Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

2015 Tax Incidence

Hey, it’s tax time again!

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New Sonja Pictures

I don’t always post when I upload new Sonja pictures, but I will in this case. I just uploaded a bunch of pictures from this weekend when we were in Wisconsin with my brother and his girlfriend. They are located here.

Crypto 1

I’ve been taking my first MOOC via Coursera, Crypto 1, taught by Dan Boneh. I’ve just finished up the final, and it’s been a fantastic experience, something I’d recommend to anybody with an interest in the subject.

This course is more about theory that how to implement crypto in the real world, but the theory is very important and shows exactly what drives a lot of the implementation decisions that implementations make. A lot of people think that MOOCs are easy classes, and this one is certainly not: it’s a fairly technical course, full of things like number theory, but it it doesn’t require a deep mathematics background. It also doesn’t require any programming knowledge, but if you do code, there are a number of extra credit assignments where you can put what you learn into practice, doing cool things like breaking RSA. It’s programming-language agnostic, but the examples are all written in Python so I used this course to try to pick it up, and managed to complete all of the programming assignments.

Crypto 1 focuses on symmetric-key crypto and hashes, with some asymmetric thrown in at the end. There is a sequel to this course, Crypto 2, which focuses more on asymmetric-key crypto. I’ll take that one eventually. I’m also going to go through the Coursera catalog and see what other interesting things I can take. Sure, I don’t get official credit, but I love learning.

2014 Tax Incidence

Tax time is here, and that means it’s time to calculate our 2014 tax incidence below…

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I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately due to the birth of our daughter Sonja. As I’ve written about before, this pregnancy has been up and down, full of surprises. This continued when Sonja came much earlier than we were expecting, at 33½ weeks gestation. The good news is that she’s a fighter and she’s been doing great, and she should be coming home in the very near future. In the meantime, I’ve posted some photos in the photo section of her. Much, much more to come!

From the Valley to the Mountain

The last update from a few weeks ago found Julia in the hospital. She ended up staying for a week for observation. During that time, the doctors closely monitored her blood pressure, fetal heartbeat, and did lab work to see if there was any evidence of preeclampsia or other bad news. Fortunately, Julia’s health was just fine during her entire stay, and her symptoms did not get worse.

Unfortunately, the news was not as good for Ingrid. During a previously-scheduled ultrasound that happened to coincide with the hospital visit, the cardiologist and perinatologist told us that Ingrid was getting worse, specifically the fluid accumulation in her tiny body and around her heart. We had known since we first learned of her condition that her prognosis wasn’t good, but it didn’t make it any easier when we learned a few days later during a monitoring ultrasound that she had died.

Of all the highs and lows in life, birth and death have to be the highest and lowest, and to experience both simultaneously is incredibly difficult. In a short while, we’ll be celebrating both the birth of one daughter and the passing of another that we didn’t get to know nearly as well as we wanted. Ingrid will always be a part of our family and we will treasure the time that we spent together, short as it was.

The doctors are confident that Julia’s pregnancy will likely be uncomplicated from this point out, and Sonja is doing just fine: she wiggles so much that the ultrasound techs sometimes have trouble keeping her in one place on the monitor to check her out, but she’s scoring 100% on the first tests of her young life. Julia hasn’t had any other troubles with her health, but the doctors are monitoring both Julia and Sonja weekly to make sure it stays that way.

Through this tough time, it’s been wonderful to have the support of family, friends, our doctors, counselors, and everybody else who has been there for us. We truly appreciate it. As tough as this has been, we’ve been surrounded by love and we know that love extends and envelops Ingrid and Sonja now, and forever.

When Joy Isn’t

It was the doctor visit that Julia and I had both been looking forward to, that 20 week ultrasound that was going to tell us what we were going to have: two boys, two girls, or one of each (the most probable selection and my pick). No sooner had we learned that we were going to have two girls did we get the unimaginable, horrendous news that one of them was very, very sick, and was probably not going to make it at all. Going from joy to heartbreak is what parenthood is all about, or so I’ve been told, but never did I expect it to happen so quickly or so unexpectedly.

One of our girls, Fetus A in the nomenclature of perinatology, has a failing heart. So weak, in fact, she is not expected to survive. Immediately, thoughts of how we would handle two babies, child care, strollers, car seats, all of that evaporated, and all that was left was the question that no parent wants to ask: will our child die? Not only that, will her death lead to the death of her sister, both of which we had never known except in black and white ultrasound photos?

Since that day several weeks ago, we have taken it one day at a time. Sonja Dygard Hunstad, Fetus B, the one that is doing just great, is still doing well, kicking so hard Julia can see her tummy move. Ingrid Victoria Hunstad, so named because we want her to be victorious and survive this sentence she has had put upon her even before she has been born, is hanging in there, although all of the experts tell us that her prognosis is grave and not improving.

This past Wednesday, Julia was admitted to the hospital. Julia has been monitoring her blood pressure throughout the pregnancy, and it had been creeping up. Because of the situation, her doctors want to monitor her to make sure it isn’t preeclampsia or worse. Fortunately, all of the tests have been negative, but it’s understandably not much fun for Julia to be cooped up, even in a nice place like the Mother Baby Center.

This is where we are now: talking with the doctors (who have been nothing but excellent so far) for updates, running labs, and waiting. We don’t always know what to hope for or what news is good or bad. What I do know is that if our girls are anything like their mother they are strong and they will do whatever they can to meet us, and that if things turn out for the worse, it is not for lack of trying.

2013 Tax Incidence

Hey, it’s time for my now-annual blog post on tax incidence! Graphs below…

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The Abstinence Adventure

Via Hairpin comes the story of a high school student in West Virginia protesting an abstinence-only assembly (at a public school, no less) taught by none other than Pam Stenzel. First of all, kudos to her for standing her ground even after the principal threatened her future college career. Second of all, it reminds me of that one time in high school that we had Pam Stenzel talk…

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Tax Incidence Reviewed

I have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than go over finances. In doing so, I realized that I had miscalculated the tax incidence graphs I had previously created. The biggest change is for payroll taxes in college: instead of looking at my W2s I just assumed I was paying full Social Security and Medicare taxes on my student jobs. In fact, I was not. This reduced my tax burden in the late 90s. The 2012 blog post has been updated with the most accurate figures.

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