Ha. Today's post is brought to you by leafleting and door knocking, which is what I am doing.
No, that's a lie. I will be sitting in the mobile office with my knitting and perhaps a hot beverage as others do the leafleting and door knocking using the maps and voter lists that I created, printed, and organized.
We do what we can. I can't walk more than a block, but I can organize and download and print and cheer from the sidelines. And tweet. And blog.
First. This happened a friend who was traveling home from Chicago last week. It was sent as a letter to the editor of a number of newspapers throughout our congressional district.
Dear [incumbent candidate],
You owe an apology to 40 or more people you stiffed while boarding United flight 3650 from Chicago to Minneapolis on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. After we passengers waited patiently an extra hour for a mechanical repair, you and your companion brazenly cut through the waiting crowd to board out of turn. When the agent politely insisted that you wait for your group, you displayed a temper tantrum, as a clearly embarreassed companion retreated back to the crowd. Finally, you completely intimidated the agent and boarded. She seemed to give in to your bullying and the fact that you were delaying the rest of us from boarding. At first I thought that you might have some important business to attend to, but when I passed your seat you were busy playing solitaire on your tablet.
It is not often that we get a window in the true personality of our elected officials, but this incident spoke volumes about who [you]* really [are]. Your self-centered arrogance matches with your complaint that $174,000 a year is an insufficient salary. It illustrates why you have nothing in common with the Wisconsin citizens you serve. Why should you worry about common people like the people you were elected to represent? The money interests you cater to support you, and for you that's what counts. I can understand why it is said about you: "There's less to him than meets the eye."
Second. This was related to me by a colleague who placed an ad in all the local newspapers to run the week before the election.
"The woman behnd the counter finished filling out the paperwork for the ad and said to me, 'Okay, that will run in the November 5th edition.'
"I looked at her in amazement and replied, 'The election is November 4th!'
"She gave me a completely blank look. I don't hink I have ever seen anyone look as clueless as she did at that moment.
" 'What election?' "
I don't know about where you live, but our TV stations have been wall-to-wall political ads since Labor Day, and the roadsides bristle with candidate signs, also with ones that say, Vote November 4. How could someone not know there was an election coming up?
Usually when I encounter someone as oblivious or dumb as this, I think to myself, "...and then they voted."
Clearly, I do not have to worry about that with this woman.
* I have mentioned many times where I live. You can easily figure out who this incumbent candidate is.
Claire gave us the full scoop on the Starbucks/barista/college story to which I linked yesterday.
Starbucks isn't actually paying its employees' tuition costs. They aren't actually paying anything. Not one thin dime. Management today admitted that all they had done was to get ASU to lower tuition on on-line courses for Starbucks employees, who are then supposed to apply for Pell Grants and other federal funds to cover the rest of the costs. If they make it to their Junior year, when ASU will require full tuition, Starbucks will lend them the money. At the going rate. Creative Accounting should be a required course.
Thanks for all your good wishes. I was sad to lose my race for a fourth term on our county board of supervisors, but my biggest fear was not losing myself but rather having Operation Prosperity/local teabaggers/possible outside money prevail overall in the election.
That did not happen. My guys have a 9-6 majority on the new board, and a 12-3 majority on passing a strong shoreland ordinance later this year. That last issue was what I stressed to everyone I spoke to: over 50% of the property tax dollars in this county come from lakeshore property, and if our water quality declines because of overdevelopment or development too close to the water, there goes our tax base. Apparently enough people in the county get that.
Smokey is kinda pleased at the results. He wanted me to win because he knew I wanted it, but he is happy that I won't be spending all that time on committee meetings and such. I can understand that completely.
This is how I have spent the past two days. Over 300 phone calls. That's a lot of talking for an introvert like me.
Today is the spring election day in Wisconsin, when we elect our county boards and school boards and village boards and city councils and judges.
[digression] Why are judges elected? They should be appointed; same for clerk of court and county clerk, which are elected in November. All those jobs demand a certain kind of expertise and probably shouldn't reflect the candidates personal politics. [/digression]
[digression #2] I cannot decide if it is appropriate or ironic or just plain weird that this year's election day falls on April Fool's Day. [/digression #2]
The lake was completely frozen over -- except for the small area kept open all winter by the aeration system -- when I started calling around noon on Sunday. This is how it looked by the end of the afternoon. Those dark areas are where the surface of the ice had melted. At least I think that is what they are; I'm not going out there to inspect them.
My Mac Mini had been slowing down unmercifully over that last few months. Adding an external hard drive for docs, spreadsheets, photos, and music helped a lot,
In an effort to make it better yet YS and I wiped the internal hard drive and we he reinstalled the OS.
Did it help? Yes, but I have spent a lot of time over the past month trying to recover stuff that seems to have gone missing -- my calendar, my address book, all my iTunes playlists, a huge chunk of photos in iPhoto.
Happily, my calendar, address book, and playlists are intact on my iPhone.
Tragically, my computer is being extremely stubborn about synching with those apps.
I may need to resort to hand grenades. Or nuclear weapons.
What are the chances that will work?
Finished his coursework at UMich in Ann Arbor, went back to Big Nasty Med School in Manhattan to finish his last credit there.
Last credit had been left unfinished to prevent four years of med school loans from coming due while he was in grad school.
On March 17 he found out he had *matched* for his residency.
(The Match is a complicated nationwide thing that matches fourth-year med students with residency programs in their selected specialty.)
His mood, which has ranged from frustrated to sullen to depressed to righteously angry during his med school years, improved dramatically.
Four days later -- a brief period during which those students who didn't match and those residency programs that didn't fill scramble frantically to interview each other via Skype in hopes of falling in love -- he found out his match was with a hospital in Sioux Falls SD.
While he would have preferred to be in Duluth, he thinks the program in SF is actually a bit better.
His mood improved even more.
He has been bombarding us with links to 1, houses for sale in SF, and b, pictures of Newfoundlands.
He has wanted a Newfie for years.
We think buying a house is just so he can be sure he will have a place to have a Newfie.
Priorities, people, priorities!
Had a cardiologist appointment last week.
He returned to work a couple days, er, nights ago.
He has found that the stents in his coronary arteries seem to have improved the circulation to his legs, which used to cramp at night and/or be restless.
This equals better sleep.
He has also found that he no longer needs to sit down to put on his pants. His balance is improved so much he can do it standing up.
I am jealous of that.
He bought a zombie mask to wear when he went back to work (since he had risen from the dead).
Black/weird humor is our specialty. Also popular among psych personnel.
I am rolling along on my Fairfield cardigan. Back is done to the armholes, sleeves are about 6" long.
This is a delightful knit -- just enough cabling/lace to make it interesting, but lots of stockinette so it doesn't take forever.
I just hope I have enough yarn.
I made the back 2" shorter than the pattern called for, but the pattern length seemed to be for someone taller than I. The shorter length is the same as most of my sweaters.
I have been working way harder than I necessarily wanted to on my campaign for my fourth term on our county board -- lit drops, knocking on doors, making phone calls, putting up signs.
It didn't help that I had lost MS Word from my computer (see above) or that my computer was not talking to my printer (ditto) during the time when I was making flyers and drafting my answers to survery questions from a local newspaper.
Smokey's coal-fired computer running MS Word 97 and his printer (that used to be mine and is at least ten years old) came to the rescue.
I spent a couple weeks running back and forth between his office and mine, dodging piles of crappe in both places.
Yes, it is campaign time here in Polk County. I am running for my fourth two-year term on the county board of supervisors. This is not something that I talk about much here on the blog, but it is consuming all my time right now -- defining my position(s) for local newspapers, doing literature drops, recruiting volunteers, making phone calls, delivering lawn signs. A *local* group has pumped a lot of money into this election, and it has generated more interest than is usually evident in county board elections.
And that is enough on that topic.
* * * * *
Smokey continues to improve. The broken ribs are not troubling him nearly as much now, just the occasional [severe] twinge to remind him of what he has been through.
Earlier this week he had a followup appointment with the ortho doc who was going to do the knee replacement. I probably made the appointment for him before the surgery and never thought to cancel it. But the doc gave him a cortisone injection in each knee to help with the pain until -- someday! -- he can have the surgery.
The really cool thing was that the doc took him around to see all the people in the surgery wing who had helped keep him alive. It's a quarter mile walk from the clinic to the OR, so Smokey rode in a wheel chair.
The ortho doc is the the one in the suit. (He is also the one that pushed the wheel chair.) His physician's assistant is at left rear (she is the one who advised me to avoid gluten) (she is also the one that started CPR on Smoke).
Gentlerman in scrubs is an anesthesiologist. The one in the blue hat is Jodie, who said she felt Smokey's ribs break during CPR. No problem, Jodie! Thanks for doing such a good job!
The doc wanted to do this because the OR staff seldom get to see such a good outcome after a code. Everyone was delighted to meet Smokey, alive and talking.
This is Jean, who had the difficult job of telling me that Smokey's heart had stopped but been restarted, and who stayed with me the entire time until Younger Son arrived to drive me to Minneapolis. I remember the mustachioed man in glasses from the OR but, sadly, I never knew his name or his role.
The doc and PA asked me to send them the photos and for Smokey to write up something about his experience. Doc wants to present it to his board, which always likes to hear success stories.
I am so grateful to all these people. Without their skill and dedication I would be a widow.
* * * * *
More news on the medical front: Elder Son found out today that he will be doing his family medicine residency in Sioux Falls, SD. While he might have preferred Duluth -- closer to home, colder weather -- Sioux Falls has some definite advantages, too -- much higher volume obstetric practice, better scheduling for night shifts, cheaper housing market, and a psychologist on staff who trains family practice docs on psychological counseling, since they are often the ones who prescribe psych meds. Residency will start sometime in June.
ES is very excited to A, buy a house, and 2, get a dog. Not necessarily in that order...
* * * * *
One more thing. In case you were wondering, it snowed again today. Great big frickin' flakes, added maybe another inch to the six-foot mounds we have already.
This is why Smokey's sternum and ribs are sore. Link shows the Lucas chest compression system, a device that can do chest compressions at a precise rate and pressure and eliminate the exhausting part of CPR. Smokey seems to have at least one cracked rib, maybe as many as three going by the number of times something clicks! in his chest.. Every time he complains about his rib/sternum pain, he follows it up with, But I am glad to be alive.
Funny story #1: Last Sunday Younger Son made pancakes for breakfast. This has become a tradition since he started visiting every weekend. He makes the pancakes, Smokey or I cook bacon, we all feast. This got even better for me when Smoke discovered gluten-free Bisquick in the supermarket.
Anyway, last Sunday while the bacon was cooking I melted butter, nuked the bottle of maple syrup, got out the orange juice and milk, set the table. When it was my turn to eat, I doused my short stack with melted butter and maple syrup, at which point Smokey asked, "Why are you putting teriyaki sauce on your pancakes?" Yup, I had grabbed the wrong bottle out of the fridge door.
For the record, gluten-free Bisquick pancakes doused with melted butter and teriyaki sauce are not bad at all.
Funny story #2: Smokey has liked this song*, Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars, for a couple years. Ever since he learned that he was dead for eight minutes, he has been singing the first line: I'm a dead man walkin'. Yes, we do have a slightly warped sense of humor here.
Funny story #3: Younger Son was with me in the hospital for the first two days, until Elder Son flew in. He did a great job of keeping me distracted from too much worry, to the point where, near the end of the second day he confessed he was running out of things to talk about. Did I tell you about the weird customer I helped on the phone last week descended to Let me show you what I carry in my wallet. When he told me what he had been doing it was further distracting -- we laughed heartily.
Not-so-funny story: That building in East Harlem blew up while Elder Son was here. The building where he lived during his last year of undergrad at NYU is about 1" from the lower left corner of this graphic, on 116th Street on the other side of Park Avenue. He could see the Metro North line from his window.
That young man has at least as many lives as a cat. He was held up at knife point in Durban, South Africa; has survived two potentially serious caraccidents -- one a T-bone on his side, the other a rear-ender that totaled his car -- with little or no injury; and lived through the remnants of a hurricane in Chiapas, Mexico. Now a building a block from his former residence has blown up. What next, a meteorite will bounce off his head on the only day in his life that he was wearing a motorcycle helmet?
Life has calmed down here. Smokey won't go back to work until cleared by the cardiologist; he is waiting to get an appointment. In the meantime I am working diligently on my campaign for a fourth term on our county board. A little over two weeks until the election -- on April Fool's Day [appropriately?] -- and I have a lot of work to do. Anyone want to come to n.w. Wisconsin for a delightful vacation to help out ;-)
* I tried to embed the YouTube video into the post, but the SHARE information that used to appear below the video is no longer there. It flashes momentarily, then disappears. Anyone else have this problem? Did I unwittingly mess up my YouTube settings? Help!
Edited to add: After discussing this with Erika (thanks, Erika! Great to finally talk to you!), we figured out the problem was my browser (Chrome). Safari displays the YouTube page correctly, allowing me to share the video:
(Well, they probably didn't actually come here. More likely they emailed/called.)
Our highway department has given presentations on this method at the state highway department conference and other venues, including a meeting of the Polk County Board of Supervisors, of which I am an elected member.
Actually, Monday was my last day. Tuesday (today) was the all-day organizational meeting of the new county board. And it WAS all day -- 9am to 4:30, phew. It took that long to revise the rules of order and to vote on committee assignments. I will have my third term on the finance committee (yay!) and managed to get myself elected to the public protection committee. I figure watching Perry Mason, The Defenders (remember them?), Boston Legal, L.A. Law, and every iteration of Law && Order qualifies me to serve on that committee. Right? Right?
The other exciting news is that I am writing this post on my brand-new iPad! What a fun toy. So far I have set up most of the same apps that I have on my iPod Touch -- Gmail and some other Google apps, a couple Twin Cities TV stations for news, Skype, Twitter, a weather app, the Kindle app, Adobe Reader.
Something I figured out while doing all that was that the iPad would be the perfect way to read a daily newspaper again. We have been without a daily paper for most of the past 13 years since we moved to rural Wisconsin. The Minneapolis paper has never had daily delivery here; we subscribed to the St Paul paper for a few months but basically it sucks as a newspaper, we even subscribed to the NYTimes for a while -- always at least a day late but still possibly better than nothing but not enough better to justify the cost. I really, really missed reading the morning paper --it and my breakfast and morning coffee had been a treasured part of my daily routine for many years.
All this is to say I subscribed to the iPad version of the NYTimes tonight.We shall see if it is worth $20/month. The iPad is plugged into its charger right next to my bed. I may start to start the day with the newspaper again.I''m getting excited just thinking about it!
As I was falling asleep last night it occurred to me that I had not given any background or context for that "I won!" announcement. Not everyone is intimately familiar with all the details of my life ;-)
In 2008 I ran for the Polk County Board of Supervisors, which is equivalent to the boards of commissioners in many states. (Whereas states with county commissioners tend to have boards of 5 - 11 members, Wisconsin takes a different, more grass-roots approach. Our county board has 23 supervisors, although a referendum on yesterday's ballot reduced the size to 15 by an overwhelming majority.) I ran in 2008 because I had been following county politics for a number of years, several people had urged me to run, that year no one else was running in my district. You could way I pushed the "Easy" button to get elected. I was reelected in 2010 and again yesterday, both times defeating the same opponent.
Tax season has been keeping me quite busy (=understatement of the week).
I have photos of interesting things that have happened at the office, but it is all things you have seen in previous years -- the 10-key race, the Saturday morning Bloody Marys.
Yes, we accountants are an exciting lot.
I did a return today for a couple with a couple hundred thousand dollars in income, taxable income of $69,000, and who had zero tax.
I thought there was something wrong with the software. So did the accountant who sits in the next cubicle when I showed it to her.
Even after my manager explained to me how it worked -- something to do with dividend income and the 15% rate -- I still boggled.
It may be right, but it ain't right, if you know what I mean.
Today was election day in Wisconsin. Presidential primary, plus county and municipal elections.
I was up for reelection. I had pretty much resigned myself to not being reelected, for a number of reasons.
Mainly because I did zero campaigning. In previous years I at least sent a flyer to all voters in my district. This year I decided that was a waste of postage because roughly half of them get returned as undeliverable.
I won anyway, 150 to 139.
The high voter turnout was probably due to the presidential primary.
There are ~1900 souls in my district.
I had done such a good job of resigning myself to losing -- think of all the time I would have to knit, with no meetings to go to! -- that I was a bit disappointed to win.
Last week I covered the basics of what I am thankful for. This week I will start to get specific.
Our new, and first, county administrator. Included in his statutory duties is responsibility for the budget; it used to be the responsibility of the finance committee. We had to meet many times, for long hours, and never did nearly as good a job as he did this year. (That's why he is called "a professional".) Last night was the county board meeting where the final budget was voted upon. Last year there was a $2 million error in the budget and one head rolled. Two years ago the meeting lasted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we all congratulated ourselves that it didn't go longer. Several years ago this meeting had to be held in the nearby high school auditorium to provide room for all the citizens who were irate about the budget cuts. This year? The entire meeting -- including the public hearing on the budget, the budget presentation and vote, all 23 individual supervisor reports, a half-hour presentation on an entirely different subject -- took a little over two hours. This man is exactly what this county needed. Thank you, Jebus.
That the previous county board took the steps to hire an administrator.
That the supervisors on the selection committee did such a good job during their selection process, which narrowed the field of candidates from 46 to 4.
That one of their first steps was to propose hiring an administrator. There were several alternatives, but the one they chose seems to be working splendidly.
That I had the good fortune to be on the board at this time and to be able to be (a very small) part of the solution.
I decided to do my own Ten on Tuesday list this week.
Ten Reasons to Vote Today.
Nifty sticker to wear on your lapel. "I voted!"
Cute election judges... if you are a 70+ year old male.
Free coffee and cookies.
Opportunity to see your local community center / fire hall / village hall / elementary school full of people with good intentions.
A chance to knit (while standing in line).
The only time you will see some of these names in print. County coroner? County assessor? Who are these people?
Polling place just might be near your LYS. Everyone who votes deserves a yarn treat.
Easiest way in the world to be a patriot.
Chance to do something that millions would [and have] die[d] for the right to do.
And finally, the very best reason of all...
If you don't vote you lose the right to complain about your government.
* * * * *
I'm sick of campaign ads, junk mail, the media buzz, and especially the recorded phone calls. Campaign signs, though, are kinda fun. I first noticed them when we were in Wyoming in June. There were campaign signs everywhere. Didn't notice [m]any in Montana, though. Later in the summer I saw them on the North Shore, plus they started to crop up here at home.
Woo boy, it is good that things have slowed down. It has been rather a frantic two weeks.
Election. I was re-elected to my seat on the county board of supervisors by a landslide of 7 votes (out of 201 total votes). Taking a page from W's book: A mandate from the people!
Administrator. The county board of supervisors completed the first step of its multi-year reorganization of county government by hiring a county administrator. We have been a $50+ million enterprise without a CEO. The final pieces of this first step were taken last weekend when the four finalists for the job came to town. On Friday night there was a reception for the candidates, their spouses, certain department heads and spouses, and county board members and spouses; this was to allow us all to meet the candidates in a quasi-informal setting. On Saturday morning most of the board and certain department heads sat in on the formal interviews, which were conducted by the three supervisors on the selection committee. At the same time the candidates who were not being interviewed right then were either completing a writing exercise, getting a tour of the county campus with the sheriff, or being informally interviewed by another group of a dozen or so department heads and union representatives. All the employees who were involved presented their opinions on the candidates to the board; then the board met on Saturday afternoon in closed session to decide which candidate we wanted to hire. Offer and acceptance were made over the weekend.
Board meeting. Board met on Tuesday evening to confirm the employment contract.
Meetings. I had seven meetings, most of them for the county, and most of which overlapped with at least one other, on Wednesday of this past week -- 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Managed to attend every one long enough to do what had to be done. On Thursday I had a mere four obligations, once again mostly county, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and met them all. The last one was knitting group -- perfect way to end that killer 2 days.
Taxes. Oh, yeah, our income taxes -- federal and two states -- were due on Thursday. Before I could do them I needed a place to work.
Desk ready for tax return work (those two piles are all county board stuff; tax stuff is another pile, personal stuff is a third fourth pile:
I spent 11 hours last Sunday doing the majority of the tax work, finished the rest here and there during the week, and had Smokey mail the returns on Thursday. One payment and two refunds later we are out $26, which I consider to be pin-point tax planning.
Desk today (damn!):
Sleep. I spent most of Friday sleeping. Sleep is good.