Mutt Strut 09


Trying a new upload format here.

We went to Mutt Strut at the end of April, a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Indianapolis that is a giant dog walk around the Indy 500 track. I think this is Casper’s last year… she’s old and tired and her feet get sore! It was a lovely day, if a bit hot, and the 8000 people and 6000 dogs seemed to have a good time.

Just got back from a weekend trip to a cabin in the Smokies. Now I’m heading out for a business trip and could really use a couple more days of vacation! Time to repack.

What you missed

Those on Facebook may be familiar with recent escapades. Here’s a summary and a few extras!

Poor David Beckham, victim of endorsing a product that can vandalize.
sharpie

I finally captured this bizarre vehicle while biking. I’ve seen him around but now I know where he lives! I think he collects abandoned carts from the neighborhood.
cartman

April 7: Evacuation
April 8: Unclog sewer pipe
April 10: Are four gin & tonics a lot?
April 11: Pissed about working on a Saturday during my vacation
April 12: Beat the pants off my family at Scrabble
April 13: Finished state taxes and had an embarrassing exam
April 15: Ate all the peanut M&Ms in cubicle next to mine
April 17: Rode bike to work and saw red-headed woodpecker, Christmas tree w/tinsel, middle-aged guy in fedora on BMX
April 17: Went out drinkin’ with friends and then bought cigarettes for the first time
April 18: Rode my bike to Race for the Cure
April 20: Busch Light can in my newspaper tube
April 21: Work woke me up at 1 a.m.
April 23: Casper won a photo contest
April 24: Work woke me up at 3 a.m.
April 24: Some asswipe broke into my Jeep
April 25: Rode my bike to Earth Day
April 25: Appraisal woes and bought a refrigerator
April 25: Someone stole my credit card number
April 26: Mutt Strut! Pics to come but this is my favorite:
carry
April 28: Frustrated by canceling services and realizing property taxes are worse than I thought
April 28: Someone shit in our driveway
April 29: Sold my house! Still pissed about taxes
Next few days: Slammed at work and given an ‘opportunity’ (that means more work)
May 2: ToxDrop and electronics recycling
May 3: Insulated the attic
insulation dsattic

Don’t you want to be my friend now? My favorite FB comments had to do with the shit in the driveway.

Race for the Cure Indy

A few weeks ago friends and supporters gathered at Race for the Cure here in Indy to support Linda’s breast cancer fight (I think she is just finishing her radiation therapy!) and provide resources to underserved people in our community affected by the disease.

As it goes with many things lately, I promptly put the pictures on Facebook and didn’t get around to it here. Maybe I could automate everything to feed here somehow.

Anyway, time to start the catch up. And thanks to Mymsie and Songbird who donated to our fundraising for Team Linda. Thirty eight friends and family joined Linda’s team!

This is toward the end of the 5K walk. I always find this view of downtown interesting.
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The Ghostbusters walked too!
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Lots and lots of people on New York Street
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The course went past the zoo, where this elephant with pink ribbons on his ears was doing tricks for the crowds.
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Team Linda beat the goal and raised over $2600!

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

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.

Attention life-savers and people sick of winter:

It’s the return of Manic Mommy’s Virtual Blog Blood Drive! Click here for details. The basics: donate blood from Jan 1 to Feb 28, 2009, get your picture taken while donating, and send the pic to Manic Mommy to enter the contest! It doesn’t matter where you live, just go to your local blood bank or blood drive and get your picture taken. First prize is a week at a Florida resort, and there are gift cards and stuff too. I won last year though it wasn’t a big enough contest at that point to give away a vacation!

A couple notes for those of you who have been rejected for low iron: I learned that ‘normal’ hematocrit is 35-45% but (at least around here) the blood bank requires at least 38% to be eligible to donate. They test this by a simple finger prick. Your iron level can fluctuate a lot so if you just supplement/focus your diet a bit before you go, or do that if you get rejected and then you can even go back the next day to try again, you may just be eligible after all! I also learned that 75% of people are able to get back to this iron level in the eight weeks required between donations and it’s harder for women than men, so you might need to focus your diet/wait just a bit longer if you have recently donated. Just because you’ve been rejected before does not mean you will be if you try again!

In central Indiana, you can even schedule appointments online, get points and prizes, and track your donations and cholesterol over time. I just signed up last week and the system knew my last 1.5 gallons and cholesterol readings from the last few years. Of course you can do walk-in donations too! Check out DonorPoint.org.

Some other upcoming events I’m considering: Komen Race for the Cure for my friend Dawn’s mom, April 18 (run, walk, or donate), and cycling around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Tour de Cure for diabetes, June 13. Who’s in?

A girl in the garden

We had a crapload of snow last night, which made me happy because we don’t get much down here and I grew up in lake effect country. This storm should satisfy me for awhile because yesterday’s shoveling was erased overnight and then I spent an hour getting to my Jeep in the alley this morning.

012809jeepsnow snowtrashcans

I also shoveled some paths for the dogs, who use them partway and then bound off into the virgin areas. Casper was smart enough to pee and poop in the cleared areas (and she’s not normally the smarter of the two), but Walt insisted he had to do his business exactly where he always does and every time he squatted he got snow on his butt and jumped away. He finally trampled enough area to do what he needed to and then he ran a few laps.

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The only thing that makes my super-white collie look dirty and not-white is fresh snow!
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A lot of people didn’t make it to work today and all the schools are closed. I thought I was in Shaun of the Dead when I drove down Michigan Street and it was full of random people staggering down the middle of the road since they had no other way or place to get around. Then a train blocked the street and instead of getting stuck behind a bunch of trapped city buses who were trying to turn around, I had to go down side streets for a mile until I found an underpass–that was bad news with no plows and a foot of snow. Thank goodness for 4wd. When I found the underpass on an actually plowed Washington Street, a semi had everyone stopped going the other way because he was too tall to fit under the bridge with all the snow under it.

I discovered fleece socks keep me warm at work! I need many more of these.
fleecesocks

Update on the hair situation: Nicole kindly stayed with me for moral support last week when I had half of mine cut off. Thanks to layers and thinning shears I can wear it down frequently, though it’s still very floofy on its own with an air dry. This dark pic is after the stylist spent a half hour drying/straightening/flat ironing it.
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Bonus pic: Someone got creative in the house numbers aisle at WalMart the other day.
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