Monday, February 19, 2018

A nice way to celebrate President's Day

Back in 2016, my friend John and I had planned to go down to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites. He was impressed that I returned to Springfield every few years, kind of like a geeky swan returning to American history's Capistrano. John has lived in the midwest his entire life, and in Illinois for nearly 40 years, and yet he's never seen the history just hours away. He thought I'd be a good tour guide. We were set to go.

And then he went into the hospital. And came out without one of his toes. It's hard for me to admit this, even now, but he nearly died from long-term, untreated diabetes. His rehab was long and slow and so we couldn't make our trip.

Earlier this month, John mentioned that he'd like to try again. So in June, we're heading down via Amtrak on a Thursday night. We'll spend all day Saturday getting reacquainted with Illinois' favorite son, and then come home very early Saturday morning.

Barack Obama was a state congressman in Springfield and announced his historic Presidential candidacy from the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln delivered his "house divided against itself" speech. So planning this trip seemed to be a fitting way to celebrate President's Day.

Well, that was weird!

I've been going to the same local accounting firm to get my taxes done for more than a decade. They
do good work, but they're expensive. When I got word this year that they were raising their prices 10% to 30%, I gulped. I paid $360 in 2017. My tax prep bill in 2018 could be (at least) $396.


I have charitable contributions, mortgage interest and property taxes to deduct. I have capital gains and interest income to declare. But even so, my return is not that complicated. I can't see paying $400 to have it prepared.

So I went to H&R Block. They're popular. They're venerable. They're $328.

But oh, the accountant who prepared my return was odd! She started by telling me she was mixed race and adopted by white parents. Um ... don't care. She was later reunited with her twin, who had also been given up for adoption. Um ... interesting story, but can we start on my taxes? She thought it was wonderful that I support my church, and said that she'd pray that I find love and a husband, like hers. Um ... uncomfortable. When we were done, she actually hugged me.

Compared to the CPA who has handled by returns in the past, her work was spot on. She got me a little more from the Feds, a little less from the State. And she charged me about 20% less. So I'm good.

Even though she is weird.

It's been a long time

My movie group took a field trip! We saw The Philadelphia Story on the big screen. The rest of the multiplex was packed with young people, in line to see The Black Panther. But our little group (six in all) met to see the TCM event.

It's the first time we've met this year. First we thought we'd lost our venue, but Will managed to work that all out. Then the mother of our moderator, Will, passed away. Dealing with her passing, traveling out east for the final goodbye, was naturally preoccupying him. But TCM planned this, so it was easy for him to just send out the invitation email.

Hepburn was glorious. Her leading men -- Cary Grant and James Stewart, for Christ's sake -- were beyond adorable. I enjoyed the conversation with fellow movie geeks. I wish Joanna had been able to join us. I realized that I need to go out more! It was fun. I always think I'm too tired when I get home from all the depression and sadness at work, but Sunday it occurred to me that it does me good to get out there.