Temperature Drop

The temperature dropped this morning down to a chilly 4F.  Yes, it was chilly, but not icy thank goodness.

The drive in to Rochester went smoothly and I was suprised at the lack of traffic.  You’d think it was one of those quasi-holidays again.

After work I went to Walmart (yes, I know, I said I was going to stop shopping there) because Elizabethe wanted some items we have only found there.  This time, here are some of the things that were not on the shelves:

Butter (Walmart’s house brand)
Brown-n-serve sausage links
Blue Diamond Toffee Almonds
several brands of paper napkins, and not just the cheapest ones
Pina Colada Yoplait Yogurt (evidently the aren’t going to carry it any more)

There were some other items, but I can’t remember them right now.  The other day, they were out of diet rootbeer (their house brand), and some other items too.

Elizabethe called and asked to speak to the manager.  She was told he is out.  She asked for his voice mail.  They said he doesn’t have one.  She asked to leave a message; they said she could not.  So, she talked to the manager on duty and was very blunt about the situation.

We’ll see if it has any impact.

While I’m ragging on Walmart… they advertise they are the low-price leader.  Well then, why are their PNY SD Class 10, 8GB, cards  about $5 more than BestBuy?

I think I’ll pull out my iPhone when I’m at other stores and photograph the price tags on “good deals” so when I’m in Walmart, and see a higher price I can bring it to the manager’s attention…. assuming I can find a manager.

Enough of that…  for now.

I made ham and swiss sandwiches on ciabbata rolls for dinner.  Nothing beats ham and swiss on a chilly night.

Sisters Egan and Morrison came over and visited for a while.  I had made a peach cobbler for dessert so we had dessert while they were there.  They were pretty impressed that it was just a can of fruit and a box of cake mix dumped on top and then baked.  (That’s right – 1 large can of peaches or some other fruit and you dump a yellow cake mix on top.  Then, you bake it at 325F for 1 hour (covered).)

Somber Service

Our Sacrament services today were a little somber.  There were many wet eyes with the announcement of Wayne’s death.  He would have been one of our speakers today.

I had a nice visit with Nita (Wayne’s wife) and Aubrey (his daughter).  I shared with Aubrey Wayne’s comment about being the happiest he has ever been.

After church we had our house meeting, and later in the evening, the sister missionaries came to visit Enrico and Louise.  Just as they were leaving, Bishop and Sister Taylor came to home teach Elizabethe and me.  We had a busy evening.

Closing the Books

This time of year is a royal pain.  It is the time of year that all those 1099s roll in, and you have to collect all your receipts, and get ready for your doing your taxes.  Why can’t we just have a sales tax and nothing else?  (We could, but politicians have other motives.)

My office has become a mess, so in between sorting numbers and getting things done, I managed to straighten up in here too.  We accumulate too much in our society, and this fits in with taxes too.  Look at how much you have to hang on to for your records.  It is crazy.

Anyway, I’m not done yet, but getting there.

Until We Meet Again

Last year we met a family who just moved to the area.  The wife was excited that her parents would be moving into a small cottage on their property.  She told me I would really like her dad, and that the two of us shared a lot of ideas in common.

Her parents moved here, and last month I was assigned as her dad’s home teaching companion.  Wayne and I went home teaching together just last Sunday.  We had a delightful conversation about education and teachers and schools.  We laughed and shared some jokes.

Wayne was not pious in any way, and smiled and laughed easily.   I had even commented about a story being irreverent, and afterwards, with his infectious grin he said, “irreverent, yes, but it is still funny.”

When I first told him I was his home teaching companion, he said with somewhat of a straight face, “I’m only available Monday through Friday and weekends,” in such a way to imply he had a very busy schedule.  I caught on right away and smiled and commented that it will be tough, but we’ll make it work.  He laughed.

I came home Sunday night and told my wife how much I enjoy home teaching with Wayne.  I explained to her that he even gets some of my humor and vice-versa.  I said I really looked forward to getting know Wayne and becoming closer friends.

Tuesday night, Wayne and I were together again serving in the temple.  Less talk this time, and more service, but it was nice being there together as friends.  Before he left the temple Tuesday night, he reminded me that he planned to be at the temple again on Thursday (yesterday) to help clean.

Wayne passed away this morning.  His heart failed him, and they were not able to revive him.

I know he is being welcomed with open arms on the other side of the veil.  Surely God has an important work for him to do there.

So, Wayne, my friend,  I will greatly miss you.  The brief conversations we had in this life will have to continue in the life hereafter. 

Until we meet again Wayne,

Brent

Broken Pipes and Leaks

Last night I walked in to my studio and heard the sound of dripping water.  I scrambled to get things out-of-the-way, found the source, made temporary adaptations, etc.

Today I called the plumber.  He gave me a worst case scenario to fix it.  I am not looking forward to the worst case, so I’m hoping for the best case.

Tonight I went out and the drip had collected about 3 gallons of water. 

Basically, a slow drip filled a pipe that was supposed to be drained.  That water froze and broke one of the solder joints.  Currently, I have the pipe opened up at the bottom and it is dripping inside the studio into a large tub.  So, I need a new valve to replace the leaky one, and since that has to be done, I figure I might as well move that dumb meter that sticks out in the center of the floor.

I also had to go swap the lock at one of the apartments.  It has been a fix-it day.

What a STUPID Law

The new healthcare law now requires obtaining W-9 forms from any business another business does business with.  It used to be, you’d get a W-9 from someone, like a one-time contractor, who you were going to pay more than $1000 in the calendar year. 

Things have changed.

Nestled deep inside “Obamacare” is a requirement for ALL B2B transactions over $600 a year to require W-9/1099 filings.  So, if a business anticipates buying more than $600 from Walmart this year, they first need to obtain a W-9 from Walmart.  If a landlord has his rental’s mortgage with Wells Fargo (as I do), they have to obtain a W-9 from Wells Fargo.  Etc.

I contacted Wells Fargo and was told, “Please be advised that we do not send out W-9 forms…”

Oh, really?

Here’s an article on CNN about the new law…

http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/05/smallbusiness/1099_health_care_tax_change/

I believe in honoring and sustaining the law.  I also believe that if a law is bad law, good people should do all they can within the confines of the law, to change that law.

This is a BAD LAW.  It is going to wreak havoc like you have never witnessed before unless it is struck down.  Over 2000 pages of stuff like this that will only come back to damage our already weakened economy, as well as place a burden upon small and large businesses.   And, when businesses are burdened, it means higher prices and lower employment.

Continuing on…

Last night I met with a contractor for a quote.  I told him if I decide to do business with him, I will need a W-9.  He was totally unaware of this new law. 

I could have kept my mouth shut, let him do the work, and then refused to pay him.  (Not only would I have that right under the new law, but if I understand it, I would be breaking the law if I DID pay him.)  I explained what I have learned about this and he said if that’s the case, they will have a W-9 ready for me.

It is stupid.  Absolutely stupid that Congress would create such a bill, the Senate would approve it, and the president would sign it into law.  I’m willing to bet that the majority of those who voted “yea” along with the president did not read the entire bill.  I know my congressman did not, and he voted for it.  His receptionist, when I asked if he was GOING to read it, did not answer yes or no, but only said, “Well, it is over 1000 pages.”  (Which at that time it was.  By the time the vote came around, it was over 2000 pages.)

Folks wake up.  Stop voting for those who are so entrenched in Washington politics that they have lost sight of what over-regulation and stupid laws do to the citizens.  Go to thomas.gov and look at incumbent voting records, and see how some of these yo-yos vote.  (I call them yo-yos because they vacillate  up and down with the trend of the polls.)

 Let’s talk about driving bad behavior…

I once thought it would be a good idea to time my employees on trouble calls.  One of the old-timers who worked for me at the time, pulled me aside and said, “You don’t want to do this.”

I asked him why.  He went on to explain that it won’t speed up fixing the problem, but it will speed up how fast someone gets cut off when on the phone.  He was speaking from years of experience and said when you judge people in customer support by how quickly the can end a phone call, they do things to end the call quickly – whether the call is over or not.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  We must have got cut off,” says the service representative to the customer calling back.

In reality, that service representative hung up just seconds before the quote time limit.

How does this relate to this tax law?

Supposed you are a general contractor.  All of a sudden, people only hire you for jobs that are $599 and less.  Why?  Because they do not want to hassle with W-9 and 1099 forms.  They will start hiring contractors to do $599 jobs.  So, you’ll get a lot of $599 jobs, and many will be following behind some other contractor who started the job and didn’t finish it because the customer wanted to keep the job under $600.

Another bad behavior will be, “Hey, I’ll make you a deal.  Rather than charging you $5000 for this job, I’ll only charge you $4500 if we skip this W-9 and 1099 stuff.  Okay?”

“Sorry, I only accept cash,” will be more common as cash-under-the-table deals spring up.

Forget about asking for a receipt.  They don’t want any paper trail that could lead to a W-9/1099 filing.

It is a stupid law and needs to be repealed.  So, get the word out.  Write your congressman.  Write your senator (and tell your senator if a repeal comes their way, you expect them to support the repeal.)  And, when businesses complain tell them, “I’m just trying to abide by the law.  If you don’t like the law, write your congressman.”

Dealing with Spam

It started raining this morning on my drive in to Rochester.  Just a drizzle.  In fact, Elizabethe asked, “When did you wash your car?”  I hadn’t, but the rain made all the white salt against the dark blue paint disappear.

I got this e-mail today.  It stated my position in the search engines would be higher if I used their services.  Baloney.

Here’s what you do when you get such e-mails from people you don’t know.

1)  Open a PayPal account.

2)  Send them a money request for some moderate amount.  (I use $1000.)

3)  In the request, state that it is your policy to block such e-mail requests until the fee has been paid.

4) Add their e-mail address to your spam filter, and if you DO get $1000, then remove it.

I figure that will stop them.  We’ll see.

Having a Voice in this Economy

I struggled on what to name this post.  I decided on this name because many people feel they don’t have a say in how the world is going right now.  Well, they are wrong.  They do have a voice in this economy and hopefully, if you are one of those people, after reading today’s blog you will feel empowered to start doing something different.

I once overheard a lady at the grocery store complaining about the price of lettuce.  Lettuce had been selling for about 35 cents a head, and it had jumped to about 90 cents a head.  I turned to her and said, “If you don’t like the price, don’t buy it.  And, if you don’t buy it, the price WILL come down.”

She didn’t take my advice.  She scoffed at me, placed the head of lettuce in her shopping cart and said, “I like salad with my meals.”

Oh, well.  She deserves the price she is paying.

Today’s centralized, big business economy doesn’t have to be this way.  Each of us have choices to make.  Such choices as, “Do I grow my own fruits and vegetables?”, “Do I shop at stores that encourage waste and high prices?”, “Do I waste or do I save?”, “Do I support local businesses?”, etc.

I’d like to concentrate on just three things each of us can do to turn the tide…

1)  Support a local economy – When things get bad, global economies pull monies inward, towards their core, and the outer fringes suffer.  We are seeing this today with cities, counties, and states going bankrupt.  The answer is simple – support local businesses as much as you can to keep your money closer to home.   The closer to your home, the better for you and your neighbors.

2)  Boycott businesses that support “popular” philanthropic efforts – I’m talking about businesses that give millions to special interest groups as an attempt to “prove” they are the “good guys”.  You don’t need to have a good portion of your hard-earned money going to support some cause to which you are morally opposed.  Instead, spend your money at a store that uses that money inside your community.  For example, a restaurant I knew in California (locally owned in our town), donated food for the high school marching band’s fund-raising dinner.  Now, wouldn’t you rather give money to them, than to a global chain restaurant that donates money to United Way?  Or, simply give your business to a local store and donate to the charity of your choice… not someone else’s choice.

3)  Patronize businesses you trust – Trust is important.  Look at what has happened with Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae.  A lack of trust has nearly destroyed our U.S. economy as a result of dishonest people.  From local bank branches to members of the Senate and Congress, dishonesty is still costing us trillions of dollars.  How do you know if you save your money at a large bank, that a portion of your money is going to provide lavish parties for high-paid executives?  You don’t.   But, if you know and trust someone who has their own business, you know what your money is going for.

Yes, all three of these points are tightly linked.  They are aimed at keeping your hard-earned money close to home.  Could you image what would happen if people suddenly stopped going to Walmart, and started shopping at a local mom-and-pop grocery store?

Now, before you say, “But what about all those Walmart employees?”

Well, that mom-and-pop store will need more employees if Walmart’s business suddenly came their way.  Right?  Of course.  And, if that money is getting distributed more on a local level, and not trickling up through the large corporate structure at Walmart, then your community will become stronger.

Recently, someone told me about a city in Canada where they have not only got out of debt, but have built a positive reserve.  (You can read about it here:  http://www.citymayors.com/interviews/mississauga_interview.html .)  So, it CAN be done even on scale of a city of 600,000 people.

There is a lot we can do.  Individually, it will improve our individual lives.  But, collectively, it will greatly improve everyone’s lives.

So, if you agree, pass this philosophy along to your friends and neighbors, and let’s make our communities a better place to live.

Cold Snap

We are experiencing a cold snap.  The temperature today never got above 18F, and for the most part, was in the single digits.  Even the long-time residents are saying this is very unusual. 

Hey, Al Gore!  How’s this for global warming?

I sat in for Bob in PEC this morning.  It is amazing how many missionaries are assigned to this ward, and how many families they are teaching.  Remarkable.

Dinner today consisted of chicken and rice made with coconut milk and some mild spices added.  Of course, at the table, I put a container for red curry out.  I like red curry because it is not hot, and is loaded with garlic and some other spices that really add to a dish like this. 

Bro. Levitt and I went home teaching to the Tanners.  We had a nice visit with Pres. and Sister Tanner.

Moving Sister Harman

Brother Ingold, Morse, the full-time missionaries and me went and helped Sister Pat Harman move.  Bob and I picked up the moving van and we headed over there.  It took us two loads, but it went well.

When I got home, Elizabethe, Rebecca and Sarah Huber, June Chapman and Heather Wildey had the house all steamed up from their canning chicken.  They had quite an operation going.  I cannot believe how much steam built up in the house.

So, I’ve taken things out to my office to catch up on my blog and backup files.  You know the saying… Can’t stand the heat…

Canned Chicken (tastes like chicken)

… get out of the kitchen.