The Week #101

  • I spent most of this week recovering from jet lag, trying to get back into groove of regular life. After managing to go two weeks without catching the 'rona,Β  it's all finally caught up with me and I caught a small cold.
  • I finally got around to doing my US taxes this year. Thankfully Americans abroad have a 2-month delayed due-date. Doing my taxes is always hugely stressful. Not because they're complicated, but because the software I was using (TurboTax) isn't designed for Americans abroad, you've got to do all of the conversions from JPY to USD yourself. Which also means finding/picking an exchange rate etc..

    This year I found and used, and wow is it a breath of fresh air. I'm able to put in what I earned in JPY and it handles all of the conversions for me. It seems pretty intelligent about FEIE (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion – where the first $100k or so of income is tax free, but means you can't use tax advantaged things like Roth IRAs etc...) and the FTC (Foreign Tax Credit).

    I've always used FEIE because it's "easier". This year after reading their blog post Why the FTC is better than the FEIE, I was prepared to use FTC..and as a bonus there was a Covid child tax credit I'd be able to use if I did, so I'd actually get a $1000 return this go around. But alas, after inputting my wife's income (as she's still a tax resident), they suggested I use FEIE, as per usual. Maybe next year...I'm almost looking forward to doing them next year. Almost.
  • This post on installing a payphone in your house brought back a lot of youthful memories and how often we used payphones back then. He installs a Pacific Bell phone, the same as I used, so it's hits all of the nostalgia points. Most of the time when I used payphones though, it was just me calling my dad collect and in the space for the name saying "DadI'mAtTheMallPickMeUp" as 2 second gap to say your name. Not Phreaking, but still workin' the system.
  • Β Digital Minimalism is proving to be a quick read and enjoyable read. I want to finish the book before I do the 30-day "detox", but the idea of being intentional about when and why we use technology is really resonating with me.

    Particularly about this idea that we let tools and services into our life because they promise some benefit: news,Β  and so forth. And while they do provide that benefit some of the time, most of the time we use it, it's just mindless usage and time sinks. The actual cost in time/attention for that little benefit is not in our favor.

    This really sounds like me and Twitter. Wake up, scroll to see what the other gaijin are up to in Japan, repeat. It's not focused and it's a huge time sink preventing me from doing things I'd actually like to be doing. Perhaps I can find a way to collect these people into a list and use my RSS reader to catch up on the gossip once a week?
  • If it's not possible, that might even be a nice micro-service. Create a RSS feed that's updated weekly with the tweets (no replies?) of a handful of accounts. This way it acts as a firewall between you and social media.