Weekend Would-You-Rathers

We had a lively Saturday and now Doggle and I are crashed out, me with about 25% mobility, him with wondering why I’m taking five times longer to fill his water bowl while he stares at it, pointedly. Probably I’m the servant he would fire to make a point.

Left to its own devices, my brain wants to know if you’d rather….

Handwash dishes, or use the dishwasher?

Have a robot vacuum, risking a SkyNet/Cylon invasion one day, or just live in a dirty house for weeks?

Use an electric toothbrush or regular toothbrush?

Live with less traffic and few friends to visit or have Carmageddon be your norm with lots of friends?

Have a life of adventure or sense of adventure?

Be able to sing one song really well or whistle anything really well?

Hang out with Laurence Fishburne or Mads Mikkelsen for a day?

Spend 6 months traveling your own country, or 6 weeks traveling internationally? Solo or with the whole family?
 

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Good Eats: Food in Seattle, WA

PiC and I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Seattle. It was his first visit, my third, and we had a whole ambitious slate of things we wanted to explore. Predictably enough, my entire itinerary was foods and comics. His was a bit more high-brow: museums, nature, local sights.

We settled on a melange of friends, geekery, comics, trying great foods, and a little bit of sightseeing. Whatever we missed on this trip was added to the list for Next Time. There will be a next time!

And because I’m a sharing kind of person, some of my favorites:

ECCCFoods1

Taylor Shellfish: Has limited seating, mainly high top tables and bar stools, probably fits about 25 people, if they’re awfully friendly, and their oysters are in open cases right next to the dining tables. It’s great. They have this fantastic chowder bar, offering two kinds of chowder, and for $6.50, you can have your fill of classic clam chowder or spicy geoduck chowder, and amazing dinner rolls.

I had to try their oysters, so that was a bit of a splurge as all oysters were > $2/each, and I think we all remember that I’m the greedy so and so who ordered FIFTY oysters the last time we oystered. No kidding, I broke PiC with that and this was the first time he’d even look at one since.

The Calf & Kid: A tiny cheese shop in the Melrose Market area, we literally stood there and gawked at all their cheeses. Egads I love cheese.

Cupcake Royale: We accompanied our friends to this coffee/cupcake/ice cream shop and good gravy but a regular cupcake priced at $3.65 is too rich for my blood. I had one anyway, vacation y’know, but it was just ok. Still, their designs were awesome.

Seattleites and Seattle experts: Do share any other must eat places that we should try Next Time!

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TaxAct: A review

I declare a Minor Victory. After wading through 20 forms and itemizing deductions for home, charitable deductions, expenses and so on, I’ve finally gotten the taxes sorted enough to file for our extension. Maybe a numbing effect sets in after the first several hours, or the pain is so unbelievable that you entirely forget what it was like, much like how I’ve heard childbirth described. No kidding, that was torment stretched across 3 weekends and I’ve only just bought us a reprieve until October. On the bright side, I always forget that California grants an automatic extension so all that pain was for federal taxes.

While looking forward to working with a good tax preparer/advisor, I get that weird “I have to pre-clean for the housecleaners” feeling.  You know what I’m talking about, right? Friends who had housekeepers/housecleaners (or still do) always spend half a day picking up in preparation for people to come clean. It totally baffles me.  But Moom inspired me to sort all the just-about filed paperwork so it’s not a file folder chock full of confusion; everything’s scanned and itemized in a spreadsheet now.

This is the second year I’ve used TaxAct and around Hour 13, I started wondering what possessed me to use them again. The relief of being done with taxes must have overcome all memory of my frustrations in using the software last year. Since I’d already committed, I rationalized that this was just my way of being fair, that the frustration really had to do with the software, not just doing taxes.

Let’s be honest, there was a lot of that frustration:

1. Filing an extension requires an estimate of your tax liability and payment by April 15th. Slog through the entire filing process and then send in Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

2. Finally filing again in October (instead of January or February at the latest) when the last straggler Schedule K comes in: Form 1040; Schedules A-C, SE; Form 6251; Form 2106; Form 4562

3. Filing amendments because the last straggler Schedule K was wrong – Forms 1040x and 540x.

Human error aside, the linear-but-NOT interface was terrible

TaxAct walks you through each of the forms, start to finish, via their questionnaire. Answer yes to this or that question and it opens up the relevant form. This works if you have all your information at hand, organized, and ready to be flipped through.

The problem is, you can’t easily skip certain questions and then just use their “Back” button to weave your way back up the tree. Go backwards that way and you’re liable to find yourself up a creek instead, lost in some random cul-de-sac of form questions, or rowing your way through a whole series of questions that aren’t the direction you meant to go.

New Stuff
When you have a number of new forms or situations to work into the picture, it’s not necessarily intuitive when you should be adding which forms to which sections if you only know which Schedule it should appear on but not much else. I ended up adding and deleting forms multiple times trying to get things into the correct sections/sequence. It wasn’t until the end where I found the summary page for either the Income or Deductions section where it was much easier to fill things out piecemeal; and I still couldn’t tell you where to find that.

Once I further complicate our financial lives with other investments, I won’t have hair left to pull out while doing taxes. Another vote for hiring a pro!

Stupid inconveniences
If you’d, say, spent 4 hours working and turned your attention away briefly, you get logged out. It saves your work, of course, but when you try to log back in, there’s a 30% chance it’ll decide that you disabled cookies (when you didn’t) and insists that you have to accept them again (but I DO!). It’s an annoyance but let’s be honest, every minute wasted trying to do taxes is as frustrating as those minutes and hours spent actually working on them.

Honestly, the software’s probably halfway decent but for the amount of time I had to waste figuring it out, or figuring out where information should go because they failed to provide enough information, I won’t be using them again.

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Just a little (link) love: tax deadlines edition

LinkLive

We’ve been extra busy the past few weekends with work and not-work; it’s only going to get worse as I’m staring down the barrel of April 15th. I’m going to have to file for an extension again and it gives me hives that that hasn’t been settled yet.

After spending hours sorting through our paperwork, though, it’s finally time to admit that this is no longer even a little bit fun, and it’s time to hire a professional. The moment that decision was made, it felt like a metric ton of stress was lifted off my shoulders – though a bit prematurely since I’ve not yet actually hired said professional or turned everything over yet.

:: How many of y’all still file your own taxes?  If not, when did you turn to outside help? If you’re sitting pretty, enjoy some light reading!

MONEY

Funny About Money avoids a huge service fee

Evan (My Journey to Millions) just charted his dividend income and growth. I just did this too!

“…what I heard over and over again was people saying if someone gave them credit, they must have determined they could afford it. It was as if they had no responsibility to determine what they could afford.”
Vanguard on why so many Americans go bankrupt

CAREER

Joan C. Williams at the Washington Post on Women, work and the art of gender judo

Why faculty work so much

Slate interview Ira Glass in On Air and On Error

NEAT THINGS

MutantSupermodel made this fantastic Bat-tutu a while ago and I love that she’s got an Etsy shop now.

AMAZING leopard seal photos, Nat Geo photographer

Have you met Hessel & Hannes yet? They are the CUTEST chocolate lab and cat pair.

[VIDEO] A lovely serenade through pregnancy (Tom Fletcher of McFly), hattip @grlredballoon

[VIDEO]  Wolf loves belly rubs, who knew? Amazing.

Not quite a wolf but of the related Pay Attention to ME variety

I love what happened when Pat Rothfuss played a game with his son

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