Singapore Sling, Hold The Singapore

Took a fall onto the kitchen floor yesterday. Hard.

This came about as the result of a Rube Goldbergesque series of events. If THIS hadn't happened, then THAT wouldn't have happened, and then THE OTHER THING wouldn't have happened, and there wouldn't have been water all over the kitchen floor.

So, hello, Emergency Room. The shoulder wasn't broken, fortunately, but, hoo-hah, did it hurt! So I'm wearing an arm sling for awhile, and am living life with, mostly, only one arm. Tylenol, anti-inflammatories, Vicodan for bedtime all help with the pain.

Had to take Hilde to vote yesterday afternoon. Getting her wheelchair in and out of the car was interesting. I ended up putting my good arm under the folded-up seat-bottom and lifting it up like a one-tined forklift. The voting place had "Curbside Voting" available for the disabled, so Hilde was able to stay in the car while completing her ballot.

I'm hoping the sling can come off before I'm scheduled to go back to work Friday night.

Catching Up On Paperwork -- The Agony and the... More Agony


The photo up there isn't of my own desk, but it's more similar than I'm comfortable admitting.

But I finally managed to catch up on my tax returns, which is something of a relief. What wasn't a relief was finding that, rather than the refunds I've gotten used to over the years, I ended up owing an uncomfortable amount for 2008 and an eye-popping amount for 2009. Ouch. (And, contrary to what I thought after filing an amended return for 2007 earlier this year, the IRS told me I still owed money for that year as well. Double-ouch.)

Part of this was my own fault. After I got the security guard job in August '08, I kept neglecting to increase the withholding amount until earlier this year. Retirement income from the Postal Service also did a number on the numbers. Mea culpa, mea checkbook.

Besides upping the withholding on my guard pay, I'll be going to my credit union and setting things up to transfer a healthy percentage of my monthly retirement check into a savings account reserved for taxes.

We also owed big for 2009 because our income was up and our deductions were down. Having to see doctors less often: good news for your health, bad news for your tax refunds.

I'm peeved about part of that extra "income" because it was no such thing. A few years back I co-signed a car loan for a close friend. She moved across the country in May of 2008, and stopped making payments on the truck. The truck was repossessed in October 2008.

-I- never heard about any of this, even though we were still in touch, until June 2009, eight months later, when I was contacted by a collection agency and told I was responsible for the balance left on the truck loan, close to $12,000.

For various reasons, the friend's own income wasn't seizable, and she could just tell collectors to go fuck themselves when they tried to collect the loan balance. But when she told them to go fuck themselves, she was saying "Go fuck yourself" to me as well, because she knew I'd have to pay if she didn't.

In return for quick payment, the collection agency settled for $8,400. Had to take a home equity loan to pay it. Not happy, me.

Not end of story. Earlier this year, I got a 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, form from GMAC, the original loan company. The $3,500+ amount that had been waived when I paid the $8,400 was required to be reported as "income" on my tax return.

Oh, not happy, me. Especially when I plugged that information into Turbo Tax a few days ago and watched the "Amount Due" box climb by over six hundred dollars. For a truck I never owned, rarely drove, and should never have had to make any payment on at all. I think this qualifies as adding injury to injury.

(That friend -- let me rephrase that -- that former friend has still never said or written a single word directly to me or Hilde about any of this, even though she knows we know the truck was repossessed, even though she knows we had to pay the balance on her loan ourselves, even though she knows we had to go into debt to pay off her loan. Even just the words "I'm sorry" would have helped a lot with the anger I feel about this.)

Lessons learned?

Specific lesson: Don't co-sign a loan. For anyone. Ever.

General lesson: Don't trust your own trust in other people. (It's not the first time I've been burned by thinking other people would act the same way I would if the situation were reversed. I really should know better at my age.)

One of the reasons I got behind in getting the taxes filed is that I hate the process. Hate. Hate, hate, hate, hate. HATE. Have I mentioned I hate it?

Doing the actual tax returns is not the big problem. Turbo Tax actually does a pretty wonderful job of simplifying tax returns for most people, and even making them understandable for the most part. I want to have Intuit's children.

The hard part, the frustrating part, the part that has me clenching my teeth and bulging my eyes in bloodshot fury, is getting together the information to enter into those tax returns.

Especially because it's shouldn't BE a problem. Every year, throughout the year, I try to put info and papers I know will be needed for the next tax season into a separate folder or container. So it should just be a matter of cranking up Turbo Tax, opening that folder, and starting to enter that information.

And every year... EVERY YEAR... some of those papers and information, that I KNOW I received, that I KNOW I put into that folder... ISN'T THERE. Every damn year, I have to go on a scavenger hunt through every other piece of paper in the house, and usually find some of them in other places and files where they SHOULDN'T and WOULDN'T and COULDN'T be. And still others I have to contact the source for fresh copies, with associated delays.

(This is one area where Turbo Tax has failed miserably for me. Because TT is supposed to be able to download various information directly from one's various financial institutions. Except that every time I've tried using that "Import" button, it does not work. My batting average for downloading information via Turbo Tax is zero point nada nothing.)

But if I've moved into a part of my life where I seem more likely to owe taxes, rather than receive a refund, I really need to figure out some way to stay more organized. Not just with that "Taxes" folder, but with all the other papers & miscellanea that piles up so quickly; if I can change that annual "scavenger hunt" into just a regular "hunt", it would save a lot of time and frustration.


Because Why Should I Be The Only Person On The Internet To Not Write Something About It?


Over at The Rude Pundit, the quotable Mr. Pundit boils it down to it's bleached white bones:

"You despise this country if you think the Cordoba Initiative should move its planned community center. You have no understanding of the Constitution. If fact, you are in opposition to it. You have no respect for freedom of religion or speech. You are a coward who believes that the Constitution and the nation are too fucking weak to handle such freedoms. If you're not one of the crass politicians seeking to exploit the simpletons for your gain or a ratings-whore on Fox, you are a vile, hate-filled, unprincipled lump of shit who thinks that rights are only good when convenient for you, and you are too fucking lazy to fight for anything other than your prejudice and hatred."


It's Been A While Since I've Made A Cooking Post.

Perks of the Job: A Paycheck, Free Uniforms, and Live Sex Shows

Here's a link to a recent news item: "Couple Caught Having Sex In Scottsdale Parking Garage"

Yep, that's the place where I work as a security guard. No, I'm not the guard who caught them on camera, or the one who approached them in person. (This happened on an earlier shift.)

I am the guy, whoever, who was watching the monitors and caught another couple on a sidewalk bench a few nights later, with the very, very drunken young woman trying to get her hands inside the guy's pants. I dispatched our roving guards, who got there before Mister Johnson was dragged out of his tent, and who asked the couple to leave the property. Which they still had enough functioning brain cells left to do, unlike the couple in the news item linked above.

Ever since a large and popular bar opened up on our property a few months ago, the Incident Reports we've had to write have gotten more numerous, and a lot more interesting.

I've never been a big drinker, and never been all-out down-and-dirty drunk. Getting tipsy a few times when I was in my 20's was enough for me to recognize that drinking too much alcohol would make me start to turn into an asshole.

("Don't you mean more of an asshole, Bruce?")

And since the #1 Rule I try to follow is "Try to not be an asshole," I've always been careful not to drink much, if at all.

(That rule works pretty well, actually. I don't have to try to be a saint. I don't even have to try to be good. I just have to try to... not be an asshole.) (Yes, even that's a struggle sometimes.)

But it means I don't have much understanding, or sympathy, for people who seem to think getting drunk (or perhaps "dr-r-r-u-u-u-u-unk" would be a more apt version of the word) is its own end, and its own pleasure. Seeing the more intoxicated patrons of that bar just makes me want to do a facepalm and mutter "Oi vey. Mama Mia. Potrzebie!"


It Is A Proud And Lonely Thing...

...to be a fan of Zardoz.

In John Scalzi's latest film column, about well-regarded film directors who flopped at making a science-fiction film, the last of the list is reserved for what seems to be the obligatory hate for Zardoz.

*sigh* Yes, the costume designer should have been shot, or forced to wear that red loincloth/diaper in public. And some of the acting was done in an arch and mannered way. But still, the concepts were sound, the imagery was spectacular, the score introduced me to Beethoven's 7th Symphony, and I've watched the film multiple times with enjoyment.

Excuse me, I must go console myself with a peanut-butter-&-mustard sandwich.


News, And A New Profile Photo

The new photo is over there in the sidebar. It's been nearly two years since I had to shave off my long-time (33 years) beard for the security guard job, so I'm finally breaking down and putting my naked face online. I still want my beard back. *mrff*

The news is that the film option for my short story "Death And The Ugly Woman" was renewed. The option is for a projected anthology series, sort of like Masters of Horror , only adapting fantasy stories to the screen. Whether this will ever end up with D&TUW being produced . . . well, we'll see. But it means I get a check for another couple years option on the story. And considerable egoboo that they considered the story worth optioning again.


Dear Pedro,

"You DELETE real comments about the truth that is currently happening in America?"

No, Pedro, I delete deranged comment spam from some whacko who not only wants to use MY blog to present his raving views on fluoridation and demonic conspiracies, but who SERIALIZES his opus across four different posts here. None of which posts have any relation or connection to anything you write about.

I delete deranged comment spam from some whacko who not only tries to post his crap on MY blog, but who's posted the same wild ravings on thousands of other blogs. And it doesn't seem to matter what kind of blog, either. Cooking blog? "FLUORIDE! DEMONS!!" Sports blog? "FLUORIDE! DEMONS!!" My-Cute-Cat blog? "FLUORIDE! DEMONS!!"

And when I delete those irrelevant ravings, you have the audacity to try and play the Victim Card? You have the GALL to act like I'm fucking obligated to leave your unwanted intrusions untouched?

You're no better than someone who comes into my house and scrawls obscenities n lipstick on all the walls. You're a thug and a vandal.

You're also a thief. Because I've had use my time to wipe your scrawls off my walls. You've stolen my time, Pedro. I resent that. I resent it deeply.

And you're a coward. Everything I write here is under my real name. You? You hide behind the name of an Italian shoe company. (WTF? Is that supposed to be clever?)

Thug. Vandal. Thief. Coward.


If I haven't made myself clear, here's the short and simple version, for you and every other spammer: Fuck off.

Sorry about that, folks. He got my dander up. Here's a kitten chaser to make up for it:

photo by John Nyberg from stock.xchang