Team Linda

Linda is my good friend Dawn’s mom. She’s a retired nurse and has been battling breast cancer the last few months. The short story here is I’m joining Team Linda at the Indy Komen Race for the Cure on April 18. You can help us meet our fundraising goal by donating to my fundraising (or to Linda or anyone else on the team!) here

Joining the team as a runner, walker, or sleep-inner ends tomorrow (March 20), but you can still donate to the team fundraising until April 4! Team Linda did achieve more than 20 members so now we need to reach our goal of $2000–we’re more than halfway there!

Here’s what Dawn recently sent us about her mom and the event and what it does for people right here in our community.

Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2008 shortly after moving Anne back to school. Mom’s diagnostic testing revealed a unifocal lesion which had spread into her axilary lymph node. Mom made the decision for the best possible outcome: chemotherapy first, followed by surgery, followed by radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy (aka chemical warfare) started in late September, a biweekly regimen, ending on January 2, 2009. The same diagnostic testing performed after treatment revealed the chemotherapy was successful, neither the tumor nor lymph node produced a signal. Surgery for tumor removal and lymph node resection was scheduled for Friday, January 30, 2009. Unfortunately Mom’s margains were not clean and she had to have a second surgery on February 13, 2009 where her margains were clean! Mom and Dad returned to Arizona on February 21, 2009 where she will begin radiation treatments daily for 4-6 weeks the end of this week! Fueled by her strong faith, Mom’s indomitable spirit has been truly an inspiration.

Rob and I formed a “Race for the Cure” Team in Mom’s honor for her Christmas present. The team will raise money to fund local breast cancer education and outreach programs for underserved women in Central Indiana, where Mom’s diagnosis and treatment occurred. We need 20 participants to be an official team.

To join “Team Linda,” go to the Team page on the Komen website:

http://race.komenindy.org/site/TR/Race/General?pg=team&fr_id=1060&team_id=26570

*To register to walk (1K) or run (5K), Click Join Team, super achievers can even pay extra to be timed

*To make a donation, Click Support Team Linda over the thermometer-looking graphic that tracks fundraising progress

*To sponsor a participant on Team Linda, Click on a team participant (or Mom herself!)

When you register, you will have your own race page where friends and family can sponsor you. Please feel forward to forward this post to others you think may be interested in participating.

I attended a Team Captain meeting on January 10th and was astonished to discover since the Komen Foundation was formed in 1994, the five year survival rate for breast cancer has increased from 74% to 99%. This is primarily driven by education and breast cancer screening, resulting in early detection. Underserved women, however, have a much poorer outcome than their counterparts with health insurance. The Komen Foundation provides underserved women access to important breast health services to eventually reverse this trend. I found out at the Team Captain meeting that Central Indiana has more requests for grants than they have available funds, which is very tragic.

One question I was asked today, where do the funds go:

http://www.komenindy.org/new.asp?p=27

“Of the net proceeds from the Race, 75% will stay in Central Indiana to fund screenings and follow-up care for underserved women. The proceeds will also help provide education about breast health and early detection as well as education and outreach programs specifically about breast cancer. For a complete list of those organizations currently receiving Komen grant funds, visit the Grants page. The remaining 25% helps fund the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Program. Organizations interested in providing or currently providing breast health services in Indiana are encouraged to call 317.638.CURE for grant application information.”

Rob and I look forward to seeing everyone we can on April 18th for the Race!

Dawn

Thanks for your support!
My race page

What a mutt!

Got our pup’s DNA test results back:

Level 3 (20-36%) German Shepherd Dog
Level 3 (20-36%) Keeshond
Level 4 (10-19%) Dachshund
Level 4 (10-19%) Rottweiler
Level 4 (10-19%) Saluki
Level 5 (<10%) American Eskimo Dog Walt's a mutt! I thought this was a fun project and I didn't mind wasting my money on it at all. walt

Today at work

1. Had to argue with someone that a pH meter couldn’t go to 20.

2. Another department, we’ll say A, took some of our workload (hooray, and we’ll be B) a few months ago by doing one of those grandiose automation projects that is supposed to give faster results but costs a lot to implement, and then they had unintended consequences that were way worse than waiting a couple hours for results from our Dept B, so we have to take the work back (boo). The process to get the work back, though, is a moderate red tape extravaganza, and we asked Dept A to put a few sentences in their document so we wouldn’t have to repeat all the red tape in our own document to support this change. Oh and we have about four days to make all this happen. (Nothing happens in four days around here.)

Everyone on board, things are cool yesterday, moving along… then today someone in Dept A freaks out about what was previously cool just 24 hours ago. Honestly, I still don’t understand what the problem was. I try to calm the parties and thought we came to an agreement after I suggested a simple but brilliant solution (wordsmithing is like lube). Then I get a page that says “Person in your dept B says they’ll just do their own document after all so we’re removing part of your content from ours.” I call back and say “well, if Person B is ok with it, I guess I’ll go along with that…” Then person A calls THAT person B and tell them _I_ said to do this document change ourselves! Then they go tell everyone else that this person B and I agreed this was the path forward! Dang, how third grade can you get? In the end it’s just more red tape and B will be delayed in taking A’s work back, so way to save some time and money. We were played.

Note that the person who runs Dept A seems to hold a grudge against me (and my Dept B) and caused all SORTS of trouble by going behind our backs to our bosses right after agreeing to our faces about a conflict that he created and was not any of his business just about two weeks ago.

3. Realtor emails, wants to do an open house THIS SUNDAY but asks me about it today. As it is I’m barely getting any sleep due to giant projects at work and I just didn’t want to go reclean another house right now.

4. I was yelled at in an email (copied to four other people, of course) for not approving a procedure that isn’t even out for my approval. I rejected it two weeks ago and it got stuck in the computer system at some point after that.

5. Big software changes are scheduled for this weekend for a system in which I’m an expert. Coordinated with these changes are user access changes, but some of them went active prematurely and now my peers lost their ability to do their work and I have to go do it. I came to terms with this new development that should only last a few days but could get hairy occasionally.

I come to my desk to find an email titled, “Software HELP!!!!!!” and then IM says
Person Q [3:11 PM]:
You there?
Person Q [3:15 PM]:
Did you get my email?
Amy [3:29 PM]:
just got back, been runnign around
Amy [3:29 PM]:
I will do them now
Person Q [3:29 PM]:
Thanks – no real rush
Amy [3:29 PM]:
except for all the !!!! after your HELP message lol
Person Q [3:32 PM]:
I panicked at first – I ve cooled since
Person Q [3:33 PM]:
Thanks again

6. Why is it that people still schedule me into meetings on days I have blocked in my calendar for all-day forums?

I also managed to squeeze in two department meetings, an oh-shit-this-is-due-at-noon meeting, an optional meeting to give myself a reality check on the software changes, and about eight trips to the lab, not to mention the preemptive emails pleading with folks to help us finish a project and I signed five protocols. I admit that I skipped the 8 a.m. conference call; something had to give. Now back to my other 13 documents awaiting the red pen. How did it get to be after five already and I haven’t gotten any real work done?

Mystery dog

I suppose people in every part of history have felt the excitement of new inventions, learning, and technology becoming available to the masses, but darn it, I think it’s really cool to have DNA testing and bike computers and remote TV recording (remote as in scheduling from an offsite location, not like pressing buttons on the remote) on hand. I bought a dog breed DNA test kit recently for our pup Walter, who is a mutt from the roughest streets of Indy.

waltsnow012809a

Walter is two years old and weighs 50-some pounds. He has a long tail he carries curled up over his back but he relaxes it when lying around. His ears couldn’t decide whether to be up or down when he was a puppy but they’ve settled on erect and folded forward, though he sometimes folds them against his head. He’s a bit lanky, very agile and prancy, and orally-fixated. He retrieves but mostly because he likes to play with you, though he’d rather wrestle, chase or be chased, and chew on your arm while jumping at your head. He is very friendly with people and dogs and happy at all times, and he’s a good watchdog (moderate barker) but tends to run off if a new scary something comes on the scene. His coloring is shepherd-like and he seems to shed like one. Oh, and his tongue is completely purple.

dav-walt1108

Now accepting guesses of his breed mix. David and I are going to bet on this somehow. We should have results within two weeks!

waltdesk

The kit I bought relies on cheek cell swabs which are mailed to the lab and they compare the DNA to their database of 60-some breeds. I didn’t feel like paying for more expensive kits with more breeds in the list.

My guesses: German shepherd + chow or Akita + (grey?)hound or dalmatian + something small and goofy (beagle?), and maybe some pit bull (though that isn’t a recognized breed in the database, so he’d show up as a related breed).

Any other ideas? I’d offer a prize but I don’t think I get enough readers!

walt060107.jpg

Not smart enough (how to screw up your taxes)

Let it be known that probably only my dad and perhaps a few other anal code-readers may care about this post, but I wanted to point out what seemed to be an issue in the Indiana state tax online filing forms. After spending a couple hours reading about this online and writing the post, I think I determined I was misunderstanding a few terms and I-file is working ok.

I’ve been filing my taxes online for several years. Every year I find something glitchy or goofy, but in general the last two years have provided good interactive online experiences that resulted in easily direct-deposited refunds and simple logins that usually remember some of my data from the previous year.

I’m a bit stuck right now, though. I did my federal as usual at esmarttax.com, a site I’ve used for several years. Someone dumb there doesn’t know the difference between principle and principal, but otherwise the experience has been flawless for me. Once I file the federal online, to avoid paying that site to e-file my Indiana taxes, I use the free Indiana e-file site–or as they call it, I-file. BTW, sometimes when you click links on their site, the page dead-ends or crashes. And sometimes it works with a redirect to the right page. Go figure.

This year I was reminded of some idiosyncrasies in the I-file system, including when I could not remember their password rules: Not all lower case and not all upper case characters. Who does that? I’ve seen requirements for length and numeric characters, but this I couldn’t remember. It’s only after updating my email address (which can be done despite not being able to log in), then having them send me my username by email (I actually had that right but couldn’t tell), THEN using that to update my password using the security questions that I was able to enter my filing account. The site helpfully remembered my address and employer (though not their address on the W-2). And then… the property tax rebate stuff happened.

I previously posted a tip from in.gov to help you address your property tax rebate on your federal return, which I did and was promptly penalized my fifty bucks in federal taxes on the amount. This rebate situation (property taxes paid to state from mortgage escrow but refunded from state by check directly to me) complicates last year’s itemization, but I figured it’s an easy audit trigger and technically I did get that money back, so I spent a great deal of time determining how to un-itemize the rebated amount. Meanwhile I still paid into escrow for the whole year but the state’s asinine treatment of property taxes in 2008 means my escrow did not have to pay out for half of the year, so I’m still out the cash but I only get a deduction for that half portion. And then that’s reduced by the rebate. Sigh.

Legislators: no more property tax rebates. Just credit the next bill. How much money and time did we waste sending checks to Hoosier homeowners? Your PR stunt was not in our best interests.

Anyway, here’s what we find in the I-file:
ifile2
Technically, I think the actual amount paid for Tax Year 2008 (blue underline) would be zero because property taxes are paid in arrears, so until I pay my bill in 2009 which is FOR 2008, well, you see.

Then, green underline, same problem. Of course what I paid in 2008 was for 2007, as described above. But I am pretty sure they are asking if I paid late. This one isn’t worded as badly. Do I just know a little too much to do this right?

Next, I was happy/surprised to see a question about whether I told the feds I received a rebate. Way to keep Hoosiers honest (or something):

ifile1
*This is where I misunderstood! This state tax refund amount is NOT the rebate. At least I don’t think it is after pondering for way too long.

My logic went like this:
First of all, the line marked “taxable refunds blah blah blah” (see red underline) is not where you report the rebate. You read the 1040 instructions for this line (10) which refer you to another publication and that tells you to enter the amount on a different line (21). It’s still the income section and it still adds it to your AGI, so in the end the federal part is right and I-file is just telling you to put it in not-quite the right place.

I figured the spirit of the question was still answerable as Yes, so you’ll see where I entered my rebate in the next box with the purple circle. Lalala, I continued through the I-file pages until suddenly my $900 in paid property taxes (the amount escrow paid out for me in 2008 per the form they sent me), which I had entered on that first screen, became $1101 on the Indiana tax form line 8 called Indiana deductions! Magically, I get to ADD the rebate to my taxes paid, not SUBTRACT it from the total!

Well, surely I screwed up something, right? Even though one never puts a negative number on a tax form (instructions just add or subtract one line from another), I went back and entered -201 in that box with the purple circle. ERROR! Red letters tell me I must enter a positive number.

Well, now what? I think the answer is one of these:
1. I am doing something wrong. I should eventually get a deduction for the 900 less the 201 for a total deduction of 699, right?
2. The I-file calcs are wrong.
3. We are both right, but I didn’t realize Indiana felt badly for socking me with back taxes on my federal so it’s being nice and giving me this bonus cash.

After typing all this I think it is actually #1 and #3, sort of. “Indiana will not tax this rebate” is stated at that tip I linked, however it also says “You also will need to subtract the rebate off of your 2008 Indiana tax return.” I took “subtract the rebate off your return” to mean subtracting it from the amount escrow paid the state (my $900 deduction), but it might mean subtract it from the federal AGI (which made it ‘income’), such that I am not taxed on that enhanced AGI by Indiana–hence a ‘deduction’ of that amount is added to the ‘deduction’ of the tax bill paid. This is all very stupid and I’m still not sure I’m not being taxed by Indiana anyway (they use federal AGI to determine taxable income, so since that includes the rebate, aren’t I being taxed by the state anyway?).

Other than a brief glimmer of hope for an explanation when I found an in.gov tax blog (it turned out to be more of a silly press release written in first person format with lots of cliches), I couldn’t figure out what I should do on this form. I either get a refund of $23 (with the $1101 deduction) or $9 (not sure how I got that one) or $3 (this should be ‘right’ but was only achieved by entering the $699 net taxes paid as the ‘actual amount of property tax paid’ and telling I-file I didn’t put the rebate recovery state tax refund on the federal form). *This last choice seems to be correct now that I realize the line 10 stuff was not about the rebate. I think.

All this is to say I saved my session and didn’t file my state return tonight. I’m a pretty sharp girl. Am I overthinking it, or are my fellow Hoosiers doomed to confusion as well? It should not be this difficult.

*Posted anyway so you can see how my analytical mind travels the wrong track eagerly at times and so Dad can see that this is resolved…except for the state taxing the rebate they said they wouldn’t tax. Reading page 18 of the IT-40 Booklet (IN tax instructions) mostly explained it and even had an example. I wonder if I’d read those first if I could have avoided the confusion! Now where’s my three bucks!?

Hoosier tax tip and more environmental ne’er-do-wells

February was relatively productive for me, at least in the world where I don’t get around to blogging as a result. This is too bad since I usually share that it’s Adopt A Rescued Rabbit month and low-cost spay-neuter month. We did adopt out several rabbits, though, including a couple from my house: Tegan, who we captured as a stray last fall, and Raquel, a shelter rescue a couple years ago who was recently returned by her adopters because they were moving (can y’all hear me groan? I wonder if it was convenient for them to take their kids and dog to the new house). These two buns are very sweet and both were adopted into homes with a bunny boyfriend, so they’ll never be lonely.

dawnnab raq


Tax tip for Hoosiers: You may have received a property tax rebate from the state last year. Well, guess what, that’s income now. I found this helpful info about how to handle the rebate, and if you itemized like I did, you’ll need to check out the 1040 instructions for line 10 and read Pub 525. And then you’ll put the ‘recovered’ income on line 21.


More dumbass packaging.

David needed to repair some air hoses, so he bought some fittings. They weren’t right, so he bought different fittings. They weren’t right either, so he ordered some fittings online. They shipped in a box like this.
sencobox
Please note that on the same day he also received something else from Amazon which was a larger item yet managed to come in a smaller box than this one.

Oh and those fittings were wrong too, so he sent them back (in a Jiffy bag of course) and ordered again and got the same tiny parts in the same big box!! I need to go plant a bunch of trees now.

…Especially because I bought a sample size of hair cream and a makeup pencil sharpener. Sephora was kind enough to send these tiny items (look for them, they’re in the picture) in this big box with bubble wrap and lots of virgin paper stuffing. Guess I won’t be buying from them again. I found a free shipping code and didn’t want to mess with traffic on the northside, thinking this was more efficient.
sephorabox
What’s the environmental Hail Mary? Besides recycling all the boxes and air pillows, of course.