There's nothing like a small-town Independence Day parade, and when we're not attending weddings or births or other such out-of-town occasions, the Geneva (Florida) parade is where we like to be. That's because we're privileged to march with the Greater Geneva Grande Award Marching Band, the parade's star attraction. (Well, we think so. Some of the other participants may disagree.)
I've written about the band and the parade before; this year we actually had a whole article about us in a real newspaper, albeit one i'd never heard of until the photographer introduced himself to ask my name. No, the paper did not choose to run the photo of me, no matter how crazed I must have looked crashing the cymbals. Instead they very appropriately featured Geneva's own Richard Simonton: good man, good friend, and the one who makes the band happen (and gets us our free hot dogs). (More)
If you live and work in the United States, you probably haven't thought about taxes since the middle of April. But for us, Tax Week came later. Because Porter worked overseas for part of the year, his company insisted on doing our taxes for us. Or rather, outsourcing our taxes. This happened once before, domestically, and Porter caught several mistakes before the taxes were finally filed.
This time, we're hoping they did it right.
My heart goes out to our Swiss-American family: filing U.S. taxes with overseas income is unbelievably complex. Porter actually likes the kind of work it takes to file our taxes, but this time he took a look at the 67-page stack of papers and decided to trust the hireling accountants for the foreign part. To be clear, I'm talking about the U.S. paperwork required for reporting foreign income—nothing that had to be sent to foreign governments.
Anyway, the company was slow in getting the job done, so only recently were our taxes filed: not only for the federal government, but also for two different states. Neither one of the states was our own, by the way—blessed Florida has no income tax. States which do, however, make sure they get their cut of anything you earn while working within their borders. Which is one reason why professional basketball players need tax accountants.
Not that I expect my readers to care about our taxes much—I write because the story goes on, and gets better.
The same week in which we finally filed our taxes, we received in the mail the Dreaded Notice from the IRS: We don’t think you were honest about your 2009 taxes, and require complete documentation of all the charitable contributions you claim to have made during that year.
Did I mention that Porter is really good about accounting and tax stuff? We barely had time to be annoyed with the government before he had all the documentation laid out for me to scan and copy; it went out in the next day’s mail.
But the really fun part was that in the process of gathering the documentation, Porter discovered that he had, indeed, made a mistake in the 2009 taxes. We were actually entitled to a significantly higher deduction than we took, and expect a substantial check from the IRS once we file an amended return.
Just after midnight today, Steven Perezluha reached Annapolis, Maryland as the ninth bicyclist in his division to complete the Race Across AMerica. With the 41-minute credit he received for a tornado-caused delay in Kansas, his official finish was at 11:34 last night. Steven raced from the Pacific to the Atlantic in an even ten days and eight hours.
Congratulations to Steven!
And because no one, least of all a major athlete, succeeds without a great deal of help:
Congratulations to his sponsors, his incredible support crew, and his parents!
No, not our granddaughter. :( But something her siblings would probably like. It brightened my day, and might do so for you while you're waiting for the next Hawaii post.
At last, an explanation of what Janet did in Basel before Joseph was born:
Early Music (H/T Andy B.),
and Barefoot Running (H/T Patti W.). (Preview without grandkid viewers.)
This is the best thing to do with a soda bottle since Diet Coke and Mentos. The insructions are clear, and the cost of materials low. I know some grandchildren who would love it. (H/T Conversion Diary.)
Look what we discovered!
In the following scene, T is Stephan's friend who is in Japan helping D, the pastor whose work I mentioned in Helping Japan, a Local Option. I have to give some credit to Facebook, as I only knew about this because FB showed me M as one of the (not so random) short list friends on D's Facebook page when I was checking it out. Stephan put the pieces together from there.
Janet, who travelled to Switzerland, and there met and married
Stephan, who had lived in Japan, where he had became friends with
T, who was in Japan for a few years and worked with
D, pastor of a church there, who has a son
J, who met (in Orlando?) and married
M, a good friend of Janet's from childhood!
Here's a Volkswagen plant in Germany that makes me think of the (former) World of Motion ride at EPCOT. (H/T MMG.)
I'd imagine the cars from such a factory cost a pretty penny cent, but it's still cool. If I were a worker, however, I'd at least be asking questions about what the side effects might be of all the magnets under the floor.
If you give up pie for lent, can you still eat Boston cream pie? The only thing that luscious concoction of cake, pudding, and chocolate icing has in common with pie is that both are round.
Then there’s the kind that is a different shape altogether—at least when I was in school we were taught that it was square. Personally, I think this video proves that it isn’t square at all, but a very cool dude indeed.
Happy Pi Day, everyone!*
I'm still struggling with the book review I'd hoped to post today, so instead you get Jennifer Fulwiler's dry humor. You can read the whole 7 Quick Takes Friday post at her Conversion Diary blog for other tidbits, like one man's Lenten beer fast (it's not what you think), but here's the section that set me laughing—and thinking—this morning:
Here’s what [Lenten disciplines] I decided on: a decade of the Rosary first thing each morning, and no adding sugar to my morning tea (a small but surprisingly noticeable sacrifice for me). And…well, umm…there’s one other thing that I couldn’t decide if I would admit or not…but I guess I’ll go ahead and say it:
I’m giving up cursing for Lent.
Now, before you form an image of me yelling at my kids to stop jumping on the $%^! couch or asking my husband to pass the $%&*!# salt at dinner, let me say that it’s not that bad. I don’t use bad words in front of the kids, and it’s not like I walk around spewing profanity when I’m around adults. It’s just that I’ve noticed lately that, well, sometimes I just can’t seem to express myself without pulling out a word from my pre-conversion lexicon. So I’m really working on that during Lent, hopefully adopting habits that will last for the long-term.
Giving up adding sugar to drinks was actually a last-minute addition to my Lenten plans. I’d always heard that you should give up something good, but I didn’t really get why, so I just went with giving up cursing for Lent. But then I heard people who had given up something good talking about their plans for Easter, and it all clicked.
For example, someone I know who gave up cheese talked about how she’s going to get a huge, lavish cheese tray for brunch on Easter. When I imagined her going that long 40 days with nary [a] bite of one of her favorite foods, I could see how the ecstatic joy of the Resurrection would hit her at an even deeper, visceral level as she bit into savory chunks of Camembert and felt the luscious Brie melt in her mouth after the long fast.
Then I pictured myself rising on Easter morn’, taking a deep breath, and shouting the f-word. Umm, yeah. That’s why giving up something that’s bad anyway doesn’t quite have the same effect. So no sugar in my tea for Lent.
Ha! Engish is cool, too. German has its Eszett (ß) and Spanish its eñe (ñ); the world is full of accents and umlauts and other characters that make life interesting and typing difficult. By contrast, English is plain and boring.
But it wasn't always so. We had - ta da! - The Thorn.
From Michael Leclerc of the New England Historic Genealogical Society:
One of the most abused of all letters (and former letters) in the English language is the Thorn. In Latin, the letter was written as Þ (capital) or þ (lowercase). In English, however, the thorn looks like the modern letter “y.” The thorn is no longer used in everyday English. The Thorn was pronounced the same way as the digraph “th” in modern English. In proper usage it is NEVER pronounced as the letter “y.”
It is often found on old gravestones, usually in its y-shape followed by a superscript letter ("Here lies ye body of"), and in the names of stores attempting to appear quaint (Ye Olde Coffee Shop).
Lest you think this is all ancient history, the thorn can also be found in Unicode, on Icelandic keyboards, and in html (þ = þ).
I think that's cool.
This is in tribute to our very own UJ, who is the undefeated champion of dump shopping in Connecticut. In Florida, as in many places, dumps are dirty, smelly, nasty, dangerous things. But in thrifty New England residents can separate out potentially reusable trash and "dump" it in special locations (at the transfer stations), where others can find treasure. Sometimes literally: our UJ once found a diamond ring! Unable to find the original owner, he presented it to his wife. Needless to say, she does not consider her husband a chump. He's a champ! "UJ's Store" is a great place for shopping, whatever the season.
Enjoy the song!
So, this headline popped up in my news feed today:
US, Israel, PA fail to reach agreement on settlement freeze
and my immediate thought was, "Why is Pennsylvania negotiating directly with Israel?"
In case you haven't seen it, check out the 12 Composers of Christmas. (H/T musician friend Sarah D.)
From a BBC News story of the latest Nissan recall (H/T Porter):
Nissan said there had been no accidents reported due to the fault, which can cause the engine to stall while running.
Just what I needed, something more to worry about. The nighmare scenario had never occurred to me: We're peacefully asleep in our beds, our car resting in the garage, apparently quite comfortable—but unbeknownst to us suffering an episode of stalling while the engine was not running.