Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Moment

A still small voice deep inside
And a voice still ringing in my ear
Saying
Come and See

Just writing away on the background for 1 Thessalonians and had a moment with the Lord. Just writing it down.

Much better today with mood dip prevention in the afternoon. I had too much indoor sit time and people time. Good to spend a couple days of recalibration in the sunshine exercising by myself. :)

No one believes I am an introvert, but I am!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Freewrite Ten - "Wellness of Heart"

Yesterday was a down day. I was down Sunday night, but I was fine Monday morning as I worked on Colossians 1 and the incomparable Christ, but by 8:45 am (I got up at 5), I had dipped again. I should have just packed everything up and gone out in the sunshine, but I wanted to finished Colossians 1! So I didn't. I did make dinner in the morning. I ordered our rental car. Contacted all the people in So Cal we need to connect with. I got a lot done (see my list of "TO DO's" that I started the day with), but I was down until I listened to "Dry Salvages" in the Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot (review below). It turned me. Then I walked in the sunshine and lifted weights. That helped. The evening was fine. 

I also got some prayer back up from George, Nancy, and Kim. I think I am just tired from all the people contact on Saturday and Sunday. I really am an introvert at heart. I love to be at home. So, it was good to have a day like yesterday, and I have the day today until Jesus Community.

I supposed this is a "Wellness of heart" kind of freewrite. :) I think I am ready to water my soul now with the rest of Colossians. :) It hasn't been ten minutes, but I make the rules on this blog, right? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

25. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

I read "The Waste Land" for my Well-Educated Mind list, but that was written before Eliot converted to faith in June 1927 and was based on his very unhappy first marriage. Prior to conversion, he was a "modernist poet."
Modernism assumes we live in a post-Christian era. And in the more pessimistic form, which Eliot helped inaugurate, its adherents find few ordering principles for modern life, adopt a general mood of bleak disillusionment, and attack the fallacies and frailties of the day. (Invitation to the Classics, p. 319) 
Four Quartets are probably his most famous poems after he converted. 
Four Quartets are four interlinked meditations with the common theme being man's relationship with time, the universe, and the divine. In describing his understanding of the divine within the poems, Eliot blends his Anglo-Catholicism with mystical, philosophical and poetic works from both Eastern and Western religious and cultural traditions, with references to the Bhagavad-Gita and the Pre-Socratics as well as St. John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Quartets 

The "Four Quartets" are unified in their focus on four elements: air ("Burnt Norton"), earth ("East Coker"), water ("Dry Salvages"), and fire ("Little Gidding"). The common theme is summed up as "redeem the time" (Invitation to the Classics, p.320). "Throughout the poetry Eliot speculates on both the nature of the present age and the impact of the eternal on the present" (p. 320). 

Here is Burnt Norton in the English Cotswalds (where we want to go on our 25th wedding anniversary!):

Burnt Norton

"Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present."

from: "Burnt Norton"






Here is East Coker a village in Somerset, England:















"Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse."  
from: "East Coker" 





My favorite was "Dry Salvages" that refers to the rocks off the northeast coast of 
Cape Ann, Massachusetts where Eliot spent vacations during his childhood. 



http://www.captainshouse.com/salvages.html
It is interesting to note that he wrote this poem toward the end of 1940 when London was experiencing air raids during World War II! What a pleasant escape! 
The poem can be described as being about water and hope. It begins with images of the sea, water, and of Eliot's past; this water later becomes a metaphor for life and how humans act. This transitions into an image of a ringing bell and a discussion on time and prayer. Images of men drowning dominate the section before leading into how science and ideas on evolution separate mankind from properly understanding the past. This ends with Krishna stating that the divine will, and not future benefits or rewards, matters. The fourth section is a prayer to the Virgin Mary for fishermen, sailors, and the drowned.

The end of The Dry Salvages starts with a discussion about how people attempt to see the future through various superstitious means. Then the narrator tries to convince the reader that resignation about death is necessary. However, such resignation should be viewed as pushing the self towards redemption and the eternal life in the next world. By acting properly, one is able to overcome life and move towards the next world. (
http://www.captainshouse.com/salvages.html)

I was having a hard day and wanted to run away to the beach where I often go and spend days of prayer. For that reason, these lines spoke to me: 
The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite,
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices. (From "Dry Salvages") 
SparkNotes.com says:
This quartet departs from the pessimism and human ruins of the other three to consider humanity as a whole, as an entity with a unified subconscious and memory that produce mythic structures. Humanity is, thus, placed on a level with the natural world as something with a history and with cycles of rebirth and renewal.

Being that I am a non-pessimistic person, it figures I would like the most hopeful of them all.

Invitation to the Classics says,
The ceaseless flow of water figures the ceaseless flow of humanity's aspirations to know the divine in the different ways and cultures. All such efforts -- "hints and guesses" -- point toward the fulfillment in Christ, a truth that Eliot suggests in the poem but deliberately understates. (p.320)

But he makes it abundantly clear in the last poem, "Little Gidding" where the narrator makes a pilgrimage to the chapel of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire. From the beginning this points to communion with God. This can happen anywhere, at anytime though. It comes through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. The element here is fire which hearkens to the day of Pentecost (May 19, 2013) and contrasts with the "fires of the age" with allude to the bombings in London during World War II where Eliot was a fire warden. It also alludes to the desire for the things of the flesh. 

"The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre --
To be redeemed from fire by fire." 
 It seems that I needed renewal this morning, and T.S. Eliot did the trick! Who knew?

"What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from."


"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."


Here is the chapel in Little Gidding:

File:St John's Church, Little Gidding.jpg

24. I am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

This is a very brave girl from Yemen who was married off at age 10 to a 30 year old man! She bravely went to the Yemeni courts and go married. It reminds me of the Yemeni women I knew who were both married at 12.  This is a fast read and very powerful!


Monday Goals

Goals for Today:

1) Write at least four hours for the Bible Book Club finishing Colossians 1:15-29 and Colossians 2 posts. (Wrote four hours but only made it to Colossians 1:23!)

2) Burn up to 2400 calories and have my low calorie consumptions day (two per week to maintain current weight - Did I state here that I got third place in the SNAP Fitness weight loss challenge and get a month of free membership, T-Shirt, and a water bottle?). Do this by walk with Leslie and cardio on my own. (YES! walked and weights today)

3) Finish Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot and read another ITC book like Treatise on Religious Affections for one hour. (YES! Also wrote two reviews.)

4) Meet with Leslie for two hours. (We postponed)

5) Set up meeting with Jennifer.

6) Rent car (Yes!)

7) Write Terri and Brian for our tentative So Cal schedule (Called Terri and emailed Brian)

I was sad today, but the workout helped.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

23. The Fast Diet

Read this because I saw a news report on it and put it on hold a while ago. It only took one hour to read. Some because I already understand much of the science. 

 I found the research about delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease encouraging due to the high probability I will get it (Great grandmother, grandmother, mother all had it BAD). I am going to do this for spiritual/health reasons rather than for weight loss though (That is so nice to say! I am at my goal weight!). I know that full on fasts for days on end are much harder now that I have gotten rid of excess weight. So, this is 5 days of normal eating and 2 days of eating 25% of calories or 500 calories for women and 600 for men. Since the women’s calories are probably based on average shorter height, I am going to go at 25% of my average calorie burn from my BodyBugg which has been 2300 calories the last 30 days. That is 575 calories.

There is a lot of science in this book, but I think most people will find it engaging and doable! You can do the fast anyway you want, but it seems that the longer time you have with no eating, the greater the health benefit. A twelve to thirteen hour fast two times a week for me would be nothing. It is much like what a Ramadan fast in the summer would be like (which I did for the whole fast in 2010 including NO WATER!). It is definitely doable drinking lots of water and having a busy day. 

Interesting that the research shows that exercise in the morning BEFORE breakfast has proven more beneficial. I did that for years but was always told that was a NO NO! Most of science seems legitimate, but I will definitely be researching this more in the coming weeks. 

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Freewrite Fifteen Fret to Focus

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Php 4:6-7). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

Sometimes it is hard for me to focus because I fret. Today has already been a whirlwind. Strategizing this morning with George about the major transition in the future, Bible Study with Rachel, walk and processing with Nessa, phone call and prayer with Leslie, rescheduling Michael's Eugene dental appointments because Dr. Over has injured his hand. What's for dinner? Colossians writing and 42 more Bible Book Club posts! Focus. Do the next thing (thank you Elizabeth Elliot). Breathe. Where is the chocolate?

Praying about everything. I am thankful that I can look at the TurboTax icon on my computer and know my job is done there. Well done. Taxes paid. Refund is in my account but still pending. Hmmm. Reimbursement check in the mail. Waiting for a call to reschedule appointments. Focus on Colossians Carol. You can do it. Where is the chocolate?

Did I win second place at SNAP afterall? Weight maintenance going great despite wondering where the chocolate is.

Back to lifting light weights. Back feeling really great. An evening out for Jesus Community should be OK for us. Wish the three extraverted girls were going to be there too.

Praying about everything. Phone call into George about getting the tentative dates on the calendar. Maybe a vacation is not the best idea once he starts at the new job. But when will we have that break. Dreaming of sitting on a river boat watching Europe go by. So silly. Colossians awaits. OOOoooo. What about a trip to Colossae with Rich's tour group. Just dreamin'. We fulfilled the Washington, D.C. trip after fifteen years of dreaming. Do not want to wait that long for something in Europe. 

Anxiety melting away. So proud of George and the kids. Loving life. Thankful for sunshine and legs that walk. Quiet now that the dishwasher has stopped but what's for dinner? 

Praying about everything. Not fretting or worrying. Petitions and praises. Praying for Boston. Letting God know my concerns. Wholeness restored, everything coming together for GOOD - settling me down. Christ replacing the worry at the center of my life. I feel it even now.

Filling my mind with what is good and true - the BEST rather than the WORST. Beautiful rather than the ugly. Praising versus cursing. Bless you old job. You have been good for my husband until now. Good-bye. Thank you for the new at just the right time. 

You make everything work together and in harmony. You will do that for those I walk, talk, and pray with too. Thankful at the depth of my soul. Moving on. Timer going off in 24 seconds. 


It is well with my soul. Celtic music was I write Colossians. Bye! No proofreading. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

22. The Federalist by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay


I am strange. I never knew that political thought could be so fascinating to me, but it is. Between the Well-Educated Mind and Invitation to the Classics, I have been exposed to some of the classics of political thought!  


Here is a brief summary of what they are all about:

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays that argue for the adoption of the United States Constitution, to replace the Articles of Confederation. 
Published in three New York newspapers between October 1787 and May 1788, the essays then appeared in newspapers across the nation. 
They were composed by three different authors:  Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, all under the pseudonym Publius. 
Today the Federalist Papers serve as a primary source for interpretation of the United States Constitution. 
As the American experiment unfolds, it is worthwhile to remember how it began. 
I obtained this summary from an excellent website with FREE Audio © Michael Scherer of all the essays:  http://michaelschereraudio.com/?page_id=1188
These were written to persuade the New York state convention to ratify the US Constitution. 
The letters soon became known as the authoritative source for understanding what Thomas Jefferson called "the genuine meaning" of the Constitution. Further, George Washington declared that The Federalist would "merit the notice of posterity" because the letters so ably discuss the principles of free government. (Invitation to the Classics, p.199)
It certainly convinced me that our Constitution is wonderful!

I listened to the FREE audio and read the FREE Kindle version from Amazon. I was over halfway through reading all of them when I realized that the Invitation to the Classics says:
Historian Clinton Rossiter states that "the common consent of learned opinion" holds the following to be the most important: 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 23, 37, 39, 47, 48, 49, 51, 62, 63, 70, 78, 84, and 85. This listing may proved to be a helpful guide for those who lack the time or endurance to read the text from cover. Madison's Number 10 and 51 and Hamilton's Number 78 should certaintly be read and appreciated. (p.202)
I read 1-44, but decided to go with the remaining suggested ones starting at 47. I liked focusing on the more important ones, and they were fascinating! These men were brilliant with amazing foresight! I think the US Constitution WORKS! And we have these men to thank for it!
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. (Number 47)
The balance of powers with its system of checks and balances works!
A NATION without a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, is in my view, an awful spectacle. The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by voluntary consent of a whole people, is a PRODIGY, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety. (Number 85)
I think these men might CRINGE at what has happened to the size of our Federal government and the mess of our tax code though! 

A good book to finish on TAX DAY 2013.

God Bless America
Land that I LOVE!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

I could barely keep my eyes open at 10:30 pm, but then a hot flash came over me, and they often made me wide awake. That's OK though, I am inspired to press on ahead in the Bible Book Club, and the quietness at midnight is soothing to me. Thankfully, I do not have much going on tomorrow since we decided not to drive to Seattle. At the time we made the decision not to go, we were knee-deep in job transition and taxes. So, it is not a bad thing that we have a free weekend.

So I guess I am just starting work early. LOL! I was going to take a break while my computer keyboard was getting fixed, but I spent a good part of the day installing all the updates for my HP mini that I usually just use for traveling. It is nice to have it all updated because it runs much faster now. I really like this keyboard too. Now that my LOGOS Bible Software is also on my iPhone, I can look things up there as I study. The only disadvantage is that I cannot cut and paste things into the Bible Book Club post, but I do that so rarely that it really is not that big of a deal. So, I am happy.

Well, my quietness was just a bit shattered. Paul is up studying for his first chemistry test tomorrow. He says it is going fine.

I counted and only have 45 more posts to go, and I will be done with the BBC!! I do have the Messiah ones to edit from 2010 and new Jesse Tree posts to write, but most of them will be linking back to previous posts in the BBC. Those are "technically" not really BBC posts too and will not be included in the books. I am not counting them. 

What a journey this has been for me. I am so thankful for it. It has kept me in the Word so regularly, and it has helped me wrestle through some tough passages and helped me to articulate better. All the hours and hours and hours (I estimate somewhere between 3000 and 4000) have been so worth it. YAY GOD!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Invitation to the Classics List Progress


I am on schedule to be done with this list by November 2, 2013! (my anniversary for the other two lists I finished in 2011 and 2012).  

Then, NO MORE LISTS! 

TOTAL DONE: 66/76

Early Modern 16/21
  1. 1633 The Temple – Herbert (1/2 way through)
  2. 1746 A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections – Edwards (started)
  3. 1759 Essays and Rasselas – Johnson
  4. 1791 The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. – Boswell
  5. 1787 The Federalist – Hamilton, Madison, Jay (#44)

Modern 25/30 
  1. 1843 Fear and Trembling – Kierkegaard (checked out)
  2. 1888 Twilight of the Idols – Nietzsche
  3. 1935 Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot
  4. 1942 Go Down, Moses – Faulkner 
  5. 1950 Waiting for God – Weil 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

21. The Second Shepherds' Play

By Judith Elbourne (This page where it has a CC-by-SA 3.0 licence)
 [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I meant to read this around Christmas, but I never got around to it. 

This is on my Invitation to the Classics list and often combined with Everyman. It is part of the Wakefield or Towneley Mystery Plays, a series of thirty-two mystery plays based on the Bible most likely performed around the Feast of Corpus Christi probably in the town of Wakefield, England during the late Middle Ages until 1576" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakefield_Cycle).

I read Everyman for the Well-Educated Mind List, but this one was not on that list. It is a short play and not too hard to read if you use a modernized and adapted version. The original version is a bit harder to understand.
Here is a synopsis of the plot:
The play is actually two separate stories presented sequentially; the first is a non-biblical story about a thief, Mak, who steals a sheep from three shepherds. He and his wife, Gill, attempt to deceive the shepherds by pretending the sheep is their son. The shepherds are fooled at first. However, they later discover Mak's deception.
At this point, the storyline switches to the familiar one of the three shepherds being told of the birth of Christ by an angel, and being told to go to Bethlehem, where they offer gifts to the Christ child. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Shepherds'_Play)
Everyman was easier for me to read. After a couple of attempts to read the original, I read this version:

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/engl/215/ssp.htm

Today is a Blur Freewrite

When I am uncomfortable, it is hard for me to focus, and I am still uncomfortable with my back. This is a "two appointment" back issue, and I am kicking myself for having lifted the heavier weight for my hamstrings.

Badly done, Carol!
Badly done!

So, I have tried to get better by heat and massage from George and a walk that was cut short because it made it worse.

Sigh.

Now, I am looking at homes in Hillsboro, OR because we might move there someday, but should we knowing that we might move into the house in Newberg, OR someday?

We can take our time to make the decision.

George learned something. One of the job offers that was temporary but might have been stretched out to two years was going to, for sure, only be six months. We would have been under the same incredible stress we have been in since December. The inside person who told us this felt it would be a conflict of interest to tell George (they are personal friends), but that person felt it was fine once he turned down the temporary position. That person was so relieved to learn that George turned it down! This goes along with my feeling that the morale there is VERY LOW and people are leaving right and left. If they wanted George, they could MAN UP and hire him permanently!

The company he will be working for does not have people leaving right and left. People tend to stay there, and they are so excited to have him!

I am so happy. When I did the taxes this year, I realized that our situation was getting more and more dire. We would have never starved, and there are people in MUCH more dire straights than us, but it is nice to not have to think through the "what if" when he would be dropped to below part time by July and we would have to pay for insurance out of pocket.

This is a much better situation, and I am grateful.

I am also grateful to have pressed the button on both the federal and state taxes. It cost me extra to send the state electronically, but I just had to have it over with. What a stupidly stressful journey that was! TurboTax has lost my business forever (just like United Airlines did last year). I am going to a tax person next year. No denying it.

I told George I want to go on a relaxing non-stressful date to celebrate these new reliefs.

I am going to bed and waiting for my 4 pm chiropractic appointment. I feel very useless today because of the pain, and I am so behind in a few things because of that, processing this job change, and taxes.

TurboTax Has Lost My Business Forever

I cannot tell you how many things were WRONG that I had to override on the "auto" simplicity of TurboTax. Our return would have been really WRONG had I not dug deeper into some things and changed them. This article is the main reason I will not use it ever again.


How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing

by Liz Day ProPublica, March 26, 2013, 5 a.m.
This story was co-produced with NPR.
Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes 2014 and for free. You'd open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.
It's already a reality in Denmark, Sweden and Spain. The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.
The idea, known as "return-free filing," would be a voluntary alternative to hiring a tax preparer or using commercial tax software. The concept has been around for decades and has been endorsed by both President Ronald Reagan and a campaigning President Obama.
"This is not some pie-in-the-sky that's never been done before," said William Gale, co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. "It's doable, feasible, implementable, and at a relatively low cost."
So why hasn't it become a reality?
Well, for one thing, it doesn't help that it's been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software 2014 Intuit, maker of TurboTax. Conservative tax activist Grover Norquist and an influential computer industry group also have fought return-free filing.
Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years 2014 more than Apple or Amazon. Although the lobbying spans a range of issues, Intuit's disclosures pointedly note that the company "opposes IRS government tax preparation."
The disclosures show that Intuit as recently as 2011 lobbied on two bills, both of which died, that would have allowed many taxpayers to file pre-filled returns for free. The company also lobbied on bills in 2007 and 2011 that would have barred the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, from initiating return-free filing.
Intuit argues that allowing the IRS to act as a tax preparer could result in taxpayers paying more money. It is also a member of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which sponsors a "STOP IRS TAKEOVER" campaign and a website calling return-free filing a "massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program."
In an emailed statement, Intuit spokeswoman Julie Miller said, "Like many other companies, Intuit actively participates in the political process." Return-free programs curtail citizen participation in the tax process, she said, and also have "implications for accuracy and fairness in taxation." (Here is Intuit's full statement.)
In its latest annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, Intuit also says that free government tax preparation presents a risk to its business.
Roughly 25 million Americans used TurboTax last year, and a recent GAO analysis said the software accounted for more than half of individual returns filed electronically. TurboTax products and services made up 35 percent of Intuit's $4.2 billion in total revenues last year. Versions of TurboTax for individuals and small businesses range in price from free to $150.
(H&R Block, whose tax filing product H&R Block At Home competes with TurboTax, declined to discuss return-free filing with ProPublica. The company's disclosure forms state that it also has lobbied on at least one bill related to return-free filing.)
* * *
Proponents of return-free filing say Intuit and other critics are exaggerating the risks of government involvement. No one would be forced to accept the IRS accounting of their taxes, they say, so there's little to fear.
"It's voluntary," Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chief economist for the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, told ProPublica. "If you don't trust the government, you don't have to do it."
Goolsbee has written in favor of the idea and published the estimate of $2 billion in saved preparation costs in a 2006 paper that also said return-free "could signiFB01cantly reduce the time lag in resolving disputes and accelerate the time to receive a refund."
Other advocates point out that the IRS would be doing essentially the same work it does now. The agency would simply share its tax calculation before a taxpayer files rather than afterward when it checks a return.
"When you make an appointment for a car to get serviced, the service history is all there. Since the IRS already has all that info anyway, it's not a big challenge to put it in a format where we could see it," said Paul Caron, a tax professor at University of Cincinnati College of Law. "For a big slice of the population, that's 100 percent of what's on their tax return."
Taxpayers would have three options when they receive a pre-filled return: accept it as is; make adjustments, say to filing status or income; or reject it and file a return by other means.
"I've been shocked as a tax person and citizen that this hasn't happened by now," Caron said.
Some conservative activists have sided with Intuit.
In 2005, Norquist testified before the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform arguing against return-free filing. The next year, Norquist and others wrote in a letter to President Bush that getting an official-looking "bill" from the IRS could be "extremely intimidating, particularly for seniors, low-income and non-English speaking citizens."
Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, declined to comment, but a spokesman pointed to a letter he and other conservatives sent this month to members of Congress. The letter says the IRS wants to "socialize all tax preparation in America" to get higher tax revenues.
A year after Norquist wrote Bush, a bill to limit return-free filing was introduced by a pair of unlikely allies: Reps. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the conservative House majority leader, and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a liberal stalwart whose district includes Silicon Valley.
Intuit's political committee and employees have contributed to both. Cantor and his leadership PAC have received $26,100 in the past five years from the company's PAC and employees. In the last two years, the Intuit PAC and employees donated $26,000 to Lofgren.
A spokeswoman said in an email that Cantor "doesn't believe the IRS should be in the business of filling out your tax returns for you," and that the bill was designed to "prevent the IRS from circumventing Congress."
Lofgren did not respond to requests for comment.
* * *
Intuit did not issue public statements on the return-free filing bills, but CCIA President Ed Black has called return-free filing "brilliantly Machiavellian." When Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Dan Coats, R-Ind., introduced a bipartisan tax reform bill in 2011 that included a return-free plan called "Easyfile," Norquist blasted it.
"The clear goal of this measure is to raise taxes in a way that leaves politicians with clean hands," he wrote in a letter to the two senators.
Political opposition hasn't been the only hurdle. Supporters say return-free filing has been overshadowed in a tax debate that has focused more on rates, deductions and deficits.
Further, return-free filing would not be available to everyone. It's best for the slice of taxpayers with straightforward returns who don't itemize or claim various credits.
Still, past studies estimate that this group might include 40 percent of filers or more; the IRS expects to process 147 million individual returns this year.
In separate reports, the CCIA and a think tank that Intuit helps sponsor argue that potential costs outweigh return-free filing's benefits. Among other things, the reports say that not many taxpayers are likely to use return-free, that new data reporting requirements could raise costs for employers, and that taxpayers could face new privacy and security risks.
The reports and Intuit also note that many taxpayers can already get free tax filing through the Free File Alliance, a consortium involving the IRS and a handful of companies. But last tax year, only about 3 million filers had used Free File, according to a Treasury tally through April 28.
In an SEC filing, Intuit said it provided about 1.2 million free federal returns for the 2011 tax season. The company and competitors typically advertise free federal filing on the Web but also pitch other paid services, such as filing certain state returns.
Government studies have split about whether a return-free system would save or cost the IRS money, according to a 2003 Treasury report. Unless the tax code was simplified, the report said, it would add work for employers and the IRS, which would have to process tax records sooner.
Some independent tax experts see potential problems with a return-free system.
Eric Toder, co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said the IRS, "an overpressed agency that's being asked to do a lot of things," shouldn't be asked to do what software companies could easily do.
James Maule, a professor at Villanova University School of Law, said the average taxpayer probably wouldn't scrutinize a pre-filled return for accuracy or potential credits. "Some people might get this thing that says this is your tax bill and just pay it, like with property tax bills," said Maule.
* * *
So far, the only true test case for return-free filing in the U.S. has been in Intuit's home state.
In 2005, California launched a pilot program called ReadyReturn. As it fought against the program over the next five years, Intuit spent more than $3 million on overall lobbying and political campaigns in the state, according to Dennis J. Ventry Jr., a professor at UC Davis School of Law who specializes in tax policy and legal ethics.
Explaining the company's stance, Intuit spokeswoman Miller told the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that it was "a fundamental conflict of interest for the state's tax collector and enforcer to also become people's tax preparer."
The following month, an ad in The Sacramento Bee, paid for by the CCIA, cautioned "Taxpayers beware" and said ReadyReturn "could be very harmful to taxpayers." The ad pointed to a now-defunct website, taxthreat.com, opposing ReadyReturn.
Former California Republican legislator Tom Campbell recalls being surprised at the opposition.
"The government imposed the income tax burden in the first place," he told ProPublica. "So if it wants to make it easier, for heaven's sake, why not?"
In a Los Angeles Times op-ed at the time, Campbell wrote he "never saw as clear a case of lobbying power putting private interests first over public benefit."
Joseph Bankman, a Stanford Law School professor who helped design ReadyReturn, says he spent close to $30,000 of his own money to hire a lobbyist to defend the program in the legislature. Intuit made political contributions to scores of legislative candidates, Bankman said, and gave $1 million in 2006 to a group backing a ReadyReturn opponent for state controller.
ReadyReturn survived, but with essentially no marketing budget it is not widely known. Fewer than 90,000 California taxpayers used it last year 2013 although those who do use it seem to be happy. Ninety-eight percent of users who filled out a survey said they would use it again. The state's tax agency has also praised ReadyReturns, saying they are cheaper to process than paper returns.
Bankman thinks national return-free filing could make many others happy, too. "We'd have tens of millions of taxpayers," he said, "no longer find April 15 a day of frustration and anxiety."
GET INVOLVEDHelp us chart the cost/benefits of federal income tax prep services by telling us how you are filing. Want to keep up with stories like this? Follow ProPublica on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Focusing Fifteen Freewrite

I am having a hard time focusing on Ephesians 5 this morning mainly because I am in pain. For the first time since Valentine's Day, my back is definitely out, and I know EXACTLY what I did wrong. I thought I was to a point where I could do the sitting hamstring curl at a heavier weight. It was no problem to lift, but it ALWAYS pulls my S-I joint out! DUH! If I do lift on it, I usually do a VERY light weight! Apparently, I thought I was superwoman, and I am paying the price for my stupidity. I am not going to be able to do much until Doctor Koen can fix me. Darn it! Not smart. Live and learn. 

I had forgotten what it was like to live in pain and discomfort, and I learned something about myself: I eat when I am uncomfortable physically! LIGHTBULB (just sneezed, and it was VERY painful!) moment!!!!

LIVE AND LEARN - do better in the future.

Despite the desire to munch when I am uncomfortable, I am still maintaining my weight even though I am in my "no recording" food phase with just doing it by "feel" (which usually gets me in big trouble). It is frustrating that I cannot exercise to get my serotonin/dopamine in check at my CORTIZONE time, but I am doing very well considering my circumstances.

Focus, Carol, focus. I might have to make this a reading day until I can get in to see Dr. Koen.

I am going to go back to just doing the chair heal scoot that Logan gave me for my hamstrings! That seems to be great (unless you do it after you pull out your back and think you are better like I did yesterday)!

Today, I must make one an IRA deposit at 9 am. Then I am going to press the button and get a refund, hopefully in ten days!  This tax journey has been a lesson in realizing that I need to pass it off to someone else. I am sure I took advantage of every single opportunity and reported everything correctly on the form. So many people have tax people who save them thousands more, but I never trust TurboTax and always read up so I can find more. I am positive it is correct! That is a good feeling, but it also makes for a very long journey that would take a tax person a fraction of the time because they know all the rules, and I have to read document after document. I PROMISE that I will bite the bullet and pay for a tax person. Through this, I am AMAZED at how many people who are fairly low income use tax people! That surprised me. I am usually so frugal. Too frugal for my own good.

Speaking of frugal. I am very pleased to evaluate our spending over the last few months and see how we have "retrenched" with George being cut back to .78! Other than major car repairs in December that caused our spending to go up considerably (weighing the option of getting a newer car with better gas mileage since George will be commuting so much very soon), we have done exceptionally well! We have had major expenses with Michael's Animation Mentors tuition that we have recently discovered is NOT covered by the Oregon College Savings Program (OUR MONEY though. Do not like this!), but he will use the bond his grandfather gave him for all future tuition payments. So, we will have paid for half, and his grandfather half, and he will still have money left over from the bond for getting his start in the world. Thank you grandfather!


Well, the timer is going to go off.

Have I mentioned that I have LOVED soaking in Ephesians the last week or more? My favorite book is so rich. Rachel and I are thinking of studying it together, but we still have Romans 9-15 to go. I wonder if we could combine the two studies this next year or even start in the summer? Maybe? I hope so. I really want to study ALL of Romans with another. Then, I will have studied the BIG FIVE with other people (even though I have studied them myself): Genesis, John, Romans, Ephesians, and James!

The timer went off. On to Ephesians 5!!!!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Chai Tea Free Write

I have the timer on for seven minutes while my chai tea boils every morning, but I never thought to let this be my free write time. That is half the time I usually do, but that is OK because I have done a couple of free writes already this week.

George was so sweet. He helped me organize all the financial papers last night. How romantic to spend from dinner until 9 pm sorting through all those papers. It was good. I am usually so exhausted from handling the taxes that I just dumb them in a drawer and do not cull old papers. We are doing that now. I know we should go paperless, but I like getting a written statement every month. George says he does not mind doing that. So, I am thinking of handing that over to him. He is better at keeping track of investments and passwords than I am.  

We also want to consolidate some of our investments with one company. We have some that do really well and others (usually through banks) that do really poorly. So, I think we are going to roll those babies over. I am talking like I know what I am talking about, and I don't.

Done with the financial stuff (I only think about them when I have to pay taxes on some of our investments and then forget about them the rest of the year - GRR. Never dream of spending them, but we are thinking of doing that for our 25 wedding anniversary - we looked at Viking River Cruise videos yesterday afternoon after I was done with my writing for the day).

Speaking of writing, I spent most of the week in Ephesians 1! I love that chapter more than you will every know. Stay tuned for the post that will come out on July 1st at www.3yearbiblebookclub.blogspot.com! I love that chapter, and I lingered long over the "Top Ten Blessings" we have in Christ.

Eat your heart out David Letterman.

Chai tea is calling. No proofreading. Sorry. Bye. 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Tax Can Be a Pain, but Then Again . . .

Technically, I finished last Monday at 11:22 pm, but I realized another tax credit that I could take advantage of when I compared our taxes from last year to this year. This will be the LAST year we can possibly take that credit. So, I put in the extra hours to investigate how to take full advantage. It involved some calculations, and I mistakenly started scheduling appointments with women this last week thinking my taxes would be done. I had to do all the figuring with little bits of time here and there and did not have a chunk until Friday afternoon.

Then, I thought I would press the button after that last thing, but the investment services of one of the two financial institutions we needed to make deposits to closed an hour before the rest of the institution.  So, we missed it by a few minutes. (The operator on the phone misinformed me, but I didn't specify which part I needed to go to.) But the reason why we were late was George got out of class and forgot he had to set up one of his students for taking a late final. Then, as he was getting home, I realized that there was yet another glitch with one of the IRA's he inherited! (Quite by accident as I do not handle that but will now since I notice some things that were overlooked.)

Note to self: Convert all your traditional IRA's to ROTH IRA's for the sanity of your children who may inherit them! 

George's dad did not do this, and George was misinformed as to the procedure following his death. I caught the mistake as I was investigating why we did not have to report on one of them on our tax form. We got it all straightened out, but it left us just a little window of time to get to the two institutions. Thus why I do my taxes late enough to keep my money as long as possible before I pay but not so late that I cannot catch all the little glitches (and headaches) that inheriting George's dad's money has done (and having a two home businesses, college saving plan, too many different types of 1099's, etc.)

My mom's money was not tied to any IRA's. So, it has caused me ZERO financial headaches. In addition, she had all her money in ONE place. George's dad had his in four different places. HEADACHE! 

But then again, the bottom line is that we are so thankful that we had parents that thought about their children and grandchildren. So, I cannot complain. Some people do not have the headache of inheritance because their parents did not leave them any or very little!

So, I didn't get to push the button and have to wait until after 9 am on Monday to do so. That is OK. 

Monday cannot come soon enough. I am going to go out and celebrate afterwards!

Friday, April 05, 2013

20. Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman

Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defense of my Life)
by John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
A religious autobiography of unsurpassed interest, the simple confidential tone of which "revolutionized the popular estimate of its author," establishing the strength and sincerity of the convictions which had led him into the Roman Catholic Church (Wikipedia). 
"No autobiography in the English language has been more read; to the nineteenth century it bears a relation not less characteristic than Boswell's 'Johnson' to the eighteenth." Rev. Wm. Barry, D.D.
John Henry Newman, (1801-1890) was a Roman Catholic priest and cardinal, a convert from Anglicanism in October 1845. In his early life, he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. Both before and after becoming a Roman Catholic, he wrote influential books, including Via Media, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845), Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865-66) and the Grammar of Assent (1870).

I found this fascinating to read right on the heals of John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion because John Henry Newman went from Anglicanism to Catholicism while Calvin went from Catholicism to Calvinism! 


I did notice one big difference between the two: Calvin used TONS of Scripture to support his doctrinal beliefs while Newman used hardly any! Yet, I loved Newman's relational tone. He was a man in turmoil for many years over his move toward Catholicism! Fascinating!  

He was originally part of the "Oxford Movement":
The Oxford Movement was a movement of High Church Anglicans, eventually developing into Anglo-Catholicism. The movement, whose members were often associated with the University of Oxford, argued for the reinstatement of lost Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into Anglican liturgy and theology. They conceived of the Anglican Church as one of three branches of the Catholic Church.
It was also known as the Tractarian Movement after its series of publications Tracts for the Times, published between 1833 and 1841. The group was also disparagingly called Newmanites (pre-1845) and Puseyites (post-1845) after two prominent Tractarians, John Henry Newman and Edward Bouverie Pusey. Other well-known Tractarians included John KebleCharles MarriottRichard Hurrell FroudeRobert WilberforceIsaac Williams and William Palmer.
By the way, Wilberforce was the son of one of my favorite people: William Wilberforce!  

Last 30 Days - 813 daily deficit


This is how I have been for the last 30 days based on my weight measurement change:

Last 30 days > Wed, Mar 6 - Thu, Apr 4
Calories
Burned

daily average
2342
102(%
Calories
Consumed
 Based on
                             
1529
66%
Calorie
Balance
 http://application.bodybugg.com/bodybugg/files/static/images/sidemenu/extra-help-small.gif
daily average
813
DEFICIT
 FOOD LOGGING was -----------------------869 DEFICIT
I underreported by -------56 – not bad considering I was trying to loosen up on weighing and measuring and doing it more by memory! I am encouraged!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Thursday Thirteen Freewrite

I am just going to let my fingers do the walking on this freewrite. I do not particularly have any agenda, but I felt like I needed to update in writing all the things that were whirling around me.

Job for George and Taxes

George got an email last Friday the 29th saying that he was selected for the job he interviewed for on March 18. He was going to get a formal offer on Monday. When it did not come he called, and the PR person said that upper management wanted them to interview one more person. Say what? It did not help that I was RIGHT in the middle of doing the Oregon College Savings Plan (529) portion of our taxes (the last thing I needed to do), and I realized, after considerable digging in the "fine print" of the Oregon College Plan site and the IRS tax code, that our withdrawals from it for Michael's "vocational school" were not eligible! FINE PRINT. Also, that was put into effect in 2002, after we had opened the savings plan for Michael. The reason it is not eligible is because the school does not receive federal financial aid!

Atlas Shrugged!

Who is John Galt?

What business does the federal government have telling me what school my kid can go to and what I can do with the money I invested BEFORE you enacted the rule?

So, to hear of the job news AND realizing that we were going to have a 10% penalty federally PLUS have to pay state taxes at 9% for the principal we invested was a DOUBLE BLOW!


I got off the phone with George and just cried. (On top of that Paul called at the exact time to say that he missed his bus from LBCC and could I pick him up? Minor, but I told him no and told him later why).

It took eight hours of searching HOW to report the mistake on our tax form, WITH NO HELP FROM TURBO TAX, by the way, they would have led me down the path to believe that we were hunky dory in everything. There was no information about "qualified disbursements" and possible reasons why the vocational school did not send a 1099-T like LBCC did (a legit school, GRRR). I just had a "feeling" and did not trust Turbo Tax and will not trust them again. They have lost my business forever. I am not impressed with Turbo Tax anymore. When your taxes get as complicated as ours, you need to go to a tax accountant. Next year I will shell out the money for it.

What is funny is, once I plugged in all the numbers, our Educational Opportunity Credit made our refund go up MORE after I took out the 529 Plan money and the expenses for that "illigit" school! 

529 Plans are not all they are cracked up to be. We thought we were being so responsible by putting money away every year for it. I read a website by a financial planner who said they are not worth unless the grandparents want to pour money into it. Instead, grandpa poured it into a bond that performed amazingly! So, I think there was a better way to go. Keep the federal government out of our college/post-secondary education (with "illigit" trade schools) funds! (It hurts you for the Educational Opportunity Credit too, but that wasn't in effect when we started the fund.)

We decided to roll over what is left to Paul's account and just clean out that 529 fund altogether. What a pain. It is really sad how poorly it has done, how many hidden expenses there are in the program, and how they changed the rules and you are stuck.

I finished at 11:22 pm on Monday. Hallelujah, the fog cleared immediately. About the same time, Michael announced he got a great grade on his first project from the nasty "illigit" school (Who is John Galt?) and that his instructor (who was new to Animation Mentors) admitted that he graded all his students too hard last term. :) On top of that, my sweet Paul said, "Thank you so much for doing those taxes."

Note: The bell rang, but I have to go on (making this a "Freewrite 15"). 

Even though I could not fall asleep until 2 am, I enjoyed reading my book free from the burden of taxes. 

"Weeping may last for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

Woke up early for study only to realize we had moved it to 12:30 pm. So, I could go and have a great workout and then great Bible Study with Rachel in Romans 8.

Fast forward to Wednesday and George was offered the job. The stress of trying to piece together a job here is over. I am relieved.


Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...