Friday, March 02, 2007

1145 I'm Off

Friday, March 2, 2007

The weather isn't as bad as promised. It was freezing rain early this morning, but it changed to plain rain, and all the ice quickly disappeared from the vehicles and the driveway, so the drive to NJ shouldn't be too hairy.

Back Sunday.

Until then, The Hunk and The Beast are in charge.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

1144 Duh?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

I was standing to the right of the television set in the kitchen. There was a reporter on, and behind her, on the left side of the screen, I could see the first few words of a sign. I wondered what the sign said, so I moved to the left so I could look behind her.


I got no sleep last night. I think it's time to go to bed.

Tomorrow I drive to Iselin, NJ, to attend a weekend NJ Mensa gathering. The prediction is snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain. Oh, joy. I'm going anyway.

1143 No Fire

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Yesterday and today.

I got up early yesterday, Wednesday, got dressed, and got a good start on the tax docs, spreading papers all over my bed. I would have to leave the house at a bit after noon to go to the Maritime Museum to learn more about handling membership, and then I had the ballroom dance class that evening.

At just about noon, I got a call from Roman. He was calling from work, on his lunch hour, to tell me that Angie was putting together a group for dinner that evening, at an Indian restaurant. She had put a notice on the local Mensa Yahoo group, and since I hadn't responded, he figured I hadn't seen it. He said he'd like to see me there. I thought of the dance class, and without hesitation I said yes, I'd be at dinner. I'm such a sucker for being wanted. Especially since I had been so rough on him the last time I'd seen him, at the Third Thursday dinner.

Roman had a few months ago agreed to help me find the perfect laptop configuration, at the perfect price, so he went on to say that he had found a good deal for me, and had sent me an email with the details. Since I wouldn't have time to look at it before leaving for the museum, I suggested that he bring a printout to dinner and we'd talk about it there.

Four hours at the museum. The woman who had handled the membership procedures (renewal reminders, receiving checks, corporate matching grants, thank you letters with membership card and goodies, etc.) is quitting like immediately, so I'd better understand it all.

There were four of us at dinner, and it was nice. Afterward, Roman and I sat in his car, and he showed me what he recommended I get on the laptop. There were a lot of choices of features, and he had a good grasp of the kinds of things I do. I'd have to go to a website to make my choices and place my order, and the sale ended this morning. I asked if the website had fancy flash stuff, because if it did, it might take my browser down and I might not be able to do it in time. So we went to his house, and built and ordered my laptop there.

This is the first time I'd been there since, well, "the last time", in July. I thought it was safe.

I don't think either of us is entirely sure what happened, but I ended up spending the night. At the end of placing the order, I turned to him and smiled, and he kissed me, and my mind stopped working. I think he really did want me, until he got me, and then it was like "uh oh, what do I do with her now?" In the morning, he apologized for leading me on. For my part, I was aware he wasn't entirely "there". No fire. I learned something. I'm not sure what just yet, but something.

So this morning when I arrived home, I picked up where I had left off on the taxes. I was missing only one 1099-DIV, but I was able to reconstruct it from the last dividend stub (a piece of luck - last year I was missing five, and couldn't find the stubs). I was missing one sale-of-stock 1099, but that happened to be the one Piper had sold for me because it was certificates, not book-entry, so he had a copy (which, by the way, was the "disappeared" 992 shares of Wells Fargo - mystery solved). And I was missing a local tax receipt, but I have the check. Given that there are about 70 pieces of paper altogether, this is pretty good.

No fire there, either

I put everything in manila envelopes by category, and I took it all to Piper. He'll give it to The Angel, who will do my taxes. The two of them will then figure out how much stock I can sell this year without "going into another bracket". (Do brackets even apply when it's capital gains?)

My process this year was very simple. I put a box next to the desk, and anytime anything financial-related or tax-related arrived, I put it in the box instead of filing it. It worked quite well. Now I can file everything left in the box. I think I'll simplify that, too. I'll just file it all under "Financial 2006".

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1142 Fortunate Frustration

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I spent a very frustrating afternoon and evening trying to sell stock. I've got stock in about 14 remaining companies that I have to sell so Piper can move it into bonds and mutual funds. Some of it is piddling little stuff like 3 shares of Avaya (a spinoff from some other stock), and 4 shares of IDEARC (a spinoff from Verizon), and I don't even know what IDEARC is.

The stock is all "book entry", and I thought I had online accounts with the various transfer agents. But the last time I dealt with most of them was in 2002, and every single company has, in the meantime, changed agents. I had to track down the new folks. To register with them, you have to do the SS# bit and all that, and then they'll send a confirmation number by snail mail, which you then have to use to get to the account.

On the other hand, you can call their phone number and sell the stock with nothing but the social security number.

I gave up on the online idea. I now have to wait until Thursday to make some calls (busy tomorrow).

It turns out this is good. The market crashed and burned today. It was the deepest drop since 9/11/01, and I didn't find that out until the 11 o'clock news. If I hadn't had all that trouble finding out who and how, I'd have really messed me over. I'm not selling anything now for a while.

I did manage to get to one account, and I'm worried. I should have a decent block of Wells Fargo, but when I got through to my account with their transfer agent, the account shows "number of shares = 0". Huh? If they think the account is abandoned (which can happen if they've got the wrong address and mail is returned to them), they'll turn the stock over to the state. So I went to the state unclaimed funds site, and I'm not listed there at all. Where did that stock go? Did that get sold last spring and I forgot to note it? This is why I hate book entry. I like having certificates in my hand.

It is now midnight, and I'm not going to sleep until I have the tax stuff together. It's going to be a long night.

1141 Overheard...

...on Frasier: "Unattractive? Let's put it this way - years of chewing tobacco has discolored her tooth."

1140 Spam

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Last night I went to to look at the listing for the house Daughter and Hercules are interested in, and had to register on the site to see the details. During registration, one is told that by registering, one agrees to receive email from agents. Ok, an occasional email won't be too bad.

Ten hours later, I had received five different sales pitches from the agent showing that house.

I unregistered.


Monday, February 26, 2007

1139 More Snow

Monday, February 26, 2007

I cleared the driveway this afternoon. Then it started snowing again - tiny flakes, gently. I checked the TV weather reports, the weather radio, channel 10 online weather alerts (they brag that they are specific to my mailbox!), and AOL. They all say it will snow off and on all night, but the total accumulation should be less than an inch. I've got over two inches out there now (11:20 pm). We've got the rest of the night to go.

I don't understand.


The IGA didn't have any cracked corn left, so I bought a bag of sunflower seeds. If the turkeys don't like that, I'll try the Agway for corn tomorrow. I like to keep the wild turkey population high and close because they eat ticks. Anything that eats ticks is worth encouraging. Even if they do wake me up too early.


Several other bloggers, women only a little younger than I, are all excited about rock concerts, and agonizing about feeling "too old" to go to them. I think maybe I've always been too old.

FirstWoman was very into the music scene in NYC in the late '60s and the '70s, and she asked me the other night if I was familiar with this or that musician. I explained that back then, I was being indoctrinated into The Company, learning how to wear three piece suits and parrot the line. It was a whole different scene.

When Daughter was about fifteen (and I was about 46), she went to her first big concert, held in like a stadium near the city or whatever. Afterward, she asked if I had ever been to a rock concert, and I said, "Well, no, not like yours. In my day, they didn't do these huge things where you can't see and can't hear. It was always in small clubs, or small theaters, or at colleges."

"Well, (condescendingly), did you ever go to any of them?"

"Yeah. A few."

"Anyone I'd recognize?"

"I think you'll recognize one. It was in 1968, a small room in the Armory in Kingston, maybe 200 people. I was in the third or fourth row. Folding chairs set up on the floor, close to a very small very low stage."

"Well, who was it?"

(...drum roll, please ...)

"Jimmi Hendrix."

"Wow!" She was very impressed. Even a little jealous. Suddenly her mother's "cool factor" shot way up, and even more when I admitted that "Yes, he did destroy a guitar. A piece flew right past my head."

(I was equally impressed that she knew who Jimmi Hendrix was!)

I saw Herbie Hancock at about the same time, at the performing arts center, but she didn't know who he was. And a bunch of well known folk singers, which were more my style anyway, but who were unknown to Daughter.


You know, if Jimmi were still alive and still performing, she wouldn't have been so impressed. I guess it's better to have seen a legend than an institution, and better to be an institution than a legend.

1138 Piper's Foot

Monday, February 26, 2007

Got a call from Piper, "Got the tax stuff together?" Aaagh! He's giving me 'til Wednesday, then he's getting tough.

He broke his left foot. Badly. He's in a big cast, crutches, can't drive. His vehicles are both standard, and he can't use the clutch. His lady and Vinnie are driving him around. I told him he could call on me, too.

Since the call, I got an idea. My Aerio is automatic. He's got a cute little VW beetle. Since I know how he drives, I might want to think about it a little more, but maybe we could trade cars for the next six weeks. (He wanders all over the road, it's scary, and he brags that he can make it to East Fishkill in 40 minutes. That drive takes 55 minutes at the speed limit. On the other hand, he hasn't had any accidents.... I wonder what my legal/insurance exposure is if I lend him my car and something happens.)

1137 Turkeys

Monday, February 26, 2007

We got four or five inches of snow overnight, and I was awakened early this morning by the turkeys. There are twenty or thirty wild turkeys in my front and side yard, and they've been there all morning. They are huge, footprints are almost as long as mine, and they are loud!

I think they may be eating the pits from the wild cherry trees in the side yard. Those pits are dangerous on the driveway - they're like ball bearings. By September it's easy to slide down the driveway on them. But I don't think there's many left by now.

I'll be going out to clear the snow in a few minutes, and that'll probably chase them away. As soon as I can get out, I think I'll go to the village and buy some cracked corn for them, spread it on the cleared driveway. I don't like hearing them at 7 am, but I like watching them, and I'm glad they're doing so well.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

1136 Annoying Stock

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I canceled a planned outing with FirstWoman last night because I was tired, frustrated, and full of inertia. I just didn't want to make the effort. I canceled rollerskating with Angie this evening for the same reason.

I'm frustrated and feeling guilty because I've got so much to do, and it's not getting done. Every time I start something from the "to do" list, something happens and I get sidetracked.

This afternoon I decided I MUST start pulling together the tax stuff for The Angel, and start looking into selling more stock for Piper's planned portfolio balancing. The first thing I picked up from the financial bin was a proxy packet from my favorite stock.

This particular stock is one that I have told Piper I will not sell! No way! Not for nuthin! I like it! The stock has gone up steadily for the past six years - it is now worth more than five times what it was in 2000, and it pays good dividends. He agrees that I'd be crazy to sell it - in fact, I should buy more.

The company is being "acquired". A smaller company in the same industry is going to buy it out for 26 billion dollars. For each of our shares, we stockholders will get .67 share of the smaller company, and a bunch of cash.

I am being asked to vote my shares, for or against the acquisition.

Naturally, I need more info.

Three hours, and a trip around the internet, later, I voted a resounding NO!!! (Not that I have enough stock for them to notice....)

First of all, I will end up with 1/3 of my investment in equity, and 2/3 in cash on which I will have to pay capital gains tax. I would prefer a straight stock trade. Gimme a bunch of yours for all of mine. This deal amounts to selling 2/3 of a stock I never wanted to sell at all. I could turn around and buy more stock, but I'd still be out the tax.

Since the announcement, my company's stock has continued its rise, but the stock of the smaller company has fallen. Analysts seem to think that it is a "fair" offer to the stockholders, since .67 share of the smaller company plus the cash offered equals slightly higher than the current price of my company, BUT, and here's the scary part, most of them think that the smaller company is going to hurt themselves badly, that they really can't afford the 26 billion. So those ".67 share"s could be worth even less in the future, even though after the acquisition, it will be the largest company in the world in this industry. (A giant, but an injured giant.)

I am exceedingly annoyed.

That, The Amazing Race, and several phone calls, absorbed the afternoon and evening.

Daughter and Hercules have been househunting in central NJ. Yesterday she said that they'd found the perfect house, and they had submitted an offer. The house had been on the market only one day. Today she called and said that someone else had submitted a bid, too, and it had apparently been accepted, even though their offer was probably higher. I wish I knew more about NJ real estate law, and how offers should be presented.

Emotional roller coaster for the kids. This is the second time that's happened to them in the past month.

I advised her to leave their offer "live" while they continue looking. The other buyers' deal may fall through. Besides, the real estate market is in decline, and in six months they may be able to get more house for the same money.