Saturday, March 31, 2007

Completed Work in Progress

Projects, sometimes called work in progress, seem to accumulate like dust bunnies under the furniture. They are always around and you never seem to get rid of them all.

This week I managed to eliminate some of them from my list, and move a few more that were at the bottom toward the top.

I finally completed my taxes, and my audit. Both were mailed weeks ago, but yesterday the IRS finally cashed my check - that puts finis to that chapter. This years tax return didn't carry any tax payment with it.

Every two years my Real Estate License comes up for renewal. Before I can renew I have to complete 16 credits of Continuing Education. The CE topics include eight mandatory credits for Fair Housing, Legal updates, agency law, contracts and Ethics. Some of the topics are two credits some only one.

I took them online this time around and took the exam today - scored 93 out of 100. Passing is 76. Safe for another two years.

Yesterday and the day before it was absolutely spring-like outside, so I took the opportunity to rake up around the plant beds out back, and take down the wires that the dish people strung all over the back wall. They were extremely lazy and managed to drill holes in my walls from the outside rather have to snake the wires through the walls. The dish service has been gone for months but the wires remained, at least until this past week. Now they are gone as well. The only thing that remains is the dish itself. They put it up on the roof, and barring a storm, it will probably stay there. No way I am climbing up on any ladder to take it down.

I am still waiting for my new chair to arrive. Ordered it on line - their estimated delivery day is somewhere between 3/30/2007 and 4/3/2007. Nice range. Naturally, as soon as I leave the house for anything they are sure to stop by to deliver it. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Yesterday I went to my doctor for a regular check-up. Nothing special (other than a chronic stiff neck) was bothering me, but as usual he complained about my weight. OK so I could stand to lose 70-odd pounds, but I have become very attached to those pounds an it is hard to let them go.

Over the course of seven or eight years I have been seeing him he has recommended nutritionists, Glycemic index diets, fasting diets, etc. Lately he recommended stomach stapling and/or banding. My reaction to both of those was a strong recoil/aversion. Aside from the feeling that taking that route was an admission that I couldn't lose the weight on my own, there was another deeper thing which I couldn't put my finger on at the time. Later that day I remembered what it was. When I was still a teenager my father who lived under great stress as a salesman, developed ulcers, and then one day he had to be taken from the showroom by ambulance because he had developed bleeding ulcers. I guess that is what I subconsciously recalled.

So having nixed surgery he then recommended a new medication Byette(?) which is an injectible that reduced blood sugar and helps weight loss. On the down side it is expensive. So he gave me a prescription and I went to the pharmacy for them to price it and the needles.

Heart attack time!!! Between the two they would cost as much, each month, as the three-month cost for all the other medications I am taking combined. No way I can afford that much extra cost, and have to give myself daily injections, in the stomach, as well

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Watching TV

Working from my home as I do, and living alone as I do, the TV is my only company. Most hours of the day one 0r the other of the three TVs in my home (kitchen, living room, and den) are on. There are a small number of network shows that I watch regularly such as Grey's Anatomy, CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Bones. Then there are non-network shows which I also watch regularly, such as How it's made and Deadly Catch on Discovery, any food network shows, and more recently various shows on the Hallmark channel - old standbys such as Matlock and Murder She Wrote, and new ones such as the Jane Doe series with Lea Thompson and the Mystery Woman series with Kellie Martin.

These last two show irregularly but they are very good. I guess I am a sucker for mystery shows. These last two rely on problem solving ability not violence, which makes it more fun as it allows the viewer to try to guess the bad guy before the character on the how.

Of course some of the most entertaining stuff on TV is not the broadcast shows, but the ads. Specifically the GEICO ads. Most companies are lucky to hit on one good ad sequence, or jingle, or something to make their ads memorable. GEICO has two! The first being the Gecko, that almost human animated lizard that seems to appear in a very large number of their ads, and the new series the Cavemen (Its so easy a caveman can do it) There seem to be an endless supply of different versions of each of these so you never really get tired of them, and they are so well constructed that you always know it is GEICO that is running the ad, as opposed to some other ad series where you remember the ad but not who the sponsor is. Case in point, there is a hand cream, or body lotion that features a field of hands chanting something like "tuckatin, Tuckatin" sounds very soothing but for the life of me I can't remember the sponsor. And finally there is an ad which talks about banks and governments trying to liquidate foreclosed homes and now is the time to snap up these bargains - so far so good, nothing strange about that. But the ad continues that "if your name begins with the letters A-N you can call today, all others (O-Z) may call tomorrow." Problem is that these ads run every day. I guess the O-Z people will never get to call.

As I mentioned I have taken to watching the show "How it's made" on one sequence the showed how they make glider rockers. It looked so comfortable that I think I am going to buy one for my living room TV chair.

BTW did I mention that most of the shows I seem to like are produced in Canada - strange!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The adage starts: "all things being equal", but fails to add "but they never are." In the past several year I have gone to several dentists, all of whom have started out wanting to take lots of x-rays and so scaling and planing, both of which are expensive procedures. Problem is I have always gone in with the same complaint - nagging pain in my lower left jaw. But they say that tooth has had a root canal done and there is nothing there that should hurt.

As of now it is growing progressively more painful, but finding a dentist who will tell me what is wrong, and who will fix it seems to be very difficult. I have to make an appointment with my regular doctor and I will ask him what he suggests.

My taxes were completed and mailed - owing nothing. But when I mail the audit report with the large check they are demanding I fully expect that the nice folks from VA will want some more as well.

My rental listing has become very interesting. So far six people have asked for applications. I can only rent the home once, but maybe I can rent something else to the others. I normally don't do rentals, for lots of reasons, but these folks are coming to me as potential clients and almost all of them are from out of town

Friday I have a listing appointment. The owner bought the place in January of 2006 and has been trying to sell it ever since. He has had it listed three different times with two separate agents, with no luck. The home has dropped in price almost $90,000 below what he paid for it. Should be interesting to talk to him. I suspect he is desperate, but the question is how low will he go?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


It is mid-march and we have had weather in the lost thirties and mid seventies, all in the same two week period. Yesterday it was mid seventies, tonight they are predicting snow - go figure.

Monday I went back to the IRS because I thought I had caught them in a few mistakes (yes in their favor). So I took my box of records back and we chatted. As I said to them, all I wanted to do was understand how they arrived at their decisions. A word of advice - don't do what I did.

They started asking more questions about my home office (why was I claiming one, and my car - how could I document not only the total milage but the business portion of it as well. Suffice to say they could pull out five inches of tax code to support their side and I had nothing but my tax records to support mine.

In the end their report stood, they didn't disallow anything more than they originally did,, or anything less, and I had vented my anger and frustration.

I took a rental listing (for want of anything better to do, and I think it is already rented, and I may have found a rental for a second person who called in on it. Rentals don't pay much, but when they fall into your lap it is hard to turn them away. Normally I will take rental listings but not renters. For some reason renters are very picky, very needy, and very poor. A lousy combination. Most don't have cars and need to be chauffered around.

I finally started my taxes for 2006. Because of the flood in my house I didn't earn much, and have lots of expenses, so overall the tax returns should be fairly straight forward.

My daughter Hillary has become a rabid knitter, and jumped into the world of rabid knitters with both feet (mainly knitting socks). Last year she participated in several contests where knitters competed against one another to see who could knit the fastest. My daughter got an idea to run her own contest in the form of a March Madness style tournament. That started last week after months of preparation. With six or seven rounds of compatition, it probably has several months to run.

By all evidence everyone who is participating is having a ball, but at this point I suspect that my daughter my be regretting having started this. It is a LOT of work on her part. Her friend Felicia is her partner in this and I am sure both of the are feeling somewhat frazzled by now. I wish the both the best of luck

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The shoe drops, and drops, and drops

They say things always happen in threes. For me, the threes just keep coming.

First there was the house flood, then a minor fender bender during our first snow, then an IRS audit,

The IRS audits resulted in them assessing a ton of back taxes, well not exactly a ton, but a few thousand dollars which I can ill afford.

Then it turns out the the insurance company sent me a check which was supposed to be countersigned and sent to one of the vendors handling my damaged goods. Well the check arrived with no instructions and only my name on it so I deposited it. Now they tell me I have to send the money to the vendor - I knew it was to good to last.

For some reason I am growing somewhat anxious. The reason for my anxiety is my approaching 65th Birthday. I have been approaching it for almost fifteen years, ever since I turned fifty and became an official senior citizen. Once you reach that milestone you become too old for some things and too young for others. The designation senior citizen varies from place to place and store to store, so that in one it is 50, in another it is 55, in others its 60 and still others its 65.

The designation carries with it discounts and privileges so normally it is something to be desired. Of course if you happen to look like you are ten to fifteen years younger than you actually are (don't ask why, even my doctor thinks I am still in my early fifties) then you have to remind people of your age.

With sixty five comes medicare, and pension payments, and lots more benefits, which are good.

It "snowed" yesterday. When I woke up this morning it was almost all gone and it was in the low forties. Ah, the changeable weather.

Spring has sprung,
the grass has riz...

I wonder where the birdies is?

Remember to change the clocks this weekend

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Today is Sunday and I am again sitting at the office desk, waiting, somewhat in vain for the phone to ring. Not that that is all bad. I have two three hour shifts back to back, one of my own and one filling in for another agent. This is after a three hour shift on Friday and another one on Saturday. Saturday wasn't all bad, I got a walk in, a very nice couple who are looking to buy a home (first time buyers) they when I got home I had email messages from two old clients both of whom are looking for properties to buy. This could go very nicely (said he, gleefully counting unhatched chickens.)

Yesterday's mail also brought the audit report form the IRS - talk about fast. In a nutshell they disallowed a bunch of stuff and I wind up owing them an additional $2700 +/-. On the positive side most of it was due to my own carelessness so complaints must be directed to the face in the mirror and they will let me pay it off in 27 equal monthly installments. By the time the last payment is mailed it will be coming from my social security payments

On Saturday I was on with another agent, a very nice, and seemingly successful lady, She was on the phone trying to explain to the client why the builder was asking for an additional $500 in earnest money. Seems that when they signed the contract it contained a clause allowing the builder to ask for the additional $$$, but the builder verbally told them "don't worry we almost never ask for it." Yeah, Right!! If it's in the contract and they signed the contract they don't have a leg to stand on, verbal statements notwithstanding.

The first of the two shifts today is just ending and I have sent out a bunch of email listings to my clients, I have read the reading matter I brought.

Next item of business is to work on the course for my CE credits. I am missing 8 required credits which have to be earned before my license expires at the end of April. Not a problem, but what is lacking is enthusiasm. It is dull boring stuff, (legal updates, technology updates fair housing, etc.) but there is nothing to do but slog through it - all 60 pages of the course text.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Well I survived my audit, although I don't think I came a way unscathed. My luck was holding and the examining agent that took my case happened to be a Real Estate Agent, who was continually comparing my expenses with her own.

Her first barrage was aimed at why I was spending more money that I was making. I showed her my depleted IRA and savings accounts, and the proceeds from the refinance of my home. That put that to rest.

The second barrage was aimed at my medical expenses. She asked how old I was and seemed surprised at the answer. Then she asked about my ailments (HBP, Diabetes, high Cholesterol, Glaucoma, etc.) That put to rest the numerous doctor visits and the high drug costs.

Pictures of my home office and the utility bills put the business use of home office to rest.

All this took time, because she was looking at things by category and all my records consist of bank and credit card statements. All my bills are paid electronically through the bank, or by direct debit from the credit card companies. No checks. When she wanted to see a particular transaction record (i.e. the check to the doctor for a specific visit) I had to look thorough the bank statements and credit card statements until I found the entry.

In one sense she got the very distinct understanding that I had records of everything, but not the way she wanted them. Sorry but that is the way it was.

In the end the only thing she found was that apparently I had deducted certain items twice, due to sloppy entry into TurboTax on my part. She disallowed them, and I couldn't really argue.

I will get her report later next week. I will probably owe something, but not much because I didn't make much.

I went to COSTCO for a few items on my way home from the office - I went in for eggs, English muffins and one or two other small items. I wound up spending close to $100. Actually I got off cheap. The people on line behind me had two of those hand trucks loaded with food, small appliances, TVs, etc. God only knows how much they spent.