Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Long time since I have posted anything.

So many people have written in or told me how much they enjoyed my writing and how much they miss it. For which I am humbled. Unfortunately, it only came out when I was angry. And I’m just not angry anymore. Nothing in Chile has filled me with the pure, seething, all-consuming anger that seeps from every pore in the same way that Uruguay did.

I deal with anger, awkwardness, and general malaise by trying to bury/hide it in wit and sarcasm; maybe it’s age, maybe it’s environment, maybe it’s the fact that I have stopped watching the news. I’m just not a fission pile of daily rage anymore.

So, what’s been going on with me? Things have coasted along more or less smoothly bouncing back and forth between the USA and Chile over the past few years. I’ve gotten to the point where I am applying for Chilean citizenship. Still waiting on the t’s to be crossed and the i’s to be dotted regarding my Chilean tax situation, which got botched, but it’s nothing that cannot be corrected, and as soon as it’s rectified I can submit all the requisite poop to become an official Chileno.

The tax stuff came down to the SII (Chilean IRS) not having any idea what to do with my situation as a digital vagabond with so many different flags in so many different places. It took them a year to get back to me regarding just how to file, but here’s the cool thing: Unlike the US IRS, who is content to jail you for even a minor breach of rules they do not even understand and cannot (proven time and again) even supply consistent results for, Chile’s IRS will write you an official signed, stamped resolution about exactly how to file, with which you can show them if any issues arise. They just take their good sweet time doing it.

End result is that because of a combination of me paying taxes to the Empire, and because of a neat new loophole I found, my tax burden in Chile is pretty well negligible. I will pay more in accountants’ fees than taxes. Which is fine by me.

What are my plans for the future?

I’ve got a thing in progress with Polish citizenship by ancestry which may or may not bear fruit; I’ve located the missing link, and I merely need to find a record of his birth in Poland. Therein lies the challenge, because Nazis. I have no plans to live in the EU but you can’t ever say no to an extra passport. Well, maybe summertime in Berlin would be nice…

Puerto Rico is the next destination of choice after my Chile chapter is done. For an American digital vagabond, the tax breaks simply can’t be beat, and you get so much more benefit to much less time put in. 6 months of exile per year, right next to home, without technically “having to leave home” in order to absolve you of your US tax burden, plus no more capital gains taxes— where do I sign and how much of my blood would you like? One mortal soul, coming right up.

 

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If you want the Uruguay experience:

  • Take a blanket and soak it with water.
  • Get a filthy dog and soak it with water.
  • Drill holes in your roof.
  • Break half your plumbing, short out half of your electrical system. Not just half-assed breaking, no, make sure that shit’s leaking into the walls and shorting stuff out everywhere.
  • Rip out all your insulation.
  • Then turn the AC down to 50 degrees, and lay under the soggy blanket with the wet dog so you can experience what everything smells and feels like here (Obligatory Mold Smell + dog ass), while you try and get a bunch of disinterested, hopeless, unskilled morons (extra-special drooling short-bus morons) to fix all the broken stuff. Using all the wrong tools (bubble gum, masking tape, and coat hangers get you bonus points).
  • Oh, and pay 3x as much as you normally pay for the cheaper version of the stuff you usually buy.
  • Then fire some morons, and help them sue you.
  • If you want to get around, buy an ancient piece of shit car from 1970 and spend US$8000 on it.
  • Then pay $8 per gallon to fuel it.
  • Call someone to deliver something tomorrow, but then tell him you really meant next week but hey, why not just do it in a month, or not at all, if that’s what suits him. After all, you are a paying customer!

I’m sure I am missing about 500 other things but this should get you well on your way.

No, I didn’t tag this as humor because it’s not really funny.

Not so much news, but news. Nothing here changes, except for the worse.

I came here to fix my bank account and renew my cedula. You see, Uruguay does not believe that a bank is a place where you should put your money and let it sit unmolested for long periods of time. If you do not log in to your account online or move your money in some way, shape, of form, within 90 days, they will suspend everything.

Nice.

So I arrived early enough to get to the bank at 1pm when it opens, and went in, and got the ghoul behind the desk to reset my account. Supposedly. “Check in an hour and see if you can log in.”

And so I did. Problem not solved. I checked again later. Problem not solved.

By this time I am in Punta del Este, where I cannot re-fix the problem I fixed once already, because you cannot fix or re-fix a given problem with your bank unless you go to the branch where you opened it, which in this case is not where I am staying. It matters not the fact that it is a national bank with branches everywhere; you still have to make face time. To fix a thing that should have been fixed when you fixed it with the first fix.

Fuck this place. A thousand times. I want to burn it all to the ground. But it’s all too soggy and moldy to light. And I am willing to bed that the sad, grey-faced people lack the ambition even to combust properly.

In good news, I did manage to get my cedula renewed in a single day. Now they have a chip and everything, and finally the cedula fits in your wallet like a normal card should, and looks like it might survive getting sent through the washing machine a few times. They still had like 5 people in the process to print out a single card, lest they make the critical mistake of allowing efficiency to come with automation. Those offices are made to house pointless workers, after all! Now advertising paid government jobs: Openings for Senior and Assistant Mouse clickers, Person who Removes Cedula from Printer, and Person who Passes Cedula to Client from Person who Removes Cedula from Printer.

Not sure how I feel about that. I kinda liked the old ones that looked like a preschooler put them together with paste and construction paper.

In other bad news, it is disturbing the number of people I knew here who are now dead.

And the number of people I knew here who have split up from their spouses.

And the number of people I knew here who have been robbed or mugged or burglarized.

Also in other bad news, the government of Uruguay, in its infinite wisdom, has shut down the duty-free border zone in Chuy, forcibly closing down the shops of perfectly decent merchants, and denying Uruguayans access to untaxed goods, because they believe it is better to force everyone to use existing monopolies that are whining about lost profits because the economic downturn is so bad. If things suck so bad for Uruguayans that they are willing to drive all the way up to the border with Brazil (in most cases a 5-hour drive, with probably more than US$30 in tolls and US$100 in fuel) in order to buy their stuff… well, maybe you should rethink your import policies? Just saying…

I’ve only been here a couple of days and can’t wait to get the F out of here. I’d rather spend this time living showerless in week-old clothes, in the airport in Sao Paulo.

It’s been a while since I have written anything. The main reason is *probably* because I have been on a strict media fast. It makes me much happier burying my head in the sand. I’ve been happy playing with my little hydroponic garden with my 1000 pet ladybugs (who reproduce better than rabbits– all they do is screw and make babies!) and my homebrew video game projects and myriad other spinning plates.

I tend not to write much when I am happy. It’s more an outlet for my rage. Obviously. You people are rage vampires, feeding on the rancid bloodborne vitriol of my angst!

Drowning in a sea of morons is a voluntary choice. Once in a while they moron on you (I have just made moron into a verb) and you have to scrub it off (with bleach), but for the most part, it seems like you can go about your daily life without getting soiled.

Well, sorta…

debtchart2014

But yeah, buy metals and commodities and hunker down and hope for the best because you have prepared for the worst.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Death Star. It’s easier here, getting things done. Well, sorta…

Never buy a condo under mine. Seriously.

A couple weeks back I found a wet spot in my guest bedroom carpet. Having no pets, it was a curious thing. So I vacuumed it up with the neighbor’s carpet shampooer and went about my daily life. The wet spot kept getting bigger. And more soggy. To the point where a pond was forming in the floor. And so I called the condo nazis to inform them that we had a leak, and to inquire about the process of getting it dealt with.

“We’ll send the plumbers over,” Gemeinschaftsleiter Frau Darth Murrischegesicht says, and so they did.

“Oh, this is definitely your AC condensate line,” PlumberBob tells me, after taking a 2-minute look at everything, “Not our thing. You have to call your AC guy.”

And so I call the AC guy, and he comes over, and we change the AC condensate line to drain into the water heater’s emergency overflow pan drain line.

Yet the pond continued to grow.

And so I called the insurance company and they said to deal with Gemeinschaftsleiter Frau Darth Murrischegesicht, and Gemeinschaftsleiter Frau Darth Murrischegesicht said to deal with the insurance company, and the plumbers said to deal with the AC guy and the AC guy and I did our best and it didn’t help.

Meanwhile, water began to leak into the ceiling of the downstairs neighbors. Which is why you should never buy a condo under mine. Seriously.

This whole situation is merely a microcosm of why governments are such bullshit– if there is this much moronism in such a simple situation, imagine what it’s like on a national level. Actually, don’t. It will depress the shit out of you.

So a week goes by with me getting angrier and angrier because the people who insist they know what they know do not actually know what they insist that they know, and are, in fact, surprising me at their very existence and continued ability to pick up food and put it into their own mouths. And the water continues to leak.  Meanwhile I am pulling the weight of all the idiots who should be fixing this– 10 gallons of water per day out of just the dehumidifier and the whole place is starting to reek of wet carpet and mold. 5 fans on, hourly passes with the carpet shampooer to suck the water out of the carpet. Setting up buckets and pans in a one-man reverse bucket brigade to keep my downstairs neighbor’s place from flooding. It literally squishes up water out from underfoot when you walk in there.

Sounds kind of like a small-scale model of what is going on with the feds.

And so I recruited my neighbor and we picked up a hammer and a drywall saw and went to town on the walls. And surprise surprise, we found the leak. A broken pipe was pissing a geyser of water out into the insulation, which was running down inside the wall and into the floor. And so we called the plumbers and told them what was going on, and they said they would come by.

A few more hours passed and we said, “fuck this, let’s fix it ourselves,” and so we did. The plumbers showed up at 9pm, 8 hours later. I told them to take a hike, since we’d gotten tired of waiting and did their jobs for them.

So the next day, I go in and tell Gemeinschaftsleiter Frau Darth Murrischegesicht that she will be paying me back for the work I have done, the repairs, the new carpet pad, etc etc etc and she agrees, but get this– she insists that the plumbers come in and inspect the repair before she can sign off on it!!! HAHAHAHA!

Yes. I laugh. Heartily.

You fuckers refuse to do anything to fix a plumbing issue that is clearly your domain (it’s even in the condo docs) and then demand the final say in someone actually getting up to do it themselves!? And then send the same crew of droolers to inspect the propriety of something they both misidentified and refused to take responsibility for when it was clearly their responsibility?

Wow… How… government!

(yes, I just turned moron into a verb, and government into an adjective)

Not a problem. Doing my own taxes and looking for information on filing an extension from abroad, I learned that US citizens living abroad get an automatic 2-month extension on their tax return due date, making the official deadline June 15. One simply need attach a statement to their tax return explaining why they qualify. Check out this link for more details.

U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad – Automatic 2 Month Extension of Time to File

You may be allowed an automatic 2-month extension of time to file your return and pay any federal income tax that is due. You will be allowed the extension if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien and on the regular due date of your return:

  • You are living outside of the United States and Puerto Rico and your main place of business or post of duty is outside the United States and Puerto Rico, or
  • You are in military or naval service on duty outside the United States and Puerto Rico

If you use a calendar year, the regular due date of your return is April 15, and the automatic extended due date would be June 15. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day.

Even if you are allowed an extension, you will have to pay interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date of your return.

This is a bit of a bonus (though the lesser of two evils is still evil) since the IRS also announced that it is closing all of its overseas offices, and expats will no longer have access to local assistance with their tax questions.

El Buen Maestro

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Humor, Life, Stupidity
Tags: , ,

That’s what my downstairs neighbors called me after I went in and fixed the leaky pipes myself. Seeing as how the guy who installed them has probably fled Chile to avoid the torches and pitchforks, and the guy who I called to help me never showed up.

And so I learned how to solder copper pipes (because one of the first things I did during the teardown was to put the chisel straight through the gas line) and do Super-Duty Gringo jungle repairs on poorly-done Chilean PVC. And how to use plumber’s epoxy. And I actually did it right, because now there is no more feces raining down from anywhere but my own butt.

If this keeps on its current trajectory, in 6 more months I will have all the skills necessary to rebuild civilization from the stone age to the digital age after the zombie apocalypse wipes out humanity.

What had happened is that the “maestro” put a PVC pipe into an ancient iron one, and sealed it with nothing more than an entire tube of silicone. Said silicone was probably not meant for constant exposure to humidity and butt stuff, and so it fell apart 6 months later. And said pigiron shitty pipe was probably not meant for humidity and butt stuff either, because it had decomposed accordingly, and so I rerouted the other plastic pipes to another outlet, and epoxied the hell out of everything just to be sure.

Cutting the whole thing apart was a mess. It’s been done a hundred times; hero cuts into monster with chainsaw, getting sprayed with blood from head to toe, leaving a clean silhouette on the wall behind him. Only with me it was different in color and odor, as the reciprocating saw cut into the fermented sedimentary strata of poop in the bottom of the pipe… let me tell you there is no sensation quite like it. Last I felt this way was in Uruguay when I got a steaming shit shower from the backwards-built septic tank.

I knew better than to eat until I was done with this stuff, because I knew there would be gag moments. This was one of them.

I still don’t want to eat. I smell like a sewer. But it’s done!!!

Next I get to play with tile and cement, which is childs play for me at this point.

It’s funny, the whole situation, because I could have been finished with this crap a week ago had I just dove into it myself. Instead I kept waiting around for a guy I thought was reponsible to come and take care of it for me, because, well, I earn a lot more in the same amount of time for working my own job. It’s more efficient to do that and pay someone to do the repairs while I work, IF he fucking shows up to do said work. He said he would, and so I repeat the age-old mañanismo bullshit putting off my own stuff waiting on something that will never happen.

But hey, now it’s been fixed by a gringo, and con suerte it will endure for another century.

And now I am better than a Maestro Chileno. I am El Buen Maestro Gringo.

Ahhhh, yes, dear reader, I finally got all the previously-entangling bullshit out of the way and was looking forward to a restful day of piecing together my road trip plans. I needed a small camp stove and so I went out and got one, leaving that to be the last little piece of equipment I would require.

And, as soon as I was home, and had all my kit scattered around on the living room floor so as to arrange its optimal Tetris configuration into my backpack, I started to get that sensation. That odd sensation that “things are looking up, I really hope nothing happens now…”

Queue the music from Aliens, when Ripley realizes that she is in the same room with facehuggers skittering around. Yes, the high pitched squeaky violin sounds that build into a creepy crescendo; something is off to stage right and about to jump on the unsuspecting protagonist.

AND then a knock at my door. It’s the old lady from downstairs. Every time I see her, I hear that music from Aliens. And once again there she is, and she tells me there is water coming from her ceiling.

Now I have been back a full week at this point and this is the first I have heard of it, but maybe it has simply taken that long for it to make its way into the nooks and crannies and get through to her apartment below. But anyhow, it’s leaking from the toilet pipe because it’s got that lovely smell to it. Just fucking brilliant.

So now, I really MUST fucking abandon my epic road trip plans to epic digging up and redoing the plumbing AGAIN for the SECOND fucking time because the moron who I paid before to do it right the second fucking time didn’t do it right the second fucking time.

Now I know why Chilenos don’t want to renovate old places, now I know why, when dumbass ExpatBob went gleefully marching off in his own direction while the locals stood dumbstruck, exactly why they were dumbstruck. “Stupid gringo,” they thought, “wait a year and his toilet will be leaking onto his neighbor’s head.”

Why the hell is it that the guys who built this place made plumbing that lasted 100 years and the guy who did it last year out of indestructible never-rotting never-rusting plastic can’t even make it last 12 months???

But no, off I went thinking, “Stupid Chilenos! You’ll see! Such a great deal I got on this place and with just a bit of investment, it will be awesome! You are such fools to pass up this kind of cash cow!”

Awesome toilet leaks, for fucking sure.

I wonder how Chile isn’t bursting at the seams with its own sewage, really.

RIP road trip. I wonder if I will even have the time to get this shit (literally) properly contained before I leave.

I also wonder why the Gods punish me in this particular way– if you read back on past accounts, it is ALWAYS a plumbing disaster that ALWAYS derails my most epic plans, ALWAYS at the last possible moment. The Gods are, literally, shitting on my plans. Using my own shit, no less.