March 21st, 2004


State-Sponsored Lifestyle

I did our taxes this weekend. I'd been afraid that we might owe money, because we claimed several allowances on our W-4s, but we actually ended up with a very big refund (over 25% of the tax we'd paid in withholding.

It turns out that in 2003, we really fell into a lot of the niches that the tax code is favorable to:
- married (with one spouse underemployed)
- homeowners
- spending money on post-high-school education (reduced because of our high income, but still a substantial tax credit)
- we even got to deduct $250 of the unreimbursed expenses Lori took on as a schoolteacher.

The refund will certainly come in handy for the house maintenance we need to do this year, but I feel a bit odd about being so favored by the tax code. I don't feel so needy that I feel we really deserve preferential treatment. (On the other hand, I don't feel so noble as to turn it down--I remember reading of a Supreme Court ruling that declared it was not at all unpatriotic, to say nothing of illegal, to pay the least tax one was entitled to pay.)

I try to be conscious of my own privilege as a white upper-middle-class male, but few things underscore my privilege so much as this.

Yet More Hard Work

Went in to work today. I didn't need to; I'm under no deadline pressure. But I found I felt like it. Fixed eight bugs, marked another six as fixed already.

I started the week with over 180 bugs assigned to me; now I'm down to about 133. I've been cherry-picking for easy-to-fix ones, of course, but that's still an average of over one bug dealt with per hour. I am certainly very impressed, and I'm sure my boss will be too.

It's immensely gratifying to be fixing bugs and making such visible progress, and that's the basic reason why I'm riding the longest streak of hardcore productivity that I can ever remember having. Ending every day feeling very satisfied about the work I've done makes being a workaholic seem very appealing.

It's far from clear that this is the right strategy for me, though.
It will improve our product, certainly--but it's far from clear that these improvements would yield increased sales.
It will impress my boss--but he's already giving me extremely good reviews, and the raises are probably driven more by Apple's budget.
It probably won't make me much less busy when our deadline comes, because there is a fair amount of moving the goalposts to meet the deadlines; if I managed to eliminate all my outstanding bugs next week, I'd be assigned new bugs, and I'd be helping other people with their bugs.

And in the meantime, I've been neglecting other things. Many of my LJ posts have been "still busy, still doing very well." I've felt underprepared for the last two D&D sessions (though they've been pretty enjoyable find-a-monster-hit-a-monster dungeon crawls). I've been working on code instead of shopping to replace my car (no doubt because hacking makes me confident of success, but car shopping is likely to involve haggling with salesmen who are much more experienced at sales negotiation than I, uncertainty about what I really want, and financial anxiety about what we can afford).

But, y'know, going into work for another day of awesome productivity feels a lot more legitimate than sitting around playing computer games. I don't think I'm going to give it up yet.