Wednesday, June 28, 2006


All my paperwork has been turned in and I think I should be just about ready to start my own business once all the tax numbers come back. I never really imagined that thngs would be this complicated, and this is just the beginning, once I set up I will have to figure out complicated tax returns. I didn't really ever think about that side of running a business, I always think of management strategies,how to invest, how to budget etc. I wonder if a going for an online MBA would help with this sort of thing. This aspect never occurred to me, and I bet there will be many more things that occur to me along the way that I hadn't anticipated. It probably is time to start thinking about online business school , it should help me to avoid these sort of pitfalls.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I think I have finally got to grips with the tax laws involved with starting up a business in California. All I need is a FEIN (Federal Employer identification Number) at the Federal Level and a Business Tax Certificate for San Diego.

I don't need to get a "fictious name" for my business as I can use my last name and a one word description.

I can register as a Sole proprietorship which is much less complicated than anything else.

After all the research things turned out to be fairly straight forward, but I can tell you getting to this point of clarity took rather a log time!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The value of whales...

I remember back in school, in my environmental economics class being introduced to the idea of a non-monetary good through a thought experiment with Whales. Often when we talk about environmental econ, we talk about sustainable harvesting, the minimum viable population (MVP) etc, with the thought that it would be economically harmful to kill of a population of a species, as we will be unable to harvest and sell in the future. It is usually an example of a short term gain which is attractive but less financially viable as the long term profit could be.
This is not the case with Whales however, whales reproduce so slowly, that it has been shown in a very famous paper, that for maximum profit it would make most sense to harvest every single whale today and put the money in the bank. The interest the money could earn would grown at a far faster rate than whales can reproduce at. If we advocate keeping whales through economic principles we must look to some other means, some other value. Perhaps as predators they help to control prey numbers in their marine environments, perhaps they form the habitat of some species of barnacle tat like to live on whales' backs. Some people also point to the pursuit of whale watching, saying that this is a more valuable and sustainable use of whales that is harvesting them for their meat.
It seems to me that most people when faced with this thought experiment will try to find some economic reason in the whales' favor. And yet it seems apparent to me that in conducting this search they do so not because they really feel that we need the revenue associated with Whale watching, and not because they care about obscure barnacle species, but simply because they cannot be faced with the idea that whales have no value. To them whales have immense value, and it is this indescribable value, the value they cannot place their fingers on, the value that they just inherently and yet strongly believe to be there. This is not necessarily an intrinsic value of the species, as intrinsic value implies no human application, but some sort of emotional value that is incredibly difficult to tie down.

The Japanese and Co. have won over the International Whaling Commission in their first bid to remove the moratorium on commercial hunting. We are all horrified, and yet do we ever really stop to examine why this shocks us so much, and exactly what it is that we value so much. Indeed how many of us have even been so lucky as to see a whale- is it simply enough that they exist in the world?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Its so nice when you search on Google and the exact (and somewhat obsure) thing you have been searching for comes up on the first page, giving you all the information you need and ending your worries.
This has, fortunately, recently been the case in my search ofhow to work from home in San Diego and report one's own taxes. As I searched for the requirements in California one of the first things that appeared was this highly instructive piece from Daniel Greene . It really is so great and makes me optomistic about our society that people actually bother to put this stuff up on the web, simply for the use of other people. They themselves benefit nothing from doing so but they help people like myself immensley.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

So, having recovered from the shock of last night I can report our experiences

It all begins with my decision to buy a 47 inch television, to go with our new love sac and which should make for a fantastic world cup (and beyond).
We had been looking at TVs for a while, and finally yesterday through a variety of negotiating tactics found one we wanted and got it down to a very reasonable price. The trouble was we now had to get it delivered. These TVs just don't quite fit in the back of an SUV.

So, having always had great success with Craig's list I looked in the labor/move section for someone to help us out- expecting some guy with a truck who needs to make some extra cash on the side.

We called around and got a variety of estimates- some were pretty outrageous, and some couldn't do anything for another week or so. We found one however, who seemed really promising, we managed to bargain him down to a great price, and were sold on the fact that he had a padded truck, and was a 'professional' mover- rather than just a guy with a truck. He also said he would bring another guy, limiting the lifting for me which suited me perfectly. We called the guy and arranged to meet him at the previous owner's house at 6.30pm.
6.30 came and went so we gave the guy a call, who assured us he was "about to leave", at about 7.15pm we called again and got no answer at all. 7.30 arrived and they called to say they were "on the freeway". By this time we had got out of our car and were sitting in the previous owners house making small talk and endless apologies. Finally a little after 8pm we heard a huge racket, thinking it might be the mover we looked out the door to see a fully 20 feet long truck outside. Not what we had been picturing.

The guy got out, and I'm sorry to be judgmental, looked like the biggest crook around. This was confirmed when he opened up his truck and saw it was full of construction junk- wheelbarrows, old tires, tools and goodness knows what else. There were no pads in site, just a few old blankets. At this point we should have just given up, asked him to leave and come back with a different mover in the morning. However we had been waiting almost 2 hours now and really wanted to get the thing over with- needing to spend today studying.

The guy pops into the house with his Mexican helper who we find out is out on his first job. He looks at the TV and tells us that he doesn't usually move these anymore. Why not? We ask. Oh- because they usually don't work after they have been moved he replies. Nervous laughter ensues and we can't tell really whether he is joking, but alarmingly it seems he is not.

A dolly was brought over from the truck and the TV was (I will admit) skillfully placed on top of it and fairly carefully wheeled out- although we did have to jump in and stop them from dragging the electrical cord through a puddle of water.
Next came rearranging the junk in the truck and wrapping the TV up. This took an age. Meanwhile me, my wife and the previous owner stood around casting horrified glances at each other, wondering what on earth we had done. I wasn't sure what I was most afraid of that the guy would break the TV or that he would drive off never to be seen off again. As time wore on and I got his license plate and truck description I started to worry most about the former feeling that there was no way he could get away with the latter.

Meanwhile our mover busied about making very inappropriate jokes , and asking wierd questions such as how much we had paid for the TV (was he thinking how much he could make off it?). My wife stood to the side her mouth fully hanging open in shock and numb disbelief and I thought of the yelling at I would receive if we had just thrown all that money down the drain.

Still by the time it was packaged in I must say the TV did look very secure and well wrapped up- my main remaining worry being that something might fall onto it. Before setting off we shaved a further few dollars from the guy's fee. We wrote down our address for them, and then- this might have been thefunniest moment of the evening- the guy gave us his business card, and gave on to the previous owner, saying he hoped we would use him again. This was so dilusional I would have felt sorry for the guy if it had not been for my already overworked concern about my television.

We drove very slowly down the freeway with the guy following us all the way, making sure he never got more than a car apart from us and were relieved when he pulled in at our apartment. This was now going to be the most difficult part as the TV had be move up 2 flights of stairs. My wife being full of nerves ran inside and hid from the whole ordeal, I stayed out to'supervise' and make sure nothing horrible happened. I was pleased to see that nothing had so far gone wrong with the screen, although I was sure that the guys (the inexperienced Mexican most likely) would not get their delivery safely up the stairs.

Surprisingly however this was something the seemed moderately adept at and the TV arrived safe and sound up the stairs in a very short space of time. It was then rolled into our house and when we turned it on- it worked! Nothing had gone wrong at all, unbelievable.

With the TV intact we were left with not only a very cheap delivery, but also a good story. Still it was certainly not worth the stress and worry and serves as a very good lesson of whynot to do everything on the cheap, and never to trust someone you have just talked to on the phone

Just had the craziest Craig's List experience- has left me exhasuted after hours of nervous tension.
Will explain more tommorrow.

In the mean time check out what some people will do for thier business!

The ideal gift for any business

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

We are finally moved in!

How it took us 4 days to move our belongings a few blocks I cannot understand. I am utterly bemused as where all our 'stuff' came from. It is incredible to me that we moved down here 9 months ago with just the contents of our sedan. This time around it took 2 U-haul trips and about 12 car loads to relocate. Boxes and boxes of things that we have no idea where to place as they consist of random items, none of which seem to fit in one place or another. At this point we are exceptionally glad that we chose a two bedroom with plenty of storage- the one bedroom with no closets we looked at would have been an utter disaster.
The moving stress being almost over we are just thrilled with our new place- it is spacious and quiet, the new carpets are really nice, two bathrooms com in more useful than I would ever have imagined, the extra space for our many plant pots is a big plus and the high ceilings help to keep things cool.

Now for the unpacking which I suspect will take weeks.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Now that I am a bit settled in California I am thinking of starting up my own small web business. I have thus been faced with all the complexities of registering a business and setting up a Tax ID. The usual bureaucracy you can imagine!
The first thing we need to go is think of a name.

I've had a few ideas;

Aardvark adventures- the idea being we would be first in the phone book.

Sunflower Solutions- after one of San Diego's most distinctive native plants- I'm sure however it will already be taken.

Saffron Solutions- The world’s most expensive commodity by weight.

Dim Cave- A private joke those who know me will understand :-)

and finally Gaia Solutions.

I like Gaia Solutions; Gaia was to be the name of a restaurant I was planning to open with my wife. It encompasses things which are important to me and is both environmental and mythological. If Gaia is taken we can go for Gaian.

My Dad gave me some good general advice for choosing a name.

"Easy to spell and short so that it can be used (or at least a shorter
version of it) as an internet address; check it out to see if it is a
available as a domain name and then register it.

"blank consultants" always sounds important

geographical place names are nice, though not one that is too
identifiable with just one location.

I'm not too keen on made up names (like "exxon", which was chose
because it doesn't mean anything in any known language), nor on cyber
names (though microsoft, for microcomputer software has done okay).

Then there's "apple" which works okay once, but then is overdone.
then there are plant and animal names

maybe a made-up name would be okay as long as it wasn't too cute.
Netflix works well

A lot of companies have gone to just initials, abandoning whatever it
was the initials stood for: BP, MSN, even KFC."

Gaia seems to fit in with this advice, it is certainly short, and relatively easy to spell. We'll see if it's already taken.