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Return of the Rum Runners

4 Aug

Liquor bottlesLast weekend Washington state just upped its liquor prices an average of 13% per bottle in a bid to help fill its 6 billion dollar budget gap. The estimated proceeds from the increase in liquor tax should cover about 1.3% of the budget shortfall. The problem is, I don’t think they will take in nearly as much as they have estimated.

It hasn’t even been a week and I’m already hearing several people talking about making booze runs down to Portland, Oregon. A casual web search reveals some insightful answers.yahoo.com advice suggesting there is no peril in shuttling copious quantities of booze across state lines, but I remain dubious. However, with over 75% of the cost of a bottle now profits to the state, it will become harder for people to resist a little bit of sales and use tax evasion.

I hate to say it, but it will probably take a horse’s ass to spearhead an initiative to reduce state liquor taxes. It can’t be many more years before people start whining about the ever-increasing rates in general and I know someone will come riding in on their white horse to rescue the taxpayer’s hard-earned dollar once the general consensus agrees that the economy has sufficiently recovered.

Photo credit Thomas Hawk

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Power to the Depot

17 Nov

I should preface this by saying that I normally do my home improvement shopping at Lowe’s. Historically, they have had better customer service and have a higher likelihood of carrying the oddball things I require for my more unusual projects.

This weekend I found myself going back and forth between Lowe’s and Home Depot as part of a home improvement project. Each time I visited Home Depot, I noticed an unnerving trend: abnormally attentive employees.

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Redfin Turns 4.0

27 Apr

Congratulations to Redfin on their big 4.0 release yesterday. They have updated their look, added a new logo, made the maps expand with your screen size, and added several other new features that housing shoppers will enjoy.

Best of all, they spent plenty of time in QA to make sure there were no big bugs or undue downtime in the transition.

Now, if only their backend was in PHP instead of Java.

Lessons Learned House Hunting in Seattle

16 Apr

House Graphic

Right now is a tedious time to be trading Seattle real estate. While the nation at large is experiencing a deflation in housing values, the Seattle market is stubbornly fluctuating between plateau and boom days.

A large number of properties are going unsold for 90+ days [zillow.com] while others are subject to irrational bidding wars. Part of me wants to sit it all out for another six to twelve months, but my better half insists that we need a house.

And so, we are in the market for a house.

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Seattle PHP Programmers: Come to SEAPHP September 12th

21 Aug

I’m working to revive the Seattle PHP users’ group. If you’re interested in PHP and live in the Seattle area, come to our next users’ group meeting at the new Seattle Northgate library on September 12th.

Details can be found on the SEAPHP wiki:
http://seaphp.net/

Add it to your calendar:

Week in Progress

29 Mar

Monday: Saw Metric
One of the better live shows I’ve been to. The opening bands (The Islands, End of Fashion) were more than just bearable, which was quite a surprise to me after some of the openers I’ve endured in the past. On the topic of openers, I really enjoyed The Islands and will have to pick up one of their discs.

I long suspected Metric would sound fantastic live since their sound isn’t over-produced. Almost every sound you hear on their albums can be easily reproduced live with the four people on stage. I hope they don’t change that very important quality as they grow in popularity. Continue reading