Monday, April 13, 2015


Yesterday was nice, in weather terms, no vertical wetness, howling gales etc as per since Xmas, so I thought I'd get some stuff done around the yard.

First order of business would be to pump out the meltwater in the swimming pool, which would entail me unplugging the remaining Xmas lights still deployed, a job normally done by now but delayed pending the snow piled up between me and the plugs melting. The pump would need the same outdoor circuit as the lights, which I had disabled by tripping the ground fault interrupt so we wouldn't look like trailer trash at night1, so before I could re-activate the electrickery I'd need to remove the three dozen extension cords and adaptors plugged into the wall, necessitating a trip behind the Alberta Spruce Wall o' Green that screens off the wall and window of the front bedroom in a spiky hedge of noise abatement.

Which was when I found that the brick wall that runs from the corner of the house to the front door was leaning out precariously from the alleged sheathing of the house and had begun turning into individual bricks stacked on top of each other rather than a wall, a happenstance that elicited a barrage of improvised Class Four Words of Power and one Class Five when I figured out that the sheathing underneath was probably wringing wet and rotted out2.

Did I mention I just paid the last mortgage installment on this house?

Let the regretting commence.

  1. I can't do anything about that during the day, but I am not there most days so I don't have to look at the house. Up yours, neighbors
  2. The bricks are essentially siding built over a chipboard inner wall, or possibly a sheetrock inner wall. This house is partially what is called by builders a "shiplap house" which means the original builder cheaped-out and used gypsum sheetock instead of plywood or chipboard as is more usual

Friday, April 10, 2015

Goings On (And On And On And On)

So, I haven't posted much of late.

It isn't that the LIRR has not been supplying the raw material for Tales of Suck, rather that there has been such a plenty I've been overwhelmed to the point I know not where to start. Their incapability to run trains when a light frosting of snow is on the land means nothing good when three feet of freezing water dumps on the ground. Add to that that the fleet seems to be falling apart around - I nearly said "them" but of course it's "us", the poor bloody riders. They have augmented the usual practice of last-minute cancellation of the 6:04 from Atlantic Terminal (the last and one of only two straight-through trains from Brooklyn via the Ronkonkoma branch) and the to-anyone-but-the-Bloody-Long-Island-Railroad obviously naff "information" that Passengers will be accommodated by the Babylon train1, change at Jamaica for the Ronkonkoma branch2 with last-minute cancellation of the 6:04 without any sort of acknowledgment of the fact other than the stealthy removal of the train from the platform assignment board. It is monumentally fbleeptarded to cancel the only real option for the Brooklyn/Ronkonkoma commuter when they have a 5:01 out of Penn that leaves almost empty every single day. I get that the system is congested, but why do the cancellations start with the 6:04 out of Atlantic Terminal? The levels of suck are toxically high here.

And get this: the fbleeptards in charge are constructing a multi-million dollar tunnel to run trains directly from Penn to Grand Central which adds only load, without adding capacity. Not only that, it adds load through the same East River Tunnels that cannot reliably handle the existing traffic because the bloody signals are not up to snuff. This project has been gobbling down dollars for years and a child could see that it is a complete waste of every fbleeping cent.

Time for the Happy Place Song3.

By Jove I needed that.

It is tax time again, which has fomented the usual anxiety and anger in Chateau Stevie, but with a new twist: The Stevieling announced she wanted to have her taxes made up by a professional. Last year I did them for her, but a screw-up that I maintain was the fault of the obstreperous bbleep at the post office who scrambled the stickers and labels needed to get the mail recorded so you can prove it arrived and who I believe put the stickers and address labels on the wrong bloody envelopes4 so the Feds got the State check and the State got the Feds', leading to an unexpected demand for cash with menaces from NYS and smug silence on the matter of an extra $200 from the Feds.

It turns out that the banks don't question the fact the names of the payees don't match in such circumstances but blithely hand over the cash. So much for the US banking system then. Had they said: “Hang on mate” I'd have simply had to pay late fees.

The tax code in the USA, New York and NYC (for me anyway) is so tortuously involved that filling in a tax return by hand is no-longer an option. It took hours even when we were newlyweds and our tax situation was very simple indeed. Mrs Stevie used to do it on account of my whining excuses and claims of an inability to see the number five due to an accident suffered at the age of, well, I can't say because I can't see it, but the rages induced by the worksheet for Schedule A dwarfed anything Starbux could produce even on a good day. On one memorable occasion I had to restrain her when George Bush senior made some sort of comment on the TV the day after she had mailed out the returns, lest she destroy the television set5 and my eardrums were badly damaged. Action was Called For.

So I staged a miraculous recovery after a particularly fortuitous skillet-beaning, and once the tweety-bird noises had worn off and the little moons and stars had stopped whooshing around my head and crashing into one another, I announced I would do the next return.

It would take all of one Sunday and all of my patience with fbleeptarded Bureaucracy Gone Mad to fill in Form 1040, Schedule A and form IT2016

Then, in '96, we got our first computer and I started using tax preparation software and it became less of a chore, though no less time consuming overall. Last year our tax situation became complex due to The Stevieling earning wads of cash so she had to file her own return, which I did for her. Ours I filed electronically, something I distrusted at first but now wish NYC would pick up7. NYC insist on a paper return being mailed, and insist on a copy of the NYS return being included, which in these days of e-filing adds complication. The copy is supposed to be exactly as filed with NYC and must be signed. E-filed tax returns are digitally signed, but that is not reproduced on the saved image of the paper tax returns. It is therefore technically impossible to follow the instruction on the tax document.

You'd think someone would have spotted this by now and moved to make it sensible, what with the levels of anality built into the tax calculations themselves, but no. The language is short, clear, precise and completely unworkable in the real world. Welcome to NYC, firmly mired in the QPHS8 world of your grandfather.

What else?

My neighbor has a new tenant, who is a thirty-something Italian American with a mouth on it a sailor would be ashamed to own to. It holds shouted conversations into its cell phone that can be heard from the front of our house. In one such I counted every third word as some variation of "fuck". Last weekend I was privileged to witness it greeting a friend. Never have I seen two so painfully white young men trying to be black movie gangstas so loudly.

It's as though they don't realize that Words of Power must be carefully hoarded and used only under the most unbearable provocation - such as when pulling the starter cord on the Lawn Mower for the third time or catching one's sandalled foot with the weed whacker at maximum revs, or picking up some pipe after heating it to 500° C with a blowlamp. Meeting someone you know rather well at a previously agreed-upon time hardly qualifies.

I wouldn't normally give a rat's bottom but it is done at Volume #11, so I welcome ideas on how to mitigate this unwelcome development, not least because as of March I finally own Chateau Stevie in all it's disintegrating glory.

Yes, I managed to avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous property devaluation by the outmoded idea that I should own it as a priority rather than a house full of new bathrooms and flat screen TVs.

Naturally the mortgage being paid off happened a month early (the bank decided my refusal to "pay down" the loan - on account of having no extra funds to do so at that moment in time - was a signal to raid the escrow account for the difference and terminated the deal a month early anyway) which has landed me with the necessity of paying a humongous property tax bill with no real means to do so without the remaining funds from the escrow account, the next two weeks wages, crossed fingers and some Class Four Words of Power.

I was going to speak of the various medical tests I've been subjected to in the search for a return to health, but my keyboard has become soaked with tears and I've cracked a tooth gnashing my teeth so I'll leave the account of Doctors in a World Gone Mad for another time.

  1. A train that is already filled to bursting with Babylon-bound passengers
  2. i.e. Try and board the already overcrowded 6:23 out of Penn, possibly the most subscribed NY-Ronkonkoma evening train in the schedule
  3. Myy-yyy happy-place has a hammer in it BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG
  4. I double-checked those addresses hand-written on the envelopes matched the forms inside them but they still went to the wrong place and we ended up $200 out of pocket as a result
  5. An essential component of my newly acquired Nintendo Entertainment System
  6. A book-like affair that had the singular property of not fitting into any envelope one could lay one's hands on, including the one supplied by the NYS DoT&F and that was as easy to fold as the Manhattan Yellow Pages
  7. I file three returns: One with the Feds, one with NY State and one with NYC
  8. quill pens and high stools