Tax ideas

Is anyone not offended by the complexity of tax forms?
The tax code is Congress’ fault.  Congress is our fault.  Therefore the tax code is our fault.  We should all choose to elect a congress to fix it, but in the meantime, here are some modest proposals.

  • Congressmen must do their own taxes.  On paper.
  • All congressmen will be audited. Their mistakes get put on a web site.
  • Tax law must be delivered in source code form

And yes, I was recently trying to figure out whether I owe any estimated taxes.
(Ideas from conversations with Win.)

The Bully Pulpit

Here’s my first political post.
I think President Elect Obama is missing a bet on the Blagojevich affair. After the Rev. White incident, Obama took the opportunity to present a very good speech on race relations. He didn’t hide hide his connection to White, or excuse the man. He took the moment of public attention and turned it to good purpose.
In the case of Blagojevich, Obama has merely tried to distance himself from it. I think that is the wrong approach. Obama has an opportunity here to present a very effective discussion of service, responsibility, integrity, and character.

Drain Grates

I thought these were all removed in the previous century!
The problem with these is that the slots run along the riding direction, and are just wide enough to catch a road bike tire. If your front wheel is unlucky, it will wedge into a slot and stop dead. You will not stop, but according to Newton’s first law, continue moving forward over the handlebars and onto the street.
I noticed this one on the driveway in front of the Wayland Middle School.
If the thing is square, at least it could be put in so the slots run across the road instead of along it.
Update, (March 2009)
I could be in serious trouble now.
Is a story about a man in the UK arrested and held for two days as a terrorist for photographing a sewer grate.

Leaf Peeping

This is New England. It’s fall. That means it is time for the annual trek to New Hampshire to look at the trees.
Or you can just step out the front door.
Here’s the Great Wall of Flame out back:
Fall Foliage
Here’s the Lesser Wall of Flame out front:
Here’s the Maple we put in outside the living room window:
And here are the three Maples in front.  Someday these will hold up some hammocks.  Don’t expect me to get up after that.
This area has seasons. I enjoy them.

Bicycle commuting notes – Sidewalks

In May 2007, I started occasional commuting from my home in Wayland, MA to the offices of SiCortex in Maynard. This is just about nine miles each way.  In 2007 I ran up about 1000 miles on my 30 year old Nishiki Olympic. I think I am on pace to do a bit better in 2008.
I’m not very fast.  When I started it took almost an hour to get to work.  On the way home the read derailleur cable broke, leaving me stuck in 9th gear (of 10), so it also took a long time to get home.  My colleague David shook his head at the condition of my bike, with its steel rims and puncture proof (heavy) tires, and talked me into some upgrades.  With new alloy rims and new tires (and getting in better shape) I can now get to work in a little under 40 minutes and home in about 35.  The elevation gain is near zero, since I am on the Sudbury river in Wayland, and the office is on the Assabet river in Maynard.  The Sudbury and Assabet merge in Maynard.  If anything, Maynard must be at a lower elevation, but something about the topography makes it seem like more uphill going in, and more downhill coming back.  There is definitely a high point in the middle, at Sudbury Center.
It was really this commuting that pushed me into starting this blog.  I would spend the trip composing elaborate letters to the editor of the local paper, often about the poor conditions for cycling.  This week I finally took a bunch of photos along my route, and I am ready to start ranting.
Continue reading “Bicycle commuting notes – Sidewalks”

Almost Perfect

Sometimes Apple Computer seems perfect. Their design and execution are so far above that of other computer companies that it seems they are playing an entirely different game. Consequently the subtle imperfections in execution just stand out.
A month or so ago, I got an iPhone 3G.  Yeah yeah, I don’t like the battery life, but  it is so beautiful, the curved corners, the screen, the perfect physics of thescrolling flic…  I digress.
Apple has recalled the USB power adapter.  Evidently sometimes the pins break off when you unplug it.  One time I built my own spot welder… I digress.
Anyway, one can trade it in at the Apple Store, of which one is conveniently nearby, or order a new one over the web.  My first reaction was that here’s an excuse to go see the new MacBooks, but then I thought “I can use the iPhone to order its own replacement parts!”  This is so right.  I used Safari on the iPhone to fill out the form.  Apple did not anticipate me!  The form did not autofill with the iPhone serial number. The Apple ID did not autofill.  Then, when I got a confirmation screen, it advised me to print or save the screen as a pdf as there would be no confirming email.  Um, guys, iPhone Safari can’t print OR save as pdf.
So close.


Our house was built in the middle of a field. Around the house is a bit of lawn. Beyond that is what was once a hayfield. Some years of neglect have left it overrun with Buckthorn and some sort of thorn bush. I was mowing the field on Columbus day weekend. Columbus day also has great visuals. I call the stand of trees in the photo “The great wall of flame.”
Fall Foliage
Continue reading “Mowing”

Earth Science

I have a daughter in 8th grade. Her science class has been studying Earth Science.
A recent segment has been on rocks, in preparation for a field trip to western Massachusetts and eastern New York.
I couldn’t help myself, so I’ve written up the following appreciation:

My homework:
This week in school we learned about the three kinds of rocks, which are metaphoric, ingenious, and sedentary.
Ingenious rocks are the first kind of rocks. They come flying out of volcanoes, or spill out in the form of red hot lava. I think they are called ingenious because they have to figure out how to get out of the magma chamber underneath the volcano. It is like a maze, I guess.
The second kind of rocks are sedentary. They are formed when ingenious rocks weather away and fall to the bottom of the ocean as clay. Then they just lay around until they turn into solid rock.
The third kind of rocks are metaphorical. They are formed when heat, pressure, and inspiration turn other kinds of rocks into metaphors. For example, some metaphorical rocks have twisted layers that started out straight. Kind of like kids when they get too much homework.