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Archive for March, 2009

baby lettuce

April 1st, 2009 at 03:39 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $8 groceries

Looked in my large pansy pots this evening and I saw baby yellow green leaves. Not surprised that the lettuce took almost 10 days to sprout - its been cold and rainy, in the 40s at night, while Sunday afternoon was the first nice sunny day in weeks. Exciting!

I felt a little itchy to go outside for lunch today, so I went to Uwajimaya. I brought my own lunch so the errand was supposed to be just a box of green tea. I got the tea, plus a small box of chinese greens to augment my lunch, and a packet of miso soup, on sale. I dodged a bullet, in a sense.

But for laughs, I looked around some more. Here's another recession sign - designer lunch boxes. More precisely, Mario Batali lunch boxes. For $28. Kind of rich, because Mario Batali, restauranteur, would much prefer you ate out rather than bring it in. It would seem he was branding at both ends.

food for fun and profit

March 31st, 2009 at 04:53 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $22 groceries

I've decided to invest in another DRP - Sysco (SYY). Food distribution is not a terribly sexy company, but you've got to eat, and generally these days, if you are eating out, its probably low-ish end. And when you do eat in a restaurant, you've got to have the plate to eat off of, the cutlery to attack it with, and the plastic wrap to store it. SYY has a reasonable dividend, and even raised it last year. And while they are not traditionally green, there are trying out some green initiatives. The big issue is that this DRP has relatively high fees - high in proportion if you want to put in small amounts, not so high if you put in larger ones. I signed up with Temper to get a share. It will take about 6 weeks to set everything up with the transfer agent.

Food is definitely on my mind. Now that the recycling has changed, the plastic bin for glass isn't necessary. Reading about where to donate the plastic bins led me to the Community Fruit Tree Harvest. Donating fruit and cataloging fruit trees is exactly what I'm interesting in doing. Now to see if they will take me along with our plastic bins.

semi lazy weekend

March 30th, 2009 at 01:22 am

Saturday
Saving log - $40 Drp
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $57 mixed stuff + $100 public radio

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.50 bagel & coffee + $10.50 apple, tea, magazine, lunch

Mixed spending yesterday - I bought $30 worth of women's underwear packs, various sizes, for our non-profit's underwear drive, along with three more large outdoor pots at Big Lots, then I broke down and pledged during our local NPR station's pledge drive. I have it on reasonable authority that our local station is doing all right - didn't drink the kool-aid and grow the station unsustainably - however, the PI's demise has hit me hard. Times are a changin'.

Last night I also shut the lights off for an hour at 8:30 pm. However, I also watched a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and it felt like cheating. Smile Let's just say that a few of those CGI battles made up for the dark living room.

Today, I jogged about 1/2 the way to the Fremont Bridge, a mock 5K. Last week I made it in 51 minutes, today I did it in 50 minutes. Trainer's goal for me in this is 48 minutes. I'm getting better - heart rate did not go over 145 bpm - but when I start to flag and walk, I'll have to curb that because when I walk, I want to walk the rest of the way. My weight is plateauing again at around 179-180, so I have to provide the trainer with a few days of my food diary.

Rounding out the rest of the day, I looked at my lettuce bowls, and I see sprouting (they were planted shallowly - 3x the diameter of the seed). Another sunny day or two and I should see little green leaves. Also put up a sage plant in a plastic pot. My little patio pot garden is coming along.

Noted that the IRS cashed my tax payment Friday when I mailed it on Monday. As my grampa used to say, "somebody really wanted your money." He hated taxes with a passion - he definitely would have commented that I shouldn't get caught paying so much. Your inheritance is killing me, gramps!

May I have an eyeroll, please?

March 28th, 2009 at 03:52 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

I was working with pledge data coming from the federal government accounts. The two spreadsheets, a summary and a list of donors, were wacky - the totals didn't match up.

Quote of the day from the Fed contact: "you should not try to reconcile this data."

I'll have to remember that during tax season 2009.

OMG milestone

March 27th, 2009 at 07:37 pm

Just looked at my stats. Over 3/4 of a million hits. Who knew?

freakishly easy bread

March 27th, 2009 at 03:29 am

Wednesday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $0

Thursday
Saving log - $ tip box
Spending log - $.58 bananas

A couple of days ago, I suggested to DH that he try to bake bread. (He's a margarine & slice of bread snack guy.)

The recipe we've wanted to try is the New York Times no-knead bread recipe. Actually there are several versions of them here and here and here. And if you want to see someone make it, here.

The reason why I asked DH to do it is that he really doesn't do that much cooking - stirfry, roasts w/potatoes, and carbonara. He's not a baker by any means, so if he could do it well the first time, there's no tricks and no tweaking necessary. The main reason, heh heh, is that we buy a fair amount of bread at the grocery store, so perhaps making our own might be a tad cheaper, and we avoid the extra ingredients, like BHA, BHT and whatnot. And the final reason is that BA needs a cooking project.

The loaf he made last night is nearly gone and it turned out spectacularly well. It even works with ancient, over the hill yeast from 2007. DH was a bit concerned before baking because the loaf didn't double in size. I figured if it was that bad, we'd have Passover matzos early! Big Grin

grocery auctions

March 25th, 2009 at 04:04 am

Grocery auctions? I don't know whether to laugh or cry... or eat up or throw up. Anybody here go to these things?

...it'll be even cheaper for you and your health if don't bid on the cheese curls in the first place.

tax season 08/tax season 09

March 25th, 2009 at 03:33 am

Monday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $40 groceries, and sigh, taxes.

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $10 lunch

Yesterday I wrote and mailed the checks to the IRS for 2008 and to the state of WI. It ended up to be a bit over $5K, and only $143 to WI. I suppose I could have filed and kept the money for a month, until the last minute to squeeze out that little bit of interest, but these days I'd be playing chicken with the IRS for a grand total of $6.25. I got the IRS 08 return, the WI 08 return, and 4 quarterly vouchers for 09...but then I got confused. Was there supposed to be a amended 2007 return somewhere? Or is that in my future.

I stopped by this morning. Apparently the lawyer's letter stated that since the sale was in September 07, that the sale fell in fiscal 07-08, and the proceeds should be filed in tax year 08. So no amended return - he got everything in 2008. At least if the IRS asks, he's an enrolled agent, and I asked about it.

Thus ends tax season 08.

Tax season 09 begins for me next month, when I pay my first quarterly tax.

our lettuce bowls

March 23rd, 2009 at 04:51 am

What we did Saturday afternoon, before ghost hunting, see entry below...


These bowls might be a bit tippy, which is our fear, but what we want is a convenient way to grow leaf lettuce. We put them on wheels to be able to move to maximal sun, rain, or to move them close to house in case of frost. Planted them - one is mesclun blend, the other is different lettuce varieties. Similar, except if we can thin around a couple of favored lettuces to get a bigger head or more leaves.

So far the kitty is disinterested.

Do you know you're dead? (really, really long)

March 23rd, 2009 at 04:36 am

Last night was the night of ghost hunting at the workplace. In a nutshell, nothing dramatic happened (jokingly, DH asked me to rinse off outside if I got slimed and I stayed dry), but it was fascinating nonetheless. Right off the bat, no pictures just words.

A little background - a month after and ever since we moved into our new digs in November 2003 (our last day in the old office fell on Halloween - no joke), we've had reports of odd sightings of people and emanations. The two incidents that I knew about before last night were - 1.) a month after the move, a self-described psychic who was a fundraising temp staffer in 2003 described that she saw shadows of people counting money. Not unhappy, they were just counting money. 2.) Another fundraising temp staffer a couple of years ago said she saw a thin man in an overcoat walking quickly then turning left into a wall.

Last night I heard about several more stories through the years: a cleaning staffer saw a man in hip boots, dark coat, and scars sitting in a cubicle in the 1st and 3rd floors; the daughter of the facilities manager said to her dad that she was trying to talk to a man in a tall hat on the 1st floor; as the events manager came up the back stairs ran into a gate that opened and slammed shut; the same fundraising temp staffer who saw the overcoat man heard bag rustling and stomping coming from the 1st floor and she was the only person in the building; and a couple movement-from-the-corner-of-the-eye sightings in the old bank vault on the lower level.

So I come to work at 7:30 pm to a dark building, with one of the ghost hunting team on point to greet us and meet his team. The completely dark building was part of the setup. The facilities manager cut the lights and ran down the backup lights. Everything we did was either in the dark or by flashlight.

On our team of co workers were: the facilities manager (dad of the daughter), director of IT, me, the fundraising temp staffer who saw the overcoat man and heard the stomping on the 1st floor, 3 co workers who were very, very interested (all women, interestingly enough). On the ghost hunting team: 9 members, including a woman who attracts ghosts, and later on, a 10th person, the president of the ghost hunting club back from giving a ghost underground tour of Seattle. (Wow, there is one.)

The ghost hunters all setup behind the reception area. They came with a lot of equipment, IR cameras, EMF detectors, MP3 recorders, digital cameras, and headlights. They and by extension, we, looked like spelunkers. We were split into 4 teams: generally 2 ghost hunters teamed with two of us. I was with the temp staffer who saw the overcoat man (she was a good friend of mine). We were to go to each floor - LL, 1, 2, 3 - and stay for 1 hour in rotation. (It was to keep everybody from hitting the LL and the vault all at once!)

Another of guy ghost hunters set up stationary IR cameras on the straight ways on each floor.

Most of the night, we would walk around the dark corridors of each floor in turn to keep them from getting lost. The IR guy would continuously videotape, every so often the woman ghost hunter would photograph the corridors or cubicles. As they asked questions about the building, we would answer them, and they'd tell us a bit about what they were doing - the IR camera was to identify hot spots, the digital camera with the flash was to identify shadows. Apparently our computers would give spurious readings on EMF detectors so we didn't really use them...but other teams did. We learned that many of the sightings are 'residuals', where an entity doing something re-appears over and over again, like a repeating tape. 'Hauntings' are when you communicate with the entity.

We did a complete walk around of the floor, then we would sit down in a common area and tape. We would ask questions, let them hang in the air. Most of them were open ended - please talk to us, we want to talk to you, why do you stay? I'd ask a couple of questions: sometimes ghosts react to voices that they are familiar with or that are different, so we were encouraged to speak up and ask questions. Then after a bit of taping, we'd play it back. So out of politeness, we mentioned our stomach growlings, or in my case, a rumble a bit further down. Smile

Oddly enough, we heard things on the 2nd floor (where there were no sightings) that sounded like clicking heels. We (meaning our team) didn't really see or hear anything on the LL, nor on the 1st floor. The ghost hunters said for some of these places 4 teams would confuse the ghosts - that they wouldn't know who to communicate with. The 3rd floor we got a little bit in the main conference room. The woman ghost hunter asked me if I had shifted my seat and when I told her no, she told me that she thought she saw movement or a shadow behind me.

On the 1st floor we caught up with another team and the president. It was fascinating hearing the different styles, especially with the questioning. One was a bit more provocative, he would ask questions designed for a response, such as:

Do you know you are dead? Smile

That team sat in the conference room near where we heard the clicking on the second floor. They ran their tape and apparently got a mysterious knock in response to the questioners knock.

After the 4 hour tour, the teams all gathered together. Here's where it got interesting. The women who attracted ghosts could not stay in the vault on the lower level - she sensed a heavy, unfriendly presence, and when she sat in the 3rd floor main conference room her chair vibrated the entire time. Another team, trying to get at the man-with-scars angle, asked about being a fisherman and heard a cat meow. Another smelled a perfume smell in the lower level, in the cubicle next to mine. The hunters noted the 2nd floor issues. The man in the overcoat was hypothesized to be part of the bank. It was noted that the vault was probably at ground level in 1870's Seattle. Fascinating that several entities might be involved, coming from different times and places.

What the ghost hunters wanted was a history of the site, floor plans of the buildings that came before, go through tapes that they got, give us a report. They also want to set up and run an IR camera in the vault and the 2nd floor conference room over a weekend.

I can't say I believe any of this, but I have to respect the equipment, the lore (I hesitate calling it a science) and the know-how. Good people, too...with a very interesting hobby.

yesterday, today, and tomorrow

March 21st, 2009 at 03:35 am

Thursday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Friday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $20 haircut

Yesterday I received my stock proxy vote for KO. Every year some shareholder puts in a motion to control executive compensation. With the furor over AIG, I wonder how many more shareholders will vote for it? I know I voted for it, with more than a bit of glee.

Yesterday at our all staff, the CEO noted that our health insurance had to be maintained as a top priority, while our 403B was competitive, and therefore strengthening it was not a priority. Fair enough. I wonder how that bodes for the match.

Today I got my haircut (once every three months), and noticed that credit unions aren't safe either - a couple of those got taken over also.

Tomorrow morning I'll go in and file/pay my taxes (ugh - 2008, revised 2007, and probably the first quarter of 2009). But tomorrow night, I'll be ghost hunting at the job. Tee hee.

a good soul

March 19th, 2009 at 03:33 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $11 groceries

Put my monthly savings from the tip box into the bank - $48. About 15 minutes after I got back, I got a call from the outside reception to bring a pledge form.

Turns out that a young man (late 20s/ early 30s) found a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk near our offices. He stopped by on the spur of the moment to donate it to the non-profit where I work.

As he filled out the form he said he worked a few doors down, and that a couple of years ago he would have kept the twenty. Today he was a good soul and donated it.

We got his name and address on the pledge form. Next year he'll get a direct mail solicitation. With any luck, next year he will remain a good soul.

A second bit of luck came when I wanted a small decaf this afternoon. I was about to pay when I saw that I had won one by answering last week's trivia question. Got a lucky freebie.

Seattle history for 0.75

March 18th, 2009 at 05:07 am

Monday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $20 chiropractor + $2 conditioner

Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $.75 paper

The Seattle Post Intelligencer published its last edition today. I picked up a commemorative copy at the Safeway today. The top section had a series of lovely pieces of Seattle and PI history, so ...

would the bastard who stole it from the lunchroom bring it back or ELSE I will have to curse their Final Four picks. And trust me, I can and will make sure that you not only will not win, but that you will be the laughingstock of the basketball pool.

I mean it, man.

On a serious note, I'm saddened and a tad scared about the PI closing. Its supposed to live on as an online outlet w/blogs, twitters, commentary, but somebody has to physically go out, do the legwork, take names, write the story and do all of those things that afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Blogs reflect the news. If there is no reported news, we reflect nothing.

But we'll see.

frugal acts of kindness

March 16th, 2009 at 05:48 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.50 bagel & coffee + $25 groceries

I did a super long walk - from coffee to the Fremont Bridge, then over to 3rd Ave NW, and back up to 85th. It was about 7 miles. I timed the leg between the coffeeshop and the Fremont Bridge, because that's about 3.2 miles...in other words about 5K. The new trainer suggested that to spice things up and give me a goal, I should think about participating in a 5K. (Any advice, Laura?).

With jogging 10%/walking 90%, I made it to the Fremont Bridge in 55 minutes.

There was a PCC near the Fremont Bridge, so I brought my 10 remaining Clif bar coupons. They were also a bit thin on those, and had signs about the peanut recall. The flavors that they did have I liked, so I used all the coupons.

I told the checker how I got that many coupons - he thought it was a fine idea, and also told me that some of the smaller food companies will give you a coupon or two even if its just an email that says "hi, I like your products." Something to try - all I'd lose is time and a few electrons.

But the frugal acts of kindness were:

1. Out of the grocery store, I gave one of the Real Change vendors a couponed Clif bar. Didn't cost me anything but built up a tiny amount of karma.

2. On 3rd Ave NW, the wind came up, and dropped a bit. A garbage can tipped over and its lid was in the middle of the road. It took about 30 seconds to fetch the lid and re-unite it with the can.

1/2...After a little grocery shopping, I took the bus home the last ten blocks. At my stop home, two bus riders ran up and just caught the bus.

contrarian spending

March 15th, 2009 at 05:01 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $42 pet supplies + $29 clothes

I feel so contrarian these days. I've been frugal when everyone has been spending like mad, and now I've been spending when everyone else's wallet has snapped shut. Thank me in a few months - shopping's kind of fun when no one else is doing it.

I didn't do a super long walk, just a little jog and a walk along 85th to 15th NW. I went to Petco and got kitty shampoo, 2 finger toothbrushes, a roll of Paws away (double sided tape that inhibits scratching), litter odor neutralizer, and 2 cat toys.

Then I hit the Macy's of thrift stores - Value Village - and picked up a small bowl, a small metal colander, a large cast iron platter/candle shelf thingee, 1 pair of jeans (tossed out a pair last week), 3 spring knit tops. All for $28 and change. I was a tad surprised to find that towels were going for $2.99 apiece...new ones are $4.99, so you might as well get them new. Nothing like cheaping out and getting athlete's foot or something. Smile

I'd like to get some large pots or some ceramic flats - I'd like to grow some lettuce and a few flowers this year in pots on the patio. Seattle has a good climate for lettuce, usually, so the plan is sow the seed densely, let it grow out for about 6 weeks, mow, then rinse and repeat.

two ghosts

March 14th, 2009 at 04:50 am

Next week Saturday, the 21st, is when we go ghostbusting at our offices. 7pm to 11pm, but if something is found (!) we'll stay until 2am. A couple of co workers are really hoping for a near seance. "Maybe it will be (fill in with your fav Seattle founder)."

As for me, I think one of my co workers will bring a big Great Dane that we will nickname Scooby Doo... which mean we'll probably find out the ghost is actually a real estate developer trying to scare the buyers away so he can get a cheap price. Big Grin

I definitely plan to take notes and pictures, but more for my own purposes. I'm thinking of visiting sister and the farmette in mid-June. As some of you might remember, our farmette has a possible entity also - a man in a fedora going up our second floor stairs. Often the door leading into those stairs would 'pop' open even when firmly latched, then would melodramatically creaak at the end.

Sister tells me that she is nearly done with the kitchen, that it looks fabulous, definitely "not embarrassing". She has two dogs, both shaggy, so with our farmette ghost we can have the Shaggy Doo sequel.

feel like a vulture

March 14th, 2009 at 04:25 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $16 purse

A local boutique, Lemon Meringue, is closing. I walked past tonight, as I've walked past many nights. I've been in several times, enjoyed the nice things, even got seduced by a couple of bags --

Then I'd look at the price, and thought, "nice, but not THAT nice."

This time I came in, made a beeline for the deepest sale racks, and saw a lovely bag for $19 (original price $80). Actually, with an additional mark down, it went for $16.

I felt, and still feel, a bit like a vulture. The co-owner I chatted with was sympathetic - we would do the same thing, she said. We're developing perhaps an online presence...if nothing else, we will be doing something else. And thank you for shopping locally.

She poured both of us each a glass of wine; both vulture and victim drank.

food sales and unfortunate news

March 13th, 2009 at 03:29 am

Wednesday
Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $0

Thursday
Saving log - $6 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $2 groceries

Re: 2$ coffee. What can I say? Every couple of months I crave a professionally made cup of coffee.

I'm starting to see the food sales - one sign said: "Ignore the prices on the menu, everything is $6.95". Cabbage is now .19/lb, and now that I have Clif bar coupons, I can only dependably get Clif bar at Trader Joe's or PCC. The coupons last until 12/31/09...I can wait.

Busted:


Now for the unfortunate news. I learned that lawyer friend's younger brother passed on this morning. I never met him, but I feel the loss.

well, we could call it a panic

March 11th, 2009 at 03:50 am

Saving log - $7 tip box
Spending log - $0

Depression, Recession, Great Recession, GD 2.0, Great Unpleasantness, Banana, Liverwurst?

That's the thing about euphemisms. The only control things for a little while, then everyone gets wise and you can't use the word anymore.

Its a bit like the George Carlin routine using the words shell shock, battle fatigue, post-traumatic stress.

We used to call what we are going through a panic - like the Panic of 1873. Then we stopped calling them panics because the powers that be figured we would panic if we called them a panic. So we called them Depressions ... if everyone was going to do what we called it, heck being depressed during a Depression made crowd control ever so much easier.

Then after the Great Depression, calling anything a depression meant it would be instantly compared to GD. So we called them recessions, and we came up with such hokey rules for them (2 consecutive quarters of negative growth) that we often got out of them by the time we called them. Well, if you are going to fudge - might just as well call it a banana, wink wink, or liverwurst.

Let's just call it a Panic - we live in interesting times, and despite the high-tech hot water we got into, the trouble is really old-fashioned. Too much of the economy was built on deception and fraud, now exposed, and that stuff has been around since time immemorial.

mighty neighborly of you, Mr. Clif

March 10th, 2009 at 03:16 am

Sunday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $1.50 bagel (got a free coffee) + $10 ham sandwich and banana

Monday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $17 dim sum lunch

Six weeks ago, I discovered that one of my peanut butter Clif bars was recalled as part of that peanut butter Salmonella unpleasantness. I tossed the Clif bar, but I wrote a bright little email on their website, saying how bummed I was for having to toss it.

Tonight in the mail I got nice note back from Mr. Clif, with 15 Clif/Mojo/Luna bar coupons - each for one free bar. Not bad for thirty seconds worth of work. Gracias, Mr. Clif.

Our grocery store was selling broccoli for .58/lb. It felt like the good old days.

even more stimulus

March 8th, 2009 at 02:51 am

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

Saturday
Saving log - $40 DRP1 + $100 DRP2
Spending log - $12 brunch + $60 clothes from Ross + $11 ground coffee for work

Got a call from the enrolled agent (2008 tax guy) this afternoon. He asked, and I provided him with my 2007 tax return and paperwork, which also had a different Schedule K-1 on it. He is pretty certain that the 2007 tax guy didn't do it right, that I unfortunately underpaid, and that I should amend the 2007 return, and pay the penalties wherein. 2008 tax guy also suspects that since the 2007 Schedule K-1 came from the sales of real estate, I should have filed non-resident Wisconsin state taxes also.

I told him that to me its all about being able to sleep at night, and that I wasn't willing to wait to get caught (or not get caught). So its even more stimulus. I'm blue, of course, but at least I have the money to pay it.

My concern is for sister, who I am very certain blew off her own Schedule K-1, and no doubt faces a similar issue, perhaps even a worse one, because I at least gave 2007 tax guy the 2007 Schedule K-1. Although I am responsible that the filing is correct, it is a slightly different problem - I didn't blow it off.

When 2008 tax guy gets done calculating, I'll have to ask him to give me some simple explanations of what the Schedule K-1 is, and what happened, and advice on how sister should proceed.

catching up

March 6th, 2009 at 06:02 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $3.50 coffee, cookie

Couple of notes at work:

1. We now have a hiring freeze
2. We have been asked to look our job description, down time, and skills that we provide for the company.

One of our largest costs is temporary seasonal staff, both for us in processing and for fundraising, so I suspect that if things will get much worse the permanent will be asked to take over some, much or all of those functions. And we probably will be asked to come up with cuts, perhaps radical ones. Supposedly this is to plan in case things get even worse or stay about as bad in 2010.

I feel like a shoe have dropped and we've been catching up, which is good. But I think that the 2010 timeline is under-reacting, which is bad.

403B match is in

March 5th, 2009 at 06:19 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $5 lunch + $13 groceries

Today was an off-site training day, and the training site was about a block away from Remo Borrachini's, so DJ friend and I bought and ate a lunch there at the little cafe, ferociously tempted by all the cakes and Italian pastries.

In more fiscal news, our contributions are matched .50:1, our max is 8%, so a 4% contribution. However, this match is put into our accounts yearly, in March. I looked and found that our match from the 2008 contributions was put in. Excellent timing because it bought stocks at a relative low.

when you think of stimulus, think of me

March 4th, 2009 at 04:37 am

So today I took off from work to catch up on a couple of things that I needed to do during business hours. Namely, taxes.

Again, I got the schedule K-1, this time from my grandma's trust. I also converted my IRA to a Roth, so I wanted professional help. (And you never know, if something happens to Turbo Tax Tim, maybe I get the nod. NOT.)

I made the appointment and talked with one of the co-owners (family business, now owned by a brother/sister). Nice guy, does mostly business taxes throughout the year, but also does hundreds of individual returns during tax season. He is also an enrolled agent, which means that he can come with me should the IRS come a knockin'.

After about 10 minutes of interview, and 20 minutes of doing a quick calculations based on what I brought, we came up with the fact that even with moving the maximum into the 403B I still owe some serious coin, even more serious than last year. Sigh. Its the downside of not spending much of either inheritance, and putting it in cash instead.

We talked a bit about the possibility of this year estimating the tax and paying quarterly, rather than the all at once biggie. And for a little strategic meeting in October to sell something for a capital loss, if necessary.

And he did complement me - he told me that I 'won' the award for making the most interest, capital gains, and dividends of anyone he'd done taxes for this year. "Amazing," he said, "every piece of paper you gave me made money."

So when y'all get your refunds and your stimulus ... think of me.

3 up, 2 down

March 4th, 2009 at 12:58 am

Monday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $20 chiropractor

Tuesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.20 coffee

Out of the 5 Dividend Reinvestment programs (DRPs) I'm in, since December 2008 3 of them have raised their dividend: WEC by 6 cents/share, KO by 3 cents/share, and MMM by 1 cent/share. 2 of them have dropped their dividend and by, understandably, a lot: MI down to a total of 1 cent/share, IP down to a total of 2.5 cents/share. Three out of five seems for me to be a very reasonable ratio, even in these panicky times.

supercycle musings

March 3rd, 2009 at 05:05 am

For my 1000th entry, I got a little philosophical.

Why the Kondratieff hate? Why the hate about economic cycles in general?

To get you caught up a bit - Kondratieff was a Soviet economist, who came up with the idea that large economies 'cycle' over the space of several generations, generally on the order of 50, 60, 70 years. First you have a spring-like boom, then a summery plateau, then a fall-like stagflation, finally a wintery credit contraction and deflation.

The Kondratieff hate seems to be throughout the political and economic spectrum. Of course we all in the West would hate him because who wants to hear (and have to prepare) about recurring depressions? Bummer, so stick my fingers in my ears and say, 'la la la la'. But then Stalin had him killed, not because of the depression part (that fit well with what he hoped would happen to the West), but because of the spring renewal that came after. Kondratieff couldn't catch a break.

The rebuttal that I've been picking up is that Kondratieff was wrong because his timing was off - Great Depression +60 years fell in the mid-90s, so ha ha, schmuck, you're wrong. As a woman, an argument like that makes me laugh. Just because my period's late doesn't mean that periods don't exist.

And in general, it seems to me that social sciences in general have this personal attack component to them that the natural 'hard' sciences had lost centuries ago. Its one thing if you believe and can prove Freud's theories to be wrong, but then add to it the rumor that he molested his patients? Seems a bit over the top. Einstein proved that Newton's physics didn't explain many special situations in the universe, but that last I heard there were no hard personal feelings about the whole thing.

If we take Kondratieff's work as an hard-science-esque observation, I think the more interesting questions are: What is the underlying cause? Economies are created by people, after all, so is it a mechanical aspect like an underlying credit expansion and contraction? Or is it a more personal thing like subtle changes in the perception of risk, thereby causing more risky behavior? Does the cycle lengthen as the human lifespan lengthens? It seems like a leading coincidence that we are undergoing an eerie replay of the 30s, just as the first hand experience of the 30s is in the process of dying off.