Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Antiques and More For Sale

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I don’t typically use the blog for personal gain, but just a quickie. I have some items we want to sell that we don’t have room for in the house. Items include antique roll top desk, antique chairs, gamer chairs, vintage lamps, brass lamps and TV wall mounts. Read more here.

A Little Self Promotion

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

I typically try not to mix business and my personal blog, but for those who don’t know, Kristin and I own a promotional marketing company called Snap Promotions. In the last couple of weeks, we have launched two online resources for our clients:

Promotional Items Company: This website features more than 100,000 promotional items and gifts. Lots of interesting products from food gifts to apparel. Basically an online catalog where our clients can do some window shopping for promotional ideas.

Customizable Promotional Items: This site is more robust than the first one, and features more than 300,000 promotional products. Tons of great products for your next promotion. This site also allows our customers to place orders through the website.

And with the launch of these two new sites, we have a special offer for 15% off your next order. You can view the details here. This offer is only good till the end of January.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming!

Alpheus Concert to Raise Money for Big Brothers Big Sisters 2010

Friday, August 27th, 2010

AlpheusI know I’ve been away, but my schedule will be back to normal soon. It’s been a hectic summer. Writing this today because I need your help, especially if you live in the Lawrence area.

We organize two concerts each year, and have just completed our first event in Hutchinson for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Reno County with great success. The crowd was awesome. The sponsors stepped up to the plate and really delivered. We raised more than $6,000 when you include in-kind donations. A very successful event.

Now we’re just a couple weeks away from our second concert — this time for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County. The concert will be at the Granada on Saturday, September 18th. We need your help to make this a great event as well.

Sponsors
We’re a bit behind on where we had hoped to be for sponsors this year. Here’s a link to our sponsorship package. It’s not too late to help sponsor the event!

Raffle
We had a sponsor donate a free vacation at our Hutchinson event, and it generated almost $500 in additional donations. Got something we can raffle? Email me here.

Promotions and Attendance
Lots of ways to help us promote the event. Post the event to your facebook and twitter accounts. (You can visit the Alpheus facebook page here and provide a link to the event, or invite your friends to the event.) Hang flyers at work (here’s a flyer for you to print). Help to organize a group of people to attend. Do you belong to a networking group? A social group? Maybe you can organize your fellow employees to attend?

If nothing else, just grab a spouse or friend and come on out. Alpheus plays a lot of great music from the ’70s and ’80s including the Cars, Rick Springfield, KC and the Sunshine Band, Van Halen, Wild Cherry, Pink, Journey, Monkees, Romantics, Green Day, Neil Diamond, Talking Heads and much more. Hope to see you there!

California Assembly Passes Plastic Bag Ban

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Got this today from one of our industry publications. Seems to fit in well with my general complaint of government over-stepping and attempting to save us from ourselves, despite the cost.

The California Assembly has voted to prohibit grocery, liquor, convenience and drug stores from offering customers plastic bags, taking a significant step toward enacting the strongest legislation of its kind in the U.S. The bill, which passed the Assembly in a 41-27 vote, still requires approval by the state’s Senate. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has already said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Not only does the California bill place a ban on plastic bags, it also requires customers to be charged for using store-provided paper bags. The legislation is considered even more sweeping than an ordinance passed in San Francisco in 2007, which requires supermarkets and large drug stores to offer customers bags made only of recyclable paper, cloth or plastic that can be turned into compost.

The highly controversial bill has clear supporters and opponents. For example, the American Chemistry Council, which has feverishly lobbied against similar bans, insists the bill would serve as a $1 billion tax and threaten 500 jobs in the plastic bag manufacturing business. Conversely, many environmental groups and the California Grocers Association, are backing the bill, believing it would positively affect consumer behavior. Bill proponents also say California taxpayers spend about $25 million every year picking up and disposing of plastic bags.

If approved by the California Senate, the plastic bag ban could go into effect as early as January 2012. California would become the first state in the country to enact such a law.

Time to Retire “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Time to Repeal Don't Ask Don't TellIt’s time to retire Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compromise of the ’90s. Actually, it’s long overdue. I have been very pleased to see President Obama and Congress proceed with the repeal of this legislation. And I think it’s smart for them to proceed as they are, in a measured and methodical manner. Last night, according to CNN.com: “The U.S. House and a Senate committee approved amendments to a military bill Thursday that would repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service, but only after some conditions are met.”

See the full CNN story here.

While the Republicans are on the public’s side of many recent polls, this is one where they find themselves largely out of step with public sentiment. According to a recent CNN poll, 78% of respondents said that “people who are openly gay or homosexual” should be able to serve in the armed forces. But these numbers are nothing new. The results are similar to what CNN found in December of 2008 (81%) and May of 2007 (79%).

But if you look at the votes yesterday, Republicans in Congress obviously do not support the repeal. From CNN: “The Senate committee’s vote on the amendment was mostly partisan, with 15 Democrats and one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — supporting the compromise repeal language. The House vote also was along largely partisan lines, with 229 Democrats and five Republicans supporting the repeal amendment, while 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats opposed it.”

It’s time for Republicans to wake up and understand that we want equal protections and rights for all Americans.

LOST: The Story of Redemption

Monday, May 24th, 2010

“If we can’t live together we’re going to die alone.”
Jack Shepherd

Jack ShepherdMy LOST journey began with the final episode from season one. I happened to catch it the week before the premier of season two. I was instantly hooked. I went back and watched all of the episodes from season one while watching the new episodes from season two. It’s the only TV series that I’ve watched every single episode. One by one, my family became hooked as well. Beginning last summer we started from the beginning and watched (or for me re-watched) all of the episodes in order to prepare for this, the final season.

The storytelling from season one in particular was incredible. The character development unparalleled in television. Possibly among the best throughout all of literature in the last century.

Many could not overcome the science fiction components of the story. The unexplained phenomenon. I was happy to embrace the unknown.

Like so many losties, I became lost in the story. But in a good way. I enjoyed the journey. Enjoyed the speculation. Enjoyed the revelations about the island. And enjoyed watching the ongoing development of the characters.

My initial reaction last night to “The End” was a bit unsettling. It wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped. What was the purpose of the light? What was the real name of the man in black? What about the delicate balance between good and evil? After all, the island and the ancient tale of good and evil was the story. I felt like I was left twisting in the wind. I had become so lost in the journey, that I had forgotten the real story.

This was not the story of a fantastic and magical island. The island was only a vehicle to tell the story. This was a story of redemption. The story of Jack Shepherd.

Jack was a lost soul when the series began. The reluctant hero. The man of science who eventually became the man of faith. The reluctant hero who eventually embraced his destiny without understanding what his destiny truly meant. A story of salvation. And finally, a story of redemption.

“If we can’t live together we’re going to die alone.”
Jack Shepherd

Jack and all of our heroes learned to live together. And in the end, they did not die alone.

The Hidden Tax Change in Health Care Bill

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Congress and the Tax Code

This is what happens when politicians with little understanding of business are in charge of tax policy. According to a recent article on CNN.com:

Section 9006 of the health care bill — just a few lines buried in the 2,409-page document — mandates that beginning in 2012 all companies will have to issue 1099 tax forms not just to contract workers but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.

The stealth change radically alters the nature of 1099s and means businesses will have to issue millions of new tax documents each year.

Before we get into this, let me tell you a little about my dad. My dad thought he was good with money. And to his credit, he had a few periods in his life where he made quite a bit of money. But he also had a couple periods of his life where he lost virtually everything. He had a gambler mentality. But not the smart gambler mentality that told him when to walk away. He was the gambler that never knew when to stop. And he refused to learn from his mistakes.

Dad understood that it took spending money to make money. But he had no concept of diminishing returns. This is an over-simplified explanation of diminishing returns.

Let’s say as a business owner you can spend $100 on materials and labor, make a product, and sell it for $200. That’s a $100 profit. That’s good.

Then you discover you can build a better product for $130, and sell it for $300. That’s $170 profit. You not only increased your profit by $70, you increased your cost by only $30. That’s even better.

There becomes a point where diminishing returns kick in. Let’s continue with the example and build an even better product. Your cost is now $250. And you can sell this product for $500. On first glance this looks good. You’ve now made a $250 profit. But it’s not as good as it sounds. You’ve spent an additional $120 to increase your profit by $80.

That’s diminishing returns.

My dad never understood diminishing returns.

Neither does the federal government.

So let’s get back to this new tax policy where every business must generate 1099s for every individual AND every corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.

The Burden of Creating the 1099s
I own a very small business, and I may have one hundred vendors which I will pay $600 or more every year. I will have to contact every one of my vendors to obtain their EIN numbers and enter their information into QuickBooks. At the end of the year I will have to print 1099s for these vendors, stuff them into envelopes, stamp them, and mail them. How much time will this take? That will largely depend on how easy and responsive my vendors are in providing the information I need. I will guestimate that I’ll have a good 50-60 hours into this project in the first year, plus expenses.

That’s 50-60 hours I can’t spend growing my business. And I’m a very small business. Multiply that out across the country for EVERY business, big and small. How many businesses are there in our country? How many hours of time to gather the required information and process it? How many millions of documents will be printed? How much postage will be used to mail millions of documents? What about the resources used to do all of this? I don’t know. I guarantee that it will be substantial.

The Burden of Receiving the 1099s
Now this also means that most of my customers will be issuing me 1099s. I will have to provide them with my EIN number upon their request. And every year I’ll receive a few dozen 1099s from my customers that I’ll include with all of my tax information to my accountant. This won’t be much of a burden for me personally. As I said, I’m a very small business.

But what about larger companies? What about Dell? Office Depot? Holiday Inn? They will receive tens of thousands of 1099s in the mail every year. If not more. They will have costs involved both in sending 1099s to their vendors, as well as processing the 1099s they receive from their business customers.

Who pays for this? Oh yeah, the customer. Dell doesn’t just absorb these new costs and move along. Their are repercussions. And the repercussions will either be in increased prices for their products, or financial cuts elsewhere to compensate for the new expenses.

Diminishing Returns
Now you’ve probably been wondering why I started this post talking about my dad and explaining diminishing returns. The question becomes, what is the net result of this tax policy change?

According to the same CNN article, the IRS estimates that the federal government loses more than $300 billion each year in tax revenue on income that goes unreported. This is the government’s attempt to collect a portion of this tax revenue.

But how much can they truly expect to increase in their tax collections with this policy change? Who will pay more in taxes and have to declare money that had previously gone unreported? Or under-reported?

Not Dell. They report their income. Receiving potentially hundreds of thousands of 1099s will not change the amount of income they report. What about Holiday Inn? What about Office Depot? What about IHOP? What about me? Nope. I already report all of my income. And I suspect that most of these other companies do as well. But even if a large company is purposefully under-reporting their income, would we really expect a change in their behavior resulting from receiving these 1099s? I wouldn’t think so. They would still find a way to under-report their income.

I don’t have a problem believing that the IRS fails to collect a lot of money due to unreported income. But which businesses will actually feel compelled to declare more, or all, of their income who aren’t doing so already? Whose behavior will this tax policy change?

One, it would have to be a business who does most of their work for companies, not individuals, as they would only be receiving 1099s from companies. And two, a company who is actively under-reporting their income who would feel at risk if they continued this behavior. I can only imagine that this scenario fits a very small set of very small businesses. Large companies currently cheating on their taxes will continue to find ways to cheat on their taxes. And that’s probably true for most small companies as well. I don’t expect this tax policy change to net the IRS a significant increase in tax revenues. And we haven’t even discussed the new burden on the IRS of receiving millions of new 1099s to process.

So once again, what’s the net result? I couldn’t find anything online that discussed this in detail, or broke down increased costs versus increased tax revenues. Though I didn’t really expect to find anything. Common sense tells me that it will cost business significantly more than it will net the IRS in increased tax revenues.

But our politicians don’t care about diminishing returns. They don’t care if it costs business $100 for them to increase tax revenues by $10. After all, it wasn’t their $100 that was spent for them to receive the $10. It was ours.

Cartoon from Stus.com.

Absurd Laws: Gov’t Protects Us From Ourselves

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Received this from an industry source yesterday.

Approving the first local ordinance of its kind, supervisors in Santa Clara County, CA, have banned restaurants from giving away toys and other promotional items with high-calorie children’s meals. Passed in a 3-2 vote this week, the limited ordinance targets any meal that contains more than 485 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium or certain percentages of fat or sugar. “This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, in a meeting on Tuesday.

Because the ordinance only applies to unincorporated neighborhoods like Stanford and Burbank, the majority of San Jose-area restaurants won’t be affected by the law. Hoping the fast-food industry will voluntarily begin offering more healthy kids’ meals, supervisors have decided to allow a 90-day grace period before the ordinance is enforced. Eventually, the ordinance calls for a $250 fine for the first violation, $500 for the second and then up to $1,000 for subsequent violations.

So whatever happened to personal responsibility? It’s my job as a parent to raise my children. To educate my children. To protect my children. And yes, to feed my children. But the government has decided that we’re so easily duped by “prizes” that we’re unable to make the best decisions for our children. And understand that this is just the beginning of our new nanny state. This might be one small law in a county in California, but that’s the road that we’re traveling. And I don’t like where it’s going. Let’s hope that at some point soon, common sense can prevail.

Big Brother, leave my prizes alone.

Happy New Year, A New Chapter Begins

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Happy New YearWith each new year we begin a new chapter in our lives. People who know me know how I feel about personal responsibility. I have always believed that we control our own destiny. That we are accountable for our successes. And our failures. That while we can’t always control what happens to us, we can control how we react to the circumstances we face. And it’s how we react and move on that tells the greatest story.

This chapter has been a difficult one for so many people. It’s certainly been my most difficult chapter to write. I’ve been faced with decisions I never wanted to make. Had to face my biggest failures. And had to decide what to do next when their were no good choices to be made. Every time it felt like it couldn’t get any worse, it did. It’s been a humbling and life-altering year.

Through it all I’ve done my best to keep it in perspective. It hasn’t always worked. I have a friend who has been my inspiration, and he doesn’t even know it. When I’ve been at my lowest moments, I think of him. He lost his son several years ago during a freak accident while on vacation. He and his wife, and their remaining son, had to pick back up the pieces of their lives and move on. I can’t even imagine the emotional obstacles they faced. But they persevered. They moved on. And they’ve continued to write new chapters for their lives. I can imagine nothing worse. What I’ve had to face is nothing in comparison.

Tomorrow my new chapter begins. I will do my best to write a good one. I will make this a chapter to remember.

I hope all of you have a wonderful new year. And that this next chapter is your best chapter yet.

Derrick Thomas to be Honored at Arrowhead

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Derrick ThomasThis Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will be honoring my all-time favorite Chief, Derrick Thomas. The Chiefs will be honoring Derrick for his entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and will be retiring his jersey. Thomas will be the 10th player in franchise history to have his jersey retired, joining fellow Pro Football Hall of Famers K Jan Stenerud (3), QB Len Dawson (16), CB Emmitt Thomas (18), LB Willie Lanier (63), LB Bobby Bell (78) and DT Buck Buchanan (86), as well as RB Abner Haynes (28), RB Stone Johnson (33) and RB Mack Lee Hill (36).

I wrote this about Derrick’s induction in the HOF a few months ago.