Friday, January 29, 2010

Grant Me Peace and Closing

I've been having a fair amount of trouble with "the man" recently. First it was the whole internet/cable saga with LandArc property management and Bright House Networks. Just as a follow up to that bit (you demand completeness in your narratives, I appreciate that), someone did something that gave us cable and internet, but that's all I can specifically say about that. Things are working and we'll leave the solution as MAGIC - for now. More details might be available after we're free from our current living situation under the oversight of the local homeowner's association. On the issue of the HOA, I would like to again emphasize that you never should live in a condo when possible. January 5th our internet went down, and after all the detail of my past posts, our landlady received word on January 22nd that the HOA would consider our request for a temporary cable line in the next 5-30 days. If not for the current MAGIC setup, I would not be able to perform my job for at least 22 days and possibly up to 47 days thanks to the fine work of LandArc and the HOA. 47 days would only hold as an outer limit if they actually review the request within the stated time line and if they did approve the request when they got around to reviewing it. I hate them so much it makes my butt pucker.

This and a few other things have driven us to the crazy point of actually purchasing a home in Northville. Yup, we're putting our money where my mouthwords are and planting even firmer roots in the state. This is fun and exciting and our first home purchase, and even better, we'll soon be far away from a property management company. We're buying a regular person-owned home, not a short sale, just like people used to do it in the 50s.

I get that lenders are super crazy anal about doling out mortgages after the credit crisis and housing meltdown and the recent alien invasion, but our lender is being downright weird.

I owe somebody 10 dollars. In my right pocket, I have 50 dollars, and in my left pocket, I have 5 dollars (3 of which I can't account for). To get to 10 dollars in my left pocket, I have to transfer 5 more dollars from my right pocket to my left pocket. I leave a clear paper trail indicating the withdrawal and deposit of this five dollars, and I can also clearly show that I have 45 dollars remaining in my right pocket. However, the seller is freaked out because of the 3 dollars I can't account for that were originally and remain in my left pocket. A sane person would say "hey, you still have 45 dollars in your right pocket so this will be no problem", but an insane person would ask you to give them a photograph of every penny that makes up that mystery 3 dollars. This is the situation with which I have been wasting far too much of my time for the last week+.

For the most part, things seem to be moving along despite some of these odd hiccups. I just want to be a proud Michigan homeowner so that I can't start losing my 15% per year on my property like the rest of the good people of Michigan. And get as far away from LandArc as possible, as soon as possible. This alone is worth the thousands in almost guaranteed investment loss.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yes and No

Opinions are great, especially when they align with my thoughts. It saves all the time and effort of disagreeing, arguing, and eventually karate chops and arm wrestling to determine who has the right opinion. This is why I try not to disagree with my friend Mike because I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have a prayer in any sort of arm wrestling contest. He's compact and built solid, so he has both a shorter and stronger lever arm in this potential contest of strength.

This is why I was happy with the general message in an opinion piece (link unfortunately removed for now, the Free Press isn't playing ball. This is annoying because it worked 20 minutes ago. How will everyone understand my outrage?) from the weekend in The Free Press. Here's a cached excerpt, printed entirely without permission:

I am 25. I live and work in Ann Arbor. I am what many classify as a "young professional," although I am still shocked to hear myself say such things as "401(k)" and "home equity."

Here's the kicker: While many of my fellow Gen Y'ers jump ship, I am staying in Michigan. I see my opportunities right here. I believe in renaissance.

So permit me this manifesto.

It's no secret that the state is bleeding college grads, and with them the creativity and innovation that could get us out of this economic rut. There has been so much written and discussed about Michigan's "brain drain" that I think a greater point has been missed.

What is our responsibility? Where in all of this mess are we held accountable for making our own state a great place to live and work?

The only way Michigan is going to hang on to us is if we are equal partners in planning this state's future. So here are three things I think would plug the drain: etc. etc. etc.

The woman who wrote this happens to be a coworker of my wife. She is young and educated, employed, and has consciously chosen to buck the trend and live in Michigan. This is all great, and it also happens to sound vaguely familiar to pretty much every single thing I've said over the past 1.5 years in this blog. It is also pleasing to see other people, not unlike me, visibly participating in the movement I have been outwardly supporting for much of my adult life. It takes a whole bunch of people to help spread the word that living in Michigan doesn't suck, and more than that, can actually be pretty enjoyable. The more people who are young and feel this way, the better chance we stand looking toward the future.

While I remain strongly behind this viewpoint, it stings ever-so-deeply (as Louis C.K. puts it, "took a shit like right in my heart") that someone can spend an hour typing about something on which I've been spending a significant quantity of time, send it over to the Freep, and then actually get published in the newspaper. It feels exactly like that time Microsoft stole Xerox's operating system, minus the interest, money, fame, and most of the points of comparison. Is it all my poop references, because I can cut those out. OK no I can't, but everybody poops, so this should not be a limit to one's fame. In fact, I pooped twice today.

Envy is a lamentable component of the human condition, but it always helps to realize that there are at least a few vocal like-minded individuals out there. I just wish that they were less famous than me. Like way, way less famous - which I realize is pretty freaking hard to accomplish.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Louis Filler

My sister posted a few videos of baby Louis up on LouisTube over the weekend, and I've watched them all about 50 times. At this point, they are all more interesting, exciting, and funny than any recent episode of Heroes. Poor Heroes, once so full of promise and excitement. This is one of those rare times where if you're reading this on Facebook, you should probably jump over to the actual blog to see this video because it will hopefully light up your day.

For his first birthday about a month ago, some genius person gave Louis a mini ball pit. As I still love ball pits, it should be no surprise that a toddler would feel no differently. In this short clip, Louis reminds us that we all need a trip to Chuck E Cheese.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More Annoying Things

They say that Americans are fat and lazy, and this is reasonable assessment. We've all been called worse things, so being fat and lazy isn't terrible. I find fatter people are typically considerably happier (up to a point where the happiness transitions into sadness) and lazy people enjoy TV almost as much as me, so if you can't help but be fat and lazy and your health isn't at risk, enjoy what you are.

Because I feel this way, you know there is something really wrong when I find an act to be too fat and lazy.

With some regularity, I walk into a very large cylindrical glass building on the waterfront in downtown Detroit for work purposes. The door into which I walk is actually a bank of four doors; three regular pull/push doors and one electrified door that is intended for the handicapped. The handicapped door is one of those doors with a big metal button about 5-10 feet from it so when you push the button, the door automatically opens. For the dozens and dozens and dozens of times that I have walked through this bank of doors, just about every time but once I have observed some exceptionally lazy human beings pressing the button and using the handicapped door instead of exerting the exceptional amount of force to push or pull the regular doors. There is some strong non-factual evidence that handicapped and other electrified doors are causing global warming. If you ever have the option of using a regular door and you are that person who always uses the electric door, you are probably a jerk and not very many people like you.

The second point of dissatisfaction for the day is that moment where a car and a pedestrian both arrive at an intersection at the same time. Both parties come to a stop and the pedestrian waves on the car, but the car driver instead refuses the wave-on and goes ahead with a counter wave for the pedestrian. Both people have now wasted their valuable time and the world has lost some amount of productivity. This applies to all degrees of trying to out-manner someone. If I hold the door for you, walk through the freaking door - don't take the door from me and then tell me to go ahead. Just walk through the door you idiot! Whoever concedes first, the other person should proceed without question. In the instance of the car driver and runner at the intersection, the lost time will be at a universal minimum if the car driver goes first. If the runner goes first, the car driver will have to wait for the person to go all the way through the intersection before proceeding, and this is wasteful. This isn't about me being more polite than you or you being more polite than me, it's about the whole world doing things that annoy me less.

There is one other thing at which I was annoyed but my furor has since subsided since this post began, and I no longer remember what that thing was. "Don't you hate pants?"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mercy Making News

This story is odd to me for so many reasons. The fine tooth comb that people apply to certain elements of their lives is astounding.

A little under a week ago, the website reported some news that no human should have the capability to even identify as news, and because it is somewhat about Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, it is suitable fodder for me. My sister, cousins, and many of my friends back in the day attended Mercy High School, and my recent marriage brought me some new cousins who are also students at Mercy. Because of this, I'm aware that Mercy now requires its students to purchase and use HP tablet computers at the expense of their parents. I believe this policy formally started this year, so all freshwomen henceforth will be toting around more technology than most college students can afford. Rock those tablets, ladies.

What's crazy is that some random individual (either a parent or immensely creepy internet lurker who hangs around and studies the minutiae of all-girls high school websites) identified that the "HP2740p" tablet required by the "Mercy Computing Package" is big news as a previously-unannounced tablet computer. This story was big enough to be picked up by some of the big boys in internet gadgetry and electronics like Engadget, again proving that thanks to the internet, even the tiniest details of life cannot escape scrutiny. Congratulations, some weirdo out there, for beating the formal announcement of the HP2740p by a few days!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Heart LandArc

Just to continue on from my post from Friday, I have had a few more experiences since my last update and still think it is an absolutely fabulous idea to not live in a condo. Onward with the saga no one cares about but me!

Saturday in the early afternoon, Bright House was able to send someone out to my building to try to work around the problem of the cable strung dangerously in midair. A gentleman came out and spent a pretty good amount of time trying to chisel away at the dirt between the sidewalk squares with a screw driver so that he could feed the cable between the sidewalk squares. This seemed like a pretty good solution because the cable would not be a tripping or a clothesline-ing hazard above the sidewalk. This solution would require a slight deviation from the original installation because there would be a bit more cable above ground than a pure installation (again, not possible right now because of the frozen ground), but no one would be at danger walking on the sidewalk and I would have access to internet and cable television. When I got back to my place Saturday night, the guy had finished up with his work and I felt that we had something workable until the spring. I also kind of felt like I had overblown my displeasure about the whole situation because Bright House was able to find a solution that would keep everyone happy until the time of a more permanent fix.

Well, it appears as though I originally did not hate enough the concept of property management (LandArc) and the homeowners' association. Today, someone from the property management company came out and literally cut the cable. I was cruising along on MLK day, celebrating civil rights, doing laundry, and sorting through old mail when all of a sudden my email was gone and my TV stopped receiving a signal. There was no mystery to the cause, and when I went out to the cable just to see if there was anything I could do, I was faced with a severed coaxial cable and a growing desire to take a poop on LandArc.

Two weeks after the problem surfaced, I have actually moved backwards a step because originally we at least had cable TV and no internet. Now, no TV and no internet and I've wasted a whole bunch of peoples' time. Someone from Bright House is again supposed to come out tomorrow (I think this is the 5th visit for them) and try to return us to the original setup with functional television but no internet. After this, we have to wait for a formal approval from the HOA board so that we can put the wire back in the ground exactly as it was over the weekend before they cut it and pulled it up today, and then we have to schedule an appointment with Bright House for them to come out and put the damn thing back the way they just did it about 48 hours ago.

All of this because of a great group of individuals from a property management company called LandArc. The woman I talked with at Bright House today said that she has been working in her role for 10 years and she has never in that time come across a condo association or property management company that was so inflexible and useless in helping to solve a problem.

In the great scheme of things, these problems are inconsequential and again speak to my mostly problem free existence. While this is true, it does not mean that my hatred of condo associations and property management companies can't continue to grow and fester. I will be at the hearing when you declare bankruptcy, LandArc. The HOA issue has to be the standard no power anywhere else in life, so rule over the land between the sidewalk squares with an iron fist. Can't a brother (of Steve and Gail) get internet access...and now cable television?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Things I Learned Today #8 - Never, Ever Live in a Condo

Now I know that almost everyone at some point in life will live in some type of condo setup, and not all condos are created equally (i.e. some are way better than others), but I am having so much trouble with our current condo situation that I am throwing the entire concept of condo living under the bus. Unless something significant changes, I pledge to try to never, ever live in a condo again, and you shouldn't either. Maybe to be more specific I should say never rent another person's condo. Here's why:

As I've been complaining about since a week ago Tuesday (11 days), the internet at our address has not been working correctly. After several calls, hours of frustration, and more than a few angry words, I have an exact picture of what is wrong and how it is bordering on impossible to resolve the internet situation before spring. We have what is called in internet-installer lingo a "bad drop" - which is apparently the magical thing that makes the internet work. Actually, it is the line that runs from the master cable pole coming out of the ground (the source of my entire building's internet/cable access) under the sidewalk between the pole and the building, into individual connections for each unique dwelling. Somewhere under the sidewalk, the portion of the cable that serves my residence is damaged/severed/eaten my mole men. Because of this, Maureen and I need to have our "drop replaced".

Bright House Networks, the company that repackages Time Warner cable and internet and sells it to us, has actually been quite diligent in trying to find workarounds for this problem. You see, we need workarounds because they claim that they can't work on replacing the drop because the ground is frozen (thus requiring us to wait for spring), and that even if they could bury the cable in the ground, they wouldn't be able to do it for days because they need would need lots of formal approvals from the condo homeowners' association as well as the property management company, the organization I've dealt with only once and I already hate, named LandArc.

Bright House can not run a cable on the ground across the sidewalk as this is officially a tripping hazard, so instead they have it set up like a hilariously dangerous clothesline hazard right at chest/neck level running up into a nearby tree and then across the sidewalk in the air to our building. Because I was afraid that this wire would permanently damage someone, I emailed our landlady and called the property management company, those good folks at LandArc, so that they could work with Bright House to figure out a repair that met the amazingly unyielding high aesthetic standards of a condominium complex in beautiful Livonia, Michigan as well as not run the risk of taking someone down.

Instead of this possible solution, LandArc contacted our landlady to tell her that if the wire does not come down, they will bring it down and will fine her for not going through the formal approval process. The biggest problem here is that there is no way the homeowners' association would ever approve of a wire across the sidewalk (though the sidewalk has almost zero traffic) at chest level. Because Bright House claims that they can't fix the underground line and the above ground line (either on the ground or floating in the air) is also against the rules, it appears as though it is going to be literally impossible to provide me with the internet I so desperately require for my work and income that allows me to pay these horrible people for residence. I'm good with our landlady, but I already feel like I would be happy to never have to deal with LandArc again.

When I talked to someone from that company today, she kept saying "you have to submit your request to the HOA" and I was like "I understand, but they're not going to approve the request" and she was like "you'll have to talk that over with your landlord" and I said "talk about what, my breakfast? How is talking about this with my landlord going to fix the situation?" And she said "you'll have to talk about it with your landlord" over and over and over. I wonder how much longer we could have made it with our current clothesline setup if I had not told LandArc about my concerns. I mean, I know where the cable is and I told Maureen, so our individual risk of injury is very low.

So to summarize, the underground line can not physically be replaced and anything above ground is against the condo association's rules, so it seems that my internet will be slightly more effective between now and spring if I take the Cat5 cable currently running into our modem and shove it right into my butt, because that way at least I'll get a little rise from it. This is so incredibly out of my control and all solutions are prevented by the HOA and property management company, and I will never again put my fate into the hands of people who know and care nothing about me and refuse to even discuss alternative solutions aside from "submit request in writing, talk to your landlord about it."

On top of all this, I never want to live above someone ever again, if possible. She has complained that our walking offends her. My favorite is when she came to complain last Sunday and said "two days ago we were making too much noise." The absolute best part of this is that Maureen and I were in California "two days ago" yeah. Condos suck.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Funniest Thing I Accidentally Said

Just wrote this in an email to a co-worker:

"Free now, tomorrow, or could certainly do some stuff over the weekend. Steve has officially abandoned me, Maureen is bailing tomorrow night for Vegas, so I'll be left with my computer, TV, and a box of Kleenex. After writing that sentence, I realized that it could have a very unfortunate meaning, but I've decided to let it stand."

As hard as someone might specifically try to be funny, nothing is as funny as a dude getting hit in the balls.

Minus One

Today is the hardest day I've had to experience in a long time. It may not sound like that big of a deal to the average reader, and I wouldn't be surprised if most people think that I am blowing it way out of proportion. It also speaks to the fact that I have not had a particularly difficult life and because of this, it may not be able to take seriously pretty much anything that I say.

This morning at 6:50, after the family goodbye dinner last night at Redcoat Tavern, my little brother Steve got on an airplane and flew to his new job in Sunnyvale, California. It won’t be so easy to get together on Sunday afternoons anymore and watch some sci-fi television. Maureen had a pretty good suggestion that I post a list of every single TV show that I watch on Craigslist or something like that and that I try to match up my list as completely as possible with someone else’s list and then we could become TV buddies.

The situation is a tough one for the family because we have the good fortune of being so close, and it is difficult to lose another sibling/child to a new geography in a different time zone. I’ve known about this move for the last 1.5 months and have been doing my best to mentally prepare for the physical loss of my brother, but this has not helped me deal with this week as well as I hoped it would. I can’t help but reflect on all of the things that we’ve shared together because of our physical proximity throughout our lives. In the latter years of college, my sister and I would spend 2-3 hours every Sunday night at Conor O’Neills in Ann Arbor eating dinner and watching/listening to Steve play Irish music. My parents would often join us and we had a whole family thing with great frequency. We went out there last Sunday to have some dinner and watch Steve for the (hopefully not) last time.

If I can speak/write for my brother, and I’m pretty sure I can, I’m sure at this moment, in his heart, he would love to return to Michigan from the Bay Area in 2-3 years and find work and life in Michigan. In his mind, though, he also knows that it is difficult to predict where work and life will lead him, and he might not have the chance or desire to get back here to live for many years, if ever. If he finds a girl in California and she wants to settle down there, the odds drop even more. It’s tough to think about, but I’m going to have to use the next couple of years to try to come to peace with the fact that my long time dream of having my brother, sister, parents, and any existing spouses/children over for some family grilling and basic patio lounging might not become a reality.

Michigan is losing another young and educated resident, and I’m losing that rare person who you enjoy being with, even when you have nothing to do. I’m extremely lucky to have Maureen as my new companion in life, but I want my old companions of Steve and Gail back as well.

Steve, we wish you great success in California, but personally and selfishly, I wish you success up to the point that you are pretty sure you can do better wherever I am located in a couple years. I will miss you immeasurably, and I am thankful for all of the things I have had the privilege to share with you. I started to make a list of these things, but it was making me a little too sad to individually reflect on these shared experiences, so I’ll simply leave it with the food, the TV, the vacations, and all the rest of the wonderfully wasted time together. You are my brother, we’re proud of you, and I love you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Down with Science

When I mentioned yesterday that big things were going on with family this week, it was really because I had the inside track that the findings from this study were coming out today. This is a gigantic blow to me as one of the biggest fans of television in the world.

The study findings indicate that '"Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death," the researchers said in a statement.'

This is TV bashing and hating of the worst kind. The researchers also said that "the study focused specifically on television watching but the findings suggest that any prolonged sedentary behavior, such as sitting at a desk or in front of a computer, may pose a health risk." These horrible people went out of their way to insult television watching instead of the non-act of sitting still and doing absolutely nothing. To me this is completely unrelated to TV-watching aside from the fact that TV watching is the means to the end of being a lump.

In other words, there is a strange strong positive correlation between walking inside of a McDonald's and dying of a heart attack. Eat at Wendy's! Some parents who don't like their children watching TV commissioned this horrible study.

The only way this study could have been remotely worthwhile is if they took people staring at the wall for four hours a day and compared their health to people watching four hours of TV a day. If the TV people were unhealthier in a statistically significant way compared to the wall starers, then we may have something to talk about. What if I'm on the treadmill for the four hours that I am watching TV every day? Is it TV itself that is putting me at risk, because if you can't prove it is specifically the act of watching TV, this story should never have seen the light of day - unless they completely de-emphasized the TV watching component and focused on being sedentary. Hands off my TV, science, until you can realistically prove TV is not my friend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Boo and then Hiss

Our internet has been down from last Tuesday through right now, and the earliest possible time that we may have internet again at our place is Thursday afternoon. In the meantime, every time I want to check my email, I have to drive to my parents house. Very convenient. My guess is that the girl who lives beneath us and is not a fan of the living arrangement crawled through the walls of the condo and clipped our internet connection. I wouldn't put anything past her.

On Thursday, someone has to come and lay a new line, crawling through three of the garages in our building and then burying the line to give me internet access. I don't hold out much hope that things will be working after Thursday as there is legitimate infrastructure work that must be successfully completed. What I'm wondering is when I call the company to get the credit for the days that we have been without internet, can I also charge them gas money it took me to get back to Royal Oak for internet access?

This is a big week for my family and there's lots to write about what is going on, so hopefully everything will be up and running soon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

It is that time when I am again reminded by how much I dislike french fries being served well in advance of the actual burger. They didn't invent the phrase "burger with fries" for no reason. They don't say "first serve me the french fries, then if I want to eat them with the burger, I'll just wait and eat them when they're cold." These two foods are on the top 5 list of perfect food compliments (remainder of list to be determined at a later date as it does not actually exist).

The reason I am reminded of this right now is because while in Palo Alto, I like to eat at a burger joint called The Counter. The Counter has made GQ's list of "top 20 burgers to eat before you die" from a few years ago (2 in Michigan at the Sidetrack in Ypsi and Miller's Bar in Dearborn - both of which I've eaten). I've eaten several burgers at The Counter and I'm not sure I agree that they deserve to be on the "before you die" type of list. It's a very good burger and all, but I think the GQ guy mostly just put them on his list because of the immense amount of available customization. I choose Redcoat Tavern any day of my life over The Counter.

This isn't about the burger, though, it's about the way they inexplicably choose to serve their fries. If I order a burger and fries at the standard food-ordering time, I get my fries in about 2 minutes and my burger in about 10 minutes. I am left with two incredibly difficult choices at this moment:

1) Eat all the fries thereby leaving no fries when the burger comes (and singularly eating a hamburger is not the right way to do it)
2) Eat some of the fries leaving the remainder to be eaten cold but with the hamburger

Because french fries have such a high surface area relative to internal volume, they have a tendency to cool very quickly. Without some sort of portable heating unit, there is no way fries will stay warm at burger arrival time, plus we all know that reheated french fries are a sad facsimile for "real" fries, so if you were crazy enough to bring a portable heating unit you would end up with a loser food product.

The only way to prevent this problem is to tell the helper to bring the food out at the same time, but then you feel like you're doing something wrong because that's just not the way they do it there. Also, if I only eat there a few times a year, it is difficult to remember to ask for the french fries at the same time as the hamburger because WHO ON EARTH BRINGS THEM OUT AT DIFFERENT TIMES? Last time I checked, this is America. I don't want to live in the country that can not appreciate the perfect synergy of fried potato and ground cow patty. Dear God, thank you for cows and their sacrifices for me to write about.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On the Road Again

My internet was completely down from sunup to sundown yesterday and remains down today. On top of that, I'm off to California from tonight until Sunday evening so I will do my best to ignore my work responsibilities on this trip and put together a few thoughts on something or other.

Today I gave a tongue lashing to a younger middle aged middle eastern woman and I kind of feel bad about that, but I've warned the world that I think it is in your best interest to keep your dogs on their leashes. Her little puppy ran all the way across the street up to my dog when I took her for a run earlier today, and if there was a car on the street at that moment, her dog would have been obliterated.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Runs

Things that are perfect about taking an in-the-dark freezing cold run during a wonderful Michigan winter:
  • The slight hint of gasoline in the air from people using their snow blowers
  • The local ruffians playing hockey in the ice rink set up in the nearby park late into the night
  • Trying to find areas of snow on the road because in Michigan, snow actually provides more running traction than most other available surfaces
  • The way hair turns into icicles during the cool down walk
  • Running on a really cold day actually feels pretty nice the day after walking on a really, really cold day
  • Snow on the ground coupled with either the moon or a couple of house lights is beautifully luminous
  • By the time it gets truly cold, the daylight is increasing every day
  • How superior you feel to everyone else after finishing for braving the cold
  • How comfortable you feel after a warm shower, putting on some PJs, a hoodie, and slippers, and sitting down to a hot dinner
  • Not being on the hook for a run tomorrow because you took the punishment today
  • Finding genuine enjoyment in something that so many other people hate

Gigantic Ups

While I love all of you out there, it would be a lie to say that I love everyone the same. Today the person that I love the most is an old grade school chum, Nikki, who I believe I have mentioned before. Nikki linked to me through her Facebook page and my readership today increased 100%!!!

Going from 1 reader to 2 readers may not be a big deal to you, but think of all the ants that could fit in the space of one human body, and if you do it that way, my human-ant readership increased by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.

In fact, I would like to offer up complete appreciation to Nikki and her brother, Dan, who was an early adopter and occasional linker himself. I'm not sure if Dan still lingers around these dangerous and revolutionary parts of the internet, but if you're a reader once, you're a friend for life - especially if you actually keep reading for life.

Thanks to everyone who gives a crap!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dazed and Very Confused

Yet again I need a lesson in business. Michigan's film tax credits are under ongoing review in Lansing and elsewhere in the state, and I have no idea why. I need to see a business breakdown to get my hands around the hypothetical "problem" (see how I said hypothetical and then put problem in quotes to cast double the doubt on this side of the argument) or maybe someone out there is smart about this kind of thing.

Again, some legislature types are suggesting that Michigan's television/film tax credits are overly generous for a state with dwindling tax revenue and budget gaps. I can't begin to understand how this is the case and I really, truly hope I can hear a good explanation for the anti-tax credit side of the argument because every time I read one of these articles, I feel as stupid as when I am watching Wheel of Fortune.

Let's think this through together. I have a big huge empty house and when the house is empty, I make no actual money off the house. In fact, just holding on to the house costs me money. Looking for some revenue, I approach my neighbor, Bryan Cranston and say "Bryan, I know you are a chemistry teacher and I want to set up a meth lab in my house and you only have to pay me $100/week for the use of my space." But wait, there's more Bryan, because I know there are so many other empty houses for meth labs out there, I'm going to only charge you $50 for my space. That sounds like a win-win for both my meth cooking neighbor and me because he has a place to do his business and I make $50 I would not have made before.

Not only do we both win, but there are other tangential people who win from this business transaction. All of the local raw material and chemistry hardware suppliers now have a buyer of their goods closer to them because this guy set up shop in my property. Security guards are hired to protect the laboratory and local mechanics probably make a buck by reinforcing the car materials for additional mobile protection. The only people who lose are the people in other towns who could have had this very safe and legal source of income, but instead my house is ground zero.

I don't give Bryan money to build his lab in my property, he gives me money, just not the $100 that was the originally quoted rent. However, if I did not give him the discount, he could have chosen any number of seedy locations to produce his goods for eventual barter.

Based on this Breaking Bad logic, I can't begin to understand how these film tax credits are damaging Michigan's financial situation. This debate is painfully frustrating because I can't even come up with a metaphor to describe how frustrating it is. I mean, what is there to argue? What is negative about taking half of a pile of free money versus not even having access to the pile? See, I still can't come up with a good metaphor. This is so very confusing.