9-04 10-04 11-04 12-04 1-05 2-05 3-05 4-05 5-05 6-05 7-05 8-05 9-05 10-05 11-05 12-05 1-06 2-06 3-06
4-06 5-06 6-06 7-06 8-06 9-06 10-06 11-06 12-06 1-07 2/07 3-07 4-07 5-07 6-07 7-07 8-07 9-07 10-07 11-07 12-07 1-08 2-08 3-08 4-08 5-08 6-08 7-08 8-08 9-08 10-08 11-08 12-08 1-09 2-09 3-09 4-09 5-09 6-09 7-09 8-09 9-09 10-09 11-09 12-09 1-10 2-10
3-10 4-10 5-10 6-10 7-10 8-10 9-10 10-10 11-10 12-10 1-11 2-11 3-11 4-11 5-11 6-11 7-11 8-11 9-11 10-11 11-11 12-11 1-12 2-12 3-12 4-12 5-12 6-12 7-12 8-12 9-12 10-12 11-12 12-12 1-13 2-13 3-13 4-13 5-13 6-13 7-13 8-13 9-13 10-13 11-13 12-13 1-14 2-14 3-14 4-14 5-14 6-14 7-14 8-14 9-14 10-14 11-14 12-14 1-15 2-15 3-15 4-15 5-15 6-15 7-15 8-15 9-15 10-15 11-15 12-15

"The prequels were not that bad. IMO, the dialog and uber reliance on digital sets hampered the prequels. Jar Jar didn't help matters either. The casting was questionable too. Story could have been better. Now that I think about it, those movies sucked." –Internet discussion reply to an article about Star Wars


Friday, 1-29-16: Smashing the tax prep records this season so far in an effort to get a huge bonus.
Things are busy at Jackson Hewitt these days. BUSY. This season I am at the Bangor Walmart whereas last year I spent the majority of my time in the Brewer WalMart. Last year Bangor was way busier than Brewer, and this year the same is true. I was supposed to have the day off today, but I worked for 3.67 hours and did 4 returns because my help was needed. Another $1100 towards my season-ending bonus today, thank you sir may I have another.

I get paid an hourly wage and then a bonus at the end of the season based upon how many returns I do and how many "Gold Guarantees" that I sell. A Gold Guarantee is like an extended warranty on a refund. If we chowder the thing and the IRS takes a closer look and tries to send a bill we cover the difference. Some people in the company absolutely suck at selling the thing, but I am pretty good at it. I get commission gods damn it. I am proud of the fact that I can sell it a lot and I don't have to lie to people and make up bullshit in order to convice them to get it. Sometimes I even tell people they don't need it, especially for simple returns.

I'm always amazed when we get a single filer with one w2 and no "goodies" to claim. $88 state and federal combined, thank you very much. Single filers with no dependents and no extras can file for FREE on our own website so why anyone would come in any pay $88 to do it is beyond me, but I'll gladly take the business. Some people aren't computer savvy and some people don't have a clue how to do it on their own so I get it. Plus sometimes I can find extra for people who think they don't have anything extra to gain. Thanks to president Failbama healthcare is now a part of the tax return so I can do a pretty good job of finding excuses reasons for people who don't have health insurance to not pay the penalty, too. So far I've done 57 returns and only one of my clients has had to pay that bullshit healthcare penalty. Fucking Obama. What a dick. If you voted for him I hate you. I probably hate you anyway, but I'll hate you a little more.

^Thank you Mr. Obama for line 61 on the tax form. Thankfully I can mostly outsmart the system and help people avoid paying that crap.

^If you voted for Obama then you deserve my bootleg fail trophy. America was already mostly fucked before he took over, but now it's just about a guaranteed lock that we will be game over before our kids die. What a bunch of crap! Hopefully someone can start to right the ship, but it seems unlikely. Oh well, I am living in the "bonus levels" anyway. I've been halfway around and the world and back and have done enough to satiate my bucket list. Mostly. Before I check out I would like to have a lot more Goonie adventures with my wife and my family, though.

The bonus structure this year at JH is set up as follows: $15,000-$29,999 = 2%. $30,000-$59,999 = 4%, and $60,000+ = 8%. I think there is a 10% if you can get above $100,000, but that is literally impossible unless I worked 12 hours a day 6 days a week and had a nonstop flow of customers. Of course if that ever happened I would keel over and die because just doing a 9-hour shift on a busy day takes its mental toll. Last year I landed in the 4% bracket at around $32,000, but I don't actually know my exact number because I can't see it. I have to keep my own records and hope it all works out. What a bunch of crap! Hopefully one day I can see that, but probably not because I am not a manager and I don't want to be one, ever. This year if I can get to that magical $60,000 number that is 8% and a whopping bonus of at least $4800 pretax. Oh Jesus, hell ya! I'll be bummed out if I "only" make it to $59k and have to settle for half of that amount.

Making it to $60k for that 8% bonus will be hard, but that is my goal and I am driven. So far I think I am around $14k so I have a chance because it's still only January. In 3.5 days of work this week I've done $6000. Nice! That already shatters my previous record (that I set last week!) of a bit over $5000 in one week. Last year my best was a hair over $5000 in one week so I am doing great. Plus tomorrow still counts towards this week so there is a good chance I end up over $7000 for the week. These next two weeks will be a good indicator if I can make it to $60k or not because they should be the busiest of the season. By the middle of next month we slow down and stay slower until the final week in mid-April. If I am not around $30k by mid-Feb then I can kiss that $60k season goal goodbye, but if I am around that number then I still have a chance. I'm greedy and I want money!

I have been by myself most of the time in the office, and sometimes that really sucks. The phone rings, people show up, there are appointments to keep, and I can't get to everyone because each person takes on average 45 minutes to an hour. Some more, some less. There should be two people there this time of year but there is not so some business is lost. What a bunch of crap! Oh well, I just go to work and do the best I can for people. I am pretty good at convincing people to wait or to come back later, but sometimes there is just to much demand. I need to clone myself gods damn it!

Kat is at Jester's and Copperpot is snoozing at my feet here in my office. Copperpot and I just went over to Gavin's across the street to help him move a 16-foot timber in his garage. I am trying to keep Copperpot active so he sleeps more at night, but a little nap is okay right now because he and I are leaving shortly. He's an amazing dog, and he is now just over 10 weeks old.

Wednesday, 1-27-16: I cheat my body to win these days.
Over the past several months I've made an important and valuable discovery regarding my aging body. I do think I am in great shape, especially for a 40-year old, but sometimes I need a little extra kick to stay motivated. I've come to realize that drinking between a half of an energy drink and an entire energy drink before I exercise helps to give me a boost of power. Not always, but more often than not. Is it cheating? Nope! Steriods and HGH probably would be cheating, but not a Monster Energy drink that you can buy at any gas station and grocery store definitely is not cheating.

Often times I don't get enough sleep at night, and tonight will be one of those nights. I have to get my ass up no later than 0700 to take Katherine to school, and I don't get to sleep in because Copperpot is always up earlier than that anyway. Sleeping til 0700 is like a gift from the gods who don't exist these days. Kat has her nightly gigs and, worst of all, Katherine babysits on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and needs a ride home. She only babysits right across from my office so it's 1/3 of a mile from home, but no way would we allow her to walk and she doesn't have her own wheels just yet (or a license!) Last week she was out by 2130, but this week we are pwned and she is not out until 2230-2245. I can't pick her up, dive into bed, and fall asleep immediately so tonight by best-case scenario is going to sleep just after 2300. Copperpot will be up at least once in the night as well. Plus Kat gets home around 0130-0145 from her karakoe gig tonight. I am pwned. What a bunch of crap! Kat is pwned, too. Cost of doing business, eh?

So I "cheat." The only way I can use the gym in the morning and get a good pump is to slam down about 1/2 to 3/4 of a Monster Energy drink. I have to use the gym in the morning because of the JH job; using it in the evening is plausable in theory but in reality not so much. I can use the gym without the aid of an energy drink, but damnit those cans of mystery liquid that will probably eventually lead to my demise are very effective. The regular Monster drinks seem to work the most effectively for me, but I do like the taste of the coffee ones as well. I know those things are quite bad for the body, but I am getting old and need some help.

I don't drink too much of the energy drinks. Probably 2-3 cans total in a week lately, and before the JH job maybe 1-2 cans a week. I've only recently in the past year or so started drinking them off and on. Before I play racquetball I drink an entire can and that also helps. I've been playing better lately against Gav and Deno, and I attribute that to MONSTER POWER. I still lose most of the time, but the games are closer in score and I am more mobil on the court. We can only play about once a week, but that's just fine because much more than that and I get tennis elbow. Racquetball is great exercise.

I actually went for a jog outside today because it was 40 degrees this morning at 0830. Oh Jesus, hell ya! Thankfully Copperpot fell asleep for a bit so I took a chance and left him alone for 20 minutes. Having a puppy to watch in the morning limits what I can do, but I make it work because he can come to my office and to the gym with me. He's an awesome puppy. I can't really work on our home remodel in the morning because I have to watch Copperpot, but that's okay I can't get much done in an hour anyway.

I am probably screwed starting next week when JH officially hits what we call peak, our busiest time. In my opinion this week is also peak because I have been crushed with customers, but the management says no overtime and minimal coverage so I have been struggling to keep up. Right now the office hours are 1000-1900, but I think next week we shift to 0900-2100. What a bunch of crap! I like going in at 1000 because that gives me time to drop Katherine off, use the gym, shower, and not feel too rushed before I have to leave around 0930 for work. Once I have to go in at 0900 I will not have enough free time in the morning to do much of anything. Her school winter break can't come soon enough! (mid-Feb?)

I get paid hourly at JH, and at the end of the season I get a bonus based on what I do for the season. Being in Bangor this year instead of Brewer has greatly increased my totals so far, and if the trend continues I will be looking at a sweet bonus check. I have been BUSY. Almost too busy really; if it stayed this busy all season I would totally burn out, but so far it is ok. I know things will slow down some by the middle of next month and for most of March so now is the time to crush it and pad the stats. I work tomorrow and have Friday off so one more day and I get a little break. I still don't even have my schedule for next week yet, but that's typical. What a bunch of crap!

Saturday, 1-23-16: Copperpot.
Our newest family member (Chester Copperpot) is doing great, better than we could have hoped. Copperpot is a purebred male Golden Retriever who was born November 18 last year so today he is 9 weeks and 3 days old. We’ve had him for about two weeks, and in that short time he has really shown us a lot.

^He was having a blast in the fresh snow that we got last week!

Copperpot loves to run and play (what puppy doesn’t?!) and he loves to play with the kittens as well. Thankfully he usually doesn’t play too rough with any of the other pets, but he does have sharp little teeth so we keep an eye on him when he get excited. Since he is a retriever he loves to use his mouth on everything, but he has been good about not eating his own poop or other things that don’t belong in his mouth. He will try to steal my slippers if he sees them off my feet and in a convenient location, but so far he hasn’t caused any damage to them or to anything else at all.

Copperpot is SMART. I am amazed at how fast he has learned in his short time with us. Kat taught him to sit last week, and he is already trained to sit and wait until we say “okay” before he starts eating at mealtimes. He knows his own name, and he is already housetrained. OMG. He’s still so young that I’m sure he will have accidents in the house from time to time, but he hasn’t had one in days. When he needs to pee or poop he knows to go over by the slider or, if we have the kiddie-gate up to keep him in the living room, he will go to that gate and whine. Awesome!
Within a day of being here Copperpot figured out how to climb up our back porch steps, but he was afraid to walk down the steps so we would have to carry him down and stay outside with him when he did his business. However, a few days ago he finally worked up the gumption to go down those steps on his own so now we can put him outside all by himself. Sweet! We will still go out with him on occasion to shovel poop and to play around, but he totally gets it. He knows that the outside world is where he needs to pee and poop. Oh jesus, hell ya!

Copperpot has gotten a lot better at sleeping at night, but he still will often need to go outside at least once. Unfortunately he never sleeps in so I have to get up with him early (what a bunch of crap!), but I have been able to take a quick power nap on the couch around 0630-0700 a few times when he settles down briefly. This morning reveille was 0700 after he went out at 0600, but I am tired because we didn’t get to bed until 0130 thanks to the Jester’s Friday night gig.

^Last Saturday as well in fresh snow as snow continued to fall from the sky. Most of the pictures that I took that day didn't come out so great, but this one is excellent. He was chasing me at the time.

When I drive Katherine to school we take Copperpot with us, and normally after I drop her off I will go to the gym with the little guy. He has been great about hanging out there with me while I get my swell on and when I need to pop into the office to take care of apartment paperwork and related. He hasn’t had one accident in the gym or in my office at all. Awesome!

So far this month I’ve managed to do a good job of getting exercise. I have been starting work at JH at 1000 so I have time to drop Katherine off around 0730 and get to the gym and start exercising before 0800. That gives me a little time to grab the office mail, take care of a few other little things, and get home around 0900 so I can shower and get ready to go to work. That will all change at the end of the month when we open at 0900, but for now the morning schedule fits me well.

Overall we couldn’t be happier with Copperpot. He has greatly exceeded our expectations and is a great little dog. Getting him was a major win for the family.

Tuesday, 1-19-16: A look back at last year (part II.)
In my last bootleg site update that about two people will ever read I wrote about some of the amazing things that happened in my life in 2015, but a lot happened last year so I couldn’t fit it all into just one quick blog. I got married, I had an amazing honeymoon/vacation, I worked a shitload of hours, I added five rooms (plus hallways/closets/storage areas) onto our house, and the year flew right by.

After a brutally cold/snowy winter and a hectic schedule working 45-50 hours a week at Jackson Hewitt (plus some extra hours here and there for the rentals) the tax season ended and I found myself with a brief respite of more free time. By brief I mean a few days because then came the wedding and honeymoon to close out April, and in early May I dropped $4500 on a massive Home Depot order. I needed some supplies and materials for the rental properties, but most of the purchase was things for the house. We planned to turn the garage into a studio for Kat’s DJ business, but before we did that I needed to build a shed out in the back yard. We had A LOT of stuff stowed in the garage so we needed a place to put it all while the renovations took place.

^The shed out back and Castiel (golden) with Crowley (black.) I thought I had finished that shed at the end of June, but I just checked my bootleg site acrhives and saw that I didn't finish it until about Independence Day in early July.

Shortly after I began building our shed out back we got the two puppies in the photo above, Castiel and Crowley. I also had work to do on the rental properties including much landscaping so that left at most a few hours a day to work on the shed. Kat’s DJ business also grew as she picked up more gigs, and I went with her to the majority of those. Soon May turned to June, and I finally finished the shed later that month. The calendar flipped to July and I had tenants move out of one of my rental houses. They had lived there for 4.5 years and had been fairly hard on the place so I had to sink over $3000 and a ton of my own time into that house for most of July. What a bunch of crap! That halted work on our own house, and then it was August and time to go blueberry raking for the first part of that month.

^My largest check ever received from blueberry raking for Cliff. IRON MAN CREW.

Last year was a FANTASTIC blueberry raking season. We made great money down in Hope working for Cliff, and in a way it felt like one of our final raking seasons, if not the final one ever. Cliff is getting older, his crew is dwindling, and machines seem to do more and more of the fields these days. I hope I am wrong about that because I love raking still, but it will be hard to top the 2015 season ever again. In a funny side note, Gavin is dating one of the boss’s daughters so seeing them together in the field was cool.

^The lower field at Bob Wright's was the best I've ever seen. Lots of blue off to the left = many dollar signs. Good god I love making money.

My original plan was to finish the shed in May or early June and then jump right onto the house renovation itself, but those plans went to pot thanks to that rental house. That house needed fresh paint and a good once-over, but I also replaced kitchen cabinets and 7 windows because it was the right thing to do for the place. Last year I had massive issues staying on schedule with any of my projects, and that is a bunch of crap. I underestimated how much time it takes to play with puppies, give Katherine rides, and do all the other family stuff. Lesson learned for hopefully staying more on track this coming year.

^This house needed much work. Some of the issues were caused by shitbag tenants, but a lot of them were just normal wear and tear. All I wanna know is why? Why did they think that side porch was their personal dump? What a bunch of crap!

^A nice, new, non-trash heap porch.

The original plans for our own home remodel changed in a major way over the summer. At first we planned to simply convert the unfinished, unheated garage and breezeway connecting the garage to the house into Kat’s new studio. However, in August while I was blueberry raking Kat’s oldest son, Daniel, agreed to come live with us and pay a monthly rent. He took over Tommy’s old downstairs lair so that squeezed Katherine into our last remaining small 10x9 spare room upstairs. That room had been Kat’s makeshift studio so now she has no place to work with her gear other than the middle of the kitchen and living room. We have speakers and related gear stuffed into a corner in the living room and in the basement right now, and that is hard. Not having enough space = what a bunch of crap!

I changed the plans for the renovation once I knew Daniel was moving in. I decided to build UP as well. Kat’s studio, storage, and a laundry room downstairs with a bathroom and two bedrooms upstairs. I ripped off an old back deck, I did some major earth and foundation work, and I started building an additional 1000 square feet onto our house. OMG. The project began August 12, and I hoped to have most of the interior done by mid-November when I would presumably go back to work as a seasonal employee at the United States Post Office (USPS) mail processing plant again.

^The back of the house before any remodel began in August. Garage is off to the left, behind that screen door was the breezeway.

^A few months later.

My oh my how plans change. The house renovation stayed exactly on track, if not slightly ahead of schedule, until the end of September. After that I started falling behind. What a bunch of crap! In October I got hired and then not hired at the USPS due to a technical glitch. They told me I was not qualified to work there because I screwed up on my application so I sorta found other work. Then they called to tell me they really wanted me back and could probably fix that application error, but by then I had decided to do a roof replacement at the duplex I manage right around the corner from our house and my office.

^Bye bye 100+ hours for that job. Hello a couple grand profit, though!

That roof job was BIG. It ended up taking just over 100 of my own man-hours including supply runs, debris removal, etc. It took most of November (working about 4-5 hrs a day several days a week.) so that pulled me off the home remodel for quite a bit. Finally I was able to work more on our own house again in December, but not enough to get back on schedule. The mechanical systems have taken a lot longer than I would have liked, especially the heat. Getting heat out there has been one giant FU after another. What a bunch of crap!

My first heating contractor, Gary, retired and moved to Florida just as I needed him to start. I called him early in September, but he had to decline the work as he planned to leave for good by October. Fail! Bruce, my plumber of 8 years, recommended Bob to me. Bob seemed like a nice guy and agreed to take on the work when we met in early October, but Bob was not able to hold his end of the bargain. He has a dying wife and a ton of other work so he never had time for me. Finally I had to shit-can him early last month and find yet another guy, Joe. Joe seems like he REALLY knows his stuff, but he has a ton of other work to do as well so getting him here is hard. He was going to get heat out in the new addition last Friday, but I was short a couple 12” B-vent pieces so nevermind. I can’t get that vent locally, I have to order it, so now we wait again for those to come in. What a bunch of crap!

Nothing out in that new addition is 100% done yet, but once we get heat Kat’s studio can be finished in a couple days. I put well over 400 hours of my own time into the home renovation last year (I keep records cause that’s how I roll) and there is still a lot left to do. In hindsight I worked too much. I didn’t allow myself enough time to do the fun things that I enjoy like deer hunting, playing racquetball, and using the gym. I did get a lot of cardio in over the fall as the weather was decent so I could jog outside. However, overall in 2015 I didn’t meet my exercise goal. Thankfully working so much on things like landscaping, foundation work, roofing, carpentry, etc. helped keep me in very good shape so now I feel like I am still doing great. There are lots of other ways to get exercise besides lifting weights and jogging, that’s for sure. (Just watch Rocky IV!)

Overall 2015 was one for the ages. I worked too much, but thankfully a lot of that work should pay dividends for us down the road in the form of increased equity and property value. I definitely don't want to work as much this year, but I will have to wait until April to catch much of a break because the JH tax job will keep me very busy until the filing deadline.

Friday, 1-15-16: A look back at last year (part I.)
Every year around this time I like to take a look back at the year prior to reflect, to both appreciate the good times had and to learn from the mistakes made. 2015 was a year that likely won’t ever be topped in my life in terms of changes, adventures, and events.

I started 2015 off busy, I stayed busy, and I ended the year busy. First, in January last year Kat and I were finishing the move from her house in Bangor to the house we now share in Brewer. In addition to that we were both preparing to start our new jobs as tax preparers for Jackson Hewitt. That job began for us around January 5th. I started at the Brewer Walmart JH location and she started at the Bangor location, but by the end of the season we had swapped places.

The winter was extremely challenging last year not only because we worked a lot but also because we were cramped in the house with Tommy still there. Tommy was supposed to move out at the very end of 2014, but he got served a giant life turd sandwich so he had to extend his stay with us until March. It was hard for us to find room for everything, but we made due with what we had. Even the driveway was cramped because we got so much snow that we almost ran out of places to put the stuff. Arctic air invaded for weeks on end, too. I went thousands over budget on the rental properties for heat and plowing bills, and our own house struggled to stay warm. The heating system is not adequate as-is now so that dealt us a harsh reality last winter. We had to supplement the house heat with electric space heaters, and that ran up the bills some as well.

^Our backyard late Feb or early March last year after we got pwned by epic snow and cold.

Overall last winter almost broke me mentally. I still am licking my emotional wounds from that shit-show of a season, and even though we have been above average so far this winter I still want more than ever to get the fuck out of this frozen tundra state for the coldest months. Even worse was Kat’s health; that took a downward turn helped not at all by the record cold (Last Feb was the coldest month ever recorded in this area. Ever. What a bunch of crap!) Her lupus seems to feed off cold so she was ill more often than not, and all of 2015 was a major challenge for her health. Working at a freezing JH kiosk right by the Bangor WalMart entry doors didn’t help matters for her, either. That’s why her and I eventually traded work locations.

Nothing good came from the winter last year except for the Patriots unbelievable win in the Superbowl. That was awesome! The game literally came down to the last play, and I got boozed up and promised Katherine that I would build an upstairs and a new bedroom for her.

^Malcom Butler's game-ending interception. Seahawks score and they win. Patriots stopped them at the 1 yard line so they ended up winning what was a crazy game. Amazing!

In addition to our hectic work schedules Katherine needed rides to and from school and work, I had to keep the rental property business running, and we had our April 19th wedding to plan. Oh, Kat also picked up a second weekly karaoke gig down in Ellsworth at a bar called Tag’s last March. It’s a gig she still does, and the owner likes her so much down there that she did a Halloween show and is starting Saturday nights as the dance-club DJ. (Tag’s is a pool hall with some tables and a back dance club area.) Kat grew her business A LOT in 2015, and she never ceases to amaze me.

March was a busy month, but not as busy as April. The tax filing deadline was a very busy time for us and then it was time to get married mere days after that. I got to marry my best friend on April 19th last year at Morgan Hill Event Center. My closest friends and family were able to attend, but unfortunately there was some family drama. Mom flew Doug back, Doug was supposed to be my best man, but Doug got fired because he because a drunk Giblet-heat the Friday night prior. That was a bunch of crap. Tommy was originally supposed to be my best man, but he had to go west. He moved all the way out to Arizona in March so I needed a plan B. In fact, Tommy moved in with Doug and Doug’s other two roommates in a 4BR house out there in Tucson, but that arrangement failed within a few months so now Tommy seems to be doing well for himself in a 1BR apartment of his own out there. Even at age 35 Doug still hasn’t figured out how to grow up yet. [sigh]

^April 19, 2015

In the spring last year Kat’s oldest of the two Golden Retrievers, Dende, passed away at the age of 12. Chessa, his life-long younger female canine companion, did not take that well at all so we feared she would die of a broken heart if we didn’t do something ASAP. Therefore, we thought more with our hearts than with our logical brains and we got not one but TWO puppies from the same litter. One of the puppies was to be Katherine’s and the other was to be ours, but in reality those lines blurred quite often. Katherine was 16 when we got the puppies, and she turned 17 less than two months later, so she was at the age where having the responsibility of a puppy was not a top priority. She had school, work, and friends to hang out with so that left little time for her own puppy.

^Crowley (black) and Castiel (golden), named for a TV show that I never watch called Supernatural.

The luster of having two puppies quickly started to wear off and as the weeks and months passed we realized we were screwed. I was working a shitload both on the apartments and on our own house, and I never was able to make enough time for the dogs. The burden of watching them fell too often on Kat, and her health was far from great so that was not fair to her. The puppies played HARD with each other and would occasionally get into ugly dog fights with each other over food and toys so we made the difficult decision to rehome Crowley. The first time we found him a new home it ended badly when a week later the lady called to say he bit her daughter in the face. What a bunch of crap! It was a playful bite, but her daughter got scared and so we had to issue a refund. Gods damn it. Thankfully I found him a new home again only a couple days later.

We thought having just Castiel in the home without his brother would work, but unfortunately that didn’t work at all because he bit the cats a couple times and developed a disgusting habit of eating his own shit (any shit really.) so we found him a new home with no other pets. What a mess that whole thing was, and what made it worse was my own Mom running her face about it multiple times. Finally I told her to stop ragging on us about it, and thankfully she has. Unfortunately, we can’t even tell Mom that we got a new Golden Retriever puppy because she would be a beotch about it, say something snide, and piss me off. What a bunch of crap! Since I met Kat I have actually realized that I don’t even like talking to my Mom anymore because she always finds ways to needle, and it sucks. A lot.

^My own mom, even at my own fucking wedding, seemed like she was mentally disapproving of my life decisions. HEY MOM WHEN WE ARE YOUR AGE WE WILL HAVE A NET WORTH OF OVER A MILLION DOLLARS. WE ARE WINNERS.

Oh, we both turned 40 last year. Kat beat me by 6 months to that milestone, and she will beat me to every birthday milestone forever. I’m okay with marrying an older woman, though. Hehehe. 6 months is chump-change in the grand scheme of life, right?

Shortly after our wedding Kat and I took a wonderful honeymoon vacation to The Royal Haciendas resort in the coastal Caribbean town of Play Del Carmen, Mexico. We loved it there. It’s a beautiful, tropical resort. We even decided to buy a timeshare at the place so we should be going back later this year. Next trip we’re bringing the family with us. How cool is that?

^We saw Mayan ruins, we lounged on the beach, and it was everything I hoped it would be.

On that note I am going to sign off and come back next time to write about the rest of spring, summer and fall and a few other things of note from 2015, the most eventful year of my life thus far. Goonies never say die!

Wednesday, 1-13-16: Off to a decent start.
It’s 1820, I'm at my JH office in the Bangor WalMart, and I am going to be hitting the road shortly for the day. Another 1000-1900 shift here at work. I did three tax returns yesterday and two today. Not bad considering how early in the year it still is. Most people don’t have their w2s and stuff yet, but more and more folks are getting them each day. I'm already ahead of my pace from last seasn at this point. Awesome!

I feel like this will be a good season, and I hope that feeling becomes a reality. I'm fired up and ready to do a ton of tax returns now, but I know as the season moves along I will lose some of the mental pep that I possess at the moment. I do see a couple potential red flags, but I should be able to make decent money so the pay (good) will hopefully outweigh those potential problems (the bad.) One problem, same as last year, is our pricing. Our fees vary wildly from one client to the next. We have package pricing that is fantastic for some people, but for others there is no package pricing so those ones are more difficult. So far this year our prices have been fair, but I know I will hit some bumps in the road in the not-too-distant future.

Second, right now we seem quite thread-bare on our staffing. When we get totally slammed with customers later this month I will need some help over here, and I am not so sure I will get that help on many days. There are two desks in the office but for some of the season it’s not busy enough to justify needing two tax preparers on duty. Now is one of those times where one preparer is enough, but soon that will change in a hurry. I definitely don’t want to be overwhelmed with 20 customers coming to my door so I have to make people wait, send people away, and worst of all interrupt my current clients 25 times during their stay. An occasional interruption is ok, but too many interruptions doesn’t keep people happy.

Overall I do think I will do more taxes than I did last year. Last year I did around 215, give or take, and that exceeded the most I ever did at Liberty Tax in my three years at that company. This year I would love to do 300+, but only time will tell if I get the traffic through the office. Lots of people use TurboTax and our storefront competitors so there is just no way to get them all.

^DO NOT USE TURBOTAX. Come to my office and pay me to do your taxes.

During slow times I have been doing some training, standing outside the office saying hello to people, and researching some vacation options. This year we want to take two vacations. First, we want to take a family vacation to The Royal Haciendas again later in April or early May. Kat and I liked it so much down there last year on our honeymoon that we bought a timeshare at the place. Our timeshare gives us a week of use every two years for the next 42 years. Nice! In hindsight was it a good deal for us? No way to know for sure yet, but there are pros and cons of our decision. The pro is we now have access to vacation exchange sites (fee based but require the ownersip of a timeshare) that offer timeshare trades and fantastic “Getaway” deals that allow for reasonably-priced travel to locations worldwide. The con is the fact that we spent a few thousand dollars up front on the promise of being able to vacation at our resort for many years to come. Plus there are maintenance fees to be paid, and those currently are $390 every other year. This year our maintenance fee is due by the end of this month. What a bunch of crap!

^BEST VACATION, EVER. Hi, sexy wife.

The second trip we want to take is an excursion out west, most likely to Arizona, to see the Grand Canyon and to explore the central and northern areas of the state. It would be ideal to take that trip in the fall, but there is still much to figure out in terms of flight prices, our schedules, and room availability. Ideally the trip out west would also be our first step in exploring potential winter (or permanent) escape locations because being in Maine this time of year = what a bunch of crap! Leaving at least for the winter is our goal, and I hope to make that goal a reality ASAP.

Saturday, 1-09-16: At my "new" tax office.
It’s my third consecutive day of work here at Jackson Hewitt, and so far I have done zero tax returns. What a bunch of crap! Oh well, it’s still so early that most people don’t have all the info that they need in order to file. Plus the IRS doesn’t even open until the 19th this year. We can still prepare people’s taxes, but we can’t magically make a refund appear. I have been mostly productive with my time by setting up this office, doing some training, taking power naps, etc.

It’s really almost pointless for us to open this early, but I understand why management wants us here already. A few people do want to file this early, and folks have popped in with various inquiries. Plus we need to be set up and 100% operational for when we do get busy. Being here this early gives us a chance to work out the kinks so-to-speak before we get slammed with customers.

This season has started rough, but I think we will be successful when it counts the most. First, I didn’t even know when or where I would be working until the night before. Fail. Second, I got here (Bangor WalMart) and had no idea where Jackson Hewitt even was located. What a bunch of crap! Last year there was a big kiosk near the customer service store entrance, but this year we have an office. The office door was locked with no signage indicating what it was so I had to make a phone call to find out. We don’t even get a key to the office either so every time we want to get in we need a Walmart manager to open the place for us. HAHAHAHA.

^No kiosk near a Walmart entrance for this guy this year, at least that's how it looks now. (Generic Google photo, not the actual kiosk we used locally last year.)

The office was not acceptable on Thursday morning. Clutter was everywhere, desks were not 100% set up, and there wasn’t even internet. Gods damn it. I had to bring in my tools to fix the bootleg desks including extra screws. I should bill the company for those six screws, damnit. They owe me about a nickel. Hehehe. It took a few hours of rearranging, but now this office is looking good. It also took a few hours to get the Interweb working. I wasn’t even ready for a customer until yesterday later in the afternoon because I didn’t even have a signature pad. What a bunch of crap!

Now we are set up and ready to roll, but we have no clients. We leave in 75 minutes for the day so it seems unlikely that we will have a client at all. Oh well, thankfully a good part of my pay is hourly so I make money even if no one shows up. I am hoping for a busy season so I can get a nice commission check at the end of the season, though.
I was on the schedule every day next week Monday-Saturday, 54 total hours, but someone else wants next Sat so now I am “only” working about 45hrs. (A 9hr shift from 1000-1900 each day M-F.) I don’t want to work 54 frigging hours next week so I call that a major win. I will be flying solo some of the time and working with new hires some of the time. Maybe? No one tells me jack shit until the last minute so I go with the flow. This company has hired some serious Giblet-Heads again this year, but the new one who has worked with me today is decent. She has a good attitude and will probably succeed.

I have a feeling I will work some serious hours this year, especially later this month and into February when we hit our peak. Hopefully it will be a good season, and hopefully I don’t burn out. Kat works a lot as well so she will be just going to work when I get out on 3-4 nights each week. What a bunch of crap!

On a positive note Kat brought Copperpot into the office today so it was great seeing my beautiful wife and our cute little puppy. Copperpot was a major hit with passers-by; he should become our official JH mascot! I watched him while Kat did some shopping, and I had a whole crowd checking out Copperpot at one point. He has been a great dog so far and we are super pleased to have him in the family.

^Not a great photo, but I kept it because it is the first ever photo that I took of him last Monday shortly after we got him home for the very first time. He's tiny compared to the cats, but that will change fast.

Wednesday, 1-06-16: bye bye Castiel, hello Copperpot.
We found a new home for Castiel last Thursday evening; people who live over 2 hours south saw my Craigslist posting and scheduled a time to come meet him. A married couple with 4 acres of land in a rural setting, and he is going to be their only pet. No kids either. Nice! We were hoping to find him a good home, something along those lines, so our fingers are crossed that he is happier now than he has ever been before in his life.

Saying goodbye to 8.5-month old Castiel for the last time was sad, but it was necessary. He wasn’t a bad dog at all. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a great fit here at our house with the other pets, especially the cats. Getting Castiel along with his brother (Crowley) at the same time proved to be a huge mistake. Those two puppies played very hard together. They developed some food aggression, and they became too much for us to handle. We hoped finding Crowley a new home would straighten Castiel out and not having his brother to constantly rumble with did help, but not enough. In Crowley’s absence Castiel found the cats to be great “toys” and he actually bit Sully twice.
Castiel also was never able to stop eating shit. What a bunch of crap! We even maced the turds in the back yard, but that only deterred him temporarily. He would pick up a nugget, drop it and shake his snot-dropping head from side to side, and then keep trying. Eventually the mace would wear off enough for him to have some turd-snacks. Epic fail.

I will miss Castiel because despite his flaws he is a good dog. In the right environment he will thrive, but Kat has not been healthy, I am working a shitload, and Castiel was never Katherine’s dog (She had Crowley and struggled to take care of him much at all.) so she didn’t really care… whether or not she cared.

^Both Crowley and Castiel are in better homes now where they can thrive as individuals and not feel the need to compete all the time for food, toys, attention, etc.

We were worried about Chessa’s frame of mind with no other canine companion. (Our 9-year old female Golden Retriever.) When Dende went to doggie-heaven last spring Chessa came a bit undone. She would barely eat, she started pulling out her fur in spots, and she didn’t even want to go outside. Seemed she had a broken heart of sorts so we found Crowley and Castiel as her companions. She did get along with them well enough, and she did stop the worrisome habits so all was as good as it could be at the time.

Before we found Castiel a new home we talked about the possibility that Chessa would regress again, but that was a chance we had to take. We had been looking online to see what is out there for Golden Retriever puppies, but nothing really looked great at the time. Unfortunately, Chessa started pulling her fur out and acting off again over the past weekend, just a couple short days after Castiel moved out, so Kat began a more serious search through the classifieds. An Uncle Henrys listing in Appleton looked very promising so I called Sunday afternoon, and we agreed to make the drive to look at the puppies Monday morning. Two Golden males left out of a litter of 10.

When we arrived Monday morning there was only one puppy still available, and we fell for him immediately. We had learned from our mistakes with Castiel and Crowley so we knew we wanted only one this time. We also were on the lookout for shady crap like the “breeder” living on the side of a steep hill and keeping the puppies in a pen outside. The dude who sold us Crowley and Castiel seriously kept all those dogs outside 24/7. He had junk all over his yard, an old treadmill on his porch with a goat standing on it, and the parents (female Black Lab, male Golden Retriever) had the run of the place. We should have known those puppies were going to be wild after living their first and most formative weeks in those conditions, but we never thought they would turn out as wild as the did.

Thankfully the puppies in the Appleton litter were not kept in a pen outside in all wether conditions. They were inside, and they were living with a family of 5 kids ranging in age from 18-3. (I got five kids to feed!) Exposure to kids = yes please. We met the mom and dad, both pure Golden Retrievers, and both around 5 or 6 years old with good temperaments. Sold! We paid $1300 for both Castiel and Crowley (some paid by Katherine), but we got our little bundle of joy for “only” $500 this time. Probably the middle of winter is more of a buyer’s market.

So we now have a lovely little 7-pound male Golden Retriever whose name is Copperpot. We bandied about a multitude of different names on the nearly 1.5-hour drive back home and at one point we agreed on Hobbs (from Calvin and Hobbs.) Awesome names like RAMBO, CONTRA (totally badass NES game), COMMANDO, and MATRIX (as in John Matrix from Commando) came to my mind, but I kept those thoughts to myself because I’m mostly grown up now. Hehehehe. Eventually we settled on Copperpot as in Chester Copperpot from The Goonies. Goonies never say die! We’ll probably just call him Copper most of the time and the pot can be a middle name. Hehehehe.

Reason #672,345 why my wife is a winner. The Goonies reference was actually her idea. Oh Jesus, hell ya! Sloth, Chunk, Data, Mikey, etc. just don’t really fit for a dog so we had to do some deeper thinking. I keep screwing it up and calling him Coppertop, Copperhead, and Copperspot, but I half do that in jest.

We’ve had Copperpot for two days, and in that time he has really taken to the house. He was born November 18 so he is now exactly 7 weeks old. We got him a little early because Kat can do the necessary shots herself. Perks of being a former vet tech. Reason #672,346 why my wife is a winner. Copperpot is so young that he has no idea about wizzing and crapping outside, but he has shown signs today that he is starting to get it. At first he just squatted wherever he damn well pleased, but now we can bring him outside and convince him to do some business more often than not. He won’t be housebroken for many more weeks, but we will work with him and get him up to speed as soon as we can. He seems pretty smart so we think he will catch on fast.

^Our newest member of the family.

Tuesday, 1-05-16: Happy new year, dinks.
Happy 2016 to the two of you who actually read this bootleg piece of shit site. This was my very first day of work at Jackson Hewitt Tax Company (JH) on this date exactly one year ago. I’m hired back as a tax preparer again for the second consecutive year with JH after a one-year break. During that one-year hiatus I did prepare a few taxes on the side, but I primarily worked at UPS. For three consecutive years prior to the UPS job, from 2011-2013, I was a tax preparer (and a two-time for the fun of it waver) at Liberty Tax Company.

^Yeah, I went out and danced on the sidewalk when there were no customers. It was fun, too. Hehehe. Maybe if I did more taxes Liberty would not have gone out of business, but dressing a slapnut up in a Statue of Liberty costume and putting said slapnut in public view is not the best way to drive business in my humble opinion. A few radio, print, and/or TV ads would have been helpful as well, but the owner was always too cheap to spend on additional promotion. What a bunch of crap! Oh well, I like JH more anyway despite the fact that they suck at telling me when and where I will work. I don't even know who my direct boss is right now. Epic fail!

I have no idea when my first day at the tax desk will be this year at JH, but I would guess tomorrow? We did our paid training last week in Augusta, but since then I have heard nothing official about our first real day. It would be nice of them to make me a schedule instead of waiting until the last minute, but I take what I can get. Yesterday Kat and I were in the Bangor WalMart, my presumed primary work location this season, but there was nothing. No JH signage, desks, kiosks, etc. What a bunch of crap!

I actually hope I don’t work at JH this week so I can work on the renovation here at the house. I’ve gotten a decent amount done over the past several days, and I snapped some photos to share.

^The upstairs stairway area is 100% done as of Sunday later in the day. I finished it after I watched some of the Patriots-Dolphins game. The Pats lost and looked like shit in that game, but they are 12-4 and set up for a strong playoff run. I hope! They were 10-0 at one point in the season, but they lost some key players to injury and haven't quite been the same team since. Hopefully a two-week break will give them a chance to heal some of their players.

^The lower part of that same stairway. I attached those 2x4 boards on each side and used a piece of scrap plywood to set my ladder on so I could reach all the way to the ceiling. One time my ladder fell off and made a huge crash; thankfully I was NOT on that ladder at the time. Working in that area sucked because there was always a chance I could screw up and fall so I worked very carefully. Now I can remove those boards and sheetrock the botom portion. Hopefully I can have the entire stairwell done within a week.

I didn’t work on the house yesterday at all because it was too frigging cold. Plus I wanted some family time. Today we awoke to -7 degrees with a forecast high of 17 this afternoon so right now it’s way too cold to do any work on the house. Even with a kerosene heater going out there it’s still too gods damned cold. Thankfully it will be milder tomorrow and through the coming weekend, and I have other things to do this morning anyway. I need to run some errands, get some supplies at Lowe’s, and take care of some rental property paperwork and chores. If I get all that done by midafternoon then I can put a couple hours in here at the house.

If all goes well then tomorrow I will make some forward progress on getting the furnace installed in the new area of the house. It was supposed to happen yesterday, but nothing on this home addition/renovation stays on schedule these days. Here is the spot where the furnace and water heater will ultimately sit:

^I painted that area a few days ago. I still have to run some B-vent through the upstairs closet, but maybe I will just let the heating guys do that if they are willing. The washer and dryer will also be in that room off to the left. It's an 8x8 space so I'm hoping we even have a little extra space in there for a few shelves. The furnace isn't too big, but I hope all the ducts don't pig our precious... precious space.

Finally, the hall below is also painted and ready for shelving. I'm waiting on the ceiling and trim until I know where the final heating ducts will run in there.

I should stop wasting my precious... precious time on this bootleg site and go take care of business. I need to hook up a water line for a fridge in one of my rental houses later so I hope that goes well. Believe it or not I've never installed one of those before because I usually buy cheaper fridges that don't have fancy features like a water dispenser and an ice maker. The fridge at our house has one of those things, but it hasn't worked in over a year and I don't even care... whether or not I care. What a bunch of crap!

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