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Texas Jeff

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  1. Can't believe I used to park there for the low low price of a C permit. I could only dream about parking in the one luxurious garage on campus. Enrollment since then has grown so much ... like a total of about 0% over decades.
  2. I checked that site against my tax receipt for last year and it was accurate to the penny. IMHO, the "no new revenue" number is designed to make you mad. You think "oh, that's the base from last year" but that number does not include anything for inflation. They then show you the proposed rate and it's higher and folks get mad. Taxes go to pay teachers, police, fire, EMS and it's reasonable that they would get raises to at least keep up with inflation. My wife is teaching and she's getting a sweet 2% bump, so with 8% inflation she and her fellow teachers are really making about 5% less than they did last year.
  3. Decided to watch Poseidon, the 2006 remake of The Poseidon Adventure. Quit halfway through. Do not watch this movie. I almost always make it to the end of movies, even bad ones, but this one sucked. Made 2012 look like a study in reasonable plot development. I would have continued watching if, just once, Richard Dreyfuss would have said "I was in Jaws goddamit, what am I doing in this piece of crap?"
  4. Has UT done anything to recognize Martinez, Crum and McCoy? Martinez's story is pretty amazing. I always thought he was responding to the scene with the intent of confronting the shooter. But in reality he called in to see if he could help and they sent him to campus to work traffic. Here's an excerpt from https://towerhistory.org/profiles/ray-martinez/
  5. Legal question: If Georgia elects Walker, can they trade him to Minnesota for twenty other Senators?
  6. I went through grand jury selection in January. Everyone showed up in zoom and they checked attendance. We all had a number assigned which was maybe 1-100 or so. The judge asked us if anyone wanted to be excused and maybe 60 zoom hands were raised. We went through all of that one by one and some people had legit excuses and some were hilarious. One guy said he was a big cheese at the Texas Lottery and serving for a few hours a few times a week would jeopardize the Texas Lottery. It was at that moment that I remembered Texas has a lottery. Once all of the excused folks were gone, they took a short break, came back and announced the winners. No questioning of the candidates other than "do you have a reason not to do this?" Lots of winners from the early numbers and a few more scattered from later numbers -- this was probably done to "balance" the jury so that different groups had representation, but that's just a guess. If you weren't picked (and I was not), the judge said thanks for your service and that was that. It was three hours on zoom listening to some people with real hardships and some people that just wanted out.
  7. Unrestricted access to firearms has led us to a point where one disturbed young person can obtain enough firepower to simply erase a roomful of people in minutes. This should not be possible. Uvalde's "well regulated militia" arrived within minutes with more people and guns that the perp, but cowardly refused to take action. This isn't just a today thing ... Whitman happened 50 years ago but now we have cameras showing us what this looks like. Imagine what it looked like in the room. Early on, the video has pop-ups every few seconds that say "audio has been muted to remove sounds of children screaming". That is horrible. So stop it already. Rapid fire weapons should NOT be available to the public. Clearly the police are afraid of one person with such a weapon and their response is to do nothing or run away. From children trapped in a room. Even after an hour of getting reinforcements, you see police running away when the shooting starts at the end. Horrible. I was always wary of the need for school ISD police departments. I'm now convinced that they have no value and should be disbanded. Give money to the teachers or just put in enough doors so that kids can run for their lives. Every school has a few kids that are a little outside the envelope and *could* take a turn towards school shooter. A lot of times, teachers and students see this happening and know who these kids are years before they act out. We should be trying to help these kids earlier in life and make darn sure that they are kept far far away from guns and ammo.
  8. No one is going to use that Travis Heights station. There is zero density there. To the north, there is one street and then the lake. There are a few residential streets to the south, but the road leading south goes up a hill. It's a very suburban-ish neighborhood. They are putting a station there because it's a wide spot in Riverside drive.
  9. The little munchkins have time on their side, and plenty of it. If money doubles every 7 years or so, they might have 6 or 7 doubling periods until they need the money. Even if they eek out 5 doubling periods accounting for inflation, that's still $32 in future bucks for every $1 invested today. If you invest in a Roth, all of that money is tax free and they get to choose when in later life to withdraw it -- after reaching certain ages. Money invested prior to age 30 has a much larger impact than money saved after that. Plus, your kids have the advantage of watching that account grow during their 20's, when they are like to just blow their newly found income. Watching that growth can have a big impact on their desire to save while they're young, when it matters most.
  10. Your wife's friends Edward Jones husband is all about getting your money under his management so that he can take a slice each year, or upfront, or both. Run away... 529's are easy. Pick a state (we picked Utah, does not have to be your state). Pick an asset allocation ... basically conservative/moderate/aggressive. Invest and forget about it until they are approaching college age. The best part about the 529 was that it was there when our kids headed to college. We didn't suddenly have another payment to make, we just started pushing the withdrawal button on the 529 website.
  11. In my mid-50's and I was a toddler in the 60's, so I missed that. Amazingly, I only missed school segregation by 10 years. Seems crazy now .. by the time I was in elementary school no one talked about it. I started paying attention to the world around the end of the Ford administration. I knew Nixon was bad and Ford looked clumsy. People around me genuinely supported Carter and, four years later, were pretty enthusiastic about Reagan. The same people. It was OK to switch your vote. There wasn't much of a divide and no one talked about red or blue states. Everyone hated the Soviet Union and were kinda afraid of getting nuked. The Supreme Court seemed to be the place to go when America needed rights expanded. We studied landmark cases in school and the common theme seemed to be expansion of liberty and freedom and rights to groups that the founders would have never conceived of, but now in the "modern" 70's and 80's the Supremes were wiser and could stretch the Constitution to cover those people. At least that's what it looked like to me. The country was getting a lot cleaner, thanks to the EPA. People used to throw trash in the street. Street corners had piles of cigarette butts and soda cans. Within a few years, I remember trash going way down. Trash cans all said "Pitch in!" and kids would run around finding trash for the trash can. Big cities were filled with smog. No one spent a minute on a web site, or on a phone, or tweeting stuff. We didn't even have cable. We thought the microwave was a miracle invention. Suddenly we had VCRs and cordless phones. Every new invention was attributed to the success of the space program. I think, at least in the 70's and 80's, we all had a big common enemy that could kill us anytime they wanted. Strangely, that may have kept us together. I saw the Berlin Wall fall on TV and just could not believe it .... here comes worldwide peace! Not... I think the country started splitting shortly after the USSR broke up and it's gotten worse over time. I don't think the country is really that split. I think if you have a flat on a roadside at night you're still likely to get help from a stranger. But I do think that the people that ARE the dividers have figured out how to get power and most of us are watching them duke it out.
  12. Last night was my first time picking up at ABIA post-COVID. What an experience... My wife's flight was two hours delayed, so I pulled into the cell phone lot at fifteen minutes 'till midnight. The place was packed. I was lucky to find a parking spot. The cell phone lot has bloomed into a gas station, a convenience store, and a Whataburger with a drive through. The gas pumps were packed and the Whataburger drive through was backed up into the main lot, blocking traffic. Who decides to head out to the airport for some midnight burgers? Five minutes after I parked, an 18-wheeler pulled into the cell phone lot and completely screwed up the traffic. WTF? I had questions for the driver like why are you picking someone up at the airport in a giant truck, but a small mob of blocked in drivers convinced the dude to leave, which he did once the Whataburger drive-through line gave him a chance. Got a text from my wife 30 minutes after she had landed saying that she had her bag and was waiting at post E. I texted "Is it crowded where you are?" and she replied "It is more crowded elsewhere." which is information but not exactly what I wanted to know. I replied "OMW". I started the car, weaved around the Whataburger drive through, drove around the gas pumps, tried to exit the cell phone lot and hit standstill traffic before I could even get onto the loop around the terminal. It's fifteen minutes after midnight and the airport is gridlocked. Why? I called my wife and use my best Puddy voice and said "Babe, you gotta get upstairs to Departures. If you don't we will need to find a place for breakfast on the way home." I waited two minutes, which was easy to do because my traffic lane was not moving. I changed lanes to Departures and had two completely empty lanes to choose from and a mostly empty curbside area to pick up my wife. If you head to the airport, beware the cell phone lot and the Arrivals area. Picking up at Departures can save you about an hour. However, if you need midnight Whataburger, a tank of gas and a bag of Fritos, they are ready to serve.
  13. Everyone please vote. It may not matter, but vote anyway. I doubt anyone reading this fails to vote. It may not matter because our system favors one party for two and half branches of government. The senate is split 50/50 but Democratic senators represent more people than Republican senators. The system allows the president to win while losing the popular election. The president appoints justices and the Senate confirms them, creating justices that are not at the center of our population. Shenanigans in the Senate, plus RBG's attempt to outlive the Trump administration, have led us to the point where the Supreme Court has views that are out of step with the majority of the population. More voting in large blue states isn't going to help that. If Texas can become a swing state ... maybe that helps. A controlling minority can move us forward as a society, even if the majority disagree. The minority can also crap all over the majority. Right now they're crapping.
  14. I think we are in for the weirdest housing bubble of my life. Rates were low, housing shot up, lots of people with unrealized gains that they thought would be tax-free income with a chance for more. The more house you bought, the more you could make. Now rates are up and those same people could never afford to now buy they house they just bought. Demand will sink and prices will fall. Maybe not a crash, but enough to wipe out some equity for a while. People will be stuck in their current homes. They may make enough to pay the 2.5% mortgage on their million dollar home but not enough to sell it at a 100k loss and move into a 700K home with a 6% mortgage. Those folks are going to sit tight. We may get into a situation where there still are not a lot of homes on the market because not many can afford to move.
  15. So that UT can control the cost of housing for kids once they move out of the dorm. I have a kid living at 2400 Nueces right now, an apartment owned by UT. It’s not super fancy but I know that UT is going to lease to students and they are going to charge less than the free market would. Eventually the private dorms and the folks that build the tall buildings are going to figure out that they can rent places or sell condos to 20 somethings that want to be around younger folks but have six figure salaries and work downtown. The train is going to make the commute from west campus really easy for those folks.
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