Tuesday, January 19, 2016

5046 Brush fire 5 - real estate taxes

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"Fundamentalism isn't about religion, it's about power."
-- Salmon Rushdie --


I recently read the book The Martian, by Andy Weir.  They made it into a movie, which is out now.  The book is chock full of chemistry and  physics; Jay would have loved it.  I suspect the movie has a different emphasis.  I think the hard science part was all good, as far as I know, but I did find one part that doesn't ring true:  the potatoes.

 The abandoned astronaut turns the habitat into a potato farm, in order to generate enough food to last until he can be rescued.  Their food supply had included some potatoes, meant for a treat for Thanksgiving or something.  He decides he can cut them into pieces and grow them.  

Just one problem with that idea.  Potato sprouts are poisonous, so commercial potatoes sold in the US in the past few decades have been treated to inhibit sprouting.  If you cut up American "eating potatoes" and stick them in the ground, they'll just sit there and rot.  If you want to grow potatoes, you have to buy untreated "seed potatoes".   Untreated potatoes, called "sets", are available from like Agway and other garden supply stores, but they are unlikely to be included in the astronaut's food supplies because, hey, they might sprout.

Some of us are old enough to remember buying potatoes in the grocery store that had long white sprouts growing out through the ventilation holes in the bags.  Mothers would let kids put a potato eye in a saucer of water and grow a little potato plant.  You don't see that any more.  There's a reason for that.  Today's potatoes have tiny dry spots where the eyes used to be.  No sprouting allowed.

The astronaut's potatoes should not have sprouted.


I usually get a real estate tax bill for the country house in late September, due in October.  I seem to recall getting a notice that the bills would be going out late (but of course I can't find that notice now).  Along about the end of December, I noticed that I still hadn't seen the bill.  I had also hadn't received any late notices.  So I called the town tax office, and yeah, the bills had gone out (on time, she says), and yeah, I'm in arrears.  And, no, I can't pay it now, because their office is no longer collecting taxes.  Duh?

I swear I never received the bill.

Two years ago we had a serious problem with mis-delivered mail here.   I was getting mail for other people, at least one a week, sometimes two.  I always stuck it back it the mailbox with a note on it to please redirect it.  You KNOW people had to be getting my mail, right?

Well, it's started again.  I get mail for someone else about once a week, usually a close neighbor.  I usually hand deliver it if they're close, even if it's "spam" mail --- I figure it's not my place to decide what they do or do not want.  I'm wondering how other people handle it.  Do they just throw it out?  Do they open and read it?  I know there are people (really) who think that if they receive mail or packages addressed to someone else, they are allowed to keep it.  

So, what can I do about the unpaid taxes?  The clerk said that unpaid taxes are turned over to the county, then when the county sends out the bills for school taxes in the spring, the unpaid amount will be included in that bill.  That's gonna be a bunch of money, and with my investment situation in turmoil, I'm not sure I'll have it.  

Just another emotional storm.  Ho Hum.

Oh, and my back is out.
Oh, and I planned to head upriver Thursday, returning Saturday, but a major snow storm is predicted, so I guess not.


Later update - See the comments for more on potatoes and  sprouting.


TheQueen said...

I'm sorry your back is out. Also, I just threw away three sprouted potatoes. Sprouts an inch long.

~~Silk said...

Wow! Where did you buy them? I haven't seen a sprout since, oh, maybe the late '90s. Maybe different states have different laws?

Zayrina said...

Potatoes sprout at my house too.

~~Silk said...

Research: University of Idaho - "After mid-winter, nearly all potatoes available in commercial markets have been treated with a chemical sprout inhibitor, such as chlorpropham (CIPC). CIPC is the most commonly used post-harvest sprout inhibitor in the United States. CIPC inhibits sprout development by interfering with cell division, and, generally, a single application maintains long-term sprout control. Alternatives to CIPC are needed for both organic and export markets—where CIPC is not permitted."

Note the "after mid-winter". It seems that potatoes will spout 80 to 120 days from harvest. Potatoes are harvested in the fall, so potatoes that hit the stores shortly after harvest may not be treated. If they have been stored for later sale, like to go on the shelves in late winter, spring, or summer, they are treated to prevent sprouting in storage. A second point is that temperature fluctuations will encourage sprouting, and I keep my potatoes in the refrigerator (cold changes the sugar content), so no matter when I bought them, mine are unlikely to sprout.

Or are youse guys getting organic or imported potatoes?

Zayrina said...

I just buy the potatoes in the stringy bag, I have never really paid any attention to anything else. To me taters is taters. After a while they sprout and get thrown out.