Monday, March 31, 2008

The Financial markets - The times they are a changin'

The biggest news story of the day had about 9 seconds on 'TODAY' and I've seen no other air play.

I'm not a money genius and so I'm in the same boat that most everyone else is and when I read this stuff my thoughts are:

"What the heck does any of this mean?"

But I do recognize it's importance, and as I read, ponder and pray, the inspiration will come to me as to what it is this means to my family's everday life, and what it is I think I should do to protect us and be prepared for the changing times.


It may seem an article like this is insignificant, and that it doesn't affect your everyday life, and that you're just a little guy...or girl for that matter. Which is precisely the reason that it got a very small blurb on the Today Show, and then they moved on to some other infomercial about someone's new CD or movie which so many of us find so much more interesting..........

My advice is to read, ponder and pray to understand the information available to us, because it does affect our everyday life, especially when it comes to finances and money. Those dollar bills that you have in your pocket and the electronic score that you have in your bank account is exactly what these decisions affect. How would you like it if the wrong decision is made and then suddenly everything you've worked hard to get is suddenly worth absolutely nothing? IF you really think about it, what REALLY is that dollar bill worth? Let me remind you that it's little more than a piece of green paper. My kids are pretty good at making those.

Here's someone's spin and analysis here:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Angels accompanied us to the 7-Eleven on King Ave.....

Rachel's post inspired me to remember some stories about the 7-Eleven on King ave.

My first thought was that of my vow to never buy anything from the 7-Eleven on King. I'll explain later...the post is too long with both stories.

Many years prior to me taking my vows, there was a very late night that I patroned the very establishment in the wee hours of the night, or it could have been the morning. This was pre-mission, and actually, was the summer before my mission, the year was 1995. So, Missy and I were either just friends, or just barely beginning to take an interest in each other. We like to say the spirit goes to bed at midnight, but on this night he was working overtime. (Get your minds out of the gutter!!!!! We were being supervised!!!!)

One warm summer night, Missy, AMY (my sister) and I were up late chatting/hangin at my parents. It was probably around midnight, and we decided we wanted to go make a 7-Eleven run. You know, the 5th Avenue Bar and Dr. Pepper kind of a midnight snack when you were a teenager with nothing better to do?

So, we pile up 3 wide in the front bench of the old 85' Ford LTD. That was a fun car. It looked like a granny mobile, but with it's 5.0L V-8 it would really go when you stomped the gas!

There we were in the 7-Eleven parking lot, WE HAD just purchased our goodies and piled back into the car. I was in the drivers seat and I decided I'd entertain myself by just sitting there in the parking lot and enjoy the moment. I had the strange notion to try and irritate my passengers by just sitting there for absolutely no apparent reason.

After just a few minutes, or maybe seconds, I was being yelled at to start the car and drive us home. Missy yell at me? Never, not even when we were dating, it must of been Amy.

I yelled back at them in my defense: "Haven't you ever just wanted to sit in the 7-Eleven parking lot at midnight? We'll go when I'm good and ready!"

I may have held out for another 30 seconds or so, but I achieved my goal of irritation and then vroom, off we went. About 4 blocks from the store is a middle school called Kate Collins. We topped the hill where the school sits further up a hill to the right of the street, and I notice the school parking lot stop sign being pushed over practically laying in the street.

I then see a huge cloud of smoke in the middle of the street. I was confused because it was the strangest cloud I'd ever seen.

Then, off to the left of the street I see a tractor trailer parked in the strangest place ever.....the trailer is sticking out of an apartment complex, with the Truck portion nose dived into the two lower stories of the building.

The truck had apparently been parked on the hill in the parking lot of the middle school. The park brake wasn't properly set, and the truck coasted down the hill ran over the stop sign, bounced across the street and plowed into the apartment building, billowing out a huge cloud of dust!

Once I realized what happened I stopped the car and opened the car door. My first thoughts were to go see if anyone needed immediate help. Someone ran out of the apartment building and yelled:

"Somebody call 911!"

My next thought was that someone could be seriously hurt and it might be a nasty bloody mess inside. Even though I'm an Eagle Scout and was trained in first aid, I really didn't' want to try any of that stuff out. It flashed back to me that there was a police officer pulling into the 7-Eleven just as we were leaving. This was before the cell phone became readily available. I got the LTD turned around and I made good use of the 5.0L V-8 engine and hurried back to the 7-Eleven.

I informed the officer of the possible carnage and he sped off to the rescue.

The newspaper explained the story the next day and even highlighted the fact that the police were on the scene within minutes of the accident.

Luckily, no one was seriously injured. One man was very lucky, his mattress softened up the grill of the Mack Truck that flung him across the room to the opposite wall where he was pinned.

I immediately reflected about the few moments that we sat in the parking lot for absolutely no apparent reason. We could have just as easily been T-Boned by a runaway Mack Truck that evening. It obviously didn't have it's headlights on, making it very difficult to see, and to anticipate the scenario would have been near impossible. A vehicle careening down from the school parking lot in the middle of the night, in the middle of summer break.....never in my life would I have imagined. The truck would have come from nowhere. We'll never know what COULD have happened, but the good thing was, it didn't.

SO, I knew that we had some guardian angels along for the ride that night.

I wonder what they got: a 5th Avenue or a Butterfinger?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's hard being the fat one.........

Yesterday I picked Brighton up from school. That's what I love about my retirement and that's what keeps me from getting greedy and going back to work a "Real Job." The business is at a point where I could work a full-time position and it would be incredible to have a steady paycheck in addition to the spoils of tax season.........

Missy says she couldn't stand to live with me trying to maintain a full time job and keep up with the businesses. For right now I'm content mowing a few yards and running Joseph's WRECKERS during the off season.

On to my point of this post. With a skinny minnie wife...even though she's pregnant and will gain about 100 pounds....I'm the fat one in the family. My goal is to lose more weight than she gains this year. That's almost what I did when Brighton was born. When we found out we were pregnant 7 years ago, I decided I had to get into the best shape of my life because after the baby I wouldn't have time or the energy to exercise....which has been in part true, and in part not true. I could make the time, but finding the energy is difficult. I should have never quit my regiment. But I did, and now I'm back to where I started.

I have my high's and low's as far as weight goes. My high is my mission weight. My low is my highschool weight. Right now, I'm pushing my high, and if I don't make some changes, my new high will be my infinitely increasing weight.

I was reminded yesterday that it's no fun being the fat one. When I got home that afternoon with Brighton mommy was so excited to give Brighton a special afterschool treat....a Nestles icecream drumstick. You know, the ones that have a choclate core, the choclate top and nuts on top. Yea, you're craving it now.

After seeing Brighton get her afterschool treat, and knowing that I'd wait infinitely (she loves me but not June Clever style.....which is good and know what I mean?...sweet and sour....know what I mean??? I'd better stop or I'll get censored.) So rather than hope my sweetheart wife offer me an afterwork treat (the icecream!!! get your minds out of the gutter!!! Sheesh!!!), I made way for the freezer to indulge myself.

To my disappointment there were none in the freezer.

"How come there aren't any left! Missy how many have YOU eaten?"

ASPEN then informed me with a loud yell: "DADDY YOU DON"T GET ANY BECAUSE YOU"RE TOO FAT!"

It's hard being the fat one.

I think she subsequently perceived the viciousness of making fun of her fat daddy. When questioned why daddy didn't get any ice cream she now says:

"There were only four icecreams. One for mommy, Brighton, ME, and Ryder. NONE for you."

Me: "I thought you said I was too fat."

Aspen: "You're just a little fat."

She's so sweet!

I'm going to get a bowl of peanutbutter choclate icecream w/ Hershey's Syrup! Hooray for fat daddy's!

Yet MORE reasons not to outsource our........

Healthcare decisons to the Federal Gov't.

Look at their track record.

If we whine about how they've handled Social Security. If we whine about how responsive they are at Katrina...................

IT'S INSANITY to think they'll handle our healthcare system any better............

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Healthcare debate (Cont)

I didn't realize what a hotbutton issue healthcare was. So, I'll elaborate a little more.

PART I - Prices go up

My brother and I own a towing business as many of you may know. It's a lot sexier than it sounds, and we're only one year into it, but I have gained a lot of perspective on this issue based on the nature the towing business and my tax prep business.

A business offers goods and services to make profit.When the customer pays the business out his/her own pocket, and there is a reasonable amount of competition, the business sells the good or service at the most competitive VALUE. This means that prices stay competitive, and services rendered are striving to be superior to the competition. The consumer is making a decision that serves HIS/HER OWN best interest. The consumer is VERY concious of price, and demands that the VALUE of the service provided be worth as much or even more than price that he/she pays.

If the customer outsources the purchase power of the good or service to an insurance company things then change. The insurance company is now in charge of making purchasing decisions for many consumers. What changes is this, the insurance company is focused more on growing revenues, than it is on minimizing expenses. The insurance company is LESS concious of price than the individual consumer, and therefore, business begins to charge more for the same level of service. In addition, the business caters to the interests of the insurance agent, and woo's him/her with gifts to direct his/her purchasing power to said business. (Not saying that's what we've done but I do need to add that to the marketing plan.)

It works much the same, if not becomes more severe when a gov't contract is involved.

THe reason that healthcare costs are so high, is because we've been running via our health insurance systems for so long. When was the last time that you paid for a medical event out of your own pocket? Why is it that we can afford a room at the REx Motel, but cannot afford a room at the Rex Hospital?

I see it first hand in our towing business. Our most competitive price is when a consumer will pay it directly out their own pocket. We quote them our bottom line price to get the job, because we know they're probably just going down the phone book and quoting prices. The bottomline price is about $65.

Next comes the insurance jobs. The caller from the insurance company is less motivated to save the company money, and more motivated to hurry up and get off the phone and get back to playing solitare or whatever. For the exact same tow, it will usually go for $95 to $100.

Then, when the gov't mandates a tow, like for a DUI, the prices go up further. There are additional expenses to be on call with the police dept. I.E. the insurance is more expensive b/c we do police calls. But the consumer is at our mercy b/c it was the police that put in the call. The cheapest of the police calls is $125.

Currently, there is pending legislation here in Virginia that will further restrict the competition in towing, which will only aide in inflating the prices for the service, which will further inflate the costs of insurance.

The reason that our medical service system seems broken is because we as consumers have stepped away from deciding what a fair and reasonable price is for the service. WE GIVE that power over to the insurance company and decide we'll pay for it in monthly premiums.

If and WHEN we TRANSFER over that power to GOV"T, we've narrowed the competitive field from a few insurance providers, to a MONOPOLY enterprise. The promise from WE the people is the power to make our buying decisions. The PROMISE from Joe the politician is "FREE HEALTHCARE for EVERYONE!" BUT, there's no such thing as a "FREE LUNCH." You're gonna pay for it one way or another. Which is also why our education system is failing. It's been controlled by the gov't for so long, that competition has all but been eliminated, and we then end up with sub-par services rendered. AS we continue to outsource our decision making to fewer and fewer people, whether they be insurance companies or gov't, we pay the price.

PART II - Services go down

Now, the debate is for socialized healthcare. Rachel mentioned growing up in the UK where they've implemented such a system. I lived in Spain, which had socialized healthcare as well. I don't profess to have done an in depth study of the healthcare systems. But I did witness first hand a major difference in the quality and level of service.

When we first arrived, some of the missionaries stated, don't go to the doctors. They're quacks and don't know what they're doing. I shrugged it off, and assumed that they said these things based on missionary urban legend or some other cultural misunderstandings.

AS far as doctors go, I'm a guy that was raised to NEVER go to a doctor unless you were dying. Yes we went for the annual physical or checkup, but we were to save all of our ailments for that annual visit. I once had a broken finger for about 3 weeks before I convinced my dad that he black, purple and blue wasn't goint away. He said: "Tape it to the next one, that's all the doctor would do." I guess it never dawned on my father that the doctor may actually x-ray the finger. It turned out that the knuckle was shattered into a number of small pieces and required surgery to reassemble it with two pins.

Erika has a $12k dollar knee, I have a $12k dollar finger. And it still doesn't work right.

It turns out that a few weeks into the mission, one of my good friends that came out with my group of missionaries named Elder Hale was involved in a car accident. (European drivers is another debate altogether.) They got rear ended. Elder Hale was diagnosed with whip lash and the doctors gave him one of those funny neck brace things to wear.

I would see Elder Hale just a few times a month and I'd always ask him how he was feeling. Of course initially, it was really bad. His neck was in a lot of pain. Then after a few weeks I'd see him again and inquire. His response was surprising b/c he said he was still in a lot of pain and the doctors couldn't figure out what the problem was.

After more than two months of this persistent problem, and no new diagnosis from the doctors there in Spain, Elder Hale, along with the counsel of the mission president, decided he needed to go home and findout what the problem was.

He got home to Utah and within the week, his doctor(s) saw that he had a broken vertbrae in his neck and they had to operate.

Every business has it's crooks. But the crooks make a quick buck and then they're out of business b/c it catches up with them.

We have choices. Here in rural parts of Virginia, it seems there are limited choices. But for awhile, AMC seemed to have a stigma about it and many would drive to UVA.

The best part is having choices. And when we outsource all of that decision making to the Government, our choices will soon be limited.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gov't Bliss! Going, going, GONE!

As we talk about heading into recession, and as we hear more and more wind about socialized healthcare, I feel compelled to lay out my perspective on some things.

First, let's look at the track record of services when we hand over the power and control to a government run program.

Anytime someone mentions nationalized healthcare I ask them when was the last time they went to the DMV. It's always an ordeal when we go to the DMV. Why is that? Because there's no motivation to compete. When I cater to tax clients, I do everything I can to make the experience great. We have only one chance a year to leave a great impression so they return the following year.

WE offer free drinks, free pizza, pull out their chairs for them, greet them warmly...and do as much as we can. I get so anxious when someone has to wait more than a few minutes. I know that at any moment, they can get up and leave and go down the street and get their tax return done elsewhere.

Now compare that to the DMV. If a DMV worker is scheduled for a break, GUESS WHAT, there's nothing that's going to stop them, regardless of the status of the wait in the lobby.

The DMV is really nothing. Let's talk some real big money issues like social security. Social Security is something that burns me up. Between Social Security and Medicare, for a self-employed person, we're talking 15% of your income. Regardless of employee/self-employed status, it costs us 15%. If you're an employee, those are expenses are paid for and on behalf of the employees other words, an expense that could have been paid directly to the employee. They're also known as foregone wages.

Imagine, if you could take 15% of your income and save and invest it. If you've ever studied the time value of money you'd know how great that 15% could be. If you were to max out a ROTH IRA, which is $4,000 a year, and added to it for 30 years, you'd end up with about 3/4 of a million dollars at retirement. That's assuming a 10% return on the money. Which is a pretty safe number considering the stock market averages 12%. We're talking low risk investments.

Fifteen percent of how much income equals $4,000? Do the math and you get $26,667. Not a huge amount. We're forced to invest 15% into this system. And how is that system doing these days?

Not so good. High Risk, with low returns.

So, when you hear your friends say: "That would be nice to have healthcare for everyone."

Just ask them: "When was the last time you were at the DMV?"

Remind them that it's a long wait for very poor service. Exactly what we'd get with gov't run healthcare. AND Look at what they've done with our retirement planning, Social Security.

It's not all that secure, and the burden will continue to be pressed on the working generation, along with my children, and their children.

Who can blame the baby boomers? They've paid in all of their lives, so it's time they get what they're due. Problem is we've given the power and control to the gov't and politicians in Washington to control 15% of our earnings and all they've done was squander it rather than invest it wisely.

AS those boomers call in what's due to them, guess who will have to pay for it? Yup, my generation, and my children and my grand-children.

I hate to sound bleak, but it ain't looking so pretty. And if healthcare for everyone is going to solve anything, I hate to disagree, it's just going to send us further down that road to oppression. As they take control of more and more of our money, all I think that will happen is more squander. So, it all started with a very small percentage of tax on income before the civil war, and on only those that were considered the wealthiest of the wealthy. Now it's 15% for social security, 25% to income tax, 5% to state income tax, plus all of the sales taxes and use taxes we pay for everything else we buy.

The horizon only looks more bleak. So, my advice is, do what you've got to do, but do it legally.

So why do you think I've taken such a keen interest in taxes?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Accidents are bound to happen!

AS promised, I'll explain the wreck from last week. I'm also feeling pressure from the fans to keep blogging, I hate to let them down, but someday it's bound to happen.

I don't like to wallow publicly about my own woes because I couldn't be more blessed in life. When I'm with Missy, it might be a different story, but for the most part I like to think I stay positive.

Two weeks ago to this day, staying positive was becoming very challenging. There were some issues at the office. A mistake was made that cost the taxpayer a lot of money, cost me a lot of money, and also caused me to discuss this with a very irate woman. As many of you know me, I'm a lover, not a fighter, and like George McFly would say: "I'm just not good with con-fron-tations." In addition to the irate woman....who really is a sweetheart, but very frustrated with the situation, she has a very large, very black, ex-con husband, who has a huge scar running down the side of his face, from a very real fight with his own brother. Many people would be somewhat afraid of this guy upon first meeting him. He grew up in some hard circumstances in NYC and New Jersey. But it wasn't that I was afraid of him at all....though the thought crossed my mind.

I really love this family because they are good people trying to raise their kids right and doing the best they can do. They have a contract on a house, and she's been working really hard to save and buy their first home. She was counting on the tax refund to go towards the down payment. So it kills me to see something like this happen. But it happens and all we can do is do our best to fix things and move forward.

So, I dealt with that for much of the day. Then, that afternoon, a computer decides to konk out, which was the only one we can do business returns on, and so I decide that was it. I called it a day and told those that were in the office I was leaving.

My surburban was running on fumes, and when I pulled out from the office I headed home the back way, which is the way that didn't have any place to stop for gas. I was too mad to turn around and go get gas and besides, I was heading down to the garage and figured Joseph would either have a little bit of gas or I could run and get some with one of the trucks. And if I ran out, he could always just come and tow me with his WRECKER. ;) (just for you Ali)

I literally coasted into the shop and ran out of gas. In hindsight, I was lucky to make it.....or it may have been unlucky.

I caught up with Joseph down at the garage and decided I'd get something done with him that would relax me some. We'd been wanting to take a van up to Missy's brothers place so that he could do some work on it for us. So, we hooked it up to the WRECKER and off we went. I meant to grab the gas can and fill it up at the station that we would pass but I didn't.

We took care of our business and chatted a little with Missy's brother, Lil Buck. It's always a pleasure and I was feeling a little less stressed. WE headed back to the shop.

I was planning on driving the Red Truck until I got some gas for my Surburban. The Red Truck was titled in my dad's name, and he payed the insurance, but I'd have to say that it was Joseph's wife's truck for the past 3 or 4 years.

Alicia fell for Joseph because of the fire engine red Ford F-150 that he was driving there in Rexburg Idaho. It was a beautiful truck with some nice chrome accents and allow wheels with slightly oversized tires, the thing had a real nice look. IN fact, when Joseph and Alicia were dating, it was Alicia that drove, while Joseph sat in the middle with the stick shift between his legs. (TRUE STORY! Just ask him/her. What a sissie!)

I digress.

Back to the accident. I was planning on just heading home once we got back to the shop, it was after seven now and getting late. I was going to grab the gas can and fill it up the next morning.

Missy calls and says she's craving some chinese food. I oblige with a Westly: "As you wish."

I call in our order of sweet and sour chicken and chicken and broccolli.

Stop at the gas station and fill up my little gas can.

Leave the gas station and head down main street about 3 blocks. Then, this dude in his Jeep Grand Cherokee decides to make his left turn at the precise moment that I can't avoid his blind ignorant sorry (insert explicative)! Sorry, I'm still ticked off about it!

I had all of ten feet to think. I slam the brakes, look right for an escape but some lady is sitting there at the stop sign. It's too late to go to even look to the left of him and see if I can escape in the on-coming traffic side of the street.

My next thought was: "Well pal, you just bought yourself a soon to be smashed 96 Ford F-150!"

I brace myself and then........SLAM! I stare at the steering wheel to see if the airbag is going to deploy. It doesn't and I'm glad b/c I didn't need it anyways.

I couldn't figure out why the guy pulled out right in front of me. It didn't make any sense.

THEN IT HIT ME! My headlights weren't on!

I just bought a smashed up 96 Ford F-150 and a smashed up Jeep Grand Cherokee!

The perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.

The lady at the stop sign was so excited to tell the cop that she was a "WITNESS." The other driver just said that "He didn't see me." I just told the cop that I'd pulled out from the gas station and didnt' realize my lights weren't on until we hit.

I got the ticket for not having my headlights on. Which also put me at fault.

The court date was this morning. I couldn't decide if I wanted to prepay my ticket or try and get the judge to let me off easy. I went early and talked to the officer to feel it out. Things looked grim b/c of what I said, and b/c there was some crazy lady there to witness the accident.

SO, about 9 minutes before court was scheduled to begin, I prepaid my ticket.

The officer said the lady was coming to testify......................................

I hope she waited all day long!

(I'm still bitter. In 16 years of driving, I'd never been in an accident! Dawn it Dawn it Dawn it!)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

First Impressions - MY Cousin Ali

I've been censored before. Ali was putting together a memory book for my cousin LeGrand and I wrote a story about my reunion with LeGrand, and my first impression of his new wife, Alice. I had written an original version, and then it got mysteriously lost, or edited, or censored. I was then asked to re-write the story.

Here's the censored version from about a year ago:

March 19, 2007

"HEY now!!!! Why was my story CENSORED???? I honestly can't remember what all I wrote and I didn't even save it!!!

To the best of my recollection I was just explaining how Legrand chose to get married just days before I got home from my mission. Legrand, being the efficient one, decided to multi-task by attending my homecoming as well as honeymoon in my parent’s backyard. YES that's right, he arranged for a Winnebago to be parked just outside of my fathers back door so that he could HONEYMOON with his new bride, AND catch up with his favorite cousin (ME) after three years of separation due to our mission overlap. (Everybody needs a break once in awhile.)

AND ME, well, having only been home from my mission for mere hours, and not yet becoming familiar with the nature of the female...and more specifically a recently married female.....AND having no idea what activities newlyweds would be interested in.....I kept trying to do what I had done for the previous two years.......Knock on their door!

AND with that, it ended up being more of the same as the previous two years, a quick peek from behind the curtains out the window and another unanswered door. Go figure?"

What really happened was LeGrand had come into the house to catch his breath, get rehydrated and chat it up with me for a few minutes. And no sooner than he sits himself down on the couch with some ice water than this NEW BRIDE of Frankenstein comes trompsing in the door and YELLS:

"LeGrand - get back out here in this Winnebago with me and quit talking to your cousin Jimmie or whatever his name is.....I'VE GOT NEEDS BOY!"

My first impression of Ali.........YIKES!
P.S. - I love her all the same now. And there's noone else better to Karaoke with................
"I put your picture away."

Friday, March 21, 2008

MY Political Aspirations

Are None!

But when President Bush called me and asked me how to salvage the economy I offered my advice.

Print a bunch of free money and give it to the people.

We'll soon be getting the Stimulus Tax Rebate Checks which will be a welcome event for many. For those young familys like the Lassens who never seem to have a problem with bearing children, it will mean a sizable check. They've got 5 kids, and if my calculations are correct, they'll get about $300 x 7 people equals $2100. That's a pretty decent check. If they were to have a tax liability, which they won't b/c they're still in college, their buying their house and they've got 5 kids, they'd possibly get up to $600 for mom and $600 for dad.

Missy and I should see approximately $1500...if I ever get around to filing our tax return. To our tax returns first requires me to do a 1065 Partnership return, two 1120 S-Corp returns, and get the numbers together for the lawn mowing. Each year it gets more complex, and I'd thought I was just going to put it on extension this year but if we want that rebate check we need to file.

Also, you should note that if you have a grandmother or a senior family member that if they haven't filed for decades that they should file this year. They too could possibly be elgible for the $300 rebate check if they had at least $3k in qualified income. To get it they have to file.

P.S. - If you're wondering what your rebate check might look like, there's a calculator here at

"Let's just discuss it."

Something my father would often say to us as we were teenagers. I guess I got much of my gift of gab, and blog from my father. We had a Stake YM's YW's Presidency meeting last night and at times the meetings are a true test of patience.

My father likes to repeat the same things in about 300,000 different variations. That's how he communicates, repetition, repetition, repetition.

So when we were teenagers, he was very much the same. I'll never forget the night that my younger brother Joseph and his buddies all decided to sneak out late one night. It was probably to go TP a young ladies house, or maybe to sneak her out. Security was never a strong point at my parents house and sneaking out of our house wasn't much of a challenge because our rooms were downstairs in the basement. To sneak out, you merely had to walk out the basement door.

Joseph and all his buddies, somehow managed to get caught. My dad then ensued in one of his long lectures. And when I say a long lecture, we're talking 2 to 5 hrs. After hrs on end of this "Let's discuss this" lecture, his buddy Eric finally interrupted and said, "Joe, this is the worst punishment I've ever had. My diddy just beats me and git's it over with."

Our father never beat us, but he would torture us with his lectures. I'll probably apply the same technique to our children as teenagers....I'd take them to see their grandfather and have him do it, but he somehow sees his grandchildren in a different light than he did his own children. The effect just wouldn't be the same, especially for his precious granddaughters.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How I Fell in Love w/ a Southern Belle

I've got many a good story to share, and it will take many blogs to articulate them. But one in particular, that I wanted to share is about my wife and how I came to fall in love with her.

Missy has often said that my immediate family are wannabe rednecks....except for Grant of course. But with dad taking a liking to Bluegrass music, myself enjoying dirtbikes so much, and Joseph enjoying big tires and constantly working on his truck, she considered us wannabe rednecks.

One of her strong points when we were dating was her family, especially her mother. She's a great woman. She raised her two children while working a 3rd shift full-time job and always seemed to be home when the kids got on the bus, when they got off the bus, and she even had dinner ready everyday for them. On top of that, her mother was pretty easy on the eyes even at an advanced age. Missy was raised in humble circumstances by a family deeply rooted in southern tradition. When she says she grew up poor, she's not kidding. She did indeed live in a house without indoor plumbing...and beings that she was born in 1978, that's quite a statement.

So, when I first met my wife, she used words like chimily (Chimney), and phrases like "fuuuther up the road," or "lieberry" (where all the books are kept.) Even her name was peculiar. I was in absolute awe when I learned that her real name is Melissa, but she goes by Missy. Her father is known by his nickname, Big Buck, while her brother goes by his nickname, Lil Buck. EVEN the dog had a nickname, Lil Bit, the evil chiuahua from hell.

We started dating the summer before my mission. We resumed dating after my mission and we were students at Rick's College in Rexburg. On Christmas break, we both came home to Virginia.

Missy and I had a dinner appointment at her grandparents across the mountain. I'd met them once or twice before and they were aware that we had been dating. We arrived and her "nanny" was still cooking "supper." I thought I'd make some small talk with her and I said:

"Hey good looking, whatcha got cooking?"
Nanny responded in her very thick southern accent with what I couldn't quite understand:

I knew that there was no way were about to eat ostrich, dipped in batter and fried to perfection, so I asked her again.

"What's that?"

She responded slower and slightly louder over the cackling pop of the hot cooking oil:

I still couldnt' understand. I didn't want to offend her, but I really wanted to know what exactly it was I was about to eat. I'd never seen the delicatesn before. So this time, I thought I'd make a joke to express my confusion:

"IS that straight from Australia?"

"NO! I juz cain't say it riight." Then slower and with more emphasis: "Oiiiiiiiiischas."

I nodded as if I'd understood and left the room and found Missy in the dining room. "Missy, what's she saying?"

"Oysters you idiot now shutup and let her be."

So, now that I know I'll be eating fried oysters for the first time in my life I'm content to soak up the atmosphere. Her grandfather, or "Granddiddy" is also very southern. We made some small talk and then Nanny was ready with dinner.

Fried oysters aren't anything I'll be putting on my home menu, nor is it something I'll be ordering at AppleBee's, but they're not all that bad with ketchup.

Then, her grandfather, as he scarfs down a few of the oysters says:

"Ya'll bess not be stoppin on top dat mountain. Ostrich makes you honey."

Me: "What's that sir?"

granddiddy: "Well you know what they say, ostrich makes you honey."

Me: "Uhhh, Missy, what's he saying?"

Missy: "Oysters make you horny, now shutup and finish eating."

Those oysters sure did the trick and made that an unforgettable we didn't stop on top of dat mountain, but I'll never forget the night when I ate my first fried ostrich, and it turns out that ostrich makes you honey.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Family Business = Risky Business

I'll change gears a bit here.

So, the transmission went out on Missy's 2002 Ford Exploder as you may have heard. I couldnt' believe the price on that thing.....$2200 COST! For a less than connected person it would cost over $3k to get that thing put in.

Yes, there's probably cheaper tranny's to get, but noone beats the warranty with the Jasper.

So, to scrounge up the cash to pay for this, I sold our old Honda Accord today. I've been sittin on it for awhile not sure what to do with it. It runs good, and we got about 100k worry free miles out of it as 2nd owners. With 180k miles it's at it's half-life if it gets taken care of properly.

The car has been well serviced. Timing belts replaced religously, we flushed the tranny, the transaxles are pretty tires, new exhaust etc. Low book on it was $1850. The car has been parked at the shop and I've had countless people make offers and inquire about buying it.

NOW, on with it right? Missy's brother and his "fiance" just had a baby this past week. Missy had questioned the foresight of them buying the jacked up Jeep a mere six months ago, but hey, those are their decisions. Now the baby shows up and low and behold a baby seat doesn't do so well in the back of a lifted jeep, or the extra-cab jumper seats of a toyata tacoma.

So, her brother brings the Jeep down to the shop, we put a for-sale sign in it and park it out front. I even made him raise the price $600 bucks b/c I knew it would sell in less than a week. It sold, but Heide (the fiance) came off the price pretty quick and discounted it $ at least I made them $100 extra. Turns out the same guy they bought it from, bought it back.

So, they'd been asking about this Honda. I hate selling a car to family, so I kept hoping they'd be able to find something 'Better' but it's hard to beat a nice old Honda Accord. Family deals are way too risky. You sell low, and if something goes wrong, you get the buy the broken car back as if you'd warrantied the thing for 90 days. So, I told them I'd sell it to them for $1500. They gave us $1700 b/c they called the bank and got the book values.

That's cool.

I hope we get through the 90 day implied warranty and then were in the clear.

Somebody came by and asked about the bus today. If could get the $15k I'm looking for my next "investment opportunity" I'd sell that thing....maybe 10k...but no less than that.

I'm plannning on commuting in the bus next year.

A Liberty Tax Billboard on wheels!!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jay Jay - A friend to love.

I've got just a second.

We went to Aspen's kindergarten orientation this morning. With Brighton paving the way to stardom, I think she'll especially find favor at school with the teachers and principal.

Apart from us dropping Brighton off in our disastrously messy vehicles, Brighton leaves a good impression on the the principal and her teachers. She's always dressed very cute, her blond curls are meticulously prepared, she's been taught to greet the Principal with a loud "Good Morning Dr. Garber!" She's certain to have her moments in class, after all, she won the "Most Dramatic" award in her kindergarten class, but overall she's really sweet and treats her classmates with kindness.

Last year, in Brighton's kindergarten class, she has a classmate named JayJay. Beings that I'm semi-retired, I would often catch a field trip or class activity and got to know most of the kids by name. JayJay was one that always needed special attention. It's apparent that he comes from humble circumstances. He was often wearing some tattered sweat pants, second hand sneakers, and smelled of cigarette smoke. JayJay shows signs of ADHD, or something to that effect. He's one of those kids that you wish you take home with you.

Brighton would often come home that year with stories of JayJay picking on her. Pulling her hair, or kicking her leg, or giving her a push while they were lining up. She'd noticed that JayJay didn't have a lot of friends, and that he was often a bit messy at lunch.

I would tell her that JayJay liked her and thought she was pretty. She was confused because kicking and pulling hair didn't seem like the way to say such a thing. I told her that boys were pretty silly that way. I'd also gently encourage her to be nice to JayJay and be a friend.

So, today as we walked through the school to go find Brighton in the 1st grade and surprise her, we first came across the other 1st grade class. When JayJay saw me he came running at me full speed and gave me the biggest hug and said: "HI buddy!" It was a nice moment.

Missy then told me that back in February, when she asked Brighton if she wanted to give any Valentines to anyone in Mrs. Hoy's Class (the other 1st grade class) she said:

"I guess I should give one to JayJay."

One of my favorite things my mission president left with me was this quote:

"Look at others through the eyes of those that love that person."

If can teach my children one thing, it will be that. Look at others through the eyes of the mother, the father, or even Jesus Christ himself. NO matter what the situation or circumstances, you can always find a set of eyes of a person that loves that person unconditionally.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Energy is neither created nor destroyed!

1st Law of least if memory serves, and if I'm wrong, it's obvious that I don't feel like looking it up.

Well, I'd say that the first law of thermo holds true in the realm of physics as well as the realm of emotions. E-MOTION, stands for energy in motion.

So, this evening, on the way back from our business trip down in Virginia Beach, I transferred all of my negative energy over to my wife Missy. Yes, that makes me "jerk husband of the week."

I don't do it on purpose, but having made this same error multiple times during our ten years of marriage, I'd say it qualifies me as a jerk husband of the week. I'll take it in stride, and stand up for the guys on this one. Sometimes, we deserve to be jerks once in awhile.

I got invited down to Liberty's Corporate HQ in VA Beach to hear "The Opportunity" also know as "the sales pitch" for another level of investment into LTS. Generally, I go to these things solo, but Missy decided she'd go with me and accompany me. I think she felt sorry for me after my terrible day on Monday where I had some miserable issues at the office, and then to cap off the day I totaled the beautiful red truck of my dad's, or was it Joseph's....or was it his wife's???? I'll elaborate another day.

Anyways, I digress. Missy decided she'd go with me to VB and hear the pitch. They put us up in one of the fanciest hotels down there, we were on the 12th floor, the bathroom had not only a bath tub, but a fancy stand-up shower with glass doors and walls, and it even had two shower heads. Don't let your mind race too much, I noticed the dual shower heads solo, so we really didn't take full advantage of them.

So, I was excited to spend some alone time with Missy, get jazzed up on Liberty again, watch some HD cable television (watched LOST in REAL time on a widescreen t.v.!!!!!) and escape EVERYTHING ELSE for nearly 72 Hours, from Thursday afternoon to Saturday Morning. Corporate paid for Thurs night, and Friday night, checkout isn't until 12.

We made the last minute arrangements to have Magra, Papa, Joseph and Alicia pitch in to watch the kids, which included getting Brighton to school and then loaded our stuff up and headed down. Conversation was good on the way down for the most part, except for the normal annoyances of me eating the ice from Chick-fil-a lemonade and Missy harassing me about driving too fast.

Overall the trip was going well. Missy was a champ for coming. She only nagged me here and there about talking too much or stop clicking my pen compulsively and only told me once to not follow the CEO John Hewitt around like a lost puppy...which I didn't' do.

Missy really wanted to come home Friday evening, rather than get up early at 6am (morning sickness) and drive back to make it for her church duties for the Young Women's basketball tournament. This frustrated me a bit but, I conceded with a "As you wish" like Wesley would have said from The Princess Bride. (BTW - One of Missy's favorite movies that she practically has memorized. I NOW hate the film b/c Missy's serious boyfriend that I stole her from when I got home from my mission was named Wesley. That ruined the movie for me and ruined a good family name I had picked out.)

So, once we got on the road, at 5:30pm Friday evening and start heading back, and after we got through the busiest of the traffic, (Hampton Roads Tunnel Friday Rush Hour vs. 6:30 AM Saturday Morning!!!!! COME ON!!!! Urrrrgggh) I decided I wanted to discuss some of my frustration with my dear wife. I thought I was civil about it, which I was. DIRECT and POLITE. I wasn't all emotional about it, BUT, I did transfer all of my negative energy to her. That wasn't my inital goal, I just wanted to express some of my dissatisfaction and try to come to a sensible compromise for future events.

My wife is tough as nails, and if you know her, you know that about her. But, if there's anyone that knows her soft spots that's me. And so, after having her go out of her way to be with me, and after she gave up a day of time with our precious children...which honestly, that's a testament as to how great a mother Missy is....she's not excited to "Get Away" from the children at all, she's quite the opposite and would much rather stay with the kids than to take these excursions with me......

I could have said, "Thanks for coming with me." Or "you're the hottest wife in the world" or "thanks for a great night even though you're pregnant and I nauseate you."


I asked her if we could talk about some of the things that she does that REALLY annoys me.

I'm such an IDIOT! But, that's what us guys are good at...being idiots and nauseating you.

After that, there wasn't much conversation on the 3 hour ride home. So I wanted to get us home as quickly as possible so that we could get past the sounds of silence. And since I'd already ticked her off, and since she wasn't speaking to me, I figured I'd drive the way I like to drive when she's not in the car with gives new meaning to "The fast and the furious."

Again, I'm void of emotion during this drive. It's not that I was angry in any way. Remember, I transferred all of my negative energy to Missy. E-motion, energy in motion.

SO, I bump through traffic between 80 and 90mph. No wrecks on this day friends, the wreck story from early this week will be saved for later. But, there were speeds and maneuvers that on most ANY other day I would have surely heard this from my shotgun companion:

"How fast are you going?" (Like she can't look over at the speed odometer)

"Or, YOU"RE GONNA BREAK THE CAR!" (This comes during a hard downshift and sudden burst of acceleration when trying to jump over into quicker moving lanes)

So, away we go. I get to zoom through traffic and enjoy myself without hearing a word from her. I guess it's a side benefit of the energy transfer. Plus I'm feeling especially free and pretty manly for taking up for myself and trying to unload some of the crap that gets built up on a husbands my driving reflects some of the aggression too. Again, no energy was created nor destroyed, I wasn't frustrated anymore, Missy was holding it all.

My driving wasn't excessive in anyway.....I do tend to drive this way when I don't have other passengers in the vehicle. PLUS I didn't forget that I have very large and very visible Liberty Tax Service stickers on the car, so I was a little bit aggressive AND YET polite at the same time as a driver..........the way I felt I was with Missy.....a little bit aggressive and POLITE!

On more than one occasion I KNEW she just wanted to say something about my driving....but she'd mentally taken her oath and vow of silence. I knew that if I got a speeding ticket she'd probably just laugh.

SO - THEN...when we were almost home. Missy finally transferred the negative energy back to me!!!!!!!

UNBELIEVABLE!!! I don't know how she did it, but somehow, someway, without saying a word, without lifting a finger she shifted all that negative energy back into my brains. She made the transmission to our car start acting up right at the end of our trip as we pulled into town.

GREAT! Another aggravation for me to deal with. I destroyed a truck this week, and it looks like I get to add a blown up transmission to the list!!!!!!

Karma I guess.

I love my wife. She's incredible. I love her because she's as tough as nails, as stubborn as a mule, as pretty as (insert Hot supermodel name here), the greatest mother on earth, smarter than Einstein, AND she'll follow me to the ends of the earth as I chase down dreams....what more could a guy want?

What can I say...I'm just a guy....I can figure out a lot of things like physics, calculus, accounting, finance, partial differential equations.............................................

I just can't figure out women. It's been ten years so far. I think I learn more and more everyday....I just wish I could say I have it all figured out.

Maybe someday.

I love you sweetie and I'm sorry I'm such a big, fat, jerk. I promise I'll work on it.....I'll go to the gym five times this week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Lights came down today!

Everyone will be pleased to know that the lights came down TODAY...March 11th.....
I hadn't even read my wife's post..., but I did hear Rachel call and tell Missy she was going to come take the lights down....

I took my neighbor up on his offer to let me use his ladder and took them down today. It took all of 10 minutes so yes, it's embarassing to to be taking them down in March, but I'm glad it's done.
I almost took them down between Christmas and New Years, but thought that was too quick. In hindsight, that's what should have been done. This year won't be as bad b/c I'm not planning on opening any new offices.

Tax Season is an excuse, but that's all it really is. An excuse.

I'm still planning on putting up lights this year after Thanksgiving...........I'm not making any promises as to when they come down.

Next year Missy won't be pregnant, so we'll see what happens.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Getting old and fat............

I want financial freedom at forty, but I'd like to have phsical freedom now. I'm getting old and fat, and losing my hair. And Missy is pretty quick to remind me of these things.

Tonight, my good friend Matt called and reminded me about basketball at the church. It was fun, even though every game I played I lost. I was such a loser! It felt like I had sawdust and fiberglass in my lungs..........

One funny thing that happened was when we were shooting for teams. We shoot free-throws to see who gets to play the next game. So, as I calmly stroll to the free throw line, and began to share a little story from back in the glory days of my varsity basketball stardom.

With a cocked smile, and a little bit of arrogance, I told them about the time I was the lead scorer in the season opener against Fort Defiance my senior year. As I went through my free throw ritual, seven dribbles, feet rocking gently, knees slightly bent, I told them the tale. This is the detailed version.

I played basketball from Little Leage to Varsity. On Varsity, I wasn't a starter, or six man, or anything really. I just made the team. So I was pretty much a bench warmer and a practice guy. But not only was I a bench warmer, I warmed the bench for a team that wasn't all that good. I mostly blame the coaching.

AS freshman we lost one game to Lee Highschool. We traded wins with Lee, which is something b/c Lee is a state championship team. On JV's we would go about .500 for the season. Then come varsity it was one win for the entire season against a team so far away that nobody believed us when we told them we won. It was all the same guys pretty much on the teams from Freshman to varsity, and yes, some grew more than others, but we should have been competitive.

Well, for the season opener of my Senior year we played Fort Defiance. They came out at us hard with a full court press defense. I watched my teammates get their arces handed to them from a comfortable seat at the end of the bench.

With like 2 minutes left in the game, and our team down by like a hundred points, Coach decided to finally let the srubs have a go at it. Finally, my moment to shine! I got on the court, did my hussle, took the ball hard to the basket and got fouled. Dropped two free throws. Nothing but net. In practice, our routine was to shoot free throws at every basket in the gym, the rotation included 24 free throws. I consisently would go 23/24 in practice.

Back to the big game. With just two minutes left, I didn't have much of a chance to make up for the 200 point deficit, but I was able to get to the free throw line a few times. I went 6 for 6. That got my name in the paper because that made me one of our teams leading scorers in just two minutes of play.

It was pretty much the same routine throughout the season. I get put in the game once we down my an infinite number of points. Draw and foul and score points. If the other team would have just let me try and shoot without fouling chances are I missed. But the free-throws I had nailed. I went 16 for 16 and then I think I finally missed my 17th free throw.

So after, telling the guys how good I was at free-throws, and telling them how I was the leading scorer of our opener against Fort Defiance..........

I went through my routine, seven dribbles, feet rocking gently, knees slightly bent, long exhale, full extension of my arm, plenty of back spin........and BRICK!

I sat out that game.....and boy was I happy to be back on the bench!

From Crashomatic to Cashomatic

So for my second post I'll link to some interesting money articles about being rich or becoming rich.
For some, the thoughts of becoming rich seem a bit naughty. You don't have to become obessed with it and lose your spiritual foundation, but you do need a plan and need goals.

My goal IS NOT to be the richest man in the world measured in dollars.
Although I consider Warren Buffet one of my mentors, I already consider myself one of the richest men in world with my faith, my family and having all my basic needs covered. Seriuosly, have you seen how HOT my wife is and how pretty my kids are? What more could I ever ask for? Ten to twenty million in the bank wouldn't be so bad either but to be quite honest, there are folks that have ten to twenty million in the bank and still can't afford to buy themselves what I have.

To be rich truly is a state of mind. To be poor is a state of mind. And to be broke is something different all together. One of my favorite things to say is: "There's a huge difference between being broke and being poor. Broke is temporary, poor is forever."

I'll often find myself broke towards the end of the year. With Christmas spending, and tax season being so far behind us, the coffers are pretty empty. But, I'm anxiously looking towards the upcoming tax season and how to make it better than the previous. When I committed myself to doing Liberty Tax, I knew that I'd be lucky to make it from season one to season two, and EVEN luckier to make it all the way to season three. And if we made it through season three, I knew that we'd pretty much made it. We're not rich yet after season three, but we're gonna make it to season 4.

One of my fondest memories of 2007 was about a week before Christmas and Missy called me from the grocery store and says: "My credit card is maxed out and I can't buy anything."

I said: "Well, it sounds like you're out of money honey. We're broke!"

And that's what we were from about Christmas 2007 to the middle of January 2008. All the cards were maxed, the $55k home equity line was maxed out, the $20k business line of credit maxed out..........dead broke.

I was a little nervous, and as usual, I had diahrea of the mouth and told some of my employees I wasn't sure if I'd have enough cashflow to make payroll...but in the end, the checks cleared.

That's why I love what I do. It reminds me so much of my dirtbike racing days. The excitement of not knowing what's coming up around the next corner, the adrenaline from leaping 90 foot jumps without being able to see where you're going to land.

When I was just getting started in the business I told my buddy Jeryl Harman that I felt like I was jumping off a cliff and had no idea how I was going to land. I'll save that story for another day.

For now, I've got to get some work done. I've already aggravated Missy enough by sitting here for the last 30 mins creating this post.

I hope you guys get something out of all this and when YOU get rich someday, you remember me because I could very well be BROKE at the time and need to borrow some money. But don't worry, I'll pay you back......some day.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008



I've finally arrived. I'll be the first of the MEN, to officially blog and join the wives club. I'll be offering a voice from the male perspective. I've chosen a black background to exude my manliness.

In the past, I've posted on webboards made up of a collection of motocross junkies like myself at various sites under the screename crashomatic. Often times my posts were more like blogs, longwinded and preachy. And so, once Missy started blogging on her blog, I saw a better forum for me to direct my focus and attention. I kept wanting her to let me post on her blog, and make it a family blog, but she didn't seem too keen on that idea, so, here it is after midnight, I'm gonna let it all hang out, and create my very own blog.

So why crashomatic? Well, it's my screen name that i've always used online. MSN messenger and the likes carry my screen name. From whence did I adopt this name? It's from my days of riding motocross. At the track, I was one to always push my personal limits. If I didn't crash at least once I wasn't riding hard enough.

My friends gave me the name crashomatic.

I've often approached life in similar fashion. It's full steam ahead once I've made my mind up and committed to something. And now, to explain Freedom at Forty. I've committed myself to becoming rich. I did so at my grandmother's funeral in November of 2002. I'll share that story later. But, what you will often see from me and my posts are a philosophy of a person destined to becoming independently wealthy. It hasn't happened yet, but the foundation has been laid, and my goal is to be financially free by the time I turn 40....or 2016 thereabouts. When I state my goal in conversation, I often get a sarcastic response of ...."Yea right, good luck with that kid!"

I also love Henry Ford quotes, one of which is: "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a think, YOU'RE PROBABLY RIGHT." Another one of my favorite Henry Ford quotes is: "Thinking is the hardest work there is, that's why so few choose to engage in it."

And so, my wife is behind me 100%, which is the first step to achieving my goal. We are well aware of the consequences of our actions. We'll either be pretty comfortable, or we'll be living in our bus flat broke when I turn 40. Hopefully we'll be fantastically wealthy and have to convice our kids that we're really seems it's family tradiditon or something if you check out my wifes blog:

With a solid foundation of faith, I find no objections to a man pursuing wealth. One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is in Jacob chapter 2 which says....

"18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted."

That sums it up for now.

So now all I have to do is get Missy to show me how to jazz this up a little with some photos, links, and one of those cool maps.