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Twenty Years!

How appropriate given my relative quiet here that I missed my 20th anniversary of starting my web journal (which was yesterday). Since I still haven’t gotten around to importing my old entries into WordPress on this site, you can still read it from the beginning in all its hand-rolled 1997 glory starting here. (shudder)

Or you can read my entry on “Ten Years!” Or my long winded reminiscences on the early days of my blog.

The big difference between 10 years ago and today is the advent of social media platforms. Twitter was only a year and a half old a decade ago, and Facebook was a little older, but neither one had anywhere near the penetration they have today. I didn’t join Facebook until 2009, and Twitter maybe slightly later, so in 2007 I was still doing almost all of my online writing here.

Today, it’s much easier to make pithy comments (and a few pissy ones) on those two sites where the opportunity for dialogue and interaction is much greater. (Twitter is a pretty lousy platform for saying anything with any nuance, to be sure, but it has its uses.) Heck, I post links to my entries here on those sites since that’s where most people follow me.

I keep wanting to spend a little more time writing here – an entry a week – but it’s hard. Always so many other things I want to do, around the things that I need to do. It’s a different tension than in the old days; back then if I was busy doing stuff I didn’t have time to write, and if I had time to write I hadn’t been doing stuff to write about. Now I do stuff, take pictures of it, and post it on Facebook for my personal friends.

Anyway, cheers to 20 years of blogging. Or web journalling. 20 years ago I was still living in Madison and was over a year away from moving to California. 20 years from now I’ll be… geez, who knows? But hopefully still writing at least the occasional piece in whatever blog I have when August 2037 rolls around.

Busy Vacation

We recently got back from a trip back east to visit our families – and quite a busy trip it was, too. We were there June 16-26, since we were trying to balance seeing Debbi’s family as well as my sister and nephew, all of whom had various plans in the works from mid-June through July. So this was in some ways an awkward time to go, but it was better than the alternatives, and I personally wanted to avoid the awful heat and humidity of our trip last year, if we could.

We arrived Friday morning and spent the day and night visiting with my father (and taking a nap in the middle, too, since the red-eye flight always wipes us out). Saturday we drove down to Debbi’s family’s house where we spent the day and took them out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant which had pretty good drinks and very good guacamole which they make table-side. This was, unfortunately, the only day I’d see my brother-in-law Shawn or their middle kid Rachel, since the two of them were driving out-of-town for a concert the following weekend.

I actually took my Dad’s car on Saturday, because I drove home to spend Father’s Day with him on Sunday. We didn’t do a whole lot on Sunday, just hung out, watched Doctor Who from the night before, and I took him out to dinner in the evening (at a place he wanted to try, which, unfortunately, both of us were kind of disappointed in).

A big part of this trip for us was to spend some time at – and doing some work on – the family beach house. Debbi and I each had a different “most important thing”: Debbi wanted to replace some of the mattresses, while I wanted to replace the curtains. Debbi went out on Sunday to pick out mattresses and set up delivery for Friday. I bought some tools, and on Monday we went to Target and bought a bunch of stuff for the house, including new rods and curtains. We spent a bunch of time on Monday and Tuesday replacing the curtains and doing some other chores: Drano’ing the shower, cleaning up the silverware drawer, and vacuuming under the beds. Since this is a beach house, sand gets everywhere constantly, and that lifting mattresses isn’t a high priority for our family when they stay there – but with new mattresses coming in it seemed worth doing.

We also checked out a new sandwich place in the area, and had dinner at the local restaurant. Plus, in order to make progress tying up a loose end on the property, I contacted the local Coastal Commission with some questions, and three of them came out to check things out and talk with us on Tuesday. They were very friendly, and I have this sneaking suspicion that a lot of local owners don’t reach out to them to do this work very much.

Debbi drove me back to Dad’s on Wednesday, and my sister Katy and nephew Ivan came in that afternoon. Thursday we went over to Mount Auburn Cemetery to see Mom’s marker, which Katy commissioned and helped design, but she hadn’t seen it in person yet. Now, with the grass grown in around it, it looks really nice:

We also went in to Harvard Square to look around. I haven’t been in quite a few years, and honestly there’s not much there to attract me any more, as the place is a shadow of its former glory: Most of its bookstores closed (the loss of the venerable WordsWorth was the final straw), the comics shops not stocking many back issues anymore, browsing music stores isn’t really a thing anymore, etc. (I did find something at the Harvard Book Store, though.)

Friday, Katy and Ivan and I went down and spent the day at the beach house. The mattresses got delivered in the morning, so Debbi went over there with her nephew Josh to receive them. We mostly hung out for the day, and went down to the beach to kick around at the water’s edge (it’s not quite warm enough to go swimming) and throw a frisbee around. Katy and Ivan decided to head back to Dad’s for the night, while I stayed down with Debbi.

Saturday, Debbi’s family – her sisters, and her nephew and her other niece – came over to hang out with us. It had been warm and kind of muggy for much of the week, and it started clearing out on Saturday, at least a bit. We played bocce ball on the beach, Yahtzee in the house, and everyone tested out the new mattresses. Three of them left before dinner, and we took the fourth out to the local restaurant. (Said restaurant has good drinks and a lot of food I like, but 4 visits in one week was probably my limit.)

Sunday we had a lazy morning before Debbi drove me back to my Dad’s and went back to spend one more night with her family. On Monday Katy and Ivan headed home in the morning, and Debbi came up for lunch and then we drove to the airport, dropped off the rental car, and made the long flight home, finally getting back, unpacking, and falling into bed around 11 pm.

This was a more hectic trip than we’d hoped, and while we did get some downtime to just relax and enjoy, we also were very productive and got a lot done. It was satisfying, but not always very restful. Next year maybe we can take a longer trip and not have to schedule around so much going on. I think this year was just unusual in that way.

Jackson’s Home

After a long and stressful week, Jackson is finally home!

Wednesday the vet called to say that Jackson still hadn’t passed whatever it was, and recommended we take him to another, more expensive, vet – a.k.a., the hospital – since they had both an ultrasound machine and the capability to do surgery if necessary. So I picked up the little troublemaker – who had an IV needle in one paw and a cone over his head and drove him over.

Despite the cone and hating the car, Jackson loves the vet – at least, he loves checking out the exam room and the people who come to see him:

At least, he was very excited until it was time to say goodbye so he could go in the back. And I could go to work.

Thursday they called to say that they’d given him an enema (which I bet he loved!) and that he successfully pooped out – a hair tie. Which is kind of what we thought it might have been, although there was a chance it might have been a Lego-like brick. They suggested they keep him for one more night to make sure he was fully recovered.

So Friday I left work early to go pick him up. It was, like, 95°F outside, and he meowed the whole way home. He came right out and checked out the house when we opened his carrying case, and then he spent the next hour or so grooming himself all over (the details of which I’ll leave to your imagination).

Since then he’s been, well, I’d call it subdued. Not lethargic, but not completely back to normal. But he’s been eating, not throwing up, and mostly acting like his normal self. And very happy to be home – probably even happier than we are to have him home! He may be a little bundle of trouble, but he’s an important part of our household, and we missed him.

The Trouble With Jackson

I’m heads-down at work this month making the annual push for our upcoming conference, while Debbi is preparing for an off-site for her team at work later this week. Besides that we’ve been doing some deferred maintenance on our home (perhaps worth a post of its own), we’re planning a vacation this summer, I’m juggling discussions with other family members about things they’ve got going on, and I’ve been sifting through some bills which need attention (almost missed the due date for our homeowners insurance – whoops!).

So with all of that we did not need to have Jackson start throwing up repeatedly on Sunday night, waking us up twice, and requiring repeated spot-cleanings of the upstairs carpet over a 12-hour period. (Speaking of home maintenance, we should really get them steam-cleaned, too!)

By the time I came back from my run Monday morning he seemed to have stopped, but he was definitely a little out-of-sorts, possibly from not having slept enough himself the night before.

So Debbi made an appointment yesterday and took him to the vet. I’d hoped to make time to join her, but even for this time of year yesterday was an especially busy day, so I wasn’t able to make it. The vet took X-rays and – as we’d guessed – he apparently ate something, apparently a small rectangle maybe a half an inch by an inch or two, which the vet thinks was irritating his stomach. We’d learned a few weeks ago that someone – probably him – had eaten and thrown up one of Debbi’s hair ties – which you’d think would be very common, but Jackson is the first cat we’ve owned who’s gone after them. So apparently he got something else and swallowed it.

Debbi left him at the vet overnight, and the vet called to say that the object has apparently passed into his colon already, so there’s some chance that it might just come out the other end, which would certainly be the best case. (The worst case would be surgery to remove it.) So hopefully she’ll call and give us some good news today.

So we spent the night without Jackson, which was certainly a little quieter, since he’s our big troublemaker, often pawing at our venetian blinds at 4 am and forcing us to kick him out of the bedroom. But we’ve been missing him, and his sister Sadie has been especially snuggly; as our herding cat, I think she’s upset when members of her household are unexpectedly missing.

But this is stress we really did not need this week!

Forging Onward

I know, I know: Things have been awfully quiet around here.  This is my first entry of 2017, and it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything.

For those keeping score at home, later this year I’ll hit the 20-year mark of journalling, or blogging, or whatever you want to call it.  That’s a long time to be doing this, and we can’t all be John Scalzi, writing multiple entries per day. I know I’ve even written entries before about not writing entries – I’m not sure if that’s self-referential or the absence of referential.  But it has gotten harder to keep writing regularly as the years have past.

Well, that’s not entirely true: In fact a lot of my writing, the day-to-day “here’s what I’ve been up to” stuff, has just moved over to Twitter and Facebook. Both of them offer more immediate feedback, and of course lower overhead in writing very short pieces. There’s also the “mental overhead” of feeling like I should have a topic worthy of spending a whole post about it.  I also often have some amount of worry about whether I’m doing the topic justice, like I need to cover it from every angle and build a bullet-proof case, rather than just exploring the subject to the extent I’m able (and interested in) at the moment.

And so, I don’t write.

So, I want to write more. And we’ll see if I do – no promises, though.

So what has been going on this year with me?

The biggest news was that we had Debbi’s niece R and nephew J visit us for a week in February, which was a lot of fun for all of us (aside from Debbi and I each having a bout of food poisoning, from two different restaurants).  We went to Alcatraz, the Winchester Mystery House, and Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, and had a couple of great afternoons visiting with our friends and their kids.  We even managed to get a couple of teenagers tired enough to go to bed by 9 pm most nights. Debbi thinks they had more fun on their visit than they’d expected to, and apparently they’re hoping to come back next year.

In January I went to Grand Prix San Jose, a big Magic tournament held just down the highway from me.  I played in a Mini Masters event the first day, which was perhaps the high point of the event for me, as I ran the table with a remarkably good deck for only 3 packs.  I played a “last chance” event to get some byes in the main event and washed out in the first round.  And then in the main event itself, I went 1-3-1 before dropping, with a pretty mediocre deck.  (A 6-3 record or better was needed to advance to day 2.) I think I played okay, but didn’t have the results.  It did remind me how frustrating sealed deck can be due to its variance. I also played a few side drafts, one of which went well, the other two of which didn’t.  It was a fun time – but exhausting! I can’t imagine playing the 24 hours out of 36 it would take to win the main event, even if I were remotely good enough to do so.

Anyway, I’ve done a few other drafts at a nearby store, with better results, even going 3-0 in my most recent Aether Revolt draft with a fast and fun red-green deck. I’m going back for another draft tomorrow night.

We’ve also had a nice home development in that our 13-year-old kitty Roulette has been getting very snuggly, and has finally discovered the joys of sitting on laps, which has been fun for everyone.  We think Roulette spent a long time feeling depressed and traumatized since she lost all of her brothers between 2010 and 2013, and we got the kittens in 2012, with Jackson being a bully towards her. But I think she’s figured out how to stand up to Jackson, and has worked through her sadness and realized that she would like to get more love and attention from her humans.  She’s become more active and has even been running around the house with Sadie from time to time.

There’s been plenty more going on, but that’s enough catch-up for now.  I’ll try to write again soon.

R.I.P. Maggie

My sister Katy texted me last night to tell me that our Mom’s cat Maggie passed away sometime during the day.

Mom had cats for just about my entire life. When I was born she and Dad had a cat named Dinah, whom I barely remember, although I dimly remember thinking she was someone to avoid. She died when I was still quite young. I grew up with an Abyssinian cat named Amos – I’m not sure if they got him before or after I was born – and he was around until 1987, along with our Welsh Corgi, Punkin, who joined us in 1976. I always found Amos somewhat aloof, even for a cat, just doing his own thing. I don’t really have strong memories of him, even though I was a teenager for part of his life.

In 1988, after I went to college and Amos passed away, Mom and got a couple of cats, a sweet tabby named William, and a feisty polydactyl calico named Jenny. William was my buddy whenever I visited, and I was very sad when he passed away in 2000. Jenny lived a couple more years, and I think enjoyed being an only cat.

We weren’t sure Mom would get another cat after Jenny – well, maybe Mom was less sure than the rest of us – but she found Maggie at a shelter, I think around 2003. The shelter said she’d been found pregnant and with a collar on her neck which was too small. And she was a small cat – maybe 7 pounds – a calico with smoky fur and a smudge on her nose. Mom adopted her, and really had to stick out caring for her for that first year, because she said Maggie took a long time to warm up to her, and even longer to really become her friend. But eventually she settled in with Mom, coming down for treats or to lie on the newspaper, and moving from room to room to lie in the sun in various windows. I guess she would growl and hiss loudly at cats who came into her yard, and avidly watched all the birds which flew into the yard.

She was not a very friendly cat, usually running and hiding when visitors came. It would take several days after I’d arrive to visit before she’d do more than look at me around a corner. She didn’t bite or scratch (much), she just wasn’t very friendly. She did warm up to me when I stayed at Mom’s house while she was recovering from knee replacement surgery in 2012, even getting into the morning paper routine. She’d even sit at the top of the stairs and meow for me to come to bed when it was Mom’s usual bedtime!

She had a bit of a mischievous streak: Mom said she once got outside, and Mom left both the front and back doors open for her to come back in. After an hour, she walked in the front door… and before Mom could close the doors she walked all the way through the house and went out the back. She did come in to stay later in the day, though. She also loved to play with tabs from plastic milk cartons, and would sometimes carry one to the top of the stairs and meow until Mom came out and told her what a good kitty she was. (When we were preparing to sell the house, I found dozens of the tabs behind the oven.)

Maggie had a hard time in Mom’s apartment in assisted living, with people coming in and out several times a day, and having a pretty small place to live. Mom played with her a lot, but as Mom declined (and I see in hindsight that she hid a lot of the symptoms of her decline from us) I think she became neglected and lonely.

The nursing staff told us that when Mom passed away she meowed loudly for a while afterwards, and then she had to endure several days in the apartment alone, with the occasional visitor to give her food and scoop her litter, until Katy and I came to clean out the place.

Katy volunteered to adopt her, and something remarkable happened: She moved into Katy’s house, with her son and her two young cats, and she totally took over the house. She whipped the young cats into line, and became very friendly to the humans. Katy says when she’d have workmen over, the other cats with disappear but Maggie would stay and supervise them. And last December, when Katy adopted a young dog, Maggie told the dog who’s boss, and used him against the other cats, since they didn’t like him.

So after everything, Maggie got her happy ending, a year and a half in a nice old house, with friendly humans, lots of wet cat food, and plenty of time lying in the sun on the porch.

Katy said Maggie had been getting small and thin lately, and we’re not really sure how old she was. Our best guess is that she’s 13, about the same as our calico Roulette, but she could easily have been a year or two (or more!) older than that. She always had kind of cruddy teeth, which is not a recipe for long-term health. So it was not really a surprise, though the suddenness was a bit of a shock. I don’t think Maggie would have done well with a long decline, anyway.

Katy says she’s having Maggie cremated and will spread her ashes over Mom’s grave next time she visits. I think they’d both like the thought of that.

(photo by Katy)

(photo by Katy)

Can’t Go Home Again

Our big vacation for this summer was in a sense “just” another trip east to visit our families. But actually a lot has changed since our last trip. For me, anyway, things have changed.

This was our first visit in over a year, since Mom’s memorial in May of last year. And really neither of our trips last year were “visits”, since they both primarily dealt with the aftermath of Mom passing away.

I’ve been staying with my Dad when I go to visit since summer of 2012 when Mom moved out of her house and into assisted living, so that part wasn’t really different, but the “routine” of the visit was different. The big difference, of course, being that I wasn’t visiting Mom. In past trips I made sure to schedule time at least every other day to visit with Mom, spend time with her, run errands with her, and do any tasks on behalf of her affairs which I needed her presence for (and there was always something). This meant I was always scheduling my trip to make sure I had time for that – and more, it meant I was just scheduling my trip, which made it less of a vacation. So it turned out that I had a bunch more unscheduled time on this trip than I’d anticipated, and in hindsight I should have set up some visits with one or two local friends, but I didn’t realize how it would work out.

Of course, more to the point is that I don’t have Mom to visit with anymore. On the other hand, this means I get to spend more time with Dad.

Well okay, I can still “visit” Mom, because as it happened the week we flew out the marker for her grave had arrived and been set at Mount Auburn Cemetery:

Mom's Memorial

The marker was designed by Karin Sprague, whom my sister engaged for the job and visited last summer and said she knew immediately she’d made the right choice on her visit. As you can see, it looks great! Elegant, distinctive, and with a sense of Mom’s personality. It’s certainly the most unique marker in the immediate area, and has a lot more character than almost any other marker I’ve seen at Mount Auburn.

The view from the marker is pretty awesome, too:

Lake View

Dad and I visited and I took a bunch of pictures of the area around Mom’s site, and then we walked and drove around the cemetery, including climbing to the top of the tower at its center, which has a great view of the surrounding cities. Mount Auburn is beautiful and a popular scenic place to visit, and I’d certainly recommend it if you’re in the area.

Dad and I also drove out to Waban where I grew up to see how things had changed. In particular I wanted to stop in Waban Hardware, which was purchased and renovated after the retirement of the previous owner (who had been there for as long as I can remember). They’ve done a great job sprucing things up, and doubled its floor space by opening up the basement. They also have many great old photos of the store and of Waban Square in the stairwell to the basement, so if you’ve lived in Waban yourself, stop by and check it out.

We also walked around the new Angier School, where I went to elementary school. The old 1920s build was knocked down a couple of years ago and has been replaced with a new, modern building, which looks pretty nifty. While I have many fond memories of the old building, honestly I was aware even when I was going there that it was outdated, with an inflexible, unexpandable design, and needed to be replaced. This was a long time in coming. (The next closest school, Zervas – formerly Beethoven – has also been demolished and was being rebuilt when we drove by.)

Finally, there’s the site of Mom’s old house, the house I grew up in. We sold the house in 2013, knowing that the house itself had relatively little value since – like Angier – it was outdated and difficult to expand and modernize. Sure enough, the old house was demolished, and a large new house was built on the site. The new house is huge – about three times as big as the old house – but honestly it fits in very well with the neighborhood, fixes many of the problems with the old house, and doesn’t look like it dominates the site. I am perhaps a little sad that some of the nice trees around the property were removed and not replaced, but that could be changed; otherwise, I think it looks great. Probably as nice as anyone could have hoped for.

It's enormous!

It’s enormous!

I’d say that this part was a weird visit, but it wasn’t really that weird, just another step forward in the inexorable march of time. I think emptying and selling Mom’s house in 2012-13 was the really difficult step, and it’s been a long – if sometimes traumatic – transitional period since then. And it never really ends.

Anyway, I spent the second half of the week with Debbi and her family. We spent a couple of days at a beach house they have on the south shore, which we’ve both visited in years past. We actually went down the first weekend with Dad to hang out for an afternoon. Mid-week we spent time with Debbi’s sister and some of her kids.

The Road to the Sea

The biggest downside to the visit was that it was hot and humid for most of our trip – I’d forgotten how ugly Boston summers can be. And we spent two nights at the beach house without air conditioning, which was okay since it cooled off reasonably well overnight, but it made the late afternoon and evening a bit ugly. It didn’t stop us from sitting on the beach, either, or making an excursion to the nearby coastal town. It also didn’t stop us from waking up early to watch the sun rise.

Sunrise

We had fun with Debbi’s other sister playing video games (she’s ridiculously good at Wii Tetris) and running around the back yard with their dogs. And then on Saturday we played frisbee golf with several of them on a forested course. I’d heard of disc golf and had some familiarity with it, but I’d never played before. It’s pretty challenging! None of us were great at it, but we did pretty well, making par on a couple of holes, and throwing the disc into the trees on others. I don’t think we actually lost any discs, though (which is more than could be said for at least one party we passed).

We spent the last night with my Dad and then headed to the airport on Sunday and flew home, getting in late and collapsing into bed exhausted. We were smart enough to take Monday off to get our bearings again.

It was a good trip, although I felt like the heat dampened my motivation to do stuff while we were there. (I’d thought of making a trip into Boston, for example.) Hopefully it will be cooler for our next trip. But, it’s always good to see our families!

Best Breakfast Week Ever

Since Monday was Memorial Day, Debbi made breakfast both Sunday and Monday. Four days worth of leftovers and four days in the week meant awesome breakfasts every day this week.

Chocolate chip scones (from Iveta):

Scones

And sausage biscuits:

Sausage Biscuits

Thank you, Debbi! It’s all been delicious!

Springtime’s End

You may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet around here. Life has been ridiculously busy this spring and I have not been in much of a journalling mood.

We’ll start on a high note, which is that in late March when my sister Katy and nephew Ivan came to visit for a week, on his school break. They visited back in 2014 with Katy’s then-boyfriend and his daughter and wanted to make a return engagement. While I failed to get tickets to Alcatraz, we did a lot of other stuff:

  • The obligatory visit to Half Moon Bay, including Katy’s “happy place” the Feed & Fuel, and lunch at Cameron’s British pub. It was surprisingly cold and drizzly, so we didn’t spend as much time there as we’d planned.
  • A visit to San Francisco to ride on the cable cars, ice cream at Ghirardelli Square, a trip to the Cable Car Museum, and visits to a couple of athletic apparel stores that Ivan really wanted to visit. Again it was a rainy day, and we got poured on while waiting for the cable car.
  • A walk through the Winchester Mystery House, followed by a visit to the San Jose Earthquakes stadium and store – Ivan is a big soccer fan. (Somehow Katy didn’t make me take her to the Sharks stadium.)
  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park, followed by a drive down to Santa Cruz.
  • A visit to Berkeley to see the Cal campus, with another trip to San Francisco (and the easiest drive into the city over the Bay Bridge I’ve ever done) with stop at Borderlands.
  • We also spent a bunch of time around my home town of Mountain View, including a visit to the Computer History Museum (where I learned that I now enjoy the self-guided tour rather than the docent tour – 10 years ago it was the reverse). And Katy and I went out for a couple of runs together on the Stevens Creek Trail.

It was a good trip. I think by the end Ivan both didn’t want to go, and was ready to be back home. 😊

The rest of March through mid-April was mostly given over to taxes. Since Debbi and I got married last year, that meant we had the option of filing our taxes jointly, which we took since it turns out to save us a hefty amount of money. Meanwhile I also had to file taxes for Mom for last year – her personal taxes through the date of her death, and for her estate for the rest of the year. All of this was slowed down considerably by one of her investment accounts not providing the final 1099 until early April (not entirely their fault – one of the funds she’s invested in seems to be very slow about providing their data), plus issues with one of the 1099s not being sent to me, since it was still targeted at Mom’s old address. And then juggling getting the form from the estate to my sister for her taxes, and correcting an error on our taxes. Hopefully next year will be easier – at least I’ll have a better idea what I’m in for. It was exhausting.

But not as exhausting as what came next, which was learning that someone had compromised one of my credit cards, and concern that they had actually stolen my identity (I’m not going to go into details here, but there was evidence that it was more than just a compromised card). So that involved a bunch of phone calls, filing a police report (!), and generally monitoring my accounts for a while. Not to mention the stress involved. So far, nothing more has come of it, so it’s possible that it was more lax security at the card company, though that’s a little surprising since my experience has been that their security is quite good. Anyway, crossing my fingers that that’s the end of it.

Work has been quite busy, as it always is at this time of year ahead of WWDC. One source of stress in my life is when I have phone calls or business I need to conduct during business hours (because that’s when things are open), but I would much rather just be tron’ed in to whatever I’m working on in the office. So I try to get those phone calls or errands finished before I go to work in the morning (especially for calls to the east coast), but it doesn’t always work out that way. And we’ve had a couple of other projects going on over the last month, so it’s been an unusually busy time.

Besides journalling, reading has also fallen by the wayside this year (well, except for the weekly comic book run). I feel like I’ve been picking up a bunch of mediocre books that I run out of gas on. For example, Laurie King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was so slow and (ahem) droning that I gave up less than halfway through. I should just go back to reading space operas, maybe.

Though we have been watching more television than usual, in large part because of the TiVo I bought over Christmas. It’s been working really well, and we’re slowly working our way through Person of Interest. I also decided to dive into The Flash partway through the second season, which is a more entertaining show than I had really expected, although it has the usual superheroes-on-TV problem of having plot devices which make no sense whatsoever, and man, if it wasn’t for Wikipedia I would have had no idea what was going on for the first few episodes. I gotta say that the guy playing the “man in the iron mask”, when he was finally revealed, was a picture-perfect representation of that character.

So, I think that’s enough catch-up for now. We’re having a fairly lazy Memorial Day Weekend, enjoying the air conditioning since it’s been pushing 90 for the last few days, with a forecast of over 100 next weekend. Later today we’re having dinner with the neighbors – because we like our neighbors!

Maybe next month I’ll post as many as two or three entries!

Taxing

In honor of tax day (which is 3 days late this year because of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia), I just wanted to write a little post to say:

Holy crap this was the most annoying tax year I’ve ever had.

On the one hand, it was a little easier because Debbi and I got married last year. And filing jointly saved us a bunch of money in taxes, and that meant two fewer returns (federal and state) to file.

On the other hand, Mom passed away last year, and I’m the executor of her estate. So that meant filing federal and state taxes for her personally, and then federal and state taxes for her estate, and an additional state return for California because (apparently) that’s where I live.

On top of that, one of the funds she’s invested in was astoundingly late getting their information to her investment company, so they sent out a preliminary 1099 in February, and then an amended 1099 in late March (!!). Fortunately I have my CPA do all the paperwork, and I know they do it all on computer, so it was mostly a matter of waiting, waiting, and waiting some more before finally dropping it off with them. Oh, and since I transitioned her account from a personal to an estate account, and the personal account records were still being sent to her old address, I had to contact her investment advisor to get the amended 1099 for that account sent to me. Ghaaa-aaah.

And basically everything else hinged on getting the estate returns done, so it could generate K-1 forms for myself and my sister (the estate’s beneficiaries) for our own returns.

Lastly, I found an error in our returns when I picked them up for review, which involved some more running around (but was worth it because it saved us a reasonable amount of additional money).

I am one of those luddites who still files my taxes on paper. Although that’s not really the issue; some of my Mom’s taxes cannot be filed electronically anyway. It did mean a wait at the post office to ship things off, but on the plus side the fact that so many people file electronically these days means the wait is a lot shorter than it used to be.

Anyway, I got everything sent off on Thursday, and hopefully that will be the last I hear of them. Where taxes are concerned, no news is definitely good news.