Free Tax USA

I just discovered Free Tax USA. I filed with them this weekend.

I have used TurboTax for a while but never really liked it, and hate all the interstitials of marketing screens and animations you have to click through. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was getting an email after inputting all of my information saying that I better hurry because their prices are going up soon.

Like, who does that? Plus Intuit is just a shady company.

So when I discovered I could file federal taxes for free and it’s only $15 to file for state taxes, sign me up. I also feel like it took me a lot less time to input my information because I didn’t have to click through three screens for every single document. And they reminded me that I added insulation to my house and I can get credit for that.


Thanks to reddit, I recently discovered that a local small business left a threatening voice-mail to a customer that left a negative review. The voice-mail said something to the effect that the customer had ten minutes left before he would contact the customer’s job and try to get them fired.

I was just reading a post from a Twitter employee who all of a sudden couldn’t login to his work computer and after a week of no one being able to tell him if he’s even still employed tweeted at Elon Musk and Elon asked him for his work history and then mocked him when he posted it.

On a daily basis I feel like I encounter more and more people just treating each other quite terribly. I am certainly no bright and shining example, either, and I have had to numerous times apologize and look deep into my own soul to understand how I can treat a fellow human being poorly.

But I really don’t get the people that seem to revel in being mean. I don’t think either social media or the pandemic created this phenomenon, but I do think both have accelerated it. People enjoy being mean. The cruelty is the point.

I don’t understand it. The trend has me worried about our human society. If we can’t be decent to each other, there is no society. And frankly I am just weary and sick of it. This is no way to live.

The Child I Didn’t Adopt

Nine-year old Stephen grips his report card in sweaty hands. We’re headed to an adoption event, where we will meet families who want to adopt an older child; families who do not automatically rule out a boy like Stephen with all of his long “history.” And he wants to impress them, these strangers. He wants to win them over, and so he brings his good report card along as tangible proof that he is a child worth loving.

A child should never have to prove they are worth loving.

Twelve-year old Stephen tells me that I’m his best friend. I’m his social worker, and he should have a real best friend, but I don’t say this to him. We’re at a taping for Wednesday’s Child, the news spot featuring children who are up for adoption. Stephen is engaging on camera. Maybe somebody will pick him this time. Maybe he is offering just enough evidence, at twelve, that he’s a boy worth loving. And he is lovable, truly.


I read this post years ago and saved it away in my files. Every now and again I come across it and I get all of the same feels all over again. I choked up and just started bawling as I read this again.

Some days I wonder why I chose this path of foster care. And then a gut punch like this comes my way.

I wish someone would do something. And then I remember. I am someone.

Universal Control

Universal Control is an awesome newish feature of MacOs/iPadOs. I’ve had a personal computer on my desk next to my work computer and have been frustrated because it’s been SUPER intermittent.

After doing some searching in the Console app (all the system log messages), it looked like it was very sensitive to Bluetooth interference. So even though everything on my desk is only a foot away or so, I decided to do some re-arranging and now my computers are within inches of each other.

Time will tell long term, but so far that’s done the most immediate good. They show up immediately and the link works fine which is WAY better then it has been in months.

Welcome, Ruth!

It was hard to walk into the humane society and look at all the kitties yesterday, as it brought up so many memories of Lokie who passed away last May. But I have missed having a cat, and after looking at all of the options, we found a beautiful 2 year old girl that we’ve named Ruth.

She met the dog Stanley earlier today, he sniffed, she hissed, he cowered, she smacked him in the face. Now Stanley is worried about why we have a demon in the house. 😆 She’s still getting used to the new situation but we already love how sweet, playful and soft her fur is.

Welcome to the family!

One Year In

One year ago I posted my first post on this new blog. I haven’t published posts quite as frequently as I had hoped or planned, but it’s been fun to put some words down and hear from people on the internet.

I’m under no delusions that this blog is widely read. 😆 But hopefully those of you who have found my little internet corner have (mostly) enjoyed it. I have heard from a few of you and always look forward to reading what you’re up to! Drop me an email via aj at bourg dot family.

Cool Personal Sites

I’ve been finding some really cool personal websites that are inspiring me to try to do more with my own site.

First is Henrique Dias. Really dig the clean appearance, and all the content. I also really dig the More section where he posts things like his impossible list of personal goals and accomplishments. Bonus points for the guest book powered by web mentions.

Next is Barry Frost. His main blog entry is a weekly journal entry on his blog. I’ve never met Barry and only know him from these posts, but I really dig these little peeks into someone else’s life. He also posts bookmarks and checkins (like the old Gowalla) fairly regularly which is pretty cool though I only follow the blog.

Next is Aegir which I have posted about before. Every post is a different photo and page style to match.

I don’t know about Aegir, but I know Henrique and Barry both have their own blogging software as the backend running everything. I’ve just been using WordPress to focus my time less on the tech, but I’d really dig to run a blog on Cloudflare workers or AWS Lambdas. And I also would really dig having a section for different post types such as bookmarks, checkins and photos. 🤔 Maybe I need to write my own blogging engine. Maybe.

Existential Pinch

People talk about having an existential crisis and it is amazing to me how often I feel some version of that, but rarely does it feel like a crisis. More like a little pinch.

I feel like I’m a fairly driven and motivated person (even though I don’t know if I want to be) — I always want to make forward progress. And rarely do I feel like I’m making negative progress, but there are seasons in life where I feel like I’m just standing still. And that makes me feel like I’m wasting my life.

I was telling Alissa about this and that I feel like what am I really accomplishing. Am I just living one day to the next? And she gently and lovingly but firmly rebuked me by reminding me that I’m helping raise two boys and helping them be better men. Okay point taken but is that it?

Well first of all, if that was it, that would be more than enough. That has been the focus of my life’s work for the past 4 years since we started as foster parents and while I’m infinitely aware of all my short-comings in a million different ways, I’m also really good at this. And Alissa and I are really good as a team at this.

And it isn’t all that I’m involved with or doing. I’m treasuring up all the things that I’m doing and just remembering that God is so good.

I think it’s really easy to read other people’s blogs or watch YouTube videos and think — I don’t have the time to build projects with wood like I would like. Or, I’m an okay photographer, but I’m not a really great one like that guy. Or how cool would it be if I was great at cooking, but my 14 year old said my spaghetti sauce this week was good so why isn’t that enough?

Basically, my existential pinch is because I don’t have time for normal people hobbies? I don’t have time to invest in woodworking because instead I’m spending my time working on training materials for this trip I’m leading to Uganda later this summer and I want to equip 31 mzungus how to think about poverty and I’m having an existential difficulty because I also don’t have time to progress on my woodworking backlog?

Brains are weird. One of these will have a lasting (I hope) impact on the lives of the poor and vulnerable, and one of these will be sold at a garage sale for like twenty bucks when I’m dead. And my brain is questioning whether my life has enough meaning because I won’t have another piece of junk my kids have to get rid of when I’m dead.

Okay, brain. Go be weird. I’ll ignore your existential questions until you stop being dumb.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Update

Bartholomew, our fiddle-leaf fig that I’ve written about before (yes we named it. It’s such a distinguished plant it deserves a name) has really started to thrive.

It lost a lot of leaves and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make Bart happy. Here’s the routine we’ve used:

  1. We water it on an exact schedule of once a week.
  2. We now have a set watering can that we use that ensures that we cover all the roots and thoroughly water it, but a small enough amount of water that it completely dries out.
  3. We add a splash of fish fertilizer (pictured below) that we found on sale when one of our local gardening businesses went out of business. It smells TERRIBLE.

And then we don’t do anything else. We keep Bart in a spot where he gets lots of morning sunshine, and he’s in front of a heating vent that I’ve pointed right at his pot which I think helps dry the roots out. And he’s thriving! Lots of new leaves, the young leaves are shiny, and we really stopped losing leaves all of the time. Hashtag relief!

Getting Past the Brick Wall

Love this post quoting Randy Pausch’s last lecture:

It’s very important to know when you’re in a pissing match, and it’s very important to get out of it as quickly as possible.

Professor Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

I don’t generally think about it in these kinds of terms, but I can’t tell you how many times I find myself “stuck” with someone who won’t budge from an insurmountable obstacle.

Whether’s it’s a work colleague, one of my kids, or someone I’m trying to work with in the community — one of the most clarifying questions I ask in these situations is, “What do I want, really?”

It’s easy to form an adversarial relationship where what I want is to win and for the other person to lose. That’s human nature when you don’t get what you want. You’re not giving me what I want, so I’m not going to give you what you want, nanner nanner nanner.

But rarely do I really want them to lose. And recognizing that neither of us are getting what we want right now enables me the freedom to think outside the box and give something I don’t care about in exchange for something I really, really care about.