Veteran’s Day 2015

It’s that time again folks.  Time to celebrate the fine folks who put their lives on the line to protect this country.  So while your kids are home from school today you can–oh, right, Veteran’s Day still has school.  Well, regardless, why not gather your kids up (or buddies if you don’t have any kids) and regale them in stories of military exploits.  If not your own, then perhaps somebody else’s?

For those of you who might remember, this past July my Great Grandfather died.  He was a Veteran of World War II.  So this year, instead of just a handful of loose pictures formed into a Photopost, I figured I’d tell you a story he once told me.  The story of how he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

You see my Grandfather was never a wealthy man.  He worked the family farm and also worked in the mines to make ends meet.  One day he went to the bank and deposited his life Savings…$19.

About a week later he was in the store and came upon a realization: He was doing pretty well for himself.  He owned a home, he had money in the bank, and he had a family back home.  So he decided to buy a newspaper.  The front page said something about a big crash, but he didn’t know what kind of vehicle a ‘Stock Market’ was.

That’s right…my Grandfather invested his life savings a week before the stock markets crashed causing the Great Depression to begin.  He lost everything he had saved in the crash, all nineteen dollaridoos.

Needless to say he decided that newspapers were bad news, had nothing but bad news in them.  So a few years passed and he was working in the mines for a dollar a day and then working the farm to try to feed his family.  He heard a rumor that the Army was paying twice that…two dollars a day!

So he drove in town and signed up for a tour of duty with the Army.  He was on the bus down to Basic Training when he got into a conversation with a fellow recruit and said why he had joined.  He was puzzled by the other recruits response, “Wait…you didn’t hear about what happened in Hawaii?”

“Hawaii?  What happened.”

“The Japanese bombed us…we declare war on them in December.  We’re at war.”

Now he was a lucky man in that he made it home unscathed.  From that point on he decided to keep a little bit better track of the news before making any life decisions.

~RCS

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Who’s On Twentieth?

I’m going to say something here that might be considered rather controversial.  First of all, and this will alienate half of my potential fanbase, I support Feminism and am a Feminist, myself.  I support women’s equality in media and in real life.  If you’ve read my book, Escort, or played any of the games we’ve produced through Nic3Ntertainment you might already have an inkling of that.

Now, the rest of this post will probably alienate the other half.

An organization of women want to change the face of the person on the $20 bill from Former President Andrew Jackson (in case you don’t keep up with the news, he was a two-term president in the early 1800s) to a woman.

I suppose this…I mean, I opport this.  Hrmm, let me try to finagle what I’m trying to say.  I do partially support their endeavor; however I disagree with the premise on a base ideal.  Now let me explain what I mean.

They have decided, after rigorous polling, to push for Harriet Tubman to be put on the $20 bill, in the year 2020, the centennial of the Women’s Suffrage movement.  I personally would have chosen Alice Paul, myself, had I been invited to partake in the voting.  Tubman was a great American Hero, there’s no doubt, but to celebrate Women’s Suffrage they choose…an abolitionist hero?

But, regardless of my personal preference on what order women are to be named as national heroes, I disagree with replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman for a very simple and base reason: Tubman was never president.  I, personally, feel that U.S. Dollar Bills should only have U.S. Presidents on it.

Now, I know what you might say in response to that:

You sexist pig, you just don’t women on money!

And that’s not how we achieve a positive dialogue.  The more moderate of you might actually say something like this:

What about Alexander Hamilton?  He was never president and he’s on the $10 bill!

US_$10_Series_2003_obverse

You are absolutely correct.  Which is why I support removing Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill and putting someone else on it.  Like Teddy Roosevelt or perhaps Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Or even John Tyler, who was the tenth preside—I can’t even finish that sentence, Tyler doesn’t deserve the honor, don’t put him on any money, please.

One might even recall, were they wealthy enough to see a $100 bill recently, that Benjamin Franklin is on it.  Also never president, although I know that comes as a surprise to some people.  So there we go…we could replace Hamilton with FDR and Franklin with Teddy.  I’d be perfectly fine with that.

 

Now the ladies of the Women on 20s organization do have a surprisingly meritorious argument for removing Jackson.  Andrew Jackson is a war hero, there’s no denying that, and he was certainly a badass.  But he did sign the Indian Removal Act that caused the Trail of Tears and numerous other atrocities against the Native Americans.

Again, my main argument is that I already want the non-President people stripped from the money, I don’t want to be adding on to the problems.  Now, once we get rid of Franklin and Hamilton, we can look at replacing Andrew Jackson with another President.  Maybe one that even the Women on 20s could get behind…

hillary-clinton_nocrop_w529_h282_2x

~RCS

4th Anniversay

No, not of the site.  It’s my fourth anniversary with my fiancé.  Not that any of you care; I just thought I’d mention it.

We’ve come a long way since Day One four years ago.  I was toiling away as a the lowest-tenured Sergeant (a shift supervisory position) hoping that in ten years I might get promoted to Sergeant, if our post was able to stay far enough above water to keep from getting shut down (it wasn’t, BTW, I jumped ship and transferred about six months before they fired everyone but the Captain and brought in rookies at about half our pay).  She was still living at home with her parents and could only visit me in my apartment on weekends and looking for a job that wouldn’t interrupt her classes.  I came home every day to a domestic disturbance down the road, or a home invasion across the street, or a shooting at the other side of town.

Now, four years later…I’m a Lieutenant in charge of 3 posts, she’s throwing away job offers because they’re coming too often, and we own our own house…that we live in together!  And our house is in a nice, quiet neighborhood where the neighbors have actually walked over and introduced themselves.  My next door neighbor even gave us cucumbers as a welcome gift!  Sure it’s not a pie like in the movies, but I like cucumbers so I’m happy with the deal.

And in a few weeks I’m going on vacation, because I actually have paid vacation days, to Otakon in Baltimore.  I didn’t want to drive to, or in, Baltimore so I got tickets on a Greyhound and actually said to myself “Ninety-six dollar?  That’s not a bad deal, I’ll but them.”  Almost a hundred dollars and I just spent the money, because I have enough in the bank to comfortably do that.  Hell yeah!!  Sure beats when I rolled out of the service and found myself living on $18 a month, living with my mother and eating rice and BBQ sauce every day, occasionally treating myself to fourteen-cent packs of ramen.

And to think, my High School Guidance Counselor told me I was going to be a waste to society just because I didn’t want to go to college.  I have four college students or graduates working for me because I got a jump-start in employment and experience and climbed the ladder while they were raking in student loan debt.  Take that American Education System!

~RCS

Update: I ficed a pivotal typo that change the whole tone of a line, like…into a nonsensical jumble.  Take that silly fingers!

Contract Work vs. Allowance

You know, when I was in High School a lot of my peers talked about their allowances.  Mostly about how little they got and how much they wanted.  In the early days, it was $10 a week, back in middle-school.  Then by Sophomore year it was closer to $50 a week.  When that wasn’t enough a few people got a job or two, but a few went the other way and started their own business.

The guy who sat in front of me in one of my classes admitted that he made $5,000 a week.  I figured that’s a pretty good allowance, so I asked him about it.  It was a pretty simple job…buy goods straight from the manufacturer for dirt-cheap and sell it at high-value markup.  His product of choice was a mixed-bag of ‘goodies’: Weed, coke, meth, and crack mostly.  He claimed he could do even more, but at $5k a week he was making just enough to pay for his own habit, along with enough for a pair of Nike shoes or designer jeans or something.

So the filled-in tear drop means you made honor roll and the empty one means Magna Cum Laude? That’s nifty!

He’s probably dead by now, but the fact is that he had a good shtick.

I got an ‘allowance’ when I was a kid, too.  Until I was almost ten I was paid 25 cents an hour to do household chores.  When I realized minimum wage at the time was $4.25 an hour.  I negotiated myself to $2, like both of my older sisters were getting at that time, within a few years.  Of course by then, minimum wage $4.75 an hour…damn inflation.

I was expected to do an hour a week of free work in chores, then I got paid $1.00 for the first hour and $2.00 for each hour after that.  I used to wait a month to get paid, because I didn’t want to have to start over at half-price again.

My mother told me this was not acceptable and I would have to be paid every week.  I cried foul and admitted I saw the value of waiting until I had something specific I wanted to spend my money on to collect it.  She reluctantly admitted, “I didn’t expect you to catch on to my ploy so easily.”

It was great when my older sisters were both out of the house and I was the sole provider of ‘chore’ duty.  It was like I was part of the Union!  I got to set the terms of arbitration, now!

I noted that, by this point in time, minimum wage was $5.15 an hour.  I recognized the validity of her argument that it was under the table and that my work was for a non-profit organization.  I was, of course, providing a slew of services for a cancer survivor.  So I agreed to a flat-fee of $5.00 per hour, under the table of course.

This benefited both parties, but I’ll admit I definitely had a much better arrangement than in past dealings with this particular employer.  Mother, Inc. needed a lot of work done the company cared only about effort put in, not the ultimate result.  So like any other government-funded subcontractor…I did a lot of work, but not much got done.

Ungh, my job’s killing my back! Maybe I should invest in an ergonomic chair; lemme think what are they called? Oh, right…beds.

Mother, Inc. wanted French drains to keep the basement from flooding when it rained.  I started digging a trench for the pipes to be put down.  I quickly realized the trench had to be over a foot deep and about thirty-five feet long.  I also quickly realized that if I dug a shallow trench around the affected area and sloped it to the driveway, the water would run off into said driveway.

Problem solved!

My next job was to repair a disaster zone in the driveway area caused by a sudden increase in ground water levels.  It was a veritable swamp zone by the time I got my instructions for the job!  The little bit of gravel in the mostly grassland area was almost all below ground level, sucked down by the sinking wet mass.  Problem was…I was given an infinite labor budget, but no materials budget.  I was unable to affect a resolution for the situation immediately.

I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as bad as the media made it out to be.

About this same time I got contracted by Mother, Inc. to demolish an old, unused chimney.  I was quoted an estimate of about ten hours of work, total, removing brick and closing down the space.  It wasn’t until I got into the job that I found out there was concrete block under the brick façade.

Realization dawned upon the crew and it was quickly decided we’d turn both of the smaller contracts into one big contract.  The idea was proposed to Mother, Inc. and they were all for it.

The work on the chimney was mostly hammer and chisel stuff.  Break through the mortar and separate the bricks, but as it got closer to the ground it became apparent the structural integrity had been degraded by the work.  We were able to haul large chunks of it out by the end of things.

These single bricks and brick chunks were then hauled down to the driveway where I busted them up with a sledgehammer, using it to fill in the sinkhole spots of the soft ground.  It wasn’t industrial gravel, but it would do.

The underlying block saw a similar fate.  They were bigger and heavier, but they were weak and rotted and came out easily enough.  Before long both jobs were basically done, but now the driveway area was pretty rough and jagged and we had a slight problem with uneven driving conditions.  A near miss on a flat tire here or there and it became apparent we needed something else.

Then came the word from above…another flood zone.  The roadside creek area was beginning to get back up, something about stones washing into the waterway, I guess.  Mother, Inc. contracted us to clean it up and we found it a fairly easy, albeit dirty, job.

Naturally, we responded before any casualties were reported.

We cleaned out the debris and found some good, smooth, river rock, too.  The sledgehammer at the driveway site made quick work of them and we put them overtop of the rough stuff, buffering it well.

So with the chimney site opened back up to pedestrian travel, the basement nice and dry, and the driveway region built up and levied, we gave our ‘mission complete’ statement to Mother, Inc. on the roadside creek job and were given another task.

Mother, Inc. wanted the hilly areas north of the capital, House, leveled and brought down a bit.  It was a cake job, I guess.  $5.00 an hour, under the table, to dig out a hill that was so big you’d need a big machine to make a dent in it.  I had my trust mattock pick and my shovel, with a wheelbarrow or two to boot.

It was hard work, but expectations were low.  An inch here, an inch there, and progress was declared.  Any time I started hurting for money…I’d just clear out some recurring brush and dig another inch back, another inch to the side, maybe do some aesthetic work for the public opinion.

By the time I closed up shop and left the area, I’d done about 8 square feet of work.  Not bad for a four-year project, I guess.  I’ve seen the local DOT construction crews do worse.

All in all it was a pretty successful contract.  Mother, Inc.’s doing pretty good these days, even though the new companies in the area are nowhere near as cheap as I bid for the work.

Every once in a while, though, I get a call from the organization and come up to do some pro bono work.  It’s for a good cause, after all.

~RCS

Carrying Cash

Today’s topic is about carrying cash with you.  I used to carry large sums of money with me, back when I was in High School.  I regularly carried $200-300 in my wallet.  Why?  Because it was a 30-minute drive to the nearest ATM and I didn’t own a car.  So if we only went in town once a month, that $300 was my spending money for an entire month, maybe longer.

Once I got out into the world and found out that real civilizations have card readers that allow you to pay with credit and debit cards, I stopped carrying that much cash.  I went down to about $100 and paid for a lot of stuff with my Debit Card.

Then once I got a credit card with rewards points, I almost totally stopped carrying cash.  I usually carry three or four dollars in one for use in vending machines while I’m on the job, or I’ll stop by the local Walmart that has a change machine and break some fives into quarters.

It’s amazing how much that kind of stuff can change.  I used to use nothing but cash, that way I couldn’t go into debt.  Then I used almost nothing but my Debit Card so that I could always keep track of my finances.

Now I use a credit card to save money!

I know that sounds strange, given the rampant credit card debt in this country, but hear me out and it makes sense.

I get rewards points, which I can cash in for gift cards, plane tickets, hotel stays, etc. for every dollar I spend with the card.  Some things are even double or triple rewards.  So I use the card for all of my normal purchases, but I don’t go racing out and buy a bunch of crap I don’t need.

At the end of the month, I pay the card off in full.  This means I don’t pay any interest, so the high rate on the card (24.99%, geez!) doesn’t affect me.  And, as a matter of fact, I actually make money.  How so, you ask?

Think about it…if I have a thousand dollars in the bank and I spend ten dollars a day, that means by the end of the day I’ve spent $300.  So if I get paid 1% in interest per month on my saving account (haha, I wish!) then the average amount of my checking account will be much less than if I put all my debt on the credit card and waited until after I got my savings account interest to pay it off.  Instead of getting 1% of $700 (actually $878, if you do the math), I get 1% of $1,000.  So instead of making $8.78 in interest, I make 10.

I don’t pay any interest, but I do get paid interest.  It might not be much…but making money is better than losing money.

Not to mention all the security protections that credit cards offer, that makes it an even better plan.  Unfortunately not many people can restrain themselves from running out and maxing out a brand new credit card as soon as it comes in the mail.  If you are one of said people, don’t try this plan.

~RCS

We CAN Erase Homelessness, Too

I was running a few numbers recently and came across a surprisingly depressing thing.  Fighting homelessness/hunger/poverty is not as expensive as most people who can afford to fight it make it out to be.

My ultimate goal in life is to create a self-sufficient society where those who cannot function in society, even if only temporarily, can find a safe place to grow and live; for life or for a short while.  Without getting into too much detail, basically we would welcome the homeless, especially veterans who can’t function well because of PTSD or something, from all over the country into the organization.

Ideally everyone would receive a room of their own, but even if living space had to be shared it would still give people food, shelter, clothing, and a job.  Those who are strong and virile would farm the property owned by the foundation, those who were too weak or inept to farm would be given other tasks such as doing laundry or cleaning the property.

Everyone would have a place in the society, whether for life or only for a short time.  As such we would also welcome battered spouses who have nowhere else to go but back to their abusers, runaway children who do not feel safe or loved at home, and people who are simply fed up with the way society is structured and wants a healthy alternative.

No alcohol, no drugs, no guns, no fiscal castes, just people living together to benefit each other.  I suppose you could call it Socialist, but it’s designed for people that are forgotten or disenfranchised by a Capitalist society, so I guess that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a place that exists without the constraints of money.

Of course you’d need a lot of money to get it to work, cordoning it away from the money-driven, Capitalist society that surrounds it.  Hence why my poor ass hasn’t started the process, yet.

But on a shorter term, I like to look at what it would cost to feed, clothe, and shelter people without creating an off-branching society.

And I was quite depressed to find out how cheap it would be to do so.  Especially since it isn’t being done…not nearly enough.

~RCS

Living Off a Million Dollars

I talk off and on about the capability to live off a million dollars, which a lot of people tell me I am wrong about.  I like to respond that…I am not.  Without delving too deeply into my income I make between 20-25 thousand dollars a year, myself; depending on how much overtime I work.

Now if I switched to only working two days a week at my current job and rate, I would make about $8,000 a year.

So let’s look at what would happen if I went from working 40+ hours a week to working 16 hours a week, but had a million dollars in the bank.

I could place my million dollars into a 5-year CD (Certificate of Deposit) with my credit union which would bring an interest rate of 1.88% interest per year (the last time I bought a CD it had 3.30% interest; damn economy).  I could live off the dividends, which would equal out to $18,963.  So a million dollars only pays a thousand dollars or so less than I make working 5 days a week, every week, with no time off: Working 2,080 hours a year.

Keep in mind that million dollars’ interest would be $18,963 for 0 hours of work a year.  If I work 2 days a week and take no additional time off, that’s only 832 hours a year of work and I’d make a grand total of $26,963.

Amazing what a million dollars can do for you in a 5-year rolling CD.

Elin Nordegren, whom I recently spoke of buying a $12 million mansion and razing it, got $100 million from her divorce settlement.  So let’s take a look at what kind of money you could make, doing 0 hours of income-bearing work, and putting the entire $100 million in the same 5-year rolling CD I was just speaking of.

You’d make…$1.9 million a year in interest.  That’s right.  And you’d pay a lower tax rate on it than you did if you actually earned that money.

Let’s say that Nordegren builds an $18 million mansion where the $12 million one stood.  That will leave her with $70 million to put in the bank.  She would make…$1.3 million a year in interest.

And look at Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, who makes about $20,000 every 8 hours.  That’s equivalent to making $2,500 an hour if he worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; that’s a grand total of $21.9 million a year in income.

And both Romney and my million-dollar CD only pay 15% taxes, whereas I pay closer 22% tax on the money I bust my ass for.  In other words, he pays a little less than $3.3 million a year in taxes.  If he paid the same 22% that I do on my hard-earned money, that’d be a little more than $4.8 million.  Whereas I pay a little more than $4,600 in taxes, but if I only paid 15% in taxes, I’d pay a little more than $3,100.

I’d love to have a million dollars or so, I’d never have to work again in my life if I didn’t want to.  Warren Buffett might be issuing challenges about donating money to the government in taxes; but I’ll challenge any wealthy person to disprove me by giving me a million dollars to try my theory out with.

If I can’t live as comfortably as I am now with just the interest from the million dollars they pony up, I’ll give the million dollars back.  If an independent source can vouch that my quality of life is on-par, or better, with me living just off the interest dividends then I get to keep the million.

I guarantee not a single millionaire/billionaire will take up my offer.

~RCS

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