Hello 2017

As is always the case, I mean to update my blog more regularly, with the best intentions, and then life steps in, and I end up not having time (or, forgetting as some call it.)

I have, for years tried to come up with some kind of method by which to organize myself. I often tell myself I need to set a schedule to do things. I have seen this approach be effective for many. I believe Merlin Mann, the great guru of productivity himself got himself together using this concept along with some index cards. 

Things I need to schedule, are things I need, or want to, work on. 

1. I need to force myself to practice my sax at a set time at least 3 or more times a week for an hour. I have made it up the same hill a couple times since I made the switch to Tenor, and instead of repeating the same climb, it would be nice to build on that. It's such a simple goal, that it seems silly that I haven't been better at making myself do it. 

2. I want to spend some time reading. Again, I was doing this for a time, and it faded off. I have a little back collection of sci-fi that I'd love to get through. This could be accomplished again, by simply setting a schedule. I could simply say, I read from 8-9 on x days. Something like that. 

3. I want to spend more time working on adding to my professional skill set. As time goes by, I add a lot of different skills just by working. However, I often find areas where I have an opportunity to learn, and I need to do better at making myself do that.

4. On top of all that, it would be nice if I could make myself get to the gym a few times a week too. 

5. We are looking for a house. The hardest part of buying a house, I have decided, is looking for one. It seems so easy. "Oh, that one looks nice, I'll buy it!". Ha. No, because that house's taxes are high, or someone else has a better offer, or it's flat out way too expensive. It would be awesome to just build a house, but I don't have that kind of money. Those sweet 240 grand computer drawings always end up costing 450 grand when you add things you need like floors, and windows, and heat, and the upgraded porch and other such nonsense. 

So, in 2017, lets hope we find a house that we can actually buy. Lets hope I do better with time management. Lets hope its a good year. Lets hope I can find more input for this blog. 

Talk to you again soon blog. I swear. This time I will. 

How Pennsylvania Is Vaporizing Tax Revenue, and Your Tax Money Too.

There is a state tax that was recently approved (around page 51 or so it begins here) that effects working citizens in Pennsylvania in a very large way. In Short, any PA business owner who deals in vape supplies of any kind, must pay a flat 40% tax on their entire inventory on Oct. 1st, and must begin paying a 40% wholesale tax on all inventory purchased thereafter.

Forty. Percent.

The Laffer Curve (Pictured) illustrates a concept around an ideal tax rate. In the middle there, is the perfect spot. The tax rate would be considered not too high and not too low. Before this tax went through, vaping in PA would have been securely towards the top of that curve. 

Laffer Curve - Demonstrating Tax rate vs. Revenue - the approved 40% tax sends existing tax revenue straight down that hill to the right.

Laffer Curve - Demonstrating Tax rate vs. Revenue - the approved 40% tax sends existing tax revenue straight down that hill to the right.

There are stores all across PA that employ thousands of individuals, of all ages. It has been my experience that these aren't minimum wage jobs either. These employees are all paying state income taxes. The businesses are generating 6% sales tax on everything they sell. Plus property taxes for their stores, taxes paid on profits, etc. What's not to like, right?

The approved tax has been touted to make Pennsylvania an additional 13.3 million dollars in tax revenue. This is hysterical.

Look at the Laffer Curve again. As the tax rate rises, the achieved revenue goes back down. Hmmm. I wonder if a sudden 40% tax hike could achieve such a result? (that should be read with the most possible sarcasm.) And in this case, it is completely accurate. Here's why:

This 40% tax is far more than most of these small business owners operating in this state can handle. (Actually, Can you think of any business that would survive a sudden 40% tax on all assets?) Result? They will have to close. And as a result, their employees will no longer be employed. So, now we've lost sales tax, income tax, property tax... We've now lost all of that revenue. In addition, closed businesses can't pay a 40% tax on inventory that doesn't exist. Lets not forget that all of those unemployed could justifiably seek public assistance. Now this tax has started costing everyone money! This doesn't just effect the vaping world, this will impact everyone who pays taxes!

I don't know what the motivation was for passing this tax, but it is quite clear that it was malicious in nature. Maybe because it was hurting tobacco money (likely), maybe a lobbyist got their claws (cash) into the right person? I don't know. What I do know is that it was approved by a Democratic Governor, but also by a lot of Republican congressmen. Say what you will about either party, but the fact is, this was a bi-partisan effort to tax innocent people out of a livelihood. Nobody is innocent here.

If you'd like to oppose this harmful tax, I'd be grateful - more info at CASAA

Under Construction

Until I find some sort of happy place, I tend to redesign my webpage fairly frequently. I don't know if I've ever hit a particular sweet spot, but once I do, I usually hang out there for a while. For now, I'm in limbo, and it seems that I'm still working on getting to where I want to be. This of course is terribly boring for anyone else, but I find it enjoyable. 

We have started going to the gym again. Of course I did weights the first day back, and have lost the use of my arms for a few days. This always happens, and then about a week or two in, everything is fine again. It's a strange way to motivate you to either never stop going again, or, to never go back again. Either way, I will work through it, and once I hit my stride again, I'll forget this ever happened.

I am trying to get to the "shed" every chance I get. (practicing my sax. musician term.) Currently running exercises in the theory that setting limits while improvising actually forces creativity, making one essentially obligated to come up with new ideas, while using a limited palate.

I have begun to look into learning Red Hat. Linux is a skill I wouldn't say I have a strong grasp on. I'm hoping to correct that in the coming months, and would like to work my way up to possibly becoming Red Hat certified. As a career Windows guy, I notice more and more to like over in the land of the Penguin, and I have decided it's about to time to really learn it.

Nothing more to report for now, so I'll leave you with a picture of my second favorite Dog on the planet right now. (After my own of course.) Norbert - is the best:

Nigerian domain spam farmers.

As it has been widely reported in circles near me, so mainly just to me, the domain bearing my name was lost some years ago to a nigerian spam farmer. They snapped it up rather quickly once I missed the expiration date. Why I'll never know, but there was a time when I had a rather high search engine rank for "Saying the Alphabet backwards" - and I may have to get that post back to the world again soon.... Anyways...

Duh, duh duh duhhhh!!! I have it back now. Hard to believe that the spam farmer who once owned my name could let it go, but by some miracle he did. And so now it points to this page. joelspangler.com lives another day! 

Now, there remains a few issues, among them the fact that my domain is still tied to some spam/malware blacklists from the years spent parking malicious ads and the like, so it currently just redirects here. Hopefully I will figure out a way to sort that out someday soon. 

That's about it for the day. May everyone have a wonderful evening. I'm spending the rest of my evening supporting a software deployment and listening to Snarky Puppy's newest album, Culcha Vulcha. it's different for them in some ways, but I'm now on my 3rd, maybe even 4th listen, and it's really starting to grow on me. I'd recommend it to anyone who digs a bit of modern fusion jazz, leaning more towards jazz.

A bit of structure

Some quick notes:


Music - 
I have recently been studying the saxophone online with Bob Reynolds, whom, as it turns out, went to Berklee right around the same time I did. I think I actually went to his senior recital over at 1140 in Recital room 1A. Small world. 

Anyways, his lessons and approaches are pretty amazing. They have been forcing me to adapt a new mental approach to music. One of fundamentals, measured goals, and slow and steady practice. It's working. I've made huge progress already, and in a sense have tools I can access that would've been a stumbling block previously. It's quite enjoyable, and while not everything always goes perfect, there is a process in place to follow, and as long as you follow it, it tends to work out. It's like accelerated patience or something.... I swear I'm not high. 

Books - 
I started reading books again. Among them are some actual Scientology texts that we found at a local used bookstore (still shrinkwrapped!) - Those are something, really bizarre stuff. I'll have to go into how crazy the Scientology stuff is some other day (I call it real life Sci-Fi, happening right now). I am also beginning Neuromancer (William Gibson) , and Anathema (Neal Stephenson). I also have some other ones in the queue. Turns out Hard Science Fiction is my preferred reading style. 

Anyways, all this to say, adding some study and reading to my routine seems to have helped provide my life a tad bit of structure, and seems to be helping me. Go figure. Remember kids, Don't be a fool, stay in school! (GI JOEEEEEE). 

Later on.