May 302006
 

I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time last night. (In retrospect, I waited far too long to watch it, but that’s par for the course for me.) It’s a great movie, and one that I’ll gladly watch several times over in order to catch all of the assorted nuances in the story and cinematography. In fact, it’s become one of the two favorite movies I’ve watched in the past year, along with Shaun of the Dead. About the only thing these two movies have in common is that they are both (bizarre variants of) romance films.

(Shhh…don’t tell anyone…) :-P

 Posted by at 4:37 pm
May 252006
 

The building across the street from where I live has had David Hahn campaign posters in the windows for several months now. Initially, I had assumed that it was just because Michael Forsberg (whose studio is in that building) was also a Hahn supporter. Recently, I noticed that one of the wireless networks that I can pick up from my apartment building is named “hahn4neb” and I’ve also seen him walking in and out of the building on several occasions. It may have taken me several months to figure it out, but I now realize that I live across the street from a gubernatorial campaign headquarters.

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
May 252006
 

For some reason, my sleep last night was filled with exceptionally vivid dreams. In addition, what I believe is a personal first for me, my dreams collectively appeared to be a series of tasks that I should perform in order to better my life. Apparently, I need to:

  1. Rent a hotel room and have a sexy hot tub party;
  2. Go on a skateboarding/snowboarding vacation in Colorado;
  3. Apply for a job at Apple.

Of course, the dream left out those minor details like “females I invited to the party who also exist in reality”, “how I learned to skate/snowboard” and “which position I applied for”. I really wish I could blame some of this on what I had watched before I went to bed, but my dreams were much less bizarre than anything that happened in El Topo.

 Posted by at 2:47 pm
May 252006
 

For the vast majority of my life, I have slept on a waterbed. As tends to be the case when one has “always been” doing something, I never thought of this as being unusual. However, as time goes on, it seems that owning/sleeping on a waterbed has become increasingly rare. I can’t think of the last time I heard of someone buying a new waterbed, and waterbed stores are few and far between.

As best I can tell, having slept on a waterbed is one of the surest ways of quickly guessing one’s age; of the people I know who slept on a waterbed on a regular basis at some point in their lives, all but two of them (my younger sisters) have been at most a couple years younger than me. If nothing else, it’s an interesting cultural artifact of the 1970s and early 1980s.

 Posted by at 10:43 am
May 182006
 

Local time when I heard about the release of the MacBook: 10 a.m. Tuesday
Local time when I ordered a MacBook: 7 p.m. Tuesday

I got the base model, with RAM (1 GB) and HD (80 GB) upgrades. By Memorial Day, I will finally have One Machine to rule them all…

 Posted by at 2:43 pm
May 162006
 

As anyone who’s ever lived in, traveled though, ventured near, or talked to someone from Nebraska knows, we sure do like to whine and complain about the overall amount of taxes levied at the state and local levels. Now, most of the time when sort of complaining happens, no one bothers to even look up the average tax burden for cities and states around the country and do any sort of comparative analysis. Worse yet, even when statistical comparisons are done, deeper explanations of why tax burdens are what they are remain unnoticed. Therefore, I’ll do my bit to shed some light on Nebraska’s tax levels:

State/local taxes as a % of total income:
Nebraska – 10.9% (T-8th)
Kansas – 10.4% (T-14th)
Wyoming – 10.1% (T-22nd)
United States – 10.1%
Iowa – 10.0% (T-24th)
Colorado – 9.5% (T-37th)
Missouri – 9.4% (T-40th)
South Dakota – 8.8% (45th)

Now, Nebraska’s in the top 10 overall and is higher than that of every state bordering Nebraska. Both those facts are commonly used by critics of Nebraska’s tax structure. However, it is my opinion that Nebraska can only properly compare itself to Kansas and Iowa for tax purposes; the other states are too different from Nebraska for comparison purposes for various reasons (CO and MO – much higher population; SD and WY – much smaller population and are in a better position to capture revenue from beyond their borders). So, Nebraska’s tax burden is 0.5% higher than in Kansas, 0.8% higher than the U.S. average, and 0.9% higher than in Iowa. On a $30,000 income, this is a mere $240/year in additional taxes than the national average. While higher, yes, it hardly qualifies as an “outrageously high” burden overall.

Now, why might Nebraska have higher taxes than the surrounding states? Well, we do seem to have a very high number of government subdivisions per capita; however, whenever any thought is given about consolidating or merging them in some fashion, howls of protest erupt from the Wildcat Hills to west Omaha. It’s evident that in this case, we get what we pay for.

Another notable reason for Nebraska-style tax grumbling is that the particular taxes where Nebraska is noticeably higher than the national average (property and auto) are paid in lump sums; income and sales taxes, two taxes that Nebraska is much more competitive in, are paid in a (nearly) continuous stream of small payments, which can go by largely unnoticed.

 Posted by at 3:10 pm
May 092006
 

The only item of mail I received today was a Time Warner Cable flyer urging me to upgrade to digital phone service. Now, this is obviously nothing exciting or unusual, but what did catch my eye was the level of customer specialization contained within the mailing. First, the flyer had a map of the United States with a star for Lincoln, meaning that this flyer was only printed for the southeast Nebraska market. Second, the flyer made a number of cultural and age references:

  • “Beavis, Birks and Beanie Babies”
  • “your parents back home”
  • “college friends across the country”

All told, it’s quite obvious that this flyer is targeted at people who are no older than about 35. So, it’s not just a flyer made specifically people living in Lincoln, it’s a flyer made specifically for

 Posted by at 1:07 pm
May 082006
 

In light of the recent immigration marches/protests/debates/etc., it’s been bothering me to no end that factual comparisons to the history of American immigration has been ignored by all parties. This Washington Post article does a great job in pointing out the striking parallels between today’s issues and those of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

 Posted by at 9:58 am