Saturday, April 12, 2008

Another Bird's Nest

Did yard work today and was in the process of cutting down a tree that had fallen over. I have two evergreen trees, one on either side of my deck. One fell over and I arranged for a tree service to put it back up. They did and right after that, the other fell over. The one that had been replaced is not looking so good, so I've decided to cut them both down. As I was cutting branches off the tree, I found a bird's nest with two eggs in it.

On a side note, I notice I've been getting a tremendous number of hits on blog. The majority of them are from google - people from all over the world looking for "bird's nest." Here's another picture for them. The eggs from last year's nest were destroyed, probably by a cat. Hopefully, this year will be a better year.

Upcoming Concerts

Early May, I'm going to the SAP and ASUG conferences in Orlando - Eric Clapton will be the entertainment at the conference. Am looking forward to that.

In July, I'll be heading (hopefully) to LA to spend some time with my sister, see some west coast bloggers and go to the VH1 Rock Honors concert honoring the Who. Any other bloggers heading west for the concert? Am hoping that Rachel might do something while they are out there.

A Taxing Season

Hope you all have your taxes done! I did mine late for me, but federal and state for myself and my daughter were sent in last month. Still need to do my local taxes, but they generally get done the day or two before the deadline. So, I'll do them this weekend. I'm one of those who overpays the government each year so I get a refund back. I know I should just bank that money throughout the year rather than "lending" it to the government, but I know if I have it, I'm not that likely to save it anyway, so...

So much uncertainty in the economy these days, and I see it first hand in my work at my church. Not to give you the impression that I spend all my time doing charitable work, I could do far more than I am doing now. But as I've mentioned before, I serve breakfast once a month at a local city church. The number of families with children coming to that breakfast is increasing all the time. Now, it's not mostly men with some occasional women, we are seeing more and more families coming to the breakfast. We ran out of food this month - including cereal which we usually have plenty of leftover. We kept making pancakes until everyone got at least something, but we ran out of eggs, sausage, milk, juice and cereal. Food bank contributions are down and the number of recipients has increased. I notice we get less from the local stores in terms of food donations, like juice, bread and pastries. We used to fill a long table with loaves of bread and rolls that grocery stores gave us - you know, the day old bread they would probably throw away.

As I pay attention to the presidential election, I was shocked to learn that Obama and his wife give very little to charity. Maybe, to give them the benefit of the doubt, they didn't claim their donations, but I find it intriguing that their charitable giving ratio went up around the time he started his presidential bid. Personally, however, I think, he's been planning this bid for years, probably since his college years. The more I learn about his history, the less it matches his public speeches. Some of us are ambitious and I don't necessarily hold it against him, but it does conflict with his public statements. I find it amusing that many of his re-interpretations of his past are not pounced upon with the same glee that Clinton's re-interpretations cause. The Bosnia trip is an example and there is no excuse for her re-interpretation of that event. In some ways, though, I find that more acceptable as I know she is going to do things like that, but I also think she has the knowledge and the attention to details and can make more changes than he can. Maybe it's the fact that she doesn't claim to be as virtuous as he does.

But in general, I find it very intriguing how much people give to charity. It is always surprising to me that the poor give far more in percentage of income to charity than the middle-class or the wealthy. And I was shocked to learn this about a man that I personally find accountable for many of the poor decisions made by the US government in the last 8 years: Dick Cheney and his wife gave 78% of their income to charity in 2005. They made $8.8 million from book royalties and investment income and donated $6.9 million to charity.

I got this information from a tax blog:

This time next week, I'll be sitting on the beach. Can't wait to lay there and listen to the waves come crashing in. Speaking of the wealthy, this is a resort that I wouldn't be able to afford to go to on my own. They rent the cabanas on the beach there for $1000/day. But I'm going with a friend who won a 4-day trip as a sales reward. The ocean always rejuvenates me and after this year, it will be a welcome time away. Am going to be sorry to leave after only 4 days, I know!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not So Conservative

Was talking to my new manager today. I was telling him about my Who/Fuller mania and the concerts I've gone to over the past two years. Don't remember how the conversation came up, but he was very surprised. Somehow, he had the idea I was super conservative and all into work. I don't know how he got that idea as my road trips are fairly common knowledge. I have one of my Who backstage passes on my desk next to a Who ticket. But, we're still getting to know each other.

I am hoping to get out to another Who concert in July - the VH1 Rock Honors concert in Los Angeles. A bunch of bloggers are also planning on going so it should be a great time. If any one is planning on going, let me know. I'll spend some time with my sister as well.

I am also going to Florida week after next for a 4-day getaway. A friend of mine won a sales trip at the Breakers in Palm Beach. I think the time away will be way too short, but I'm anxious to see the ocean again. I find it very renewing to sit on the beach, watch the waves and hear the sound of them rolling into shore. I can't wait to go walking in the wet sand, wading in the waves.