Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday

I'm making this effort in between meetings in Dubuque. It may not be the most efficient use of my time. You do what you do.

My idea for acknowledging the recurring gatherings expected on my driveway this year is to give the place a name...The MapleCrest Social Club...MCSC for short. In addition to the patio heaters for members' comfort, I'm thinking that a small wine refrigerator in the garage may be in my future as well. Qualifications for membership will be at a low bar. Wanting to be there may be the most relevant item.




Today is the 100th anniversary of the opening of Wrigley Field. That's a lot of games with no WS flag to show for it. My pal Pete and I will be going into C-town for a Cubs' game in June. We may even go into the ballpark.

Moving on...

Individual data security in the investment business has arched into the borderline-absurd. I now have a couple of bank trust departments and at least one broker-dealer who will only email through an enrollment-protected secure portal...even for routine messages. Most recently, I received an email from a vendor where I had placed some client money several years ago. After my broker-dealer switch late last year, my recurring emails from the vendor decreased, but never fully ceased. An email from them last week instructed me to log in the check monthly performance.

When I did try to log in, the system rejected my previous user name/password. I sent an email to the sender stating this fact. The response was, "We have no record of your email address on file". After several back-and-forths trying to get the sender to realize that they had, in fact, sent me the email, they requested that I call in to resolve the issue. It then took a number of calls for them to sort out the disconnect. Long story short, they had essentially purged my information when the broker-dealer change was processed. Except for one email address that had escaped their updating effort. Whatever.

My reading on the traditional investment securities business is that the Compliance function is driving the focus of every element within an office. Nobody wants to be in the line of fire from an investor lawsuit, or from a government inquiry/audit. And with the high profile hacking episodes that make it on to the evening news shows, who can blame them? Investor fraud is still out there. It's amazing what promoters will do and say to induce people to invest in various projects/opportunities. Money makes people do stupid things.

The new bike is a keeper. It actually fits my body better than the now-trashed Lemond titanium. I'm guessing that the Trek geometry is slightly more favorable to me, as my original road bike, also a Trek, was a good fit too. It's nice having a working computer on the bike as well. I hadn't had a functional computer on my prior bike for at least a couple of years. This one is not GPS or that sort of hi-tech gizmo, but it has speed, mileage, time and all of the basic stuff that I might need. It's wireless with the computer getting a signal from the spoke-reader on the front wheel.

Speaking of gizmo's, I learned just last week of the "fit bit" device. Not sure I'd want to know that much data about myself. I'm betting there are hackers out there mining fit bit signals for retail trade purposes. A less-specific version of the Hy Vee gas card? Below radar not an option.

All for now. What day is it?

BCOT


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday

I am absolutely guilty of blog-neglect.  Talk about how to lose an audience!

I had great intentions to have a weekend summary entry on Sunday night, but I had trouble uploading pics from my laptop.  Then when I did get the pics posted from my desktop yesterday, Blogger did its thing of limiting my text options once the photos were in place.  I got frustrated, thought I would make a follow-up entry from the couch and just published the visuals.  Obviously, the evening was not that productive.

So many thanks to 2 for falling on her sword and accompanying me to George Strait in DSM on Friday night.  That pic of us in front of the Wells Fargo stagecoach was taken by a security guy as we were leaving the arena.  Our seats were good, but a few rows up from being great.  The place was packed as you could see from the pic taken looking across the arena from our seats.  The big overhead video screens gave a good view to everyone. 

The opening act was Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks & Dunn fame).  He still has the voice, but he looks like a few miles of bad road.  His band was also a bit edgy, tatted, and more rocky than country.  George's band was 10-guys strong, and traditional country.  There were no wardrobe changes.  The highlight for me was the electricity in the area that came out upon George's entrance and through his first two songs.  Very cool.  Worth the trip...and the price of the secondary-market ticket.

Dinner in DSM was with our friends Dr. Doug and wife Carole at a new spot called the Blue Tomato (in West DSM).  Casual Italian fare with an open kitchen.  Not the longest menu, but not bad.  And they had a wine list apart from the menu.  Bonus.  We had a bottle of a nice, dry Sangiovese.  A very favorable over all experience.  I'd go back.

Also props go out to 3 and 3.1 for taking their time and making the effort to get back to Iowa for Easter.  They covered a lot of territory in less than 72 hours.  And 3 had to deal with her regional allergies throughout.  We tried an alcohol remedy by doing a little damage to the wine inventory on Saturday night at the fff bar-b-que on Century Heights.  Results were not that great.  Maybe better wine will help next time.

Those selfies were snapped within minutes of one another on the bike path Sunday afternoon.  (Yes, I am back in training mode.  New bike and all.)  I hadn't seen my first cousin Fran since last Summer.  He's not been able to run much the last year or so.  But he gets out there and does what he can.  And 2 and The W were out for their own walk.  Its a small world.

The pace on I-80 going over to DSM on Friday afternoon was a high as I can remember.  And it was basically bumper-to-bumper all the way over.  If you weren't doing 80, you had someone all over your back bumper.  We made it to the Newton exit for our Days Inn location in less than two hours.  That's pretty much record time.  I don't think everyone was going to the George Strait concert.

Oh, and the crowd at the concert was definitely classic white trash.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Lots of questionable outfits on the females.  Guys with plaid shirts, cowboy hats and boots.
Didn't see anyone of color.  I'm sure that progressive observers could come up with a laundry-list of the things wrong with America if they were to look at that assembly.  Rural America may never be relevant to the Transformationalist's.  We are hopeless.

24 ounce beer in aluminum cans was the drink of choice at the arena.  Its like a small pitcher.  A half carafe, for sure.  For $8-9.  Really not a bad price.  But that's a lot of beer!


My pal Bill and spouse are headed for some post-April 15th R&R at a resort in Turks and Caicos.  I had actually heard the name of the island previously, but had no idea of the location.  I think they do a lot of banking there...as in shadow-y banking.  They connect through Charlotte going, and Miami on the return.  Who would have thought Charlotte?

The guy who won the Boston Marathon yesterday is a previous winner of our local Bix Seven race.  He's scheduled to return here again in July.  I'm sure he'll get lots of requests for other appearances after yesterday.

OK.  Maybe more of a travelogue than anything, but at least I made an entry, yes?  More to come this week.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy some Spring!

BCOT

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday


This entry marks what will hopefully be a return to a more normal life. These past couple of weeks have really been full of data processing in our tax software. If I had to do nothing but that for work all year long I'd be in serious need of psychological medication.

Some items of note during the last month:

1. Electronic filing is probably the best thing that has ever happened in the tax preparation business.
2. Our tax software is much smarter than I ever was with technical relationships within a return.
3. I always get a couple off-the-wall calls on April 15th on non-tax issues that make me wonder, "Customer: do you have any idea of what day it is?"
4. The April 15th party has pretty well gone away. It was me and @bcbison last night. And a guy at the bar who became our best-buddy.
5. My high-income clients pay a huge dollar amount of taxes. When I hear the current radio commercials hyping a proposed increase in Illinois state taxes on millionaires, I find it remarkable.
6. I cannot keep as many factoids in the air today as I could 20 years ago. If I don't write things down, I forget to get it done.
7. I beat the coffee shop opening-time (0530) a couple of times.
8. As hard as it may be to imagine, my signature has actually got worse.
9. There are several piles of random paperwork on flat surfaces in my office. One pile on the right side of my desk with the most active, recent additions may be toxic. I'm not so anxious to go through it.
10. The financial ratio of time spent and revenue realized for the last 30 days is a sad figure. Its a good thing that I get so much intangible benefits from the exercise.

The last return I worked on yesterday was my own. For some reason, I thought that I had done some calculations after the first of the year, but not so. And by that time of the day, I was not much interested in any fine-tuning. I took a guess, wrote a check, and filed the extension. Its always so fulfilling to work god-awful hours for several weeks, and then at the end of the exercise, get the thrill of sending more of your own money to Uncle Sam.

Today was RCL day...which is always a good day.

Dinner tonight with friends at Geneva is as close to an April 15th party as I will get this year. My pal Roy is opening his wine cellar for the occasion.

I took my new bike over to the shop today to get the add-on's that I knew I would have to acquire for the bike to be road-ready: cycling computer, bottle cages, pump and rear stow-bag. I remember when I did this with my first road bike 24 years ago. None of this stuff is cheap in the local bike-shop. I get it. They need to make money. Which is why I didn't do an on-line shopping spree. Not that spending another $150 on an already expensive bike gives me the warm and fuzzies. My first ride should be Saturday if the weather cooperates.

My iPad has begun to use more battery in idle mode. Curious that I'm getting this kind of thing now when it didn't occur previously. I can control it with Airplane Mode, but that requires another step in the protocol that LtPC just doesn't always remember to complete. I know that you need to close apps to avoid using battery life, but I think that the thing is just getting old. Maybe an upgrade is in my future!

OK. All for today. Get ready for more excitement on this site in the weeks ahead!!

BCOT



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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday

Just putting up a few lines before getting to a the last few tax projects.

Aunt Rosie elected to tell me quietly that Daddy's birthday is actually April 19th.  I was less than two weeks off.  Not bad in my world.  I'm guessing that my referencing his obituary was a flawed protocol.  I may not have written the obit, but I was involved, for sure.

Today IS the folk's anniversary.  That is a date even I know is right.  The wedding was in 1936, making this their 78th anniversary. 

Notre Dame has announced that they are converting the football stadium surface to synthetic FieldTurf.  This is a situation that even traditionalists need to get past.  Given the climate in South Bend, maintaining a uniform field is problematic, at best.  Real grass doesn't grow much after September, and the base is always under stress.  With the advancement of the quality of artificial alternatives, I think this is a good move.  Particularly since there is no home field advantage to a ragged and unpredictable surface. 

Palm Sunday is today.  Let the progressive media take the opportunity to chide the Christians for belief in such hocus-pocus.

Saw a story on a sidebar this week that UConn men were 387th out of 388 in graduation rates among D-I basketball programs.  Not sure if that's something to be proud of, but maybe it serves as a further argument to separate the student from the athlete.

Sorry for the lack of original thought. 

BCOT

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday

After missing the mark on Mother's birthday last month, I'm a little apprehensive about another date miscalculation, but according to his original obituary, Daddy's birthday is today.  He would have been 104 year's young.  I'd put this pic, taken with Tahoe Phil's Babe Ruth squad, at circa 1955-56.  Making Daddy age 45-46.  Happy Birthday!

For the record, the Oracle of Iowa was Clan Champ in the women's pool.  I still got it!

Still under the gun of the filing date.  I'll maybe add something over the weekend.

BCOT

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday

I'm taking a break for a few minutes from the number-crunching to check in here with my legion of fans.  I had meant to add a post yesterday, but ended up otherwise occupied last night and never got to the computer.

The moon and stars may be lined-up decently for me in spite of the stack of work here at the office.  On Sunday, one of my favorite cyclists, Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, took the prize again in one of the Spring's big classic races, the Tour of Flanders.  Its a race in Belgium that covers over 150 miles in varying conditions and is highly valued by the peloton.  "Spartacus" is a Classics specialist, a combination of speed and strength, ideal for one-day races.  Imposters do not win these tests of mind and body.

Then last night, in a TV show that I didn't watch, my pal George Strait took home another Entertainer of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music, a fan-based organization perhaps a step down from the Country Music Association. (Basically, I think these award shows are set-up to provide content to the TV industry...and for the women stars to strut their stuff on the red carpet...like
city-folk!  Whatever.)  George still has it.  2 and I go over to DSM to see him live a week from Friday.

And in a rain-delayed NASCAR race down in Texas today, the 24 stole a second-place finish with a sixth-place car by taking only two-tires on a late pit stop.  That strategy worked since they were set up for a two-lap dash and the other cars who took four tires didn't have enough time to work their advantage.  (Over the course of a season or two, these things tend to balance out: the 24 lost a race a couple weeks ago when he had the lead, there was a late caution, and he got passed on the restart.)

An interesting twist on the 24's paint scheme for the race in Ft. Worth was that the car was sporting the colors of Texas A&M's engineering school.  I'm not sure why A&M felt the need to get on the track, but my guess is that it was pretty good PR all week long.  It was a spiffy look, for sure.

I don't have all that much interest in the championship game tonight.  Both teams have shown a resiliency that, like 'em or not, they both belong there.  I find it extremely hard to cheer for Calipari.

I actually have a considerably greater interest in the women's game tomorrow night.  UConn has always played the game without concern for running under-woman-ed teams out of the gym.  "If you put us on your schedule, you'd better be ready to play."  I think Auriemma is a good coach.  By contrast, I really don't like the ND coach as well, but she has managed to get the program to four straight Final Fours, and has won one.  (I feel real bad for the ND girl who tore her ACL in the regional final.)  Both teams are undefeated, as they haven't played this year because of conference realignment.  It is a spicey rivalry.  I don't think that the teams like one another much.  All said, UConn has to be favored.  I'd take the Huskies and give the points, whatever they are.

Enough for now.  Back to the pile.  Thanks for reading.

BCOT