Benabik Alvar (benabik) wrote,
Benabik Alvar
benabik

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Taxes, Money, Productivity, and Fourth Ed.

The tax man giveth, and the tax man taketh away. Mostly the second.

You may be receiving a refund this April, but one of the "joys" of self-employment is a complete lack of automatic withholdings. I get my entire gross earnings every paycheck, and have to deal with calculating, saving, and mailing out my estimated taxes every quarter. (Not every three months, but that another rant entirely.)

And because I'm still somewhat new at this, I had been underpaying the estimate because I expected that my house would bring down my tax bill. Not anywhere near enough. So I owe them money for last year, and the taxes for the first quarter of this year is due as well. Fun combination of things that mean way too much money flowing out of my accounts.

Joy.

At least I'm getting that "economic stimulus" check later... Which I'll probably just invest instead of spending like the good little consumer they want me to be.

Speaking of which, I found what appears to be a quick and easy way to do some investing. (Well, btoblake found it, but let's not quibble over details.) Treasury Direct is run by (surprise) the Treasury Department and provides a completely fee-free way to buy treasury bills and bonds. I'm going to be buying T-bills through it soon because of the following:
  • My bank's savings accounts make 0.25% APR.
  • CDs through them make 1.5% APR and lock my money away for 6 months.
  • CDs require a minimum investment of $1,000.
  • T-Bills come in increments of $100
  • T-Bills can be bought for as little as 4 weeks.
  • T-Bills seem to be averaging 1.5% APR.
For those not financially inclined, that means that with only a little bit of effort I can make many times what my savings account gives me, and I can do it without the large amounts of money or fees that the bank wants. I don't see much of a downside here, other than perhaps the fact that it requires more effort.

Of course, inflation is currently running around 4%. So I get screwed no matter what... But that's the downside of all of the rate cutting the Fed has been doing for the last few years.



I've had a productive day today... Dealt with money matters, got a cat toy (the same one elasmo has, and the kitties love it), got anti-scratching stuff for my nice chairs, did laundry, did dishes, installed a magnetic latch on the cabinet door the cats keep opening to eat the toilet paper inside... And I've been doing some work too!

It's a big multi-tasking day. Also been listening to music in the background, adding ratings and lyrics to the songs. Good stuff.



Ran a D&D 4th ed mini-adventure called Raiders of Oakhurst, made by a crazy guy over at EN World. It went pretty well. As far as I could tell, the players had fun. We went through about four encounters in four or five hours. Which I think is pretty good considering that: (I'm in a list mood today)
  • I was the only one familiar with the rules
  • We had a complete D&D newbie in the group.
  • One of the encounters had something like two dozen participants (in a couple of waves, but still).
  • The last encounter was a dragon three levels higher than the party.
darkvalor commented that there was a little of an MMORPG feel with the marks and powers on various "cooldowns", but that that wasn't necessarily a bad thing (since both of us rather liked WoW for a while). Everyone said that their characters seemed "too cool" for first level. Too many hit points and too many neat options for that early... And that's good by me. First level was boring and fragile in 3.x.

From the DM's side, I never quite felt overwhelmed. Changing effects with durations to saving throws reduced the book keeping. Minions make things interesting without being complicated. The simple stat blocks are a breeze to use. Everything is attack roll and then damage roll, so there's no getting everyone to save against something or waiting to calculate DCs. Action points are there to allow the dramatic moments, try that attack again, or just let you get into the fight faster. Crits simply maxing damage with no confirmation rolls or figuring out what to double sped things up too. And the healing surges gave everyone more healing than a 3.x Cleric at that level would have, so it wasn't fight, sleep, fight, sleep. Oh, and ranged healing as a minor action allows the cleric to do something interesting with his time!

The dragon was interesting without having a huge pile of spells or attacks. He only had four powers, and used them to good effect. Opened with a breath weapon and cloud of darkness. That scared the party to get them running. He followed, but then got flanked. Used the breath weapon a couple more times, but rolled too badly to hit most of them. Was trying to run away (wasn't really dying, but took more damage than it cared to), and when the flanker finally got out from behind it, it used its frightful presence (now an attck) and flew away like the wind.

All in all, I am pleased and am looking forward to getting that boxed set in the mail. I may post a detailed playtest report later tonight... But don't count on it.
Tags: 4th ed, chores, dnd, money, taxes
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