Monday, December 31, 2018

Read this if you made more than $128,400 in 2018

In 2018, once your income subject to Social Security tax hit $128,400 (this is usually higher than your income subject to Federal tax, due to various exclusions such as 401k contributions that are subject to SS tax but not income tax) they stopped taking Social Security tax out of your paycheck.

This results in, sometime late in the year (the more you make the sooner it happens) a de facto 6.2% raise in your paycheck (which is effectively tax free). Many people don't notice it. Others notice it, but don't realize what it is.

The important thing to know is:

Beginning in January they start taking it out again.
So goodbye to that raise!

Realizing what's happening and managing it can help avoid a fiscal shock in January (just when the holiday bills are coming due as well). I advise my clients in this income range to pay attention to this and use the money "off-budget". Meaning to save it, invest it, or use for one-time expenditures like a vacation or a home remodel.

People unconsciously raise their standard of living as their income increases. Understanding how this happens and taking conscious control of it is one of the keys to financial success. This example is just one area where it matters.

Take control.
Understand your income and expenditures.
Be aware of "found" money like this.

And understand that you are about to take a "pay cut."

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Climate Change is Unsolveable by Government

I find it interesting that people focus on the economic costs of climate change discussed in recent reports but consistently ignore the economic costs of proposed solutions. "Science" almost universally identifies that the costs of any successful solution would actual exceed the costs of climate change itself.

This does not mean that we should ignore climate change, since economics is only one of many factors to consider.

I point this out because the climate change argument (particularly at the politician/pundit/powerful level) has turned into another typical blue/red bullshit fest of dishonesty and selective reporting.
Almost nothing you read about climate change now is an accurate reflection of both sides of the issue.

Politicians are using climate change, like every other issue, to polarize their voters, distract people from their corruption, expand the power of government, get re-elected and make themselves and their cronies rich.

At the individual level, I consistently see people call for massive, government led changes to force people to change their behaviors while taking only the smallest, most painless steps in their own lives. I still consider the massive lines of parents dropping their kids at school in their idling cars (or worse, waiting at the bus stop in an idling car so they can drive their kid two blocks from the bus stop to their homes) as the perfect example. I'm sure they all have varying levels of "good" reasons, but if climate change was truly the end of the world as we know it, I'd see a lot more walking happening.

There is no big one-size-fits-all solution to climate change. The solution involves partisans looking at solutions from both sides. Conservatives need to embrace expansion of renewable resources and potentially a market based tax on carbon. Liberals need to get over their fear of nuclear power. Both sides need to hold their politicians accountable for the unholy alliance between corporations and government.  The fucking ethanol lie is the poster child for this. There is nothing positive about ethanol unless you are a corn farmer, politician or corporation. Climate change is not helped by the ethanol lobby.

Climate change is NOT a partisan issue! If you keep listening to CNN, FOX news, The Democrats and the Republicans then we are screwed. The solution to climate change is not going to come from government, unless people stop being sheepish slaves to their parties.

Climate change is possibly the best argument for never voting for a Democrat or a Republican that can ever be made. The planet is literally at stake and people just keep voting for the same charlatans over and over. D's and R's will NEVER fix something that they can use to get votes. NEVER!

Wake up!


Saturday, December 1, 2018

November Charleston Restaurant Visits

Name Loc Rank Beer Sel Rating
Husk DT 5 2
Short Grain Var 5
Sorghum and Salt DT 5 2
Wine and Company DT 5 4
Azul Park 4 2
Chez Nous DT 4 1
Edmund's Oast Brewing  NK 4 3
Famulari's WA 4 3
Gillie's Soul Food WA 4 0
One Broad DT 4 2
Rita's WA 4 2
The Brew Cellar Park 4 4
The Establishment DT 4 2
Tradd's DT 4 2
Benny Palmetto's MP 3 2
Dispensary DT 3 2
Grace and Grit MP 3 2
Grit Counter MP 3 2
Krystyna's Polish Food Var 3 0
Maple St. Biscuit Co. WA 3 0
Two Blokes Brewery MP 3 3
Westbrook Brewing MP 3 2

Here's a link to the Master Restaurant Spreadsheet

Columns are Restaurant, Location, Rating and Beer Selection Rating.

Locations: Park - Park Circle, DT - Downtown, NK - North of 17 Downtown, Var - multiple locations, MP - Mount Pleasant.

Rating - 1 to 5 scale (5 being best (gotta be perfect to get a 5))

Beer rating:
0   No beer or little good beer (or a bad brewery)
1   Below Average (or a mediocre brewery)
2   Some locals and other good brews (or an OK brewery)
3   Excellent (or a good brewery)
4   Best (or a great brewery)

Husk and Husk Bar continue to be outstanding. The food menu at the bar is like the Greatest Hits of Husk, with the burger, the fried chicken and the wings starring.
Short Grain is a popup that can be found most Tuesdays at Edmund's Oast Brewing Company. Not a food truck, they take over the kitchen for some Asian inspired delights.
Sorghum and Salt is a small place between Cannon and Morris that has a great casual feel, super friendly staff and delicious food.
Wine and Company is the best wine bar in Charleston AND has a sneaky good beer selection and awesome charcuterie plates. You can buy bottles (or a dozen bottles) of wine to go with really great advice from the super staff.
Azul is the new Mexican place near Park Circle. Second visit was outstanding. They have a HUGE combo plate (can't remember the name) but it would be perfect for 2 people.
Chez Nous is a cute little French place with just TWO entrees and TWO appetizers on the menu each day - but they are VERY good. I think this would be a great place for a date night.
Edmund's Oast Brewing Company: A great brewery with a good kitchen. Awesome beers on tap and some cans to go.
Famulari's has really good pizza and also brews really good beer. A great craft beer/pizza combo for those West of the Ashley.
Gillie's Soul Food is a very casual southern restaurant with really good food. They were putting a bunch of beer taps in when we went there so the beer future looks good.
One Broad is a cool bar/restaurant in a great location but casual setting. You can watch most of your food being prepared.
Rita's is a casual bar with a good food menu near Folly Beach. The fried shrimp was quite good.
The Brew Cellar is a tiny retail store with almost a dozen taps and a cooler of beer to drink on premises. Very casual place for beer lovers.
Dispensary is basically a college bar with a really good happy hour - almost every local beer on tap or in cans is super cheap then.
The Establishment is a nice and cool looking new seafood restaurant with a large chef's counter.
Tradd's opened up in the old Cypress location and they have a couple really cool bars and a nice dining area.
Benny Palmetto's has HUGE slices of pizza and decent beers in a small space with booths to sit at. They also do takeout.
Grace and Grit and The Grit Counter share a kitchen. Grace and Grit is the sit down and be waited on casual restaurant while The Grit Counter is fast casual. I think I would do the counter over the restauarant.
Krystina's Polish Food is a food truck that can be found around town, at breweries and Container Bar.
Maple Street Biscuit Company is a southern chain with decent breakfast type food.
Two Blokes Brewery is a cool spot to have some really good beer. They often have food trucks.
Westbrook is another brewery that usually has a really big tap list and some cool (though expensive) bottles from past years. No significant food.

You may wonder why nobody got a score below 3. There's an explanation on the spreadsheet. In fact, there's a ton of information on the spreadsheet. But to answer the question, we go places we expect to be great. I'm not here to confirm that a mediocre restaurant is actually mediocre. So 2's will be rare, and 1's will be a catastrophic failure in planning.

CHM 110 Useful Stuff

This is old and none of the links work anymore. The Stoichiometry stuff is still good in the body of the post.

I'm taking CHM 110 at Trident Technical College, and I'm uploading documents to share with my fellow students and including useful stuff. This is purely for my college class. I'm going to keep bumping it to the top to make it easy to find.

Unit 2 Test Prep:

This is the first run of my test notes. I will update with atomic structure stuff once I figure out how to explain it (after figuring it out myself). You should review the powerpoint linked below under "More Stoichiometry" as well.

The Krazy Kombo Kany Kompany Part I

CHM-110L Lab Report Template

This is a link to my Lab 4 Lab Report. You might find it useful as a template. I do the tables in Excel so it can calculate for me and then cut and paste to the report. I just change the page numbers in the procedure for that section. Remember to only do ONE example calculation of each type in the calculations section. Then I just print out the cover sheet and staple it to the report. I assume everyone is done with their lab report for 4, BUT, if not - this is for use as a TEMPLATE, not to copy for Lab 4!

More Stoichiometry:

I made a 2 page powerpoint with some simplified Molar ratio stuff:


Stoichiometry is made more complicated than it needs to be for three reasons. First, the name. Stoichiometry just SOUNDS complicated. Easy solution, don't worry about what it's called. Second and third are harder and are actually the reason it exists at all. Stoichiometry involves things that are too small to see, and too numerous to count. If we could see and count atoms and molecules, stoichiometry would seem as easy as legos, probably even easier (most times your not trying to build the Millenium Falcon and often your just building with two or three different bricks - not so much in bio-chem - but this is 110!)

If I could grab a Chlorine atom and a Sodium atom and smash them together to make salt. Stoichiometry would seem like child's play. I think the key to UNDERSTANDING stoichiometry is to connect it to something you can see. I'm working on a comprehensive example of that which I will publish later. Right now, I'm just going to lay out some simple points to help you grasp what's going on.

First, the grab an atom of Sodium and grab an atom of Chlorine example, while simplistic, is pretty much how it works. To make salt, you need one Chloride atom and one Sodium atom. Na + Cl = NaCl. To make Barium Fluoride, you need 2 Fluorine atoms for every Barium atom. Ba + 2F = BaF2. It's really that simple, except that we need billions upon billions of atoms to make any appreciable amount of a substance.

So, since we can't see the atoms, scientists had to come up with a way to "count" the atoms. They needed some system that could convert something easy to measure into a number of atoms. They came up with a "mole". You can weigh a pure atomic substance, and based on what it is, know exactly how many atoms are in it (or close enough for chemical work - since atoms are so small and you can't see them - a few stray atoms here and there are usually not a big deal).

Scientists know that (using round numbers) 12 grams of Carbon will contain 6.02 x 10^23 atoms. They know this just as we know that 756 grams of large eggs will be 12 eggs or 156 grams of paperclips will be 144 paper clips (I checked). 12 eggs is a "dozen" eggs and 144 paper clips is a "gross" of paper clips. The "mole" is just a way of referring to a specific quantity of something, like a dozen eggs, or a gross of paper clips and using weight to "count" them. A mole is a term referring to a specific number, just like a dozen and a gross. With a little extra work, we can count things using their weight. It's not really useful for eggs in the kitchen, but if I needed to count 1000 eggs, or 10,000 paper clips, knowing that 144 paper clips weighed 156 grams is hugely important. With atoms, it's impossible to count them, so we have the mole.

We use moles for different substances, so we have different weights that equal a mole of them, just like a gross of different items would weigh a different amount.

One "gross" of paperclips would be 144 paper clips and would weigh 156 grams.
One "gross" of eggs would be 144 eggs and would weigh 9072 grams.
One "mole" of eggs would be 6.02 x 10^23 eggs and would weigh 3.79 x 10^25 grams.

So think of moles as kind of like bags of atoms or molecules. A bag of  Carbon atoms with 6.02 x 10^23 atoms in it weighs 12 grams. EVERY bag of atoms or molecules will ALWAYS have 6.02 x 10^23 of them in it, so all we need to know is how much a bag of all the substances weighs.

It's critical to be able to take an atom or a molecule and figure out its molecular or formula weight. That's simply figuring out how much a "bag" of the atoms weighs (our bag being a mole). For an atom, it's the atomic weight of the atom from the periodic table.

One bag (mole) of Sodium (Na) atoms contains 6.02 x 10^23 atoms (this number never changes - just like a gross of paper clips will always contain 144 paper clips) and weighs 23 grams (just like that gross of paper clips weighs 156 grams). It's a property of the substance and never changes.

One bag (mole) of NaCl molecules, contains 6.02 x 10^23 NaCl molecules and weighs about 58.5 grams (The atomic weight of Na (23) plus the atomic weight of Cl (35.5).)

The Atomic Weight or Formula Weight can be written as a ratio 1 mole Na / 23 grams Na, just like we can write for paper clips, 1 gross paper clips / 156 grams paper clips. These can be written upside down as needed to convert grams to moles or moles to grams, just like if I know how many paperclips I have I can use the ratio to figure out what they weigh, or if I know how much they weigh, I can figure out how many I have.

For formulas, the numbers in front of the molecules tell you how many bags (moles) of each you need for each of the ingredients, and how many bags (moles) of the various products you get.

Ba + 2F = BaF2 tells me that I need 2 bags of F for every bag of Ba and when I smush them together I get a bag of BaF2. Each of those bags has 6.02 x 10^23 atoms or molecules in it, and I can figure out how much each one weighs by figuring out their Formula Weights from the periodic table.

For calculation problems, convert grams or atoms to moles (always go through moles) and ratio them according to the numbers from the equation. Thinking of them as bags will help you remember that the term mole isn't magic, it just makes sure you have 2 atoms of F for every atom of Ba in the above formula. You are just using moles because there are a shit ton of atoms involved. I honestly believe that if we made the term "shit-ton" refer to 6.02 x 10^23 of something, and applied it to Chemistry, that everyone would find this a lot easier.

So this probably didn't teach you HOW to do Stoichiometry, but hopefully, it demystified it a little bit.

Keep checking back for updated information and suggestions.
Also feel free to use the Amazon link (the black and white tax book picture) to buy things from Amazon (from which I get a cut) or to buy my tax books.

Unit 1 Test Prep:

Click here for my Test Prep Notes
Click here for the marked up Periodic Table

Keep checking back for updated information and suggestions.
Also feel free to use the Amazon link (the black and white tax book picture) to buy things from Amazon (from which I get a cut) or to buy my tax books.