Work

I took a nice walk over lunch, perusing the downtown of our lovely city. My journey brought me to a four-man concrete crew that was replacing a section of sidewalk that I'm almost certain was just poured at the beginning of summer. Even stranger was the other city utility employee waiting on the sidelines, shaking cans of yellow and blue paint, just itching to spray water and gas marks on the wet concrete.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

The girls stayed up until 12:30 last night, the boys didn't come over as planned, and I woke up at 8:00 regardless of my resolution to sleep in late.

But the crabbiness has been very minimal, I got a bit of work done around the house, and I finally got to do something with Melynda that we've been wanting to for years. Yep, we rode on the River Greenway all by ourselves for a full six miles going from Anthony almost to the park between Fort Wayne and New Haven - a dream come true. The sounds and smells and sights reminded me of days at my dads and it was a great adventure that we'll surely remember as we sit in the parlor of the olde age home. A good time was had by all and Neale Carr preached a brief Bible message.

Now it's 8:00 PM and we're all exhausted, sticky, full of mosquitoe bites, and rested from an enjoyable Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hello. My name is uvulapie and I have a problem.

So there I was, watching a VHS tape on the last five years of Bela Bartok's life, and they were playing bits of his Concerto For Orchestra. This astounding piece has always been a favorite of mine but having not heard it for a few years, hearing the melodies and anticipating the music to come actually made my heart beat a tad faster, an affliction that has also occurred with some Sleepytime Gorilla Museum songs, but I digress. Oddly enough, I accidentally "discovered" Bartok's Concerto For Orchestra when I bought a CD with Lutoslawski's work by the same name after hearing the local orchestra play it and the CD just happened to pad out the album by throwing on the Bartok piece. But I digress again.

Also on this video was excerpts from Bartok's Third Piano Concerto. While listening to these I found myself wondering why it didn't sound even slightly familiar to my ears. I rushed (okay, it's Saturday afternoon so I did my usual drunken crawl) to my collection and sure enough, I owned it on a CD with his other two piano concertos. Picking up the album I realized that it was still in it's shrink wrap. I need help.

Bartok Midi.