Archive for the ‘Notions’ Category

Almost Done – 2021 Tax Return

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

The current tax season will soon be over for us since we are completely done with everything except for one consolidated 1099 form from our brokerage; this investment account is always last for some reason, but it has previously been in our (electronic) possession before January is over. We’re expecting it to be available next week. We get a handful of 1099s from several sources including IRA RMD, SSA, pensions and financial institutions. Everything is already input to this year’s tax program except for the one mentioned above.

When the IRS changed the standard deduction under President Trump to be greater than our usual itemized deductions, it made our return so much easier to manage, given our financial particulars. We almost used to be like the dude in the photo on the left, but now we’re relieved of all that tedium under the revised standard deduction. We were happy to see that the current administration left things intact (albeit futzing around with other IRS functions). After we receive that last 1099 form, we will then be just a few clicks away from filing. This year, we are happy to say, that we analyzed our tax situation early and managed our withholding such that we will be receiving a small refund (<1K) from the Feds and, because of our charitable support for Arizona Private Education, we will be paying no state income tax at all.

Winter Lemon Crop

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022

Knowing that there was to be freezing temperatures overnight, Damsel and I decided to start picking the ripe lemons from our “orchard” yesterday – yes, we did it on New Year’s Day. We picked about an estimated three hundred of them before we knocked off for the rest of the day.

We stored the lemons in the wheelbarrow (image above – click to enlarge) in the garage overnight due to the probable freezing temperatures, but, as it turned out, the low was just about exactly the freezing point which wouldn’t have damaged the lemons. The forecast was for a “hard” freeze but the only effects were to freeze the top layer of water in the birdbaths and in the rain bucket. Dogs water dish under cover in the patio and in their wading pool did not freeze.

Despite having picked a couple gross of lemons from the tree, there are dozens more to pick (image below). I checked on the unpicked lemons this morning and none appeared to be damaged, which is a good thing. We plan on using many of the lemons for our annual batch of Limoncello and give the rest away to neighbors and the local food bank.

Since there are a lot of lemons still to be picked, we will probably not get to that until later this week. I have a couple of appointments, one for lab work and another with the dermatologist for my usual skin problems, but we will likely be able to work around those and get the pickin’ into our routine.

Visitors to our humble abode are likely to be presented with a complimentary bottle of our custom Limoncello.

2022 – Happy New Year!

Friday, December 31st, 2021

Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year in 2022! We don’t have a lot of news to report for the past year and, at our ages, that’s a good thing, I expect. In the coming year, we are hoping to resume some travel in the big RV which has been sitting for way too long. Meanwhile, we’re biding our time until the traveling weather gets here, hopefully sooner than later.

Sixty Years Ago Today

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

The (clickable) image above is the beginning page of my first Pilot Log Book. The page entries include my first flight lesson on December 16, 1961 and my first SOLO flight on January 9, 1962. I was just 18 years old then and managed to get my Private Pilot Certificate the following April, well before my 19th birthday in July.

When I first started flying lessons back then at the Santa Monica (CA) Municipal Airport (SMO), the cost of renting a Cessna 150 (high-wing, two-seat, tricycle gear, 100 HP) was $12/hour (including AvGas!). The Instructors fee was $5/hour for a total of $17/hour. In contrast, today the average cost per hour seems to be about ten times that, with Instructors fees upwards of $50 and airplane rental nearly $120 per hour, depending on local rates and circumstances.

In my early flying days, I checked out in a Cessna 172 (high wing, four-seat, tricycle gear, 150 HP) and puttered around locally with friends and family until it was time for me to go on active duty in the US Navy (I joined the Naval Reserve when still in high school). While at Avionics school in Millington, TN, I checked out in a Piper Tri-Pacer (high-wing) and a Piper Cherokee (low-wing) and did some local puttering around the Memphis area along the Mississippi River. After School, I reported to the US Naval Air Station, Point Mugu, CA, which was only 45 miles from the airport where I learned to fly, so I resumed flying out of SMO for the rest of the time I was on active duty.

After I mustered out of the Navy, I continued flying now and then for leisure and travel. Shortly after I began working at my aerospace job, I found out that I was eligible for advanced flight training through the Veterans Affairs G.I. Bill. Their program financed most of my advanced training for Commercial Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating, Instructor Pilot Certificate and Instrument Instructor Pilot Certificate. Yet, there was More! Rotorcraft Helicopter Rating and Rotorcraft Instructor Pilot Certificate. I was busy with these upgrades for a few years afterwards and finally was able to earn my Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, hence the Cap’n designation at the top of the page.

I stayed in Aerospace as my primary occupation, but flew quite a bit as an instructor and charter pilot as a sideline. I have over five thousand hours of instruction given in all types of aircraft and ratings for which I am certified.

Ultimately, in the year 2000 or so, I became ineligible for an Airman Medical Certificate because of a prescription medication I take, which supposedly causes dizziness, a symptom which I have never experienced. Rather than fighting through the bureaucracy of the FAA’s AirMed Branch in Oklahoma City to get a waiver, I decided to hang up the flying for good because my life priorities had changed now that Damsel and I were married.

A few of my more memorable experiences:

  • I ferried a brand-new Cherokee Arrow from the Piper Factory in Vero Beach, FL to Santa Monica, CA.
  • I ferried two brand-new Beechcraft Sierras from Liberal, KS to SMO
  • I earned a “Gold Seal” Instructors Certificate while instructing at SMO, based on the number of recommendations and passing ratio of my student pilots.
  • I taught a famous movie star’s son to fly at SMO. (You know who – he played the penultimate movie “Moses.”)
  • I ferried a Piper Super Cub from SMO to Opryland in Nashville, TN to a crew member working there. I met up with a lot of Country Stars plus got to watch the show live before catching an airliner back home.
  • I ferried that same Super Cub to Crescent City where my friend was filming the Star Wars “Forest Moon of Endor” sequences. I met a lot of Storm Troopers and Ewoks, but not Luke, Leah or Han.
  • I co-piloted a Cessna 410 twin engine from SMO to Jacksonville, FL and drove a rented car from there to Charleston, SC to visit with my Naval Officer Brother who was stationed there at the time. I flew back home on Delta.
  • I ferried a Hughes 300C helicopter from Long Beach, CA to New Orleans, LA. It took me three days to get across Texas from EL Paso to Beaumont-Port Arthur.
  • I qualified for Class A, B and C Helicopter External Load Certification while instructing in Sacramento, CA
  • Et Cetera – there are just too many wonderful experiences to list them all here.

I am proud of my aviation career but I am at a point in my lifetime that I don’t miss the flying. Besides, I have a lot of “Hangar Flying” memories and experiences that I can pass along to anyone who wants to listen.

Started the Annual IRS Ritual Today

Wednesday, 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.

Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour

Thursday, 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.

Cloudless Arizona Skies

Monday, November 1st, 2021

GOES East Image 10-28-21

The skies are a little cloudy today, although over the weekend and a couple of days before that, there were no visible clouds over Arizona and much of the Southwest. I captured the GOES East image above last Thursday and cropped/resized it for this post.

Observing the cloud free image reveals some interesting things that can be seen from the satellite. You may have to click on the image to enlarge it to be able to see what I’m going to mention below.

First, in the upper left corner of the image, snow on the Sierra Nevada mountains is visible next to the Owens Valley in California. To the South, you can see the Salton Sea located in Riverside and Imperial Counties. Southeast of the Salton Sea across the Arizona/Mexico border in Sonora is a darker area which is Pinacate Peaks volcanic area just north of the Gulf of California, the north shores of which is at the bottom of the image.

Now, going north along the CA/AZ border (the Colorado River), you eventually come to Lake Mohave on the NV/AZ border. Then, continue up to Lake Mead where the river turns to the east along the border. Lake Mead shows as a couple of blue blobs but it is actually one body of water partially obscured by the overlaid graphic representing the border.

The dark area about one third of the way across Arizona’s north border is the Kaibab National Forest which extends southward to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which can be seen between Kaibab Plateau and the forests of the South Rim below the Canyon.

The dark areas extending south and east below the Grand Canyon are the forested areas of Arizona. The north boundaries of these forests form a semi circular feature which is the Mogollon Rim (say “muggy-yon”). This forms the boundary between the forests and colorful high desert areas of Arizona. We can personally tell you that the scenery up on the Rim is extremely nice.

Moving over into New Mexico, we have a couple of notable features. The white spot in lower central NM is White Sands National Park. Also visible is the Rio Grande River which can be seen flowing from the west Texas town of El Paso up through Albuquerque and although not seen in this image, into southern Colorado.

I like it when the clouds part and I can see all these features and more.

ISP Software Upgrade Progress: I have started migrating our personal family blog to the new software. Progress is impeded by daily life events – dogs – family – home chores – blogging – and the like. I should have a report about the Cap’n Bob site soon.