Replacing the IRS

The “fair tax plan would replace federal income tax with a national sales tax. I can see the appeal if you don’t spend any time doing math. I mean, who *likes* filling out their taxes each year? A simple way that eliminates all of the IRS overhead sounds awesome. Make sure actual numbers get as much air time as the nice sounding “you wouldn’t have to fill out the tax form” and “no more wasting money on agents [to collect money people cheat the government out of]”. How much would you have to spend in a year to match your current tax load? Simple — take the amount of federal income taxes you paid and divide it by 0.3 (because the proposed rate I’ve seen is 30%). Do you spend more than that a year on taxable stuff? If so, you are seeing a tax increase!

Someone making minimum wage makes ~about~ $30,000 a year. And, with absolutely no deductions of any sort and as a single filer, they pay $3,394.50 in federal income taxes (they don’t; no one I’ve encountered who makes minimum wage actually pays the full “rack rate” for income tax because they qualify for some deductions). That would mean $11,315 a year in taxable purchases to reach their *WORST CASE* federal tax bill. Fifty bucks a week for groceries is $2,600 right there. Need to buy clothing/shoes? That’s taxed. Need to buy furniture? More taxes.

On the other hand, I pay about $15,000 in federal income tax. At 30%, that would require 50,000$ of taxable purchases *each year*. Maybe if there were some “get out of sales tax free” card that they handed out to anyone making under 40k a year, this would be an interesting way to discourage wasteful consumerism. But (1) that’s hardly the plan and (2) there’s a huge difference between taxing a new Birken bag and taxing *dinner*. The one good point I could see (well, other than there being absolutely no way any of this nonsense goes anywhere in the Senate nonetheless gets a presidential signature) is that, if the sales tax is only on new purchases, it would be a huge boon to resale and repair businesses.

Worse still, the more you make? The easier it is to reduce your overall tax burden. With land and solar, I could go this year without spending money on anything other than homeowners insurance, car insurance, property taxes, and probably new tires for the car. Even if all of these are subject to federal sales tax, that’s maybe $3,000 in tax for the year. More likely, though, only the tires are taxed.

Kafka Producer – Sending a Message with a Key

I needed to test sending messages into a topic where the cleanup policy is compact (keep the most recent data for each key) … which means I needed a quick way to send a message with a key to Kafka. Fortunately, the kafka-consume-producer script supports key parsing. You just need to include a few –property parameters when running the script.

./ --bootstrap-server --topic ljrtesting --property "parse.key=true" --property "key.separator=:"

When you send messages, they are in the format Key<deliminator>Message — so “LJRKey:1” will send a message with the key of “LJRKey” and the message content of “1”.

Kafka: Reset __consumer_offsets Topic

I set up a few topics for a new process, but the client was continually unable to subscribe getting the following messages:

[2023-01-06 12:54:58,965] INFO [Worker clientId=connect-1, groupId=connect-cluster-group-dev] Group coordinator (id: 2147483415 rack: null) is unavailable or invalid due to cause: error response NOT_COORDINATOR.isDisconnected: false. Rediscovery will be attempted. (org.apache.kafka.clients.consumer.internals.AbstractCoordinator:904)
[2023-01-06 12:54:58,966] INFO [Worker clientId=connect-1, groupId=connect-cluster-group-dev] JoinGroup failed: This is not the correct coordinator. Marking coordinator unknown. Sent generation was Generation{generationId=-1, memberId='', protocol='null'} (org.apache.kafka.clients.consumer.internals.AbstractCoordinator:623)
[2023-01-06 12:54:58,966] INFO [Worker clientId=connect-1, groupId=connect-cluster-group-dev] Rebalance failed. (org.apache.kafka.clients.consumer.internals.AbstractCoordinator:472)
org.apache.kafka.common.errors.NotCoordinatorException: This is not the correct coordinator.

The output should contain your topic and an offset:

kafkasandbox:bin # ./  --bootstrap-server --formatter "\$OffsetsMessageFormatter" --topic __consumer_offsets
[APP_RUN,appa_DB_error,5]::OffsetAndMetadata(offset=912219, leaderEpoch=Optional.empty, metadata=, commitTimestamp=1673378016876, expireTimestamp=None)
[APP_RUN,appb_DB_error,5]::OffsetAndMetadata(offset=424539, leaderEpoch=Optional.empty, metadata=, commitTimestamp=1673378016938, expireTimestamp=None)
[APP_RUN,appb_DB_error,3]::OffsetAndMetadata(offset=359340, leaderEpoch=Optional.empty, metadata=, commitTimestamp=1673378016938, expireTimestamp=None)
[APP_RUN,appc_DB_error,2]::OffsetAndMetadata(offset=986361, leaderEpoch=Optional.empty, metadata=, commitTimestamp=1673378017005, expireTimestamp=None)

I recreated the topics with the replication factor equal to the number of servers. I restarted all of the Kafka and ZooKeeper services. We tried from other clients. We tried searching the internet for some pointer as to what has gone awry. The only thing I could find is that the __consumer_offsets topic wasn’t right … you should be able to read the offset data:

/ --bootstrap-server --formatter "\$OffsetsMessageFormatter" --topic __consumer_offsets

Now, resetting the entire consumer offsets partition is a massively bad idea in a production environment. We’ve had to advance offsets before, but never had to reset the entire partition.

The documentation I found online used a ZooKeeper command that no longer exists — ‘rmr’ — but deleteall (basically a subtree deletion) did the trick.

# Reset consumer offsets
# Note -- this is a *really* bad idea in production as it can lead to missed messages. You should record the current offsets, clear the topic, then set the offset for the client groups
systemctl stop kafka # on all servers
mv /kafka/ws_npm_kafka/data-kafka/__consumer_offsets-* /tmp/
./ localhost:2181
deleteall /brokers/topics/__consumer_offsets
# Once this has been done on all servers, restart kafka
systemctl start kafka

Kafka: Finding the Controller in Zookeeper

When restarting all of the Kafka servers (e.g. a periodic patch and reboot), it is better if you avoid rolling the controller between the nodes on every reboot. To accomplish this goal, find out which server is acting as the controller and restart it last — you’ll have the controller move one time using this method, but only once no matter how many servers are in your deployment.

# Find controller by opening the zookeeper shell and querying for controller
./ localhost:2181
get /controller

Anya’s 10th Birthday Cake: Strawberry Whipped Cream


  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup strawberry reduction


  • Place water in a heat-proof container and sprinkle gelatin on top. Allow to sit for at least five minutes to hydrate. Place container into a pot of water (water should not come too close to the top of the container — we just need a little bit in the pot to make a water bath). Simmer until gelatin is clear and liquid. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
  • Add maple syrup to whipped cream and beat until soft peaks form.
  • Slowly drizzle gelatin into whipped cream (beating as you pour).
  • Slowly add in strawberry reduction and continue to beat until firm peaks form.

Anya’s 10th Birthday Cake: Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Recipe by LisaCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 14 oz all-purpose Flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 226 g unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 284 g sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

  • 170 g egg whites, room temperature

  • 125 g strawberry reduction, room temperature

  • 170 g heavy whipping cream


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Flour three 8″ cake pans and set aside.
  • Whisk together the cream, strawberry reduction, and lemon juice.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the room temperature butter and beat until smooth and shiny.
  • Gradually add in the sugar, beating until the mixture is fluffy and light colored.
  • Add the egg whites, one at a time, and beat at a medium speed.
  • On a low speed, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by 1/3 of the wet ingredients, mixing until mostly incorporated into the batter. Repeat until all ingredients have been added.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the three pans.
  • Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes (a cake tester should come out clean).
  • Place pans on a wire rack to cool for ten minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack and allow to cool.
  • To assemble, place a cake on the cake plate. Cover with strawberry reduction, and top with a second cake. Cover with strawberry reduction, then top with the third cake. Coat liberally with strawberry whipped cream and serve.


  • This year, Anya chose a strawberry cake. We looked through a lot of recipes online and merged a couple into what we hoped would be a very strawberry flavored cake. It was — the strawberry whipped cream was specially tasty. I think it could have used more strawberry reduction between the layers, though the cake was already very moist.

Kahtoola MicroSpikes

I picked up a pair of MicroSpikes and NanoSpikes at the end of last season as retailers were clearing out their winter gear. These are awesome for walking in the snow and ice — I wasn’t sliding around at all.

The negative five degree temps (negative thirty with windchill) taught me that I’m not quite done purchasing winter gear — my balaclava kept most of my face warm, but ski goggles for the little bit of skin around my eyes away from the blowing ice.