2024 FEB 29 – Happy Leap Day

We’ve never done a celebration of Leap Day on this blog, mainly because we’ve never thought about it much. For those who were born on a February 29th, they must like it when their birthday can be celebrated every four years on the actual date of their birth.

Out of curiosity, I DuckDucked (I don’t G-word search) February 29th birthdays and found out about a lot of famous people (most of whom I did not recognize as famous) who were born on 29 FEB. I did see names I knew, some were popular performers or actors, some were in religion or politics and there were a couple of serial killers as well. You can research those if you’re interested.

The Gregorian Calendar, which is currently in use, has some exceptions for the every four year rule. Years evenly divided by 100 are skipped as leap years unless the year is also divisible by 400. The year 2000, since it was evenly divided by 400 was a leap year. I guess that means that unless I live to see the year 2100, that I will in my lifetime have experienced no skipped leap years like the second generation before me did (1900 was NOT a leap year).

The calendar and our clocks, from time to time, have to be adjusted for very minor variations in the Earth’s rotation. This mechanism is called a Leap Second where a second is added to universal time to allow Earth to catch up with UTC. There is an ongoing argument in the scientific community as to whether leap seconds should be abolished. I have no comment about that.

In our household, we will celebrate 02/29/24 by going about our regular activities on Thursday, which consists of procuring the groceries and provisions for the coming weekend and week.

We wish you a very Happy Leap Day!

Ancestry Anomalies – Part 3
More than “Kissin'” Cousins

This is the third post regarding anomalies in our family tree. I discovered that my 3rd Great Grandmother, Sarah Ann Fleming, had parents that were first(!) cousins to each other. In the tree segment below, you may notice a bunch of “Fleming” surnames. The Fleming Clan (literally, a clan) originated in Scotland in the 14/1500’s; our branch of the clan settled into what is now West Virginia.

Looking at the family tree segment you will see Sarah Ann linked to her parents Alexander and Mary Eliza Fleming, my 4th great grandparents. In the next column to the right you can see more Flemings; the names of interest here are Mary and Nathan Fleming who were brother and sister. Their parents were William Fleming and Jane Frame who appear at my 6th Grandparent level twice. Of note, Alexander Fleming at top right was a Fleming, but only distantly related to William; as a consequence of this distance, Matthew Fleming who married Mary Fleming, was probably only her distant cousin.

I asked ChatGPT how many ancestors a person has – this is the answer I got:

The number of ancestors a person has depends on how far back in their family tree you’re considering and whether there is any overlap due to shared ancestors. Each generation back doubles the number of ancestors because each person has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on.

For example:

  • You have 2 parents.
  • You have 4 grandparents.
  • You have 8 great-grandparents.
  • You have 16 great-great-grandparents.

So, if you go back 10 generations, you would theoretically have 2^10 = 1,024 direct ancestors. However, this is a simplified model because it doesn’t account for intermarriages or instances where distant relatives are common to multiple lines of descent, which can reduce the actual number of unique ancestors. Additionally, for practical reasons, tracing back all lineages accurately for many generations is often impossible due to missing records or incomplete genealogical data

There was no mention of the fact that if you go back in the progression 2^x that eventually the number would exceed the entire population of the planet. That’s an interesting concept.

George Washington’s Birthday

Today marks the 292nd anniversary of the birth of the “Father of the Country,” George Washington. He was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Washington died in 1799 at Mount Vernon, VA, where he is laid to rest.

Like last year, our sentiment remains that “President’s Day” is a sham and a disservice to both President Washington and President Lincoln whose birthdays/holidays were dissipated into the current holiday. Both men remain, in our opinion, entitled to their own holiday. We continue to celebrate them both even though I missed Mr. Lincoln’s again this year. I made a reminder to post next year in my on-line calendar.

Since the last posting a couple weeks ago, we have been busy with several routine things (there are so many retirement chores) and have also begun detail planning for our upcoming excursion to Waco for the April 6th total eclipse. See the Eclipse Countdown page in the sidebar.

We hope everyone is doing OK out there. We’re doing well and we keep on keeping on.

Imbolc – 2024

Imbolc Cross-Quarter Day

Celtic Feast today: Irish Beef Stew with Soda Bread. The stew had low-carb vegetables (i.e. Turnips, not Potatoes, Butternut Squash, not yams, etc.). The Soda Bread was made with Keto-friendly ingredients. The feast was delicious and served with an Irish Coffee on a cool, windy day. Click on the image to open in the image viewer.

About Imbolc:

Celts celebrated Imbolc as the beginning of Spring. Imbolc corresponds more or less to Groundhog Day in the USA, February 2, when tradition has it that if a sleepy groundhog creeping out of its burrow at dawn sees its shadow, there are 6 more weeks of winter. (If not, we surmise, only 42 days remain.) Christians celebrate this holiday as St. Brigid’s Day.

Spam Filter

When we upgraded this blog to later versions of WordPress a couple of years back, we also upgraded our Spam Filter to Askimet. The package does a pretty good job of filtering spam while allowing normal comments. Thus far, (since the upgrade) Askimet has stopped over nineteen thousand spams. I note that most of the spam seems to be trying to sell pharmaceuticals. There are also some Russian-language spams and a few others promoting p0rn and such. Fortunately, none of that seems to get through.

2023 Tax Preparation Now Complete

UPDATE: 02/01/2024 — Not a record, but the small refund hit the bank account today. So the 2023 tax season is now officially concluded and we can now devote our energies elsewhere.

Well, it’s all over but the reimbursement as far as the 2023 Tax Season is concerned. We obtained (electronically) all the necessary financial reports and have concluded the preparation of our submissions to the collective thievery of the US Internal Revenue Service and the Arizona State Department of Revenue (ADOR).

As I posted earlier this month, I have a spreadsheet that allows us to forecast our financial numbers with regard to the Tax Reporting cycle. There is a little guesswork, but the initial guesses usually get us within a few dollars of the final figures. This year was no exception and when the 2023 1099s and other forms were available, it was just a matter of “tuning up” the tax program. We’re now ready to file when the IRS and ADOR open up for the 2024 tax reporting season. The Feds will be accepting inputs next Monday 01/29/2024; I’m not sure when ADOR will be open for business, but it’s of little consequence since there is neither a refund nor tax due.

We will be getting our usual small refund from the IRS. Last year, the IRS had our refund in the bank account a mere three days after we filed. Since we’re filing early, maybe we’ll be as lucky again.

2024 Wickenburg Fly-in
and Classic Car Show

Damsel and I attended the 29th Annual Wickenburg Fly-in and Classic Car Show at the local airport. We have gone to this event just about every year since we moved here 13 years ago. This one, in spite of not much sunshine and under mostly cloudy skies, was the largest we have seen to date in fly-in aircraft, classic cars and attendees. We had traffic jams both coming in and going out of the airport.

Since the show was an order of magnitude bigger this year, we only can post a few highlights here. Below are some photos of a few of the classic cars . . .

1958 Chevrolet Convertible w/Continental Kit:

1958 Edsel:

1955 Hudson(!) Metropolitan:

There were hundreds more.

And for the aviation part of the show (again just a small sample) . . .

Classic Stearman biplane (Boeing) with Continental seven cylinder radial engine:

An Army Blackhawk Helicopter flew in:

And, finally, a MTOSPORT Gyroplane:

That’s it for this post. There were so many great classic cars and aircraft that we took photos of and may post about some of those later.

2024 Financial Forecast Tools

I usually start setting up for the next years’ financial considerations in late November which was the case this past (2023) November. I have a spreadsheet that I have developed (and continue to develop as things are dynamic to an extent) which allows me to do several things to manage our money:

  1. Forecast Gross Income
  2. Forecast IRA Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)
  3. Forecast Federal Tax Withholding Rate
  4. Forecast Taxable Portion of Social Security Income
  5. Forecast IRS Adjusted Gross Income
  6. Forecast Effective IRS Tax Rate Percentage
  7. Forecasts for Dividends, Capital Gains, etc.

The year-end use of this tool allowed me to prepare our 2023 IRS Tax in advance of the receipt of tax forms from financial institutions, etc. It also allowed me to forecast (to within a penny, as it turns out) the amount of my IRA that I must take as a distribution in 2024.

Inputs to the spreadsheet come from several sources. Forecast income numbers come from pension plans, investment brokerages and the Social Security Administration. These turn out to be actual numbers while other income items are based on past experience with the sources and our knowledge of how those numbers are likely to increase (or decrease). The latter aren’t usually nailed down until the end of the year.

The first important item that I calculate from the tool is the RMD forecast which allows me to set up the distribution schedule and amounts for my IRA. It also allows me to set the Federal Withholding amount for the coming year.

The second important item would be is to use the numbers from last year to prepare our 2023 IRS Income Tax in advance of receipt of the 1099-R and other IRS forms. We’re pretty confident that we know the approximate amount of our tax refund which we expect to get back from the .gov in February. As usual, it seems to be a relatively small refund which means we didn’t allow the Fed to enjoy having a lot of our money interest free for the year.