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The Ides of April?

Day 3523

The government made me do it, I swear!  Figuring I owed on my taxes this year, I postponed the inevitable until the last possible weekend.   I didn’t think we’d even have enough deductions to itemize them this year.  College loans are paid off and  it’s been years since we could claim the kids as dependents.  Heck – those same kids are working on dependents of their own now.

We (the spousal unit & I) claim zero exemptions on both federal and state taxes and it seems that’s never quite enough to keep the scale balanced.  Last year I made a sizable contribution to an IRA since I wasn’t eligible to start on a 401k yet.  That actually helped quite a bit at the time.   This year, even with the 401k started, when the dust finally settled we were deep in the hole.  Comfortably into the 4 figure range with the Feds and we’d have to toss another couple of hundred to the state.

What’s a guy to do?  Seeing as I was using my banks on line tax software, I played with some numbers.  (No – not a mysterious large donation to some charity)  I wasn’t maxed out on my 401k contributions (quite), so I looked at the IRA options again.  Using the tax software I was able to compare the effects of various contributions to my IRA account.  Finally settled on a number that reduced my federal taxes owed to a much more modest amount and even got me a return from the state.  Net effect?  I’m out about $100 to the various governments in tax payments and I’ve padded my retirement nest egg by LOTS of rounds of golf for my future self.  In essence, the government used my distaste for sending them money to force me to make investments for my retirement.  My new motto?  10 more years!!  That’s when I get to use all this money I’m putting away.

On a separate note – it’s been interesting reading blog entries about recent weather.  Sitting here on the east (Right!) coast, it’s sort of a weather forecast for us.  So all that nasty shit we saw happening in the Rockies and then in the Midwest has arrived here.  Yesterday we peaked at something like 82 degrees – 3 degrees short of the record for the day.  That followed an 80+ degree Sunday too.  So yeah – 82 yesterday afternoon sometime, obviously WELL before 5pm because when I crawled out of the cave here and got back above ground to go home it was already down to 59.  This morning on the drive in it was 37 and the temps aren’t going to stop until they bottom out at around 18 later tonight.  As part of that transition, we get this:

Ides of April

Yes, I’m under that upside down raindrop thingy, which is appropriate as it’s raining here now.  The pink that’s juuuusssst to the west of me?  Ice & freezing rain.  Lunch time ought to be fun.  And of course, the blue behind it is the inevitable snow.  After this latest finger of the bi-polar vortex slides by, we’ll return to more seasonal temps by Thursday.  Maybe.  I hope.  Trying to make plans to golf in Syracuse this weekend, even temps in the 50′s would be tolerable.

The cat would like some warm weather too.  Our back porch is sort of a roofed, screened in deck.  Nice sized.  If you count screen, it’s completely enclosed.  Well, Diesel (the cat) got out there over the weekend.  Good lord, he loves it out there.   If we leave the slider open we may never see him in the house again except for trips to the litter box.  When he’s not on the porch, he’s really enjoying sitting in front of an open window keeping an eye on the bird feeder (Cat TV)  got to make sure all the birds are sharing the food nicely.  He’s bumped his head into the glass several times thinking he’s going to pounce on a bird.  Hope the screens are stout enough to keep him in.

Guess all my docs have uploaded.  Better get back to cranking out reports.

Tis the season!

Day 3519

For the uninitiated, that Day #### is how many days since I gave up the evil cigarettes, cold turkey but with a plan. It’s one of the main reasons I started this blogging nonsense in the first place – 9 years, 8 months and 19 days ago. But who’s counting?

The real reason for this post is to finally welcome spring to the snow belt. Even the largest piles of snow in the parking lots are almost gone, the creeks are all way over their banks in typical spring flood mode, you can’t look outside without seeing a robin, and as some others have noted, you can’t look anywhere inside and not find a wad of cat hair sticking to something.

Plus, it was in the low 70′s when I left work yesterday. I just happened to have my golf clubs in the truck, so I swung by the driving range to test drive my spankin’ new driver & three wood (3 fairway metal? There’s no wood in these things anymore). Boy, have I been depriving myself hitting a 20 year old driver and 45 year old 3 wood (actual wood – persimmon).

The new driver got a name. Hank.

Why Hank? Because he hammers the CRAP outta the ball. So he’s going to be known forever more as Hammerin’ Hank. Well, at least until I get older and can’t swing like I’m trying to jump out of my shoes anymore. Thought that was going to happen when I hit 50. But last year I was still out driving the younger guys in my league with my 20 year old driver and 54 year old back. Now with the new gear? Hah. Yesterday I was aiming at the 250 yard flag and getting the ball there on the fly. Used to be doing well to carry 230 and rolling out to 260 or 270. Those 20 extra yards are going to help. There’s the added benefit of having a larger sweet spot on the club face too. That just makes the club more forgiving of less than perfect hits (of which I have plenty!), so even bad shots won’t be as bad. All this will hopefully add up to a better, more competitive year of golf.

Of course, then there’s this:

You see that?  79 Monday and 39 Tuesday?  For daily highs?

You see that? 79 Monday and 39 Tuesday? For daily highs?

 

Monday evening looks like it’s going to be a doozy!

X’s & Y’s

So. When did I last write? Was it around the “Blizzard of 2014″ time? I put that in quotes because, really, to excite anyone around here ya gotta deliver more than a measly 14 or 15 inches of snow.

Then there was the little surprise we had this past weekend. Something like a combined 12 inches of grauple/sleet/freezing rain/mostly snow. That stuff was extremely heavy. So glad I got a snow blower after the boys went to college! But since Sunday we’ve had a couple days in the 50′s so all that stuff is almost gone now.

Bowling season ended last week. Missed my target average by a whopping 14 pins. I needed 14820 pins over 78 games to hit that magical 190 average. Ended up with 14806 and a 189.82 average. So NEXT year we’re aiming for a 195 average.

In baby news, that little Avery is still the cutest thing on the planet and has more energy than 3 Energizer Bunnies. She never walks anywhere. Hop, skip, run, bounce, but no walk. Incredible. And her parents (Z & J) decided to find out the gender of their #2, due Sept. 3. Looks like Avery is going to be a big sister to a little brother! The important bit was that yesterdays ultrasound showed that everything was progressing just fine – head looks good, spine is in good shape, fingers are flexing – all good stuff. The fact that it’s a boy is gravy – we all would have been thrilled either way.

In a couple of weeks E & K have their next ultrasound (well, mostly K. E will be there for morale support) and they too will be learning gender. Their due date is 9/13 – like the baby cares! But September promises to be pretty thrilling.

Then, last night I learned that my nephew & his wife down in Tennessee, who originally declared they weren’t having kids because this was a horrible world to bring children into, had a little announcement of their own. Apparently they’ve had a change of heart about the whole bringing a baby into this world bit. Turns out they are having twins and are due just after the bunch up here.

So here’s my poor mom, who right now has 1 great grand child. By the end of the year she’ll have 5! Somehow that makes me going from 1 grandchild to 3 sound not quite so bad. And? I’ve been telling my nieces & nephews (all 6 of them) that I am a great uncle. You know, great, as in a jolly good fellow kind of uncle. Now? I WILL be a Great Uncle. Thanks to Z & J, my brothers already enjoy that status. About time the older one gets to join in, eh?

I gotta run. There are 5 other kids in my son’s generation that are technically capable of having kids. Granted only one of them is married, but at the current pace, one never knows who’s going to get knocked up next!

Blizzard? What blizzard?

Yeah, so the blizzard of 2014 came and went. I scooted home early from work, then sat at home logged on to the corporate server plugging away at my report writing. There are decided benefits to working in a basement and being unaware of the goings on in the great outdoors. Can’t count the number of times I looked out the window and thought “wow – I can’t even see the trees across the street!”.

Ended up doing my own driveway twice, did my neighbors twice too. They were away on vacation and it just seems to me that an unplowed driveway says “hey look here, no one home, come on in and steal everything!”

Neighbor on the other side of me had an 80 foot tall black cherry tree crack about 10 feet up. It fell over and got caught on another tree, so there was no immediate damage. But with 30mph winds, gusts to 50 and the fact that everything was leaning towards his other neighbors house, he wanted to get it down under some semblance of control. Turns out the other neighbor is an arborist and specializes in just that kind of work, so he spent a few hours up in the tree trimming and dropping branches. Eventually got the whole thing down and kept it out of his kitchen. No – I didn’t go watch. Way too cold to make that a spectator sport.

All told we ended up with 16 inches of snow in the 24 hour span of the storm. Most businesses closed early Wednesday during the snow (even the local malls shut down at noon), the snow slacked off by midnight and by Thursday morning things were pretty much back to normal. Our plow crews did their typical top notch job and we all got to go about business as usual.

No news on the pending grandchild glut. Both gals are chugging along growing their babies. Just don’t have confirmation that Kelly is for sure having only one. With twins on both side of my family, in every generation currently living, it is a small concern. However considering that my family is contributing on the male side of the equation, seems like there might be less influence. I don’t know for certain, but I would think it is the egg bearer that determines that kinda stuff. Maybe Google knows.

They shut down work!

Guess the National Weather Service bulletins made an impression on the corporate bigwigs back in Massachusetts.   We got the high sign to head for home.  If we can work from home – fine, if not then take it as a 1/2 day vacation.

 

This is what the roads look like near where I’ll have to drive:

390_Ridgeway

 

That’s a traffic cam shot of the lovely I-390/Ridgeway Ave intersection just a few miles north of my house.  The roads themselves aren’t so bad, yet, but I guess the winds are up around 30mph and the snow is coming down 1 – 2 inches per hour.

I have reports to write & upload and frankly, I can do that from the comfort of my own living room just as well as I can do it sitting at my desk.  Plus?   There’s a re-purposed table & 6 chairs in my bay of the garage and I’d really like to get them in the basement so I can park my beast in the garage tonight.

For something completely different – we smoked a couple of whole chickens a couple weeks ago.  Sent some home with the kids and put some in the freezer for ourselves.  Finally figured out what to do with the leftovers.  Saw a recipe for  Cajun Turkey Pot Pies at Simply Recipes. Only had to make a few subs. Instead of actually making the crust, I got prepared crust. Of course I subbed my smoked chicken for the turkey (had lots of thigh meat too – yum!). Oh – I did omit the jalapenos the first time through too. (Odd – I normally am quite the chili head and don’t consider jalapenos hot at all) Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. I have to say – they were fantastic. Absolutely NOT your mothers chicken pot pies. More like chicken gumbo pot pies. Next time (there WILL BE a next time) I might add andouille sausage or maybe I’ll dry some jalapenos in the smoker and use that (yeah, kinda like a chipotle, but home made). I did sacrifice a very nice bottle of dark beer (Great Lakes “Edmund Fitzgerald” if you must know), but it added such a depth of flavor and no beer taste at all.

I have one pie left over and I’m having it for lunch today. Can’t wait. So I’m going to do what the corporate bosses say and go work from home. Write reports, upload stuff and maybe varnish some moldings for the basement. Oh – I owe you pictures of that progress. Maybe next time.

Mush!

Put up or shut up time

Well, it appears that winter storm Vulcan is on it’s way to the Great Lakes area.  We look to be in for maybe a whole inch of snow Tuesday night, then 8 – 12 inches during the day Wednesday and another 4 – 8 Wednesday night, so maybe  12 – 20 inches total?

Getting to work in the morning will be a breeze.  That 4.1 mile commute home will be fun though.  I see much driveway snow blowing in the future too.  Ought to be a blast with the 20 – 30 mph winds.  I think most schools are anticipating at least closing closing early if they open at all.  Might have to see Detroit & Cleveland get overnight before they commit.  But work?  We won’t be shutting down.  Not a chance.

It’s about time we got some significant snow here too.  Poor folks down south have been getting pounded and we get our 3 here, 4 there and somehow have accumulated 86 inches of snow for the winter.  (Not on the ground now, just total snowfall)  Tomorrow’s little blast ought to get us to 100, our long term average snowfall for the season.

Speaking of averages, after last weeks pre-game bowling hype, know how I bowled?  Very average.  First game 2 pins under avg.  Second game 1 pin under avg.  Third game 4 pins under avg.  Total – 7 pins under.  So much for trying to get 20 something pins over.  Now I need at least 35 pins over this week.  Next week is the final week of the season where we bowl a position round and have our singles tournament.  Team wise we are hovering in the middle of the pack, just trying to maintain more wins than losses and barely making it at 106 & 102.  Might have to switch back to argyle socks, the T. Rex socks just didn’t have it last week.  Maybe my purple argyle socks with a nice purple polo shirt.  Could be the new power combo.

Two grandkids coming in September.  Still can’t get over THAT one.

Bowling pre-game

Had a better than average week last week at the ol’ bowling lanes. First game looked like this:

9/  X     X      X      X     X       X        X      X      X 9/
20 50  80  110  140 170  200  230  259  279

Yup, spare in the first, then a 9 strike string followed by another 9/. Sadly, the next two games did not follow a similar pattern. I did end up 76 pins over my average for the 3 game set. My original goal this season was to equal the average I had before my arm blew out – 186. Now though, I’ve had to revise that goal to something more challenging. So the new goal is to get the average over 190. I’m sitting at 189.1 right now and we have 3 weeks of bowling left. Somehow between now and the end of March, I need to accumulate another 76 or so pins above my average to get there,

That quest begins tonight.

On the grandkiddie front – all the kids have made their own announcements to the whole fandamily so everybody is up to speed. We go from 1 precious, precocious little granddaughter one month to having 3 precious, precocious little grandkids the next month. Christmas is going to be a blast this year – Avery will be 3+ and fully up to speed on things, the the daughters-in-law will be tag-teaming the rocking chair in the spare bedroom getting their nursing in while the rest of us get to fawn over the wee ones.

It’s like my mother-in-law said once – “I wish we got to have the grand kids first. They’re so much more enjoyable than having your own kids!” Or something like that. I think she meant something more like they were more enjoyable because you are more aware of how much they change from week to week, as opposed to being with them 24/7 and not picking up on all that they learn.

Like when CIndy was reprimanding Z & J’s dog the other day. She muttered “God damn it Ollie, stay down”. Heh. Guess who was spreading god damn it all over the house the rest of the day? Had to have a little talk with Avery and let her know that was something she shouldn’t be saying. OF course, she cut one loose as soon as her mom (Jill) walked through the door. Timing is everything.

In other news – our newest family member is adjusting very well. Mr. Diesel is still a little skittish, but he absolutely loves being petted – under his own terms. Still won’t let you get closer than a couple feet when you’re walking, but it’s way better than when he’d head all the way upstairs if you got up off the couch. He has also discovered “Cat TV”. We have a bird feeder hanging right in front of the living room windows. He can sit on the back of the couch and be about 2 feet away from the finches, cardinals, flickers and LBJ’s that frequent the feeder. (LBJ = little brown jobber – those house finch or sparrowy things). Mesmerising to him. I’m tempted to pull the shades so he’ll go do something else during the day. As soon as the sun is up he’s watching. Pretty good life I’d say.

Lunch is over – back to the grind. Gotta fine 76 extra pins somewhere. Soon.

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