Started the Annual IRS Ritual Today

December 1st, 2021

I usually make it a point to acquire the Tax Software when Black Friday rolls around. This year was no exception and, since it is already the first of December, I roughed out the first cut of the 2021 return for the Fed (the Arizona package has yet to be released). I do this advanced cut each year to check if we have any unexpected issues that need to be fixed. At first glance, it appears that we do not have that need.

For the past several years, I have modeled our income and withholding on a spreadsheet to determine how much we must withhold for the Fed. So far, it has worked out to get us into a position where we only contribute minimally to the Fed and get a small (usually less than $1k) refund. We hate loaning the .gov interest free money.

I have updated the spreadsheet for 2022 already, since we now know the amount of SSA income for both of us. They allowed a 5.9% cost-of-living increase, but at the same time upped the Medicare Part B premium by 14.5%. The forecast for next year will put us in roughly the same bracket for 2021. Some items are guesses, but the major income sources (pension, SSA, IRA RMD) are well known.

We don’t pay any State Income Tax because we participate in a program to contribute to our local private Christian school which offsets us dollar-for-dollar on what would have been our State Tax obligation. We get the same kickback when we donate to the local high school’s Rifle Team! A bonus is that we still can claim each donation as a 501(c)(3) deduction on the Fed Tax.

We should again be able to file with the IRS in late January, as we did for last year’s return. The last and slowest of the 1099 forms from our investments are usually in our possession by then.

Happy Thanksgiving 2021

November 25th, 2021

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” —Psalm 100:4-5

Thanksgiving 2021

Well, here we are once again entering the Holiday season with the first big eating day upon us. Damsel and I will be celebrating with a fairly standard Thanksgiving Dinner consisting of (subject to last-minute changes): Smoked Turkey Breast with Cranberry Sauce, Collard Greens, Andouille and Cornbread Stuffing, and Mashed Fauxtatoes.

The Fauxtatoes are actually Mashed Cauliflower and the Cornbread, similarly, is a Keto Diet friendly mix of low carb items. The Cranberry Sauce is sugar free (mostly) and the gravy is made with almond flour and low carb ingredients. All of this while keeping an eye on the sodium content. Nonetheless, our experience is that Thanksgiving Dinner will be just as delicious as anybody could want.

We hope that you all will have a very Happy Thanksgiving Day! Now, excuse me – I have to get the turkey breast ready for the smoker.

Stars and Stripes Theme Progress Report

November 17th, 2021

I have been working on restoring our old theme the “Stars and Stripes” format that we’ve been used to since 2008 or so. The news is generally good since I found and corrected the major incompatibility with WordPress 5.8.2. There was a code module that was attempting to connect to the database and I commented it out without really troubleshooting it. The old theme now works without crashing, but there are still some bugs in it so I have not enabled it yet.

The remaining bugs have to do with the way the drop down menus work and most importantly, how the comments section works. The former is no big deal, but the latter – comments – is a big problem. The theme modules apparently are not recognizing a logged in user and requiring a new login each time a comment is to be submitted. I’ll be looking into that.

Assuming that I cannot find and fix those bugs to my satisfaction, I am also looking into upgrading the theme format to a later version that I can modify to sort of resemble the old theme but with new “blocks, widgets and menus,” none of which I am familiar, so it may be a while before I know enough about the new stuff to be able to put it to good use.

Meanwhile, the “default” WordPress theme is still functional. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Hilarious Parody of the Grabbers Gun Knowledge

November 13th, 2021

From the Firearms Policy Coalition. A cute animation of the misstatements by certain politicians and broadcasters. LOL

I just had to embed this. Enjoy!

Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour

November 11th, 2021

I would have posted about Veterans Day earlier but – you know – the thing. Let’s Go Brandon.

Seriously, Damsel and I grocery shop on Thursdays and that sort of thing has to take precedence.

We do honor to our Vets today for their service to the country and her citizens. We cannot thank them enough for their sacrifices. We also thank their friends, families and loved ones for supporting them as they go off to wherever and whatever. We support and pray for the bereaved when their service person does not return

I can say that I am proud that I am a veteran of the US NAVAL RESERVE and did my three years of active duty in Millington, TN at the Naval Aviation Electronics School and after school served as an Aviation Electronics Tech at the US Naval Missile Center at Point Mugu, CA. I was a line troubleshooter, shop repair tech and (the best part) an aircrew member flying on those rickety old air assets we had in support of the USNMC’s mission. This was all it the same time the conflict was escalating in Vietnam. Fortunately, I mustered out of active duty prior to being shipped over to that mess.

All in all, My Naval service was more of an adventure than a chore. But, I accept that many of the missions over the Pacific Missile Range were a bit risky, given the age of the equipment (P2V Neptune Patrol Aircraft, H34 Helicopters with Wright Cyclone Radial Engines, R4D a.k.a. DC-4 Transports, etc.). Hours of boredom punctuated with moments of sheer terror.

The last thing I will say about Veterans is that I, both brothers, our Dad and one Grandfather and Damsel’s Dad were all Navy men. According to my Ancestry Family Tree, our lineage shows many Veterans having fought in wars, e.g. WW1, The Spanish American War, Indian Wars, The Civil War (both sides) and the Revolutionary War.

Between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, we celebrate and honor those that served in the past, those presently serving and those who will serve in the future.

WordPress and PHP Upgrade Complete

November 8th, 2021

Arizona CardinalToday, we upgraded both WordPress on the blogsite and the Version of PHP on the server side. It turned out to be a several-step process with two intermediate WP upgrades in addition to the final WP update. We should be good for a while now that everything is copasetic with the Server configuration.

Image – An Arizona Cardinal is easily spotted hiding among the thinning leaves of our backyard mesquite tree. Click on the image to enlarge.

As you can see, the WP stock default theme is being used in lieu of our custom theme from before the change. This will be the theme until I can find a replacement theme that I can customize to resemble the previous theme. This may take some time since most of the WP themes I have been looking at are unsuitable for our familiar two column arrangement.

Thanks for your patience while we go about getting things customized. I still have our Food Blog site to upgrade, so I better get to that.

A Classic 1955 Packard Clipper

November 6th, 2021

1955-packard-clipper.jpg

Damsel took this photo of this classic 1955 Packard Clipper a little over a week ago. Neither of us remember seeing this car at any of the car shows or rallies that we have attended recently. The car appears to have the original paint job and when you click on the image to enlarge you may see some pitting on the hood (or maybe dead insects, I can’t tell). Besides that, the car looked very nice as the owners drove by along Wickenburg Way near the Maverik Gas station. You may notice our inflated local gas prices in the background which have gone up another $0.20 or so per gallon in the last week. Let’s Go Brandon!

Website Upgrade News

As I stated before, we have started the migration to the upgraded PHP and WordPress packages on our personal family site, VernaBob.com. The site is now running the new stuff and, as I feared, our old custom theme we used has some deprecated code and is incompatible with the new platform. As a result, I am using a stock WordPress theme and it will be that way until I can find the time to customize it. Some of the convenient features I used for posting are no longer available and I have to do a lot of the repetitive functions by hand rather than clicking a button.

So, I will be upgrading this website in the next few days and you can expect to see some major differences in the way the blog appears. I would appreciate any feedback you may have as to what you’re seeing and if anything is “broke.” I will try and get a “Stars and Stripes” theme going over the next few weeks, as time permits. Meanwhile, we will be functional with the new PHP and WordPress packages. This will be the last post under the old PHP and WordPress.