Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Naps and Playtime... All in a Day's Work from Home.

Working from home is the greatest thing ever, but it is also kind of sad. We are fortunate enough to have an office in the house for just such use, but that is just where the problems begin.

Little guy, as many of you know is extremely active, and nearly impossible to slow down. We basically have to trick him into taking naps. He was driving his mom crazy, so I had him come into the office on Monday afternoon to sit in a chair in front of my desk and fold his arms. Literally 2 minutes later, he was out.

The biggest reason for this was probably less due to his fatigue, and more to do with the poor air circulation in the office. The A/C somehow doesn't seem to know where the office is, so it is pretty warm in there. Hopefully we can get this fixed as I have to run a huge area fan that makes it impossible to take conference calls. So yesterday when I had a call that lasted 90 minutes, I just had to sweat it out, which I might use as a weight loss strategy.

The absolute worst thing about working from home is that you get constant reminders that you would rather be doing something else. Fortunately I can't really put off working as it is non-stop all day long, but those reminders are relentless.

See Reminder #1 and Reminder # Trouble asking me for the 100th time on Tuesday if I can come out and play. Reminder #1 spent about 20 minutes trying to find a way to get in. I guess he thought that if he climbed higher, there would be no glass and he could just squeeze in.

It is so heartbreaking to have to look at them, point at the phone, and mouth the words "Sorry, Daddy's Working." Because you know, they can't talk or follow instructions, but they certainly can read lips, right?

Sometimes though they just wear you down. They give you sad little smiles and you just have to let them in. Twin # Trouble finally broke me down and I let him in.

I figured I could just go on "mute" and when I had to chime in with some of my typical "grand awe inspiring ideas" I would just take my chances that there wouldn't be any yelling from the kid or barking from the dogs because the kid is yelling at the dog.

So I did what ay good work from home dad would do, I pulled out the 100' measuring tape and let him go to town. This worked for Little guy on Monday before the sleep incident, and he managed to get about 75' out before I looked under the desk to the birds nest of a knot. I ven took a call while helping him reel it all back in.

If that doesn't make me the best multi-tasker in the world, I don't know what does.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Twin Caught by Surprise... Busted in Helmet Law Sting!

Let's have a chat about helmet laws. I kind of get it, "kind of." My best guess is that we make everybody wear helmets because the people too stupid to wear helmets on their own are probably too stupid to buy insurance. Meaning, requiring helmets is either a way to lower the overall cost to society because "we" don't have to pay for more expensive head surgeries, or because some Senator has a brother with significant stock holdings in several helmet companies.


But when do Helmet laws just become ridiculous? In many parts of the country, everybody is required to wear a helmet for even the most inane things. For instance, if you are a steel worker on the top beam of a sky scraper being built, why are you wearing a helmet? Who is going to drop something on your head, you are on top?

If you are competing in the X Games Moto X, why are you wearing a helmet? You just jumped 60 feet into the air, left your bike completely while doing a double back flip to superman no hands. The least of your problems is whether you remembered to wear a helmet, I'd actually be more worried about your mental condition, in fact, we should probably mandate no-helmets in these kind of events to let Darwin work his magic and weed these kind of people out of the gene pool.

Personally I favor letting people do their own thing. You want to stand up on your motorcycle, fine, without a helmet, even better. But what about our own kids? Should we make them wear helmets? Should we let political bureaucrats decide for us? When does this just become ridiculous?

Take this kid for instance (Twin # Trouble), he is a pretty little guy, so it probably makes sense to wear a helmet, but from what I have seen, the most dangerous thing about this scene, was watching him get up on the bike for which he needed elbow pads, knee pads, a face guard and more than likely the only thing that would have saved him would have been to turn him into a king mattress sandwich. After he got on the bike however, there was no way he could possibly fall over, he is more stable here than if he was standing on the Eiffel Tower.

Maybe if he was on a 2 wheeler mountain bike reluctantly agreeing to hit a crappy unstable jump over a creek on a dare because some other kid's dad was heckling him into it, only to watch that other kid's dad bolt the crap out of the woods as everyone including the trees buckled at the knees as they all went queasy in the stomach when they heard his collarbone snap like a Vlassic Pickle in one of those annoying daytime TV filler commercials. But this was clearly not that scenario, this was merely sitting on the bike as you can see, his feet don't even really reach the pedals, now I'm not sure what the law is here, I'll probably have to consult an attorney on this one just to make sure, but this doesn't seem to warrant a helmet.

Later though, he engaged in a less risky activity and thought he would be good to go without a helmet. Imagine his surprise however when his mom came bombing it across the 6 lanes of traffic in our cul-de-sac wearing an orange reflective vest, blowing her whistle and waving her arms. His expression here is priceless.

He was sitting in a little Playschool car! I understand there are safety and legal issues with this picture, and no doubt Twin # Trouble was aware of many of them. For instance this car has no seat belts, no floorboards (Fred Flintstone style),the rear-view mirror was a little sketch because it was just a silver sticker, probably doesn't have a catalytic converter, and the front windshield is missing. But none of these are a significant cause for alarm.

But he gets busted for not wearing a helmet. I'm not sure what the law is here either, but if it were me, I would probably determine that that huge red thing above his head is as much a helmet as he needs in this instance. Anything else is merely overkill.

To Twin # Trouble's dismay, his big brother Twin #1 was in fine form displaying his usual "I'm the safety conscious one who doesn't scare mom to death every minute that I'm awake."

Not only is he wearing a helmet, he is also using his hand to signal a left hand turn as depicted in the users manual under Chapter 4 Section 3 paragraph 9.2.1: "All users must verify in writing that they have read, understood and internalized heretofore mentioned signaling procedures to be used when operating, or otherwise interacting with aforementioned vehicle." I couldn't believe he wanted me to read that to him the night before instead of Goodnight Gorilla.

Next Twin # Trouble is going to have to wear a helmet to bed because he can now climb out of his crib.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Are You Not Entertained...? Warning - Human Interest Story.

Now I'm no host of "Entertainment Tonight" or "Best Week Ever" but tonight I was highly entertained and this was definitely one of the Pretty Goodest nights ever.

I decided to take a night of from snarky political and financial commentary to bring you a human interest story, kind of like the ones popping up in the "Lifestyle" section of the Wall Street Journal lately, by the way, what is up with that?

Wife took off to run and errand and take some time off from the insanity that she witnesses everyday in our chaotic world of energy filled little boys and dogs. Her Luxury Getaway tonight involved going to CVS to get some Hydrogen Peroxide to help ward off infection of her new battle scar from Wife v. Twin Battle Royal #1. You can see highlight photos on her private blog. So I had to bring my A game tonight, and I think I hit a solid single, and then Wife came home and hit one out of the park.

We started off with a pre-game show I like to call "See what I can get Twin # Trouble to do this time." Tonight I convinced Little Guy to put a bucket over his head and walk around like a robot. Then I handed Twin # Trouble a bucket, just to see what he would do. He after-all pretty much does whatever he sees Little Guy do, and he did not disappoint, he must have had this on his head for 10 minutes, giggling and banging out the outside of it like a drum.

After playing bucket-head, we went upstairs to the game room and played our newest favorite game, "ball rolling foot flick catching game thing". Wife tells me that playing with balls inside is not appropriate, but we have a game room, and game rooms traditionally are full of games played with balls, pool, pinball, ping pong, etc. I also get confused because we have an entire basket full of balls in that room.

So I have found a carve out exception to this rule for this new game that is pretty much just like playing a game of giant marbles but instead of flicking the marbles with your thumb, you use your feet to "flick" the ball across the room after it is rolled to you, and instead of trying to get the ball outside a circle, you run around the room in a circle like manner touching various "landmarks" and trying to get to a place called "the homestead."

All this while the other giant marble player tries to strategically place the ball on the runners "person", which in some cases has involved an overhand tossing motion in order to "jelly - bean" the runner before the homestead is reached rendering the runner "not in, but ___" you get the point. Wife has been informed of our ball rolling catching game thing and is giving it some careful consideration as to whether it meets the "not really an inside ball game" exception..

After a lot of "beaning" and "not in's" I handed out light sabers. This is where it gets interesting, this was the ultimate battle between good and not evil. These little guys showed amazing stamina and skill, even to the point that Little Guy was gaining strategic position by climbing on top of furniture to gain advantage, but then gets swatted in the ankles.

Twin #1 sin't the biggest fan of light sabers, so I was especially interested when he came running to his little brothers rescue with a 12" piece of Hot Wheels Track. (Now is the part where you look at the picture and say "ahhh, that is soooooo cute, and then post this story to your facebook).

This story has it all... Bucket Head, "Not Kickball" Indoors and Light Sabers,... and then wait for it... BOOM..., Wife got home and we Had SMORES! during which Twin #1 busted out another classic Desert Goatee! To see the classic "Oreo Goatee" go to and you will not be disappointed. I don't know how he does it, but every time we have desert, the food ends up in this exact same Joe Dirt style goatee mess.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama Credit for the Illiterate?... Barney Frank Saves the Super Bowl.

I had a few minutes to read the papers today (or whatever we call online news these days) and came across this article in the New York Times, White House Pares its Financial Reform Plan. The naive proposal in this article that caught my significantly un-sophisticated financial eye:

"An Obama proposal that Mr. Frank rejected would have required banks and other financial services companies to offer so-called plain vanilla products, like 30-year fixed mortgages and low-interest, low-fee credit cards."

Now many of you might be thinking, "That's Terrible!" We as Americans have a RIGHT to have easy to understand credit card terms and fixed rate mortgages, as well as easy to understand terms for Adjustable Rate Mortgages, Asset Backed Securities, Interest Rate Swaps, Currency Swaps, Credit Default Swaps, Collateralized Debt Obligations and Callable Convertible Euro-Yen Sushi Bonds. I say, thank goodness Barney Frank is taking million dollar BRIBES from the banks and shot this down, its the first decent thing he has done in 20 years.

My point here is, you don't have a right to easy to understand terms on any of these, and believe me, you wouldn't want to pay for those easy to understand terms even if you could get them.

For example, if I were to offer you a 1 paragraph term agreement for a credit card, here is basically what it would say:

You accept this credit card as consideration for a $2,000 annual fee, 35% APR and accept a lien against all property and purchases made on this card. In the event you miss your payment or charge over your limit, we will NOT charge you an extra fee (per Federal Statute Title 4, section 9, Article D, Paragraph, we will simply cancel your card and within 48 hrs we will send the guy to the left to repossess any and all property subject to lien and sue you for the balance minus 75% of your annual fee. Enjoy your card!

I can just see the Super Bowl commercials now. Sony 52" 1080i 4HDMI HD LCD TV, $3800. 36 Bags of Classic Nacho Doritos, $164, Our minimum wage illegal repo-man showing up on his $12 garage sale 1 speed banana seat beach cruiser to repossess your TV during the Super Bowl with Cleveland Browns down by 5 on the 4 yard line with 3 seconds left to play, Priceless.

All of the rest of the contract and legalese that you see now including the outrageous "hidden" over charge fees and late penalties allows you to enjoy sub 20% interest rates on the 11 maxed out credit card in your wallet. The 65 page loan agreement that you didn't read but let you have a 3.4% teaser interest rate on your 5 year ARM is the only thing that makes it possible for you to afford that McMansion you live in but could never pay for under a conventional mortgage because that would have been required you to prove that you have had a job in the last 5 years and require you to put 20% down and show that you are not spending more than 25% of your salary on housing costs.

Now, I don't have law degree form Harvard like Barack Obama, and I don't have a Nobel Prize in Economics like Thomas Friedman, but even a public school educated simpleton like me knows that you don't get something for nothing.

These two "geniuses" would argue that if "everyone" had access to hedge funds, exchange traded weather derivatives and dollar/yen low fee currency swaps, then everyone could vacation in the Hamptons and circle the world in this yacht (pictured above). FYI sirs, as we have learned over the past 2 years, if you promise people lavish rewards and don't make them take any of the risk (bailouts), they will just keep taking that same risk until you have "rewarded" us all into poverty. Hal Heaton could have told you that with his Euro-Yen Sushi Bond Buying Belgian Dentist tied behind his back!

By the way Mr. Friedman, just because you get a Nobel Prize doesn't mean you can abandon all of the hard work that got you the award and start spouting off irrational lunacy and expect to retain some modicum of respect, which is why you write for the Times and not the Journal. I just wanted to say that in case you happen to read my blog, which you should.

Brig Evades Clutches of IRS... Discovers Joy of Walmart!

I never thought I would know what it is like to have an 8-9 hr/day job as I have always worked at least 10 and often 12-16 hr days. And although I'm still skeptical that you can ever "make it" working such short hours, I am willing to give it a shot.

I was talking to wife tonight, and mentioned that I think this job might actually produce a future that I am excited about. In addition to working from home once a week, my schedule while absolutely hectic during office hours, doesn't require much after hours, so I get to, for the first time, separate my work life from my family life.

Now don't get me wrong, I've done pretty well in the past, and had a lot of awesome experiences, worked in several countries, helped multinational Fortune 100 companies "avoid" paying taxes by directing their profits into more favorable jurisdictions and out of the the evil clutches of the US Government and their favorite "repo-man" the IRS.

I remember the first time that I tried to explain to my Grandma what exactly it was that I did for a living, and I think she got really concerned about my ability to lead a healthy life outside of federal prison.

I'm "pretty sure" that everything I did was completely legal, but with the IRS and their shifting their ever positions, who knows. Prison for someone like me would have been minimum security anyway, so I could not only lower my handicap (they do have golf courses in min. security right?), but probably made good returns on my semi-illicit gains by stashing them in the Caymans until I got out of the "joint."

But the endgame of what I did before grad school was packing suitcases, that is,because there was an infinite number of companies that needed my services. So in the end it would have been packing up and moving every 2 years until a heart-attack took me or I somehow escaped the world of corporate restructuring. That's how I ended up getting an MBA, 2 year project ended in Omaha and it was time to move on, and I really didn't want to start the cycle all over again.

So I spent the last 2 years embracing life and enjoying my family. I still spent more time than I should have studying, but if you have read this blog for the last 2 years, you will know I spent 2 years hiking and climbing and snowboarding and got to do most of it with my Little Guy, and it was fantastic. I tried to talk Wife into letting me do a PhD, but she doesn't do well with poverty, so the party had to end, and I went out with a bang.

But now there are other things that excite me. Tonight I got home about 5:20, had breakfast tacos for dinner and headed out to Walmart with the family to get a reward for the little guy because he was PERFECT today on his first trip to the dentist. So I got to stand in the toy aisle describing over and over the difference between an F14, F15, F16, F18, Stealth Fighter, and SR71 Blackbird.

Wife thought the discussion was unnecessary, but little guy had a hard time deciding whether he wanted the best fighter, the fastest, the most stealthy, or the most politically controversial, including a discussion about how congress recently tried to save the F22 because parts of it are made in like 27 states and funded by spending pork and dedicated budget earmarks. Who knows, that one might be a collectors item.

He went with the SR71 Blackbird, because it was the fastest, in fact the top speed is classified if you watch Discovery Channel, but if you watch Discovery Wings, they think they know the top speed, but who knows right? He told no fewer than 10 random people of Walmart that he got "the fastest plane, with missiles."

However the besides getting to waste 2 hours walking around Walmart, the best part of my evening was that I got to waste walking around Walmart with a brand new shopping cart. FIRST USE!!! Do you understand what I am saying? It didn't have hardened gum stuck to one wheel making an unbalanced thud every revolution, it didn't have string wrapped all around a wheel, constantly pulling you to the right, or left, or whichever direction you don't want to go. The handle thing was clean, no rust, and the seat belt worked, so baby injuries could be kept to a minimum. Awesome, just awesome. You have to go to your Walmart and see if they have these, it was a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

REI Garage Sale Success... Brig Looks Good in Lycra Biking Shorts!

I went to the REI Garage Sale this past weekend, and it was a resounding success. Well, I din't buy anything exciting, but it sure was fun. I don't think I should post pictures of peoples faces, but I might re-think that because some of them were just classic.

There was the obligatory scout master, in near-full regalia. There was the chick weaving hemp necklaces with a freakin' huge ball of hemp cord, and the Che' T-Shirt wearing brigade was out in force. But not to be outdone by scouting and Che and hemp, the Chacos made an entrance in all styles and sizes. In this one picture, just of the people standing next to me, 3/4 of the people were wearing them, 4/5 if you include me. This was pretty representative of the group.

The thing that I love the best about standing/sitting in line waiting to get into the sale is the selection of reading material that people bring along. The guy in front of me probably fretted for hours over whether to bring the unabridged and unauthorized biography of Fidel Castro, or the Physics book (probably from last years intro class, and couldn't sell it back), he went with Physics. He was probably jealous that the girl 2 spots up went with Castro... "Boom"... In Spanish, ouch, better luck next time semi-long greasy hair sketchy goatee boy.

All I ended up with was a flint and steel fire starter thing (It's awesome BTW), a case for my Oakleys, and some new biking shorts. Sorry ladies, no pictures. I figured since I am hitting the gym and running, and throwing in some P90X here and there, I might as well get back on the bike too, so a little extra padding in the butt area is always welcome. I did the tie the pillow to the butt thing last week and got heckled by my neighbors, so I spent a few bucks, $8.83 to be exact.

Now many of you probably read my last REI Garage Sale Series and saw my big give-away announcement. The contest was to post the best backpacking story, and win a nearly-new pair of Lowa Renegade low top hiking shoes. Well, I got one story, and had to solicit it. Not a very "ethical blogger" thing to do, but I blame it on you, the reader for not hiking very much, you need to work on that.

So, HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT is to go for a day hike in the next 2 weeks. Now is an especially good time to go, when the weather is cooling down and the leaves are about to change colors, you will thank me for it. And I look forward to your comments and pictures of your trip. To encourage you to head out I am going to do another GIVEAWAY on October 5th. This time it will be a GIFT CERTIFICATE to one of my favorite restaurants, I will let you decide which one. All you have to do is go on a hike before October 5th, then leave a comment about your trip on my blog post that day, and I will randomly draw one commenter to win.

Here is the winning story, with actual photos printed by permission, "Shane" wrote:

"I found these big beefy brand new Nike hiking boots, so I brought them home with me. The next summer my dad, brother and I went to the Wind Rivers in Wyoming for a week, so I took these boots.

Halfway through the trip the sole started separating from the rest of the boot, so my dad pulled out his little bit of duct tape and we taped the sole to the boot. We had to redo this a few times over the course of the trip.

With two days to go, the other sole started separating. By this time the duct tape had run out, so we used bailing twine to hold the other sole to the boot.

When we got back to the truck at the end of the week I just walked over and dropped them in the garbage. I have a hard time buying anything Nike anymore."

Monday, September 21, 2009

BCS Surprise #1... Unversity of South America Takes Top Spot

So as I continue to remind many of you, I went to public schools. I should not be expected to know how to read a map, do math or know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. So, since I don't know anything about genetics either, except that supposedly my kid is supposed to look and act a little bit like me, what happened on Saturday came as no surprise.

Little Guy and I watched about 10 hours of College Football (capitalized because it is to be held sacred). He wanted to know "who is the Blue team?" and since there was no actual blue team on the field, I assumed he was referring to the Purple team, and told him "That's Washington." Then he wanted to know who the Yellow team was, I told him that that was the devils team, USC, who will probably burn for what they did in Columbus last week. He got confused, and then it hit him and he said, "Oh, they were the guys that beat up your Buckeyes!"

So, I had to send him to time out for the first time of the day. It was not looking good for him. I didn't actually send him to time out, but should have so that he could learn the principle of "respect."

Then he rambled on about how his mom and the babies are Cougars, and dad is a Buckeye, and he was a Husker, and how Uncle J and Uncle Z are both Longhorns. He also wanted to know why we had to stay home to watch football. I had no good answer for this one. Little guy loves going to football games. He still talks about the big tv's at the BYU game in Dallas against Oklahoma. And how he got to eat a hot dog.

He is actually really good at the games, he has a pretty high tolerance for long trips, and I was surprised that he didn't sleep at all on the way home from the BYU/OU game, but we had his Papa and Uncles with him, and he loves that.

But then the bomb hit and i knew it wall all down hill form here. I asked him, "Who is your favorite college football team?" to that he responded "South America."

What, who?

I said, "The University of South America?" He said, "Yep, they are the best!" to which I replied, "Better than the Buckeyes?" he says, "The Buckeyes are dogs."

So, that is strike 2 and 3. Then as I was about to tell him how there was no University of South America, he said, "Dad, who is South America Playing today?" to which I replied, "I don't think they are playing ever again, they got caught trying to smuggle some high grade mary jane into Oklahoma in their helmets when they got caught in a tornado and whisked off to the Emerald Kingdom to fight the Transformers."

So his eyes get all big, and with a really confused look on his face he said, "Ok, I guess we can watch that then."

I love my kid, but the only way he is going to become as smart as his mom is if we ship him off to boarding school on the East Coast and well outside the influence of my public school education.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wife Endorses Language Training... Kid Makes Break For It

Over at, you may have read a touching "human interest" story about a boy and his joyful play in the rain. In fact, those facts were distorted. As you can clearly see, this kid is making a break for it!

Unable to stay inside any longer being subjected to "reading," "drawing letters," and "counting," my Little Guy decided to make a break for it and escape the multi-lingual clutches of Dora the Exploradora and her relentless quest to ensure that all little kids entranced by her whimsical adventures, talking animals, catchy and often educational songs, be able to count to ten in Spanish by age 3. Now I guess it is easier to learn a language when you are that young, but what do we really expect of our kids?

Our kids are taking Spanish classes from Dora, Diego and Handy Manny, then they have to rush off to take Chinese Classes from Kai-Lan. I am getting comfortable with the idea of early childhood language education because lets be honest, China practically owns the US anyway, so why not assimilate, and in at least 3 US states, Spanish might as well be the official language.

Wife purportedly speaks French, and I claim on my resume to have a pretty good handle on Spanish [all of Wife's stories of our trip to Mexico aside]. I can pretty much handle my own there.

So what is a boy to do? You strap on your Shark Boots and you high-tail it out of there, especially when you know that your mom can't catch you anyway and you are pretty sure that she already spent an hour on her hair and no way will she even try to follow you.

My only advice to the Little Guy is, you better start training hard, I hear your mom is going running at the gym 3 days a week, and she is going to be able to catch you soon! So be free while you still can because if she catches you, she is probably going to make you learn Hungarian, and nobody should be subjected to that!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brig Plays Tranny Hooker... Gets Low Rate Mortgage from ACORN

Prices of homes are dropping like a rock, so obviously I want to get a piece of the action before the party is over. The one hiccup in my plan is the banks. For some reason, they have stopped loaning money to average Americans. Somehow, they sold one too many bundled mortgages and credit default swaps and all of a sudden only corrupt senators can get a decent interest rate.

First, I went to Goldman Sachs to get some financial advice and maybe a home loan, but they turned me away because I don't happen to have 100 Million Dollars to make it worth their time to talk to me (apparently they are only interested in my bail-out-bucks).

Next, I went down to talk to my local tax adviser PriceWaterhouseEarnst&KPMGDeloitte to see if I could get some tax advice, but they wanted to charge me $450/hr just to show me a copy of a tax form that I can get at the Post Office for Free.

Finally, I have decided to do what any committed husband and father would do for his family, I am headed to my local ACORN office (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) for some free advice. If its good enough for President Obama, it's good enough for me.

I got the idea from Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, 2 punk kids with a crappy camcorder and a fake fur (Pictured Right). These kids posed as a Pimp and Hooker and walked into ACORN offices and learned how to to get a low interest government home loan so that they could upgrade from their current pay by the hour motel stays to the American Dream of owning their own McBrothel in the Burbs.

They even learned how to claim their imported El Salvadorian 13 year old sex slaves as dependents so that they could lower their tax bills. Now that is change we can believe in, no longer are complicated tax scams for the rich bankers, we as average American can pose as Pimps and Hos to get in on the action too!

Since the Pimp and Ho act has already been done, I decided to go as a Tranny Hooker. This works for me because:

1. I don't know anyone with even a fake fur coat to loan me for the classic Pimp look, and

2. Wife told me under no circumstances was she going to have anything to do with my plan (to help the children have a nicer home in which to lie their sweet heads at night.)

3. Truth is, I just really wanted to boost my Google Rating by having her pose in the Hooker getup for today's blog post, hey, this stuff drives traffic to the site. But you'll just have to trust me, she would have been hot! However you will just have to settle for a picture of me in drag.

4. Tranny is easy. Just throw a frilly scarf over whatever you are wearing to hide the adams apple, chick sunglasses, a beret or other outrageous hat to give off the "european elite" flair, a pair of heels and top it off with the gloves to cover the man hands, and you are good to go. I had to do go with Burton snowboarding mittens cause that is all I had handy, and wife threatened to kill me if I put my "big gross feet" in her shoes she would kill me, but hey, even chicks carry their shoes sometimes.

I'm not too worried too much about my cover being blown because from what I can tell from the sophistication of most ACORN workers, you could just show up to their office with blood on your hands and they would get you a government grant to buy a shovel and tell you where and how to bury the body, so my story probably wouldn't raise any red flags.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kanye Disses Brig... IKEA Exposed as Tax Cheat!

So there I was, minding my own business and trying to make sense of the normally incomprehensible DIY diagrams when this Hennessey swigging Hip Hop "Artist" busts into my office and grabs the Allen Wrench out of my hand and starts yelling to the audience of none that Home Depot bookshelves are the best shelves in the world and certainly better than IKEA bookshelves because he saw them himself and the man on the street can't even pronounce the names of anything from IKEA.

Then, to top it all off, he goes off on some rant about how Beyonce could "back that up" (I'm paraphrasing) and that she can put my bookshelves together better than I can. But I don't protest because for the first time ever, I found some ready to assemble stuff that was actually so easy to put together, a caveman could do it, which means Beyonce probably could too because ALL OF THE PARTS WERE THERE! This is a big deal.

But in the moment, all that is going through my head is that, holy crap, Kanye is in my house and he is drunk off his butt, he now has a weapon (Allen Wrenches are considered weapons under the rules of several "no tolerance" policies in some local school districts, probably where Kanye is from, because lets be honest, I live in Texas and 2nd graders are taught to shoot people in gym class and 6th grade take turns "flipping the switch" on a non-working electric chair where the teacher makes the school bully sit (who will probably end up in "old sparky" anyway given that Texas executes like 300 people a week.)

Anyway Kanye is using a bottle of Jackie D as a microphone and swinging the Allen Wrench over his head like a lasso pretending its a Moonman for best actor in a video that was deemed "creative" because one of the ho's in the video actually had clothes on.

And them I'm thinking, maybe Kanye has a point. At least Home Depot is a taxable domestic corporation. Ikea is nothing but a foreign non-profit semi-co-op franchise that funnels all of its profits through a complex web of partnerships, LLCs and family trusts in a way that would make John Gotti, the entire Gambino Crime Family and even Charlie Rangel (D, NY) blush.

To top it all off, before all of the craziness started at home, when I went to IKEA to pick up the shelves I get to the parking lot and find this crazy Hybrid Vehicle parking sign. Now I don't know if you have ever gone to IKEA, but everything comes in a flat pack box, and most of the boxes are huge.

Can someone with a Prius tell me how the crap you are going to get a sofa into your car? Wait, let me guess, you either take your real car (the one you don't show to your "thinking" friends) when you go to IKEA, or you scam a friend with a real car into taking you.

So, totally out of the blue, Wife says, "Wouldn't it be totally funny if we parked the LandCruiser in that spot?" Which is totally funny because the Cruiser gets maybe 12 MPG, and I swear just last week I saw it using a Prius to sop up the gas that just spills onto its bumper when double fisting gallons of Mid-Grade.

So to Kanye I say, "I feel you brother, and you can EXPEDIT your BILLY BESTA BJURSTA out of my house before I BERGSBO GRANEMO your ASPVIK...!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Child Labor Uncovered… Brig’s Discovers Cure for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome!

Have you noticed how much easier it is to employ child labor when you don’t have the Human Resources manager checking up on you 10 times a day? Those guys are a total Buzz Kill. I tried explaining to HR that I can lower my golf handicap a lot faster if I didn’t have to be at the office so much.

I presented them my strategy of using children with extremely limited vocabularies to do a lot of work that nobody else wants to do anyway, but they got all OSHA regulation “this” and UN Treaty on Child Labor “that” and a bunch of crap about human rights dumped on me. I mean most Federal Prosecutors aren’t going to get a grand jury indict anyone on a statement of “aggghessh shooosee dadada.”

So you can appreciate my excitement when I walked into my office to find this little munchkin running the Health Care Pricing Desk for a Fortune 50 technology company. What was even more exciting was that he was doing it way better than I do. After only 5 unattended minutes, he was offered a promotion; glass walled office, 2 administrative assistants and unlimited bathroom breaks (because seriously, how could you stop him anyway right?).

So you are thinking, how did Brig pull this off. I did something radical this week; I worked from home for the first time… EVER. I have never been a fan of working from home, just like I had never been a fan of sushi, UNTIL I ACTUALLY TRIED THEM. Working from home is the greatest thing ever, much like sushi is the greatest thing ever.

You cut your commute time to 1 minute, you can go out for lunch to the kitchen bistro, and when you get ready to go home, you don’t have to wait for your boss to get into a conversation with another colleague and then duck down to keep your head below the top of the cubicle walls so he doesn’t see you sneaking out the back doors right at 5.

The perks keep on coming. And, if that wasn’t enough, you get “HELPERS.” At least until my wife lets me use derogatory terms on my blog, “HELPER” is how I am going to refer to Twin #Trouble. Twin #1 has been showcased here several times, but Twin #Trouble is a whole different ball game.

This little “HELPER” bee-lines it for my office anytime I even think about leaving the door open. He runs in, climbs up on my chair, and then starts banging on my keyboard. The only good thing about this is that he works for Cheerios and I don’t have to pay him extra for the enthusiasm (or overtime, workers comp, benefits, etc.)!

I did this photo in Black and White and pixelated so that I can get a good idea of what the Wall Street Journal photo will look like when they run the headline: Brig Gets 25 Years for Running Child Labor Ring.

All the chaos created by Twin # Trouble aside, I had to do a substantial amount of work with this little guy on my lap, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Recession Worsens... Hot Wheels Sees Slump in Luxury Autos

Hot Wheels is seeing a downturn in the movement of Luxury and high end sports cars according to Hot Wheels expert Twin #Trouble. On news of the recent downtrun, Twin # Trouble said, "aaaaaghaa shoooose dadada." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Normally, on Saturday morning as Wife heads off for her weekly getaway vacation extravaganza otherwise known as "grocery shopping," I play a game with the boys. It is one of our favorite games, here's how it goes:

We go upstairs and I open Little Guy's closet door and grant access to the Hot Wheels cache. We probably only have a 100-150 hot wheels, but we have a pretty nice assortment.

Then I let the boys into the closet and tell them to find the best car and bring it to dad. This is where the excitement begins. Twin # Trouble usually tries to dump out all of the cars and sit in the car basket while the other two start to rummage for their favorite cars. Then they each bring me a car in hopes that I give them praise for their wisdom and automotive insight.

Normally, this process involves the delivery of Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari with the occasional Chevelle and Corvette.

Unfortunately even the children are feeling the effects of the economic slump, and in classic Reaganomic fashion, that slump is trickling all the way down to Hot Wheels bottom line.

Today was a sad day. Twin #1 showed up with an old 86 Mercedes E Class, with a broken windshield, paint worn and faded from being left out in the elements for the last 15 years. Twin # Trouble brought me an old El Camino, and not becasue he has been brainwashed by that little Latin activist Dora the Exploradora, he just knew that it would probably be best under these uncertain times that our 99 cents doesn't go as far as it used to.

Little Guy, probably the highlight of my day, found a partially restored, partially ghetto-fied 1970 Road Runner. Although probably used in a convenience store robbery and stripped of its VIN, it was still the glimmer of hope in this otherwise bleak toy auto crisis.

Who knows, maybe the government will soon announce a cash for clunker Hot Wheels deal and we will be able to trade in these old beaters for a couple of Honda Civics and and Ford F-150.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Suburban Warfare... Mission Accomplished!

There is a war in the suburbs, it is a war fought with 5-8 horsepower tanks with Apache helicopter like blades whirring beneath them. On the front lines you see men, covered in sweat battling it out in the weeds cutting down their overgrown opponents with their plastic and titanium corded flamethrower.

And let’s not pretend that it is not a war, it is a contest of skill, planning, advantage and strategy. To the victor goes the spoils, and the spoils of this war are more than mere bragging rights. Every visitor that comes down the block knows instantly who is the victor, the most decorated and battle hardened general in what we affectionately call the Lawn War.

As many of you may know, we recently moved into a new house. It is in a pretty nice neighborhood, on a quiet cul-de-sac and backs up to a green belt. For those of you that don’t know, a green belt is just a patch of undeveloped land, set aside by the city/state. A green belt doesn’t have to be an area of flowing grass and trees, in fact most of them are just desert and weed areas, ours happens to be really nice.

But there is one thing that is driving me crazy. It is the next door neighbors. You may look around and see a peaceful community, but the war is still being fought every week. On one side of me is a neighbor that always makes me look good by only mowing his yard every couple of weeks.

On the other side, I have my nemesis. This guy mows his lawn like clockwork. In fact, the first time I met him, he basically threw down the gauntlet by telling me how, even though he is an uber-busy attorney; he comes home early every Thursday to mow his lawn. A bold challenge, no niceties, no negotiation, a simple unadulterated declaration of war.

My first thought was, “retreat, he has won, he has the ethic, the training and the means of winning this war.” My second thought was:

“Aha!!” I have already won and he doesn’t even know it!

I didn’t even have to dig or prod, electrocute or water-board him in order to get this most vital piece of neighborly intelligence. You see, he mows his lawn on Thursday. To the simpleton, this bit of information means nothing, but to a seasoned lawn warrior like me, it is the only piece of information that I need. I have found my enemies weakness, the chink in his armor, the hole in his battle line.

What does this mean? It means that I mow my lawn on Saturday morning. Drive by any day of the week except Friday and you will see that I have won. My lawn looks a day and a half better than his, at all times. And my enemy has acknowledged the weakness of his kingdom and his inevitable utter defeat.

My nemesis has adjusted his strategy several times over the last 6 weeks, but I have outflanked him every time. he moved to Friday, then Saturday and then the following Monday. I have him on the run, he is frightened, and his strategy is in total disarray. I am hesitant to declare "Mission Accomplished" but I believe the end is near. I can all but touch VICTORY!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Brig Proves Dorkhood... Google's Self! Disturbed by Results.

I have never proclaimed to be one of the cool kids, in fact I didn't even get the generic version of Velcro shoes until 2 years after they were cool. So it should come as no surprise to learn that when I got bored yesterday, I googled myself. Don't point fingers and laugh, many of you are friends of mine, meaning that you are at least 1/2 uncool, and about 63% likely to google yourself at any given time.

However, if you google yourself, BE PREPARED to be SURPRISED by what you may learn. I am serious, if you think that you know everything about yourself, think again. If you have secrets, think again. If you think that Google couldn't catch and reveal even the slightest error in judgment, think again. You cannot run, you cannot hide, Google will hunt you down and expose you.

I was not prepared, and in fact, Google has outed me. I have spent so much time living a lie that I convinced myself that my past could never catch up with me. I mean, who would have known? It's not like I brag about this, I brag about a lot of stuff like how my kids are cuter than yours, or how I weigh twice as much as you but can still run 5 miles, that's normal everyday me. This revelation is not something that I am proud of, but since it is out there, here it is:

Apparently, I am a semi-renowned authority on functional obsolescence and the economics of economic obsolescence. So if you have any property tax valuation issues, I would be more than happy to talk to you about talking to someone who actually knows what they are talking about. So, this was a revelation... I had no idea that I had been published. I mean I always thought that people should be forced to pay for my writing on subjects such as why you look like a dork wearing Hush Puppies, or why you should probably set up a Swiss IP holding structure, rather than an Irish non-resident IP holding company in Bermuda, but I guess this you have to give the people what they want to read. right?

Can any of my lawyer readers tell me if it is legal to publish someone's work, without telling them in one of the most respected industry publications in all of Tax (it is so respected that during my tenure as a tax geek, I didn't happen to read this or any other articles they published)

The publication of this article, while a shock does not compare to this bigger problem:

I have been outed as a former Graduate Student at the University of Wisconsin (although true)! I have tried for years to avoid this subject during casual dinner conversation, as this certainly will not help my "cool" factor currently hovering the 48 percentile range. I mean, Wife freaks out every time we are out together and meet new people when they ask, "what do you do for a living?"

My normal response is that I am proudly serving my country as an Astronaut (in one of the black op's astronaut programs, which is why you have never heard of me.) She usually lets me go on for a couple minutes so that I can develop my social skills, but that development stops instantaneously when she outs me. People actually get a horrified look on their faces and back away quickly when they find out that i am a tax geek, nix that, REFORMED tax geek, as I no longer "practice."

The cool thing about this is that I am a published writer, which makes me at least as cool as Rob Wells, probably cooler since my writing (before really close inspection and peer review exposes me closer to Piltdown Man than to Gravity) is Non-Fiction. So, i can probably start charging people to read my drivel.

Lesson: If you don't know yourself better than Google knows you, BEWARE!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

College Football AP Poll Changed Mid-Week... #1 OU Given Pre-emptive Win Over Idaho State

AP has confirmed (to nobody) a mid-week rank change to reflect the consensus OU pre-emptive win over Idaho State. OU to be declared #1.

So we all know the story of #3 OU getting beat by #20 BYU this past weekend. BYU went from #20 to # 9, and OU went from #3 to #13. Given that OU now has a worse record than 1/2 of all teams in college football, and that includes Divisions 2 and 3, and even most high-schools, they should be ranked somewhere in the 40-50 range.

However, this is not an ordinary college football team, this is "the" (not "The", and in The Ohio State University) University of Oklahoma. This being the case the AP has decided to REVISE ITS RANKINGS MID-WEEK by granting OU a PRE-EMPTIVE WIN over Idaho State (possibly to played this weekend, unless the BCS declares the game a "gimmie" and just airs an old OU championship game instead to show how awesome OU is and how inevitable a win would be if they did play.)

According to BCS Coordinator John Swofford, the OU - BYU game will officially be counted as a MULLIGAN for OU by saying (not really), "This was the first game of the season, we can't expect all teams to win their first game, there are kinks to be worked out of offenses and bench order to be sorted out, OU will be given a mulligan for this game, and we are meeting with the athletic directors of major conferences and senior Obama officials to decide whether OU will be eligible for another mulligan if they happen lose to Idaho State this weekend, that is, if we decide they have to play that game as we have already granted a pre-emptive win in an emergency vote last night."

OU lost their last bid for a "gimme" against BYU even though they had been granted their pre-emptive win by all major sports commentators. However OU screwed up and decided to play the game anyway, against the advice of OU's athletic director Joe Castiglione (Pictured Left). Castiglione told the AP (not really) that OU should "not be forced to play these hack schools, just to prove that they are the best in the country, a simple win over Texas Tech should do it, because Tech beat Texas, and Texas beat a lot of really good schools." He went to note that "In fact a loss to Texas was meaningless, because of the Tech Game, that was more important."

In fact, it is being reported that if OU loses any games this season, they will be re-played on XBox 360 in order to confirm that the loss was legitimate, and if they lose the first game on the XBox, it will go to best of 3. If they still haven't won, the game will then be played on the PS3, as it was probably a software issue tied to a Microsoft bias error.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Oreo World Premier... The Oreo "Norca"

I would like to introduce, for the first time ever seen, The Oreo "Norca © 2009." No, this has nothing to do with the Norwegian Killer Whale Project or the series of cameras made by the French society FAP. It is a triple decker Oreo, but don't call it that, when I said, "Hey, Little Guy, you just made a triple decker Oreo!," I was promptly and matter of factly corrected, "No dad, it's not a triple decker Oreo, it is a Oreo Norca!"

Little kids rock. They can make up stupid stuff and people call it cute. "Oh, look at little Jonny, he's eating glue, quick, take a picture!" or "Hey, little Mikey is putting a hat on the dog, quick, take a picture." But if I do anything, even the silliest thing like take a dare to drink a gallon of milk in an hour, and keep it down, or fake swallow my kids favorite blanket until he cries, and I'm just considered "stupid" and "mean spirited" (which may be true, but not for these reasons.) I see a huge double standard!

So Nabisco, take note! If you want to mix it up a little, start getting creative with your cookies! I can't believe you didn't think of this by yourselves. I mean seriously, everybody else offers a multiple decker, the Big Mac, the Double Whopper, the double/triple layer cake. So get with it, cause who knows if you are going to be the firstto do the quadruple!

By the way, this, I found out, is the proper way to eat an Oreo Norca. This is a Norca classic drenched in milk. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Recession hits U. Oklahoma... Can't Buy an Offense!

Bob Stoops (OU Football Coach) is rightfully mad, he dug deep. He pulled all the lint out of his pockets, rummaged through the couch cushions, raided his kids penny jar, and shook down the Sooner boosters in a shady back room money grab for a bunch of kids that couldn't make the grades to get into high school graduation, let alone college. But nothing Bob could do could BUY HIM AN OFFENSE last night! And I know, I was there live (not the back room deal, I'm talking about the the game in Cowboy Stadium).

Now I know that Bradford (OU quarterback) got hurt, and that is a tragedy, I want to win against a team with all of their best standing on the field, but even he was neutralized because his coach went cheap on "the help" otherwise known as the offensive line.

The stadium however, was spared no expense. It was a monolith to excess, wealth and largess. I mean, look at these seats we had, from left to right, this is my brother-in-law, my brother, and my father-in-law in yellow apparently rooting for the giraffes. For $35, Cowboy Stadium will let you stand to watch the game, it is like their very own poverty tour!

In fact, I was waiting for Jerry Jones (Cowboys owner) to take the field, point directly to US and sing "We Are the World." Then take my kid by the hand (the one without the $6 hot dog in it, see below) and tell him that if he works really hard, takes a lot of steroids and pays someone to take his SATs for him, someday too he can move from the floor to the field. The floor aside, we had pretty good "seats" or vantage point as the case may be. We each took turns "up front." watching a perennially over-ranked Oklahoma struggle to gain any positive yardage, or do anything impressive that would let you think that they should be heralded in any way as a contender.

I do have to say, I was completely disappointed with the "Jumbo-tron." It was big. It was freaking huge, but it lacked all attention to detail. It really looked more like a big movie screen being projected on than anything. The sides were just canvas covered, and mostly see-though, totally not worth the hype.

In the end, BYU beat down Oklahoma 14-13. This must be a bad day for Sooner fans as they outnumbered BYU fans 10-1. I was surprised though, most of the OU fans, on the way out of the stadium, were very congratulatory, nothing like what I expected. There was more "good game" than jeers.

The best part of the evening was after all of the rich people left, we weaseled our way down to the good seats for a chance to experience this guy's blue mohawk. Little guy was so excited to finally get a taste of the good life, and he gave the universal sign for "score"!!! Now, we got ours, yeah, we had front row seats for the real action, the Grounds Crew Clean-Up Spectacular! Don't need an $800,000 Luxury Suite for that!

So all I have to say after a great evening of BYU stomping on OU in the best opener of the year: "GO BUCKEYES!!!"