Monday, November 1, 2010

Are We All Frat Boys Now?

Just Asking. Because there seem to be an increasing amount of scurrilous, sarcastic, and scatological items in what passes for the news. And they are not just found in places and on sites you would expect. You know 'em. Even grand old news organizations publish  more than their share of snarky comments and opinions when putting the facts out there without the everyone-is-a-comedian comments would work better. Leave comedy to the comedians. They know what they are doing.

The Internet may be the  Great Leveler but must we all sink to the lowest level? On the Internet, so the adage goes, no one knows you are a dog. But must everyone know you are a moron?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Your 15 Minutes Are Up, Now Go Away

Please.  YouTube, Facebook, Reality TV, Twitter, and the next big thing are doing a great job of keeping us from living in  the moment. Instead of taking in with as many senses as possible what is happening right now, we have become  simultaneous translators, texting every bit of non-information (is it really informing anyone?) while experiencing only on the periphery. We are not Luddites. These gadgets are important and do serve a purpose. But just as food and beverages are good for you, overindulging in food or alcohol can wreak havoc with your body. So, too, can an overload of factoid dispersion wreak havoc with your schedule, your brain and your psyche. How is it any different from any other addiction when you must always have the absolutely newest means of spreading your "news" and once you have hold of the hardware and software, the inability to put down the gadget, step away from the keyboard and just experience.
And be sure to look into how all this stuff is made and what goes into the production of every scrap.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mom's the Word

..or so it would seem. It doesn't mater what other accomplishments a woman has to her name. If she is also a mom, that is how she will be defined by much of the media much of the time. And we are referring to stories that have nothing to do with whether the person in question has children. It was noticeable during the Winter Olympics, although mentioning an athlete was also a Dad didn't seem to cross any newscasters' lips. It is almost as if a woman's roster of credentials is not enough or that there is something missing--kind of "don't worry, she's also a mom, so, dear reader or viewer, don't feel threatened, she is complete."

Look, being a mother is admirable and we have the utmost respect for mothers and fathers alike who care about their offspring and are dedicated to their families. But if women are going to be singled with the parenthood addendum to their C.V.s , then so should men. Or, better yet, just let the accomplishments and talents that have something to do with the news in question be enough.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When Ignorance Ain't Bliss

Another week...another day….another food recall. Still don’t want to know where your food comes from?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Taxing Situation

A new year. In fact, a new decade. But the shiny newness of 2010 is starting wear out and the arrival of those 1099s, W-2s, etc brings with them the sobering reality that April 15, a Thursday this year, is not far off.

We are not tax professionals, but since most of persons who are not tax professionals still have to file a return, or accurately determine whether they are required to, it pays to know where to find the answers before at best, dread, or at worst, panic, takes hold. Even the IRS states on its website, “Many people will file a 2009 Federal income tax return even though the income on the return was below the filing requirement.”

Ah, but you say, Sure. How do I know I am not making a mistake by not filing? Or by filing? The information below, from the Internal Revenue Service website-- -- will help you determine if you have to file a Federal Income Tax return or if it would make sense to change your withholding so you do not have to file unneeded returns going forward. This site is the best place to find accurate and up-to-the-minute tax info and is easy to navigate.
Additionally, one of the most helpful publications, available to download from the site or to order by mail, is Publication 17, which explains in minute detail who must file and what must be included in the return.

Generally speaking, for tax year 2009, if at the end of 2009 you were under age 65 and your gross income was at least $9,350 ($18,700 if married and filing jointly) you must file a return. But there are other conditions and requirements depending not only on your age or marital status, but on other criteria, ie, Were you a church employee? Did you sell your main home? Did you make early withdrawals from a qualified retirement plan? And much, much more. Not only are tax laws complex, many of them change every year so a deduction you were able claim in, say, 2007, may not apply to 2009. So asking an accountant or knowledgeable and well- trained tax preparer is the best way to be sure not only if you need to file, but what forms you need to use.

And please don’t procrastinate. April 15 is headed straight for you so getting the paperwork together now is the best way to meet the filing deadline and retain some peace of mind. And wallet.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Inconspicuous Consumption

What can be said when we need a magazine with the name REAL SIMPLE to help us to have at least the illusion that we can manage just fine with a lot less? Real Simple was started in 2001, in a period when people seemed engulfed in buying more and more stuff. About a decade before that, there had been a mini-backlash against conspicuous consumption, but there was no heart in it. Now the push to Less is More not only has heart, it has teeth.

And there the magazine is now, staring at you, simply; mocking you as you wait on the checkout line, because if you need a magazine to tell you how to live simply, you’re too far gone.

It is not just a Gift to be Simple. It is now a necessity.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spend or Save................again

Once again, we are being told we should spend money to help the economy. Will this really help the U.S. economy --long-term--or will saving lead to a recovery on firmer footing? Consumer spending is what drives the economy but saving somehow feels safer. And should we be spending what we don't really have? (Imagine if we all had huge budget deficits.)But where is the incentive to save when interest rates for savers are so low as to be practically zero?