Saturday, August 16, 2008

1958 Faire, Tarot, and other bits

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I went to the big Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo today. It's the first time I've gone in several years. It has changed.

I don't know if they're still doing the running play. In the past, it was all over the place, constantly, hard to miss. And there was music, and jousting, and duels, and all kinds of performances, everywhere, including Robin and his merrie band waylaying passersby in the woods. All the performers and shop keepers spoke "Olde English", with carefully cultivated accents and vocabulary.

Not so this year. There were at least three times the retail booths, and the only performances I happened to catch were bellydancers (two - I watched one dance and left embarrassed for her), and a story teller. The Olde English consisted of "M'Lady...", and that was about it. I bought a carving of a frog emerging from a polished knot of wood root, and a shredded pork sandwich, and a Tarot reading. I stayed four hours, and left.

I'm glad I went, because I'd be sad if I missed it again this year after so long, but now it will be easier to miss it next year.

I dressed for it this year - a long bias cut black dress with long laced-up sleeves with long wrist points that flutter, with a tight pewter and pale green brocade boned & laced bodice over it (a cheap one I bought on eBay - first time out in a bodice, I wanted to wear one I wouldn't mind splitting). Many of the shops and booths were selling bodices, and the shop owners all complimented mine. Nicer, men of a certain age lengthened their glances to a stare, with a smile at the end. Rather nice. Certainly appreciated. A wench needs a boost every so often.


The Tarot reading: current and 12 month future.

She began by saying that this does not mean these things will happen, because I can influence the future by taking action. But if I take no action, this is the default.

Life: Health is good, life is comfortable, I'm mostly happy, etc etc. She used a lot of words and qualifiers, and when she was finished, I asked "Does that all net out to 'content'?" And she enthusiastically agreed. Not a perfect life, but a contented life. Yes. And it will be so.

Finances: She saw some problem there, that something will happen, a reversal, or expected money won't appear, ... she had difficulty defining it, so she jumped down to Work/Career", which seemed to be connected.

Work/Career: I will change jobs, with a reduction in salary, or I will retire and not get the benefits I expect, something like that, but it will not be devastating, just very irritating. She asked then what I do, and I said I was fully retired. She frowned, and said there will be some kind of financial disappointment, connected with work, actually with retirement, or leaving a job. Maybe I will start a job or business and then leave it? I said "Highly unlikely." She frowned. It bothered her. [Hmmm. I just remembered I got the annual Company retiree benefits signup package about two weeks ago. In prior years, if you didn't change anything, you didn't have to reply, and everything continued as per the prior year - so I haven't looked at the package yet. Maybe I'd better check it. I wouldn't put it past them to lull us into complacency, and then this year say that if you don't respond, you lose everything!]

House/Home: Major improvement will be made soon. Could be work on my current home, renovations or changes, or moving to another home. [I wonder if replacing A/C fits this?]

Communications: There's a blockage. There's someone close that I need to talk with, but the information isn't flowing. Possibly a child who isn't telling me something, or a relationship that needs discussion, and it isn't happening. There's an elephant in the living room that we're ignoring. [Yup. On both fronts.]

Social/Friends: "Don't get me wrong, you have a good heart, but..." she says my friends and acquaintances tend to see me as someone who stirs the pot, causes controversy.

Love: There are two men, one current, one future. The current man is leaving my sphere, actually, I am drifting away from his sphere. There is darkness surrounding him, he is dimming. There is another man on the horizon, who is cultured, artistic, creative, possibly involved with a band, that sort of thing, travels a lot for fun, he's a fun and exciting person whom I will enjoy enormously. Light surrounds him. I will become connected with him in October, no, (frown), not that soon, March. Yes, March. [I don't think I'm exactly pleased to hear this. March is the two-year anniversary with The Man.]

So, we'll see how it goes.


I forgot to mention this two weeks ago, but I don't want to forget it altogether, it was so cool.

At the tournaments, people who are with the bowlers are supposed to be quiet, for two reasons - to lessen distraction, and to prevent coaching. Think golf. At a tournament, five strikes in a row is not unusual. People start to pay attention when it gets to six.

At the Pa. tournament, a guy bowling on the pair next to The Man's pair got six strikes in the first six frames, and the whispered word passed through the spectators. Then he got the seventh. Another strike in the eighth frame, and people started wandering over to watch. Ninth frame. He rolled a
... hard to say this
... it's awful
... gutter ball.
Thud rumble rumble rumble
Gasps from the 80 people behind him. Sheepish look from him.
He got up there to go for the spare, and GOT THE SPARE! As far as everyone was concerned, it was the ninth strike. Gotta admire his cool. The entire building broke into cheers.

He then went on to finish with three more strikes. If not for that gutter ball, it would have been a perfect game, but for everyone who watched him, it WAS a perfect game.

Friday, August 15, 2008

1957 Wow! Another car

Friday, August 15, 2008

Christine found a car for me:

It's a Tesla. I love the design, love the way it looks! Wow! It turns out the body was designed by Lotus. Too bad Lotus couldn't do as good a job on their own cars.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems. I'll have to do more digging to be sure, but it looks like right now it's available only in California. That's pretty far to go for service.

It's 100% electric, with a range of 220 to 250 miles between charges (various websites differ on the range), so I wouldn't count on more than 200. I sorta doubt I'd be able to pull into a gas station and ask if I could plug in. And I'm not sure how long it takes to recharge.

If one were looking for a second car, it would be the perfect "pot around town and shopping" car.

Thanks, Christine.

Hey, anyone else have recommendations? Find Silk a car!

1956 Unbelievable eBay Bid

Friday, August 15, 2008

There's an empty condom package and a photo of panties, and the story of why they're up for auction. at

Ok, fun.

But it has gone beyond fun. As of right now, there have been 93 bids from 53 bidders, and a bidder with a feedback score of 1012 (which means they actually buy or sell stuff, and probably don't want to jeopardize their reputation by not paying) has bid $25,500.00. The auction ends in two days, so it could go higher.

A bid is a contract to pay. It's not just fun - you can't say you were just joking, and anyone with a score over two digits will know that. You don't pay, you could get sued, and you will lose.

The seller is actually going to get over $20,000 for an empty condom packet, a photo of panties (it was originally the actual panties, but eBay doesn't allow the sale of used underwear), and a story! The story isn't even well written, and there's no guarantee that it's true.

How much does a professional writer get for a published short story?

I don't have a very good imagination. If someone reading this would like to try coming up with an amazing story, I'll provide the items to go with the story and list it on eBay (my feedback is close to 3000, all positive), and we'll split the take 50-50.

What a scam! It's perfectly legal, and you're being up front with the volunteer marks. They're just stupid. Consider it a service to mankind.

1955 Another Car

Don't know how I missed this one:

Mazda Miata. It's a bit plain, but I like Mazdas, dealership is close, deals could be made:

1954 Disturbing

There's a set of TV commercials for some kind of chicken sandwiches, wherein a cow is angry at a man for "cheating on her".

Does anyone else find that disturbing? The "cheating on" the cow, I mean? One wonders what their relationship was, exactly. Ick. Ick ick!

An alternate interpretation is that the cow was angry because the man killed and ate a chicken instead of killing and eating her? That's not the first thing one thinks, and then when you back up and think it, it doesn't feel likely, and we're back to ick.

Don't they have meetings on commercials before they're approved? Doesn't anyone say, "Uh, hey, ICK!"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

1953 Small Progress on Taxes

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One of the uses of journaling is to force linear thinking on a scattered mind. Sometimes it even works.

I think I figured out something on the taxes. The tax owed is $5,000. The Angel says I have to send only (only?) $3,000 instead of the $5,000 the amended form shows because the IRS assumes they cut a check to me for $2,000 on the original return, which I would have to pay back. But I didn't get a check for $2,000, so I don't have to pay it back.

That's not what the amendment says, but I think that's what the interpretation is.

That's one question answered, but the total tax impact of the additional $15,000 income is still too high. It's still $6,000 over the original total tax due.

A second issue I have to address with Piper is that the total income is much higher than I expected. I sold some stock last spring, which was then reinvested in mutual funds and bonds. Selling the stock produced taxable capital gains, which would be taxed at the long-term rate. I am aware of the amount of gains from those sales. But the total income is MUCH higher than those gains would explain. Therefore, um, has Piper been "thrashing" my investments, producing a high amount of short term gains? Which are taxed at a significantly higher rate? And might that explain my way-too-high bracket? That high percent could be half short-term capitol gains tax.

The last few investment company statements seemed to indicate some thrashing. That doesn't mean bad. I know that we've been doing some balancing based on stock opportunities, and I know he moved a significant investment because a particular fund manager resigned. Several bonds reached maturity, too, but I don't think they generate capital gains.

I guess I'd better find out what's going on. It can't be too bad, because in this lousy market I've been gaining, not losing, but I'd gain more if I lost less to taxes.

1952 Taxes, Still!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Well, if I ever drop out of sight, look for me in prison, convicted of tax evasion.

My 2007 taxes are still a mess.

I got all the info to The Angel (the CPA and Piper's business partner), in early April. Something to keep in mind, The Angel doesn't deal with people. Piper does all the people talking, and The Angel does only numbers. So I don't get to talk to The Angel. Everything goes through Piper.

The Angel was backed up, and my taxes are a bit involved (even though what I give him is complete, neatly sorted, paper clipped, and labeled) because we also plan for the next year's investments at the same time. I shrugged and said no problem, go ahead and apply for an extension.

Now, when you get an extension, if you owe anything, you still have to pay it by April 15! When The Angel didn't come back to me for a check by the 15th, I figured either I didn't owe anything (I usually get a very small refund) or that The Angel had got the money from my account with Piper.

I am also supposed to pay the 2008 estimated taxes by April 15, but I got nothing from The Angel as to how much. Piper said not to worry about it, that the 2007 refunds applied to 2008 would cover it.

In mid June, I finally got to see the 1040s, which The Angel had already filed electronically. According to that form, I got a $2,000 refund from the federal, which was applied to 2008 taxes, and I owed the state $500 (all figures rounded). I asked Piper if the state had been paid, and to my horror, he said no.

(Now, it was about that time, just before or just after, that I was at the gas station across the street, and saw/overheard Piper and The Angel having one heck of a shouting match outside the office, with the word "taxes" clearly audible.)

When I reviewed the 1040 in Piper's office, I discovered that The Angel had completely omitted $15,000 in income. The 1099 was there, but he'd skipped right over it. I freaked. I gave the forms back to Piper to give to The Angel to redo, keeping only the quarterly slips for the 2008 estimated payments, which were due in Mid-June, and which I paid.

Ok. So far, I have no idea how much I owe the IRS or NYS, but I know I'm at least six months delinquent on the NYS payment. In addition, I've missed at least one NYS 2008 estimated tax payment (the federal would have been paid from the refund, although the amount of that refund is now suspect), and the estimated payments I made in June were based on an incorrect estimate, so I'm probably to some degree delinquent on them, too.

I'm not feeling so good.

In mid-July I get a nasty letter from the state. They want their $500, now! Piper said to wait until I got the amended returns.

In the last few days of July, I got to see the amended returns. However, The Angel had given Piper only the amendment pages, not the original returns. When I looked at them, it was obvious that there was something very wrong. Very. I couldn't remember what the original numbers were, exactly, but somehow, with the addition of $15,000 in income, I now owe the IRS $5,000 (I seemed to recall a $2,000 refund on the originals), and I now owe the state $300 (I seemed to recall that it had been more like $500). It didn't feel at all right.


Again, no checks had been sent.

Piper couldn't explain the discrepancies.

I left the forms with Piper, and asked him to check with The Angel.

What I'm getting back is very garbled. He says I owe less on the state because I get a "bye" on $18,000 of income because I'm over 62. (Huh? I was over 62 when they did the first 1040s. Did he forget it then?) In addition, according to Piper, I don't really owe the IRS $5,000, I owe only $3,000, because --- and this I don't I don't understand AT ALL! --- I had a $2,000 refund on the first pass. That doesn't sound right.

They way *I* see it, the $2,000 refund on the first pass was incorrect, because it didn't take into consideration the $15,000 additional income. So the amended return shows me owing $7,000 more than the original return, right? $2,000 of which is paid by withholding and estimated tax payment, and $5,000 of which I still owe.

What this means is that if I owe $7,000 additional tax on $15,000 additional income (from which $1,000 had been withheld, by the way, so my already paid amount went up, too), I paid $8,000 additional tax on $15,000 additional income, which puts me in like a 53% tax bracket. No way!

I'm not feeling so good.

Something is very wrong.

I guess I'm going to just pay what The Angel says I owe, and if the IRS or the state gets upset, he'll have to defend it, and he'll have to pay any monetary penalties.

'Cept, he doesn't get to go to jail. I do.


1951 More cars

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Still doing the preliminary car exploration. (The first set of cars is here.) Second set follows.

I mentioned to Piper today that I really wanted the Porsche, but it didn't look like I could get it, because the nearest dealerships are White Plains and Schenectady, and I don't want to make 3 hour round-trips for those warranty-preserving oil changes. (There used to be a dealership in Poughkeepsie, but it died about the same time IBM laid off 11,000+ local people). Maybe there's an authorized service station near here, but if not, that's a showstopper.

Piper was funny. He really wants me to get the Porsche now, and was so frustrated by my propinquity requirement that I think he was ready to advise me to move to White Plains.

An old sports car passed us while we were walking, and stopped at the stoplight, and I jumped up and down, "THAT's what I want! I want a one-a them!" Piper said it was a Triumph TR6, but I think it was a MG. This one (in green! Green green! MGs must be green!):

Unfortunately, you need to be a little more familiar with wrenches than I am to own a 55 year-old car. But damn, that's perfect!

So, back to practical, I found a few more cars.

Toyota Solara. It's a little too big. I want a two seater. But it looks nice:

Mercedes SLK. Right size, disappointing gas mileage, a bit too rounded ("eggy"), but with the right deal, I'd consider it:

Honda S2000. I find it a little prissy looking. Maybe because the windshield is so upright:

Chrysler Crossfire. This one looks like a definite contender. It's got exactly the right look. Mark for further research:
Saab. A nice healthy safe car with all the right words in the reviews, but too big. Those back seats. Tsk:

Volvo C70. Top ratings, but too big. Jay and his father always drove Volvos. Young Daughter misunderstood and called them "Waldo"s. I didn't correct her. Plus, I've always thought that strip across the grill looked like a bandaid. Ok, so I do have some prejudices:

Ford Shelby (dippy name). It's based on the Mustang. I like the rollbar, but that's about all. It makes me think "pickup truck":

Audi Quattro. I don't know. It looks a little boxy, but that could be the photo. I may need to see this one up close before I know which list to put it on:

So now I think I've found all the small convertibles available, excepting of course the overpriced "European playboy" racing models, and the not-sporty stuff like the PT Cruiser and VW. I'll cut it down to four or five, and start reading reviews, then cut it to three and start test driving. I may not buy until spring, why buy a convertible as winter is starting**, but I want to be ready.

(**Answer to that question: because showrooms will be anxious to get rid of convertibles when winter is starting. Remember - I don't pay retail....)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1950 Badminton

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I like playing badminton (why does no one ever pronounce the first "n"?), but I've never understood people who play to win. In my world, the object of the game is to see if we can keep the birdie flying as long as possible.

1949 Affordable! Flood! Fail!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I've always been interested in looking at houses. I often pick up those real estate sales booklets stacked at the grocery store entry. I've been shocked at the prices, everywhere. Even what I would call a hunting cabin, three rooms in the middle of nowhere, is priced at over $250,000. The housing market is supposed to be so bad, but it hasn't brought prices down by much, not in this area, anyhow.

Then I found "It's Lovely! I'll Take it!" (with cheeky comments on photos chosen for listings) where I can explore houses all over the US and Canada, and it looks like houses are way overpriced everywhere, not just here.

Today I found an exception - the Mohawk Valley area of upstate New York, the Palatine Bridge area, only about an hour from Albany and Saratoga. These listings show several large beautiful houses at shockingly reasonable prices. The interiors look like they've been inhabited by little old ladies with a penchant for doilies, but that's not a bad thing if you don't mind stripping wallpaper and repainting cabinets.

I wonder why that area has escaped the craziness.


Not a comment on the previous topic, I hope, but today's TV news was full of clips of the flooding north of here. It looks really bad, with creeks overflowing so violently that they're ripping 11' diameter culverts right out of the ground, and washing foundations out from under bridges and houses. It's not like the rising-water river-overflow type flood. This water created new river beds, moving fast, finding new paths for itself, ripping through towns and villages.

Down here, we've had a lot of lightning and thunder, but with the exception of yesterday, very little rain. Up there, they've had a lot.

I'm very glad I live high on a ridge, even if it does mean I need an electric-assist bicycle to get home from a ride.


Sigh. I've got to stop this internet life. Found another time vortex - "Fail Blog". It's all those little things that just didn't come out the way we'd planned. Like the design for this straw:
fail owned pwned pictures
I don't think I'd want my kid sucking on it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

1948 Lost Monday

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mom, at 17, high school graduation:

Today is the 85th anniversary of my mother's birth. She died when she was just four years older than I am now, after many years of declining health due to congestive heart failure. When she was younger, she always said that she planned to die before 65, because she never wanted to get "old". I think she was surprised when she made it to 67. And by then, well, she was old.

Our state of health and state of mind have a lot to do with how old we look and feel, and our state of mind has a lot to do with the state of our health.

Like my mother, I don't intend to get old. But unlike her, I'm going to do it by staying young.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

1947 Water, Car Shopping, Angst

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I turned the A/C off about two weeks ago. I got tired of turning on the faucet or shower, or flushing a toilet, and getting only an intermittent dribble. I finally threw in the towel after two days of no water at all. I suspect that after two months of water running through the heat pump constantly, the filter was full of silt from the well, so the heat pump was taking all the water that could get through.

There followed a few days of 80+ degrees in the house, but since then, it's been fine. I opened windows at either end of the house, popped the attic hatch so the attic exhaust fan could draw through the house, and set up fans in the den and the kitchen. Sometimes now at night it actually gets cold.

The water has yet not fully recovered. I'm getting about half of the expected volume from the faucets. I'm going to have to clean the filter, I guess, and perhaps recharge the cold water tank pressure. If that doesn't fix it, I'll have to have the pipes flushed. Oh, joy. Real A/C installed this fall, I swear.


Well, I've received the first dispersement from Jay's father's estate. Time to go car shopping. I want a small fast sports car, two seats, or two with a small bench in the back for groceries and stuff. Convertible, a soft top so I still have a full trunk. Preferably manual shift. Not over-decorated, not boxy looking, but not too rounded, either. Low, wide, and fast looking. Reliable, of course. Availability of a local dealership/service is preferred. Price isn't a factor in the purchase, but it IS for the ongoing insurance and maintenance costs, so preferably mid-range

I always look twice at Corvettes. I like their looks, but the word I'm getting is that people who know cars aren't too impressed with what's under the hood. One that always stops me on the street is the Porsche Boxter. It's not as expensive as the name would suggest. Piper wants me to go BMW (Bleck!). He also thinks I should lease instead of buy. Piper's buddies recommend Saturn. The Man drives a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. I have been in love with the idea of a Lotus since 1969, but the current design is the epitome of over-decorated, which is lucky for me, because if I liked it, I'd be tempted to spend WAY over budget. So far, the cars I'm considering cost about the same as what I paid in 2001 for the handicap-equipped van out there in the driveway now.

Here's the selection so far. Comments? Advice? Further suggestions?

Corvette - what I like best is that it's wide and low:

Porsche Boxter - low nose, pure sport:

BMW - looks too much like a coupe:

Saturn - somehow I think bee-stung nose:

Mitsubishi - like, but may be swayed by associated good memories:

Lotus - see what I mean by over-decorated? Just too much glop:

Today marks the first full week in a long time that The Man and I haven't gotten together. We'd managed to get together at least once a week lately, which is nice. When I see him, my feelings are renewed. But when I haven't seen him in about 10 days, it starts to wear off, and I start wondering again. I don't know what that means. The longer the separation, the more I start thinking that there's no way this is going anywhere, and I'm wasting time, and I really should move on. And then I see him again, and fall in love all over again, and I think well, I'll enjoy this as much as I can, for as long as I can, and maybe that might be a long time. I go through that cycle a lot.

I feel really good when I'm with him. I don't get that same feeling when I look at his picture. The face in photographs is almost a stranger - photos of him actually don't look like him. His face is a different shape from that in photos. Maybe it's that his eyes in photos don't have the same pull. His face in photos doesn't have the same vulnerability it shows in person. So looking at photos brings nothing back to me, feeling-wise. Then I hear his voice on the phone and it starts all over again. I have a strong response to his voice. He has a very masculine voice.

Piper would say The Man's towing a trailerload of baggage, as if that's a bad thing. Maybe in the end it will be. But right now, when I see him, I want to help pull the load. When I haven't seen him for too long, I think about that trailer breaking loose and running over us, and I realize that I do have a choice whether to stand in its path or not. (What I really want to do is unload the damn trailer and leave it all on the side of the road, but that isn't going to happen without a mallet big enough to cause amnesia. And I suspect that might mess him up a bit.)

Fate has been throwing men at me lately, as if to say, "Look, you have viable choices, closer to your interests, closer to your age, closer to your temperament, Hell, just closer!" She keeps tempting me. That's another thing I haven't been talking or writing about. Seems like it's feast or famine, and hey, Fate, I'm on a diet right now. I cannot and will not juggle men. One at a time. Cut it out!

I don't understand me. There's no logic in any of it. Maybe it's hypnosis. Maybe it's sex. I'm pretty sure that if the sex weren't so good, I'd have wandered off by now. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that if he lost the ability while I was still with him, I'd stick by him.

No logic.

1946 Shoot to kill

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It has occurred to me that some people may not recognize the "We come in peace. Shoot to kill, shoot to kill" reference in my previous post.

It comes from this: (Cheesy, but funny. Enjoy.)

[ If you click on this link, then on the "more info" on the right, you'll find the complete lyrics.]

Actually, "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it," might have been a more apt choice for that post.