Monday, February 18, 2019

The Square Peg – Tax Time

The Square Peg – Tax Time
© S. Bradley Stoner

Well, it’s that time of year again. Yep, tax time. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I hate doing tax returns. First off, you have to make sure you have all of the documentation. For me that means a stack of 1099s in addition to W-2s. Heaven forbid you misplace one… it will screw up your whole day… or week, not to mention the potential to screw up your return. I hate it when that happens.

The other thing is, tax time interferes with springtime in Texas. Yep, things are starting to grow and bloom. Good things like my Glads, Mexican Sage, Mexican Firebush, Esperanzas, roses, and Bougainvilla. And bad things like weeds. I don’t know who brought them in, but there are thorny dandelions in my lawn. Yep, I said thorny. They have needle-like stickers on the edges of the leaves… and they have a tap root that tries to reach China.

Not that I like weeding, but I’d far rather spend my time outside than stuck in my office trying to muddle through all the new instructions for forms 1040, 1040sa, 1040sc, 1040se and 1040sse and whatever else I run across that has to be filed this year. Its enough to drive a CPA crazy. So yeah, even weeding seems a better alternative. At least I can be in the sunshine, even if it’s a bit cool.

That’s right, I said “cool.” Fifties and sixties in Texas is cool. Thirties and forties are downright cold. We don’t get may of those days, thank heaven. And I really don’t want to hear all those snowpocalypse stories from you notherners. I used to live up there. It’s why I live in Texas now. It’s more tolerable. At least you don’t have to find excuses to stay inside and do your taxes. I mean, what else are you going to do?

I just finished downloading all the IRS forms and going through all my receipts and office expenses. It was exhausting. I think I’ll go out and pull some weeds.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Square Peg - Are You Kidding Me??

The Square Peg - Are You Kidding Me??
© S. Bradley Stoner

 Image result for smart tech memes

I was in the local electronics store the other day and happened to be listening to a couple of millennials extolling the virtues of “smart ware.” You know, smart phones, smart TVs, smart communications… stuff like doorbells that take video so you can talk to folks who ring your bell without you really being home, smart watches that can tell you what your heartbeat, blood pressure are, where you are, and how many steps you have taken during the day. Are you kidding me? Who needs that?

I don’t have much in the way of smart technology. I have a smart phone that has done nothing for me but convince me how dumb it is to carry the thing. Why? Because it’s a distraction. I have notices set to vibrate so it won’t interrupt whatever it is I happen to be doing. The downside, or upside depending on your point of view, is that it puts a tingle in my pants. Crap, somebody posted in Facebook again. Do I look? It might be important. Nah, nothing important gets posted to Facebook. That’s just another time waster.

Oh, a smart phone is nice to have to take pictures because it isn’t nearly as bulky as any of my cameras, but, on the other hand, it isn’t much good for serious photography. For that you need a real camera. I prefer the kind that uses real film, but even that gets spoiled. If you don’t develop the film yourself, you don’t get the negatives back. You get a digital disk. That way you can “improve” your photos with any of a number of programs. It isn’t the same as using an old-fashioned enlarger and manipulating the picture with focus, gel filters, dodging and all those other archaic tricks.

I don’t have a fancy doorbell with video and two-way communications. I don’t figure I need that. But, the argument goes, you can catch burglars in the act and scare them away by intoning, “What are you doing?” in a stern voice. Supposedly this will frighten them away and if that doesn’t work, you’ll still have visual evidence of them engaging in their nefarious deeds to show the cops. Now, I’ll grant you burglars aren’t the brightest bulbs in the lamp, but even they are going to figure out it’s hard to identify someone in a mask. I don’t worry about burglars. I’m home most of the time and I have a couple of large caliber hand cannons that will discourage them from carrying out their plans.

I have an Alexa that seems unable to follow my commands unless it is to ask about the weather or play music. Nice to have, but it really can’t do anything I can’t do for myself. I must admit, however, that I have fun with her. I ask her questions she can’t answer, like, “Do you work for the CIA?” Yeah, I know, I’m easily amused.

I don’t own a smart watch. I got one as a gift, but it didn’t work with my Android, so I gave it to my oldest who is a devotee of Apple products. He uses it to check his video feed that gets activated when anybody comes to his front door and also to play his I-tunes so he doesn’t have to get his I-phone out of his pocket. I’d need a magnifying glass to see the screen. Keep your comments about my age to yourself.

And smart TVs? I don’t own one… in fact I own the Forrest Gump of color TVs. It’s like fourteen or fifteen years old, but it still works great, perfect color and everything. The only problem is that film credits, the program guides and subtitles are created for smart TVs… on old Gumpy they show up about two millimeters high. Yeah, like I can read those. I have Direct TV. I’m convinced the remote hates me. It’s a smart remote, so I hate it back. It’s like a mutual disadmiration society. I did go over to Bob’s one night to watch a game on his smart TV. It’s got a fifty-inch screen. No problem seeing that. The missing pixels were a little distracting though. Stupid smart TV.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Square Peg – So, Here It Is

The Square Peg – So, Here It Is
© S. Bradley Stoner
Image result for Political rant images

I haven’t written a Square Peg blog in a long time. Would you like to know why? Fine, I’ll tell you… I’m not waiting for an answer because I don’t want to get shouted down by some political wingnut. So, here’s why. Political news and posts on social media have flat fudged up my funny bone. I’ve tried to ignore it, but this is some in your face all of the time bullsh#t. And none of it is funny.

It creeps into everything. It’s made mortal enemies of neighbors… I’ve seen it. And I hate it. Frankly, the only Brett I care about is Bret Maverick (and his name is spelled different). The only Ford I give a rat’s behind about is my Explorer out front. At least those two provide a little enjoyment in life. The only Trump I care about is five no-trump in bridge. So, I’ve limited my time on social media and in social interactions. That kind of puts the kibosh on funny fodder.

Am I worried about the direction this country is going? You bet your boots I am. I’m old fashioned. I was raised to be courteous to folks, to respect differences, and to keep my own counsel. I was taught to treat women as ladies, accept life choices without being judgmental, to walk away from a fight whenever possible, and to knock the snot out of my opponent when it was not. I’ve been pretty good about all of those things during my lifetime.

For the record, I am not politically correct. Political correctness is prissy, politically inspired bullsh#t. If that offends you, tough cookies. I don’t intentionally try to hurt people’s feelings, but if saying things plainly offends you, too bad.

I don’t care how you identify yourself, but come on folks, there are only two genders biologically. Male and female. What you do with those in the privacy of your own home doesn’t concern me as long as you are consenting adults. But I do find these in your face, public declarations of gender identification offensive. Do what you want to in private, do your job efficiently and effectively and you won’t hear a peep out of me.

Okay, enough ranting. Just one last thought as Halloween approaches… stay away from clown and banshee costumes. The clowns are all in congress or in positions of political, dare I call it, leadership, and the banshees are running amok in the streets of our cities.