Mitt Romney thinks you need to take responsibility for your life

OK, so I lied. Just one more post on politics, since Romney is such a dick.

Over at Squashed (click through post title above to read), the author takes a look at how much a family of four (two parents, two kids) would need to make in order to pay federal income taxes.

The author used a similar family setup as Romney, with one parent working and one home with the two kids. Then the author took the standard deductions and child tax credits, which ended up at $45,750 in total annual income as the breaking point for paying federal income taxes.

In a given year, you have about 260 work days. Let’s say you work a full day on all of them. This means that any vacation, sick days, or holidays you want had better be paid. To make your $45,750, you need to bring in $174.62 a day. Let’s round that down to $174 to make the math work out more smoothly.

So, first thing, $45k is a pretty decent wage for most people, especially someone young enough to have two young kids or work outside a major metro area — say, somewhere like Buffalo.

But things get much worse as you go down the pay ladder:

You’re earning the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. To get to $174 a day, you’ll need to work for … 24 hours. Congratulations. You can sleep on the weekends.

For more, Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog details who doesn’t pay taxes, in eight charts. (Spoiler: of the 46% that don’t pay income tax, the majority pay the payroll tax. Of the ~18% that don’t pay any federal income or payroll tax, 57% are elderly, 39% are non-elderly with income under $20k.)

Yeah, so Romney is a dick.

Cutting the Digital Lifeline and Finding Serenity –

One side effect of living an always-on digital life is the tension, along with the thrill, that can arise from being able to peep into people’s worlds at any moment and comparing their lives with yours. This tension may be inevitable at times, but it’s not inescapable. It’s possible to move beyond the angst that social media can provoke — and to be glad that we’ve done so.

In this article on, Jenna Wortham reflects on her experience of being forced to disconnect from her digital life and liking it. Living in the moment… enjoying a conversation with a friend… relaxing.

I’ve been doing more of this — not on purpose, at first, but the last few days have been on purpose. I’ve left my phone in another room, silenced, so I can focus on what ever I am doing. Playing with the kids, making dinner, chores around the house, whatever. And I’ve liked it too.

In fact, yesterday, with the exception of a quick news check and to look up some info after we discovered our central air drain hose backed up and leaked on the basement floor, I didn’t use my phone at all while at home.

In the article, Wortham interviewed Wilhelm Hofmann, an assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago, who recommended a “screen diet”:

Mr. Hofmann recommends setting up a kind of screen diet, building in a period each day to go screenless, either by going for a run and leaving your phone at home, or by stashing it in a drawer during dinner or while hanging out with friends.

“Ask yourself: How important is this, really? How happy does it actually make you?” he said. “Harness that feeling of pride when you do resist and stick to it.”

Great questions. (Emphasis mine.)

I do think there is a place for social media and being ‘connected’, but given that it’s still such a new phenomenon, we have to teach ourselves restraint and regain control over our time and attention.

There are too many things competing for our attention, very little of which is urgent, and even less that requires action from you us this moment. In the end, it all comes down to FOMO.

The First Day of School

Today was Lucy’s first day of kindergarten! She was so excited and all business — she practically grew up overnight. Lucy matter of factly declared she had no time for playing any longer, nor any need for her “baby” or sucking her thumb… she was a kindergartner now.

The day started off with a 6am wake up for the entire family — planned for the adults and driven by excitement for the girls. The extra time allowed us to be ready with plenty of time to spare. We made it to the bus stop for Lucy’s first bus ride with enough time to chat with neighborhood friends and learn about her new school.

“Zoey, your hair looks like an old bag.” — Lucy (out of the blue) to Zoey this AM

Then the bus arrived and before I could blink, she was on the bus and sitting next to a neighborhood friend. I couldn’t believe it. I had envisioned pictures of her posing next to the bus door, a big hug goodbye, and maybe a tear or two shed… but it was over before I even knew it — her confidence and friends guided her on the bus. A little foreshadowing of the future, I suppose.

“Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!” — Zoey’s response

With that part of the morning complete, the twins and I jumped back in our van and I drove them to their first day of universal pre-K in the Ken-Ton school district. We arrived at the school a little early, so I ignored instrusctions to stay outside, so I could take the girls in and grab some photos before the other parents arrived in the classroom. Once again, the girls’ experience with school (they attended a really great pre-school in downtown Buffalo last year) quickly turned me into an after thought. As soon as we hung up their backpacks they were at their table and coloring, barely even lifting their heads to say goodbye.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ease of the morning, but had mixed emotions about the reality of this new stage in their life. I was proud they were so confident, excited, and ready for school (we must of have done something right!), but also a little sad. I knew the day would come when I wasn’t quite needed so much any more, but to have all three take a leap forward in a single day took me by surprise. And to think — this is just the start.

Paper Faces

My good friend, and fellow father of twins, Mike Rose recently kicked off a project called Paper Faces, where he will draw a portrait a day using the iPad app Paper by 53. To date, he’s received a remarkable 800+ volunteers, as his initial post on Twitter received an enormous amount of retweets and favorites. So cool and well deserved.

Follow the post title above to visit his site and read more about the project. He’s also accepting donations, so please do if you take advantage of his offer.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first volunteers and you can see my new avatar below. I gladly bought him some hot wings this morning.