DadMemes

Sony offered up the first three installments of the wildly popular video game series, “Uncharted” for free recently. No doubt, trying to drum up dollars for the latest installment, Uncharted 4. It worked. I bought it.

Anyway, this is a cut-scene from one of the games. I didn’t take the picture (someone else did), but having played through this scene, I was reminded of it while trying to get my sprinkler back in shape after winter.

sprinkler

 

 

Dear Dad. The Things You Missed.

Dear Dad,

I was doing some more work to get the Trusts set up for the kids the other day, as per your Will. And I realized that it was the same day of the month that you died. And for a second, I panicked, thinking I’d somehow forgotten that you had been gone for some significant time (like two years). But then I realized it’s March, and you died in October and, well, at least the panic passed.

It’s been 17 months since you died. In many ways, it feels like an eternity. In other ways, it feels like only weeks. I gotta tell you, that surprise Will really threw a wrench in things. I thought we had a gentleman’s agreement on handling your assets and then you had to go and surprise everyone with a new Will that said the exact same thing, only putting significantly burdensome costs and requirements on me for the next 12 years. And while, when I stop and take my feelings out of it, I understand what you “meant,” that part about purposefully not leaving me anything…damn that hurt. A lot.

If felt like, that at the end of 43 years of being your son and being grateful for all you’ve done for me, through thick and thin, you were finally, publicly honest and admitted, “He’s not mine.” The one person who stuck by you through three divorces and four women. One of the only people who called to check on you when you got sick and who drove hours on the weekend to come and sit in awkward silence, just to spend a few remaining minutes with you before your inevitable passing. The only person with the balls enough to tell your girlfriend what a horrible person she was–how YOU couldn’t see it is beyond me–and that you were my father and that not she, and not anyone, could tell me what I could and couldn’t do with my dad–especially when it came to taking you to your cancer treatments.

You’ll never know what you missed out on because of her. How many hours of baseball games and soccer matches and football where your grandchildren, or as close as you were ever going to get to REAL grandchildren, played like the amazing kids they are. Sitting around the living room at night and hearing their laughter and just looking at them and being amazed at their beauty. You missed out on all of that because you put someone else, someone you met only a few years earlier, over your family.

Or maybe you never really, truly felt they were yours to feel proud of, even though I tried my hardest to make it seem so.

That rich girlfriend of yours, the one you trusted over your own son, the woman who advised you on how to “protect” what you wanted to entrust to your grandchildren (your ONLY grandchildren MY children); she cost your Estate more than $20K in taxes and fees. She wasn’t nearly as smart as you gave her credit for, or even as knowledgeable about finances, as I am. You should have trusted me.

“My way,” the way we discussed between the two of us, would have cost nothing, would have sped up how quickly we settled your Estate, wouldn’t have saddled me with dozens of hours of paperwork and filed taxes (3 additional filings each year now) and legal fees. And it wouldn’t have caused me to resent  you in the late afternoons as I sit and slog through legal requirements for Trustees, as much as I do sometimes.

But you always were a sucker for the ladies, weren’t you? “Whatever she wants” is how one of your ex-wives described your divorce strategy. I shouldn’t have expected anything less from you in your passing.

I ain’t missing you at all. Not today at least.

The $2 Trillion Dollar Questions No One Is Asking

Here in the U.S., our economy’s outlook is in such straits (apparently) that a so-called Conservative president has been moved to release trillions in free money.

Here are the big-categories where all that money is going in order of amount from greatest to least:

  • Individuals (both in stimulus and unemployment benefits) – $560B
  • Large Corporations – $500B
  • Small Businesses – $377B
  • State and Local Gov’ts – $339B
  • Public Health – $153B

Here’s a nifty graphic from Howmuch.net if you’re interested:

Bailout

But, as many have pointed out, the plan for how this money is spent is mired in murky politics, when it should be transparent since, it’s taxpayer money after all.

Still though, even without diving deep into the details, something just doesn’t smell right. Here are a few of my own thoughts on how this money is being divided up.

Starting with Individuals.

$300B is going straight to individuals. But only if you’re under the income limits established ($75K p/year for individuals and $150K for married couples).

First off, if you live together, unmarried, and you each make less than $75K p/year, then you’re effectively gaming the system, which means married couples are getting screwed.

Secondly, what if you lost your job this year? That stimulus money would sure come in handy, but too bad; you made too much money LAST year. Oh, sure you’ll get more money in unemployment benefits each week, which brings me to my next point.

If you made less than $700 a week before the pandemic, why do you deserve, or even NEED, an additional $600 in unemployment benefits EACH WEEK now? For these people, the pandemic is an unexpected, and unearned boon. Why isn’t this benefit scaled based on prior weekly income rather than just given out to anyone willy nilly?

Finally, how long will this go on? I’m sure the idea is “just until you get back on your feet and get a job” but we all know there are many in our society who have no intention of ever trying to get a job again, or for that matter, can get a job paying the same as they will be getting in their unemployment checks.

Large Corporations

Have you priced out a new automobile in the last week? Or checked airline ticket prices? Guess what? The prices are about the same.

No one appears to be in a hurry to fire-sale their products or services yet, here we are, giving away billions in free aid. Now, I understand that these companies employ workers. I get that, I do.

But think this through: If you don’t lower prices now, no one is buying. Which means, when the economy DOES get back on its feet, you’re going to have skilled workers standing around doing nothing because there is already a full inventory of product. Automobile manufacturers aren’t going to build new cars and have them sit on the assembly line while they clear out the 2020 models. Or maybe they will. Just maybe the fire sale won’t come DURING the pandemic, but after. If that happens, I’m less concerned.

On the other hand, if businesses lower their prices now, people will spend that stimulu–perhaps unwisely, but at least the bulk of it won’t go straight into the hands of landords and credit card companies–and by the time the economy kick-starts, manufacturing will be right on track for a great holiday season.

Small Businesses

I have no issues with this money. I’ve seen far too many struggling small businesses already in my community. My only beef with this category is that this money is largely coming in the form of loans, not grants and in payroll deferrals, rather than forgiveness.

State and Local Governments – There is already a separate category for “Public Health”, which means this category gives governments what exactly? Where is the transparency accountability for all this free money? Will state and local governments NOT collect taxes? Will they be handing out free money also? Sounds unlikely. So, if government offices are shut down, what precisely do they need MORE money for? They’re still going to collect taxes; they will not have a huge revenue shortfall like the private sector. So we’re basically paying governments for doing almost nothing more than they were doing before Covid-19.

These are just a few questions I have, which I don’t hear anyone asking. Conservatives don’t want to monkey with the movement this close to an election, and Liberals are dancing in the streets and wondering how ELSE they can coaxe more money out of a president who is anything BUT fiscally conservative.

Anyway, that’s how I see things.

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Linings

Dauphin Island, AL
View from my mom’s back porch on Dauphin Island, AL

It’s the start of Spring Break. Normally, me and the boys would be driving down to Dauphin Island where one of my moms has a house. She’s not on the ocean side, but has a lovely spot on a canal of sorts. We spend the vast majority of our time on her pier catching trash fish. But occasionally we catch a red drum or a sheep’s head and that “what if” factor keeps us fishing well past the time when normies would have headed home and gone out for BBQ (unfortunately, the only BBQ place on the island burned down two years ago).

We will be staycationing this Spring Break, much as you are, no doubt. We had planned a trip to another, more populated island, but canceled it also. This #covid-19 is no respecter of plans.

My three children have been surprisingly adept at keeping themselves entertained. My wife has a lot to do with it, but even as we speak, they are down on the trampoline while mom and dad work.

Even my oldest, my usually slightly sullen 16-year old, has come out of his “mandatory cool” vibe and been more tolerable than usual. CareerMom and I theorize it has a lot to do with having to be apart from his friends where he “has” to be a certain person. Without them to live up to, we like him a lot more.

This #pandemic has not been kind to many for sure, but I can’t help but celebrate a few outcomes. We’ve come together as a family again. We’ve been so busy the last few years shuttling kids back and forth to sports that we’ve hardly spent any time just, together. I find us laughing more. We have “family movie night.” Everyone just seems to be getting along better and as a father, fewer things make me happier than hearing my children laughing, together.

My daughter, the creative one, and I, have built homemade bird feeders. I walk around the house and find fun little doodles like this:

We’re actually enjoying each other and having a good time. Barring the grocery store shortages and the deaths, I’m not hating this period.

Plus, I have this going for me:

Stay well everyone. Stay sane. Take long walks early in the morning.

Find your place.