Daily Archives: April 15, 2008

Clearing Out

Since I had to drag half the crap in my office closet out of the closet yesterday to give the plumber access to the pipes, I decided to drag all of it out today and reorganize. Here’s where it stands:

Books: I just dragged eight boxes of books, which is, I don’t know, a couple hundred books or so, over to the library so they can take the ones they want and put the rest into the next library sale. Before any publicists get horrified looks on their faces, these are not books from the last year, but books before then, so relax. These particular books were excellent books — lots of history and science and SF paperbacks — but it’d been so long since I’d even looked at them that it was time to let them go. The librarians were delighted; the books get turned into money at the next book sale. That makes me happy too. I like my local library.

CDs: six boxes of CDs, at least a hundred CDs in each box but probably more; I dragged them all down into the basement with all my other CDs and could help but think that all of them could fit handily on my Archos, and that as long as I had my Rhapsody subscription, I could just ditch all of them and never notice they were gone. 2008 does have its advantages. I may pay a local teenager minimum wage to burn all the CDs onto a hard drive (and then let him/her keep any CDs they want), or I may just say “screw it” and throw them all away. Haven’t decided.

Obsolete Game Systems: I have an Atari 2600, an Odyssey 2, and an Intellivision packed away, with several dozen game cartridges. The Atari and Intellivision games I can play online, legally through Gametap and illegally just about anywhere, and doing so is really much easier than trying to find a modern TV that works with any of these systems. I bought these all in 2001 or so, when I had more money than I knew what to do with and was feeling kooky nostalgia for 1979; I played them for a couple of months and then just shelved them. I might put these on eBay; just throwing them out seems wrong. Of course, if any of you want them, make me an offer, but be warned: they come as is.

Obsolete Windows boxen, monitors, keyboards, speakers, etc: These don’t even have nostalgia value, they’re just old crap. I have no idea why I keep this crap, but I do — while looking through stuff I found computer memory boards from, like, 1991. I need to find somewhere around here that recycles this crap, because there’s probably too much mercury in them to throw them away.

Scalzi’s Big Box O’ Nostalgia: a big box that has all my writings from high school and college, plus pictures and mementos, like, oh, my college diploma. I’ll be keeping this stuff.

A hunting bow, a battle axe, a sword: Really, don’t ask. Of these, the hunting bow is an actual weapon, and yes, as a matter of fact, I’m a pretty good shot.

Assorted junk: Some of the stuff I really can’t identify. Rule of thumb: If I can’t recognize what it is (or was) within five seconds, I don’t need it. It’s probably why it was in the closet in the first place. Out it goes.

What’s really amazing is just how much of this stuff there is. At the moment, it really and truly looks like there was an explosion in my office. Once it’s all thrown out and/or reorganized, I have no doubt the room will look almost spartan. At the moment, however, yeeeegh.

And now, off to tidy up just a little before Krissy gets home. I was testing her tolerance as it was. The mess right now will get me murdered.

Tax Day 2008

Tax day here in the US, and given that our overall income was up last year by a fair amount, we ended up owing a rather significant amount today, federal, state and local. Because I’m self-employed, we also have to file quarterly taxes today as well, again, federal, state and local. So — joy — I get taxed twice on the same day. To give you an idea of how much we’ve paid out today in taxes, the proverbial picture worth a thousand words:

This is where being apparently one of the few American families that actually puts a significant amount of its annual income into savings comes in handy; we’ve got it covered. And we knew it was coming, so it’s not like we weren’t ready for it. It’s still just wacky to have to pay out that much at one time, especially when we’ve already been paying out quarterly.

We pay a lot in taxes, but I don’t think we pay too much in taxes; we have quite a lot of deductions and we have a smart accountant, which is good (as opposed to a clever accountant, which can get you into trouble), and as a percentage of our overall income, our tax bite is not especially onerous. Sure, it doesn’t feel that way just this very second, but when I calculate it out it the percentage does not send me into paroxysms of rage.

Also, I have never been able to manage the sort of doublethink that allows some people to believe that answer to every possible problem is a tax cut, even as they spend more on government services of all sorts. Being as I am a real grown-up, I understand I need to pay in for services the government provides, rather than piling up debt for my child and her generation to deal with. Whether we need a government as big as we have is an open question, although I would suggest if one believes we don’t (and I may be one of these), the way to deal with it is shrink the government and then reduce taxes to fit, rather than reduce taxes and shrink the government to fit, since over the last 30 years it’s clear we don’t do a very good job of the latter.

Money is magical thinking in some respects, since none of it is actually tied to anything real anymore; its value is just a shared hallucination. That said, I prefer my magical thinking to be of a practical bent, which means paying a reasonable amount of taxes and not whining like a kicked dog about it. To repeat: We pay a lot in taxes. I don’t think we pay too much.

How is your tax day going? Get a return? Owe some money? Got the sum smack dab perfect and owe nothing? Share!