As an update, I've been busy with several different things lately that has taken me away from blogging. Some of it is just daily living stuff, and at times you just gotta take care of business. One of the things was I got tagged by the IRS for my 2014 tax return. I no longer do my own taxes. I used to all the time, but it's gotten too complex for my feeble mind. I started investing in the stock market back around 2000, and I still find investing and personal finance interesting on a lot of different levels. It can be as complex or simple as you want to get into it. At any rate, once I got into buying and occasionally selling stocks I could no longer do my own taxes. I had to rely on an accountant and by and large I've had pretty good luck with good ones. However, back in 2014 I ran into a pretty lousy one. I won't go into the whole thing, but the upshot to it is, trust your gut. This may apply to other things beyond taxes or personal finance. Like buying a house or car for instance, as well as other things in life. Some of those old adages that you grew up hearing like: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is or a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, or don't go skating in a buffalo herd--those have a nugget of truth to them. Trusting your gut or intuition is another one that's hard, at least for me at times.
The thing with the lady that did my taxes in 2014 was I didn't feel at the time she was competent or at least I was shaky about her. True enough, she wasn't competent. She made a bunch of mistakes on my tax return that threw up a red flag with the IRS. So this year they sent me a letter saying I owed them a little over $3,000. extra, and I needed to pay it by a certain time limit (about a month) or they'd levy more penalties and interest on that bill. Not fun at all. At any rate, my current accountant, was already doing an amendment to that year. I had taken that return by for him to look at as he might need it as a reference for my 2015 return. He found a few oddball things on it that didn't make sense to him. He told me to call my old accountant and ask her a few questions, and she answered them, but what she said didn't make a lot of sense either. So I had to do a little more investigating.
Well I won't bore you further. The upshot of the story is trust your gut, and hey, you're never too old to learn something. I'm just hoping that resolves my issues with the IRS and that's that.
Also earlier in the week we had some Texas storms that came through here and knocked out my wireless router and wired phone for a couple of days. It's funny how something outside your normal routine effects you. Plus I've been busy painting a couple of paintings for the upcoming 6 X 6 show here at the Downtown Gallery. It's a charity/fundraising event, so I don't make anything off the sales, but it's always a fun way to recharge my creative side. It's also a lot of fun to see what everyone else comes up with in their entry. I had to admit there's a lot of creative and talented artist around our little corner of the world. Below are the three things that I entered.
This one is called Pathprints. It's done in acrylic.
This is a collage I did called Emerald Web. It gave me the most difficulty. There's always one out of the bunch that takes more time than the others. I could never get the color right on it to suit me. I finally just made the overall piece a greenish color.
This one is called The Arborist. It's funny that everything I entered this year was in a greenish color, and that they all had a subject of plants in them. I didn't do that consciously, it just turned out that way. I wish I could stay a bit more productive in that area, but it's hard when you don't have a studio where you can go make something and leave all your supplies scattered about without worrying about messing up the place. My studio is my kitchen table or garage. In the summer, like now, the garage can be really hot or humid or both. The kitchen works pretty well for small things, but you have to be really careful about not spilling paint and such.
Monday, May 09, 2016
So just looking over some of the summer movies, what am I excited about and what might I go see? Disclaimer: I'll generally wait to see a few reviews first or check in with Rotten Tomatoes or sites like that before doling out the cash. It's easy to get caught up and seduced by poster art, and a smartly designed trailer (for the most part) to get warm bodies into the cinemas. For some movies I might have an interest in watching them, but I can wait until they come out on DVD, and that holds true even for some of the films that maybe critics didn't particularly care for very much.
Anyway these are films I'm looking forward to and if they get a fairly good review I might end up seeing at the cinema. First up is The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). I do like the poster art, and a giant as a companion and friend has always appealed to me. Coming out of the Disney studios doesn't hurt the film any and also being directed by Stephen Spielberg doesn't either. Let's face it, he could probably make a good movie by this stage of the game blindfolded, and standing on his head.
The plot concerns stopping off at Starbase Earhart, a remote outpost on the fringes of Federation Space, the USS Enterprise, halfway into their 5 year mission, is destroyed by a powerful, unstoppable wave of unknown aliens. With the crew stranded on a unknown planet and with no apparent means of rescue, they find themselves in conflict with a new ruthless enemy who has a well-earned hatred of the Federation and what it stands for. Could that be Romulans or Klingons or another race? We'll have to wait and see. It's slated for the theaters in July some time.
Saturday, May 07, 2016
I think we all tend to glom to our favorite movies, and generally those tend to be the formative years when we first became aware of the genre, whether it be our teens or sometime around that time frame. For me it was around that time that I discovered Ray Harryhausen, the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, those older SF movies, the Disney adaptations of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Castaways, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds and so on. I loved that stuff then and still do.
For those born later, it might be Avatar, the newer Planet of the Apes reboots, District 9, or something else. We all have our own favorites. Just today I was switching channels on the TV and ran across a movie I get drawn into from time to time, and even have a copy of on DVD called Enemy Mine. It has great old school practical effects.
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
The first episode opens in 1962 in NYC as a young man, Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) is watching Nazi propaganda in a movie theater. He's given a note in the theater by a mysterious figure. As he exits the cinema we see that he's in the middle of Times Square and also we get to see how this alternate history has changed from our current world. Oddly it has a retro 50s or early 60s feel to it, which totally works for the nature of this series. Also early into the first episode you can feel the oppression and paranoia, which only increases as the series goes along, which are elements in most of Dick's work. There's a dystopian scary feeling to the world similar to George Orwell's 1984, but also you feel the totalitarianism of the new government. Perhaps these chilling portrayals in the film hit closer to home because at one time we, as a nation, actually experience some of that during WWII rather than the more fictional nature of Orwell's story.
The story shifts to San Francisco known now as the Pacific States of America and occupied by the Japanese. Evidently now the United States is divided into three distinct zones: The Nazi zone, a Japanese zone, and a neutral zone. The Nazis and Japanese are, of course, allies, but even there you get the inkling that even they are distrustful of each other. In this second part of the story we meet the female lead, Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos) as she is taking a martial arts class. We get to meet some of her family, and later she meets with her sister. While on the street her sister gives her a satchel, which she describes as a way to freedom right before she is gunned down in the street. Juliana flees to her home, where we also meet her boyfriend, Frank. We find out the package that her sister has given her contains a film. Juliana watches the films, but it doesn't make much sense to her. Her sister was going to meet with someone to deliver the film, now Juliana has taken it upon herself to find and deliver the film. Her destination is Canon City in the neutral zone.
By now Joe is on the road, and we find out that he is going to the same location. You can pretty much guess that these two protagonist will cross paths and meet. Within the first episode we learn something about this alternate society, what the quest is for these two characters are, but yet there are still many unanswered question still left up it air. It's hard to tell if Joe is a good guy or bad. Is he involved in something to overthrow the current status quo or what are his motives. We learn within the first episode that both have parts of a film created by the man in the high castle, but what is it, who is he, and what will it be used for? How will these two character learn to trust one another in this environment?
Sunday, May 01, 2016
As far as the photo, yes, it really gets that pretty here, and I like that aspect about this part of the country. However, to get that green and beautiful we get a lot of rain, and the humidity is high for the most part. We also get quite a few tornado alerts during this season from spring to summer, like we did this past week, which get a bit scary.
At any rate, this year I took my taxes to a new CPA as I didn't have a very good one (understatement) last year. While he did my 2015 taxes, I had brought along last year's 2014 taxes as well, and he caught what he thought was an error. So I agreed to let him doing an amendment to that 2014 return. Well, last week after I'd agreed to let him do that, I get a letter from the IRS saying that the lady that did the 2014 return also screw up a bunch more stuff. So I'm having to track down paperwork for 2014 so that all this can be done before a May deadline so I don't incur more penalties. Hopefully this will be able to resolve itself and that's that.
I'm surprising myself over this as it's cost me more money, but I've retained a cool head, I guess I figure what good would worrying or pitching a fit do, the outcome is the same, although I do worry some--I can't help it. The upshot I think to all this is: in 2014 I had the gut reaction at the time to not use this lady. I'm not sure why, just that it didn't feel right or I didn't trust her or she seemed unprofessional, but went ahead and let her do the taxes. I think I thought, well, I'll use her this year, and next year I'll find someone else, how bad could it be? I need to trust my gut more. Is that considered common sense or intuition? I don't know, but yeah, sometimes it pays to pause and rethink things.
At any rate, I tried to lower the door to the attic and it would not come down all the way to where I can unfold the ladder. I kept looking at it, and thought maybe the springs holding the door up were messed up or maybe it was the mechanism that allows the ladder to get lowered. I went and got a ladder to closer inspect it, and then a flashlight. I kept looking and looking and couldn't figure it out, until I went to the underneath side of the door that lowers and noticed that when they put in my new garage door a few months back, the railing they installed sticks up a few more inches not allowing clearance for that door to drop fully. So I've got to call them Monday or this week. At least it looks like they can cut off about six inches of that railing to clear the door, and that's enough to solve the problem. If it's not one thing it's two? Oh well, that's life.