Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #90 -- Got a question? Ask Uncle Sam!


This is my valentine to, a website I have literally lost myself in. It’s informative, it’s yours, it’s free – and it’s one of the resources I turn to most often when I work. (Especially if I’m working on something the Federal Government has to approve. Once I show the Feds that I got my data from the Feds, copy gets rubber-stamped more quickly.)

What is the Federal Citizen Information Center? I’ve lifted this from their own FAQ page: “The Federal Citizen Information Center [FCIC] brings together an array of U.S. Government information and services and makes them accessible to the public.”
You say it sounds like nothing but dull talk about tax regulations? It’s not. Here are 13 random titles that illustrate the breadth of free and verified information on the site.

1. Nine Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs. Includes a chart to compare discounts when shopping for insurance.

2. Stop. Think. Click. 7 tips to protect your information, your computer, and even yourself when you go online.

3. Summertime Favorites. Summer reading of 300 timeless classic for students in Grades K-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12.

4. Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reviews occupations, salaries, etc.

5. How to Talk to Your Adolescent about Alcohol.

6. Restaurant and Take-Out Safety. Tips to follow so that the food you take home in your doggie bag is safe to eat the next day.

7. Dietary Supplements. Questions to ask before taking dietary supplements, including risks and where to find more information.

8. Energy Savers. Tips on saving energy – and money – at home.

9. Your Credit Scores. Why your credit score matters, what good and bad scores are, the elements of your FICO credit score, and how to raise your score.

10. The Civil War at a Glance. This full-color map illustrates and briefly describes major Civil War battle campaigns.

11. Buying Contact Lenses Online or by Mail. Make sure you get what you ask for.

12. Money Tips for All Ages. Practical help for teens, young adults, newlyweds, people at midlife, parents, retirees, etc.. Also for those dealing with a medical emergency, job loss or other major life events.

13. Buying a Used Car. Discusses your limited rights when buying from a dealer or private owner.

I encourage you to wander around the site yourself. After all, as a taxpayer, you have already paid for the information so you may as well use it.

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Am I glad I don't contribute to the RNC? You betcha!

My data is definitely not current so don't quote me, but I remember that in very recent history, the average RNC contributor gives $147/year. But let's go with that number for minute. If it's true, it took 1000 contributors to dress VP candidate Sarah Palin.

As one who worked the phones tirelessly for John Kerry four years ago, this makes me sick.

Not because I'm a Democrat, but because I can't imagine what it must be like to be an RNC volunteer this morning and think about all the dialing he or she had to do to raise $150,000 -- just to find out it went for clothes.

I never felt suckered by the Kerry Campaign. I like to think that the unpaid help who phonebank for the Grand Old Party are just as idealistic as I was. And I think that someone -- maybe not Sarah Palin, but whoever greenlighted these expenditures -- owes those volunteers an apology.

The Last Thing I'll Pack

This Rolling Stone cover, pockmarked from pushpins and faded from decades of exposure to both sun and fluorescent light, has followed me from office to office to office since Spring, 1986. The mailing label warns me that my subscription was set to expire in January, 1987. And it did.

This cover introduces the new star of Moonlighting and marks the dawning of my ongoing love affair with Bruce Willis. Didn't he look boyishly charming 20 years ago, when he had hair? I don't feel I should judge too harshly, though, since 20 years I had a waist.

When I reach my new office, regardless of how long I'm there, Bruce will be on the bulletin board. He always seems to know what I'm thinking, and that smirk is appropriate for any professional situation. If only his eyes followed me around the room, it would be perfect!

About the move ... months ago this agency had layoffs and consolidated creative and account teams. They didn't moved the newly reformed teams together, though. Until now. So maestro, play some traveling music for me and my friend Bruce.