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
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!
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
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
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
^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!
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
^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.
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
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
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
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!